The Supreme Court And Redefining Marriage

What do we do now that the court has ruled? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Like many of you, I’m disappointed by the ruling of the court today on marriage, but I am not shocked. We’ve had this before and it’s not the end of the world. The court also ruled on abortion. The question now comes to what are we going to do from here?

We are going to do what our marching orders already were. They were the Great Commission and they haven’t changed. They’re still the same. Are we living in a culture that despises Christianity for the most part. Yes, as were the first Christians and in fact, they lived in a worse one. (I am speaking to those living in America) We have not yet resisted, as Hebrews would say, to the point of shedding our blood, though many of us do think such a time is coming. Many of us can be disappointed that this ruling happened, and that is understandable, but we should not be shocked. Why did it happen?

It’s not because the world did what they do. That is what we’d expect. Why should we expect people who don’t share that worldview would act as if they did? If you want to know what has gone wrong in this country, it is not the fault of those outside the body of Christ. They are not to blame. It is the fault of those who are in the body of Christ. The reason things have happened the way they have is we have not followed our marching orders. We have insulated ourselves inside of our little bubbles and hoped that Jesus would just come back and ignored what happened in the world around us. I mean, as long as we and our children are okay, so what? We’ve done our part.

We have never fully done our part. Our part is never done.

Today is not a day to look in fear. Today is a day to look at what has happened and say “Challenge accepted.” We never stopped fighting against abortion despite the ruling of the court, just as over a century and a half ago some would not stop fighting against slavery, despite the Dred Scott decision. Why should we stop now? If we are right in our claim that marriage is a man and a woman, no ruling from a court could change that. That would be like saying that if the court ruled tomorrow that triangles have four sides or that something can go faster than the speed of light, then we would accept those things as well.

So what do we do?

The same thing we’ve always done. We just now remember what the stakes are when we don’t follow our marching orders. We are to do all that we can to spread the Kingdom of God and it should not be a shock to us that we face opposition along that path and often from the governments, just like the early Christians did. Let us instead of being afraid, come together and unite as we should and do that which we were told to do.

We will be either obedient to Christ or we won’t.

I’ve made my choice.

What’s yours?

in Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 6/27/2015: Greg West

What’s coming up on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Good apologetics can be hard to find on the internet. There is so much junk out there. How do you know what’s good? Fortunately, there are places where some of the best stuff is compiled, and one such place is celebrating five years of service this year. That’s the Poached Egg. This Saturday, I’ll be reviewing its founder, Greg West. Who is he?

Greg West

Greg West was raised in a faithful Christian family before he became an agnostic due to doubts about Christianity being the “one true faith”. After many years of being apathetic towards religion in general, Greg began to wrestle with worldview issues which caused him to take a critical look at his unbelief and the truth claims of Christianity.

According to Greg, “It wasn’t that long before I began to see how the Christian worldview was the only one that made any sense. I rededicated my life to Christ and dove headlong into apologetics before I really even knew what it was began to see the serious need for apologetics in the church”.

As a layman, Greg continued to self-study apologetics which led to his teaching apologetics classes and small groups at his local church. In 2010 he founded The Poached Egg Christian Worldview and Apologetics Network to better train and equip Christians and also to raise awareness of what others are doing in the field of apologetics and how it applies to the church and everyday Christian life.

We’ll be talking about how someone like West works to make a difference in the Christian world. How did it get to be that the Poached Egg became such a popular apologetics web site within such a short time? How is it that one manages their time between going through what everyone else is saying and looking for deals on Kindle books and running a web site to having your own family and to also being able to study apologetics on your own time.

What are some tips that those starting out in ministry can do if they want to increase their platform? How do you get the word out about your ministry and how do you navigate the internet with all the junk that’s on there at times in order to learn how to tell the good from the bad. West was also married late in life and we can ask then how is it that one manages the life of marriage and putting your spouse first with the service that one does in the apologetics community and helping out others.

So join me this Saturday as we celebrate five years of the Poached Egg web site and discuss how it came to be what it is and how it is that the man behind the web site somehow manages to do it all. If you’re someone who’s wanting to make a difference in the apologetics community online, this is a podcast that you won’t want to miss. Be listening for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Some Thoughts On Doubt

What’s a Christian to do with doubt? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out?

Recently, my father-in-law Michael Licona had an article show up where he was interviewed about doubt. Mike has been a very upfront person about the doubt that he has in life. We’ve had many discussions on visitations around times like Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’ve also known him to be very helpful when I meet people who struggle with a very deep doubt. He’s learned well from his mentor, Gary Habermas. I’d like to share some of my own thoughts on doubt to go along with his.

First off, Mike and I are very different people. Mike is a constant second doubter and I would not doubt he is much more emotional than I am. It takes awhile for me to be emotional, but when I am, it is intense. There are many people who think I am just cold, which is not really accurate. My wife would be the first to testify otherwise that I am a very sensitive fellow in many ways. Of course, this is important because there will be varying ways that people experience doubt.

Second, one mistake I think many Christians make in the area of doubt is that they think they have to have an answer for everything. Well in reality, you won’t. Mike and I could both defend the resurrection, but if it had to be one of us doing it, I’d hand it over to him. If it came instead to something like the arguments for the existence of God, he’d let me handle that one. Too many Christians think they have to have an answer to every question and know everything about every subject, but if you try to be a jack-of-all-trades, you’ll wind up being a master of none and just have a shallow knowledge that is easily exposed.

Third, one of the ways to better deal with doubt is to not run from it. It is to face it head on. This is often what we try to do with negative feelings. We try to suppress them instead of trying to face them head on. Now of course, when dealing with really negative feelings, you might need the help of a good therapist. When dealing with doubt, you might want to get the help of those who know more than you do. (You essentially will in any case since that will require that you read the best books that you can.)

I really recommend trying to read both sides. When you come across an objection that’s a really good one in your eyes, look into it. Also, try to avoid just looking on the internet for answers. In the age of the internet, anyone can be seen as an expert just because they have a blog or a web site. Now does that mean you should treat me seriously? Well that’s your choice, but certainly not like a scholar at this point. Please definitely avoid a web site like Wikipedia. One of the best tools you will find for your situation is really just going to a library and doing the research there.

Fourth, while you deal with your feelings, it’s best to try to not focus on them. Mike talked in his interview about not feeling the presence of God. This is another way where we’re different. I cannot describe my own Christian walk as one of regularly feeling the presence of God. This seems to be normative to many Christians that you’ll find in a church service, but I do not think I am alone in my own way of thinking. The great danger is that if this is made to be what every Christian is to experience, then what happens to the Christian who through no fault of his own and no lack of devotion to God does not experience such a thing?

The reality is you cannot make yourself feel something. If we could, we would make ourselves feel happy all the time. We can’t. What we can do is try to think things that could bring about a sensation of happiness. I often get the concern when we want freedom from anxiety or just a good feeling, we come to God and want Him to do that for us, but we don’t come to know Him for Him at those times. It is what is known as morally therapeutic deism. This is like a man who consistently comes to his wife because sex feels really good for him (As it does for any husband), but he just isn’t interested in coming to her for her. This is something we must be careful about in our Christian walk.

Fifth. as hard as it can be, try to not listen to your emotions. This is one reason you talk to people outside of yourself. They can see past issues that you might not see past because you are too busy listening to your emotions. You could also try writing down your arguments you are experiencing mentally and asking if B really follows from A. There are many cases where we think A, and then we just jump ahead to Z from that point on.

Finally, it’s important to note that we usually want absolute certainty and that can rarely be found in anything. When I meet someone who cannot be wrong in anything that they think, I often wonder why I should think they are right in anything that they think. Doubt should not be seen as a disease, but rather a chance to get further growth and a natural part of our learning cycle. In fact, I have more concerns about a Christian who never doubts what they believe. If you do not doubt it, you are not seriously thinking about it and if you are not seriously thinking about it, you’re just not taking it seriously.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Slavery and the Church….Again

Is the church responsible for slavery? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So here we’ve had a terrible tragedy that has took place in Charleston and once again, supposedly racism is an epidemic sweeping the country right now. Now I’m of the opinion that no matter what you do, there will always be racism because people are sinful like that and because we view with suspicion that which is different from us. Of course, we must remember to never let a good crisis go to waste and so Huffington Post has a piece up by Carol Kuruvilla on how white Christians used the Bible and the confederate flag to oppress people. (Of course, one can be sure the implications of this are supposed to reach far past slavery and to Christians being great oppressors today.)

Of course, there’s no doubt there were too many people who used the Bible to justify slavery just like there were people who used science to justify the eugenics movement. This no more means we should discard the Bible than it does that we should discard science. It would be best to follow the adage attributed to Augustine that you never judge a philosophy by its misuse. What happened was horrid in the south no doubt, but absent from Kuruvilla’s report is any of the response to this. Sure, she says the Northern Baptists were opposed to slavery. What is not said is that most Christians around the world were already opposed to slavery. She wants to focus on one people group, though a sizable one to be sure, and say that these are the main representatives we should look at.

What made it so hard over here? Mark Noll says first off the arguments against slavery from a Biblical position depended on understanding the context of the Bible and looking deeper than many others did who just wanted what was “clear” to them. As he says in The Civil War As A Theological Crisis:

“On the other front, nuanced biblical attacks on American slavery faced rough going precisely because they were nuanced. This position could not simply be read out of any one biblical text; it could not be lifted directly from the page. Rather, it needed patient reflection on the entirety of the Scriptures; it required expert knowledge of the historical circumstances of ancient Near Eastern and Roman slave systems as well as of the actually existing conditions in the slave states; and it demanded that sophisticated interpretative practice replace a commonsensically literal approach to the sacred text. In short, this was an argument of elites requiring that the populace defer to its intellectual betters. As such, it contradicted democratic and republican intellectual instincts. In the culture of the United States, as that culture had been constructed by three generations of evangelical Bible believers, the nuanced biblical argument was doomed.”

So what made the Civil War a theological crisis? What separated us from the rest of the world? It was that we had a view about ourselves as a special people that God was guiding. It was a sort of manifest destiny. We believed in democracy greatly and so we treated the Bible the same way. The Bible should be just as clear to the man on the street and one does not need to do deep study to find out what is being said. This is still the approach of many fundamentalists today, which includes a large segment of internet atheists who read the Bible the exact same way their Christian counterparts do. They just believe exactly opposite.

It wasn’t the Bible then that was the problem so much as how we thought about ourselves. This is also prevalent in many Christian circles today where people are looking for signs for everything that they do, as if God is supposed to personally guide them. It shows up when people think the Bible was written in a style that is obviously apparent to 21st century Westerners instead of bothering to study its context. To many atheists, this can sound like an excuse. In reality, it’s simply saying to treat the Bible with the same respect you’d treat any other document from another time, culture, place, setting, and in another language.

Also noteworthy is that Kuruvilla ignores any ancient history on this. When Christianity first showed up, slavery was practically if not entirely universal in the Roman Empire. The thought of removing slavery and having a functioning empire would be like thinking we could do without something like automobiles or IPhones today. Make the suggestion and you will be met with uncomprehending stares. To us, it makes no sense because we have a moral background that has been so heavily influenced by Christianity. That was the Roman Empire. What system really brought about the end of it ultimately? I’ll give you a hint. It starts with Christ and ends with “ianity.”

The church had a history of treating slaves first with respect and then eventually setting them free. Philemon could be called the Emancipation Proclamation of the New Testament. Christians would often raise up money to buy slaves just for the purpose of setting them free. It was Bathilda, wife of Clovis II, who really brought slavery to a halt, but its death had long been started beforehand because Christians said everyone was in the image of God so no man should be the property of another man. Did it get started later? Yes. Unfortunately it did, but it was Christians again, like Wilberforce, who rose up to stop it.

Make no mistake. Many Christians have done stupid stupid things in the past. Many of them have done wicked things that we should all be ashamed of, but let’s be fair and not overlook the many good things that have been done. If all that is presented is one side of the story, then of course that one side looks compelling. Let us remember the main cause of slavery was really more of our egos about us being a special people than anything else. Of course, some people thinking they are special today is certainly not being used to oppress anyone else out there now is it?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Please Don’t Say These At The Funeral

Are there some things you just shouldn’t say at a funeral? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’ve only done one funeral and that was my grandmother’s. I’ve attended a number of them and sadly, one of the worst parts is hearing the awful messages that preachers give because they just don’t have good theology to them. There are many preachers who haven’t studied the issues involved and say some messages they shouldn’t. Some of these aren’t really harmful to the audience. Others really can be. I’d like to look at a number of them and I’m going to save the worst one that I’ve ever heard for last.

At one funeral, I remember hearing the preacher talk about the deceased and saying “Right now, she is experiencing the power of the resurrection!”

Um. No.

You see, this might be a shock, but when you go to the funeral service, barring some catastrophe, usually the person’s body is right there. You get to see the body. Resurrection means something. It means that the person is again in their body after life after death and is walking around. For our purposes in Christianity, it means they are back in a body that will never die and they will live forever. Resurrection does not mean going to Heaven when you die. Of course, if you want to say when someone dies, they go to be in the presence of Jesus, I have no problem, but let us not say that they are experiencing the resurrection. They are not. The resurrection of Jesus is not about Him leaving a body in a tomb and being taken in spirit to be with the Father. It is about the body that went down coming back up in a new and glorified state. For Christians, that won’t happen until the end.

“God needed another angel.”

Frankly, this one is cruel. Really. It is. You want to go to a little child who has just lost their mother and say “We know you’re hurting, but God needed another angel in Heaven.” Not only is it the problem that angels are not dead humans, but what kind of God are you presenting? A God who has to kill the mothers of children so He can have angels for His purposes? Many children believe it or not do not have a sophisticated theology. You are already presenting them with a God who will take the mother that they long for and cherish just because He needs another angel in Heaven. If you have ever said this to someone, shame on you for saying it.

“He’s walking on streets of gold.”

This one I didn’t hear at a funeral per se, but it was said by a preacher in a sermon where he talked about a friend who died and how right now, he’s walking on streets of gold. It was one of those points where my wife Allie had to reach over and gently touch my leg as if to say “Please calm down.” She knows I get really agitated when I hear bad theology like this. Why is this bad? Because this is more of a gnostic view than anything else. We have this view that the body is a sort of prison to be escaped and then we die and we’re walking in Heaven. No. We’re not. We have no body to walk in and if you want to see those streets of gold, they’re talked about in the last two chapters of Revelation when Heaven is described. Where is Heaven? Take a look. It’s not the case of “I’ll Fly Away” from this world and leave it behind because “This World Is Not My Home. I’m Just Passing Through.” Heaven is coming down to Earth. The Kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of God. God takes over finally. We have the marriage of Heaven and Earth.

Christians must be people who view the body as important. We do not dare say there is a sort of spiritual body that is walking on the streets of gold. We have to emphasize that we are incomplete without our physical bodies.

“Paul’s hope was we would see our loved ones again in Heaven.”

I remember being at a sermon and the pastor was really flubbing it in my thinking. Sadly, he spent more time talking about himself than he did about the deceased, but then he said we have the same hope that Paul described in 1 Thess. 4. Okay. I was starting to get hopeful here. I know what 1 Thess. 4 is about. It’s about the resurrection. So will the pastor get it right? Will he say we have the hope of the resurrection?

Nope. Instead, it was that we would see our loved ones in Heaven.

*Groan*

Just going to Heaven is incomplete. If anything, it means that death does have a victory. Death has a victory because our bodies are still subject to it. For Paul, the resurrection means everything. It means that death has been truly conquered and cannot hold us down just like it could not hold Jesus down. Either death has the last word over our bodies, or God has the last word over death. We will see our loved ones again one day, yes, and that is something we are meant to comfort one another with, but that reunion takes place after the resurrection. That was the great hope.

Unfortunately, even just yesterday I saw an internet atheist trying to argue that Paul’s great change he made to Christianity was he promised people Heaven. Paul’s message was the resurrection, and he was right in line with what the rest of the early church was saying. Even in our evangelism, we act like the goal is to get people to go to Heaven. The goal is to get people to become righteous in Christ and be disciples.

“Their Last Act Was An Act Of Love.”

I must place this one in the proper context. My parents told me about hearing this one at a funeral that they attended where it was said that the last act of the deceased was an act of love. What was it? A police officer taking a bullet for a fellow officer? A soldier throwing himself onto a grenade so his buddies would be safe? A firefighter rushing into a building to save a child? Nope.

The deceased had committed suicide.

Suicide is many things, but it is not loving and it should never be seen as loving. Instead, there were children and nieces and nephews and others there who were told that day that a person committing suicide was an act of love. I understand the preacher got a lot of flack for his statement. He should have. Funerals are meant to comfort those who are left behind and to honor the deceased. This kind of statement does neither.

Let’s remember when we have our services that we are Christians. We believe in a bodily resurrection. We believe that God is conquering evil. We believe that the world will bow the knee to Christ at one point in time. None of this should be downplayed. That we do not realize this and celebrate this enough is a fault of our churches not teaching good theology and not discipling.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What is Tolerance?

If you say you are a tolerant person, do you practice what you preach? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’ve had some time to think about the notion of tolerance lately after an event on my wife’s Facebook page over the week. She posted something about the transgenderism issue going on that I and many others found humorous. The first comment however referred to her as a judgmental, well, I don’t speak that way. Naturally as a husband, I don’t stand by and let my wife undergo a severe insult like this. Had it been something milder, we would have a discussion about it, but not in this case.

What strikes me when something like this happens however is that the people who complain the most tend to be the ones who are the champions of tolerance the most. Ironically, the ones that I find who want to champion tolerance the most turn out to be the least tolerant, and this is because our culture really doesn’t know what tolerance is any more. We have confused tolerance of persons with tolerance of ideas. We have also confused tolerance with acceptance.

For instance, I think Islam is really a very wicked system. I do. At the same time, I know there are many Muslims who just want to live peaceful lives and do not support what goes on with ISIS or anything like that. Now I will be glad to debate these Muslims on the nature of Jesus and the reality of the resurrection any time. I think their belief system is wrong and the evidence shows that. Despite that, if some want to build a mosque in my city, I think they have every right to build a mosque and I will defend that. That’s what freedom of religion means in America. As long as they’re observing the law peacefully, they have the right to worship as they see fit. I would also support them if they were being forced to sell pork to someone or even if a Muslim bakery was asked to make a cake for a homosexual wedding since they disagree with that as well. That’s their right.

Note I will tolerate the people and I will accept them as people, even if I think their belief system ultimately is a source of great evil today. I will not accept their belief system. I cannot see it as entirely true or as the way of God, but the people are still people.

I have many friends who are atheists. Will I be able to put up a meme about what I see as poor argumentation on the part of many atheists? Sure will. Don’t have a problem with it. Humor and satire are a powerful tool. Many of my friends who are atheists will either ignore it saying this is a difference they accept because they know who I am, or some of them will say “I know what kinds of atheists he’s talking about and I’m not one of those.” At the same time, this doesn’t mean that if an internet atheist type went into cardiac arrest in front of me that I would ignore them. I recently had a dialogue with an atheist who was posting things and saying he had a hard time posting while driving. I told him to please wait. The debate can go on later. A dialogue with me is not worth him risking his life. I really meant it. I would mean it for anyone like that.

Where tolerance exists, there must first exist a real point of disagreement. There is something you do not like. Yesterday, my wife wanted to get some peanut butter cookie mix at the store. Why? She doesn’t like peanut butter, but she knows her husband loves it. That is not something I tolerate. That is something I celebrate. Tonight, after a couples’ connection meeting, we are going with a couple to the Cheesecake Factory to discuss our upcoming fifth wedding anniversary. Now the last time I was there, with my finicky eating, I did not care for the menu too much and I was surrounded by people and everything was really loud. I honestly thought this must be some idea of what Hell is like. So tonight, I will instead be tolerating that. I would much rather go elsewhere, but I know Allie really likes the Cheesecake Factory. I can tolerate it for her sake.

The more I thought about tolerance, the more I thought how ironically, true tolerance really does deliver everything false tolerance claims to give. The false tolerance is this idea that you must accept everything and if not, you are being intolerant and we will shut you down for your intolerance. True tolerance says you have a right to what you think and we can discuss it, which is what I always prefer. While I do believe in a firm hand for many, my far better conversations always are with those who I think are honestly open to false ideas. There were many people who disagreed with Allie’s meme she put up. That’s fine. I expect that. We talk about it then. I have no problem with that. Believe it or not, that’s the kind of dialogue I do prefer.

Our false tolerance today says you’re not even allowed to have a dissenting opinion. If you dissent from the group, we will label you as intolerant, a bigot, hate-filled, etc. I hardly enter any debates I see today on the homosexual issue because I see the words of homophobe and all of the others above thrown around. I always get amazed to see that when a group comes out saying they support traditional marriage any more, that you can just go to their Facebook page and see the vitriol being spilled out. It’s amazing that at the same time, the people doing this are talking about how hateful the other side is and how intolerant they are.

While those who champion tolerance say they value diversity, it is those who allow dissenting opinions who are the true valuers of diversity. While I do not consider myself a part of the ID movement, I have had people say before “Well if you wanted ID taught in the classrooms, do you want all other creation accounts taught?” My response to this was always “Why not?” You see, if someone comes from a Muslim or Hindu culture or any other people group and wants to stand up and share why they think their account of creation is true, let them. Just let them be ready to answer questions about it as well. Why do I care about counter ideas being presented? I’m convinced Christianity can win in the marketplace of ideas, so bring forward the competitors!

True tolerance also values open-mindedness. Now this is not the same as saying you can’t have a strong opinion or be sure that you’re right. If we are arguing for a position, then we will be sure that we are right. Of course, there are ideas you hold with a greater degree of certainty based on the evidence. If every belief you hold is a hill you’re ready to die on, you’re going to have a hard time. This is a problem I see with modern fundamentalism for instance. On the Christian side, you have inerrancy, young-earth creationism, and any other belief being one that we have to stand on this hill and not let it go because if this hill goes, the whole thing goes! On the atheist side, you have this idea that you can’t admit there could be anything whatsoever historical about the Bible or that anyone could be justified in believing God exists. This is one reason I think Christ mythicism is so popular.

Of course, there are some positions on both sides that if they are shown to be false, the position will crumble. If you show that God does exist, then yes, atheism is dead. If you show that Jesus did not rise from the dead, then Christianity is dead. However, you can be absolutely certain of your position on these issues and still say “But I am willing to hear what argument you have on the other side.” The problem with too many people is that there cannot be an argument. If you’re a Christian, well you’re just a mindless fool who is irrational and anti-science. If you’re an atheist, well you’re just sold to sin and your eyes are blinded by the devil and you hate God.

True tolerance is also the most loving to people. It admits we have differences between us. These are significant differences. We can even think the position that the other person holds is remarkably ignorant in some ways, but at the same time we still value the person. In fact, there is unlikely to be anyone on the planet that we will agree with 100% on everything. My own wife and I disagree on some issues. She knows that my eyes roll with the futurist position which she holds. It’s okay. We can have discussions on that and we can disagree. (Actually, for some reason, she likes to see me debate with futurists.)

If you reject a friend because they do not disagree with you on a particular topic, one has to ask what kind of friendship you really have. Unfortunately, I have seen this kind of thing happen. Generally, if someone gets a block from me on Facebook, they have to do something really severe, or they just have to be the kind of person in the debate arena who is a time drainer and that if I keep interacting with them, I will be wasting my time on them. Yes. There are actually some Christians on that list of mine because they are too much of a time drainer when they get on their own soapboxes.

What many of us see with the modern tolerance movement is that they are not tolerant at all. No dissent and questioning will be allowed. You are not to oppose the tolerati! For all the time that we’ve heard the good news of this Gospel of tolerance, one would think the proclaimers of it would practice it.

True tolerance is to be valued. We can value the person always and care for them, but we are not to tolerate true evil that is done. I am convinced that the shooter from Charleston in the recent news needs to get at least jail for life for what he did, at least that much. That is an evil we cannot accept in our society. At the same time, I with many others hopes that he will get the Gospel in prison and find forgiveness and that we can pray for him. I would also be willing to admit that prayer is something I need to work on anyway, hence I could soon write a blog series on it as that is often the best way I teach myself as well.

Disagree by all means, but if you want to proclaim yourself a champion of tolerance, be sure to practice what you preach.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 6/20/2015: Debra Hirsch

What’s coming up on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Not too long ago, I wrote a review of Debra Hirsch’s book Redeeming Sex. Since I have a great interest in the topic of sexual ethics, I figured this would be a great topic to discuss on the show. Just so everyone knows also, Debra will only be able to give us an hour of her time on the interview, but I hope it will be an informative one for you. So who is Debra Hirsch?

Debra Hirsch

According to her bio:

Deb Hirsch is a speaker, church leader, and writer. She has led churches in both Australia and Los Angeles. She is one of the founders of Forge Mission Training Network and a current member of the Forge America national team. She also serves as a board member for Missio Alliance. She co-authored (with Alan Hirsch) Untamed: Reactivating a Missional Form of Discipleship. Her new book Redeeming Sex reflects something of her own journey and attempts to bring new conversations around sexuality into the context of the church. Deb has been involved in social work, community development and as a trained counselor has worked in the field of sexuality for over twenty five years. She and her husband live in community with others in Los Angeles.

We’ll be discussing the way sex is viewed in our culture and in the church. Why is it that so many of us in the church are so hesitant to talk about copies of sexuality when the world all around us is ready to talk about sexuality constantly? What is sexuality anyway? What is the purpose of sexuality? Can we think of Jesus really as a sexual being? How is it that people who are single are to view issues of sexuality?

We could also spend some time talking about the homosexual movement. What is the ideal way to dialogue with those on the left who are in fact often the most opposed to our message? How can you love a homosexual person while you disagree with their behavior? Even if we are right in our beliefs on homosexual behavior, is our approach always the best way to go about handling the issues that we talk about?

Ultimately, how can we redeem sex? How can we as a church reclaim the sexual ground that it looks like we’ve lost in our culture? Can a Christian really enjoy sex and be able to talk about it? Can a Christian encourage true intimacy with one another? What are the steps that we are to take if we are to appreciate the gift of sexuality that God has given us and at the same time to treasure it properly and hold it in the sacred place that it rightly deserves?

I’m looking forward to this interview with Debra Hirsch. I hope you are too and I hope you have got a chance to enjoy the past archives being caught up as I finally had the time to sit down and take care of it and may they never get that far behind again. I hope you’ll be watching for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Beckoning

What do I think of Michael Minot’s book The Beckoning published by Morgan James Publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The Beckoning is about how a lawyer began an investigation of three months that moved him from being an atheist to being a Christian. Let’s start with some positives. First off, Minot has a unique idea of making videos to go with the chapters. Honestly, I did not watch as I do not take much time to watch videos online and I was often reading late at night. My wife was already asleep and I was not going to disturb her. Perhaps this is an idea that is worth looking into by other authors, especially since many more are going to YouTube and using that as a social platform.

I also liked how there were questions at the end of each chapter. Books like this are often aimed to be using by churches and small groups and having questions at the end prepared can help to facilitate a discussion. Of course, groups will often have their own questions at the end and that is quite alright. As a leader of a small group at my church, I know we rarely stick to the questions entirely or even the subject matter. (I even recall a class in Seminary where we started talking about some of the latest technology and the professor saying we’d talk about it for awhile even though it has nothing to do with the subject matter not like that’s ever stopped us before. Diversions are a part of reality like that.)

I appreciate also Minot going personal in his journey about the kinds of things he’s experienced. It’s hard to not be moved by the account of him losing his friends from school and his account of losing his son. These are real tragedies and we all have tragedies in our lives as well.

Yet despite this, I found a number of problems with Minot’s book that seriously concerned me. The arguments for theism were all rooted in scientific evidence. Now I understand this is a popular approach, but it’s one I really do find flawed. Why marry our theism to the science of our day? Not because science is something bad, but because it changes. One could say that today, it looks like The Big Bang Theory points to God. But what if another interpretation comes along of the theory? What if the theory is one day found to be wrong? What happens to our apologetic then? It’s not mine to state if it will or if it won’t, but I think we should move towards the arguments of the past, the philosophical arguments, such as the Thomistic ones, that can stand regardless of what happens with the science.

I also found it troubling that while there is a section on Jesus, there is nothing I saw on making a strong case for His resurrection. This is the central argument that needs to be made to show Christianity is true. You can have theism after all and not have Christianity. We saw strong arguments on the loving character of Jesus, and that’s well and good, but having a loving character does not mean you are Lord and King. Besides that, I do not think I saw anything on how well the Bible has been handed down throughout the years, so one could just as well say the story was written that way. I do not doubt that the person of Jesus is appealing, but we must show that that person is real, the accounts are reliable, and that He truly is the Messiah. Had there been a good strong argument for the resurrection of Jesus in here, I could have given more stars on my review, but without that, the story is just incomplete.

If Minot has future editions, I hope we will see more historical work done in that regard and more philosophical work as well. I did not find the explanations on evil to be entirely convincing such as the devil is allowed to be here to challenge us. That could be so, but I can already predict the responses a skeptic would make to that such as why God allowed it to happen in the first place. The problem of evil is really complex after all, even though I personally do not find it convincing.

I think Minot has the start to something good, but there needs to be more work, and especially on the resurrection.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Honor and Shame in Marriage

Does an honor and shame dynamic help you understand your marriage? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

One of the most fascinating areas in Biblical studies today is the work of the context group in understanding honor and shame. Honor is basically your view of your self combined with the views everyone else has of you to judge your rating, as it were, in society. Shame is being thought of lowly in society. In the ancient world, honor and shame were everything. You would rather die with honor than live with shame. I think much or our thinking is still unknowingly honor and shame based, though we are moving more and more towards an individualism that causes each of us to be a god unto himself. Our high school culture for instance could be like this where we have peer pressure. People do what they can to fit in and not rock the boat. Deviancy is viewed as something to be shunned.

How can this apply in your marriage?

My wife recently had dental work to get a wisdom tooth removed. Honest question here. Who will you allow to stick something in your mouth? Would you let a random stranger do such? No. You leave that to people that you do trust. You could let your spouse give you a passionate kiss along those lines or you could let a friend place a bit of food for you to try in your mouth, but the fact that you let someone have that kind of access indicates a degree of trust. You let a dentist do that or a doctor stick something like a tongue depressor in your mouth because these are people who have the ability to do things that need to be done. It’s not because you think they’re particularly good people. (My wife thinks I’m great after all, but she’s sure not going to let me remove a wisdom tooth from her mouth.)

So let’s apply that further. For a husband and wife, what is being given is total access to one’s body. That means that person who you are giving that access to is one that you are giving a high degree of honor to and worth to. (In fact, some marriage vows have said “With my body, I thee worship.) You do not get more vulnerable physically than you do with sex. (This is also one reason rape is such a devastating evil) While a man has to be vulnerable, there can really be no doubt that the woman is the one who is making herself the most vulnerable. This means the wife is showing her husband a high degree of honor. A good husband then is to honor that commitment and treat his wife like the treasure that she is.

This also impacts how we interact in public. If one person says to do something in public and all things being equal, the other disregards it, the one who made the request is shown to the rest of the world to be someone not even honored by their spouse. Now I am one that does believe in male headship, but that means my wife is to be treated like a queen. If a wife thinks her husband is the head and disregards him in public, then the message received by the public is “So this wife doesn’t think her husband’s requests are worth honoring. Why should I pay attention to this person?” (This is also a reason why I think all things being equal that if a parent sets a requirement and the child does not follow, the parent needs to follow through with the consequences they said they would follow through with.)

If a wife does in fact honor her husband (And keep in mind a wife is never to break the law of God) in public, then she will improve the way that her husband is seen in public. Of course, if you don’t hold to male headship, you can say that goes both ways, and a husband in turn must honor and respect his wife in public, meaning he must be careful to not hurtfully belittle her. (Although those of us who do hold to male headship should know that Peter tells us to treat our wives with special care and we must honor her in public as well) In the marriage relationship especially, each person should make it their point to show the other how much they care for them. (And keep in mind for we men, respect actually means a whole lot more than love.)

Marriage is hard work, and the best way to make it work is if both parties give 100%. Perhaps a mindset outside of our own has a lot more to teach us.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: In The Beginning God

What do I think of Dr. Winfried Corduan’s book published by B&H Academic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

“In The Beginning God”. Most of us upon hearing that think “Created the Heavens and the Earth. Yeah. We know. Can we move on?” Dr. Corduan’s book doesn’t want to move on. It wants to stay right there in the beginning, but what beginning? This time not the beginning of the universe, but the beginning of religion. Today, much of the world is monotheistic, but how did we get to that point? Did religion just evolve from a primitive state of animism all the way up to the point where eventually one God came out to be supreme and now many of us today are monotheistic? Or, did religion start out as monotheistic and men moved away from that until later on, we returned to it?

Of course, when we say that religious systems have evolved, it must be clear that this is not saying anything about the scientific theory. For the sake of argument, it could be that scientific evolution of non-life to life in a sort of theistic evolutionary sense could be true and Dr. Corduan’s argument in this book is entirely correct as well. The truth of Corduan’s argument does not rely on that. However, he does want us to realize that evolution being true in one field does not mean that it will necessarily apply in every other field. (In fact, it would seem a whole plethora of gods would be much more complex than one major deity.)

For the research of this book, it will involve looking at the traditions of tribal peoples around the world and seeing what they believed. We will also look at those who have been impacted by Christian missionaries to see if missionaries might have changed any of the beliefs of these people on these major areas. We will also see if the evidence is being allowed to change the ideas, or if the ideas are changing how the evidence is viewed. Corduan will contend that too often the latter is happening. For this, Corduan will rely especially on the work of two in the field, one a Christian and one not. The Christian is Wilhelm Schmidt and the non-Christian is Andrew Lang, though Lang was open to something that would be called “supernatural.” (Regular readers of my writings know that I do not like to use that term.)

Corduan contends in fact that when Lang and Schmidt did the work to show an original monotheism, that their work was for the most part ignored. Of course, it could be for Schmidt that since he wrote around 11,000 pages that few people took the time to read. Corduan also shows that it would be wrong to think that missionaries showed up and changed a central core belief of the people and that the people then left everything else intact. What happens more often is that sometimes other gods can get added later on or other spirits in an animistic sense (Monotheistic religions do believe in other spiritual beings after all like angels and demons), that when you start talking about the one supreme God, that they know who you’re talking about.

Corduan’s book is highly accessible and entertaining. I do wish to thank him also for sending a personal review copy. I had read a recently re-released work of Schmidt’s, but I must say it’s easy to get lost in the jargon of Schmidt and Schmidt wrote as if everyone was familiar with the people in the field. That’s understandable, but it makes it difficult for those of us who do not know the names in the field. Corduan’s work gives you a history of the field and introduces you to the major names. It also ends with the importance that this can have for Christian apologetics with some cautions as well on what we can and cannot say.

I found the work to be highly interesting. If anything, I would have liked to have seen more on what other cultures believed that we don’t hear about regularly, but I know that wasn’t the purpose of the book and probably would have expanded it greatly to an unnecessary degree. For those curious about this kind of area, this is a work that you can enjoy. It’s got good information in it, but you won’t likely get lost in technicalities save for perhaps a few areas.

In Christ,
Nick Peters