Happy Independence Day

How shall we celebrate this day? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Today, we who are Americans celebrate the day we declared ourselves a free people. It’s important to realize it was a declaration. The freedom was not guaranteed. There was no certainty that the mission would be successful. It was a great risk, but many of us today living in freedom in America are thankful for that risk.

I’m also making it a point to not say the 4th of July. Today is a day to really say something specific. We don’t say on Christmas, “Merry 25th of December!” or on Valentine’s Day “Happy 14th of February love of my life!” We refer to them as Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Why not refer to today as Independence Day?

Today, many of us will be celebrating with friends and loved ones. There’s nothing wrong with that. Here in Atlanta, we’ll be meeting with my wife’s family. (I also can’t help but think right now about a friend who said yesterday on Facebook that it’s so hot that he’s sweating like Steven Furtick listening to a Paul Washer sermon. I wish I had come up with that, but I didn’t.)

Yet as we gather together, let’s remember something. We can gather together. We can celebrate. We have that freedom. Many of us have taken too much for granted in our country. This is especially so when it comes to religious freedom. We can say we see some encroachments on that, and we could say so rightly, but many of us can still go to the church of our choice without fearing that the government is going to burst in on us and shut us down and/or kill us all.

The tragedy of all of this is we don’t really use our freedom well. Think back to how many people in the past wrote so much. You and I can read the New Testament easily enough. Have you ever considered what it would be like to write the New Testament? I don’t mean sit down and type it out. I mean write by hand a book of the New Testament. Luke is said to have contributed more than anyone. Have you ever thought about what it would be like to write Luke and Acts using ancient materials?

We have so much freedom to do so much good and we tend to not do it. Imagine what Paul would do with what we have today. How would Paul use the internet, podcasts, television, etc.? Dare I say it but I think much of what we do with what we have is paltry compared to what those who went before us did with what they had. They also often did so in the midst of real persecution.

That doesn’t mean we don’t give thanks for our freedom or despise it. It means we use it wisely. God has granted us a nation where we can worship freely. We can serve freely. It is a tragedy to get a great gift and to squander it. Let’s make sure we’re not doing it.

Happy Independence Day everyone!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Jesus In America

What happens to Jesus in America? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I love America. I live here and I think it’s the greatest nation on Earth. Unfortunately, we do have many flaws here. One of the big ones is how individualized everything has become. While I am a capitalist, I do think greed is often a problem and we have Christianized everything and not in the Biblical way. Jesus has been used to turn slogans around to different Jesus messages and you can go and buy Testamints at your Christian bookstore. (Because, you know, giving someone a mint like that is a great way to witness.) This has happened so often that we have what has been called Jesus Junk.

Our sermons aren’t much better. We go to a church service and it’s not about serving. It’s all about getting ahead. What can we do to be more moral people? How can we better handle the problems in our lives? Nothing against being moral people and handling the problems in our lives, but there’s more to Christianity than that. My favorite part is at the end hearing an altar call where you can hear absolutely nothing about the Kingdom of God and the resurrection of Jesus, but you sure hear how you can go to Heaven when you die.

In this kind of culture, Jesus becomes a sort of glorified Dr. Phil. Jesus is there to be a self-help guru for you and to help you feel better about yourself. Is it any wonder that the prosperity gospel does so well here? Again, there’s nothing wrong with advancing ahead and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having wealth, but what did Jesus really come for?

Go to most churches today in America and the idea that you get is that Jesus died for me. Well, yes. That’s true. He did die for you, but He died for a lot more than just you. He died for God. He died to bring about God’s Kingdom. He died to bring about God’s will on Earth. He died in service to the Father to reconcile God and man together. It’s not that God needs us, but that God wants to share His blessings on us. Thinking God needs us is just more of our self-centeredness.

This is why we don’t think much about service like we should in the churches. Most pastors would be thrilled if people would be able to give even just the 10%. There are many Christians who indeed are in need in our churches, and the churches are often the last place that they will go to to meet those needs. The churches don’t just give and support. Again, most of us are looking out for ourselves and Jesus is a convenient help to that.

We have lost sight of the idea that Jesus is the king. It could be because we have grown up in a country where our leaders are elected and we have a president and the idea of a monarchy seems like a quaint thing from olden times that we no longer need any more. Perhaps in a merely human sense, it is, but we are talking about the divine king. This is not an ordinary king who will make mistakes and raise our taxes and such, but make no mistake, this is a king who will call us to come and die.

Perhaps that’s the part we don’t want to hear. We want Jesus to give us more of what we want. Money, power, fame, sex, whatever it is. Jesus is a means to an end rather than the end in Himself. Most of us don’t really think about Jesus, unless we think about the things that He gives for us even if it’s just the feelings that we get with Him.

Today in America, for many of us, if we want food, we can go to a restaurant and get served quickly. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. If you want to, you can even get fast food. Today, we treat Jesus like that. If we’re hungry, we go to the restaurant. If we need to fill better about ourselves, we go to Jesus.

Of course, if this is all Jesus does, then there’s no need for unbelievers to really come to Jesus. If you need to feel good about yourself, there are several self-help books that can do that or you can go get Xanax or something like that. You sure don’t need Jesus for that. Now if you want something else, like divine forgiveness, or the Kingdom of God on Earth, you will need Jesus.

Jesus is not just a commodity on the market. He’s not just another self-help guru. He isn’t just giving us a message of peace and love, because messages like that don’t get people crucified. He is a real historical figure who walked and died among us and rose again. This isn’t a fairy tale or a story that takes place a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. This is real history. This has serious ramifications for us and things much more important than feeling good about ourselves.

It is my sincere hope that the American church will realize that while Jesus can make us good people and that can lead to good feelings, there is so much more. There is a real historical reality here. There are real ramifications for all of us. I’ve had enough of Jesus Junk. Let’s see how much better the real deal can do influencing our culture.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Happy Fourth of July

What are we going to celebrate today? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Today, many of us are going to go to celebrations and barbecues and watch fireworks go off. For us, we’ll be going to see my in-laws today. We could be watching a movie with them on Netflix or something like that as well. Normally, it’s a war movie. I don’t really care for those as much, so I usually have my DS with me.

Anyway, it’s easy to live and celebrate today and be unaware of how we got to this point. This is something I usually have a problem with many of my fellow Christians about. We go to church and talk about the suffering we face today often blissfully unaware of the suffering the early church went through and we think that it’s all about us.

Today, you have freedom in America, and that freedom does not come from the government as we so often think. Government does not give you rights. If you have anything that is yours by virtue of being a human being, then that is a right. No government can truly take it away, although they can surely try to get in its way.

Enjoying those rights is where freedom comes in. You came to be able to enjoy those rights because over 200 years ago, some people were willing to sacrifice themselves so that you could. They were willing to engage in an experiment never before tried in the history of the world. They took the ultimate risk standing against a powerful force of their day.

The sad reality for many of us today is that if it happened before our time, we don’t really see the point of it. There was a Facebook status I saw once, not on my feed but elsewhere, of a girl complaining about why we had to have the Civil War. It was just another thing to study. Absent to her apparently was that there was something worth fighting for in that war.

We have a great danger then that we will take freedom for granted today. Why shouldn’t we? We take so many other good things for granted. Right now in America, we have the freedom to worship together. How much longer? Look at the people in your life. Look at your spouse, your children, your family, and your friends. Take the time to appreciate them today. Many people risked and even gave their lives so you could get to do that today.

Of course, enjoy today. No one is saying to do otherwise. Others died so we could be free, but they wouldn’t want us to not enjoy that freedom. If you can shoot off fireworks and have a barbecue and be with loved ones, then that is a freedom that you have. Perhaps you might also want to even get out a copy of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and read through them some today. Take some time to remember what it is that makes this nation great.

Happy Fourth of July!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Bernie Sanders and Religious Exclusivity

Is it wrong that Christianity is an exclusivist religion? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In a hearing for Russell Vought recently for office, Senator Bernie Sanders expressed some hostility towards Vought for his position on Christianity. Apparently, Vought holds this really bizarre position. He thinks Christianity is actually true and not only is it true, it’s the only true religion and thus all other religions are wrong and will not get you into the grace of God.

Now to Sanders, this might be news. It’s not like this is a new development in Christianity. Christians have held to this belief since the very beginning, even when it led to them being outed by the Roman government and put under all manner of persecution and had them branded as atheists. We have to wonder if this is the first time Sanders had heard about this.

He’s right that while Christianity would be the majority religious belief in America (Or at least claimed) that there are numerous other believers in other religions and no religions here in America. Does this mean that Christians are automatically meant to treat them as lesser citizens. Sanders seems to think this, but on what grounds?

Let’s start with establishing something. Every religious belief is exclusive on some areas. Even a universalist would say that a person who thinks only one way to God is true will still make it to God, they are wrong in holding an exclusivist position. A pluralist will have to essentially change every other religion out there in order to make his pluralist religion true.

This includes Judaism and Islam as well. Try going to a regular synagogue and saying you’re a Jew who accepts Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. See if you’re treated as a Jew like everyone else. While there might be some exceptions, many Jews who embrace Jesus as the Messiah are excluded. Islam is often violently exclusive as is seen by many of the terrorist attacks we have going on today.

This is simply because of logic. All Christians give claims that are truth claims and those claims by nature exclude anything that contradicts them. This is no different from every other field out there. All truth claims do this. If Christianity has it essential that Jesus is the Messiah, then if the claim is true, all religions that disagree are wrong. If Islam were right in that God is a monad and only one in person, then all religions that disagree, like Christianity, are wrong.

One of the great freedoms we have in this country is the freedom to come together and worship as we see fit and to discuss our religious differences. In the practice of true tolerance, we have it that you can disagree very strongly ideologically, and yet still leave in a spirit of peace and even friendship. These are the discussions we should be having. I have no desire for us to try to establish a theocracy here because it would not be God ruling. It would be some men claiming to rule in the name of God.

The problem for Sanders is that he’s doing the exact thing he condemns. He is saying that if you hold X religious belief, you are not fit for public office. This is a rather exclusionary position and is saying that someone is wrong to hold the religious belief that they do, yet all the while complaining that it’s wrong to say another religious belief is wrong. It can’t be had both ways.

Naturally, a Christian who holds public office should care about the freedom and well-being of all of his constituents. This is part of our religion as well. We are not to show favoritism. If a Muslim and a Christian come to trial and the Muslim is in the right, the Christian should back the Muslim. He can disagree with his religion all day long and should, but in this area, the Muslim is in the right.

Sanders is, unfortunately, being an example of someone who doesn’t really understand religions and doesn’t see them as truth claims but more as personal preferences. Sadly, a lot of Christians might take the same attitude, but it’s not one Christianity has had historically. Part of this is also an example of the great problem we have of religious illiteracy here in the West where many people talk about religion and religions, but they don’t really understand them.

What are we as Christians to do then? We are to teach our people that Christianity is not just a flavor of ice cream that you happen to really like, but making really serious divine claims about everything in reality, and that we are to go and live out those claims. We are to uphold the Kingdom of God in all things, but also to uphold the great love of our neighbor that we are commanded as well. Who knows? Sanders might find that living in a society like that isn’t as bad as he thought.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Thoughts On Memorial Day

Is there anything to keep in mind with a cookout? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Today is Memorial Day as I write this. I will be going to spend it with my in-laws at their place for a cookout and my wife is bringing Into The Storm for us to watch together. I have seen the movie several times and I don’t care much for food so aside from fellowship, I’ll probably be spending more time with my Kindle and my books.

Okay. So I’m the odd one out here, but a lot of you are doing something special for Memorial Day, and I’m not knocking that. That’s something to celebrate. It’s a special day, but let’s not lose sight of what this day is all about. This day is not about cookouts. It’s not about time spent on the lake. It’s not about even reading books. (GASP!)

This day is about people who have died serving our country. These are people who paid the ultimate sacrifice. They are not here to celebrate today. They can’t spend the day kissing their wives or hugging their children. There are mothers and fathers who won’t see their children, children who won’t see their parents, and spouses who won’t see their significant others. In fact, for them, this day could be very depressing.

Let’s not forget them. In fact, if you know someone like that, try to go and see them if you can. Bring them a homecooked meal. Center the day around them. These people have also made a sacrifice. They live without the person or persons that they love. They want to know that someone appreciated the sacrifice that that person made. They need to know that the person who sacrificed was a hero.

How many of us today are willing to face death? The reality is we all are facing it every day. There’s a commercial that I see on TV now and I think it’s about heart disease. It says that for people with heart disease, tomorrow is not a guarantee and in the background you hear the song “Tomorrow” from “Little Orphan Annie.” You know who tomorrow is also not a guarantee for? You and I. It is not a guarantee. If we want to live, the time to live is not tomorrow. It is today.

Today, hug your children. Today, honor your parents. Today, make love to your spouse. Take the time to celebrate those people who are in your life. Do not wait to live life. People died so that today, you could live. Not just exist, but live. Are you living? Do you want their sacrifice to be in vain?

People did not die just so we could have fun. They died because they thought that what they were dying for was indeed worth dying for. The question we have to ask of ourselves is do we think what they died for is worth living for? Our freedom as Americans? Our ability to love those around us? Our ability to enjoy our lives? Our freedom to worship as we see fit? Are these all goods worth celebrating?

Let today be a day you start living. They died so you could live. Don’t let it be in vain. If you’re Christian especially, remember the original hero who died so you could live. Don’t let His sacrifice be in vain either.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 10/10/2015: Rodney Reeves and Randy Richards

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

Recently, we had Rodney Reeves and Randy Richards on to talk about Rediscovering Paul. They’re coming back again and this time they’re talking about Rediscovering Jesus, which I reviewed here. The book is a fun and unique look at Jesus asking what our Christianity would be like if we only had one source or one type of source and then what it would be like if we had some version of Jesus outside of the Bible. So who are the people coming on to talk about this?

Let’s start with Rodney Reeves.

publicity photo

I’ve been married over thirty-six years to Sheri (Richardson) Reeves, who is a Speech and Language Pathologist for Citizens Memorial Hospital, Bolivar, MO.

We have three children: Andrew (28) lives in Kansas City, MO; Emma (24) lives in Chicago, IL; and Grace (19) who is a first-year student at Belhaven University, Jackson, MS. Sheri and I are members of the First Baptist Church, Bolivar, MO.

I’m in my sixteenth year at Southwest Baptist University, Bolivar, MO, as the Redford Professor of Biblical Studies, also serving as Dean of The Courts Redford College of Theology and Ministry. I teach courses in New Testament and Greek.

I’m an SBU alumnus (1979), and I graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, TX (MDiv, 1982; PhD, 1986). I did part of my doctoral study at Oxford University, UK (1985-86).

Prior to coming to SBU, I served as Senior Pastor, Central Baptist Church, Jonesboro, AR (1995-2000), and associate professor of New Testament at Williams Baptist College, Walnut Ridge, AR (1987-1995).

I have written several articles for scholarly journals, textbooks, dictionaries, handbooks, and magazines. I’ve written four books: A Genuine Faith: How to Follow Jesus Today (Baker Books, 2005); Rediscovering Paul: An Introduction to His World, Letters and Theology, co-authored by David B. Capes and E. Randolph Richards (InterVarsity Press, 2007); Spirituality according to Paul: Imitating the Apostle of Christ (InterVarsity Press, 2011). My newest book, Rediscovering Jesus: An Introduction to Biblical, Religious and Cultural Perspectives on Christ (once again co-authored by Capes and Richards, InterVarsity Press, 2015) was released this summer. And I’m currently working on a commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Story of God Bible Commentary, ed. Scot McKnight (Zondervan Publishing, 2016?).

My hobbies are fishing, camping, golfing, and reading.

I made a vow to God many years ago to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to minister to the Body of Christ. I have tried to keep that promise as a member of a Baptist Church, as a minister, and as a college professor. I study Scripture because I want to be a committed disciple of Jesus. I teach biblical studies in an effort to serve the needs of the Church. I’m a part of the academic community here at SBU in hopes of advancing the Kingdom of God, trying to encourage each other to fulfill Jesus’ commandment: to love God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Therefore, I see my work here as part of the whole kingdom enterprise of teaching students to be servants of Christ for a world that needs him.

And as for Randy Richards.

Richards arms crossed smallest size

Dr. Randy Richards loves training students for ministry, both domestically and internationally. He has been teaching since 1986, originally at a state university and then abroad at an Indonesian seminary. Upon returning to the States, Dr. Richards has served at two Christian universities before joining Palm Beach Atlantic University as the Dean of the School of Ministry in 2006.

His wife Stacia has joyfully accompanied him from jungles of Indonesia to rice fields in Arkansas to beautiful South Florida. They have two fine sons. Josh (Ph.D. 2012, University of St Andrews, Scotland) is a university professor in English. Jacob (Ph.D. 2014, College of Medicine, University of Florida) is a medical researcher.

Dr. Richards has authored or co-authored seven books and dozens of articles. Recently, he has published Rediscovering Jesus (InterVarsity, 2015; Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes, with Brandon O’Brien (InterVarsity, 2012), “Reading, Writing, and the Production and Transmission of Manuscripts” in The Background of the New Testament: An Examination of the Context of Early Christianity (Baker, 2013), “Will the Real Author Please Stand Up? The Author in Greco-Roman Letter Writing” in Come Let Us Reason: New Essays in Christian Apologetics (B&H, 2012), “Pauline Prescripts and Greco-Roman Epistolary Convention” in Christian Origins and Classical Culture: Social and Literary Contexts for the New Testament (Brill, 2012), and a dozen articles in The Baker Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Baker, 2013).

He has just finished another popular book, Paul Behaving Badly, and is finishing A Little Book for New Bible Scholars, both with InterVarsity Press and due out in 2016. He is also completing chapters in two other books and several dictionary articles.

Dr. Richards is a popular lecturer, speaker and preacher, recently in places as diverse as Wycliffe Hall (Oxford), Kathmandu, and Kenya. He was a Senior Scholar at the IRLBR Summer Summit at Tyndale House (Cambride) in 2013. He regularly conducts missionary training workshops, and currently serves as a Teaching Pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in West Palm Beach.

This book is a highly enjoyable look at the life of Jesus that will lead to you thinking about it in a whole new light. These guys are really passionate about the book as well as I saw last time they came on and I hope you’ll be here to see round two of the discussion. Be watching for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Rediscovering Jesus

What do I think about the new book from Rodney Reeves, Randy Richards, and David Capes published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Rediscovering Jesus by Capes, Reeves, and Richards is a surprising read. Now I had read this book shortly after reading Rediscovering Paul so I was expecting something like that, but that isn’t exactly what I got. At the start, I was kind of disappointed hoping to find more about the culture of Jesus and especially looking at Jesus from an honor and shame perspective. That disappointment was only initial. As I got further into the book, I found myself quite intrigued and fascinated by what I was reading in the book and I found the idea for consideration a fascinating one.

This idea is to look at Jesus in isolation from the major sources that we have, such as the Gospel writers individually, the Pauline epistles, Hebrews, the general epistles, and Revelation. What would it be like if each source was the only source we had on Jesus? We usually take a composite of all we have on Jesus and then put that together and say this is the real Jesus. There is no fault in this, but looking at each case in isolation can be an interesting case study. Imagine how different our worldview would be if the only source we had on Jesus was the book of Revelation?

While these are fascinating, there is also a second section where we look at Jesus from other sources. What about the Gnostic Jesus such as popularized in works like The Da Vinci Code? What about the Jesus of Muslims who never died on the cross? What about the historical Jesus of modern historians who do not hold to the reality of miracles? What about the Mormon Jesus that looks like a Jesus made just for America? Speaking of that, what about the American Jesus as here in America, Jesus is used to promote and sell just about anything. Every side in every debate usually wants to try to claim Jesus. Finally, what about the Cinematic Jesus? Many of us have seen Hollywood movies about Jesus. Some are good. Some are not. How would we view Jesus if all we had were those movies to watch? (And since so few people read any more, this could become an increasingly common occurrence.)

For me, honestly the most fascinating section was the one on the American Jesus. This dealt with so much I see in my culture. It’s interesting we don’t talk about the French Jesus or the Japanese Jesus or the Italian Jesus. It’s more the American one. This one changes so much to being the super manly Jesus who takes the world like a man or the Prince Charming Jesus that every girl sings about as her boyfriend. This can be the pragmatic Jesus who is there to help us promote our culture, or it can be the Superman Jesus who rescues us when we’re in need, but then disappears. I do have to admit I am a Superman fan so I could see the parallels very easily and while I do think there are valid parallels, we do not want to see Jesus as identical with Superman. If there’s any chapter in the book I keep coming back to mentally, it’s this one. I will certainly be watching my culture much more.

I find this book to be one of the most eye-opening ones I have read in that sense. I do not think I ever paused to consider what it would mean if all I had to tell me about Jesus was just one particular source or one kind of source. How much richer off we are for having all these other sources! We can also be thankful for the non-Christian sources as well because these can highlight aspects of the Biblical Jesus that we might have lost sight of or they could show that the Jesus of the Bible is so much greater by contrast. If an outside source says something true about Jesus, we are the better for it. If it says something false, this can contrast with the true and we are the better.

I recommend the work wholeheartedly. It fortunately also comes with questions at the end that make it ideal for small group discussion.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

A Brief Look At Alexander Cain

Should you really consider buying Alive After The Fall? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So I was recently asked to give some thoughts on something called Alive After The Fall. Unfortunately, the manuscript is quite expensive and I don’t have the resources to purchase it, but I did look over the web site and it didn’t take long to realize I was looking at the same kind of stuff behind scares like Y2K. It is by an Alexander Cain, which is supposed to be a pen name by someone with a doctorate in theology and ancient history, though one web site said archaeology instead at one of the largest universities in Arkansas. My looking has not been able to establish who this person is at this moment.

So let’s start. Basically, Obama will not finish his second term. He is our last president because we will be attacked by an enemy worse than ISIS, Al Qaeda, North Korea, and Iran combined. (You can’t help but wonder if he’s thinking of a scenario like Independence Day at this point. Supposedly also, the church knows about this, but they don’t want to say a word because they don’t want to cause fear. More of this conspiracy theory cover-up nonsense taking place. So what else does Cain say?

How come America, the world’s only super power, the greatest evangelical nation on the earth, is not even mentioned in the Bible?

After all, as we know, the Bible accurately predicts so many other historical events:

The two world wars, man reaching outer space, the rise and fall of communism and the return of the Jews to their homeland after centuries of exile…

No. We don’t know that. Some could make a case for 1948, but even that one I’m suspicious of. Cain tosses this kind of statement out as if it was self-evident. It’s not. It needs to be argued for, but this will be par for the course for Cain.

Cain wants to know why America isn’t mentioned, and then he centers in on Babylon.

Because, you know, that’s never before been done in the history of interpretation….

So Cain wants us to look at how verses are supposedly about Babylon, but how can they be when they talk about pollution?

But if this is true why do the prophets speak of pollution since there was no pollution in ancient times

“Because thou hast destroyed thy land” (Isaiah 14:20)

“I have polluted mine inheritance, and given them into thine hand” (Isaiah 47:6)

It’s hard to believe that someone with a doctorate in theology does not recognize that in a society that is concerned with ritual cleanliness that pollution would just as much refer to moral pollution. In fact, in the second case, it is God who is doing a kind of pollution. He is allowing his inheritance to be polluted as it were by Babylon for what Judah had done. Cain’s reading of Scripture gets even worse.

Babylon will reach space as it “mounts up to heaven” (Jeremiah 51:53) and “raises its throne above the stars of God” (Isaiah 14:14)

Cain like many futurists is indeed a literalist, but this seems quite bizarre. This is really supposed to be about the space program? It’s hard to believe that anyone will take this seriously. Still, many will. This language is used to refer to pride and not to a literal action that is taking place.

How could Babylon be democracy weighed down by its huge government when we all know the state of Iraq has never had a real democracy?

“Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels.” Isaiah (47:13)

Yes. It’s surprising that someone with a doctorate in ancient history would not know that even in those days, governments had advisors and counselors. The whole of the passage is about those people that Babylon and its rulers would listen to. It is not talking about a Democratic government.

Babylon is a coastal nation, with deep-water ports and many rivers… Most of Iraq is a desert and it has very limited access to the sea
“O thou that dwellest upon many waters, abundant in treasures” (Jeremiah 51:13).

And Babylon is set in the same area and it had a moat to protect it. The Jews in captivity were said to dwell by the waters of Babylon, so what exactly is the problem here?

The country that can fulfill all these descriptions is obviously not ancient Iraq…

The only nation that reached space, has become the world’s only super power, is a democracy with a huge government, a mighty military, pollutes its land and sits on waters abundant in treasures is the United States of America in present times.

But what else do the prophets say about it:

Its beginning was unique and awe-inspiring(Isaiah 18:2): The US was the first state to break away from the British Empire.

America was created out of the former British colonies, a nation made out of many states just like the prophets foretold (Isa 13, 47, Jer. 50, 51).

We speak the English language and we are the descendants of the first British colonies…

That is why the prophet Jeremiah describes England like a mother to the US in verse 50:12.

According to the prophets the mother of Babylon has the symbol of the LION (Daniel 7:4; Ezekiel 38:13; Jer. 51:38; Psalms 17:12)… The royal symbol of England is a lion.

Once again, citing this kind of stuff should be its own refutation. Cain assumes his own interpretation with cut and paste ignoring the larger context of what is going on in the passage. For the symbol of the lion, a lion is a common royal symbol. We might as well say that this refers to Jesus since Jesus is symbolized by the Lion of Judah.

From here we go on to other ideas such as so many billionaires in America are Jewish and thus, this is the nation that was created by the Jews and therefore, we are the ones spoken of in prophecy. This is all said to be very very precise.

Perhaps it is if you play hopscotch with Scripture…

The next area is Babylon being described as a woman. Ah, but the U.N. pretty much rules the world now (Yes. More conspiracy theory stuff) and they meet in New York and what is there but the Statue of Liberty!

ooooooooooooh.

Libertas in Latin, Liberty in English is the name of the ancient Roman goddess of personal freedom especially in sexual matters…

She was referred to as the Mother of Harlots by the famous Roman historian (and senator) Cicero’s and she is considered the matron goddess of prostitution

This means that the statue of liberty is actually a statue of a pagan goddess of sexual freedom and prostitution.

So, does this mean any reference to liberty then is a reference to sexual freedom and a pagan goddess? It would also be nice to know where Cicero makes this connection. None of these claims have any sources. One would think a serious professor of this field would tell where these claims come from. Without being able to establish the premises, I see no reason to believe the conclusion.

We go on to more such as how we use the dollar as an act of sorcery and that we produce so much pornography in this country. Therefore, because of that, we are all obviously being spoken of as ancient Babylon. There can really be only one response to this kind of stuff after awhile.

Aslan Facepalm

He goes on to talk about Russia and how it will be involved in World War 3.

In chapter 11:40, Daniel tells of the two kings who are destined to fight the greatest war in human history at the end times.

He calls these two leaders the King of the North and the King of the south.

Once again, the assumption is that this is talking about end times. Well why should I believe that really?

The key to understanding this clue is the fact that in ancient times the birthplace was very important

And this is why Daniel identifies both kings by their birthplace relative to Jerusalem, the place where he had his visions.

Vladimir Putin was born in St. Petersburg, Russia which lies to the north of Jerusalem.

Does Putin fulfill the other Bible prophecies about him?

(Daniel 11:36): “And the king shall do according to his will”: Putin has absolute power, he controls the media, the military and the economy of Russia. (Daniel 11:37): “Neither shall he regard the gods of his fathers, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all”.

And we could easily find many rulers that were born north of Jerusalem that do as they will. Why should I immediately jump to Putin? Why in fact should I think that north and south mean north and south relative to Jerusalem? Do they do that anywhere else in the Bible? The southern Kingdom was not called southern because it was south of Jerusalem. It had Jerusalem in it!

It is very important to note that gods is not written with a capital letter because the gods of the fathers Daniel is talking about are the rulers of Communist Russia – Lenin, Marx and Stalin. These and other communist “gods” reigned in Russia for over 80 years. They were practically worshipped and pictures and statues of them were everywhere.

Even if we assumed that the manuscripts were not uncials, that is manuscripts written in only caps, it still would not follow that the gods would be Russian leaders of the past. Could it not be that gods could actually refer to, oh, I don’t know, gods that other nations believed in?

So from there, we move on to the southern king.

(Daniel 11:14) ”And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south”. The Obama administration has managed to antagonize a lot of countries: Russia, China, North Korea, a big part of the Muslim world including Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and the list goes on and on.

Unfortunately, it is clear that Barak Obama and Vladimir Putin are the kings of prophecy…

Well geez. If that doesn’t sink it in, then what will? Just take a couple of snippets devoid of a larger context, find two people you think it could refer to and presto, FULFILLMENT!

If you do think that this is clear, then please come speak to me about some oceanfront property I have for sale in Montana. I’m selling it cheap!

And from there, we go on to see that Putin is planning to use an Electro-Magnetic Pulse to attack America. While I do think America needs to do some work in case of a Carrington Event, this is just like Y2K all over again. Fortunately, we won’t have to wait too long to see what a fraud this is going to be.

There isn’t much after this except how you need this book to know how to survive. (Odd that Cain needs so much money when it’s going to be useless soon supposedly and isn’t that part of the sorcery of Babylon?) It’s unknown at this point if Cain is willing to refund everyone who buys a copy of his book and everyone who goes out and buys the supplies much like the Y2K scare tactics people did. Oh wait. It’s not really unknown. Even though the answer hasn’t been stated publicly, I think we all know the answer to that question.

You have better usages of your time and better usages of your money than giving them to someone who plays hopscotch with the Bible and makes wild conclusions from flimsy evidence.

Of course, Cain could answer that I’m just part of the church involved in the cover-up. (Because, you know, the church secretly has conversations with Putin regularly on how he’s going to use an EMP.)

But my serious advice is to please ignore people like Cain who are in my opinion ends times hucksters. We’ve seen it all before folks. It’s always been wrong before. How many times do these people have to be wrong before we finally stop taking them seriously?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction?

What did I think of David James’s book responding to the Harbinger? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Most people who read my material know I am not a friend of dispensationalism. I consider it to be a belief that has zero Biblical support and think that orthodox Preterism awaiting the return of Jesus and the bodily resurrection is the true message of Scripture in regard to eschatology. This does not mean that dispensationalists are my enemy. I married one. (Although she does hope my view is the true one.) I have many friends who are of a futurist persuasion. 

Despite this, if I’m cruising around on Facebook and see some sensationalism on the walls of Christians friends, it usually has to do with end times. Just this past week, I’ve had to deal with the claim that Jesus said the name of the antichrist was Barack Obama (And I am no fan whatsoever of The Empty Suit) and that Obama is also planning to implant RFID chips in people which as we know just has to be the Mark of the Beast!

Unfortunately for the dispensational camp, the sensationalists usually do carry the day. Right now, one of the big items going around is Blood Moons. I still remember being in a Christian bookstore with an aged pastor talking to the clerk about wanting to read the book on it and about his excitement with “Biblical Prophecy.” 

Sadly, I’m sure books by N.T. Wright, Mike Licona, and William Lane Craig are being neglected while Christians read spiritual junk food.

Another big one in recent times was the Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn. Cahn is of the opinion that he saw a message from God that everyone else missed in the 9/11 attack and the following economic collapse and all of this was said to happen according to what was written in Isaiah 9:10. Of course, this is done by selective usage of facts and horrible Scriptural interpretation, but hey, details. Who needs them?

It’s natural that a Preterist like myself would condemn such a work.

It’s a breath of fresh air that a dispensationalist like David James does.

Yes. James’s book is definitely worthy of praise. James does not go in for any of this in the book. He has nothing against Cahn as a person, but he does think that Cahn’s idea of America being given a warning of judgment starting with 9/11 has no backing whatsoever. He does think that Cahn is right in that America needs to repent, and I do agree with that point, but the warning has not happened the way Cahn thinks it has.

Naturally, James and I disagree on a number of points. We could probably sign the same statements on the veracity of Scripture and of course, we would agree on the great creeds of the church. Each one of us has a viewpoint that falls within the realm of orthodoxy. Still, I would not agree with his view that much of prophecy is future with the rapture of the church coming and I would not agree with his views on Israel. (I also don’t care for the term “replacement theology.” I prefer the term “Grafting in theology.” God did not replace Israel. He expanded it beyond what it was to include people in all places, of all languages, and all cultures, and all times.)

That’s what makes it so wonderful. This isn’t a battle of dispensationalism vs. Preterism. This is good interpretation vs. bad interpretation. This is also a danger of getting into the sensational. In a private email with James, I even told him that as I was thinking about futurism, I decided to use Blood Moons as an example and said “Suppose for the sake of argument that these were true messages from God. So what?”

Seriously. So what?

Are we to say that if you knew Jesus Christ was going to return in say, a year, that you’d suddenly start living differently? Then you have a problem right now. If you are truly living a Biblical life, and to be fair none of us truly are definitively, then it should not matter to how you live your life really if you know Jesus will return tomorrow or if it will be 1,000 years from now. Your marching orders are still the same.

Fortunately with the Harbinger, James has done his research and he has done it very well. He looks at each and every piece of information given by the prophet in the story and shows how it doesn’t line up. He shows that Cahn is highly selective in the material that he chooses to presents and ignores quite often the historical, linguistic, and cultural context of the information. In many places, he is quite loose with the facts.

James also looks at Cahn’s behavior since the publishing of the Harbinger and how many times, while he denies being a prophet (And probably the son of a prophet) and denies that this is really a prophecy about America, his actions seem to say otherwise. There are many chances he’s had to clear it up naturally and it hasn’t been taken.

Also, later in the book, he shows Cahn is entering quite dangerous territory with using material that could be considered more occultic in nature, like the Zohar. While I have no problem with extra-biblical sources, I do think some can be quite dangerous at times not because of challenging ideas, but if there’s the possibility of the occult, we must be careful. Even if it is not so, Cahn gives a more dangerous spin as inspiration seems to play a role into what goes into the Zohar.

James also deals with the idea that America is a covenant people. As I have said, a covenant requires agreement by two parties. Anyone can stand up and say they’re in a covenant with God. It isn’t one until God returns the deal somehow. No one can force God to be in a covenant. He is the initiator of the covenant. 

Unfortunately, the sad reality is more people will read Cahn’s junk food than will read James’s antidote, and this is a shame. In our society, too many people only want to read or pay attention to that which agrees with their own conclusion and do not show any proper interaction with the other side. I am sure James’s character would also be attacked if more people knew about this book. (Well obviously, he’s just resisting the Holy Spirit.) Such is the way of thinking, or rather non-thinking, in our culture.

While I disagree with James ideologically, I find in this book he is entirely level-headed and not going for the sensationalist stuff that too many dispensationalists are and sadly, that group that is sensationalist becomes the group that most people perceive the whole as being like. I only wish there were more out there who were like James. While we disagree on many issues, our disagreements will focus more on Scripture than anything else. I urge dispensationalists, preterists, and everyone in between to read this book. If you know someone who has read the Harbinger, get them to read this one as well.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 7/5/2014: Bill Fortenberry

What’s coming up on the next recording of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

The Fourth of July is a holiday I always enjoy. It’s a privilege to live in America. Even when our country is not going the way I hope it would morally, economically, politically, etc. I am still convinced I live in the best country on Earth. But how is it that my country started? So many times we are told about how the founding fathers were not Christians at all. Is that really the case? I decided to have as a guest then someone who knows the founding fathers quite well. My guest this week will be Bill Fortenberry. Who is that?

Billfortenberry

According to his bio:

Bill is, quite literally, a product of Christian education. He attended a Christian school from kindergarten through high school and received a degree in education from Ambassador Baptist College. As a result, he never had to unlearn the secular humanism that permeates the American public school system. This has given him a unique perspective on many of the topics being debated today and a passion to share that perspective with others.

Bill first began debating atheists and skeptics as a freshman in college, and he developed IncreasingLearning.com as a way to share his discussions with other Christians. This soon developed into an online ministry specializing in the public defense of the Bible and its application to American society.

Over the past several years, Bill’s ministry has focused on political apologetics. He has written extensively on the biblical principles of good government, and his research for personhoodinitiative.com has made him a nationally recognized leader in the fight against abortion.

Bill has published two books on America’s founding fathers, Hidden Facts of the Founding Era in 2012 and The Founders and the Myth of Theistic Rationalism in 2013. Both of these books showcase Bill’s signature style of making his arguments from original source material that is available to anyone with an internet connection. Nearly every footnote includes a link to the original publication on Google Books.

Bill is currently working on a third book tracing the Christian history of the ideals which form the basis of American government. He is also working full time in a small business startup, volunteering as the development director of Personhood Alabama, and running for office in his state’s legislature.

We’ll be discussing the faith of the fathers and in what way they saw Christianity as important to the building of America. We’ll also be discussing the Treaty of Tripoli. Doesn’t that make it clear that America is not a Christian nation at all? For the founders who were definitely not Christians, did that mean that they thought Christianity was just unneeded in American society?

I hope you’ll be listening to this and thinking about it as it would have happened after we celebrated the 4th of July. Those of us who love our country know that it is great for a reason and what can help us remember that greatness is by taking a look at where it is that we have come from.

In Christ,
Nick Peters