Check The Bibliography

Where do you go when you open a book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Most of my time is spent reading non-fiction. The rule I am giving does not apply to fiction and does not necessarily reply to material that is more devotional or self-help in nature. However, if you read a book arguing that another position is wrong, I want to make a recommendation on how to start.

Recently a skeptic I have interacted with wanted to send me a book he wrote on Christianity. I agreed to this. The book will be reviewed when I finish it so I won’t say what it is for now, but I did pick it up and check recently the bibliography. That was a section that confirmed many of my concerns.

When I went, for the most part, I pretty much just saw the Bible quoted over and over. If there was any Christian scholarship interacted with, it was certainly the very rare exception and right now, I can’t remember any of it that I saw. I could be mistaken, but that is what I saw.

Now some atheist who wants to apparently claim some piety might say “But isnt’ the Bible the Word of God? Shouldn’t quoting it be sufficient?” Well, of course not. You see, if you’re arguing that the Bible is wrong, you really need to take it on in the most serious way possible. It’s ridiculous to think you can take a book written in another context, place, language, and culture, and just quoting it in your English translation is enough to show you seriously understand all of those aspects that affect it.

You don’t.

If you say God should make it that way, then your objection is really a theological one and I want to know how you know this. Who told you that God should do it this way because it would be easier on you? Who said that He should be beholden to follow your rules?

By the way, I hold Christian books to the same standard. When I read a Christian work like this, I expect it to argue with that which is on the other side. There are a number of “apologetics” books that I have gone after because the author did not do this. If we want our opponents to take us seriously and really interact with the scholars on our side, we should do the same with them.

This doesn’t apply to just Christians and atheists. A Christian writing against any position should quote the other side regularly. This even includes more debates that are in-house. I have been reading on Protestantism, Catholicism, and Orthodoxy more lately and I would think a Christian writing about the other side being incorrect on something should be quoting that other side often. Show me that you have seriously interacted with the material.

When you get that book then, go look at the bibliography. If you’re at the bookstore and want to get a serious investment, do the same thing. Of course, you will need to know the scholars on the sides you’re talking about in order to examine this claim, so again, you have to study as well. Perhaps you want to read a book with a bad bibliography just for amusement or some other reason. That’s your choice, but don’t expect a serious argument.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Pastor. Let Questions Come

Should Christians ask questions? Let’s jump into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Monday I did a podcast with the Mentionables. In it, Marc Lambert of Hey, Pastor, talked about how as a pastor he encourages people to ask questions. Too many pastors seem to shy away from questions or tell people to not ask them or to just have faith.

An attitude of not answering questions does no favors to anyone in your congregation if you’re a pastor. Someone who is questioning is someone who is wanting to learn. When your children go to school, you want them to ask the teacher questions so you can learn. Do you not want them to learn at church?

My wife has been looking into Orthodoxy lately. I’m not a big fan of it, but I do agree with something that the priest at the church said. Truth doesn’t need to be afraid to ask any questions. He’s absolutely right on that. No pastor should be afraid of questions.

“But Nick! What if they have a question I can’t answer? What then?!”

How about this? You go and say “Let’s find an answer together.” Do the research with them. Show them how it can be answered. You will not only help them answer the question, but you will teach them that it’s okay to ask and how to go about answering questions.

One of the big reasons people leave the church is unanswered questions. They then buy into the whole idea that faith is believing without evidence. This is a blatantly false idea, but it still gets around. Sadly, too many people who will read a Richard Dawkins saying this will have more than enough evidence from their Christian friends that this is exactly what it means.

I posted a link to the Mentionables above. They also do have a network pastors where you can find people in your area who are willing to answer questions. These people, like myself, aren’t big names yet and will likely jump at the chance to do any work and will have openings in their schedules. This means that if you really just can’t get around to doing this, there are people who you can find who will help out.

Apologetics if you’re a pastor should be part of your ministry. Consider giving a sermon. When you open up the text, would it kill you to give some of the historical background? Could you talk about the date of the text and who wrote it and why? Could you perhaps share any archaeological data that has been found?

You can still go and explain the text and give an application. It is not that hard. When my grandmother died, I was one of three people assigned to speak at her funeral. I had ten minutes. What did I do? I spent the first five minutes talking about the resurrection of Jesus and how we know it’s true. I spent the last five talking about what it meant for everyone there who is a believer, including my grandmother. It worked great. The message got a lot of positive response. That took just a few minutes.

The best church my wife and I ever went to had a program set up where during the sermon, you could text in a question that you have. The pastor would then come out at the end and answer questions. If a question required a greater response, he would make a vlog about it sometime during the week for people to watch. No one could leave that church saying questions were unwelcome.

Pastor. Please encourage the asking of questions. Refusing them only creates future atheists. If people want to learn about God, don’t deny them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Is The Bible Literally True?

Should we take the Bible literally? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Someone sent me an article from the Huffington Post recently on if the Bible is literally true. The article is by a Steve McSwain who is described as a speaker, author, counselor to congregations, Ambassador to the Councilor on the Parliament for World’s Religions, and Spiritual Teacher. No academic credentials are listed. He does also describe Christianity as his faith so he claims at some level to be a Christian.

He does say at the start that while he values the Bible, he doesn’t believe it to be divinely dictated or a sacred text without error. I don’t know any evangelical today who really holds to the dictation theory. No doubt, there are some in the rank and file who do, but not the majority.

He goes on to say that if you are a Biblical literalist, that this bothers you. You believe that everything must be literal and it must be error-free. At this, I have a problem. What is meant by literal? It’s a term that’s often used and yet few people really define it. Most people do not think Jesus is literally a door or a vine when He uses that language.

Sadly, McSwain is probably accurate when some people think that if they risk undermining the text or questioning it, they could undermine all of it. Everything goes out the window then. This is the all-or-nothing thinking that many Christians do have and amusingly, many skeptics have that as well. I recall one person on Unbelievable? asking a guest on the show that if the Bible doesn’t agree with how Judas died, then how can we trust that Jesus was crucified?

McSwain goes to the flood accounts and says that they obviously contradict. He points to the differences between verses 2 and 15 of chapter 7. Let’s go and look at what they say.

Verse 2: Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate

Verse 15: Pairs of all creatures that have the breath of life in them came to Noah and entered the ark.

Look. I know that there are possible claims of contradictions and such, but this is not a good one. All that is said in verse 15 is pairs came. It doesn’t specify how many and how many of each kind came. In that case, give the benefit of the doubt to the author instead.

He goes on to say that,

The real Moses never wielded a staff with supernatural powers, the tip of which, when dipped into the Nile, turned the river into a cesspool of blood. Or, when dipped into the Red Sea, caused it to part so Israelites could pass to the other side on dry, not muddy, ground.

None of these Biblical stories, including the ones where Jesus is depicted as defying the laws of nature and performing miracles… as in, walking on water or giving sight to the blind or, most amazingly, raising dead people back to life were recorded as factual, or literal, eyewitness accounts. And, even if they were, they cannot be depicted as such today, if you want any of it to be believed… to be respected… or, to be read with any seriousness.

For the sake of argument, this could be true, but the problem is McSwain gives us no reason to believe any of this. I also have to wonder what kind of Christian he is if he denies any miracles at all. Again, McSwain’s case could hypothetically be right, but he has given us no reason to think so, that is, unless you just come out and agree that miracles don’t happen, but that is the very thing under question.

As for the idea of eyewitness accounts, it would be nice to see some interaction with scholarship, such as Richard Bauckham, but we can suspect that won’t happen. Statements of faith are problematic no matter who says it. Unfortunately, mayn people will read McSwain and believe it because, well he’s in the Huffington Post, and do so without any real reason why they should believe it.

What matters to McSwain is how the stories have shaped the lives of those who hear its message. This can sound good, but while it’s great that people have their lives changed, do we want to enforce the Noble Lie? If Christianity is not true, then there is truly no resurrection, no heaven beyond this world, no hell to shun, no forgiveness of sins, no real love of God.

It’s hard to believe that the early church was really excited about that.

McSwain has a watered down faith. Note I have not said he has to embrace inerrancy, but he seems to have just embraced that Christianity is all about being a good person and the truth of the Bible does not matter. If anything, the truth of the Bible matters abundantly. If it is true that God lived among us and that Jesus died and rose again and there is real forgiveness and a heaven to gain and a hell to avoid and eternal life in resurrected bodies, I should think we would want to know it. If it is not true, then who really cares? But if it is true, it matters greatly. As has been said, if Christianity is not true, it is of no importance. If it is true, it is of the utmost importance.

Christian Hysteria And The Real Battle

Are we zealous in the wrong areas? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I wrote about what was going on on a well-known apologist’s page and how it was the same thing from a year ago with a meme that was entirely false. This was about Halloween. Sadly, too many Christians posting ignored multiple people asking hard questions about the authenticity of the claim and went on with either bad-mouthing the person in the meme as if he really said the claim or jumped straight into panic mode. More often, it was panic mode.

Of course, no one is going to deny that parents want to protect their children and should do so, but could the real threats be being ignored for the fake ones? In fact, for those wanting to avoid the snare of the devil, I would think that someone like the devil could certainly create a false threat in order to hide a real one, a sort of diversionary tactic. Halloween is just such an example.

Sadly, I saw people posting speaking about how this is how the antichrist is going to take over by making this stuff fun and innocent. I’m surprised I didn’t see anything this time about the Illuminati and the New World Order. Of course, we also saw more and more people saying that this is pagan and that Christmas and Easter are also pagan.

I honestly wonder what such people are going to do when they tell their children this and then they or their children see something like the claims of Zeitgeist where Christianity is said to be copied from pagan gods. If we apply the same methodology, why not?

I do want it to be known that I surely realize the occult is out there. I also realize many Christians buy into a sort of occult thinking without realizing it. My wife and I like to sometimes watch these videos where people talk about the rapture coming and such. We don’t believe in it, but it can be amusing. It’s amazing how many of these begin with “I had a dream and” or “I had an experience and”. Too many Christians read signs into everything that happens to them as if the universe is all about them, kind of mirroring the way pagans read the entrails of animals and the flights of birds and other such things.

So while acknowledging that the occult is out there and yes, children need to be ready to deal with it, I can assure you that I see no reason to think that having your child put on a costume and go door to door asking for candy means they’re being caught up in the occult. Dare I say it, but perhaps not opening your children up to imagination and wonder is getting them closer to atheism. Chesterton was the great advocate of the importance of fairyland after all.

Furthermore, I am wondering how many of you who are like this are preparing for other challenges? For instance, are you equipping your child to know how they can show that God exists, the Bible is reliable, and that Jesus rose from the dead, beyond their personal testimony? If so, is your child ready to engage with the atheism they will find on a college campus?

What about materialistic greed? Is your child thinking that they need to have every new IPhone and computer and toy out there? Is your child wanting everything they can get and not appreciating the good gifts that they have? I’m not saying never get your child gifts like this, but make sure their love for you and their happiness is not conditional on such things.

Or dare I say it, what about sexual temptation? This is something they will live with all their lives. Do your kids have more than a few verses from Paul? Do they have a whole foundation of sexual ethics that tells them what sex is and why it matters and why it should be saved for marriage? Your kid could run into someone who will want to lead them into the occult to be sure, but they are far more likely to run into someone who will want to lead them into a sexual relationship outside of marriage and without a proper foundation, they will want to be led!

If you think that sounds a bit over the top, then just do this. Go to your average man who is married or not and is a devout Christian and ask him if he wrestles with sexual temptation. It’s a real battle. Even those of us, like myself, who love our wives deeply have to face a daily battle with the flesh. Are your kids ready?

Hysteria will not convince your kids. If anything, it will lead to your worldview being mocked and ostracized. If your child is talking about candy, there’s no need to bring up the plot of the antichrist. It saddens me that we who are supposed to live the most without fear are often the most fearful of all. You would think that Jesus had not won the battle against the forces of evil. You would think that Jesus is not Lord of all, conquering daily.

By the way, if you want my opinion on Halloween, go and have fun. It’s a day for kids to relax and enjoy themselves and pretend. If you don’t have kids, don’t close your door on Halloween. Here you say you are a Christian and you shut the door on children coming to your house. Is that the Christianity you want to present? Be there, put a smile on the faces of the kids, and give out the best candy that you have.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Special Edition Deeper Waters Podcast: Sean McDowell

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

Evidence. It’s a favorite word of the apologist. Many skeptics think we don’t want to talk about evidence, but in reality we do. We would love it if more conversations revolved around evidence. The question is, do we have the evidence that we need?

Josh McDowell’s books on Evidence That Demands A Verdict has long been a staple for many. Now, he has a new updated one out that he has done with his son Sean. Recognizing the need, I asked to be part of the launch team and so I have indeed gone through most of it and this Friday, in a special edition of the show, I will be interviewing one of the authors, Sean McDowell, on this book.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Dr. Sean McDowell is a gifted communicator with a passion for equipping the church, and in particular young people, to make the case for the Christian faith. He connects with audiences in a tangible way through humor and stories while imparting hard evidence and logical support for viewing all areas of life through a Biblical worldview. Sean is an Associate Professor in the Christian Apologetics program at Biola University. And he is the Resident Scholar for Summit California.

Sean still teaches one high school Bible class, which helps give him exceptional insight into the prevailing culture so he can impart his observations poignantly to fellow educators, pastors, and parents alike. In 2008 he received the Educator of the Year award for San Juan Capistrano, California. The Association of Christian Schools International awarded Exemplary Status to his apologetics training. Sean is listed among the top 100 apologists. He graduated summa cum laude from Talbot Theological Seminary with a double Master’s degree in Theology and Philosophy. He earned a Ph.D. in Apologetics and Worldview Studies from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2014.

Traveling throughout the United States and abroad, Sean speaks at camps, churches, schools, universities, and conferences. He has spoken for organizations including Focus on the Family, the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Backyard Skeptics, Cru, Youth Specialties, Hume Lake Christian Camps, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Association of Christian Schools International. Sean has also appeared as a guest on radio shows such as Family Life Today, Point of View, Stand to Reason, Common Sense Atheism, and the Hugh Hewitt Show. Sean has been quoted in many publications, including the New York Times.

Sean is the author, co-author, or editor of over eighteen books including The Fate of the Apostles (Routledge, 2015), A New Kind of Apologist (Harvest House, 2016), The Beauty of Intolerance (Barbour 2016), Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage, with John Stonestreet (Baker, 2014), Is God Just a Human Invention? with Jonathan Morrow, and Understanding Intelligent Design along with William A. DembskiSean has also written multiple books with his father, Josh McDowell, including The Unshakable Truth, More Than A Carpenter, and an update for Evidence that Demands a Verdict (2017). Sean is the General Editor for The Apologetics Study Bible for Students. He has also written for YouthWorker JournalDecision Magazine, and the Christian Research Journal. Follow the dialogue with Sean as he blogs regularly at seanmcdowell.org.

In April, 2000, Sean married his high school sweetheart, Stephanie. They have three children and live in San Juan Capistrano, California. Sean played college basketball at Biola University and was the captain his senior year on a team that went 30-7.

We’ll be having an hour-long discussion about this book, the impact the series has had through the years, and why you should get the new version. Sean has been a great guest before and I look forward to having him back on again. This will not cancel out the Saturday show. We will still have that. Please also consider going on ITunes and leaving a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

37

What is there to learn looking back? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you see my Facebook page today, it’s been filled with people posting on my wall today. Why? Today is the day I celebrate another year around the sun and turn 37. Yes. I know my wife is 27. I did indeed rob the cradle big time. (It freaks her out when I tell her that when she was in 4th grade, I was in college.)

I look back and it’s really amazing how much has changed. Some things have stayed the same. I’m still someone who likes to play his games and my wife and I can watch cartoons together regularly. On the other hand, many times a commercial will come on advertising a household project and we’ll say “Hey. That looks like something we could use,” and then we’ll just ask ourselves when did we start paying attention to that?

Gift giving also used to be the big thing on the birthdays. Every birthday, you looked forward to what you were getting. I still do that to an extent. I am suspecting my in-laws got me the complete Adam West Batman series on DVD, something I’ve been eying for some time. No doubt, many others will get me Amazon gift cards because they know how much I love to get things from Amazon. (Any reader who feels generous can do so as well)

Gifts are nice as always, but now I value more the time with my family. That especially includes my wife. My wife is one who gives me the greatest gift possible of the privilege of being her husband. Life changes incredibly when you get married and meet someone who you can share the rest of your life with. Looking back, it’s really hard to think about what it was like when I was single and didn’t have that special bond.

Growth in apologetics is also good. My father-in-law has been helping me learn Greek for work on my Master’s in New Testament. The podcast is becoming more and more popular I suspect and I have more and more people sending books to me to review. Probably I will never catch up on all the books I have to read, but that’s okay. That just gives me more of a challenge.

There are also more hopes and dreams for the future. Allie has come to the realization that God loves her and I look forward to this blooming more and more, especially if she can get to the place again where she knows how much I love her and how much she means to me. I am looking forward to speaking at a conference next May and tomorrow I will be an interview subject on another podcast. I really hope this keeps up.

So as I conclude, I finish by celebrating the love of God in my life that the ministry I do is something I truly enjoy doing. I celebrate also that I have my wife by my side. The love of Allie is one of the greatest motivators I have and something that helps me do the ministry that I do and every act of trust and respect from her shoots my confidence up more and more. I thank all the people who are posting on my wall today to celebrate today.

Thanks to also all of you, my readers, who for some reason like to keep coming to this blog to see what I have to say. I also thank those of you who listen to the podcast. If you wish, feel free to give another gift by leaving a positive review of the show on ITunes.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 9/9/2017: The Mentionables

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

It kind of started as a joke or a compliment. Maybe it was a little bit of both. One of my friends mentioned me and some others in a comment and how that while there are several big names in apologetics, there are some that deserve a mention. I replied thanking him for the compliment as did some of the others named, and then we decided why not make it real?

And now, the Mentionables are here.

We’re going to be having a regular podcast with different ones of us speaking from time to time and we’re having a conference in Greensboro in May of next year. However, we’re also going to be doing an interview on my podcast this Saturday. We’ll be talking about who we are and the conference and giving an example of what we want the Mentionables Podcast to be like.

So who are the Mentionables?

Joel Furches is a writer who has spent most of his writing career researching and writing on the subject of Christian Apologetics. Joel wrote a column for The Examiner on Apologetics for over five years. Additionally, Joel has researched and written for publications such as Bible Translation Magazine, Hubpages, Premier Christianity Magazine, and Christian Media Magazine. Joel has contributed material to the book “Basics of Biblical Criticism,” and is the author of “Christ-Centered Apologetics.”

Joel has a BS in Psychology and an MS in Education.

And Neil Hess

 

  • Masters in the Arts of Teaching 2006

 

  • Attended Western Seminary 2013-2015 (Stopped due to time, health and financial constraints)

 

  • Completed the Ambassadors Academy on Evangelism with Ray Comfort and Living Waters July 2011

 

  • Teaching science at the middle school level since 2007

 

  • Produced dozens of apologetics related and evangelistic videos and blog articles

 

  • Years of experience in multimedia production, especially in audio production and voice overs

 

 

Established multiple podcasts

Other members at this time include Adam Coleman, Chad Gross, and Tyler Vela. Tyler has been on my show twice before. Finally, I’m also included as a mentionable. If you want information on me, it’s all here on this web site and I don’t think I need to include it again.

We are already planning for our first conference in May of next year in Greensboro, North Carolina. We hope that it will be the first of many. The show we’re doing on Saturday though is more to help introduce us to the world. Many people have heard of the much bigger names, but they haven’t heard of the lesser names, but even lesser names deserve a mention.

This also means podcast fans that from time to time, I will be contributing regularly to yet another podcast and I hope that you listen to that one as well. The difference is on the other one, you’ll likely be hearing a lot more of my viewpoints whereas on mine, it’s strictly an interview or debate format depending on the guests on the show. I hope it goes well and you listen to tha tas well.

I also hope you’ll leave a review on ITunes of the show and if you want to get to see me sometime, maybe you’d like to come to the conference in Greensboro. Be watching this web site for details.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Why I Read Marriage Books

With so much in apologetics to study, why study marriage? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I love having a Kindle. It’s a wonderful gift. It’s especially helpful when Allie wants to go to bed at an early time and wants me nearby, but I still want to read. I just get in and use a light dimmer and read my Kindle. Since mine is a Fire, it also works as a portable office.

I also am quite frugal so I subscribe to email lists about discount and free books related to Christian interests of mine. One of those is books on marriage. Sometimes, I will get one and read through it. I take my time normally and read only a chapter a day. Other books I go through quickly, but on these I try to go much more steadily.

But why? There is so much to keep up with in the world of apologetics. There are so many debates to prepare for. How is it that I am bettering the world by reading a book on marriage?

It’s because despite what people will tell you, marriage is work. Anything worthwhile is. I work at my marriage because it’s one of the greatest gifts I have. I want to know how to be the best at this relationship. The better my relationship with my wife is, the better everything else is in this world.

I think also this is important for our marriage debates today. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not at all saying that we shouldn’t work on showing that marriage is a man and a woman for life, but I think the reason the world denounces marriage is in many ways, we did it first. Sure, the divorce rate is not as high among committed Christians as the world would have you believe, but it is still there.

What we need to do is treat marriage like a treasure. Some of the best evangelism that you can do starts in your own home. If you cannot show love to your immediate family, it’s going to be hard to show the rest of the world that you have love for them. Love begins at home.

I also tell people in ministry that if you are a great debater, a great apologist, you can answer every question, and you write excellent bestsellers, but you fail to be a spouse to your spouse and a parent to your children, then I count you as a failure in ministry. Your family should have no justifiable doubt on where they stand with you.

We all know one of the benefits of marriage is sex, and this is another way that the church can do better. If you watch media, you will think the world has the better deal. Couples fall in love and have sex constantly and there’s never anything afterwards that goes wrong directly related to sex. Those of us who are married know better.

Sex itself takes work, but it’s worth it. In fact, we as Christians should be living out the best sex lives. It should be that if people want the idea of what a truly awesome sex life looks like, they should look to their Christian friends. It’s our God who made this gift. Why should we not be the ones celebrating it?

My working on marriage is because of how much my own wife means to me. My wife is a sacred gift and she entrusts me also with a very sacred gift, herself. If I have such a great gift as that, why should I not want to work on it and improve it? My marriage should never suffer because I have an apologetics ministry.

And your relationships shouldn’t suffer for ministry either.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Why Does God Allow Evil?

What do I think of Clay Jones’s book published by Harvest House Publishers? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I want to thank Harvest House for sending me a copy of Clay Jones’s book. I consider him a friend and he has helped me through some personal issues of mine that I have struggled with before. I was thrilled to hear about this book and after reading it, I have to say I love it and I hate it.

This is a great book because it is a thorough look at the problem of evil. Many questions will be answered and questions one didn’t know were out there will be addressed. It is a challenge for anyone who wants to use the problem of evil as an argument against theism.

With that being said, why would I hate this book at the same time?

I hate it because this is more than a detached look at the problem of evil. This is an in-your-face look. It’s so much easier to talk about evil when it’s the people out there who are the problem. It’s easy to condemn genocide when you realize you’re not one of those people doing it. You’re a “good person” after all. It’s not so easy when you realize that many of these people we today call “good people” are people who are just as much capable of genocide. In fact, if we think we’re better than those who do commit genocide, we’ve taken the first step to being a person who will commit genocide.

Jones’s book shows that evil is not just a problem out there. Evil is a problem within. Regularly throughout the book, I would experience knowing that I contribute to the problem of evil and if I don’t in a major way, there’s not much that’s stopping me from doing so. It’s much better to talk about evil when it’s something out there, but Jones won’t leave it at that.

Jones also includes much about Heaven in this book, which is quite good. He also got me right here as I realized I don’t have the great desire for Heaven that I should. Part of this could be we just don’t know what Heaven is like. Jones says that the most common comparison between the eternal state and our world today is marriage.

This also I concur with. For a young man especially growing up, he finds that he knows two things normally about sex. First, he has never really had it before. Second, he knows that he wants it and that it’s very good. This is the same with heaven. In fact, the desire for both is enjoyable itself. Ask any husband who knows that tonight is the night. He has something to look forward to all day.

Fortunately, Jones does help someone change their outlook. He does say that if Heaven was the way the popular media depicts it, it would be understandable to not look forward to it. Heaven will not be an eternal church service nor will it be just sitting on a cloud playing a harp forever. Heaven is a place where we will be doing the work of God and some will be leading others and ruling cities. Yeah. Think about what it would be like if all of a sudden Seattle was placed under your control.

If there was something I would have liked explained more in the book, it’s natural evil. I really don’t think the fall is sufficient to explain it all. After all, if our scientific history is correct, there were earthquakes and such before the fall. There also is the case of animal predation. Why does a porcupine have quills except to defend it from predators? Dembski argues that God made the world knowing about the fall in advance, which is true, but also raises the question of what did happen there. I would have liked to have seen more from Jones on this front as natural evil is usually one of the biggest hurdles that is raised.

Jones’s book is not just good apologetics. It’s also good for Christian practice. Jones doesn’t just equip you with answers and understanding, but he also shows you where you need to develop and how the problem of evil really begins with you. He also reminds you to put your hope in the future promise of God.

I recommend Jones’s book, but be prepared when you read it. Be ready to take look at yourself. You might not like what you see. Again, evil seems easy to complain about when it comes to people outside of you. It’s not as pleasant when you realize you are part of the problem.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Are Your Thoughts And Ways God’s?

Is there any relation between what you think and what God thinks? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

One of the problems in our age with Biblical interpretation is many times we can get so centered on one way of interpreting a passage and we hear it so often that we never consider that that could be a wrong interpretation. The danger of a wrong interpretation is twofold. First off, we will believe the text says the wrong thing. Second, we will miss the truth that the text is giving us.

Isaiah 55 has one such spot. Let’s go to the text.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

So what is going on here? A lot of Christians will look at this and say that it means the thoughts of God are totally foreign to us. You cannot think what God thinks. It’s entirely different. Some use this to say that God can even be illogical. God can make a contradiction true for instance. Is that what is being said?

No. In fact, I have deliberately left out the surrounding context. If you think anything that is true, you agree with God. You say God exists? God agrees. You say that Jesus is the Son of God who rose from the dead? Assuming you’re properly understanding what those terms mean, then yes, God agrees. While there are aspects of the mind of God we cannot know, we can know what He has revealed to us.

So if that is not what is being said here, what is being said? The reality is that this is a beautiful passage on grace and forgiveness. Our bad interpretation has caused us to miss the truly good one.

Let’s look at what comes before it.

Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
    and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
    and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

Many of us have a mindset that we fear God will judge us for some big sin that we’ve committed or something that we picture as a big sin. We also have a hard time accepting forgiveness. “I just can’t forgive myself for what I’ve done.” In this way, our thoughts are not God’s thoughts and our ways are not His ways. We are treating God like a common man and saying that this is what we would do, so this is what God would do.

God says it’s not. His way is to forgive. If the wicked will come, they will not be condemned. They will instead receive the mercy and grace of God. This passage isn’t making a claim about the mind of God being totally foreign to us. It’s making a claim that God does not act like we do towards the wicked or dare I say it, even ourselves.

We can all seek to know the truth and be in further agreement with God, but one truth we should accept is grace. We all when we sin are the wicked. Our ways with ourselves are not God’s. His ways are higher.

In Christ,
Nick Peters