Are There Easy Answers?

How do you determine if an answer is true? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In this field, you often get emailed questions. Many times, people want an answer and often, they want an answer and they don’t want the books to read or the talks to listen to to get the answer. They just want the answer. Is this really possible to do?

Here’s a simple answer.

No.

Often times, I have seen this kind of event happen where someone asks me questions and before too long, I realize I’m doing the argument for them. If you want to succeed in apologetics, this is not going to do any service for you. In the end, you will know what the conclusion is but you will not know how you got to that conclusion or why the conclusion is the true conclusion.

People also often want to know how they can be absolutely certain that their answers are true. If I’ve looked up something as an answer to a question, how do I know it’s true? Is there a way to be absolutely certain?

Again, a simple answer.

No.

Now some might be asking how you can believe in Christianity and hold this, but the real question to ask is how can you believe in anything and hold this? The only areas we often have absolute proof in are math and logic. That doesn’t stop us from holding beliefs and holding them incredibly strongly. Some beliefs are much more backable than others. This isn’t even saying something like scientific beliefs are much more capable of having known answers than religious beliefs. In every area, there are degrees of assurance.

The truth is that you will just have to work. This is something many people do not like to hear today and by the way, you have to work on both sides. If you’re a Christian, you should not go around and say “The Word of God says XYZ” and expect audiences to take you seriously. If you’re an atheist, you don’t need to do an atheistic presuppositionalism where you say “Dead people don’t come back to life!” and think that you’ve made a killer argument that no one in Christianity has ever thought of.

If you are a Christian doing a debate, you need to read and study what you are debating. When I talk with Muslims for instance, for the time being, I don’t discuss Islam as Islam. I will discuss what it has to say about Christianity or the claims Muslims make about the New Testament, but I won’t present myself as an authority on the Koran, because I am not. I will not present myself as an authority on science, because I am not. If I speak without study, as soon as I encounter someone who actually is studied, I am prone to embarrass not only myself, but the Gospel.

If you are an atheist, what I call a presuppositional atheism will not help you. You will actually need to study the religion you’re going after, which is usually Christianity. Some people think reading the Bible is enough, but you need to see what learned Christians have said about the Bible. I often ask many atheists I debate when the last time was they read an academic work on religion that disagreed with them. I can’t remember the last time I got an answer. It won’t work to presume you are smarter because you’re an atheist or automatically rational or that all Christians are automatically gullible. It might surprise you, but I kow many Christians who I consider more skeptical than atheists.

One key example of this I see is Jesus mythicism. Atheists who hold to mythicism have no basis going after Christians who question evolution or who hold to a young Earth. (I have no problem with evolution and with an old Earth.) The view of mythicism is in fact held by fewer authorities in the field than the view of Young-Earth Creationism. Too many I think believe in mythicism because it seems like you possess the secret knowledge no one else knows, you’ve seen through the miasma that the scholars have been hiding, and you know a secret truth. It’s really a way of thinking like a conspiracy theorist.

In all honesty, it looks like too many atheists will believe anything because it argues against Christianity. On the other hand, too many Christians will believe anything because it agrees with Christianity. Neither are willing to investigate the claims. (The exception is April 1st, the one day of the year people actually check claims before sharing them on Facebook.)

The bottom line is that in any case, if you want to debate, you will need to study. Many Christians tell me they don’t have the money to buy books or go to Seminary. Fine. There’s a place you can go and get books for free. You can’t keep them, but you can hold on to them long enough to read them. That place is called a library. Use it well. Learn to use Interlibrary loan. I use it constantly to get books.

Listen to podcasts. Of course, I’m biased, but I happen to think my podcast, the Deeper Waters Podcast, is a great source of information. Other shows include Unbelievable? where you can actually hear a debate between a Christian and a non-Christian. If money is an excuse, don’t let it be one.

Then finally, I’m all for time for play and relaxation. I have a wife. I can’t read all the time. We often want to watch a show together or go out on a date. Still, take some private time to read and learn that which you need to learn.

Also, if you’re just starting in this field, try not to be intimidated. Everyone who got where they are started where they were. It will take time. It will take practice. You will get beat a number of times. It’s okay. It’s not the end of the world. Just spend more time preparing yourself.

It will be worth it.

Christ is worth it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: God Among Sages

What do I think of Ken Samples’s book published by Baker? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Ken Samples has given the church a gift in giving us a guide to understanding other religions and not only what they believe, but good ways to interact with them. His work is meant to compare Jesus to other religious leaders. How is He similar? How is He different?

Samples takes a hard look at the other religions, but also a fair look. He points to beliefs that are exemplary in those religions. These are areas of common ground that can be agreed upon. We can often make a mistake when we study another religion where we say that everything it is wrong. This is quite likely not the case. It’s hard to think of a worldview where absolutely everything is wrong. (In fact, if we begin discussing evidence in objective reality, we at least agree that there is an objective reality.)

He also includes reading for those interested. If you want to go to the scholars of that religion themselves and the ones who hold to it, he goes there. If you want to know about Christians who have written on the topic, he also goes there. I think Samples’s treatment is quite fair. I cannot speak on accuracy per se as I am not a specialist in these religions, but he does not go out to make them look foolish.

When that is done, he will tell you about what to say when you talk to people who hold these worldviews. What kinds of questions can you ask? How can you handle their belief system respectfully? The book is also written with questions that make it appropriate for small groups. Naturally, while this is all good, I would also tell people that if you want to engage with someone in this worldview, try to read their holy book or books yourself as well. (I still remember the time when dialoguing with a Muslim when I asked if he had ever read the NT. His reply was “No. Have you ever read the Qur’an?” I was able to answer affirmatively.)

He starts as well with a defense of the deity of Christ and who He was. I thought this was a good section, but I would have liked to have seen a lot more from the other Gospels besides John. I fully uphold John of course, but many groups like Muslims and JWs have been trained to deal with explicit arguments. I like more the implicit arguments and the ones that are seen to be even earlier than John that show a high Christology.

There’s also a discussion about exclusivism vs. inclusivism at the end of the book. This is the section that I had the most difficulty with. I am not one who thinks that one has to explicitly know the name of Jesus to be saved. I don’t think Samples’s explanation for the Old Testament is really convincing. I think those in the Old Testament were saved by looking forward to the pre-incarnate Christ they did not know.

It’s also not because I have a low view of God and sin and a high view of man. I don’t. Aside from the work of the cross of Christ, no one is fit to be in right relationship with God. Samples goes to Romans 10 about people needing to hear the Gospel, and they do, but doesn’t Romans 10 right after 14-15 and 17 contain these verses?

18 But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did:

“Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.”

Where does that come from? It’s from Psalm 19. Psalm 19 is one of the messages about general revelation. What voice has gone to all the Earth? It is the voice of creation.

Thus, I’m not convinced that we must make a hard line case for exclusivism. Does that mean that people in other religions are saved or possibly saved? No. I think people devoutly following a false faith will be judged for that. However, I am entirely open to someone who knows that the belief system they are in is false and cannot hold up and yet is still seeking the true God. God could reach out to them through dreams, as seems to happen in the Muslim community or other means. There are more than enough missionary stories about missionaries showing up and people there saying something like “We have a tradition that says that one day people will show up with a book that will have the truth and you have fulfilled that today.”

I also don’t think the question of those who have never heard in Scripture is addressed for one reason. It doesn’t need to be. God is not interested in just answering our curiosity. He gave us our marching orders in the Great Commission. That is Plan A and He makes no mention of any Plan B. We could say that some could be saved even without our reaching them, but we have far more confidence if we just go and reach them ourselves.

Of course, this is an in-house debate among Christians. While I disagree with this part, the main reason we read the book is to learn about the other religions, and there I think we have a great guide. I fully encourage Christians reading this text and learning about other religions and how Jesus compares.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Do We Care About Christianity?

Is Christianity really a driving passion? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A couple of nights ago, my wife and I talked about this topic and it is one that leads to soul-searching. I am a Christian apologist. My whole life is built around Christianity. Everything I do (Or at least I hope everything I do) is informed by my Christian worldview, yet do I really care that much about the Christian worldview?

Some might think an apologist would, but remember C.S. Lewis warned years ago about some people who were so eager to show that God exists that they didn’t have anything better for Him to do than exist. Sometimes we could be so intent on proving Jesus rose that we do nothing more with that than show Christianity is true. It’s like something I’ve said about the Trinity. It’s often this nice little doctrine we keep to the side and we pull it out whenever we have to beat up visiting Jehovah’s Witnesses.

What I want to ask myself regularly and I do ask myself is if I really have a passion for Christianity. Do I get excited? Now to be fair, different things will reach different people. When I hear sermons that are just largely application with no historical foundation or anything like that, then yeah, I find it easy to zone out quickly. When I’m at a church service, I often wish we could rush through the music part because many times the songs are often just so shallow and self-focused. I also think that sometimes when they’re not if we paid attention to the words we say, we’d find that we’re really lying. We talk about how much we are in love with Jesus and how much joy He brings and then go home and find joy in everything else but Jesus.

I’d like to tell you I’m a great prayer warrior and someone who read plenty of the Bible every day. I’m not. I read a chapter of the Old Testament and of the New Testament every morning and a verse at night before I go to bed to give me something to think about as well as the reading of a few verses with the Mrs. If I told you that every day of reading the Bible is exciting and I learn something, I’d be lying. For prayer, I have a mentor to help me with this, but it can still be a struggle.

Years ago I remember in preparing to marry Allie, I remember someone telling me that they saw me as a great lover of God when I spoke. It wasn’t just an intellectual thing for me. It was something real. When I hear that, I get amazed. I am the last one who would describe myself as a great lover of God.

The odd thing is, it’s so easy to get excited about nearly everything else. It’s easy to get excited about a new episode of a TV show coming out that we enjoy. It’s easy to be looking forward to that movie. It’s easy to look forward to a time of romance with my wife. I’m not saying we shouldn’t look forward to these things. God gave us plenty of good things for us to enjoy. (1 Tim. 6:17.) Many of you will have your own interests.

You can say you find it hard to really learn the things of God, but how many of you know the statistics of your favorite sports team by heart? How many of you could practically write the strategy guide to your favorite video game? How many of you know all the intricacies of your favorite TV show? It’s honestly not that it’s hard, it’s just that we’re not interested.

I think one reason for this is we’ve grown up so much with Christianity that it’s become familiar. We can often wonder how skeptics don’t see the truth of Christianity, but there is something that they do see that we could bear to see. They see that it’s a radical difference from the main view of the world. We actually believe in a God who works and does miracles and that the second person of the Trinity lived among us, died, and rose again.

Let’s be honest. A lot of stuff we believe is indeed bizarre to think about. We definitely do need good evidence and while I do think we have it, let’s not lose sight of how incredible it is.

There are an endless number of truths that could get us excited every day and reveal the grace of God in our lives. We could think about the wonders of the universe and how God made this grand cosmos so we could have one planet to live on. We could go inward and think about the wonder of our own bodies and how even a tiny cell in our bodies is a living factory. We could also turn and look at our neighbor and realize that our fellow man is always a fascinating story. I have said before that a good producer could take the life story of any living human being and turn it into a highly popular major motion picture. Why? Because people are interesting.

Wonder is just something that we’ve lost. We’ve lost it because we take everything for granted. It’s become a truism for us that Christianity is true and we don’t often look at just how radical it is that Christianity is true. Do we really consider what that means?

Let’s also talk about forgiveness. Think about it. You will never face eternal judgment for all the things you’ve done wrong and you rightly deserve that eternal judgment. God is not going to give you what you deserve. Instead, more often than not, we’re whining because God doesn’t give us something that we want. It has been a great help in my life to realize that God doesn’t owe me a thing unless He’s promised it to me. That makes me more prone to view everything I have as a gift.

When I spoke about Bible reading, we take it for granted. How many of us have Bibles just sitting on our shelves? Do we not realize how many people in persecuted countries would love to have a Bible? If they have just a page of the Bible, they study that constantly hanging on to every word. We treat it like it’s a book just like any other book. We don’t realize what a privilege we have that we can read the Bible.

It is a privilege that you can go to church freely and worship. We in the West often whine about persecution. We really don’t have a clue what real persecution is like. The day that your life is in danger because you go to church because someone wants to kill you for that, I will say you know what persecution is.

I just have to pause and ask myself why is it that I don’t really take the time to appreciate and celebrate the good things that I have. As an apologist, am I more interested in showing Christianity is true than also learning what a difference it makes? I need both. Some of us have strived to be so sure that our doctrine is right that we haven’t bothered to see if our Christian walk is right.

I also don’t want to be legalistic in this. My wife and I still joke about hearing a Christian conspiracy theorist talk about the Pokemon Go game and saying that while some of you are out there playing that, you could be doing evangelism. Of course, that can lead to any number of bizarre ideas. You could take your wife out on a date which is really helpful to your marriage, but you could be doing evangelism. You could go to sleep, but you could be doing evangelism. You could go to church and worship, but you could be doing evangelism. I am not at all saying we are to be machines doing evangelism and nothing else at all.

I am just saying that I want to watch myself and I suspect a lot of you want to watch yourself. I am honestly hopeful that some of you are reading this and saying “I hear you. I could bear to get some joy over Christianity.” I want it to be that when people look at my life, they know that Christ is a passion for me.

If anything else seems like a greater passion, the goal is not to love that less. Not at all. C.S. Lewis said it’s always the goal to love Christ more. What sense does it make to say “I’m going to love X less so that it gets below my love for Christ.”? Why not raise your love for Christ?

I do think apologetics is greatly important for this. It shows us that Christianity is true and not just an idea. Once we know it is true, the onus is on us. What are we going to be doing with that? If we do not let it change the way we live our lives, do we really believe it? Maybe we do, but has it really sunk in?

Our lives are gifts, and God gave us many things that we can enjoy. There are many other gods vying for our attention. Sex, money, food, pleasure, popularity, etc. None of these are evils in themselves. All of them we can enjoy when we do so rightly, but let us never look at any of these as our ultimate. None of them can deliver for all time like Christ did. They are fine when enjoyed as Christ would have us enjoy them, but not when they become gods themselves.

Do I plan on improving myself? Yes. As an apologist it is something I have to do. There are many times our actions speak so loudly our words can’t be heard. How can I convey the importance Christ has in my life if people look at my life and don’t see that importance? (This is in fact one reason I am so pro-marriage. We Christians should be living marriage out the best so that the world will know the fake interpretation of it and think that Christians have the best marriages of all.)

I hope you’ll join me on this quest.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Dear Freethinkers

What do I have to say to those espousing freethinking? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Dear Freethinkers,

I want to write to you today because I’m frankly confused by what I see of you. You see, you claim to hold to no statements of faith. You claim that by being a skeptic, the only position you have to have is to not affirm the existence of God. You claim that there are no doctrines to your position. Despite all of this, most all of you seem to think remarkably exactly alike.

You all come right out of the gates often with one of your favorite mantras. “No evidence.” Are you really thinking this? Are you thinking that every theist and Christian in history has just never considered that they have no evidence for what they believe? Sure, you might meet a layman like that, but do you really think everyone is like that?

When it comes to talking about God, we are told there is no evidence. Is that really supposed to convince us? You see, some of us read these things called “books.” We don’t rely on Google, YouTube, and Wikipedia. We also read books that disagree with us. When we say we believe in God, we do so because we are convinced that that is where the arguments lead. In fact, while we agree on the conclusion, we can disagree on the arguments. Some people like the ontological argument. I don’t. I like the Thomistic arguments. Some don’t. Some people think scientific apologetics works well. I disagree. That’s okay.

In fact, this is what real thinking is all about. Real thinking is not just seeing if you find a conclusion that agrees with you. Real thinking is asking if the argument really does have evidence for it that leads to the conclusion. Just because I agree with the conclusion that God exists, it doesn’t mean I agree with the argument given for it. In fact, I daresay I have gone after more Christian apologists using bad arguments than many of you have.

Another favorite one of mine is when you say that there’s no evidence Jesus ever existed. Now perhaps in some cases, atheism could be understandable, such as with the problem of evil, though I do not see that as a defeater at all, but this one really takes the cake. You know what makes this even funnier? So many of you naturally agree among yourselves that creationism is nonsense and we need to listen to the consensus of modern science. Fair enough, but you do the exact opposite with history. You don’t listen to the consensus of modern historians and mock Christians for not listening to the consensus of modern scientists.

You see, your position is even more of a joke because I can find you a list of scientists who dissent from Darwin. Are they right? Beats me. I don’t argue that issue. If you want to find historians who dissent from the base existence of Jesus, you can count the number on two hands at the most. Note that by historians, I mean people with Ph.D.s in a field relevant to NT studies. I don’t mean just any Joe Blow you can find on the internet.

You may not like it, but as soon as you start espousing mythicism, I immediately have no reason to take you seriously anymore.  I know I’m dealing with someone who doesn’t read the best material. I know this will be a shock, but outside his internet fanbase, Richard Carrier just isn’t taken seriously. You can guarantee you won’t be by hanging on his every word. In fact, as a Christian apologist, I thank God for Richard Carrier. He’s doing a great service by dumbing down his fellow atheists to accept the conspiracy theory of mythicism, and yes. That’s all it is. It ranks right up there with saying the moon landing is a hoax or that 9/11 was an inside job.

Since we briefly spoke about science, let’s go on with that topic. You all seem to think that if something cannot be demonstrated by science, then it is nonsense. It’s as if mankind had no knowledge whatsoever and never knew anything until science came along. This gets even funnier when you talk about miracles. “We know today that virgins don’t give birth, that people don’t walk on water, and that people don’t rise from the dead.” You really think people didn’t know that stuff back then? You think they were just ignorant? Sure, they weren’t doing experiments and such, but they knew basic facts that we wouldn’t disagree with. You don’t have to be a world-class scientist to know that when someone dies, you bury them, or that it takes sex to make a baby. They all knew this.

The fact is that we don’t really have a beef with science. We might disagree on what is scientific and what isn’t. There are Christians who have no problem with evolution. There are Christians who do. There are Christians who think the world is billions of years old. There are Christians who don’t. We debate this amongst ourselves. None of us though say that science is bunk and should be disregarded. Perhaps we are misinformed on what is and isn’t science, but we are not opposed to science.

In fact, you never seem to think about what you say about the scientific method. You never pause to ask if the claim that all truth must be shown by the scientific method is itself shown by the scientific method. You don’t even consider that science is an inductive field. Sure, some claims might have more certainty than others, but none of them are absolute claims proven.

I also find it so amusing when you talk about the Bible. You all have the hang-ups that fundamentalist Christians that you condemn do. You think that the Bible absolutely has to be inerrant. Many of us hold to inerrancy, but some of us actually do not, and we debate that. Still, even many of us who hold to inerrancy do not see it as an essential and think Christianity can be true and inerrancy false. For you, the Bible is an all-or-nothing game. Either everything in it is true or none of it is. This is remarkably similar to your position on Jesus where either He was the miracle-working God-man Messiah who rose from the dead or He never existed. Your positions are entirely black and white. There is no shade of gray.

You then throw out 101 Bible contradictions and expect us to keel over immediately. We don’t. Many of these, you’ve never even studied yourself. You’ve just gone to a web site, got a list, and then suddenly thought you were an authority. It never seems to occur to you that in thousands of years of studying the Bible no one has ever seen these before.

When it comes to interpretation, you have a big hang-up on literacy. You think that everything in the Bible has to be “literal” although you have not given any idea of what that means nor have you even bothered to tell us why that must be so. The Bible is a work of literature like many other books and it uses all manner of ways of speaking. It uses metaphor, simile, hyperbole, allegory, etc.

You also seem to think that the Bible has to be immediately understandable to 21st century Western English speakers. God should be clear. Well, why should He? It’s as if you think you are part of the only people who ever lived and God should have made things clear to you immediately without having to do any work whatsoever.

In all of this, you’re just like the fundamentalists you condemn. The difference isn’t your mindset. It’s only your loyalties. You think everything in the book is wrong. They think everything in it is right. None of you really give arguments. It’s just a personal testimony and faith.

And yes, you do have personal testimonies. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve heard “I used to be a Christian, but”. I mean, do you want me to break out a chorus of “Just As I Am” at that point? It’s like all you used in your Christian days was a personal testimony and today, that’s still all you have. All I normally see is you went from an uninformed Christian to an uninformed skeptic.

As for faith, you never seem to understand it. You’ve bought into all the new atheist gunk that says that faith is believing without evidence. You never bother to consult scholars of the Greek and Hebrew languages to see what the Bible means by the term. What we mean is a trust that is based on that which has shown itself to be reliable.

You would be greatly benefited by going to a library sometime. You see, if all you read are the new atheists, you’re not going to make a dent. You might get some of what is called low-hanging fruit, in that people as uninformed as you are will be convinced, but not people who actually do study this kind of stuff seriously. You think that Google is enough to show you know everything. It isn’t. You don’t know how to sift through information and evaluate it. All you do is look and see if it agrees with you. If it makes Christians or Christianity look stupid, it has to be 100% true.

You should also know this doesn’t describe all atheists and skeptics out there. There are atheists and skeptics that do actually read scholarly works that disagree with them. I can have discussions with them. We can talk about the issues. They can agree easily that Jesus existed without thinking they have to commit ritual suicide at that point. They can have no problem discussing scholarly works. Many of these would even say that while they disagree with Christians, that a Christian can have justification for his belief and is not necessarily an idiot for being a Christian. You could learn a lot from them. Be like them. Don’ live in the bubble of just reading what agrees with you and buying everything you read on the internet. Study and learn.

Until you do this, freethinkers remind me of a slogan someone used years ago that I have taken. It’s not original to me, but I like it. With freethinking, you get what you pay for. Why not pay the price of being an informed thinker by reading and studying. You’re not hurting us by your actions. You’re only hurting yourself and your fellow skeptics.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Improbable Planet

What do I think of Hugh Ross’s book published by Baker Academic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I like Hugh Ross a lot. It could be because he and I both have Aspergers. I was thrilled then to hear from him and be offered a review copy of his book. As you can see, the title is The Improbable Planet and it’s a history of Earth from a Christian old-earth creationist perspective that is not evolutionary.

Readers of my blog know I don’t answer yes or no on science questions. When it comes to evolution, I tend to keep silent, though I am open to the idea. Therefore, as I go through this work, I am going to avoid speaking specifically on many science issues, which might seem odd, but there is more than just science.

If I grant much of what is in Ross’s book, and it is not to me to decide if it is true or not but more to the scientists, then I would say the main point of the book is to learn about providence. There are plenty of interesting concepts that one can learn about going through. For instance, I had never once heard of the Boring Billion before I read this book. This is supposed to be a time in Earth’s history when it doesn’t seem like much is going on.

Reading about matters involving the planets is always fascinating. While reading about the New Testament and apologetics is my main love in learning, there’s something intriguing about space. If I pull up an article about strange phenomena that can be seen in space, I can stay there for quite awhile looking at it. I find it mind-blowing to think of a massive mountain on Mars or an underground ocean on Europa. There is so much activity taking place in our universe as I write this right now.

Ross’s book does go into that. It goes into why there were so many billions of years spent before we showed up on the scene. Why is our solar system the way it is? How did we get the moon? Why are there so many big planets known as gas giants like Jupiter or Saturn? (One criticism is that at one point he does speak about the eight planets of our solar system. Say what you will, but I will always consider Pluto a planet.)

In fact, the portions that talk about life are brief and I would have liked to have seen more detail on that. One particular area would be dinosaurs, which most every student growing up is fascinated with. Still, there is something and reading about how powerful the asteroid was that hit that was believed to lead to the death of the dinosaurs was quite incredible.

It’s my understanding that Hugh Ross is a dispensationalist, which would make sense because there are a lot of charts and graphs in the book. Thankfully, they’re not on eschatology. Still, I do think this viewpoint of his actually leads to a disappointing ending. The whole of the book is good, but when I got to the end, I did feel a bit let down by that part.

If you’re someone who is curious about the history of Earth, this would be an interesting read. As I said, I cannot comment on the science yes or no. If anything, the main message I think to get from this book is providence. We are not an accident. God made our world the way that He made it for a reason. (This is one area where I think design arguments could work better.) If we can trust God who put so much into making this place for us, what can we not trust Him with?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 11/5/2012: John Koessler

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

First off, we’re getting started on putting new episodes up. I’ve got some of the sound issues worked out so hopefully we’ll be on schedule again soon. Having said that, what are we going to be talking about when this Saturday comes?

In the apologetics world, we can often be running at full throttle most of the time. There are people to answer and books to read and debates to watch. Let’s not forget that many a spouse has become an apologetics widow. We get so busy doing this and that and we fear falling behind and before too long, we just can’t take it anymore. Do we need to maybe take a break?

Is it proper to ever rest when the Kingdom is what we’re working for? Can a soldier ever stop on the battlefield and rest? If there are souls at stake, by what reasoning can it be said that we should not be working with all our might at our duties? To answer these questions, I’ve brought on someone who does not work primarily in apologetics, but whose book I think can help, and that’s Dr. John Koessler. Who is he?

koessler

According to his bio:

John Koessler serves as Chair & Professor in the Division Applied Theology and Church Ministry at Moody Bible Institute where he has been a member of the faculty since 1994. He is an award-winning author who has written ten books including The Radical Pursuit of Rest: Escaping the Productivity Trap (InterVarsity, 2016), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment: Finding Hope When God Seems to Fail Us(Moody, 2013), Folly Grace and Power: The Mysterious Act of Preaching (Zondervan, 2011), and True Discipleship: The Art of Following Jesus (Moody, 2003). He has contributed articles to Christianity Today, Mature Living, Leadership Journal, Discipleship Journal, Decision, and Moody Magazine. He also writes a monthly column for Today in the Word entitled “Theology Matters,” and is a regular contributor to that publication’s devotionals. Prior to joining the faculty of Moody, John was pastor of Valley Chapel in Green Valley, Illinois, for nine years.

How can the Christian properly integrate all that they need to do in their life with rest? What is rest? Is it proper to actually not be engaging in study and debate and actually just be taking a break with the loved ones? Furthermore, how does this work with worship? What is worship and are we really doing it? Could it be that sometimes we’re so eager to get people to come and fall on their knees before Jesus that we don’t often go and do that ourselves?

Join me this Saturday as I interview John Koessler on this. We’ll be talking about the proper role that rest plays in the life of a Christian and what difference it makes. We’ll also be talking about the need for worship and why it is that we should actively participate in worship. Be watching your Podcast feed for this one and please consider going and leaving a positive review on the Deeper Waters ITunes page.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Questions That Matter

Are we really thinking about the things that matter? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My mother-in-law recently got Allie and I watching This Is Us. I find it interesting that it’s got Justin Hartley who played the Green Arrow on Smallville in it, but that’s beside the point. It’s a good show and gives a lot of different perspectives on issues. In the last new one, Hartley’s character was babysitting his nieces and got asked a question ultimately about death. It’s hysterical how he just ends up causing chaos with the whole situation having his nieces worried about the deaths of their parents.

Yet it got me pondering.

You see, we all know kids are going to ask the hard questions. If you’re a parent, you expect that. How many commercials and stories do we see that are about the dreaded question of “Where do I come from?” or “How are babies made?” Of course, those are fine questions to ask and we should be glad children start asking those questions because they are thinking about difficult issues. My concern today is that we don’t think about those issues anymore.

In internet debates and elsewhere, we will often find ourselves thinking about the big questions. Is there a God? What is the nature of right and wrong? What does it mean to be a human being? What happens to us after we die? Of course, we come to radically different conclusions on these questions. The problem it looks like in our culture is that we don’t really even ask the questions anymore. Most people do not really spend a lot of time thinking about such questions. It could be one way in which we are “amusing ourselves to death.” I’m not opposed to entertainment, but it has often been done as a way to avoid any deep thinking.

Even if we accept the “Biblical” answers, what then? Is there a God? Yes. Okay, well what’s He like? He’s good and loving. Okay. What do those mean? We could keep going on and on. What happens when you die. “You go to Heaven or Hell.” Okay. What is Heaven and what is Hell? Listening to some Christians, you’d think Heaven is just supposed to be a big reunion and God is kind of there as an afterthought. Is it any wonder some young people look at our description of Heaven a lot of times and ask “Am I going to be bored in Heaven?” (Which is another good question we should be asking.)

Keep in mind we are going to make mistakes along the way with the questions. Of course, we will. I can guarantee you that I teach a number of things that are wrong. Why do I teach them? Because I don’t know what they are! I just know that Christianity is a big field and I seriously doubt I am the one person in history who has got everything right. We just need to ask the questions and encourage the church to ask the questions and never shy away from them. We often dread people asking questions about our Christianity, quite likely because we’ve never thought about them ourselves. I don’t. I relish it. It is wonderful.

We need to get our priorities straight. If you’re more interested in finding out the truth about your favorite TV show, movie, video game, sports team, etc. than you are about what you claim is foundational in your life, then you have a problem. Enjoy the other things of course, but remember they can never be God.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What Do You Want To See?

What can we do here? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In this post, I just really want to get some feedback from you all. You see, we have a new website address if you haven’t noticed. Have you been going to ddns.net? Look up at this page now. It’s listed as Deeperwatersapologetics.com. I’m quite pleased with the website, but at the same time, I do want to have more than just a blog page.

So now I turn it over to you. I really want to hear from you as much as I can. If you like this page, and I hope you do, what do you want to see? I will give some suggestions as well so you can see if you like them and I’ll see how many of them my webmaster can do.

If you follow me on Facebook, many of you have said you like my marriage posts that I make every morning except for Sunday. I have been told I need to start a site for those. I would prefer to just set up a separate page on here for those. They could be marriage minutes as it were that can be referenced and discussed. I happen to think that good marriage is essential to good apologetics today.

I would also like to get a better indexing system in somehow rather than just the regular search engine. If you want to look up a post about Richard Carrier, just go to a C area and look for Carrier. If you want to see a book, just go to a book section and see if I’ve responded to it.

I would have no complaints if a forum got started for discussing views as well. Keep in mind I don’t know how much of this is really feasible or not. In all honestly, many times I do not get notified about your comments so sometimes they slip through. I do not really mean this and I am not sure how to fix it. Someone else really handles all of those kinds of issues for my page.

Having said all that, I throw it out to you. What do you like when you come here? What do you not like? If you are a regular reader, what keeps you coming back for more? Have you ever thought “I really like to see what he says, but I would like it more if X were the case.”? If so, now is the time to let me know about it.

What about the podcast and our YouTube channel? Do you like the way that those are going? Yes. I do realize we need to update the feed some. That is still being worked on, but overall, are you pleased with the episodes that we have and with the people that are brought on? Do you find it beneficial and is there anything that could be done to make it more beneficial?

I leave this all up to you. I’m talking with my webmaster about what we can do with the site. I would like to hear your honest feedback as well and I will take all ideas into consideration. Please let me know.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

On Doing A Podcast

What’s it like to do a podcast and what goes into it? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Podcasting I think has been one of the best moves I’ve ever made with regards to my career as an apologist. Podcasting has let me get my message out there and got me in touch with some of the best scholars in the field. It gives me a free education most every Saturday and allows me to read some of the best books all the while providing a service to the Christian community.

When I get a show uploaded, you hear two hours worth of an interview normally. That works great, but is that all there is to it? If only there was. Nope. There’s a lot of research that goes on behind the scenes.

To start off with, if you want to interview someone, you should seek to read their material first. (There are some exceptions. I was not going to read all of Craig Keener’s commentary on Acts first for instance.) How do you get to do that? There are a number of ways. For one thing, you can get in touch with some publishing houses. I’m on good terms with several like IVP, B&H, Eerdmans, and Zondervan.

Keep an eye out for people talking about new books that are coming out. Try and get in touch with them. This is how I managed to get an early copy of Larry Hurtado’s latest book and get to an interview with him on the book even before it came out. Many authors are fine with sharing their work. You might need a Kindle for this since many authors have sent me their books in a PDF format and I’ve had to transfer it to my Kindle to read.

Of course, before getting there, you might have to have a podcast up regularly so that the people you are contacting can know what work you have out there. After Brent Sandy sent me a pdf of the book he was working on with John Walton, I got in touch with IVP and told them and lo and behold, they’re sending me books regularly. To get started for you, you might want to go to this sacred place that is here by the grace of God called a library. Sometimes, I still use it to get some books. Make sure to take advantage also of interlibrary loan so you can get books from other libraries.

As you read the book, try to think of good questions. Your interviewee will want to know that you’re prepared. When they speak, do your best to let them finish their thought as much as you can. I try to have a few good opening questions in mind before I go and sometimes some tangents will come forward. That’s fine. I want it to sound like a real discussion when it comes out, because that’s really what it is.

You need good equipment to record. I use a basic Skype connection to get in touch with my guests. From there, I use the Roland Tri-Capture unit and a Rode microphone. I am not sure where that ranks on the high-tech area so you might want to get in touch with someone who is a technical expert. For editing the material, I use Audacity. Unless there’s some big interruption for the most part in an interview, I tend to leave it as is aside from upping the volume.

Get someone good to write a theme and closer for your show if you aren’t able to. Glenn Andrew Peoples of Right Reason did mine. If you’re musically skilled, you can do it yourself. If not, then find someone like him.

For me, the biggest thing is keeping up with my reading. It can be easy to fall behind. I keep telling people that I have the problem of having all these books to read and yet I still order more books. There is obviously only one solution to this problem. I have to learn to sleep less.

Oh. I think you should also have a neat time arrangement. I try to record the same time every week. I also have in mind how my show will go. At the first hour, I make an announcement about who will go on next week. At an hour and twenty minutes in, I make a call for donations. In closing, I ask my guest if they have a blog or a web site or a way people can get in touch with them for more information, I ask for any final thoughts, I thank them for coming on, and then I make a reminder about who will be on next week.

If you want some more inspiration, listen to podcasts that you think are successful. If you think mine is, then watch the things that I do that might be so second nature to me that I don’t notice them. One of my great inspirations in this was Justin Brierley of Unbelievable?

Podcasting is fun and worthwhile, but it is a time consumer so make sure you’re ready for it. Of course, you could do your own monologue and that would work differently, but I find it more engaging to have guests on. Still, both can be done. It’s up to you.

Hopefully, if you want to podcast, this has been helpful to you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Family First

If you want to be an apologist, what is an important step to take? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night, a friend messaged me wanting advice. They were getting set to start an apologetics ministry and they wanted to know how to get their work out there. Now if you didn’t have the title to give it away, some would think the first piece of advice would involve studying hard or speaking to scholars or speaking at local churches or something like that.

Nope. The first piece of advice I have is to put your family first. As a married man, I cannot stress this enough. If you are not a married man (or woman) yet then treat your work in such a way that it is not the driving obsessive force in your life. If someone comes along, you will not be married to your work. You will be prepared to be married to them.

You see, I love what I do in apologetics, but it is not meant to replace my marriage at all. If something happened to me, God forbid, then someone else if need be could take over Deeper Waters. Someone else could write a fill-in blog for me. Someone else could do the podcast. Now you could say that if I died, Allie would be free to remarry. That’s true. Yet while we’re alive, I could ask someone to guest host or guest blog on my show. I cannot ask someone to guest husband for Allie. Only one person can do that, and that’s me.

One statement I’ve made to men that I talk to about is this. I don’t care if you write the best books on apologetics out there. I don’t care if you’re the most capable debater and all opponents are scared of you. I don’t care if you have the most successful ministry answering questions the world over. If you do all of that and yet you are not a husband to your wife or a father to your children (Use the appropriate terminology for female apologists) then I count you as a failure in ministry.

When you make a covenant with your wife, it is to her. It is not to your job. Barring some emergency (Like someone contemplating suicide and I’m having to talk to them), if Allie really needs me and someone else does, someone else is going to have to wait. Allie comes first. There come times in the relationship where it’s important to put the book down and not worry about your work. Just be with your spouse.

By the way guys, I also give this tip for the honeymoon and I did it as well. Once you marry, take that honeymoon period off from everything. When we went on our honeymoon, I only brought one book with me, the Bible. You and your wife need to read that together on your honeymoon. Other than that, when I checked my phone, it was not to check email or Facebook. It was to check directions and things like that. I did not answer emails for a week. I did not interact on Facebook for a week. I was not doing any debating for a week. I even asked her parents and mine to not contact us unless it was an emergency. Let us be, and they honored that.

“But I want to put up wedding pictures!” There’s plenty of time for that. “But I want everyone to know how our honeymoon is!” There’s plenty of time for that later. For the time being, let that time be you and your spouse alone and no one else. There were several people who could handle the world of apologetics and ministry while we were away. Now naturally, if I came across someone who really really needed help on our honeymoon, I would do it. Allie would expect nothing less. The thing is you’re not seeking out the opportunities to do that. If God sends someone your way, you take care of it. If not, that’s fine. Loving your spouse is a service to God in itself. Only you can be a husband to your wife or a wife to your husband.

By all means in apologetics, study hard. Speak to the scholars. Get your work out there. Speak at those local churches and such. In human terms though, let your first commitment be to your family. Let no one else fill those shoes for you while you’re still breathing.

In Christ,
Nick Peters