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

My Apologetics Story

So what is the story behind Deeper Waters? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A couple of days ago I was listening to my friend Kurt Jaros’s podcast Veracity Hill. In this episode, he was talking about how he got to be doing what he’s doing. This is a question I often ask of my guests on my own show and it occurred to me that since people often refer to my work and tag me on Facebook for apologetics questions, maybe some of my readers would like me to do that for myself.

I was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee. To be more specific, it was in a little suburb of Knoxville called Corryton. From an early age, my parents could tell that I was different. I wasn’t really speaking normally like other kids would. I was engrossed in books instead. (Some things haven’t changed.) If there was any book that apparently held fascination for me, it was this big white King James Bible. (This Bible is currently in my office)

My parents thought I was just intrigued by the shapes of the letters and such. One day, they pointed out a word to me that I was curious about. That word was chapter. Again, they see me going over this book regularly and don’t know what to make of it, but I guess if it keeps me content and happy and out of trouble, why not?

One day, my Dad takes me to a department store and puts me in front of a computer. Since I was born in 1980, we’re not really talking about anything high-tech, at least for our time. There’s a blank screen in front of me to type and he’s expecting me to type some gibberish. Before too long, there’s a crowd in front of the computer looking at it. My Dad comes back to see what’s going on.

On the screen are all the books of the Bible in order, spelled correctly, and with how many chapters they had.

The crowd asks if I did this. My Dad doesn’t know for sure, but he knows how to find out. He clears the screen and tells me to do it again. I do it again.

Something is different.

My parents were hesitant to put me in kindergarten because I was still having a hard time with speech. Only my close relatives could translate what I said, and even then it was difficult. Still, I went, but when that year was done, I was put in Transition instead of going off to first grade, and that meant transferring to a different school.

My parents were worried about it, but as it is I fit in wonderfully at this school. I went all the way through Elementary school there. I do have great memories of that time. Second grade was wonderful and I did win my 5th grade school spelling bee. When I was in 4th grade I was in a class split between 4th and 5th grade and there was some competition we had in the class between two groups of 5th graders and us 4th graders. The teacher decided to settle it by having each group choose a representative to come up and answer a long division question on the board. I was chosen for the 4th graders.

The 4th graders also won the day.

A big change that came there was the video game culture. Nintendo was beginning their ascension and that’s all my friends were talking about. In second grade, my parents got me one for my birthday and I became the resident game master before too long. To this day, I’m still heavily in the gaming culture.

Also in 5th grade, my parents got some answers. I had been in an out of a disability center in elementary school. It was there that I was diagnosed to be on the autism spectrum. This was something that made sense to my parents. I didn’t understand it at the time, but later on in my life, it would become much more relevant.

So let’s skip ahead to high school. It was there that I remember having doubts about my relationship with God. It wasn’t Christianity that I doubted. It was myself. Part of it was that I was big into the role playing culture as well. My hobbies including Dungeons and Dragons and Magic; The Gathering. Today, I have no problem with such things really, but back then, I was naive and didn’t know how to answer charges brought against me. This led me into a fear of my salvation which resulted in panic attacks and depression.

Interestingly enough, I was often teaching youth group at the same time at my church.

I was also on the internet at this time and instead of talking about games, I found it odd that I was talking about Christianity with people, and I didn’t know why. I found a lot of people knew and thought differently than I did. I also found a lot of people were actually atheists.

On another note, I was a part of a group of guys at my school called TNT which stood for Thursday Night Talk. We had guys get together with no girls allowed. We had a leader who would talk to us about Jesus regularly and we would have three-hour meetings. Think about this. Guys meeting for three hours being respectful and listening and talking about Jesus. The guys you would think were the toughest would often break down in tears and be crying about mistakes they had made. We saw several people come to Christ. Good times.

I should also explain something about my study habits. I didn’t have them. I was the kid who did my work in class, doodled in a notebook when I was done, came home and played video games all day, and still easily passed all my classes. When I was in my senior year I got elected Most Studious Male Senior. I thought it was odd since, well, I didn’t study.

When I graduated, I had to go somewhere for college. Fortunately, due to my disability Voc Rehab was willing to pay for my college, but that came with an assessment first. The people there thought I was so academically inclined that I should go into some field like engineering. No offense to any readers and friends who are engineers, but that just didn’t interest me. I was interested in Christianity and wanted to go into ministry. They recommended I not take this path. Why?

I would not be able to handle public speaking.

I laugh when I think about it today.

So I went to Johnson Bible College, now Johnson University. While there, I remember speaking to a student once in the student center and asked him what he was studying. He said it was apologetics. I had never heard this term and asked about what it was. He told me and I filed that away.

Like I said earlier, I was doing internet evangelism and realized I needed to learn how to deal with these atheists. I had a friend recommend More Than A Carpenter and I went out and read that and just devoured it. Still, there was something more I was wanting. Then I remembered hearing about this story about a journalist who set out to disprove Christianity and later came to embrace it through his study. The guy was named Lee Strobel and the book was The Case for Christ.

I call that the book that lit my fire.

From that point on after reading that, I was constantly buying any book that I could and devouring it. Something strange happened then. My depression and such started to go away. I was able to be more open. If there’s any professor that saw this take place at the college, it was David Wheeler. He and I regularly talk to this day and he tells about how when I showed up, I didn’t interact with anyone and I was as shy as could be. After apologetics, I was showing up at his office sharing jokes and such. I was also becoming well-known on campus as the apologetics go-to guy.

In some classes, this became fun. One class was systematic theology. My professor and I did not see eye to eye because I thought a lot of stuff he was teaching was horrible. The biggest one was that he said God created man because He needed someone to love. I would raise my hand at this point. My circle of friends around me would watch to see how long I would be able to have my hand raised before I would be called on. Our longest time was 19 minutes.

In a different class, the topic came up of if Moses was based on Sargon. I had read something on this recently so I got up and started saying something. After class, a student came up to me and was very excited. He told me he had heard me quoting Ravi Zacharias and knew I had an apologetics interest. He told me about an apologetics conference at this place called Southern Evangelical Seminary where you could get a Master’s in apologetics.

My path was set.

And also, I decided to join these guys on their trip to the conference. You have to understand what a big step this was. As someone on the spectrum, I hadn’t left my parents house and I commuted to school. I didn’t really go on overnight trips like this. Now I was. My parents I am sure talked to this friend, named Paul, and made sure all was good.

I loved the conference and I think I spent $400 there on apologetics materials. The joke was after awhile that the students in the bookstore were happy to see me come because that meant their tuition would be paid that year. Anyway, my future path was decided at that point.

Also in my senior year at Bible College, I gave my senior sermon. This was to a crowd of the entire student body, about 1,000 people, and all professors that would be present. Remember Voc Rehab saying I couldn’t handle public speaking? Yeah. I wish they could have been there. Even a year later as I was trying to do a Master’s there, I had students coming up to me telling me how much they loved the message.

My Master’s there wasn’t successful, but I decided I’d just go to SES instead. That was in Charlotte, and I didn’t want my parents to worry about me being so far away. Thus, I decided I’d spend a year proving myself. How? I just came home one day and told my parents I had put money down on an apartment in the city. Yep. No discussion there. Just done. The next day, my mother came home with some supplies to help me out.

So I lived in an apartment about 15 miles or so away. I did this to demonstrate that I could handle things by myself. When the time for the conference came, I went by myself. All was going well. I applied to SES and lo and behold, I was accepted. There was some concern due to SES having a strong doctrinal statement and my being an orthodox Preterist. I was just told to not evangelize my views. No biggie. I didn’t come to teach Preterism but to learn apologetics more.

Yet there was one more barrier. Things were much more expensive. Could I really go it alone entirely? Wouldn’t it be nice if I found some friend that could join me? Yet none of my friends in the area cared about apologetics.

Fortunately, I had a friend from a web site named Theology Web who had been wanting to go to Bible College for some time. His name was David. He lived in Missouri at the time, but we talked very regularly and had met a few times. He decided he would join me, so he and his mother come over and meet us in Knoxville and the next day, we set out together to Charlotte where our apartment is waiting.

SES was a great time and before too long, David and I were climbing up the ranks. I had got to know the president very quickly and was being well-known in my classes. The church David and I went to met at the seminary and had a strong apologetics emphasis and before too long, we found there was a lot of talk about these two young guys who were gung-ho about spiritual things.

We also made several friends there. One such was our friend Chris. Today, Chris and I are still good friends. Had it not been for my having a flu bug, I would have been a groomsman at his wedding last December. Chris and I regularly got together to watch Smallville and we would all play a game like Smash Brothers together.

Now if there was anything that was still greatly lacking in my life, it was that I was someone who was always wondering if I would get married one day. Paul from Bible College had been at SES for awhile and he told the Christian Research Institute about me which led to my being hired as a researcher. One day I was heading home from work and remembered that Gary Habermas was coming to SES to teach a module. Gary and I had spoken before when he did a talk at the church at SES. He was helping me with doubt, not about Christianity, but about myself. I was always doubting my own ability in apologetics. I figured I’d go see him.

When I saw him, he told me when we were alone that he and Frank Turek and some others had been talking together. He asked me if I knew who Mike Licona was. Of course, I did. I had read their book together. He asked me if I knew if Mike had a daughter. I did not. Mike had spoken at a debate with Bart Ehrman at SES recently and I remembered he looked awfully young. I was shocked to find out he had a daughter who was 19. (I was a month away from 29)

Gary told me that he and Frank and someone else had been speaking about this daughter. She was going through a hard time and that she had Aspergers made it harder until Frank said, “Well, Nick Peters has Aspergers.” Gary asked me if I would be willing to email her and talk to her.

I did. I wasn’t even really looking for love at the time, but I did become a friend. Like I said, I wasn’t looking for love. Nosiree. Allie was all the way in Atlanta after all. Such a thing would not work out.

Except come Labor Day we decided we were going to be a dating couple.

In October, I went to see her. Her parents were pleased to thrill me and we had a great time together. Our first date was at the Georgia Aquarium. Some friends at SES knew we were going to marry then because Allie actually got me to touch some fish in the aquarium. I never touch anything like that. Never.

I understand when I came back home and was talking about the event, David and Chris were saying they needed to book a wedding chapel. I also had some friends who were identical twins. We would get together every Sunday night and play Smash Brothers and then go bowling with their Dad. I got to tell them all the story about our first date, including how Allie and I definitely kissed on our first date, and was full of excitement. Their Dad wasn’t home at the time and I remember we were playing Smash Brothers and I was unbeatable that evening. My mood was off the charts. Then I heard their Dad had just got home and I wanted to tell him the story. We were nearing the end of that round and my last opponent had one life left so I said it was time to finish this.

My friend was stunned. “What? We’re not even near”

BAM!

Before he could blink I had indeed finished him off.

So this is how excited I was.

Come November, David knew what was going on when we went to the mall together. He wanted some jeans, and I was just going to jewelry stores. There’s really only one reason David knew I would be going to jewelry stores. Later that month he messaged me at work saying he was moving in with someone else. He told me he’d been reading the tea leaves as it were and knew that before too long, Allie and I would not want to have him around since we were obviously getting married. I told him the reality was he wouldn’t want to be around.

For the annual apologetics conference. Allie had come to see me. Her big highlight there was in a special meeting for speakers and their families. She had everywhere been introduced as “Mike Licona’s daughter” and she didn’t like it. This time, when she was introduced, people were told, “This is Nick Peters’s girlfriend.” She liked that title a lot more.

So while I was at work after that, I remember turning to go to my office again and hearing someone say “Mike Licona’s daughter.” I stopped. Then I heard another guy there speaking and saying things like “Wonderful couple.” “So perfect together.” “Probably going to get married.” I came around the corner and said that was more definitely. It was through that that I learned where to go to buy the ring at a good price. My aunt owed me a good deal of money and I had her send it to me so I could buy it.

Back in December, I saw the president of our college. I told him that I had been practicing proposing. When I told him my plan, he told me “I always knew you were a theologian. I had no idea you were such a romantic.” I also saw Frank Turek. I thanked him for being instrumental in my getting to know Allie. He asked how that was going. I told him I was looking for a ring.

Fistbump.

So come December, most everyone else knew what was going on, but Allie was still in the dark. I had already privately called her parents and told them my intentions and got their blessing. I encourage every guy to do this if possible. You’re going to a family and asking for their baby girl after all.

Allie was to spend Christmas Eve with me and my family. (by the way, if anyone is worried about something, Allie and I never did anything remotely inappropriate before marriage.) I picked her up at the Charlotte airport. The place has a star-shaped fountain pool with a statue of Queen Charlotte in the center. I told her I wanted her to see this first. We’re out there and I have the jewelry box in my pocket. I am fumbling around making sure it opens the right way. I don’t want to open it and have a ring come falling on the ground. Finally, I have it all ready and go into the pitch I had been preparing.

“So Princess (The nickname I still have for her to this day). Have you ever thought about being a queen?”

“Only if you’re the king.”

(Isn’t that an awesome anwer?!)

“Well, I guess you’ve made this easy for me.”

Then Allie is just stunned, a look I still remember to this day, as I get down on one knee and open up the box to show the ring and ask “Allie Licona. Will you marry me?”

We were both stunned because my cell phone went off at that time. It’s odd to hear “Somebody Save Me” from Smallville playing as you’re proposing. I just considered it a way to start the adventure. I ignored it of course, but I knew who it had to be. Mom. She always calls at the worst times.

Of course, Allie said yes. I then checked after awhile to see who it was that called. Half-right. It was her mother. She wanted me to know Allie’s plane had arrived early. Her mother has been scared that it would be something I would always bring up over and over.

And if you know me at all, those fears are well-founded.

The interstate to Tennessee had been blocked by a landslide that year, so I had directions from AAA to get around it. It was a long drive through the snow in towns I was unfamiliar with. When we got to our first stop, you have to realize that these were people who had never seen Allie before. Some might have not even known about her at all. Therefore, I told Allie my plan for introducing her.

I went in with my hand tightly clutched around hers covering the ring. We were the last ones to get there due to the snow and all so I came in and said “Hi everyone. This is Allie. She and I have been dating for three months and as of a few hours ago, she’s become somewhat more important in my life.” At that point, I released her hand so everyone could see the ring and then I dove out of the way to avoid all the girls coming up wanting to see that ring.

Our next stop was my aunt’s and we did the same thing. Christmas was great that year. Allie still recounts it as the best Christmas gift she has ever been given.

Our wedding was to be in July. I had arranged it even before I proposed. I knew I wanted to go in the summer because of school. I also knew I wanted to go to Ocean Isle Beach. Chris had shown us that place and I knew it was where I would want to go on a honeymoon. I saw that July 24 was a Saturday and the next day, a Sunday, had a full moon.

Honeymoon with a full moon on the beach? Not passing that up.

I went back to SES the month after the proposal to start classes for that semester wondering if anyone really knew about what had happened with me. I open up our weekly newsletter in my mailbox and see in prayers and praises a note saying “God’s blessing on Nick Peters and Allie Licona’s engagement.”

I guess they know.

In my first class, the professor said he wanted us to all be paying attention. He didn’t want me for instance over there just sitting and saying to myself “I’m getting married” over and over, and then said, “Which is true by the way, congratulations.” Yes. Word was out.

David was my best man at the wedding. No one else could have taken that position. I also surrounded myself with men who could counsel me about marriage, sex, and everything else. Our wedding was a fairy tale wedding. Everything went perfectly without a hitch. It was a beautiful one. Gary Habermas who introduced us was the one who married us.

I used to say the depression was the worst thing I had ever gone through, but I was grateful because it led me to apologetics. I no longer say that. I now say it led me to apologetics, and that led me to Allie. With Allie by my side, confidence issues started to become less and less. I have a woman who actually believes in me and desires me. It’s incredible. When my friend Chris got married last December, he sought me out for advice. Why? Because he saw Allie and I together and he wanted that. It’s great to get a compliment on intellectual ability. It’s great, but anyone can do that with study. It’s something better to be told I’m a good husband to Allie. That’s virtue.

As many of you know, I had to leave SES eventually. When Norman Geisler went after Mike on inerrancy, I couldn’t stay silent. I feared I had made enough enemies that I would not be able to graduate. Today, I am in Atlanta. I assist Mike with his ministry. I’m trying to complete a Master’s in New Testament distance learning through Johnson again. I am busy learning Greek and trying to review books for my podcast, which I am quite pleased with, and doing work for Mike still.

This is also one reason I ask for donations on the show. Employment isn’t available because I have to make enough to cover my health-care and Allie’s. She is on Social Securit disability. It puts us in a tight spot, but I’m happy with her. I love my wife and this has been a growing time for me in learning how to be a good husband. I get plenty of books from authors wanting me to review them. I enjoy that I have got to know several scholars.

So are things in a rough path financially? Yeah, but we’re going to make it. I also like to encourage those growing up and starting apologetics. It took a long time to get to where I was. For a time, I would regularly get myself into situations I couldn’t handle, but it took a lot of study. Yes. I am doing that study now.

Apologetics has been a great gift to me. I get to serve Jesus doing the work that I love and I get to help others along the way. Of course, I also have Allie by my side as well. My friends who knew me before and after know that Allie has had a marked improvement on my life. One such way is food. As an Aspie, my diet had always been restricted. Counselor and friends and parents tried to get me to change it for decades. Not going to happen.

Allie didn’t even have to try.

Do I still have areas to work on? Yes. Allie is trying to work with me on those and I’m sometimes resistant, but if I was detective Monk, she’s my Natalie. She helps keep me sane in this crazy world. She’s someone who stabilizes me when I can’t handle things. People get amazed at the love I show for her in public and on Facebook. I didn’t even realize I had it in me, but I do apparently.

Well, that’s been my story. I haven’t told everything of course. No one could. Still, I want it to be a way that you can get to know the guy behind Deeper Waters. I hope in some ways, it’s an inspiration too, especially if you’re disabled and want ot know if you can ever do anything.

And of course, if I haven’t said it, I love my Princess.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

The Church Does Not Exist For You

Why is it that you go to church? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night, I talked with someone from Ratio Christi about how we can reach our generation for Christ more. What was brought out was that we have more information than ever before, but the problem is the information isn’t being distributed. Most teachers and workers don’t really get to go out into the trenches as much and just do regular evangelism. Why is that?

My thinking on this is that we have too many people in Christianity today who think that the church exists for them. The church is where they go and get their regular spiritual fill-up. They get to hear a good concert, which is more often about getting their emotions to a high, and then get to hear a talk about how they can have better lives by being a Christian and how God loves them and all of it is about them.

How does this work with evangelism? Simple. You are supposed to bring your friend to church and the pastor is supposed to say the magic words to get them to come down the aisle and accept Christ. Never a thought of “We need to equip you so you can do evangelism on your own.” Instead, you just bring them to the pastor and the pastor does your work for you.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t invite people to church. Of course you should. I am saying your work is not just to bring people to church and then keep a seat in the sanctuary warm. You are also not meant to come to church just so you can feel good about yourself. Church is about coming to worship and give of yourself. We come to church more often to receive than to give.

As someone in ministry also, this is something that I know is a problem for many ministries. Since the church knows little about apologetics, apologetics ministries are hard to start. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t support other worthwhile ministries as the church needs more than apologetics, but it is to say that the church doesn’t know about this vital area of Christianity and sadly, their pastors aren’t introducing them to it.

Picture your average service. You go in and when the sermon starts, you hear a passage of Scripture read. You might get a little bit of the background story but then, it jumps straight to application. There is nothing about the historical setting from a greater perspective or about what the passage would have meant to the original audience. It’s all about “What does this mean to me?”

There are rarely questions about “What does this say about the nature of God?” aside from that He loves you. “What does this say about Jesus?” aside from of course, that He loves you. “What did this mean to the children of Israel?” (Why is that part even in the Bible? It’s not about us.) “How do we know that this really happened?”

Why do people not give then? Well they give their regular 10% and then that’s it. Nothing in their minds often about being a part of the greater church as a whole and the Kingdom of God. Nothing about that they might actually need to answer a question one day from someone. Nothing about they might need to do independent Bible study. It’s all about what’s in it for them.

Want a demonstration? Just picture what will happen if you have a movie night at the church where a movie can be shown for free. How many people will show up? Now picture a night where you have a great apologetics speaker coming into town and giving a free talk on the resurrection of Jesus. I can assure you turnout will be much less for that one. (With the exception of apologetics fans in the area who actually do come.)

I wish I knew more of what to do to help this. Sometimes, I do think it will take some persecution to get us to realize what we are here for. I also suspect many Christians will fall away at that point because, I mean, why should they be expected to sacrifice anything? That’s too uncomfortable.

Perhaps it will depend on the pastors since they are put in the position of having to do everything. The pastor can lay out the responsibility of the layman. He can encourage them to be able to be more self-sufficient in their Christian faith in that they can research themselves and ask the questions themselves. (Perhaps that would be a better investment of their time more often than binge watching Netflix.)

If a pastor is worried that he might lose some people, maybe he should. The people who really care the most are the ones who will stay behind and be willing to do the work. It would be better to have a small number who are faithful and ready to do the work than have a large number who are not. I believe the founder of Christianity had the same philosophy.

It is my hopes that we can be a church that teaches, gives, answers, and everything else we need to be doing. Once we understand the role of Christianity overall, we will be better equipped to fulfill our Christian mission. It will require that we move past the idea that the church is for us. We don’t come to church for us. We come for God.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/15/2017: J Warner Wallace

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

Why is the sky blue? Why are plants green? Where do babies come from? Yes. We all know that kids like to ask questions, and they have a lot of them. This also includes questions about Christianity. It is going to be necessary that we answer these questions of an audience that is younger and younger.

Not only do we have to answer these questions, we have to teach people how they are to be answered. How do you go and investigate a matter? If you have questions, what’s the best way to think through those questions? How do you solve the proverbial case?

When it comes to solving a case, there’s none better than J. Warner Wallace. When it comes to equipping kids now, he’s got you covered. J. Warner Wallace has come out with Cold-Case Christianity for Kids and that will be the subject of our interview. This is a resource to help your children be able to learn how to answer questions. So who is J Warner Wallace?

I’ve been speaking publicly for over 15 years, from small seminars to keynote appearances at major national events. My investigative work as a detective has been highlighted on local and national television programs like Dateline, Fox News and Court TV. In fact I’ve been on Dateline more than any other detective in the country. I also host a weekly television show on NRBTV and appear in God’s Not Dead 2.

I have an interest in the arts and attended California State University at Long Beach, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Design. I then earned a Master’s Degree in Architecture from UCLA. As a result, my presentations are designed to be powerfully visual in nature. I try to use my background as an artist to communicate difficult concepts in a captivating way.

I served as a police officer and detective for over 25 years. I worked as a Patrol Officer, served on a street level narcotics unit and SWAT, worked the Gang Detail and a career criminal surveillance team, and eventually became a Robbery / Homicide Detective. I have been investigating Cold-Case Homicides exclusively for many years. As a result, my presentations employ the techniques that I’ve learned as an investigator. I try to use my background as a detective to teach audiences about the nature and power of evidence.

I was a committed atheist until the age of thirty-five, but once I became a Christian, I quickly became interested in Christian theology. I entered seminary at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary and eventually earned a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies (I am presently an Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at BIOLA University). My presentations are rooted in the classic, orthodox truths of Scripture. I try to use my background as a pastor to encourage audiences about the reliability of the Bible and the evidence for God’s existence.

I’m also an author. I’ve contributed articles to the Apologetics Study Bible for Students, and I’m the author of Cold-Case Christianity (and the related booklet, ALIVE) and God’s Crime Scene. I’m presently working on my third book and a series of children’s books. I’ve been with my wife, Susie, for thirty-seven years; we have two boys and two girls. In our spare time we run, enjoy the beaches near our home in Southern California and take walks our trusty Corgi, Bailey.

If you have children and you want to see them equipped, please be listening to this week’s show. Even if you don’t, the book can be good for all ages, perhaps if you’re just getting started. I hope you’ll be watching your feed and please leave a positive review on ITunes of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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