Book Plunge: God’s Super-Apostles

What do I think of Holly Pivec and Douglas Geivett’s book published by Weaver? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Sometimes Christians get caught up in ideas I consider sensational. Many Christians think they need to be listening for the voice of God and finding God’s will for their lives. I disagree with them, but I don’t think they’re getting into something that’s overly dangerous. Yet at the same time, could there be extreme forms? What if you think you need to go to a specific person to know what God has to say and find out what you should do? What if that person thinks they have a superior level of authority with a superior title?

Pivec and Geivett have written about a movement called the New Apostolic Reformation. In this movement, people have risen up calling themselves apostles and prophets. They often claim to work miracles. They see themselves as a sort of end times fulfillment and that they are restoring the church with the offices of apostles and prophets.

Unfortunately, that has also left chaos behind it. People are following these leaders and hanging on their every word. You might think that this is one person leading one church. No. These people are often over a network of churches. Some of those networks can contain thousnads of churches all of them heeding the beck and call of one man.

Maybe here in America we might not see it so much around us, but there are other countries in the world where these kinds of people are rising up. They are becoming what Christianity is to those who have not heard the Gospel before. This can lead to exploitation as well if done wrongly. After all, greed and sexual lust are something that can hit anyone.

This book is a good and brief introduction to the movement. The authors tell you who the leaders are and what they believe in their own words. They also tell you the Scriptural passages that these people use in order to convince people that they are the real deal.

The writers will then look at those claims and provide a solid response from Scripture. They work to show that a Scripture is being misunderstood or used outside of its context. Fortunately, these people do not have many Bible verses that they can use.

They also include accounts of people who have been burned by the new movement. These are testimonials of those who trusted in an apostle or prophet and lost. Sometimes this can also lead to a division within families where one person believes the new movement and the others don’t. The movement is essentially cultic in nature.

The book also includes words of warning for others. Parents and youth have a section dedicated to them. What if you are a young person who is hearing about one of these leaders? What if you are the parent of someone who is a teenager or college age? There’s also a section for pastors. What can you do to prepare your own flock in case one of these people comes? It’s better to be prepared beforehand than have to deal with the problem when it arises.

I found the work to be very eye-opening. We can often look at the sensationalists we see on TV and we know about them. These people are not always the ones who are there and even if they’re not as common over here, they are around the world and the church needs to be ready to present real Christianity in an age of fakes.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Fate of the Apostles

What do I think of Sean McDowell’s book published by Routledge? Let’s dive into the Deeper Waters and find out.

“No one would die for a lie!”

So begins an apologetic¬†for the resurrection. The apostles were all willing to die. (Most leave out John, the son of Zebedee, thinking he died in exile) Why would they all die for what they knew to be false? Now let’s state something at the start. The apostles would die for what they had firsthand knowledge of. Martyrdoms today would not make the same statement, even all Christian matryrdoms. All we can conclude is that they really think that their belief is true.

Still, could we be using this claim too flippantly? There is a great danger that when we make this claim someone could say “Okay. Prove it.” Then, we are caught in a bind. After all, what are our sources? Is this a legend that we have heard and just repeated without studying it? For too many of us, the latter part is definitely true.

This book is McDowell’s Ph.D. dissertation on the topic. In it, he looks at the accounts that come after the apostles to see what we can demonstrate. I find it interesting that McDowell doesn’t just go with the party line. There are some cases that frankly, we don’t really have the evidence for that we’d like. Some are incredibly strong and we could say easily that the persons were martyred for their faith. Others are not so clear.

McDowell also seeks to get the sources closes to what he calls living memory of the events. This is a time frame of about 200 years or so. After that, matters get less reliable. He also looks at each in terms of historical probability indicating many times where a belief in something is possible.

This is also a fascinating look at church history as you get to see wondrous stories and how they were told. You’ll probably read about writings that you had no idea even existed. Some aspects will leave a lot to wonder about, such as the idea of Thomas making it all the way to India. You can get historical tidbits from that about the relationship of the Roman Empire to India.

In the end, McDowell states that for all of the apostles, we don’t have clear accounts of martyrdom. They are still possible, but we just don’t have the evidence that we would like to have. I find this to be a wonderful statement to make seeing as no one can look at this and say McDowell just got the conclusions he wanted to get. No doubt, he would have loved to have found clear martyrdom accounts of all the apostles, but they just weren’t there.

I do have one contention about how this could be used. At times, McDowell points to Biblical statements about what the apostles saw and what they were told. These work fine for a person who accepts Biblical authority. For someone who doesn’t, appeals to these passages could be seen as spurious. (Skeptics would not accept the Great Commission account for instance.) Apologists wanting to use such an argument will need to be careful about how much they rely on the Bible for these points.

Still, McDowell’s book is an enjoyable read. Most sections on an apostle are brief and can be read in a one-time sitting. If you want to read about a particular apostle, it is not necessary that you read the other chapters. If all you care about is Matthew, just go to the Matthew chapter. Hopefully further research will come along to expand McDowell’s findings.

In Christ,
Nick Peters