Deeper Water Podcast 7/15/2017: Hugh Ross

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

This year at Rosh Hashanah, many Jews will be celebrating that a new year has come. There will also this year be many Christians waiting for this event. After all, this is the day that the rapture is being predicted to take place.

What was that?

Yes. A few months ago a friend of mine emailed me about some people at his church talking about Rosh Hashanah and their hope that the rapture will take place. This is supposed to be based on certain astronomical signs. I immediately thought back to the whole blood moons fiasco (Anyone heard that apology from John Hagee yet) and decided I’d talk to a specialist about this.

So I sent an email to get in touch with the person I know who knows astronomy best. I got more than I bargained for. He has agreed to come on the show and talk about the signs that are being said to be shown and we’ll look and see if they are of any real significance. I am of course referring to none other than Hugh Ross from Reasons To Believe.

So who is Hugh Ross?

Astronomer and best-selling author Hugh Ross travels the globe speaking on the compatibility of advancing scientific discoveries with the timeless truths of Christianity. His organization, Reasons to Believe, is dedicated to demonstrating, via a variety of resources and events, that science and biblical faith are allies, not enemies.

For those worried about the deck being stacked, it is also my understanding that Dr. Ross has in the past held to a futurist/dispensationalist understanding of eschatology. I do not know if that is still the case, but his main point here is to come as an astronomer. Are there really some signs that we are supposed to be looking out for, or is this going to be another case like that of the blood moons where there will be embarrassment in the eyes of unbelievers once again?

How ought Christians approach this phenomena anyway? If we don’t understand astronomy well, could we be saying things without knowledge? Even if one does want to defend a futurist/dispensationalist viewpoint, do we need to be extremely careful about setting dates for certain events?

If I am correct about my prediction that this is much ado about nothing, what will it take for Christians to learn? What more do we need to be paying attention to? How should the church handle it when there are claims that get national attention that prove to be wrong, such as the four blood moons or Harold Camping?

Some might think this is an in-house issue for Christians, but I’m not convinced. How we present ourselves to the world matters a great deal and if we can be shown to embrace something wrong so many times so easily, then how is it that we can expect anyone to believe us when we claim Jesus rose from the dead? I hope you’ll be listening for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast and that you’ll leave a positive review on ITunes┬áto let me know what you think of the show.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

End Times Laziness

Does speaking about the end times spark laziness in Christians? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I put my post from yesterday in the comments section on a few posts on Facebook yesterday on the page of John Hagee Ministries. Interestingly, last I checked I have not been blocked. Of course, there has been no public statement of appearance and the fact that absolutely nothing happened doesn’t seem to be a concern to fans of Hagee. This is one time where I do think cognitive dissonance does indeed play a factor. The more I have thought about this, the more I have been concerned about why we have this obsession with end times. Too often in fact, it has sparked laziness.

This is something I have written on before on a post about the escapist mentality. This mentality was shown best by a lady I saw in a small group once who said “I’m saved and my children are saved so we just sit back and wait for Jesus to come.” I was just stunned that a Christian would say something like that. I was immediately thinking that first off, keep that up and your children could fall away from the faith before too long, especially when they get to college. Second, good that you’re all “saved” but what about your neighbors and their children. Do they not matter?

It’s such a strange belief that we have today. We have people who are Christians who say that the commands of Jesus are of utmost importance. When it comes to what marriage is, we sure say we want to defend that. (Although, we seem to only want to defend it when it comes to our right to eat chicken sandwiches or it infringes with a favorite television show.) When it comes to defending marriage by, you know, actually studying the purpose of marriage and why it is the way it is, or an even more bizarre way, and yes please forgive how bizarre this idea is, actually living out the way marriage was meant to be by God, we’re not as interested. While I agree with the research of Shaunti Feldhahn that divorce is not as prevalent among Christians as believed, it is still all too prevalent.

The commands of Jesus are of selective importance. They are important when they involve what we want, but if they involve any work or sacrifice on our part, well we must just be misunderstanding them. Yet Jesus calls us to die and there is no reason to think He is not serious in what He says.

So here then we have a group of people who say the commands of Jesus matter the most to them and who also especially want to have a focus on reminding everyone that Jesus is God in good Christian fashion. So now they are told repeatedly that they are the last generation and they believe it. They are convinced Jesus is coming back at any moment and what are they doing?

They’re reading books about how He’s coming back at any moment and watching TV shows about how He’s coming back at any moment and attending seminars about how He’s coming back at any moment.

Question. How many of these people are out supporting missionaries overseas? After all, if Jesus is coming back any moment, don’t we want to have as many people ready to go with Him? (While I do not hold to a pre-trib paradigm, I am speaking this group of people and they do hold to it and I’m asking for consistency. Of course, this does not mean that all pre-tribbers are like this. Many are just as incensed at Hagee as I am and many of them are just as concerned about the matters I’m writing about as I am.) How many of us are watching our behavior and how we’re living because who wants to have the King come back and be caught unawares? How many of us are honoring our spouses or raising our children properly and showing them extra love? After all, if you think Jesus is coming back, don’t you want to enjoy the time with your family now as well instead of spending it doing something that won’t benefit the Kingdom? (This is not to say of course there is no time for play, but there is more to life than play.)

This also raises the concern of if we suddenly decide to shape up, are we doing so not because it’s required but because we want to look good when Jesus returns? That should be our focus every day. We shouldn’t have to wait until the signs start coming. Frankly, the signs really shouldn’t change how we live. My friend Dr. Randy Richards has a post about doing the right thing wrong that I think is excellent. Richards argues that we should be looking for Christ’s return, which is right, but if we do so because of blood moons, we do so for the wrong reason. I think the same applies here.

Let’s consider an analogy in marriage. It is good for a husband to love his wife. No doubt. But now let’s suppose that we realize the sweet loving husband does something only because he wants his wife to give him a good time in the bedroom. There is nothing wrong of course with wanting that and a husband should want it, but if all you want from your wife is the reward at the end of the day (Or any other time of day for that matter), then you’re essentially using her. Now let’s reverse that. Let’s suppose a wife wants to please her husband and knows that sex is a great way to make him happy. However, she does this saying “I hope he’ll take me out to eat at that fancy restaurant soon.” She’s also using her husband. Now of course, it’s fine if a husband or wife want to show appreciation. Still, we should also always be watching our motives. For those who might be overly sensitive in this area like I am, I always tell people that when you think you might be tempted with wrong motives, you are still to do the right thing and ask God to work on your heart.

We end up then with end times madness doing the right thing wrong in one area, but in another, we don’t even do the right thing. Where is the great transformation of our world from people who are sure the King is coming? Could it be we don’t see it because we think the King is in fact coming? After all, the King will clear up this mess when He gets here. We don’t need to worry about that. Sorry, but I just don’t see that in the Bible. If you worked for a company and you were told the president of the company was coming to pay a visit, you would be working as hard as you could to get ready. When you’re dating and know your date is coming by, you work to make yourself the best you can be. Now we live in a culture where we think Jesus, our God, is supposed to be back any minute, and what are we doing?

It is a shame that all the time spent chasing after blood moons and any other end times event could have been spent far better. Our end times obsession has often ended up being something to stroke our own egos and make us think we are special, instead of doing something for the world around us so they will know how special we think they are, and how awesome we think Jesus is. What Jesus has said He will do, He will do and you trust Him on it. The question is are we going to do what He told us to do?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Anybody Catch That Last Apocalypse?

How was the latest global event for you? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So another blood moon has come and gone and how is the world radically different? Well, not too much. Of course, don’t leave it to people like John Hagee to be deterred by this. As he says on the Facebook page of his ministry:

Thank you Joe Pags for participating in our “Four Blood Moons” projects, and for helping us to share this great message that something is about to change! God is sending a message that (even though no man knows the day nor the hour) we need to prepare for Jesus’ return. We need to live a righteous life as unto the Lord.

One would think the Almighty would have planned these kinds of events better and would have also thought that an event like the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. or the Holocaust would be worth something, but alas, apparently not. We can be confident that two people will not be bothered by nothing happening with the blood moons. The first will be John Hagee himself. The second will be his followers. Even today if you go to the page, you can see plenty of them. The fact that this caused so much excitement in the Christian church really shows that we have a great case of Biblical illiteracy going on.

While I certainly agree with Hagee that we need to be living righteous lives, part of that righteousness would be owning up to the mistakes that you make and especially so if you have a loudspeaker to what you say and proclaim yourself to speak what you think Scripture says. Events like this only give further credibility to the idea that Christians are gullible and will believe anything that comes along and if we give that kind of impression to people, why on Earth should we think that they will treat the Gospel of Christ seriously? Of course you believe that story! You also believed in blood moons because someone on TV said it.

So here’s my bizarre pipe dream.

I have this hope that Christians will really drop their end times madness. I get tired of hearing constantly that we all know we’re living in the last days and that the end of the world is coming and we are that generation. Every other generation has been wrong, but we are the exception! The good thing is these end times people can be disproven pretty quickly as they don’t usually make predictions about events hundreds of years from now, but rather events due to happen soon. The bad part is that when they are disproven, no one calls them to repentance and they keep going. I have said before it must be nice to be a prophecy expert. You can write whatever you want and just say it’s in the Bible by whatever bizarre hermeneutic you want, you can be taken as a serious authority, sell books all around the world and be a bestseller, be absolutely wrong in all you say, and yet you still qualify as an expert.

Second, I have a dream of Christians being experts in other areas. I meet so many Christians who say they want to study end times prophecy and know all about that. How rarely do I meet Christians who want to say “I want to learn all I can about the Trinity.” One reason is end times prophecy is often about us and we love ourselves. We love thinking that we are so special as a chosen generation. The Trinity is not about ourselves. Oh it has implications for us of course, but it is largely about God. Of course, if one wants to study end times prophecy, go ahead, but please make sure it does not take the place of more important doctrines. If you know all about end times prophecy and have your charts and graphs of Revelation and Daniel all filled out, but you have no clue how to argue Jesus rose from the dead, there’s a problem.

Third, let’s hold our leaders accountable. We would want them to be held accountable if they spent money we donated in tithes in a wrong way. We would want them to be accountable if they were caught in sexual misconduct. Yet people spread untruths about Scripture on a serious level that produces embarrassment for the church as a whole and we don’t want to do anything? Hagee’s book has the subtitle of “Something’s About To Change.” What that something should include is the fact that he is still broadcast on television and that he still has a leadership position in the body of Christ.

As many of us predicted, nothing happened with the latest fit of end times madness, except for the usual. Christians ended up looking foolish to the rest of the world. Let’s start holding up our speakers and leaders as accountable and even making sure we’re careful about who we choose to have those positions. The credibility of the Gospel is at stake.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Embarrassment of Christian Media

Why is it that we are not making the most of media? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My church meets at a movie theater. Yesterday, my wife and I arrive to help set up in the auditorium. As we’re going back and forth, I see behind the counter a promotion for an upcoming movie called Four Blood Moons. I’m looking at this as one who has written on it before and I’m thinking “Please, please, say it isn’t what I think it is.” Unfortunately, if you’ve clicked the first link, you already know that this is not a joke.

As you can see by the description given by the producer of the film.

It is rare that science, history and scripture align with each other, yet the last three series of Four Blood Moons have done exactly that. Are these the “signs” that God refers to in the Bible? If they are, what do they mean? What is their significance for us today? In his riveting and highly acclaimed book, Pastor John Hagee explores the supernatural connection of certain celestial events to biblical prophecy-and to the future of God’s chosen people and to the nations of the world. In the movie “Four Blood Moons,” produced by Rick Eldridge and directed by the Academy Award Winner, Kieth Merrill; these veteran filmmakers illustrate this fascinating phenomenon in a very compelling docu-drama. Cinematic recreations of historical events from the United States, Israel and throughout the Middle East; along with expert testimonials from scientists, historians and religious scholars, are used to illustrate this story told in narrative format by a celebrity host. Just as in biblical times, perhaps God is controlling the sun, the moon, and the stars to send our generation a signal that something big is about to happen. The question is: Are we watching and listening for His message?

It is hard to say if I’m more angry or sad about this coming out.

To begin with, I happened to like D’Souza’s What’s So Great About Christianity?, but if this is the way that he’s going to be going now, then I have to ask D’Souza to please step down from doing this sort of thing. This is an embarrassment. Anyone can do some basic research and see that the blood moon phenomena just doesn’t apply. It is the kind of thing that skeptics of the Christian faith will just mock and sadly. Worse, I think nothing will really happen that is major, though it is the Middle East so anything could be construed as a fulfillment. When that happens, atheists will be able to point to something in recent history and use that to not only not take the movie seriously, but not take Christianity seriously.

I have also been disturbed to see that both Hugh Ross and Dennis Prager are in this. I fear I am hoping against hope that their only role in the movie will be showing up and saying “No.” Unfortunately, there is a strong part of me that is quite sure that they’re not being invited on to give a negative critique of the idea.

In fact, let’s consider what’s going through the minds of people behind this film at the time. “Let’s see. Easter is coming. What kind of film should we make? We could make a film that will go public where we’ll discuss the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, the reason why we observe Easter. We would discuss with Gary Habermas, N.T. Wright, Mike Licona, William Lane Craig, and others. If Christians went to see it, they would learn about the reality of the resurrection of Jesus. If non-Christians went to see it, they would have a case made that they might never see otherwise. We could do that, or we could go with blood moons. Let’s do blood moons!”

In a recent book review, I wrote about how we Christians keep blundering in media. We make movies that only appeal to Christians. How are we going to reach the world if we stay in the circle of our own interests and make films that only those like us will want to see? Of course, there’s a place for encouraging each other, but we hardly see films pushing a Christian message, unless that message is made cheesy and explicit. Fellow Christians. Please realize this. The world makes movies that espouse a view of the world that is not in your face and that view of the world is in fact having an impact on people. Dare I say it but maybe we could learn something from our opponents? Maybe we could learn that our audiences are not supposed to be so dumb that they have to have everything spelled out for them? Why do you think a series like the Chronicles of Narnia is so enthralling? What about Lord of the Rings? The Gospel is NEVER spelled out in these and you’ll find fans of those series all across the religious spectrum.

It is my sincere hope that Four Blood Moons will be entirely neglected and that the studio will lose out on this project. If this is the way that D’Souza is going to go with jumping on bandwagons in this way, then it would do him well to just get out now. When people come and hold to theories like this, it makes me really wonder if I can take their viewpoint seriously on other matters. If that is what I can think as a Christian, what will those outside Christianity think? They already think our view is crazy enough as it is. Is there any need we have to add to that?

How about we spend this Easter focused on the resurrection and not blood moons?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Tragedy of Christian Bookstores

Why do Christian Bookstores make me thoroughly depressed every time I go in them? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Yesterday, while doing some driving to pick up some groceries, I went to a little shopping center that has a Christian bookstore in it that I shall leave unnamed. I thought maybe there was some opportunity I could find to serve in a place like that or something on a bulletin board in there that would indicate something I could do.

Unfortunately, what I saw when I went in was absolutely tragic.

To begin with, I see a salesperson from there talking to a retired pastor as I find out in conversation and what are they talking about? Blood moons. The pastor is wanting to buy a book about blood moons and from the conversation I heard, it sounds like he buys into it entirely. Of course, I have pointed to an excellent resource on this already.

The great irony here is that in the midst of the conversation between the pastor and the salesperson, the salesperson also being in ministry, it was said that there were too many people in churches who were growing fat off of the flock and fleecing them for all they were worth.

Kind of like blood moons.

When I got to talk to the salesperson there, I offered my help in Christian apologetics if ever the need arose. I was told I’d be contacted to which I said “Won’t you need my contact information if you’re going to contact me?” I’m quite sure that while I wrote it out for him, it was either ignored or promptly thrown out. Who needs this stuff? We have blood moons!

I am quite confident of a number of things with this.

#1-John Hagee will be shown to be wrong again.

#2-John Hagee provided he is still alive will write another book on prophecy.

#3-John Hagee will not confess any wrong in the past on misleading the people with past theories.

#4-The church will still eat it up and refer to him as an expert.

What else do we find? A big display on Heaven is for Real. That is another book that I have written about elsewhere. I have a greater concern with this book now that a movie has come out. Colton Burpo, the kid in the book, has entered his teen years from what I understand.

What happens if he stumbles?

There are two ways I can see this happening.

Let’s suppose that he abandons his faith first off. Let’s suppose that peer pressure or sexual temptation or some combination of those two or any other events lead him to apostasize and if asked about this says that it was all the imagination of a small child and he never really believed it. What will happen to all those people who put their hope in Christ based on his testimony? What about all those people who claimed knowledge of what Heaven is like based on his testimony?

Or suppose this scenario. Suppose he ends up doing something like sleeping with a girlfriend. Now he doesn’t abandon his faith per se, but he tells us something like “God said that it was okay if I really love her.”

Keep in mind I don’t want any of this to happen. It’s a tragedy when anyone apostasizes or gives in to sexual sin. I am warning about the danger. However much we put our eggs of trust in the Colton Burpo basket, the more danger we are in if something goes wrong with that.

Unfortunately, you can be sure that when William Lane Craig, Mike Licona, Gary Habermas, etc. has a new book coming out, these will not be put on front display and everyone encouraged to buy them. No. The apologetics books and serious theology books are going to be buried on some back shelf away from plain sight.

In fact, I was sent a web site with a list of Christian booksellers on it. Now there are some good things from time to time. The Five Love Languages for instance, or Boundaries. Not everything in the bookstore has to be apologetics and I’m not opposed to all Christian fiction, but what else do I see on the list? Heaven is for Real. Blood Moons. Joel Osteen. Not one work by a serious Christian scholar in theology or apologetics is on the list.

Is it any wonder the intellectual growth in the Christian church is stunted. We’ve been feeding them junk food for so long their diets aren’t equipped to handle real meat. At least the church the Hebrews writer wrote to was drinking milk. We’re not even at that level. It would be interesting to see what he would have to say about our churches today if he saw them.

Of course, there’s also the constant witnessing tools and each time it’s some other gimmick whether it be mints in the shapes of crosses or just witness wear. Now if someone wants to buy a T-shirt with a Christian message on it, fine. That at the same time does not constitute evangelism if you wear one. To do evangelism, you have to directly share the Gospel somehow or at least prepare people for the Gospel. Too many of us can think we wear a T-shirt in public and we have done our evangelism.

So I go into these places and I come out depressed. It is apparent why it is that the Christian church is failing. They receive no meat in their diet whatsoever. Some stores might want to sell other books, but to stay in business, they have to give people what they want.

Yet how many of you with children would say “Well if my child wants junk food, that’s the way it is.”

No. You’d seek to change their desires.

How’s it going to happen?

First off, pastors have to start really preaching the Scriptures. A pastor who gets more of their sermon from blood moons than they do from Scripture is a pastor who is a disgrace to the pulpit. You are meant to exegete the text. You are not meant to exegete the newspaper. Of course, a good pastor can be a futurist or a dispensationalist and if you want to touch on current events, fine, but remember the meat of the message MUST come from Scripture.

These pastors will need to be teaching their church serious theology and discernment. They need to be able to let their congregations ask questions. Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer are not going to prepare our youth for Bart Ehrman in college and neither will they prepare our adults for Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. In fact, for the latter, they’ll feed a mindset that will make them more prone to the message of these groups.

Now some of you pastors might think “Well I’ll lose a lot of members.” You might. But ask yourself this. Would you rather have twenty people in your church who were thoroughly committed and knew their Bibles well and could make the Christian case, or would you rather have two hundred who just hear what they want to hear and do nothing with it?

Next on the list is parents. Parents should seek to get their children in a church that does really teach Scripture seriously, but even then, you can’t expect the church to do all the work. You need to be teaching your children at home proper tools of thinking. Get them engaged with other worldviews. Don’t isolate them. Don’t just hide them from threats. Teach them how to face those threats. Equip them.

If your children were just eating junk food, you wouldn’t put up with that. You’d do everything you could to make them eat healthy. If you will take care of their physical condition, how much more should you take care of their spiritual condition?!

Unfortunately, Christian bookstores won’t change until Christians say enough is enough. That won’t happen until we get serious about real Christian growth in the church.

Until then, I suspect I’ll be spending more time on Amazon or even secular bookstores. At least secular bookstores don’t know better when they put the holy next to the heretical. Christian bookstores have no such excuse.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Blood Moon Lunacy

What do I think of Holding’s book on the blood moon theory? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

In the interest of full disclosure for a review, J.P. Holding who wrote “Blood Moon Lunacy” is my ministry partner. I am always one of the first to get a copy of his book so that I can review it as well. In this one, Holding looks at the theory propagated by people like John Hagee. The idea is that when there is a tetrad, that is, a group of four blood moons, that take place on Jewish holidays, then that means there is something about to happen with the Jews. These blood moons are also accompanied by a solar eclipse which means they’re not really tetrads, but we’ll let that slide.

So is there any credibility to it?

Nope.

Holding points out that Hagee knows that there are seven times that this kind of occurrence has taken place, yet he only tells about three of them, which is awfully convenient. Just do your best to ignore the data that doesn’t suit your theory. Also, note that many times where one would have expected something like this, it never happened, such as 70 A.D., 135 A.D., or the holocaust.

Hagee also neglects to mention that many of these eclipses would not have been visible in Israel or even worldwide. Some of them would even be visible in only the arctic areas. Hard to imagine this being Hagee’s sign for the world if the world cannot even see them.

Unfortunately, Hagee has had this kind of reputation before. Holding points out that in past books he has predicted many events would take place and in fact, they haven’t, but shortly thereafter a new book will come out and it will use the same arguments and this time for a different event. There will be no apology or admission of fault for the past mistake.

This is something that always makes me wonder about these “prophecy experts.” No matter what, they are consistently wrong, and yet we still keep referring to them as experts. Why is that? Would you consider going to a doctor who was consistently wrong? Would you want a lawyer to argue your case who consistently lost? Would you follow the advice of a stockbroker who was consistently mistaken? Yet people are often willing to support even global policy on the words of people who are wrong regularly.

Of course, my answer to this is to suggest people look at the futurist hermeneutic with suspicion. That is one reason I accept a Preterist hermeneutic where I interpret prophecy based on ones that have already been fulfilled, which means to not read them in a wooden and literal sense.

Unfortunately, too many Christians will be paying attention to blood moon theories instead of paying attention to Scripture itself and not looking into the claims of people like Hagee who are misleading the church and filling them with fear.

I have said this before and I’ll say it again. When people like Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, and John Hagee are no names in the Christian community and people like Mike Licona, N.T. Wright, William Lane Craig, and others like them are household names in the Christian community, we will experience the growth that we should in the church.

I highly recommend Holding’s book for showing the errors of John Hagee.

In Christ,
Nick Peters