Book Plunge: Why Christianity Is Not True: Chapter 1

What do I think of David Pye’s self-published book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Justin Brierley asked around recently to see if anyone would be interested in engaging with a skeptic who wrote a book called Why Christianity Is Not True. If you know me from my work on here, you know I jump at the chance to read something like this. I got in touch with David Pye who was glad to share his work with me. It is free for all to read and can be found here.

Pye is in the U.K. so people here are probably not as familiar with Nicky Gumbel. In the U.K., he runs a course called Alpha. This is a sort of introductory course for new Christians to Christianity and for those willing to explore it. I do not know much beyond that.

One problem I have with this first chapter is so much is said as if Pye wants to do everything he can to avoid offending someone. That could be noble at times, but here, it just got tiresome. I kept wanting us to skip ahead to the meat of the discussion.

So let’s go through and look at some highlights.

“At the mention of the word ‘evidence’ the reader might want to say “But surely religious belief isn’t based on evidence – it’s all about faith isn’t it?” ” I can sincerely hope that this book will not go down that route of the same modern misconception of what faith is. I want to hope it, but I have seen it happen so many times I am quite certain I will be wrong. We will see when we get to that chapter.

Pye also does say that even religious experience counts as evidence. I agree, though it is not a piece that I normally use. He does also have some brief statements about the Inquisition and the pedophile priest scandal. On the Inquisition, I look forward to seeing if there are any references as sources that talk about hundreds of thousands of people dying in history during the time are simply false.

From here, we also get a bit on the question of if we should be asking if Christianity works. I agree with Pye that this is not the key question. I am not even sure by what we would mean by saying Chrisitanity works. Is Christianity supposed to always make you happy or something like that?

Pye also says he is using Christian as a noun. He lists the following beliefs a Christian will have.

There is one God – eternal, all-loving, all-powerful and all-knowing.
 God’s nature is triune. This is sometimes expressed as The doctrine of the Trinity or
“three persons in one God”. These are the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
 There exists a spirit world – angels and demons – that was created by God. This
includes the devil (also known as Satan or Lucifer).
 The universe was created by God.
 Mankind is sinful and sin deserves punishment.
 The man Jesus, in his life on earth some 2000 years ago, was God manifest in the
flesh – fully God and fully man.
 Jesus was born of a virgin, Mary, and was the Messiah.
 Jesus was crucified to death but was resurrected “on the third day”.
 As a result of Jesus’ resurrection, sin and death have been defeated.
 Although there is some controversy amongst Christians about the nature of salvation,
most Christians would say that salvation is a gift offered by God that an individual
can receive – or reject.
 When a person becomes a Christian he/she has therefore been saved by Jesus.
 As a Christian a person is a new creation, filled with the Holy Spirit and expressing
God’s love in and to the world.
 Jesus shall return to earth – this is known as The Second Coming.
 There shall be a final judgement of all people.
 People who are saved are destined for eternity in heaven.
 Those who are not saved are not destined for heaven – and, according to many
Christians, are destined for hell.
 The Bible is the authoritative word of God.
 On occasions God intervenes in the natural world through miracles – including
miracles of healing – often in response to prayers by Christians.

Some minor points here, I would disagree with. I think we can make an emphasis that Christianity is all about heaven instead of the resurrection, and I would prefer to speak of the return of Christ instead of the second coming. I prefer to call the Bible, Scripture, instead of saying the Word of God since I tend to reserve that for Jesus. Still, this is a good list.

I also agree with Pye about possible problems with the idea of Christianity being described as a relationship with Jesus Christ. This is language I do not use. I also agree with him that Christianity is not just about what happens after one dies, but how one lives their life here and now and what God is doing here and now.

Pye also says that he is writing to just show Christianity is false. He is not writing to show any other position is true. This is fair enough and I have no problem with it.

However, we have a huge problem when we get to a point where he says, “I have no expertise in either history or mythology and therefore make no attempt to evaluate whether the Resurrection of Jesus is a historical event.” If the resurrection is the defining event in history that shows Christianity is true, then one cannot really show it is not true without dealing with this topic. I do not know how Pye thinks he will be able to demonstrate that Christianity is not true without giving a better explanation for the rise of the early church than the one that rests in the resurrection of Jesus being true.

I also agree with Pye that truth must be our goal. I do not hold to any relativism in truth such as if you feel it, it must be true, or to any idea of true for you but not for me. As a Christian, I am making a claim about the way reality is. I fully accept that.

I also think Pye has made a wise stance saying we are not concerned with proof but with evidence. Very few claims can be proven 100% true with absolute certainty. What we have to ask is where does the preponderance of evidence lead us.

Pye also has a listing of what the chapters will cover. The seventh is on the existence of God. Pye says we can wonder why that topic comes so late. He doe say theism does not prove Christianity. I agree. Theism is necessary, but it is not sufficient.

Finally, he gives a little bit about himself. Pye says he came to be a Christian at 23 and abandoned it three and a half years later. Reasons are not given yet for his abandonment or even his coming to Christianity. There is also some disappointment in that he says that he will cite Wikipedia articles. At least he tells when they were referenced, but readers know my stance on Wikipedia and it being a horrible source for any claim remotely controversial.

When we return to this book, we will be looking at the chapter on miraculous healing.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: Slow To Judge

What do I think about David Capes’s book published by Thomas Nelson? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Slow To Judge is not your typical book on Christian apologetics. If you’re wanting to get an answer on a question like if Jesus rose from the dead or dealing with the problem of evil, this is not the book for you. If you’re wanting a book on how to approach the debates on those kinds of topics, then this is the book for you. This is a book more akin to Greg Koukl’s Tactics. Capes throughout the book is encouraging you to not be too quick to judge. At the same time, he doesn’t want you to back down for a moment on your convictions, but make sure you’re doing something to promote honest debate.

You might be wondering why someone who is a New Testament scholar would be qualified to write a work like this. Capes has an advantage that he has been a regular host of a radio show where he appeared alongside a Jew and a priest to discuss various issues and take phone calls. (We have received no word if they ever went to a bar after the show.) Because of this, Capes learned how to have interfaith dialogues. He disagrees strongly with his co-hosts, but he also considers them good friends. As much as people know me to be firm in my debates with unbelievers many times, I much more prefer the ones I can have an honest discussion with rather than the ones that come with a strong chip on their shoulder.

And throughout the book, Capes takes a look at a number of ways real discussion is being hampered today. One such way is by the use of terms that end in phobia, something I’ve been surprised to see even Peter Boghossian agrees with. Too often in our culture, someone can be labeled a name like a homophobe or accused of homophobia and the person is immediately on the defensive for anything they have to say. It’s a good rhetorical play to make, but it’s not one that really adds any substance and most of us on the other side immediately realize what kind of mindset we’re dealing with.

Also, when it comes to judging too quickly, there’s one group that often gets left out that is judged too quickly and I speak as a member of that group, the disabled. My wife and I both have Aspergers and it’s amazing how because you don’t immediately understand and follow social protocol that people will often assume the worst of you. I can actually very well understand the world of someone like Sheldon Cooper even if I do find it humorous at times. There are many times I have to send an email to the people I know who are neurotypicals about a situation and ask if I am missing something. Too often when people see me, they can think that I’m rude or something of that sort when it really isn’t my intention to be.

The discussion on tolerance is also extremely helpful. Tolerance has been used as a weapon by those who claim to hold to it the most. For all the time they have spent preaching this Gospel of tolerance, you think they’d be willing to practice it. In fact, I have often said that the best way to spot an intolerant person is to find someone who is a champion of tolerance and then disagree with them on one of their chief virtues.

I also think the discussion on recognizing differences in other religions is quite helpful, although some in the Christian community will be shocked to learn that the early church didn’t really have a problem adopting certain literary and artistic forms from the pagans around them. Indeed, why should everything be invented wholesale? Too often the idea is the Christians could have nothing to gain from the pagans who were around them or else the Christians had everything to gain. The simple reality is that the Christians wrote their New Testament in the Greek language and last I checked, that wasn’t some heavenly language.

The book ends with a look at two figures. Fethullah Gulen is the first and C.S. Lewis is the second. Most of us have heard of the second, but I’d never heard of the former, which is a shame. He’s apparently a Muslim leader who is quite moderate and very condemning of acts of terrorism and sees Islam in more spiritual terms. Would I disagree with some stances on this? Yep. I would. I have my own opinions of Islam, but I do wish this guy was more well-known and more Muslims were listening to him. C.S. Lewis meanwhile definitely knew about the pagan world around him and interacted with it and is a model we can all learn from.

Again, I do not agree with everything in Capes book, but he’s absolutely right on the importance of wisdom. Ultimately, that’s what the book is all about. Wisdom. There are too many people with a lot of knowledge, but they don’t have any wisdom and do great harm to the body of Christ because of that. There are two extremes I think can be made. If you only have a hammer, everything will look like a nail. If you only have a hug, everything will look like a kitten. We need wisdom to know which is which. Reading this book is a good start for the quest for wisdom.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 12/13/2014: Louis Markos

What’s coming up on this Saturday’s episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. Let’s dive into the Deeper Waters and find out!

First off, for those wondering about last week, we will be rescheduling with our guest Cynthia Hampton to talk about Jehovah’s Witnesses. As it stands, I was just starting to get over the stomach flu and Allie had just come down with it and so I wanted to be available in case she needed me again suddenly and in light of that decided that it probably wouldn’t be best to do a show. Family comes first!

So now, let’s talk about this week’s show!

How is apologetics to be done in the 21st century? Do great thinkers of our past still have anything to say for us? My guest, Dr. Louis Markos says we need to be doing apologetics in the 21st century and learning greatly from those who have come before us. He focuses mainly on several noted apologists of the 20th century with the most noted one of course being C.S. Lewis. Also touched on are Chesterton, Schaeffer, Sayers, and Josh McDowell.

So who is Louis Markos?

louismarkos

Louis Markos holds a BA in English and History from Colgate University and an MA and PhD in English from the University of Michigan.  He is a Professor of English and Scholar in Residence at Houston Baptist University, where he teaches courses on British Romantic and Victorian Poetry and Prose, the Classics, C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, and Film.
Dr. Markos holds the Robert H. Ray Chair in Humanities and teaches classes on Ancient Greece and Rome for HBU’s Honors College.  He is the author of 9 books: From Achilles to Christ: Why Christians Should Read the Pagan Classics, Pressing Forward: Alfred, Lord Tennyson and the Victorian Age, The Eye of the Beholder: How to See the World like a Romantic Poet, Lewis Agonistes: How C. S. Lewis can Train us to Wrestle with the Modern and Postmodern World, Apologetics for the 21st CenturyRestoring Beauty: The Good, the True, and the Beautiful in the Writings of C. S. Lewis, Literature: A Student’s Guide, On the Shoulders of Hobbits: The Road to Virtue in Tolkien and Lewis, and Heaven and Hell: Visions of the Afterlife in the Western Poetic Tradition. His tenth, Giants in the History of Education: C. S. Lewis, is due out in 2014. He has also published an ebook: A to Z with C. S. Lewis. All these books are available at his amazon author page.
This should be a fascinating interview as we’ll be talking about his book Apologetics For The 21st Century which I have reviewed as well. The first half of our interview will be focusing on looking at some of the great minds of the past, though I certainly want to focus in on Lewis and Chesterton, two of my favorites. In the second half, we’ll be looking at an apologetic argument going from the existence of God to the resurrection of Jesus. I hope you’ll be watching your ITunes feed for this one! (And yes, I plan on updating that soon too!)

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Apologetics for the 21st Century

What do I think of Louis Markos’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

For all interested, yes, I am going to be continuing my reviews of some Christ-myth literature, both pro and con, but I’m also busy reading several other books now so I plan on reviewing those as I finish them, so I should have plenty to keep me busy. This also includes a comment posted earlier this week by a Robert G. Price. I have it on my Kindle and when I finish the reading I need to do first on there I plan to get started and write a response. For now, let’s move on to Markos’s book.

Markos’s book is divided into two parts. The first part is looking at major names that have been influences in the world of Christian apologetics. The second part is looking at an apologetic case for the existence of God, the resurrection of Jesus, and the reliability of Scripture, as well as looking at questions about the Da Vinci Code, the new atheists, ID, and the conversion of Antony Flew to theism.

The first part of the book is without a doubt the better part. If you’re familiar with apologetics, you’ll still get something out of this, particularly on the parts about C.S. Lewis. If Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist, then in Markos’s view, Lewis made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled Christians.

Not that Lewis was without his influences. Although a whole chapter isn’t on him, J.R.R. Tolkien would be among this group. There is a chapter devoted to Chesterton, who is a man more apologists, and in fact everyone for that matter, should be aware of. Chesterton’s writings are brilliant and some of his fictional works are quite entertaining. I can still recall my former roommate before I got married borrowing my copy of the Complete Father Brown Mysteries and planning to read a little bit before going to sleep one night. He had a bone to pick with me the next morning because he didn’t get to sleep until about 1:45 A.M. or so due to having to finish three of the mysteries.

Part Two will give some good information to people who are learning apologetics, though if you’ve read a lot of literature, you probably won’t find much new here, but that’s okay. Writing has to be done on different levels. While I do prefer the first part, I find Markos’s style here is down-to-earth and easy for all to grasp.

What are some areas I’d improve on?

The first is that I would have liked to have seen some citations. Markos does have a bibliography to be sure and he does recommend books and tell you who some big names are in the field, but that could be improved simply by having notes of some kind so you can see where these arguments that you’re getting come from.

Second, I would have preferred to have references made not to apologists so much as scholars. Some of the apologists cited are scholars in the field. The reason is that too often if you’re in debate and you cite someone and you say they’re an apologist, an atheist will be more prone to dismiss them.

Third, there were some claims that I think are incorrect. For instance, on page 168 we’re told that a whole generation is not enough time for a resurrection myth to form let alone a few years, but this is false. There have been people who have had myths made about them in fact the very moment that they died. This has even happened in the ancient world. What the real claim being referenced is is that there’s not enough time for a myth to totally replace the true account. That one I stand by.

Finally, I think there can be a danger of casting one’s net too wide. I understand wanting to have a comprehensive case, but I think too many apologists think they have to make an argument on history, philosophy, science, and everything else out there. I find it better to be more specialized in fact and rely on other members of the body to make arguments where you’re lacking. For instance, I avoid debating science as science. Evolutionary theory doesn’t matter a bit to me to my interpretation of Genesis or the reality of the resurrection.

I would have liked to have seen more in the first part overall. The first part was for me the most engaging of all. The second part is still a just fine introduction, though if you have read widely already, you will not find much that is new. Still, if you’re someone who is just getting started in learning about a defense of the Christian faith, this would be a fine gateway.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Apostles’ Creed: The Forgiveness of Sins

Do we recognize what forgiveness is? Let’s dive into Deeper Waters and find out!

C.S. Lewis has a wonderful essay in his book The Weight of Glory on the forgiveness of sins. Don’t we all believe in that? Oh we say we do. But do we really? Lewis points out that many times when we say we want to be forgiven, what we really want is to be excused. Many times when we come to God in prayer, we list our sins and we often tell about how it happened and why we did what we did and how we tried so hard to resist a temptation and we just gave in. Then we ask for forgiveness.

When we ask for forgiveness, we really mean that we want it treated as if it never happened. Too often however, we ask not for forgiveness, but for our sins to be excused. We want God to simply understand why it is that the sin happened. We want Him to overlook what happened, but when we do that, then in essence, the sin is still there. (Of course, I do think God truly forgives it, but for us, it is there.)

Forgiveness is not excusing however.

You see, there are realities many times that can make it harder to resist a sin. A guy with sexual addiction for instance could have a hard time driving past a store selling pornographic supplies even if he is a Christian. Now someone like myself who is someone who very much enjoys sex, really has an attitude of wanting to avoid that as much as possible and wanting to honor my wife with my eyes. Can there still be a temptation? No doubt, but that temptation is not as strong as it is for someone with an addiction. I would be more prone to fall short in other areas, like losing my temper unnecessarily with my Allie or in a struggle with pride.

So let’s suppose someone with the addiction goes in anyway and then later confesses. The reality is, God knows all the excuses the man can give. In fact, He knows them better than the man does. He also knows what a struggle it has been for the person. He knows there are several factors at play. But He also knows one thing on His own. He knows that there is a sin. There can be no excuses for the sin. In the end, the person did do something wrong even if it was harder for him to resist and that part cannot be overlooked. That part is a blight on the face of God.

You see, sin is in many ways a sort of divine treason. Let’s look at all the things we implicitly say when we sin.

We deny the goodness of God because we think He is keeping something good from us.

We deny the love of God because we think He is being unloving keeping something from us.

We deny the omniscience of God because we think He doesn’t know that this is something we should do.

We deny the omnipresence of God because we think He doesn’t see.

We deny the omnipotence of God because we think He won’t judge.

We deny the righteousness of God because we think He has no place to judge.

We deny the rule of God because we are rebelling against Him.

In fact, we are committing divine treason. We are saying that God should not be on the throne. We should be. We want to be deity.

I have a theory also on seeing sin as uncreation. In creation, God makes a world good and beautiful. Our sin changed much of that and whenever we do sin, we are undoing the work of God. When we do that which is righteous, we are extending the work of God. We are being traitors to our own side and we will be held accountable for that.

Unless we are forgiven.

So really think about that. God does what we think could not be done. He really forgives us. He knows there is no excuse for what we did. There is no justifying it. Nothing can ever make what we did right. Yet despite all of that, He willing to treat it as if it didn’t happen and He is willing to restore us to a place that we don’t even deserve in the first place, in fact, to a place even better than the garden.

God never justifies sin. He cannot. He will not. There is no justification for anything that is done wrong. God justifies sinners. His hatred and disgust of sin will never change. But so also, His love of those of us who struggle with it will also never change. You cannot do something to make God love you less. You cannot do anything to make Him love you more. It’s constant.

Because God already loves you, He will forgive you when you ask. You do not earn forgiveness. You never could. It is a gift and it is a gift that is freely given. When God forgives you, He truly does. He no longer holds your sins against you. Too often it is we who still hold them against ourselves. If only we could grasp for a moment even the forgiveness of God and live with it for the rest of our lives.

Rest assured Christian. If you have confessed, you are forgiven, but go and sin no more. Yet when you do, confess and be forgiven. God is with you in your struggle.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 6/28/2014: Donald Williams

What’s coming up on this Saturday’s episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Many of us are familiar with the work of C.S. Lewis and have imbibed his work extensively. The work that comes most to mind is Mere Christianity. C.S. Lewis as we also know was part of a group called the inklings and he himself had been deeply influenced by the writer G.K. Chesterton. One of Lewis’s best friends was the writer J.R.R. Tolkien, especially well known for his work “The Lord of the Rings.”

We know about Mere Christianity, but do we know about Mere Humanity?

Mere Humanity is a book that I read several years ago by Donald Williams and enjoyed immensely. When I saw him commenting recently on a Facebook thread, I decided I’d see if he was interested in coming on the show to talk about the book. As you can tell from this post, he accepted. So who is Donald Williams?

Summit-Teaching

And according to his bio:

Raised in a Christian home, Donald T. Williams devoted his life to Christ at an early age. Recognizing by his high-school years that he had a strong drive for the integration of faith and learning, he felt called to a ministry of preaching, teaching, and writing. He holds a BA in English from Taylor University, an M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a PhD in Medieval and Renaissance Literature from the University of Georgia. He is the author of nine books: The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit (Nashville: Broadman, 1994; reprint, Wipf & Stock), The Disciple’s Prayer (Christian Publications, 1999; reprint, Wipf & Stock), Mere Humanity: G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien on the Human Condition (Broadman, 2006), Credo: Meditations on the Nicene Creed (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2007), The Devil’s Dictionary of the Christian Church (Chalice Press, 2008), Stars Through the Clouds: The Collected Poetry of Donald T. Williams (Lynchburg: Lantern Hollow Press, 2011), Reflections from Plato’s Cave: Essays in Evangelical Philosophy (Lynchburg: Lantern Hollow Press, 2012), Inklings of Reality: Essays toward a Christian Philosophy of Letters, 2nd edition, revised & expanded (Lantern Hollow Press, 2012), and Gaining a Face: the Romanticism of C. S. Lewis, coauthored with Jim Prothero (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholar’s Press, 2013).. He has also contributed essays, poems, and reviews to such journals as National Review, Christianity Today, Touchstone, Modern Reformation, The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Philosophia Christi, Theology Today, Christianity and Literature, Christian Scholar’s Review, Mythlore, SEVEN: An Anglo-American Literary Review, Christian Educator’s Journal, Preaching, and Christian Research Journal. An ordained minister in the Evangelical Free Church of America with many years of pastoral experience, he has spent several summers in Africa and India training local pastors for Church Planting International, and currently serves as R. A. Forrest Scholar and Professor of English at Toccoa Falls College in the hills of NE Georgia.

Mere Humanity is a look at the human condition in light of Christianity according to the thinking of these great men. As Christians, we are to know who Christ is definitely, but we also need to know who we are. Mere Humantiy is an excellent look at the human condition through some minds whose works have quickly become Christian classics. Those interested in purchasing this book are invited to go here.

I hope you’ll be looking for this show to come out!

Deeper Waters Podcast 9/14/2013: Holly Ordway

What’s coming up on this week’s episode of the podcast? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Ah books. As an apologist, I love books. I love reading. Most of my reading is, of course, academic reading. Occasionally, I find myself reading a mystery, but it is rare. There is so little time to read anything that is fiction, but what is there to be gained from reading other material outside of academic studies?

My guest, Holly Ordway, would say that there is quite a good deal to gain.

Holly Ordway is a professor at Houston Baptist University whose area of expertise is in literary apologetics. What’s that? Frankly, I’m not knowledgeable on it either, but that’s why I have a guest like this on my own show. There is not enough time to study everything, so why not invite the people who have got to study the areas that I have not been able to study?

Literature has been a great art from since almost the time humans first showed up. It’s quite likely that before too long, stories were being told to the young and these were probably not just stories about what happened in the past or survival stories, but stories meant to entertain. Eventually, stories got into writing.

Yet entertaining writing can also have a redemptive purpose. A story written to entertain can also be meant to persuade. It is meant to get past the watchful dragons and get the message of Christianity in to a world that will not see it in any other way.

When I say that, an obvious example that comes to mind is the Chronicles of Narnia, to which there have been three movies made of the books shown in theaters. Also along those lines would be a series like “The Lord of the Rings”, which is also a timeless classic. Each of these series has incredible appeal to it and each of them were written by a Christian from a Christian worldview.

Some might surprise you to know that they are from a more Christian perspective and I can’t guarantee we’ll get to discuss every work I can think of, but there are some. What if you found out that Bram Stoker’s Dracula was written from a Christian perspective? Have you considered there could be great Christian imagery in Grimm’s Fairy Tales? What about an old work like Beowulf?

Could it be that those of us in the apologetics community could often be depriving ourselves if we don’t take the time to appreciate great literature. Perhaps also we should take the time for it not so it can help us academically, but just because it’s great literature to be appreciated like any other great piece of literature.

I hope you’ll join me this Saturday as I discuss these matters with Holly Ordway. As it is an area that I’m not the most familiar with, you can be sure it is one that we can hopefully learn together on as well. Do you want to join in the fun this Saturday from 3-5 PM EST? Feel free to call in and ask your question at 714-242-5180. The link to the show can be found here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Phileo

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I started a look yesterday at 1 Corinthians 13 and decided to start that by discussing the four kinds of love. Yesterday we looked at Storge and today, we will be looking at Phileo, the brotherly love.

Phileo is an interesting love in that it could be possible to live without brotherly love. The race could survive without it even. We would not want to however and we often think our lives are richer because of our friends. Special moments are in our lives as well. When it came to filling out my wedding party, the first place I looked to was to my friends. When I’m in a bind and need someone to talk to, I can often turn to friends as well.

Friendship love is often different amongst males than females. I notice regularly when my wife is with female friends, they will tell her mow much they love her or they will speak of both of us and how they love us. From what I’ve seen, if guys got together and said that, they would be on their way to relentless teasing.

That could be a deficiency amongst us men. Most men are pretty stoic. In fact, it has been noted that when men get together and talk as friends, they don’t tend to look at each other. They tend to look straight ahead in one direction.

C.S. Lewis remarks that most friendships begin with these words. “You too? I thought I was the only one!” There are three kinds of friendships that often form. The first is the friendship of pleasure. These are friends who get together and what unites them most is a form of pleasure. They might watch a TV show or a sporting event or have a hobby together.

The next is a friendship of utility. These are friendships that form because it is beneficial to both, such as two co-workers who happen to work together or two athletes who train together. While both of these exist in some form in the final friendship, having a friendship based on just these principles does tend to make it be not a firm friendship that will last.

The last is a friendship of virtue where the friends seek to bring about the improvement of each other. Unfortunately, this can also work in reverse where the friends drag each other down. Such is the power of friendship. The same principle that makes them build up also leads to the possibility of tearing down.

However, this friendship is the best kind of friendship and the one that we should seek the most. We should seek to be people who will build our friends up and accept it when they seek to build us up. I come to see my friends as comrades in arms as we work together on regular quests.

It is a comfort to be looking at my cell phone list a number of times and see a number of friends that I can call for support if need be, some that are even thousands of miles away.

Friends might be something that someone can live without, but I am very thankful that I do not. To all my friends, I say thanks. I am who I am today in many ways because of the way God has used you in my life.

Next time, we shall look at eros.