Deeper Waters Podcast 11/4/2017: J.P. Holding

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

Conspiracies. We all know that there are real ones out there. Real people do work to commit crimes secretly. Unfortunately, in an urge to find cover-ups, plenty of other cover-ups are suspected. We can see numerous ideas presented about secret messages and plots that have been afoot, sometimes for centuries.

Some of these are historical. One can easily think of Alexander Hislop’s work¬†The Two Babylons where pretty much everything that has ever been has been tied to Nimrod in the Bible somehow. While the argument is bogus, it is still consistently shared today. Another example, though not the focus of this show, would be Jesus mythicism.

A lot of these Christians buy into. What about the Illuminati? What about the possibility of a New World Order? There are claims that when anything happens, it’s a government conspiracy. There are people who think the government was controlling hurricanes Harvey and Irma and others. Some think that the shootings at places like Sandy Hook were fake. How far do these go?

To talk about these, I decided to have a Christian come on who has looked in-depth at these kinds of conspiracy theories. Not only has he looked at them, he’s more than capable of equipping Christians to answer them and research them themselves. He’s my ministry partner, J.P. Holding of Tektonics, and he’ll be joining us this Saturday.

So who is he?

James Patrick Holding is President of Tekton Apologetics Ministries. He holds a Masters degree in Library Science and has written articles for the Christian Research Journal and the Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal.

How should Christians handle charges about a New World Order and other such things? What do you say when someone says that the Illuminati is behind what is going on in the world today? Is there any historical truth behind any of this?

If you are not sure of a conspiracy theory, then what do you do? What are some of the places you can go to research a claim? What are some things that you should be looking for to see if something is bogus or if something could possibly be genuine?

What also is the harm anyway? Even if you do get something wrong, does it really make a difference? How does it impact Christian witness if you share something that is untrue? When we see Christians who are sharing things like conspiracy theories, what can we do? What steps should we take in order to change the mindset of people in the church today and handle the way that we approach information claims?

I hope you’ll be watching for this next episode. I have a great concern when I see Christians sharing conspiracy theories, which includes a lot of people caught up in last days madness talking about New World Order and Illuminati specifically. Please also consider going on ITunes and leaving a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Draw of the Sensational

Are Christians buying into ideas they shouldn’t? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My wife recently heard about something called the Marine Kingdom. I had never heard of this either, and then I found out what it was. I immediately shook my head in disbelief thinking “Here we go again.” So what is this? Is this a new branch of Sea World? Is it a theme park? No.

It is supposedly an underwater kingdom that the devil has set up in the Atlantic Ocean.

I’m not making this up.

This is supposed to be a place where he and his demons are doing work on their computers and such to try to ruin our world. By the way, one report I did hear on this, from an “ex-satanist” or ‘ex-occultist” or whatever it was, talked about how you can’t see this with natural eyes. You have to see the kingdom with spiritual eyes. (No wonder no one has ever found it using normal methodology!)

And yes, there are some Christians who really believe this stuff.

Now I know we Christians believe some stuff the rest of the world thinks is odd, just as every worldview does, but we need to make sure our cases are backed with the best evidence. Unfortunately, many Christians I know are drawn to the sensational.

Because, you know, apparently the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, being born of a virgin, which I affirm, living among us, dying, and rising again, is just not exciting enough. No. We need something more. That incarnation and resurrection stuff is just so passe.

So what do we have? We have Christians believing every conspiracy theory that flies down the chute. We have the Illuminati being warned about. (You know, this group that secretly controls all the media but can’t handle YouTube videos and have to communicate in ways only their own members will understand but by golly, these Christians have cracked the code!) We have a fascination with anything related to demons or angels or anything like that even if the account is flimsy. We have an obsession with finding out who the antichrist really is. All of this goes on.

Somehow, Jesus seems to fade into the background the more this stuff comes up.

By the way, this doesn’t stop with us. I think this is a universal tendency. Consider mythicism, the idea that Jesus never existed. I know a lot of atheists who will buy into this idea and think that they know better than all the scholars out there. They are on the inside track. They know the wool has been pulled over our eyes. In every case, the reason is the same ultimately.

Pride.

Now, of course, some people buy into these ideas because they have never learned enough and an authority says something they trust and they believe it, but if they are shown the truth to this kind of thinking and go on anyway, then that is when pride has taken over. It’s like being part of a secret club that really knows what’s going on. (Ironically, it’s kind of like being the Illuminati these people warn against) It makes you think that because you know all this stuff, then by golly, you are one of the special people.

If you are a Christian, I can assure you that if you are worried about the devil, I’m sure he would be happy with you avoiding what you think is a big sin if he can get you on some little thing that would lead to pride. Pride is easy for all of us to fall into. In the apologetics ministry, it also is. It’s easy to think because you know so much intellectually, you are so far above that person in the pew who probably doesn’t have a clue about the minimal facts approach or the arguments of Aquinas.

Until you realize that person could run circles around you when it comes to holiness.

My advice to Christians to avoid all of this is to learn something from our friends who are skeptics and be skeptical. Check those claims on Facebook. Check those claims on YouTube. Investigate them by reading the best minds in the field. I’m a strong political conservative, but if someone shares something about the other side in politics, even if it would help my cause greatly if it was true, I check it out first. We have to be people of truth.

If you will believe things that people can easily determine to be nonsense by just basic fact-checking, why should they believe you in what isn’t basic fact-checking, the resurrection, a topic that demands much more research? Keep in mind also that while being a skeptic, make sure you are not an unreasonable one. Set a fair standard as much as you can across the board for claims. Don’t just be “I will believe this claim if it lines up with what I already agree.” For instance, I meet many skeptics who say “Yeah. You believe in miracles, unless they happen outside of Christianity.” I always reply that this is not the case. I am open to miracles going on outside of Christianity. (I can say there are other powers out there like demons for instance) All I ask is provide the evidence for the claim.

If the claim seems sensational though, please be cautious about it. Of course, there are wonderful and unusual things that happen out there, but make sure to be informed the best you can. If the only place you see something is on the internet and outside of there, no one takes it seriously, it’s probably a good idea to not believe it.

The resurrection is awesome enough for us to marvel on the rest of our lives. Don’t lose sight of that while chasing after everything else.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Let Me Google That For You

Do we live in an age of upcoming geniuses or fools? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This past week, I heard different people saying the same thing. Young people in school are no longer answering “I don’t know” to something. Instead, the response is being “Let me google that for you.” Now of course, in some areas, this is fine. If you want to know the weather or the location of a good restaurant or who won the World Series in 1962, this is okay. The problem is that this is increasingly becoming our way of knowing.

Except we have to ask are we really knowing? Think about when you were in school and you spent that time cramming before that big final. You might have done really well on the final and passed, you might have even aced it, but how many of you really recall what you studied then? You learned it for the time being and then threw it out. It was knowledge only needed for the moment.

This is what our Google age is doing. People are going to Google and thinking that by being capable of looking up an answer, they are capable of understanding an answer. This doesn’t follow. Using Google, you can find any argument you want for any position and if you do not know how the field of the question works. You can look up an answer on evolution, but if you don’t understand science, you will only further your ignorance if you argue from that. You can look up a question on the historical Jesus or the Crusades, but it won’t help you if you don’t know how history works. You can look up a question about ontology, but it won’t matter if you don’t understand how philosophy works.

How do you learn how these fields work? You go and read the books. You can find good material online, no doubt, but books are still the best place to go. Most scholars in the field don’t put up their material for free online. (One possible exception is my podcast where you can hear interviews from them online.) If you can’t afford books, no biggie. Go to the library. Use an interlibrary loan and order books from other libraries. Right now, I’m reading a book ordered from the Georgia State University and I didn’t have to drive all the way over there.

“But this is hard work!” Yes. Yes, it is. You actually have to read and you can’t expect to be an expert in a field if you’re not willing to study it. If you’re not willing to study it, then sit down and be quiet. You don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. By all means, ask questions, but don’t speak as if you’re someone who should be taken seriously. You’re not.

Unfortunately, if people do not read then they will not be able to speak on these issues. This is why we have a generation that has more access to knowledge than ever before but is incapable of thinking for itself. We feel more than we think. People do not know how to follow an argument to its conclusion or how to analyze one. This is why we have so many conspiracy theories out there.

Please also don’t tell me that this is just one side. Atheists and Christians and others both have this problem. Atheists will buy into any argument often that makes Christianity look bad, be it that Jesus never existed or the Middle Ages were the Dark Ages or anything else. Christians meanwhile, will also do the same thing. Christians can also add in in Illuminati conspiracy theories and ideas based on a futurist eschatology.

I have also regularly stated this happens on Facebook. People see stories all the time and they don’t check up on the sources and hit share anyway. It’s horrible to have someone do this. It’s far worse when a follower of Jesus Christ does this. Why? Because if they can see you wrong on something they can check up on within minutes, why should they invest so much time in studying the resurrection of Jesus?

Google is also often repeatedly killing our attention spans. If we watch or read something, it has less and less time to get our attention. If we read something online, we often don’t read the whole thing much anymore. We just skim. We are trying to find shortcuts to being an expert, but there are no shortcuts. One must work. You cannot cheat and cut corners or else when push comes to shove, you will really see that you don’t have a clue and so will everyone else.

What’s the solution? Parents will need to get their kids off of the internet and into books some more. Make sure it’s an area they really enjoy. If your child enjoys dinosaurs, get the best books you can on dinosaurs. If your child enjoys space, get the best books on space. If they want to learn about World War II or chemistry or anything else, get the best books on the topic that you can.

We will also need to teach by example. Be the student you want your own children to be. Always be learning the best you can. Get the books and read them and you will be better informed and better able to talk to other people. You can know what you’re talking about instead of having to rely on whatever is being popular at the time.

Of course, if our young people or we ourselves have an allergy to work, then we will have to suffer the consequences. It will make it harder and harder to do evangelism if people can just find a quick answer that agrees with them, and anyone can do that. The benefit for us is that if we are the ones doing the hard study, then in the future we can corner the market in that area.

If you’re a youth minister or Sunday School teacher, especially get your young people reading. There is a time for fun and games of course and such, but they need to be an informed populace in order to function in our society. If we look at our world today, we have to say that a lot of people, especially in America, are not really capable of the kind of thinking needed to make things go smoothly in society.

An informed populace starts with you and me.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Conspiracy Theories. Don’t.

Should you pay attention to that idea of a conspiracy theory? Let’s dive into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Okay. I know right up that conspiracies do happen. People do try to cover things up and pull them off together. Usually however, we have some idea that this is definitely going on. Eventually, it all comes down on those who do it. For instance, Watergate was a conspiracy of sorts, and frankly, it didn’t really last too long.

The main conspiracies I’m talking about are the kind that are popularized by too many Christians and are also the same mindset found in a number of atheistic circles. For Christians, these often involves “satanic plots” to control our children and indoctrinate them. Much of the time, you know that the Illuminati has to be behind it all!

Because, you know, the main way to send that secret message is to go through the half time show on Super Bowl Sunday. How is it that the Illuminati managed to reach all these dancers and send a secret message to people watching the Super Bowl? Before going off on how it is something you think is part of hidden satanic symbolism, why not just consider something else?

Maybe it’s just a tasteless performance.

Now this is saying nothing about the morality of what goes on in said performances. I am not at all endorsing that. What I am saying is that you need to be on the watch for thinking that there are several conspiracies afoot. For a Christian, this can result in a heightened paranoia and to the rest of the world, you just look ridiculous. We already look ridiculous for believing in Jesus. There’s no reason to add to that.

Atheists don’t always do much better. You can think about plots in Christianity to destroy everything that disagreed with Christianity and then of course, the process of canonization, that was all just a total plot! Very rarely is any actual real historical study done on the topic. Unfortunately in our internet age, too many people find something on the internet and think it’s true. We all laugh at the idea of “I read it on the internet so it must be true”, but too many people have that same mindset.

The thinking also leads to a heightened arrogance. Sure, everyone else misses the main message, but I know what it is. I am not going to be fooled the way everyone else is. If you do not see it, well you just haven’t really reached this level of insight and thinking. Of course, a possibly even worse case could be that you’re part of the conspiracy.

One point to keep in mind when researching these claims is see who is being cited as a source. Too many times conspiracy theorists regularly cite each other and validate one another’s claims. Try to find a source that you think will be as objective as possible. Of course, total objectivity could be impossible, but try to get as close as you can.

For Christians also, please especially avoid conspiracies related to end times madness. I have seen too many times the idea of secretly implanting chips in us that are supposed to be the Mark of the Beast. Honestly, I have reached the point where my eyes just start rolling immediately at this. It’s not just because I’m a preterist. If you’re a futurist, you should avoid this as well.

There are far too many important things to study than the idea of possible conspiracies. If some Christians would seek to interpret their Bible as well as they try to interpret a show at halftime on Super Bowl Sunday, we’d all be better off.

In Christ,

Nick Peters