Deeper Waters Podcast 7/28/2018: Brian Godawa

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

Around the year 70 A.D. an event happened that forever shaped the spread of Christianity. Before this, it had been seen as a sect of Judaism by some. Now, it could not be. The event was the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and the city itself by the Romans. It’s also a tragedy that few Christians today seem to know anything about this event.

It also wasn’t just an instant of destruction, like dropping the bomb on Hiroshima. It was a long and drawn out event where the city would also be starved out. People would do anything to get some food to eat. This would often include cannibalism. To be specific, parents would often wind up eating their own children.

The Christians had already known about what was coming. They were ready when Rome showed up, not to fight, but to flee. They knew what Jesus was talking about in passages such as Matthew 24. Israel chose to fight Rome thinking that God would vindicate them in this hour much like other great miracles in their own past. Instead, as the Christians knew, this generation had rejected their Messiah and thus God had rejected them.

My guest has written the third in a series describing the events here. It is a work of historical fiction combining the rise of the beast and the destruction of the temple with the idea of Watchers as well from the Old Testament. It is a series with political intrigue and spiritual action as well. His name is Brian Godawa. So who is he?

According to his bio:

Brian Godawa is an award-winning Hollywood screenwriter (To End All Wars), a controversial movie and culture blogger (www.Godawa.com), an internationally known teacher on faith, worldviews and storytelling (Hollywood Worldviews), an Amazon best-selling author of Biblical fiction (Chronicles of the Nephilim), and provocative theology (God Against the gods). His obsession with God, movies and worldviews, results in theological storytelling that blows your mind while inspiring your soul. And he’s not exaggerating.

We’ll be talking about what it would mean to be a Christian in the time of Jerusalem putting up its resistance to Rome, especially since the book is called Resistant. We’ll discuss the conditions there and what that means to Christians today. We’ll discuss the way prophecy was seen by the people. We could look at how all the factions worked together and against each other including Qumran and Jerusalem and all the people involved there. It’s hard to believe, but even while the Romans were coming against the people of Jerusalem, the people of Jerusalem were still actively fighting against one another.

I hope you’ll be listening for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. We’re working on making the show better and better for you. It would also mean a lot to me if you would go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast. It’s always good to see how much you guys like the show and to hear what you would like to see done on the show and any possible guests you’d like to have on.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

No. It’s Not The End of The World.

Does Matthew 24 predict the end of the world? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My view in eschatology is Orthodox Preterism. I understand the hesitancy many have towards it and I suspect often it’s because they see it through the lens of dispensationalism. In dispensationalism, when Jesus comes, it’s the end. Many hold to the idea that the world will end and we’ll all live forever in Heaven. Indeed, many messages in church have it that the goal of Christianity seems to be to get to Heaven.

This isn’t to say we shouldn’t think about Heaven. I think the reason we say this is actually the opposite. We’re not thinking about Heaven. We just hear about this place that is really good and we don’t think about what makes it really good. What makes Heaven good is God.

So when we come to a passage like Matthew 24, many people today think it talks about the end of the world. I mean, isn’t that what the text says? Let’s look at verse 3.

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

There you go! Right there, it talks about the end of the world. Case closed! Right?

Not exactly. That’s in the KJV. It’s not the best translation job of that verse. Let’s look at the word. The word is aion.

  1. for ever, an unbroken age, perpetuity of time, eternity

  2. the worlds, universe

  3. period of time, age

    There were other words that can be translated as world. Matthew does not use them. Matthew refers to an age referring to the system of things. Besides, let’s consider some points. If the world is coming to an end, what good is it going to do to flee to the mountains? Will they somehow survive? May the end of the world not come in the winter on the Sabbath? Why those times specifically?

No. The end in mind refers as I said to this system of things. Let’s keep something in mind. When Jesus is there, His disciples ask about the destruction of the temple and when His coming would be. They have no concept of Jesus being crucified really. He’s said it would happen, but they’re expecting Him to be crowned king instead. They certainly don’t have a concept of Him dying, resurrecting, and leaving in an ascension. Why would they be asking Him about a return? He was right there and they did not anticipate Him leaving them.

This world is also not an evil thing. It is a good creation of God. God is going to redeem it just as much as He redeems sinners who come to Him. The enemy is not going to be allowed a victory so that God’s plans for this world come to failure.

So what is Jesus talking about? Jesus is talking about His coming to His throne, which is what the disciples would want to know about. Jesus is going to be the king so there’s no need of a temple. They could anticipate an earthly king, but Jesus is going to rule from Heaven. The Son of Man approaches the Ancient of Days. The Ancient of Days is not on Earth. He’s ascended in Heaven. Jesus is going up. He’s not going down.

Right now, Jesus is the ruling king. He is reigning and as Psalm 110:1 says, His enemies are being put under His feet right now. We await the full fruition of that in the resurrection, for as 1 Cor. tells us, the last enemy to be defeated is death.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Neil deGrasse Tyson Embarrasses Himself Again

Is Tyson speaking out of his area again? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Neil deGrasse Tyson of Cosmos has had a history of not getting his facts right when speaking to public audiences. I found out yesterday while browsing on Facebook that he had spoken to Bill Moyers on Moyers and Company. The Friendly Atheist gave a report on the interview here. Unfortunately, when Tyson spoke, he again revealed that he doesn’t really know what he’s talking about and this time it was done when talking about the second coming of Christ.

At the start, Tyson doesn’t realize apparently that there’s much debate about what is called the second coming. There are some Christians that see the discourse in Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation as referring to a future scenario. Then there are some who like myself see it more referring to a past event. We look forward to the future bodily return of Christ, but Matthew 24 is really talking about the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. Probably the best work you can read on Matthew 24 from that perspective now is Dee Dee Warren’s It’s Not The End Of The World. You can also listen to my interview with her on that book here.

Of course, Tyson doesn’t know about any of this. What I first was confronted with was a meme that someone made meant to show that the Bible cannot be trusted on anything, which is already itself a strange statement to make. Because the Bible was supposedly unscientific at one point, we cannot trust it on anything whatsoever? You can always count on fundamentalists to have all-or-nothing thinking, but let’s take a look at the meme itself.

starstoEarth

Once again, I would have liked to have thought that this was a misquote. I would like to have thought that he did not say this. Unfortunately, the link from The Friendly Atheist shows otherwise. Of course, Tyson in all of this is showing that faith and science are supposedly incompatible. Towards the end of the article, he makes statements that could help indicate the cause of his misconception.

So, this whole sort of reinterpretation of the, how figurative the poetic passages of the Bible are came after science showed that this is not how things unfolded. And so the educated religious people are perfectly fine with that. It’s the fundamentalists who want to say that the Bible is the literally, literal truth of God, that and want to see the Bible as a science textbook, who are knocking on the science doors of the schools, trying to put that content in the science room. Enlightened religious people are not behaving that way. So saying that science is cool, we’re good with that, and use the Bible for, to get your spiritual enlightenment and your emotional fulfillment.

Unfortunately, Tyson doesn’t realize that his hang-up on literalism is not one that was shared by the early church. The fathers, for instance, had a great love of allegory. This was also long before the rise of modern science. Saint Augustine wrote a book where he argued that all of creation happened instantly and did so in a book about the literal meaning of Genesis. In fact, you can find here a great statement from Augustine:

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field in which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although “they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion.”

Keep in mind this is long before modern science.

The irony is that Tyson is doing to religion exactly what he accuses of religion doing to science. Tyson is knocking on the doors of religion trying to get to insist on a literalist interpretation of Scripture and saying that this is how it should be done. You can be a strong conservative holding to positions like inerrancy and reject the idea of the Bible as a science textbook and insist that not everything has to be interpreted “literally.” Tyson thus wants to treat the idea that taking the Bible “literally” is ridiculous when not only does he do it himself, but he shows no indication that there are other understandings of the passages under question held by even conservatives.

It could be understandable why Tyson interprets the data of Scripture the way that he does given the modern context that we live in. On the other hand, Tyson could also recognize that when it comes to claims like evolution, for a number of people, it could be said that they just look at the data of the complexity of nature and the beauty of the universe and find that’s an inadequate answer. Tyson would probably say they need to study the evidence of evolution before dismissing it so quickly, and he would be right. I say the same thing back. Before Tyson speaks on interpretation, he needs to actually study it and how the text has been interpreted throughout the centuries and what some interpretations are of such passages.

Of course, he also ends with saying that many of us can go and still get our emotional and spiritual fulfillment. Tyson is unaware that many of us go that route for intellectual fulfillment. We believe in Christianity because it actually answers the questions of the mind. Whether or not it gives spiritual or emotional fulfillment is irrelevant, and frankly, many of us will often say that it does not. The Christian life is not always rainbows and roses. I like how C.S. Lewis said years ago that he didn’t go to Christianity to be happy because he knew a bottle of port would do that just fine. If we were searching for emotional and spiritual fulfillment, many of us would go elsewhere.

Now of course, I recognize Tyson is a scientist, but the problem is scientists like him are speaking about how much religious people who do not understand science are trying to speak on the topic without knowledge. I agree. I have a problem with that going on. I would join Tyson in that. The problem I have is that has to be a two-way street. Tyson does not get to speak on religion just because he is a scientist. If Tyson wants to make his audience more friendly to what he has to say, then he needs to learn to not speak on areas where people who do know what they’re talking about will only roll their eyes.

Will he and others like him ever learn?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: It’s Not The End Of The World

What do I think of Dee Dee Warren’s book on Matthew 24 published by Xulon Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Dee Dee Warren’s book is an excellent commentary on Matthew 24 coming from an orthodox Preterist position that says most of it, at least up to verse 34, was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Now I do want to be fair and state some bias here. DDW, as I call her, is a friend of mine and in fact, it was at a TheologyWeb convention where we had a Q&A that I got to hear her and another member speak on this topic and in my long quest of eschatology, that was the time that sealed the deal for me that the Bible does in fact teach orthodox Preterism so I owe a lot to her for that.

Now most of us when we want something fun to read we’re not going to say “Oh! I’m going to go to the library and get a commentary!” Normally, when we pull out a commentary, we go to the part that we’re interested in, read that, and then move on. You could do that with DDW’s book and you’d get good answers, but you’d be missing a lot. This is a commentary that is enjoyable to read as DDW spices it up with her own humor and yet it is at the same time meticulously researched. There are over 400 end notes at the end. DDW has done her homework. If you’ve heard the Preterist Podcast of hers, you’ll know a lot of this already, but even still DDW has sharpened her game for as she would indicate towards the end of her book, we are always learning and growing.

Not only that, she shows how this can apply to us today and how this is meant to encourage us to be more faithful. It’s quite an ironic turn since this passage has been used by so many people to argue against Christianity. In fact, even the great C.S. Lewis had his problems with this passage. When you’re done with DDW’s book, you should see that far from being a disproof and a problem for Christianity, this passage can be seen as one of the great proofs of Christianity as it shows how accurate Jesus was as a prophet and how the judgment of God came on the people of the time. (It’s important to note that it’s the people of the time and not Jews of all time.)

Despite this being a tough subject, DDW’s work is not tough to read. You will not get bogged down with “And this Greek word in this tense refers to.” I have no problem with that intense study, but it can go above the head of the layman several times. DDW is thorough and yet simple. You can read a passage and understand it easily enough and you can get to interact with much of the history of the first century as well.

Also, DDW takes on the hyperpreterism faction at the end of the book as well briefly, and if anyone has had experience dealing with these people, it’s DDW. We can be thankful that she herself came out of it and I am also thankful that she did it with the help of a pastor who took time to answer her questions. If only there were more pastors around today who knew about the major issues going around and were prepared to answer questions. DDW’s work has been a blessing to several in this area. Imagine how it would have been if she had never come around.

If there was a way I’d improve, I’d definitely put the lesson of the Purple Cow front and center. This is a story DDW shares (That is not original with her) and it is important to really studying this topic. In fact, I would have it as a bit of an introduction to the whole book so people could go through and learn to avoid committing the fallacy of the Purple Cow. If there was something else I would have preferred to not be a note, it would have been David Green’s comment on hyperpreterism being a heresy if a position like orthodox Preterism was true.

If you really want to study orthodox Preterism and know what Matthew 24 is about, get this book. If you want to have an answer to the question of “How can we trust Jesus if He was wrong about the time of His own return?”, get this book.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Some Questions Concerning My Preterism

Why do I hold to the eschatological view that I do? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I normally don’t write about secondary issues, but eschatology is one subject in this category I do enjoy and I also think it has direct apologetic relevance, such as when asked about if Jesus got wrong the time of His coming. Last night at an apologetics meeting, a loyal reader of the blog asked if I would write about this again. This got us into a conversation that our group leader soon joined in on. I’d like to take some comments and questions from that discussion and present them here to explain my position.

“Are you a true Preterist?”

Yes. I am certainly not a false one. I am a true one in the sense that I hold to what Preterism really teaches. I hold to the Olivet Discourse being fulfilled and to the fact that Jesus did have his coming to his throne in 70 A.D. as shown in the destruction of Jerusalem and that one day He will return to meet the living and raise the dead, those who have done good to a life of eternal joy, and those who have done evil to a life of eternal torment. (Note. Some Preterists would hold to a position of annihilationism.)

“Where do you depart from the Preterism that says everything has been fulfilled?”

This has it backwards. It is not the case that my belief is a departure from that viewpoint. It is that their viewpoint is a departure from not only mine, but from the historic Christian faith, that has held to the fact of the bodily return of Jesus just as much as the bodily resurrection and the final judgment. Believing in these events is one of the core doctrines of Christianity and a statement of eschatology upheld in the creeds of the historic Christian church.

“Do you think when Jesus returns He’ll become the King of the Jews?”

Not at all! You might as well ask if I’ll become human on my birthday next month. How could I? I am already human. In the same way, Jesus is already the King of the Jews. He is the King of everyone. He’s the King of this universe entirely and just because someone does not recognize that does not make Him any less Lord. Caesar was not Lord in the Roman Empire because of popular vote or personal choice. Caesar was Lord because he ruled. Christ is Lord because He rules as well.

“When will Christ return?”

Beats me. We don’t make those kinds of predictions. My thinking is that it will happen when the world has been evangelized and more and more people have come to the gospel. That is my guess from Scripture, but that cannot be put in a time frame. I do note that 2 Peter 3 says we can speed His coming and I think this is through the work of evangelism. Do you want Jesus to return soon? Don’t go trying to make a red heifer or set up a temple in Jerusalem! Do evangelism! You know, that thing that he’s already commanded us to do anyway!

“What about all the work to build a temple in Jerusalem?”

What about it? People are doing it, but it’s an exercise in futility. Want to see the real temple of God? Go look in the mirror! Paul told us while the old temple was still standing that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. God dwells in us. To return to a temple is to return to a system that has been abandoned.

“What about the land promise to Abraham?”

What about it? The promise was set in place until the one through whom it was meant for. That is Jesus. Jesus has come. Because of that, the covenant is done and we are in the new covenant. Why return to the old? In fact, those who are in Christ, the true children of Abraham, are told that they will not just inherit a piece of land, but will in fact inherit the whole world!

Furthermore, when we look at the NT evidence, even a Levite named Joseph, also called Barnabas, sold his land in Acts 4. Why would a Levite sell the promised inheritance? Probably because he understood that it was not going to be worth anything. Jesus was going to judge the place soon and the old system was done. In fact, if you want to see that this is what the early church was teaching, just look at Acts 6:14.

“So you don’t see any connection with prophecy and what’s going on in the newspaper today?”

Nope. Not a bit. There have been several “prophecy experts” throughout the years. Here’s something they all had in common. They were all wrong! Every one of them! So if I’m approaching a group that has a track record of always being wrong, why should I listen to them? We make a point that the Jehovah’s Witnesses have always been wrong about prophecy, but then we ignore the most popular teachers today that are always wrong about prophecy and want to say “Yes. Well that was that generation, this generation is the one!”

Something that’s been said by most every generation.

“What about the evil in the world? How can you say Christ is King now?”

Again, what about it? Christ on this Earth said that if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the Kingdom of God is among you. Thus, Jesus was bringing the Kingdom in their very midst and yet there was the devil right there at work. In fact, we could say the devil was the most active during that time.

Also, look at Psalm 110, one of the most important chapters for studying eschatology in the Bible. “The Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” Please observe that. Jesus is sitting at the right hand, a place of rule, UNTIL His enemies are made a footstool for His feet. It does not say He will sit there when His enemies are made a footstool. Jesus is at the right hand right now. What does that mean? It means He reigns right now!

“Don’t you know that there were worse things that could happen than what the Jews under went in 70 A.D.? A nuclear holocaust would be much worse!”

This is problematic in that it’s saying “If you can think of anything worse than the destruction that happened then, then you haven’t thought about the worst tribulation. Okay. Then should we reject that in Revelation itself if taken as futurist? After all, we have passages that talk about, say, 7,000 being killed. Make it 70,000. That’s worse. What about if 1/3 of the Earth is killed? Okay. Make it 1/2. That’s worse.

I also always ask if Solomon was the wisest king who ever lived. He was promised that in 1 Kings 3. Does this mean Solomon was wiser than Jesus? We are told about how Hezekiah was the most righteous king who had a Passover unlike any before. We are told none after him or before him were like him in 2 Kings 18:5.

We’re also told the same thing about the righteousness of Josiah in 2 Kings 23:25.

So not only was the author foolish enough to contradict himself in such a short time, but apparently, both of these kings were more righteous than Jesus!

The language is clearly hyperbolic. Just look at old destructions. What about the flood? What about Sodom? What about the plagues on Egypt? All that is being said is a superlative, much like Nebuchadnezzar being called King of Kings. That’s how people did superlatives back then.

“I can’t accept everything as hyperbole.”

Nor am I asking you to! The idea is that Preterists allegorize and make the text hyperbolic. The reality is we ALL know there are allegories and hyperbolic statements in Scripture. Despite what is being said by some, Jesus does not really want you to HATE your parents. He instead wants you to realize that compared to Him, your devotion to your family must be secondary.

We also know that there are allegories, yet I don’t know a single Preterist who would say everything in the Bible is allegorical or everything in the Bible is hyperbolic. Instead, we simply try to study the Scripture to find what the original author wanted us to get. In fact, we hold our position because there are some indicators that we indeed think should be taken literally.

These are timing indicators. Before entering the apocalyptic mode of Revelation, we are told that these things will take place soon. In Matthew 24, we are told that this generation will not pass away. If you look through all of Matthew, every reference to “This generation” refers to the generation that Jesus interacted with. Am I supposed to think that the meaning suddenly changes when it reaches its grand finale in the greatest generation claim of all?

“I just don’t see it.”

In reality, I totally understand this one! I think most Preterists would in fact! I used to be a pre-trib, pre-mill dispensationalists. I have no problem with recognizing such as my brothers and sisters in Christ after all. Why would I? I’m married to one. We agree on the essentials. They’re just wrong on eschatology.

Most of us hold this view I suspect because we grew up with it and we’ve heard it all our lives and it usually seems like the simplest view, but I honestly cannot hold to it. I can safely say there is not a single verse of Scripture on this that makes me wonder if such a scheme might possibly be true. That is how sure I am that at least the normally default position is incorrect.

What I advise is to just let people be willing to examine the reasons why people like myself hold the position that we do. An excellent book on this is Gary DeMar’s “Last Days Madness.” Another excellent resource is the Preterist Podcast of DeeDee Warren, which I am largely indebted to for providing much of the substance I have on orthodox Preterism.

I hope this clarifies my position. Do note I am definitely not making a statement about the salvation of someone who holds to a dispensational position. I hope in turn that others will realize that my position is also not a salvation issue. Those of us who are orthodox Preterists hold to essential Christian doctrine.

In Christ,
Nick Peters