Some Thoughts On Mormonism

What’s it like when Mormons come to your door? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently for a couple of months or so, Allie and I had Mormons who agreed to come see us. I was quite impressed in some ways with these Mormons as they actually came back after the first visit even. Most of the time, they don’t. We had some sisters first visiting us, but then after that, we had guys as they were switched out as one sister’s mission came to an end and sometimes, they had a Mormon who lives in our apartment complex come with them.

Let’s say at the start that for the most part, Mormons are very nice people. They’re people that are kind and courteous and tend to be very likable. Of course, that is also a danger as when Christians meet someone like that, they tend to think that they’re Christians just like them. Warning. Being a Christian is about more than just being a nice person.

In some ways, Mormons sadly seem to have a lot in common also with atheists I meet. Many times, the same arguments atheists make about Christianity are made by Mormons. These include things like the Bible being changed and all the denominations. They do come with some twists such as unique Mormon doctrines such as God having a body of flesh and bones and the importance of the Book of Mormon and the burning in the bosom.

I also noticed that the Mormons were often asking if I was reading the Book of Mormon to find out what’s wrong with it. I had been challenged to read it again since I have read it before and so I did accept the challenge. I gave them a contrast by saying if they wanted to read the New Testament to pick it apart, be my guest. Try it on every area. Go ahead.

The burning in the bosom I find to be a weak argument. I can understand it’s very emotionally appealing and I do know ex-Mormons have said that there is nothing like the experience of the burning in the bosom. If you pray and you get the burning in the bosom, well that confirms that the Book of Mormon is true. If you don’t get it, well, you just weren’t sincere or something of that sort. The test is in essence unfalsifiable.

It’s also important to really know your own church history and doctrine. We got into a debate some on the Council of Nicea and how it was there decided that God didn’t have a body of flesh and bones. I had to ask them where they got that from. No specifics were given. I went on to tell them the debate was really about the nature of Jesus as were the next three councils at least. No one was debating if God the Father had a body.

Remember also with Mormons, try to always build up the Bible, which is something I was making it a point to consistently do. If you just try to destroy the Book of Mormon, you could get a Mormon to throw out the baby with the bathwater. They could abandon not just Mormonism but Christianity and theism altogether.

Still, Allie and I enjoyed meeting with the elders and the sisters. They’re all people we could enjoy their company with regularly. We’re also still praying for them. I didn’t expect a deconversion and an embrace of the gospel, but I do hope I put a rock in their shoe. The goal was to build up Jesus and the Bible. That should be our goal whenever we encounter them.

Please be remembering the Mormons that come to your door need the true Jesus and the true gospel. Be willing to give it to them. Don’t slam the door in their faces. If the present time isn’t convenient, arrange another time when you can get together. They’re worth it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 3/9/2019: Adam Dommeyer

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

If we could take a scene from Acts and change it around, we could picture my guest this Saturday before Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith is reading the Book of Mormon and talking about the virtues and appeal of Mormonism. At the end comes the reply, “Almost do you persuade me to be a Mormon.”

My guest really wanted to be a Mormon. He had a great love and admiration of Joseph Smith and as a teenager was deeply interested in the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith was like a best friend to him. Then upon one discovery, all of that came crashing down. Fortunately, he did not throw out the baby with the bathwater. Today, he has a ministry reaching Mormons.

His whole life story is fascinating and he has many encounters with Mormons to this day. His knowledge of Mormonism is incredible and I have got to talk with him on the phone even a number of times. I am looking forward to having him on my show. His name is Adam Dommeyer. We will be discussing his book Almost a Mormon.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

“Adam Dommeyer is the founder of Latter-day Sense Evangelism Ministry and is an ordained evangelist through Speak the Word Church International. He is currently pursuing his M.A. in Transformational Leadership at Bethel Seminary, received his B.S. in Pastoral Ministry from Lee University, and got his Certificate from The Perry Stone Mentoring Institute for Ministry.”
Adam’s book is a fascinating journey that grips you from the very start. In all honesty, my favorite part was the first half where you wondered how it would be that Adam would get away from Mormonism. Something else interesting about all of this was the many dreams that Adam was having, which is a warning to all of the Christians who seem to think that dreams are a message from God.
What is it that Mormons believe? What is the appeal to Mormonism? How is it that a young man raised in a solid church tradition can come so close to getting into such a false belief? Is there anything perhaps in the idea of family that the Mormon church emphasizes that makes it so appealing?
What can we say when we encounter Mormons today? How is it that we can not only answer their questions, but also share the love of Christ with them? What do we need to be aware of in dealing with Mormons today in our encounters? When Mormons show up at your door, what do you need to know to answer them? What should you try to do and are there any steps you should try to avoid when dealing with them?
I hope you’ll be looking forward to our next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. I am battling a bit of a cold right now, but the podcast is a few days away and I hope to be good enough to handle it by then. Please go on iTunes also and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.
In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Almost A Mormon

What do I think of Adam Dommeyer’s book published by Westbow Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I want to thank Adam Dommeyer for getting in touch with me about his book. I also want to thank Lynn Wilder for the recommendation. I was happy to read Adam’s book as I have had a history with Mormons as well. When I lived with a roommate in Charlotte while studying at Seminary, we had Mormons come over regularly. Generally, we would stop at Little Caesar’s and get some pizza for us to split and get some gatorades for everyone to drink.

Adam’s story is a fascinating one about how he went on a family road trip once out to the West and one of the places they went through was Utah. He notes that the Mormons there at the temple used one of the greatest evangelism techniques out there; pretty girls. I don’t know how many stories I heard in Bible College when we had to talk about how we came to Christ that began with a guy saying something like “Well, there was this cute blond girl and….”

Yet Adam is not that shallow. His family was going through turmoil that eventually led to a divorce, and the Mormons had something else going for them. They had an emphasis on family. Let’s be honest fellow Christians. We do need more of this today. I know the divorce rate among Christians is not as high as is often thought, but it is still high. I have no doubts that a religion that was emphasizing family to a boy whose family was in chaos was extremely appealing.

Adam talks about how the Book of Mormon was at the start a sort of forbidden fruit, which really made it all the more appealing. While other teenage boys might be hiding under their covers with a flashlight looking at porn magazines, Adam was reading the Book of Mormon. He was thinking more and more idealistically about Joseph Smith. Joseph was becoming his best friend.

This was also because of a Mormon girl he met at school. Once again, girls are very persuasive. Eventually, his family found out, and they weren’t happy. They had tried to send him anti-Mormonism literature, but it wasn’t having much effect. Deep down, he considered himself a Mormon and had dreams about Mormonism and everything else. He just wanted to be baptized and then tell everyone about the gospel that had been restored by Joseph Smith.

Yet eventually, he found problems with the Book of Mormon. Namely, it was plagiarism of the Bible that got to him. For Adam, this was devastating and he found himself in a pit of despair for awhile. Fortunately, he did find the real Jesus through this. All of this has led him to have great empathy for Mormons.

All of this makes up about the first half of the book. Much of it reads like a stream of consciousness reading where he describes his thoughts and feelings at various times in his journey. The same goes on some after that part, but there’s a lot more that goes into detail about various problems in Mormonism and the story does have many more gaps as the first half covers a period of around a year and the second covers all the rest.

So positives about the book? The book is an excellent and eye-opening experience. I couldn’t help but wonder at times if Adam looks back on his life as that teenager considering Mormonism seriously and asks “What on Earth was I thinking?”

Second, the book does have much information that is excellent on exposing the problems with Mormonism. Much of it is not new, but that’s okay. The format is what’s different. This one has the information as well as a sort of approach much like Greg Koukl’s Tactics. It’s not just about the information but how to reach them.

Third, Adam does show the importance of talking with Mormons and stressing that they hold on to Jesus no matter what. Many Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses for that matter, can leave the group and leave Christianity altogether convinced that all theism is a bunch of nonsense. This is Adam taking preventative measures beforehand.

There are negatives, but many of these are small. As an orthodox Preterist, I don’t agree with Adam’s approach to prophecy. Fortunately for me, this did not pop up often. The overwhelming majority of arguments against Mormonism if not all do not depend on this prophetic viewpoint.

Second, I understand Adam is an individual who does have dreams that seem to come true, but I always get a concern that many other Christians will start thinking that this is what is supposed to be normative. I have a concern for that. My wife and I used to watch a lady who made videos about prophecy and every single dream she had she recorded and treated as a divine revelation that she tried to interpret with Scripture. Would that Christians spent as much time trying to understand Scripture which we know came from God as they do their dreams which could come from too much pizza the night before.

Third is a stylistic one. Sometimes Adam would begin talking about a dialogue with some Mormons he would have. Then there would be a long section about a problem with Mormonism. I didn’t know if this is something that was pointed to in the discussion or if Adam gave a briefer word and here is giving a more in-depth explanation. I would hope future editions would clarify this.

Finally, there is also some concern with a mention of the New Apostolic Reformation. I understand Adam is Pentecostal from the book, but I think all good Pentecostals should avoid this movement to no end. I recommend the work of Holly Pivec in this area.

Yet overall, the benefits far outweigh the negatives. Adam’s book is an enjoyable and powerful read. I hope it shows so many people the problems of Mormonism and gets many Mormons away from the Jesus of Joseph Smith to the Jesus of God the Father.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: Sharing The Good News With Mormons

What do I think of Eric Johnson and Sean McDowell’s book published by Harvest House? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There are many books about Mormonism that explain the problems with the historicity and the theology. There are not many books that explain something simple. How to share the information that you do have. What is the right approach? Do you have Mormons in and beat them down with facts about the Book of Mormon? Do you just sit around and lead a good life and hope that the Mormon will ask you the questions? Both of these approaches have problems. The first can create atheists and agnostics more often. The second puts you in a position of hoping the Mormons will see you as different and then hoping they’ll ask and then hoping they’ll listen.

Johnson and McDowell want to give other approaches. They have a large number of them and these aren’t even all the approaches that they are. This is just meant to be a good start in helping you find innovative ways of communicating the good news of Jesus with Mormons.

The book also starts with sections on the existence of God and Biblical reliability. Why have that in a book about Mormons? Don’t they agree to both of those? Many would, but many are using arguments from the new atheists and many Mormons have been told that if the church is not true, then nothing is, and they leave Mormonism and go to atheism or agnosticism. This gives them a fallback position.

From there, we look at a number of ways of communicating. Some will work for you. Some won’t. You could start a chapter and say, “This isn’t for me.” That’s okay. Just go to the next one and see if you think you could do that. For example, open-air evangelism is one technique. This is essentially street preaching done right. This would not work for me because I am terrible at initiating conversations like that and there aren’t enough Mormons in my area to find a place to do this. If you are an outgoing person who lives in an area like Nauvoo or Salt Lake City, you could be in a different situation. However, I am skilled at internet evangelism and I can totally do that route.

There are also other interesting ways to approach Mormons. One suggestion is to print out something like a brochure or newspaper and hand them out for free. These can be kept at someone’s home and they can investigate claims on their own then. Amusingly, when this was done outside of a temple, temple authorities would try to seize the papers which made people only want them more. That practice didn’t last long.

Johnson contributes to a chapter where he hands out free copies of The Miracle of Forgiveness to Mormons in Utah. This is a book by later president of the Mormon Church Spencer Kimball. The message of the book really could be that if it is true, it would be a miracle if anyone was ever forgiven. It helps illustrate the impossible gospel of Mormonism.

Another technique involves holding up a sign with a website on it for Mormons. Note that if you do this, make sure you have such a website and that it has content to it that is helpful. One example of such a website was called Josephlied.com. This has a provocative name also that will stick in someone’s mind.

In my interview with Johnson, he talked also about other techniques that didn’t make it but were effective for such people, such as a guy who set up a ping-pong table and talked to Mormons who came by to play during the game. Another involved someone who drew pictures of the temple and used those to communicate. The main message is do what you are good at and what can spread the gospel without being immoral.

This is a great book to have for conversations with Mormons. We could go with a Greg Koukl reference and call it Tactics for Reaching Mormons. If you have the knowledge, you have one piece of the puzzle. Now you can get the delivery system.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 7/7/2018: Eric Johnson

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

You and your spouse are sitting at home on a Saturday morning. It’s a time to relax so you sit on the couch together, turn on some Netflix, and start watching a movie. In the middle of your show, the doorbell rings. You’re not expecting anyone. You look through the peephole of your door to see who it is and see two men dressed very nicely and wearing name tags with the title “Elder” on them.

You know these guys. They’re Mormons. They have an extensive campaign to spread the good news of Mormonism to people all over the world and now they’ve come to your place.

But do you really know about them? Who are the Mormons? What do they believe? There are many people in the church today who look at them as just another denomination. You have Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. You have Baptists and Presbyterians and Methodists. You also have Mormons. They really aren’t that different, are they?

Some people don’t think so. Among them are Sean McDowell and Eric Johnson. They have edited a book together on how to share the good news with Mormons. It has a number of approaches from a number of different apologists to use to reach your Mormon friends. Eric Johnson will be my guest on this Saturday’s show to talk about it.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Eric Johnson has been a student of Mormonism since 1987 when he served with Youth with a Mission at a summer Utah outreach. Eric graduated from San Diego State University (1985, BA in Journalism) as well as at Bethel Seminary San Diego (1991, Master’s of Divinity). Eric cohosts the daily radio program Viewpoint on Mormonism  and writes for MRM’s Mormonism Researched newsletter. He is the co-author of Answering Mormons’ Questions: Ready Responses for Inquiring Latter-day Saints (Kregel, 2013), Mormonism 101: Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints (Baker Book, 2015), Mormonism 101 for Teens (MRM, 2016) as well as serving as a co-editor of Sharing the Good News with Mormons(Harvest House, 2017). Eric served as an associate editor for the Apologetics Study Bible for Students (B&H, 2010) and is a regular contributor to the Christian Research Journal. Eric taught high school Bible classes for 17 years (1993-2010) at Christian High School (El Cajon, CA) and 8 years as an adjunct English professor at Grossmont College (El Cajon,CA); in addition, he instructed classes at Bethel Seminary San Diego. Eric is married to Terri; together they have three daughters: Carissa, Janelle, and Hannah and live in the Salt Lake City area.

We’ll be talking about the Mormons and how you can better reach them. We will discuss a plethora of techniques as well as what Mormons believe and who they are. Are they really Christians like us and is this just Christians going after another Christian group?

I hope you’ll be watching for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. Please be watching your feed for this one to show up. If you haven’t done so yet, please also go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: Sharing Jesus With The Cults

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

Jason Oakes has written a good book on helping to understand the cults. The book is divided into a number of sections to help with the process. All of these involve different tactics that one can use in dealing with the cults.

The main group probably focused on is Mormons due to the author’s personal experience with Mormons. Looking at each group will provide a good overview of the group and what they believe. There is also the citation of numerous sources that can help with this and many of them will be from sources more favorable towards the cult than not.

You will also find out about many cults that you had not heard of until reading this. I certainly did, and I do try to keep up. There are also many cults that are still left to explore so let’s not think one book can cover them all. Oakes would agree with that as well and I think would say this book is a gateway book meant to get you looking and have enough information to get started on any one cult.

Oakes also rightly emphasizes the importance of building up the Bible. There are too many people that leave the cults and have no foundation and then become atheists and agnostics. For instance, Mormonism has often said that if the church is not true, then nothing is.

That being said, there are a few criticisms.

For one thing, there can be a number of typos in the book. It’s still for the most part easy to know what the author is trying to say, but it’s still a problem. A good proofread would be a great aid here.

I also do not understand the usage of the KJV. I thought perhaps this could be done since Mormons rely on the KJV, but I’m not sure. I know there are a few places where the KJV is cited that I think are quite spurious. This includes the long ending of Mark and the Johannine Comma.

I also understand wanting the Bible to match with science, but I find it problematic that that has to be YEC. This is also so because I do not know of anyone who by studying the science alone has come to the conclusion that the Earth is young. I am one who does not think the Bible is meant to be read as a science book and if we do so, we can miss the real message.

Still, there is good information here to be found for those who are looking. If you just wanted to get a book that would give you a good overview of many of the cults today and what they believe and questions that you can ask them, this would be a good place to begin. From there, one can go to in-depth works on any number of the cults that one has a particular interest in and a desire to reach.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 3/10/2018: Corey Miller

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

Imagine driving around your town checking out area churches one day. You go through and you see all kinds. There’s Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Messianic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Nazarene, etc. You go through your town noticing all these many churches.

You also notice another church. It refers to itself as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This is the Mormon church. Well that’s just another denomination isn’t it? Right? It’s just like all the others. It’s still a church and the differences between it and the other churches would be minor. Right?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

On my next episode, I am going to be discussing Mormonism and doing so covering a book that talks about why four different people who are now scholars left Mormonism. Was it just changing denominations? Is it anything like a Methodist becoming a Baptist or a Protestant becoming a Catholic? Could it actually be something more?

One of the main editors of this book will be joining me. It is possible his co-editor Lynn Wilder, who has been on before, could be joining us as well. My guest is one who left Mormonism and went on to study Christianity seriously. He studied it so seriously he is now president and CEO of a Christian apologetics organization. That organization is Ratio Christi which many of you who do college work know about and that person is Corey Miller and the book is Leaving Mormonism.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Corey Miller, PhD, is president and CEO of Ratio Christi: Campus Apologetics Alliance (www.ratiochristi.org). He currently teaches philosophy and comparative religions at Indiana University-Kokomo, and has taught at Purdue U, Multnomah University, and Ecola Bible College. He possesses graduate degrees in biblical studies (Multnomah Biblical Seminary), philosophy of religion and ethics (Biola/Talbot School of Theology), and philosophy (Purdue U), as well as a doctorate in philosophical theology from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. He is co-editor of Is Faith in God Reasonable? Debates in Philosophy, Science, and Rhetoric (Routledge, 2014) and co-author of Leaving Mormonism: Why Four Scholars Changed their Minds (Ratio Christi/Kregel, 2017)

So why would Corey and other scholars leave Mormonism? What’s wrong with it? Would it be seen as the same as leaving another denomination? What do Mormons really believe and should a Christian be concerned about going to a Mormon church? What is it that a Christian should say when they encounter someone who is a Mormon or has them come and knock on their door?

Also, on another note, I want you all to know that we have been praying for help with the sound. My former sound guy did a great job, but he had to move on. It is not a problem of bad blood between us. We are still friends and he was very generous to us. Fortunately, I had someone message me out of the blue yesterday volunteering if I ever needed audio help so that position has been filled. Of course, I still encourage you to be listening and please leave a positive review on iTunes.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Leaving Mormonism

What do I think of Corey Miller and Lynn Wilder’s book published by Kregel publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Leaving Mormonism is a unique work in that four now scholars take a look at Mormonism and why they not only left it, but they came to Christianity. Not all of these people were scholars in the field when they left Mormonism, but they all had a part in it and have now become the scholars. Each one has a chapter about their story and then there is a bonus chapter by Miller and Wilder on why someone should be a Christian theist since many people who abandon Mormonism can abandon theism altogether.

Corey Miller starts out first. His chapter is indeed very philosophical and relies on a lot of the approach one can see from William Lane Craig. There’s a lot of good material in there on the problems also on relying on the inner witness that Mormons speak about. On the other hand, if you’re much more into the Thomist approach and not into the approach from Craig, the other side is good, but not nearly as convincing to you as it could be.

Latayne Scott had the next chapter and this was a fascinating story about being convinced of Mormonism as a child by the missionaries and taking it very seriously. She was a passionate Mormon and then she started dating some guy who wasn’t a Mormon but a Christian and not only that, had read the Book of Mormon before. (Which if you want to evangelize to someone in another religious system, it’s always good to read their holy book.) Normally, I wouldn’t encourage missionary dating, but this time it did work out. Eventually, Scott started seeing problems with Mormonism and those beyond the counter-Mormonism books.

Scott’s story is good and helpful, but after it she goes off into what is a long talk that I really found myself wondering where she was going. There were times also she spoke of a triadic system of reality to show the Trinity, which I did not really get into that part as much. I prefer to always speak of a Trinitarian display instead of a triadic as a triadic system could be polytheistic.

Lynn Wilder had my favorite chapter in the book next, but that could be because of a bias on my part. I’ve known Wilder since her book Unveiling Grace and I got to interview her on my podcast. Wilder’s story in this chapter is a highly abbreviated account of that book and goes into several of the problems in the system of Mormonism and how she has been used to help others get out of Mormonism.

Vince Eccles has the final story. His was different in that he grew up in Mormonism, but a love of science caused him to never really think it was the true path and was a skeptic until becoming a Christian. While some aspects of his chapter are interesting, it doesn’t seem to have as much to do with Mormonism and many times he comes across as if he’s iffy in some ways on major doctrines like the Trinity. I would actually have no problem with anything scientific said in the chapter and there are some good theological insights in it, but I was wondering why much of the material was even there.

Finally, Miller and Wilder come together at the end to give an apologetic for Christian theism. This is an interesting chapter, but if you have read a lot of apologetics material, you won’t find anything new. The chapter is meant to give a basic introduction to the idea. I would have liked to have seen a few more theistic arguments, especially the Thomistic ones, but it was a good one.

I also think I should point out that one problem is every now and then, you would find some typos and grammatical problems in the book. These I think could have been edited out easily. Still, there is a lot of good material and really helps the reader to understand Mormonism and that this isn’t just another form of Christianity.

I would have liked to have seen more on the problems of Mormonism beyond moral ones, such as problems with the Book of Mormon. These show up from time to time, but there is not much investment put to them. It is also pointed out in the book that the internet is causing many to leave Mormonism, but I would have liked to have seen an apologetic for Christianity along those lines since many could say the same about Christianity and as well an idea of what this could mean for the future of the Mormon church.

This is still a very good book and it can be a very gripping one. Chances are you won’t like all the chapters equally, but one account will surely stand out to you. If you want to understand Mormonism and how to reach Mormons, this is a book to get.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 10/10/2015: Rodney Reeves and Randy Richards

What’s coming up on the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, we had Rodney Reeves and Randy Richards on to talk about Rediscovering Paul. They’re coming back again and this time they’re talking about Rediscovering Jesus, which I reviewed here. The book is a fun and unique look at Jesus asking what our Christianity would be like if we only had one source or one type of source and then what it would be like if we had some version of Jesus outside of the Bible. So who are the people coming on to talk about this?

Let’s start with Rodney Reeves.

publicity photo

I’ve been married over thirty-six years to Sheri (Richardson) Reeves, who is a Speech and Language Pathologist for Citizens Memorial Hospital, Bolivar, MO.

We have three children: Andrew (28) lives in Kansas City, MO; Emma (24) lives in Chicago, IL; and Grace (19) who is a first-year student at Belhaven University, Jackson, MS. Sheri and I are members of the First Baptist Church, Bolivar, MO.

I’m in my sixteenth year at Southwest Baptist University, Bolivar, MO, as the Redford Professor of Biblical Studies, also serving as Dean of The Courts Redford College of Theology and Ministry. I teach courses in New Testament and Greek.

I’m an SBU alumnus (1979), and I graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, TX (MDiv, 1982; PhD, 1986). I did part of my doctoral study at Oxford University, UK (1985-86).

Prior to coming to SBU, I served as Senior Pastor, Central Baptist Church, Jonesboro, AR (1995-2000), and associate professor of New Testament at Williams Baptist College, Walnut Ridge, AR (1987-1995).

I have written several articles for scholarly journals, textbooks, dictionaries, handbooks, and magazines. I’ve written four books: A Genuine Faith: How to Follow Jesus Today (Baker Books, 2005); Rediscovering Paul: An Introduction to His World, Letters and Theology, co-authored by David B. Capes and E. Randolph Richards (InterVarsity Press, 2007); Spirituality according to Paul: Imitating the Apostle of Christ (InterVarsity Press, 2011). My newest book, Rediscovering Jesus: An Introduction to Biblical, Religious and Cultural Perspectives on Christ (once again co-authored by Capes and Richards, InterVarsity Press, 2015) was released this summer. And I’m currently working on a commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Story of God Bible Commentary, ed. Scot McKnight (Zondervan Publishing, 2016?).

My hobbies are fishing, camping, golfing, and reading.

I made a vow to God many years ago to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to minister to the Body of Christ. I have tried to keep that promise as a member of a Baptist Church, as a minister, and as a college professor. I study Scripture because I want to be a committed disciple of Jesus. I teach biblical studies in an effort to serve the needs of the Church. I’m a part of the academic community here at SBU in hopes of advancing the Kingdom of God, trying to encourage each other to fulfill Jesus’ commandment: to love God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Therefore, I see my work here as part of the whole kingdom enterprise of teaching students to be servants of Christ for a world that needs him.

And as for Randy Richards.

Richards arms crossed smallest size

Dr. Randy Richards loves training students for ministry, both domestically and internationally. He has been teaching since 1986, originally at a state university and then abroad at an Indonesian seminary. Upon returning to the States, Dr. Richards has served at two Christian universities before joining Palm Beach Atlantic University as the Dean of the School of Ministry in 2006.

His wife Stacia has joyfully accompanied him from jungles of Indonesia to rice fields in Arkansas to beautiful South Florida. They have two fine sons. Josh (Ph.D. 2012, University of St Andrews, Scotland) is a university professor in English. Jacob (Ph.D. 2014, College of Medicine, University of Florida) is a medical researcher.

Dr. Richards has authored or co-authored seven books and dozens of articles. Recently, he has published Rediscovering Jesus (InterVarsity, 2015; Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes, with Brandon O’Brien (InterVarsity, 2012), “Reading, Writing, and the Production and Transmission of Manuscripts” in The Background of the New Testament: An Examination of the Context of Early Christianity (Baker, 2013), “Will the Real Author Please Stand Up? The Author in Greco-Roman Letter Writing” in Come Let Us Reason: New Essays in Christian Apologetics (B&H, 2012), “Pauline Prescripts and Greco-Roman Epistolary Convention” in Christian Origins and Classical Culture: Social and Literary Contexts for the New Testament (Brill, 2012), and a dozen articles in The Baker Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Baker, 2013).

He has just finished another popular book, Paul Behaving Badly, and is finishing A Little Book for New Bible Scholars, both with InterVarsity Press and due out in 2016. He is also completing chapters in two other books and several dictionary articles.

Dr. Richards is a popular lecturer, speaker and preacher, recently in places as diverse as Wycliffe Hall (Oxford), Kathmandu, and Kenya. He was a Senior Scholar at the IRLBR Summer Summit at Tyndale House (Cambride) in 2013. He regularly conducts missionary training workshops, and currently serves as a Teaching Pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in West Palm Beach.

This book is a highly enjoyable look at the life of Jesus that will lead to you thinking about it in a whole new light. These guys are really passionate about the book as well as I saw last time they came on and I hope you’ll be here to see round two of the discussion. Be watching for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Talking Doctrine

What do I think of this book published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Talking Doctrine is a book about Mormons and evangelicals in conversation. On the face of it, I have no problem with that. In fact, I think it’s a wonderful idea and it would be fascinating to extend it to other groups if they were willing. Still, as I kept going through this book, I found it in many ways quite disturbing. I am not opposed to friendship with people who are Mormons. Not for a moment. I am not opposed to dialogue with them. We should have that. I am not opposed to having conversations where we can each understand the position of the other all the more. What I am concerned about is that it looked like too often both sides were wanting to say “We’re really not as different as we thought”, but it’s more the evangelicals that are bending instead of the Mormons.

Many important issues are talked about, like the doctrine of divine exaltation, but many are not talked about. Polygamy is talked about some, but there is little discussion of what it means that Joseph Smith had multiple wives. Nothing is really said about Joseph Smith’s reputation and use of a seer stone. Nothing is said about the Mountain Meadows Massacre. I understand wanting to avoid polemics, but sometimes those who are polemical could actually be right about something. One concerning chapter is Sarah Taylor’s about being an evangelical at BYU and talking to her friend Billy about if God could have sinned. One can easily imagine what the early church would have said about that and how hard they would have fought for it. Billy instead says the atonement would cover that which Taylor took to mean he was taking the atonement more seriously. She then writes:

All at once, it hit me that Billy—Mormon, God-may-have-sinned Billy—was a Christian. Whenever he talked about Jesus, he talked like a man in love, and that was just it for me.

So here apparently is the criteria for telling if someone is a Christian. It is not if they call Jesus Lord and savior and believe in his resurrection (Although to be fair, Mormons all claim that). It is to look and see if they talk like they love Jesus. We can be sure that the early Gnostics could have talked the exact same way showing a great love for Jesus, but the early church would not have budged an inch. The Jesus was different and indeed, the Jesus of Mormonism is different from the Jesus of Christianity.

While I would hope to have more dialogue, at the same time, it looks like many hard issues are being brushed away. Mormons set out at the beginning saying all the other churches were an abomination and now they’re wanting to be included in the fold and say they’re one of us. Color me suspicious of all of this. I can say that Mormons tend to be some of the nicest people you meet, which should put Christians to shame. I can say that they share the same values many of us who are Christians share and were quite helpful with Prop 8 in California. I can say that I would not mind having Mormon friends. I cannot say that we worship the same God and many times that it looked like evangelicals and Mormons were worshiping together in the book I found quite concerning.

I am for dialogue, but I am not for conceding truth.

In Christ,
Nick Peters