Deeper Waters Podcast 8/11/2018: Michael Heiser

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

The divine council is a theme that occurs from time to time in the Old Testament. When we go to Genesis early on, we can see a few times it takes place in Genesis 1-11. These passages can sometimes be read in the sense of a royal we, but maybe they mean something else. When King Ahab is considering going off to battle and God has in mind to entice him to do it so he will die there, we see a divine council taking place. When we read Psalm 82, we get told about God sitting among the gods and saying to certain people, “I have said that you are gods.” Jesus even quotes this passage in John 10.

What is going on in these passages? Is there an Ancient Near Eastern motif that we’re missing? Is the Bible teaching polytheism? Could these passages somehow influence how we witness to Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons? After all, Mormons seem to enjoy going to these passages to show a plurality of gods. Are they right? If there is a plurality of gods, how will that help with Jehovah’s Witnesses who are adamant monotheists? Besides, aren’t Christians supposed to be monotheists also?

To discuss these passages and how they interact with these groups, I am having a guest come on that many people have requested over the years and he was very willing to come on. We wanted him back in December, but a blizzard came through in his area unfortunately and shut down the power. Hopefully, all will go well this time. My guest will be Michael Heiser. So who is he?

According to his bio:

Michael S. Heiser (M.A., Ancient History, University of Pennsylvania; M.A., Ph.D., Hebrew Bible and Semitic Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison) taught at the college level for twelve years before accepting a position at Logos Bible Software with a focus on producing ancient text databases and other digital resources for study of the ancient world and biblical studies. He is now the Scholar-in-Residence at Logos Bible Software (Faithlife Corp.) and a regular contributor to Faithlife’s Bible Study Magazine. He has also published widely in scholarly journals and is a best-selling author. His books include: The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible (Lexham, 2015)Supernatural: What The Bible Teaches About The Unseen World and Why It Matters (Lexham, 2015); Reversing Hermon: Enoch, The Watchers, and the Forgotten Mission of Jesus Christ (Defender, 2017); Angels: What The Bible Really Says About the Heavenly Host (Lexham, 2018); and the 60-Second Scholar series: Brief Insights on Mastering Bible Study (Zondervan, 2018);  Brief Insights on Mastering the Bible (Zondervan, 2018);  Brief Insights on Mastering Bible Doctrine (Zondervan, 2018). 

Heiser advocates that interpreting the Bible in context means reading it in light of the context that produced it instead of Christian tradition or modern thinking. Readers discover a radical new relevance and coherence when they read the Bible through the eyes of its writer. Years ago, this passion for convincing readers of the importance of an ancient worldview prompted Dr. Heiser to create The Naked Bible blog and the popular Naked Bible Podcast. Dr. Heiser’s non-profit ministry (MIQLAT.org) provides translations of his work free of charge in over a dozen languages and has partnered with AllAboutGod.com to create the new YouTube Channel FringePop321, which seeks to engage people attracted to new age and popular fringe beliefs. To that end Dr. Heiser has also written two science fiction novels (The FacadeThe Portent) and hosts a podcast dedicated to discussing peer-reviewed research on these subjects (PEERANORMAL).

I hope you’ll be joining us for this episode as we talk about these topics. Please also go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast. It’s really inspiring to see how many people like the show.

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

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 6/16/2018: Jason Oakes

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

So you’re sitting at home minding your own business when you hear the doorbell ring. You open the door and there are a couple of people carrying Bibles and some magazines. Maybe it’s not them, but it’s a couple of well-dressed young men with black name tags on.

You’re walking down the street and you see a group off to the side offering free religious literature. You want to be open. Right? I mean, isn’t an idea worth looking into? What harm could it do?

There are numerous ways that groups like this come into our lives. They look like Christians, but they’re not. They deny many truths that are essential to Christianity. Another sad reality is that they know how to use their Bibles better than most Christians. Many Christians have no idea how dangerous these groups are and how dangerous their teachings are and just see them as another denomination. We might be able to work with some of them on social and political issues, but not at all on the Gospel.

So who are they and how do you reach them? This Saturday I’m going to be discussing an overview of many cults and how to best reach them. We’re going to be talking about some of our favorites like Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses, but also ones that might not be as well known like the International Church of Christ or the Twelve Tribes. There are new cults showing up constantly and we must all remain on the watch.

I’m also bringing someone on who has dedicated his ministry to understanding cults. He has recently released a book on cults. It is a good overview looking at many of the cults that are out there and will give you a good introduction to them. The book is Sharing Jesus with the Cults and the author is Jason Oakes.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

In 2002, Jason Oakes received a Bachelors degree in Church Ministry with an emphasis on preaching from Hope International University. He received a Master of Divinity degree from Bethel Seminary San Diego in 2006. Jason has served in ministry in various capacities for the last 20 years. He has served as Youth Pastor, College Pastor, Associate Pastor, Interim Pastor, Senior Pastor, as well as a couple of years as missionary In Central Utah to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Jason has also served as an Adjunct Professor for Bethel Seminary San Diego, teaching the online class “Understanding the Cults.” Reaching out to members of cults has been a primary focus of Jason’s life ever since he was in high school. His best friend growing up was part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a result of the effort to reach him with the gospel, Jason developed a heart to reach those within the LDS church. In 2012, before moving to Utah, Jason started offering seminars on how to reach out to Mormons to churches and started the ministry People of the Free Gift. Jason is willing to schedule a speaking engagement with your group, live or online. You can get in contact with him at the following: Facebook – www.facebook.com/peopleofthefreegift Youtube – www.youtube.com/c/JasonOakesPeopleOfTheFreeGift

I hope you’ll be listening to the next episode. We’ll be talking about the cults and how to reach them. Please also go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 12/30/2017: Michael Heiser

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

The year coming up is a new year, but sometimes, it’s good to look back on that which is old. How about the Old Testament for instance? Many times in the church we can get really focused on the New Testament and that is important, but sometimes, we have to be reminded that there is that other collection called the Old Testament.

Could it also possibly be that that Old Testament might have something to say to even new situations today? We have a lot of situations today that are new to us as we have seen a changing world around us. Some situations today are the new cults that we have. Even if they have old doctrines many times, there is a new twist to them. Two such groups are Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

There is an Old Testament scholar who has been doing some work on an argument to answer them. Not too long ago a friend recommended that I get in touch with him and have him come on the show. That opportunity came and he has agreed to come on and we are going to be talking about his argument concerning Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. His name is Dr. Michael Heiser.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Michael S. Heiser is a scholar of the Bible and its ancient context. Mike is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (M.A., Ancient History) and the University of Wisconsin- Madison (M.A., Ph.D., Hebrew Bible and Semitic Studies). He has taught biblical studies, theology, and ancient languages for over twenty years in the classroom and online distance education. He is currently a Scholar-in-Residence at Logos Bible Software, a company that produces ancient text databases and other digital resources for study of the ancient world and biblical studies. Dr. Heiser maintains three blogs that focus on biblical studies (The Naked Bible), fringe beliefs about the ancient world (PaleoBabble), and modern conspiratorial belief systems (UFO Religions). He is host of the popular Naked Bible Podcast and writes science fiction that draw on all these areas of interest. His homepage is drmsh.com.

Dr. Heiser has published over one hundred articles in trade magazines and peer-reviewed academic journals. He is author of the best-selling book The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible (Lexham Press, 2015) and its shorter, distilled companion work, Supernatural: What the Bible Teaches about the Unseen World and Why it Matters (Lexham Press, 2015). Dr. Heiser’s other books include I Dare You Not to Bore Me with the Bible, The Bible Unfiltered: Approaching Scripture On Its Own Terms, and Reversing Hermon: Enoch, the Watchers, and the Forgotten Mission of Jesus Christ, and the three volumes of the 60-Second Scholar series, due out in May, 2018: Brief Insights on Mastering Bible Study, Brief Insights on Mastering the Bible, and Brief Insights on Mastering Bible Doctrine. His supernatural fiction thrillers are The Façade and its sequel, The Portent.

I hope you’ll be tuning in. This should be an interesting episode to hear as we discuss what the Old Testament has to say about Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Please also go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

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 9/30/2017: Don Veinot

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

Cults. We know all about them. Most of us probably know someone in one. Many of us have learned how to answer the objections of cults and we have learned about the history of the cults, but there is something many of us have not learned about. We have not learned about cults themselves. What is a cult? How does one get involved in a cult? What happens while one is a cult? A more important question could be, how does one get out of a cult, especially if one wants to get out? Related would be how do you get your loved ones out of a cult?

For this, you need someone to come on who has a mind for good theology to recognize the cults, and also a heart to care about the people involved in them. When I meet someone who wants to escape a cult or get a loved one out of a cult, I always send them to the same place. That place is actually a person and that person is my guest this Saturday. His name is Don Veinot. Who is he?

Don Promo picture 02

L.L. (Don) Veinot Jr. is co-founder and President of Midwest Christian Outreach, Inc., a national apologetics ministry and mission to new religious movements based in Wonder Lake, IL., with a branch office in Quincy, IL and Cape Coral, FL. He, along with his wife of 47 years, Joy, have been involved in discernment ministry as missionaries to New Religious Movements since 1987. He is a frequent guest on various radio and television broadcasts including The John Ankerberg Show as well as being a staff researcher and writer for the Midwest Outreach Journal and is co-author of, A Matter of Basic Principles: Bill Gothard and the Christian Life, contributing author of Preserving Evangelical Unity: Welcoming Diversity in Non-Essentials, as well as articles in the CRI Journal, PFO Quarterly Journal, Campus Life Magazine, Journal of the International Society of Christian Apologetics, Midwestern Journal of Theology and other periodicals. He was ordained to the ministry by West Suburban Community Church of Lombard, IL, at the Garden of Gethsemane in Jerusalem, Israel in March of 1997. Don is a charter member of ISCA (International Society of Christian Apologetics) and is also the current President of Evangelical Ministries to New Religions (EMNR), a consortium of Counter cult/apologetic and discernment ministries from around the country.

If you are in a cult and you are wanting to get out, then you need to be listening to this episode. The same would go if you think you could be in a cult. We’ll discuss how you can tell. If you know someone who is in a cult and you want them to get out, you need to listen to this episode to learn what all you can do. If you want to know if that group in your area is a cult, you need to listen to this episode. I hope you will be. Be watching your podcast feed and leave a positive review please 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

Deeper Waters Podcast 9/19/2015: Rob Bowman

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

It’s a nice Saturday morning and you’re sitting at home when you hear the doorbell ring. You go and open the door to find two men dressed in nice black pants and white shirts and with black name badges saying that they are elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Who are these people? They are awfully nice to most of us, but are they really Christians? They’re normally known as Mormons and much of their history has had an air of mystery all around it.

Some of that mystery has recently been unveiled. The Mormon church has released photos of the seer stone used by Joseph Smith in supposedly translating the Book of Mormon. What does this mean for Mormonism today? What do Christians need to know about it? What do Christians need to know about Mormons overall? While I have had an interest in Mormonism before, being in Charlotte and being regularly visited by them and debating them on TheologyWeb, it’s not the area I focus on, so why not bring on someone who knows more about Mormons? That someone is someone who was on the show early on and is coming back for his second visit. That is Rob Bowman.

So who is Rob Bowman?

Rob Bowman

And according to his bio:

Robert M. Bowman Jr. is the executive director at the Institute for Religious Research in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The organization’s website is IRR.org. Rob has lectured on biblical studies, religion, and apologetics at Biola University, Cornerstone University, and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of about over sixty articles and the author or co-author of thirteen books including Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ and Faith Has Its Reasons: Integrative Approaches to Defending the Christian Faith. He holds the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in biblical studies from Fuller Theological Seminary and South African Theological Seminary.

The story of the stone is really big news coming from the Mormon church and this gives us a good chance to discuss this movement. We will talk about the history of Mormonism from this point. We could get into discussions on the nature of the golden plates. After all, many critics of Christianity say that the golden plates were seen by eyewitnesses just like the risen Christ was said to do and these eyewitnesses supposedly did not recant their testimony. Is that accurate? What are the likely ramifications of the Mormon church for this? What do we see happening in the future of Mormonism and how can Christians best answer and prepare to answer the Mormons who come to their door?

I hope you’ll be tuning in to this episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast as we talk about Mormonism and what the latest news means for Christians and for Mormons alike. Rob Bowman is a highly diligent researcher in every topic he discusses and you won’t be disappointed hearing him.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Rediscovering Jesus

What do I think about the new book from Rodney Reeves, Randy Richards, and David Capes published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Rediscovering Jesus by Capes, Reeves, and Richards is a surprising read. Now I had read this book shortly after reading Rediscovering Paul so I was expecting something like that, but that isn’t exactly what I got. At the start, I was kind of disappointed hoping to find more about the culture of Jesus and especially looking at Jesus from an honor and shame perspective. That disappointment was only initial. As I got further into the book, I found myself quite intrigued and fascinated by what I was reading in the book and I found the idea for consideration a fascinating one.

This idea is to look at Jesus in isolation from the major sources that we have, such as the Gospel writers individually, the Pauline epistles, Hebrews, the general epistles, and Revelation. What would it be like if each source was the only source we had on Jesus? We usually take a composite of all we have on Jesus and then put that together and say this is the real Jesus. There is no fault in this, but looking at each case in isolation can be an interesting case study. Imagine how different our worldview would be if the only source we had on Jesus was the book of Revelation?

While these are fascinating, there is also a second section where we look at Jesus from other sources. What about the Gnostic Jesus such as popularized in works like The Da Vinci Code? What about the Jesus of Muslims who never died on the cross? What about the historical Jesus of modern historians who do not hold to the reality of miracles? What about the Mormon Jesus that looks like a Jesus made just for America? Speaking of that, what about the American Jesus as here in America, Jesus is used to promote and sell just about anything. Every side in every debate usually wants to try to claim Jesus. Finally, what about the Cinematic Jesus? Many of us have seen Hollywood movies about Jesus. Some are good. Some are not. How would we view Jesus if all we had were those movies to watch? (And since so few people read any more, this could become an increasingly common occurrence.)

For me, honestly the most fascinating section was the one on the American Jesus. This dealt with so much I see in my culture. It’s interesting we don’t talk about the French Jesus or the Japanese Jesus or the Italian Jesus. It’s more the American one. This one changes so much to being the super manly Jesus who takes the world like a man or the Prince Charming Jesus that every girl sings about as her boyfriend. This can be the pragmatic Jesus who is there to help us promote our culture, or it can be the Superman Jesus who rescues us when we’re in need, but then disappears. I do have to admit I am a Superman fan so I could see the parallels very easily and while I do think there are valid parallels, we do not want to see Jesus as identical with Superman. If there’s any chapter in the book I keep coming back to mentally, it’s this one. I will certainly be watching my culture much more.

I find this book to be one of the most eye-opening ones I have read in that sense. I do not think I ever paused to consider what it would mean if all I had to tell me about Jesus was just one particular source or one kind of source. How much richer off we are for having all these other sources! We can also be thankful for the non-Christian sources as well because these can highlight aspects of the Biblical Jesus that we might have lost sight of or they could show that the Jesus of the Bible is so much greater by contrast. If an outside source says something true about Jesus, we are the better for it. If it says something false, this can contrast with the true and we are the better.

I recommend the work wholeheartedly. It fortunately also comes with questions at the end that make it ideal for small group discussion.

In Christ,
Nick Peters