Reclaim America And Bad Research

How should we look at claims about our enemies? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Politically, I am a conservative. I have always been one. Despite that, I have also tried to be as honest as I could. My own father had a problem in the past of sending out an email blast to a bunch of people or sharing something on Facebook about Obama and I would do five minutes of checking and find out that it wasn’t true. My stance was always we should aim to defeat our political opponents, but we must always do so in truth. This thread is not about politics though.

What I am doing I would hope anyone would do. If you are a Trump supporter for instance, do what I do and check claims on people like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and also check positive stuff about Trump before sharing it. If you are of the liberal persuasion. Check the reverse. Make sure that negative story about Trump is true.

I find this interesting also in light of going through Abdu Murray’s Saving Truth now where he talks about a post-truth society. In this society, we will share something even if it isn’t true and even if we know it isn’t true because it goes against our opponents. For those of us who are Christians, this should never be the case.

So there is a page called Reclaim America on Facebook. Sadly, I have written about them before with bad research. I wasn’t surprised to see that there was more of the same. The about of the Facebook page says this about them.

“Our mission is to speak truth to the lies of the Progressive Liberal Agenda! This page is kept current with information by the team of administrators that run it. God Bless the USA & those that seek to defend her!”

Fair enough. If you think liberals are spreading lies, then you should want to combat them. However, if you think lying is a problem, shouldn’t you make sure what you share is true?

So yesterday, I am surfing Facebook and I see this picture. I want to say upfront that I do not like profanity and the only reason I share this is because I want to be as accurate as I can. Anyway, this is what was shared.

Now immediately, several people are posting about what an awful woman Hillary is. As a conservative, I am no fan of Hillary and I do understand some things. First off, Hillary does have a reputation of being foul-mouthed, including around the Secret Service from when she was in the White House. Second, we do know that there were leaked emails. On the face of it, this could be plausible then.

But darn it, I have this tendency. I want to check up on things. There’s a date to this email and there’s a specific quote. It should be easy to find.

Except it isn’t. In fact, I find an incident from September 7 that matches it. This is one where Hillary said the exact same thing out loud at a Matt Lauer interview.

There is also another source out there that is doing the same thing. I found this video doing my search. For them, they had an email from someone with a Comcast email address. The original page I linked to about the incident had an NBC associate producer as the source. None of this is backed by anyone else. No specific names are given. Nothing.

So we have a claim with different dates and different sources and different forums. It leads me to think that this whole thing is bogus. Now keep in mind, a lack of evidence does not mean that it is necessarily false. Perhaps something like this did happen and no one reported it except a few isolated individuals, but I’m skeptical.

Even if it’s not necessarily false, there’s still no positive evidence that it is true. Now someone did point out emails went through Bleach Bit. Okay, but if that’s true, then how did we get those emails so we can know what is in them? Furthermore, if you point a specific date and no one can find an email on this date that has this, what are we to think?

Now if Reclaim America or anyone else can find this email, I will gladly retract this and issue an apology. Until then, I am skeptical of this whole thing. For those of us wanting to be people of truth, it doesn’t help our cause if we spread things so easily that anyone can see is not necessarily true.

As a conservative, this bothers me, but as a Christian, it does so even more. If you have no reason to believe something I share based on five minutes of checking, why should you believe it when I tell you that the Son of God came and rose from the dead which will take much more time to research and study? I have already damaged my witness by that.

It’s my hope that not only Reclaim America but anyone involved in debate will learn even more to check claims. Whatever side we want to serve in a debate, let’s try to serve it truthfully. If we don’t want false claims shared about our side or unprovable claims to be shared, let’s make sure we do the same.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Are You A True Skeptic?

What arguments do you accept? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Just recently, I was in a Facebook group and I saw someone share something from Lawrence Krauss claiming that there were several divine figures at the time of Jesus born of virgins (And I do affirm the virgin birth) who died and rose again. It didn’t take long for a bunch of us to show that this was wrong. What was most amazing to me was that this was accepted.

What matters to me about this is how quickly people who call themselves skeptics will cease to be skeptics. This isn’t to say that their skepticism of Christianity is necessarily unreasonable. Some skepticism is good. The claims we make are pretty intense after all and should be backed by evidence. The problem is that a scholar says something that supports Christianity or shows an attack on i is false and that’s questioned, but show someone who attacks it and that’s an immediate Gospel truth.

I also think it’s important to point out that we Christians can do the same. There are many Christians who will share something immediately if it supports Christianity, but it turns out to be false. This is also true in the area of politics. Many people will share something that supports their political viewpoint without checking up on it.

After the Florida shooting, there were news stories going around about eighteen school shootings taking place this year. Some of you might be surprised by that news. You never heard about all of these school shootings. There’s a good reason for that. They didn’t really happen, at least not the way you would think. One such school shooting was when a man was in the parking lot of an Elementary school that was closed at the time and committed suicide with a gun. Somehow, that qualifies as a school shooting.

Many of you know that I’m a political conservative, yet I have taken enough conservatives to task for sharing false stories about political opponents. Our side is not helped by sharing stories that are false and we damage our reputation by sharing those stories.

The solution to all of this is really simple. Test everything. Check it all out. If you are a Christian, don’t damage your reputation by sharing things that are false. It shows people you are gullible and undermines your witness to Christianity.

If you are a skeptic of Christianity, you should also want to be taken seriously. It’s not going to be happening by sharing copycat myth ideas or even worse, ideas that Jesus never existed. No. Carrier is not the most awesome New Testament scholar of all time. Most of us will actually discount you pretty quickly just for mentioning Carrier.

Everyone should agree to this. Test all things. If you’re a Christian and a skeptic does disprove something you believe to be true, accept it. If you’re a skeptic and a Christian disproves something for you, do likewise. Of course, you’re more prone to accept ideas that already fit with your worldview, but watch your own bias first. If we want to have more informed discussions, it starts with us.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Our Marching Orders

What do we do depending on how today goes? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Our country right now is in political turmoil. Assuming the election does end tonight, one side is going to go to bed tonight very very unhappy. As for me, I’m a conservative who has voted Republican all my life and I have kept that up and frankly, today terrifies me. Many of you might not agree, but I do think a Hillary election would be the worst thing to happen to America. Instead of being NeverTrump, I was and am definitely NeverHillary.

Maybe you don’t share my sentiments, but either way, I hope you can understand my own fears. They are fears that have made it difficult for me to sleep at night and left me worrying about the future. We already struggle here economically as it is. Will our situation get worse? This is especially important for those of us, like myself, who are in the non-profit industry. We rely on donations. What happens if those do not come in because people do not have it anymore?

Never mind also that there is a lot of political unrest that I see. Many people, whether they are NeverTrump or not, are angry about the FBI probe and think that we can’t count on the government to look out for us anymore. Add in other concerns like putting justices who will defend abortion on the Supreme Court and the second amendment and our fear of ISIS and there is even greater fear.

What happens if things go negatively? I am fearful that we have reached a boiling point here in America. There is so much unrest that if that one spark comes to light the fuse, I don’t know what will happen to the powder keg that is our country. This election has sadly brought out the worst in us and people on all sides have called into question each other’s Christianity and conservatism.

Yet as I ponder this fear, I try to think back. The early church faced a far worse scene. They had the Roman Empire to deal with and there was no internet they could use to connect to each other, no special advocates for Christianity, and no generations of study on Christianity. They were day-wage earners who for the most part would not have any savings stored up and could often find themselves the target of prison, death, and just outright shaming simply for their religious stance, which was also a direct challenge to Caesar.

Now here’s the sad part.

They probably trusted God far more than you and I do today.

Let’s consider Paul. Paul is in a prison cell and he’s writing letters and what is he writing? He’s writing on how to have joy. Yep. I find it hard enough to do outside of the prison cell. I find it hard to do in a society where I can have pretty much everything that I want. Paul honestly shames me in this regard.

Why is it that Paul could have this attitude? He knew what a difference Jesus made to everything. He saw the world was no longer the same place and the Roman Empire was just a bump on the road to the glory of Jesus. Does that mean he foresaw a day where Constantine, the ruler of the empire, would become a Christian? We cannot know, but we can be sure he was convinced the church of Jesus Christ could never be stomped out. God would not be thwarted.

Why do I not have faith like Paul’s? If I must be honest, and of course that is a requirement for a Christian, I believe it is because I do not really see the difference that Jesus makes. Jesus brought a radical transformation into this world.

Consider what the new atheists often say about morality. If we ask if it’s right for one man to own another as a slave, the new atheists answer the question is obvious. Everyone knows that. The people at the time of Jesus would agree. It’s a simple answer. Certainly, slavery is okay. Our world is built on it. They would be shocked at the new atheists today. Don’t we all know that we have to have this institution?

Why do we accept the idea as obvious today that slavery is wrong? Because we grew up with that Christian background. Many of our moral stances are what we have inherited so long from so many past generations that now we don’t even think about it. Unfortunately, we are seeing this start to come undone. This is especially so in the area of sexual morality with the whole redefining of marriage and the allowance of abortion.

Christianity grew up in a world where slavery, abortion, and homosexual practice were all accepted. Christianity changed it all. If you want to talk about a situation that was hopeless, look at Christianity. If an alien from another planet was watching the world in the first century and was wondering who would be in charge in 300 years, either this ragtag group called Christians or the Roman Empire, they would put their money on the Roman Empire.

They would be wrong.

What did it take for this to happen? The church was the church. Several months ago I was talking with someone who was asking me about where our country was going. What will it take to stop a continual downfall? I gave the answer I always give. The church has to be the church.

What does that mean? We have to literally be Jesus to the world. Now some of you are probably thinking “That means we walk with love and kindness and be good people.” Of course, we should do that, but it is much more than that. We must say Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not and it does not matter who the Caesar is.

The early church worked together in unison and sought to take care of their own and build one another up. We have far more resources to do this today. We have far greater means to do this today. We just don’t have the willpower to do so unfortunately. Too many of us have seen Christianity as an all-about-me scenario.

Despite this, if we are to be the church, we cannot say we will be the church in order to change our country. Christianity is not a means to an end. If we are being Christian and truly living it, the country will change on its own. Why is it that in our country Christianity can be shut down? Because they know that Christians will take it. They won’t dare say the same thing about Radical Islam.

That doesn’t mean we take the Muslim route of using physical violence. Absolutely not. It does mean that we do learn to stand up for ourselves where we can. We don’t be scared to step on toes if we have to. The early church wasn’t. Jesus Himself wasn’t.

Just yesterday, I was dialoguing with someone who I would say is a seeker with questions about Christianity. We talked about the crucifixion of Jesus and the emphasis given was on his teachings, which I think would be his moral teachings. The problem I said is this. Jesus was crucified. If Jesus was just a good moral teacher teaching these feel-good sayings, he would have been at worst a nuisance. He would not be someone that would be worth crucifying.

Yet he was crucified.

Jesus was crucified because He did rock the boat. He was seen as a threat to those in power and He must have done something to earn that attention. He not only was a threat, He went to the direct center of Judaism at the time, Jerusalem, and did it right at the time where He would know He was walking into a death trap. He did it anyway.

If you want to talk about a revolutionary position, Jesus was indeed a revolutionary. He didn’t do it with weapons like a zealot would. He did it by the offering of Himself to fulfill the role of Israel.

Jesus wasn’t afraid to rock a boat. Today, we hesitate to say anything because we are afraid we might “offend someone” or “hurt their feelings.” I do not picture Jesus having this fear at all. I am not at all saying to needlessly offend people, but if you tell the Gospel and tell people they are not in line with Jesus who is the king of this world, then you will offend them.

If we want to see our truly transformed society, it really wouldn’t depend on who got into the White House. It might make it easier for us. It might not. Our marching orders will be the same. We have to be the church.

If Trump wins, what our marching orders? The church has to be the church.

If Clinton wins, what are our marching orders? The church has to be the church.

No matter what happens, the church has to be the church. The Gospel does not need America to flourish, but America needs the Gospel to flourish. Again, we don’t do this because we want our country to flourish if we are Americans, although we certainly should much as the Israelites were even to pray for the well-being of Babylon while in captivity, but we do it because we are Christians. If you are not in America, these are your marching orders wherever you are.

So what will I do tonight? I will strive to be the church. I won’t deny it’s hard. I struggle with my own worry and anxiety and fear, but I have to look at the reality of who God is. He is on the throne. I have to trust and of course, it isn’t easy, but the early church did it with Rome. Why can I not do it here? The problem isn’t with God and it isn’t with Christianity and it isn’t with the government. It is with me.

Today and tomorrow and from now on, be the church. Those are your marching orders.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 6/25/2016: Jonathan Leeman

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

Politics. The very word makes us immediately want to hold our ground against our opponent. If you asked people what are the two most divisive forces in the world, chances are you’d hear politics along with religion. Whether or not that’s true, that would show how our society views both of those. If that’s the case, then what are we to think of the idea of church being political?

That is exactly what we have in this week’s guest. My guest is Jonathan Leeman who is the author of the book Political Church. It is a book that I have reviewed previously.

So who is he?

View More: http://ampersandphoto.pass.us/9marks-fall-2013

Jonathan Leeman is the editorial director for 9Marks. After doing undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science, Jonathan began his career in journalism where he worked as an editor for an international economics magazine in Washington, D. C. Since his call to ministry, Jonathan has earned a master of divinity and a Ph.D. in theology and worked as an interim pastor.

Today he edits the 9Marks series of books as well as the 9Marks Journal. He has written for a number of publications and is the author or editor of a number books:

Jonathan lives with his wife and four daughters in a suburb of Washington, DC and serves as an elder at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. He is also an occasional lecturer at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and teaches adjunctively for The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the Reformed Theological Seminary.

So we’ll be jumping into the hot seat. You might not get something such as who you should vote for this election cycle, but what you will get is how the church is to function and not just the church, but all of our societies. Politics is unavoidable just like religion is. As long as we are going to be doing politics then, we might as well be doing politics well.

As we prepare to go into the 2016 election season, politics is on everyone’s mind and so is religion still. Why not be prepared to talk about them? I hope you’ll be listening this Saturday as I interview Jonathan Leeman on this book. Please also go to ITunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Political Church

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

It’s said that there are two things that should never be talked about and that’s politics and religion. If so, then Jonathan Leeman has stepped into dangerous waters by writing this book. Churches can often have their own share of squabbles and religion can have a bad reputation today with new atheist soundbites running throughout our culture. Now you tie that in with politics, which comes from the word poly, meaning many, and ticks, referring to blood-sucking organisms.

Leeman points out that politics is unavoidable and we all come into the arena of debate with gods. The difference is the Christian comes with a big one and the secularist comes with several little gods that aren’t metaphysical claims and thus pass the muster. It could be then that when we argue on the grounds of appeal to conscience, we’re setting ourselves up for trouble. Whose conscience will win the day? If we say our conscience is tied to our God, then our opinion will be cast aside in the end and the more “objective” person will be the ones whose gods aren’t so readily apparent.

Leeman wants us to see what the making of covenants means for us today and that politics has been with us from the beginning. As soon as you have relationships going on, you have politics. People have to learn to live orderly in a society somehow. Unfortunately, we’ve often gone with a more pragmatic approach instead of an approach rooted in truth.

Leeman also brings this to how it affects our Christian relationships and I think this is the most important part of the book. This gets to the doctrine of forgiveness. What does it mean to forgive and how does that relate to politics? Forgiveness is in fact all about our relationships with one another and much of the material here can be quite convicting, especially if you have a hard time forgiving someone.

The book also comes from an approach that I think is gently Calvinistic and presuppositional, but the good part is if you don’t agree with that perspective, you can still accept the conclusion which is where many of us will end up about God being necessary for the good society. I found myself disagreeing with how Leeman reached some conclusions, but I agreed with the conclusions. I suspect many readers would be in the same boat.

Also, I thought criticisms of the New Perspective on Paul were not that strong. I don’t think they offer anything that would go against justification in the sense that we usually see it. The difference is more about what it means to be justified. I myself lean towards the New Perspective and I did not see the problems that I think Leeman thinks he sees.

Still, this is a good book to read and certainly thorough. It’s difficult to think about how a book could be more thorough on the topic. The experiential aspects are also quite helpful as you can learn to see forgiveness in a whole new light and really think about how you relate to your fellow man.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Conservative Heart

What do I think of Arthur Brooks’s book published by Broadside Books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Without a doubt, The Conservative Heart is one of the most important books I’ve ever read. Some might think it’s just because of the embodiment of good conservative principles, which is great, but also because this applies to so many areas, such as my main one of Christian apologetics. Not only that, but it leaves me with hope. It leaves me thinking the American Dream is still out there for all of us.

Practically every page contained something worth highlighting. In fact, were I to go through again doing this, it would be easier to just highlight the parts that weren’t as moving and gripping. Challenge after challenge comes to the reader about how one can best function in our society and impart hope to people who are in a difficult place. (Including myself)

Brooks starts off with what we need to be happy, and it’s simple. We have the idea of loving things and using people. The real idea is to love people and use things. Wealth is not bad. There is no evil in money. What is wrong is to have the attachment to money. In fact, Brooks contends that some wealth is necessary for true happiness. Brooks never cites it, but I think of Proverbs 30:8-9.

Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
    give me neither poverty nor riches,
    but give me only my daily bread.
 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
    and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
    and so dishonor the name of my God.

We chase after so many goods that we think will bring us happiness instead of looking for memories that will bring us happiness. We also look to other gods of our age, like sex, when Brooks presents research that says that if you want to know how many sexual partners happy people tend to have, the answer is simple. One. (Looks like I’m covered.)

Brooks argues that what is needed for people is not just to give them a hand-out, but people want to do meaningful work. People don’t care about being rich usually, as long as they think they’re contributing to society. They want to fulfill a purpose and sadly, our government programs can often treat them as if they’re dependents and they need to stay down and they can’t make it. People want a hand-up more than they want a hand-out.

One program he looks at is the Ready, Willing, and Able program. This program takes people off the streets and then make them work. When they’ve completed a trial period, then they’re trained in a field of their choice and they’re taught how to make a budget and get regular drug testing. If they don’t pass the test, they get out of the program then and lose the benefits. It’s had a successful effect as well.

The idea is to see every person as having something worthy to contribute to the cause. Every time you see someone out there in the world who is in a desperate situation, you can see that as someone who could be in a place of serving the world and making it better. Don’t just see a statistic. See a person.

Brooks also points out that on the whole conservatives give more to charitable causes than liberals do. Brooks even found this as a surprise as he was expecting liberals would give more. Even after you account for income differences, conservatives are giving more of their money to charity and giving more across the board from volunteer service to blood donation.

Brooks also points out that working is a gift. He talks about being on a plane next to someone who was a CFO of a company that handles several fast food franchises. Brooks is asking about the industry and then asks, quite foolishly he’d agree, if the man ever regretted creating so many dead-end jobs.

The man gets point blank with Brooks and tells him that if you come in and work for a year, you’ll probably get promoted to an assistant manager. Go four years and you can become a store manager. Go further and you can reach further because as he says, he began his career flipping burgers.

Bottom line to get? There are no dead-end jobs.

In fact, what matters most even more than how much it pays is how much meaning the job gives the person. Can the person feel like they’re a part of the story instead of just a burden to everyone else? That is what people long for.

Now in all of this Brooks is not against a safety net. Yes. Some people will need help. It should be a success in our system that we have enough surplus that we can care for those in need, but it is not a success if we see a lot of people having to be cared for. The net is there for trapeze artists should they fall, but it’s not a great performance if we just see them fall in the net and stay there and do tricks from the net.

Brooks also contends that we have to do better getting our message out. If conservatives care, which we do, why is it assumed we don’t? It’s because a lot of us like to talk about what we’re against. We don’t tend to talk about what we’re for. Consider the minimum wage. We hear someone make a statement about the minimum wage and how it should be raised. We respond by pointing out the damage that will be done to those on the lowest rung of the economic ladder and that it won’t help them in the long run and ideas like that. Is that true? Yep. What does the other person hear? We’re against helping the poor and we have no solutions to the problem. What if we said something like this?

I agree that those on the lowest end of the economic perspective or struggling and we must help them out the best that we can and enable them to live on their own and I have no doubt you have good intentions, but your ideas just won’t work because of XYZ. I propose instead that we give tax cuts to those above so they can have more freedom to hire more people and in fact pay them more and that will include those who are on the lowest economic level.

You see? I haven’t just started there with what I’m against. I’ve started with what I’m for and then something that can be done to help out and that it will help those out. We can often get the picture that we’re just negative because it often looks like all we do is argue against something instead of for something.

Brooks also points out that if we want our movements, we need to start appealing to the people first and what they already hold to or at least want them to hold to. When King began speaking about civil rights, he spoke to the people about what they would agree with and he acted like he had a majority even before he had a majority. He spoke pointing to the transcendental values we all hold dear. That is how he convinced people. The same happened with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Although I don’t agree with this last group’s beliefs, the homosexual movement I contend did the exact same thing.

There is much more that can be said about this book but the most important thing to be said is to read it. Study it. Learn it well. While I find it great at defending my own conservative principles, I realize the same can work at defending my own Christian principles too.

Thank you Dr. Brooks for this wonderful work!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

What Should Christians Do In Light Of Cruz Dropping Out

What is the call of the church? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I was pretty shocked when I heard the news last night that Cruz had dropped out of the race. Frankly, I hadn’t been too enthused about many of the candidates at all. Still, I did think Cruz was our best shot. As I say that, I know that there are many Christians who do support Trump and if you are one of those, this is still relevant to you.

Many of you were Cruz supporters. You were downcast and saddened last night. After all, we’ve gone through a hard eight years in this country. We don’t want more of the same. Many of us have been discouraged by the decisions of the Supreme Court as well.

In some ways, if you’re shocked, it will take some time to get used to. Our minds tend to jump to panic. I’d like to see I was a paragon of virtue in this. I’d like to, but I’d be lying. I didn’t rest well last night. I do get concerned about America, so what I say to you, I say to me as well.

I was talking with someone last month at a restaurant and he asked me about our country. I gave the same answer I always give. How do we turn our country around? The church has to be the church. We unfortunately have not been being the church.

We have become so individualized we do not think beyond ourselves. I find this best modeled in the lady I heard in a small group once say that she’s saved and her children are saved so she’s just going to wait for Jesus to come. What a horrible attitude! What about your neighbor’s children? If your children go off to college, will they remain Christians?

When we become the church, we will be living as Jesus lived. We will give as He gave. We will sacrifice as He sacrificed. We will care about the things that He cared about, and there are many areas I have to improve on that personally. A pastor at our church gave a sermon on prayer lately that showed me that yes, I have a long way to go. We all have many such areas.

Bart Ehrman actually gives an interesting example of this. He’ll give a talk to his incoming students in his classroom. Keep in mind, this is an agnostic saying this. These classes will have about 400 people in them. He’ll ask how many of them agree with the proposition that the Bible is the Word of God. WHOOSH! Nearly every hand goes up. Then he’ll ask “How many of you have read The Da Vinci Code (Or whatever the book of the day is. I’ve heard Harry Potter used for instance). WHOOSH! Nearly every hand goes up. “And how many of you have read the Bible from beginning to end?” A few scattered hands go up. Ehrman points out that he can understand wanting to read a great novel, but by their own admission, these students have just said the Bible is the Word of God and they don’t seem to care to read what He has to say. How many of us are much better?

As I went to bed last night thinking about the church being the church, I thought that it’s a shame we put our hope in politics so much. Of course, it’s not that politics is unimportant. We should care about politics. It’s that we already have a savior. We already have a Lord and Master. We dare not say “If our political candidate does not get elected, then all hope is lost!” No. The world will still go on. The Gospel will remain unchanged. Let’s list some facts we believe as Christians.

Fact: Jesus Christ is the risen Lord of the universe.

Fact: God is enthroned in the Heavens and laughs at attempts to usurp His power.

Fact: We have the Great Commission to do.

Let’s keep these in mind. Christ originally gave the Great Commission to His followers and you know what? They didn’t have the internet. They didn’t have cars and planes that could travel the Roman Empire. They didn’t have the best education. (In fact, the most educated among them could have been Matthew the tax collector who would have worked WITH the government as a tax collector) They were fishermen and they were told to go into all nations and make disciples.

All nations would include Rome.

You know, Rome, that empire that ruled the world. That empire that came to persecute Christians. That empire that demolished every attack against them. They were to give the most bizarre message that would have been given and they would have done so without being able to look back on past generations of Christians who had done the same. They didn’t even have a New Testament to preach from!

Of course, the scholar Paul joined the party later on and he did a great work, but he did it without all that we have today. He had to be the original pioneer in many ways. Can you imagine what Paul would do if he had the resources that we had today? Paul had no hesitancy in going to Rome even though he knew he was going to die.

We act like all hope is lost meanwhile based on an election that hasn’t even happened yet in a country where we are not yet fearing for our lives.

You see, it doesn’t matter if Trump or Hilary or Sanders gets elected or if Cruz or Rubio or anyone else had got elected. Our mandate is the same if Ronald Reagan is in office or if Barack Obama is in office. Our command is to be the church. We are to do the Great Commission. Our marching orders haven’t changed and maybe we panic because we have put our hope in government.

Unfortunately, we’re also great hypocrites with this in a lot of ways. When we talk about bathrooms, we say that people are not of the opposite sex just because they feel like they’re a woman in a man’s body or vice-versa. I agree. We dare not give authority to our feelings to tell us who we are. We look at Mormons and say the burning in the bosom is not the testimony of the Holy Spirit, and I agree. Then after all that, we look and say “Well I don’t feel like we can do anything and our country is doomed.”

Your feelings and mine do not overpower Scripture. You can have those feelings, and it’s likely you will, but we must work to overcome them. We do not determine the truth of God by how we feel and if we start doing that, then we are placing our feelings over Scripture. If you have a feeling that disagrees with Scripture, well so much for your feelings. They’re simply wrong. This is why we also need to preach the Gospel to one another and remind ourselves of the truth.

I also thought last night of how Jesus said that in this world we would have troubles in John 16:33, but He has overcome the world. Note that. He has overcome it. It’s not a future thing. It’s a done deal. We don’t see all the results of it, but Jesus has overcome. Ultimately, we’re on the winning side.

We’ve had a lot go wrong in our country, but perhaps things aren’t gloom and doom as much as we think. Years ago the Supreme Court defended abortion. Today, you’d find that more and more people are turning against abortion. I suspect the same thing will happen with their recent ruling on homosexuality and marriage. If our case is right, and I am sure it is, then we need not live in fear. A worldview like this can’t live for long. It will self-destruct. Some of us think we’re seeing this start in the whole transgender issue.

In fact, let’s look at the homosexual community. They make up a small portion of our population and yet, when they made a plan and acted on it and charged forward in the face of opposition and fear, look at what they accomplished. Now we claim that we have the God of the universe on our side and what are we doing in response? We are a far larger portion of the population than they are. The truth is the homosexual movement is doing more for their behavior than we are for Jesus Christ.

So what am I going to do?

I’m going to keep doing my blog.

I’m going to keep doing the podcast.

I’m going to keep doing apologetics the way I’m supposed to.

I’m going to keep doing the Great Commission.

I’m going to continue to love the wife God gave me.

I’m going to continue to strive to walk as Jesus walked.

And you know what, I’m going to do that regardless of who gets elected? I would do that if Cruz got elected. I will do it if Trump or Clinton or Sanders gets elected. I would do it if somehow Obama got a third term. I would do it if somehow Reagan came back from the dead and got elected again.

By all means, vote and be active, but don’t put all your eggs in the political basket. If you think things are going to be harder, well that just means we have more of a challenge. It doesn’t mean we have a big game over.

My wife and I like to watch The Flash for instance. Now if you have seen recent episodes, and we haven’t seen last night’s yet, we saw where the Flash lost all of his speed and it went to the villain speedster recently. My wife and I did not turn off the TV then and say “Well that was a good series. Looks like it’s all hopeless for him now.” No. Instead we look and say “Dang. I don’t know how he’s going to get out of this one, but he’s going to find a way and he will defeat the villain in the end.” Why? Because we know that’s how these stories work. The authors do not write stories where the good guys lose like that. We don’t have to know how the author will pull it off. We just know that he will.

The author of this story is God. He’s the one in charge. If I can have trust that the writer of a TV show will bring about a good ending, can I not do the same with the greatest author of all? He’s  in charge. Life is still an adventure. There will always be challenges regardless of who is in the White House, but we can still do great things if we’re willing to just get up and do them.

Your marching orders are still the same. Be the church. If you want to see the change, be the change. You will either be part of evangelism or a hindrance to evangelism.

I plan to be a part of it. How about you?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: People To Be Loved

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

Preston Sprinkle has written a unique book on homosexuality where he says it’s not just an issue and frankly raises up a point that we often lose sight of. People are people. Whatever person you’re arguing against, they are a person. This is something both sides need to learn. Traditionalists like myself can often see just the issue and be tempted to think the worst about homosexuals that we meet, when in reality many homosexuals, like many heterosexuals, are wonderful people. Of course, just like heterosexuals, some are jerks. How you view your sexuality is not a determiner of your demeanor.

Meanwhile, those on the left need to realize that the homosexuals are persons as well. In what way do they often act otherwise? It’s too easy to assume that if someone is a homosexual, that that entails their identity so that if you say homosexual practice is wrong, you are treating the person as if they are not a person, and this is simply false.

Sprinkle wrote this book wanting us to see not just the issue but the person. He starts by talking about being on a plane and sharing with some people who ask what project he’s working on and he says it’s a book on homosexuality. The husband shakes his head saying there is no debate and the Bible is very clear. Sprinkle does want to say there is a huge debate in academia, but instead he asks where the Bible is clear. Unfortunately, the man has no idea where the Bible verses are that speak about homosexual practice.

Too many Christians could be like that today.

Sprinkle also does introduce with too many stories of homosexuals who have committed suicide and have been bullied for their being homosexual. Naturally, we should all condemn this sort of behavior. He also writes about those who leave the church. Interestingly, they don’t leave because they’re told same-sex behavior is wrong. They leave because of how they’re treated. The main walk away he wants you to get is that homosexuality is not about an abstract issue. It is about an issue that concerns people to be loved.

In this, many of Sprinkle’s stories hit hard. He does open this by a look at the Scriptures themselves. He comes down on the side of the traditionalists, who he describes as non-affirming. He also addresses many of the issues such as if someone is born with a sexual orientation and if change is possible of an orientation. He points out that too many of us have this idea that if you have to live your life without sex that it is absolutely unlivable.

Sprinkle also wants us to know that homosexuality does not define someone’s life. Still, while I agree that most homosexuals are fine people and there are other sins to focus on, I do think there are some people that while they are still people to be loved, there needs to be more on how to respond to them. Do some people get turned away from the church because there are many Christians who are aggressive and unloving to them? Yes. Of course. There are also homosexuals who are also aggressive and speak about their lifestyles.

What about situations such as the book After The Ball written as a coercive propaganda material to change the hearts and minds of Americans, which was a brilliant success by all standards. There are in fact people who want to be aggressive in their homosexuality and label us as intolerant bigoted homophobes if we disagree. Then there are issues many people have with the transgender talk today about men sharing bathrooms with women.

Do we love those people who are hurting and open to discussions? Of course. We are also to love the aggressive ones, but shouldn’t our approach be different? I did not really find Sprinkle’s book addressing how to deal with this. We could say Christians seem to always be talking about homosexuality, but that’s also because our culture is always talking about homosexuality. We are talking about what everyone is talking about and giving our viewpoints.

While few Christians will ever meet a leader in this movement, they are online and they will meet them and they will meet heterosexual supporters of the homosexual movement who are like them in their responses. There is a problem with Christians of course treating homosexuals horribly, but how are Christians to respond when homosexuals do likewise? While I know Sprinkle is for non-violence, as am I and I do not think this needs to be physical, I don’t think this means we just lie down and let homosexuals walk all over us.

Still, I have to say that Sprinkle’s book is a breath of fresh air. If I could recommend one book on the popular level, it would be this one. Sprinkle gives you good academic research and then he gives an excellent application. Sprinkle reminds us that every time we discuss homosexuality, we are also discussing homosexual persons. These are people to be loved. No. These are people who are loved by Jesus. The question is, are we going to love like Jesus did also? We do not affirm the sin, but we do love the person.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: One Nation Under God

What do I think of Bruce Ashford and Chris Pappalardo’s book published by B&H Academic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Two of the things you’re never supposed to discuss at the dinner table are politics and religion. What happens when you bring both of them together? Usually, matters become even more explosive. Some Christians want to avoid politics altogether and think that the Kingdom of God should have nothing to do with the governments of men. Some would prefer to combine the two together and say that we will make the Kingdom of God come on Earth through the government.

Ashford and Pappalardo have problems with both positions. Something interesting about their book is that you will not find hard condemnation of either conservatism or liberalism. You will not find targeting of the Republican party or the Democrat party. You will find discussions of the issues, but the writers leave it to you, the reader, to decide where you will take your stand beyond that.

The book starts with opening sections describing the relationship between Christians and culture. Many views are critiqued and some are settled on. It also talks about not only what the content of our presentation will be in the public square, but also how it is that we will go about presenting our viewpoint in the public square. Make no mistake, the writers definitely think Christians do need to stand up for their position.

When it gets to the issues, there are explanations of what is going on in each of the issues and then there are examples of Christians who are taking a stand on those issues. These are quite helpful as they provide often not just examples of the content but how the writers want to see Christians go about making their case in the public square. The writers then end each section with several recommended books. These are classified in range from beginning level to advanced so that if you don’t know where to go, you can have a general idea.

Issues discussed include topics like abortion, the nature of marriage, the environment, economics, war, race relations, and immigration. The writers again do not side with any one party on these issues explicitly. They do take a stand and often explain where it is that they make their stand, but they also leave a lot left unsaid. After all, this is meant to give you just an introduction to the basic facts and they don’t so much I suspect want to tell you their views, but rather how they think that you should go about coming to your own conclusion.

I do sometimes wish more sources had been given on a topic. One main example is that in the section on the environment, there was no mention of the main Christian response to this, the Cornwall Alliance For The Stewardship of Creation. There were a few other sections where I thought more works could have been added, but what is there is certainly sufficient to get someone started on the path.

This is a good and short book. If you work hard, you could read it in a day, but it will prepare you for when it comes time to vote. The reader will start to have a better grasp on the issues and can further read on the issues that interest them most.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Studying Logic

How do you go about studying the topic of logic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’ve been discussing lately with some fellow Christians the study of logic. We’ve often discussed the main ways that people study logic, such as reading the books on logic and listening to great teachers on logic. This is essential to the study and you should do this, but at the same time, I want to point out some fun ways you can put into practice what you are studying.

One place to go to is advertising. Someone is selling you a product. Why should you buy it? What claims do they make? Do they really convince you that this is a worthwhile exchange for your money, or do they do something else, say have a bikini wearing model advertise a burger for you? (And let’s face it, we all know that model never ever eats anything like that.)

Sometimes, businesses are less forward than that and try to sneak in an attitude. When we lived in Tennessee, a local bank would have commercials with a touching country setting emphasizing the goodness of home. Nothing was said about the bank itself, but the feeling you got thinking about the homey atmosphere was meant to carry over to the bank. Car insurance companies have been doing this as well using humor. How many of us laugh at the “Jake from State Farm” commercials or the GEICO commercials about cats, mothers, and the band Europe? You know what? They work, because we talk about these commercials, but many times you don’t really wind up knowing much about the product.

I have also been a stickler for pointing out to my wife Allie what it means when someone is referred to as a liar. Because someone gets a claim wrong does not mean that they are a liar. If that is so, every student who gets a false answer on a math test is a liar. A liar is someone who knows the truth about what they are saying and says the opposite fully intending what they say to be believed as the truth. We have to be clear because someone could say the exact opposite in sarcasm not intending to be believed at all. This kind of thing happens often in politics. It’s too easy to say someone is a liar for providing information that is false. Maybe they are, but it takes more than false information to show that someone is lying.

Speaking of politics, let’s look at the presidential debates we have going on now. This is a great place to go to to study logic because you can look at a question a candidate is asked and then look at the answer and ask “Did they really answer the question?” You can also ask how they did that with a question or challenge they receive from an opponent.

By the way, when you do this, it’s important to try to be as impartial as you can. Let’s say you’re a Ted Cruz supporter in the Republican primary. You might be looking to see what Donald Trump says that is an example of bad logic or an answer that does not follow or dodges the question. That’s fine. Do the same for Cruz also. If you’re a Trump supporter, you will do the opposite. You should also be willing to admit when your opponent does answer the question satisfactorily. You can debate how good the answer is how effective a strategy would be, but does he answer the question?

Humor is also a good place to go to. Comedians don’t try to be logicians, but they do try to point out the humor in our thinking. If you like puns, puns rely on ambiguity largely. That’s what makes them so funny. Much of our humor relies on taking people literally. My wife and I were just seeing someone and getting set to make another appointment and they said we can make it for whenever we want. I replied midnight would work just fine for us. Of course, that wouldn’t work for them, but that was the humor of it. On The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon Cooper regularly does this sort of thing.

Finally, if you’re doing this from an apologetics perspective, consider watching to and listening to debates. One of my favorite programs for debates is Unbelievable? with Justin Brierley. Try to be impartial. Ask and see what side really makes the better case. I have heard debates where I had to say the non-Christian made a better case and some where sadly, the Christian case was just embarrassing in its defense. It does not mean that I think the non-Christian was right, but it does mean that I think they did a better job presenting their case. One mistake it’s easy to make is to think that if an argument agrees with your conclusion, it must be a good one. Christians and atheists both sadly have a habit of going to Google, finding the first thing that they think agrees with them, and sharing it because they think it agrees with what they already believe and so it must be a good argument.

Studying logic in this can be fun and eye-opening and prepare you for a world where people are going to be consistently trying to snow you. Many will do this unintentionally. Some will do it intentionally. If you can learn to think through what people say better, you will be a step ahead of the game. Even if you don’t know a topic well, you can at least see how well conclusions follow.

In Christ,
Nick Peters