Book Plunge: The African-American Guide to the Bible

What do I think about Dr. H.C. Felder’s book published by Christian Faith Publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Let me say at the start that I am not an African-American. I am very much white. However, I know there are many people in the black community that do struggle with the Bible due to issues in it such as slavery and how it has been seen as a white man’s religion. When I lived in Charlotte, I used to hear some of Felder’s shows on the radio and so I wanted to get his book to see what he would say from his experience about these kinds of issues.

There was also another concern of mine. I had a fear that the approach would also somehow demean other races throughout and I had a hope that that would not happen. I am happy to say that Felder’s book does not do that. I did not feel at all attacked as a white person reading this book.

Let’s start with some nitpicky issues and such I disagreed with on the way and get those out of the way. As one who defended Mike Licona when Geisler went after him, I did think at times there was too much dependence on Geisler in the work. I would have liked to have seen interaction with scholars who specialize in the Bible more.

One such indication of that influence is on p. 145. In speaking of Genesis 2 and the reference to Cush, Felder says there is no reason to take the reference as symbolic. That right there is a pretty big assumption. Maybe there is. Can we be absolutely certain we know so much about the text that we can rule that out? I’m not stating that I think it is symbolic, but if someone can make a case, let’s be open to it. From there, Felder goes on to say that if we start taking those places as symbolic, how do we determine what is and isn’t symbolic? Maybe all of the creation account is. Maybe then the fall of man is negated and there’s no need for a savior and Christianity is false without a literal understanding of Genesis.

Which would mean that we have a strong case from the New Testament that Jesus was resurrected from the dead in the body and was fully God and fully man, but we might not be sure because Genesis isn’t literal? Not buying it. I don’t need a fully literal (Whatever that means) Genesis to know that man is fallen. I can see that turning on the evening news or just looking in myself. Felder even speaks in this paragraph of the slippery slope and it’s the one Geisler raised as well.

On p. 42, Felder also says that the disciples became martyrs for their faith. Some of them did, but in all honesty, we don’t have the best historical testimony for all of them. Sean McDowell spoke of this well in his book The Fate of the Apostles, a book I interviewed him on on my own show.

I also found the section on prophecy lacking as an orthodox Preterist, particularly the idea that the return of the people to Israel in 1948 was a fulfillment. Last I checked, that was supposed to be preceded by national repentance, not followed by it.

So now, let’s go to the positives. Felder does look at the issues very seriously. The discussions about race and such are all interesting. He shows that there were people of color, not necessarily black, but people of color, all throughout the Bible. We have had a tendency to “whitewash” the Bible as it were when we make movies and the like.

The discussion about race is quite eye-opening as Felder spends a good deal of time looking at what race is. This involves a look at it in ways I had never thought about before. It’s not a really cut and dried question and I leave that for interested readers.

There is good material on slavery as well. Those who are concerned about the issue I think will find good support here. Felder naturally speaks with a heart on this being from a people that in the past 200 years experienced slavery in this country.

Felder also answers objections such as why is it that the white man seemed to thrive while the black men didn’t? Don’t blacks routinely score lower on IQ tests? Aren’t there differences in the races since blacks are more prone to getting certain diseases? Felder does leave food for thought in all of this.

Still, I think overall as I’ve indicated, the Biblical looks are the most interesting. Felder goes through the testaments and shows who could be seen as people of color in the passages. He goes to great lengths to show that racism has no place in the life of any Christian. What is good about this is that it is clear no race as we put it is superior. Blacks, whites, Asians, Indians, Eskimos, whatever race you want to talk about, none are superior and none are inferior.

While this book is meant for the African-American community, I think it will benefit those of all races. Those who are white like myself could read it and get a perspective on what it is like to be of another race and see how the Bible is seen from that perspective. In the end, I appreciated the read and I hope you will too.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Royce Mann. I’m Sorry.

Do we need to apologize? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Sunday while heading home, my wife and I heard a story on the radio. It involved a 14 year-old who won a prize for best poem. When I heard what he was saying, I was aghast. It was so horrifying to think that someone was already living with this kind of idea. You can read about the story here.

I will quote what the cite has as well from the “poem.”

“Dear women, I’m sorry. Dear black people, I’m sorry. Dear Asian-Americans, dear Native Americans, dear immigrants who came here seeking a better life, I’m sorry,” Royce recited. “Dear everyone who isn’t a middle or upper-class white boy, I’m sorry. I have started life on the top of the ladder while you were born on the first rung.”

“When I was born I had a success story already written for me. You — you were given a pen and no paper,” he continued. “I know it wasn’t us 8th-grade white boys who created this system, but we profit from it every day.

“Dear white boys: I’m not sorry,” Royce declared. “I don’t care if you think the feminists are taking over the world, that the Black Lives Matter movement has gotten a little too strong, because that’s bulls—. I get that change can be scary, but equality shouldn’t be. Hey white boys: It’s time to act like a woman. To be strong and make a difference. It’s time to let go of that fear. It’s time to take that ladder and turn it into a bridge.”

“I know it wasn’t us eighth grade white boys who created this system, but we profit from it every day. We don’t notice these privileges though, because they don’t come in the form of things we gain, but rather the lack of injustices that we endure.”

Seeing all of this, it got me to want to give my own apology as well.

To Royce Mann,

I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you have bought into a lie about our great American country. I’m sorry that you think that if you are being successful, it’s not because of the work of you or one of your ancestors, but because you had to be privileged in some way. I’m sorry that you don’t realize that even before the passing of the Civil Rights Act, that the black community was working and growing and building themselves up.

I’m sorry that you think you have to apologize for your existence. You have done nothing wrong. Even if you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, that is not wrong. You could use your wealth then to benefit others which is a fine usage of wealth.

I’m sorry that you don’t realize that in this country, you can work and be a success. Even if it’s harder for you, you can do it. My wife and I both have Aspergers, but I sure don’t plan to let that hold me back. If anything, it’s something I want to embrace because it’s part of the uniqueness of who we are.

I’m sorry that you have been lied to by the school district. I see that you have to take a class called “race, class, and gender.” I’m sorry to hear that. I’m sorry to hear the schools are moving away from subjects of reading, writing, and arithmetic. I’m sorry that they’re more interested in producing people that think like them instead of people that think.

I’m sorry that your parents aren’t doing anything to stop you from thinking you need to apologize for your existence. You don’t. You do not need to suffer guilt for how or where you were born. What you can do is to decide how you’re going to make the best of it for everyone else.

I’m sorry that you don’t realize you’re in turn being condescending. You’re saying that you have everything you need for success but minority groups don’t so you need to give them sympathy. Why? Are you saying they’re incapable of working hard and succeeding? If so, why would you think that?

I’m also sorry that you did not truly get a reward. Oh I know you took first place, but it wasn’t for you. It was for your judges. They wanted to celebrate that they are so awesome that they produced someone who can say that like you. They see you as a success of their “teaching” instead of someone who is thinking originally.

I’m sorry you have not familiarized yourself with the great poets of the past. You could greatly benefit by reading them. Go back several centuries and read what is there.

I’m sorry you have a problem with being a man as well. Why should a man act like a woman? Your society has sought to feminize you. That’s why we have things like sports games with no winners and look at any act of aggression as one of the worst sins ever. I’m sorry you’ve been a victim of that.

What I’m not sorry about though is that this is America. You can learn from this. You can grow from this. You can study and work hard. I recommend you take advantage of a place called a library. Go and read history about race relations and such. Read about the original women’s suffrage movement here in America.

You should also realize that success is not a crime. In the past, people who were successes would be held up as examples for everyone to follow. Today, it’s still hard to work to be a success, so we usually prefer pulling other people down. We prefer to look for ways that they cheated the system rather than do the hard work ourselves.

It’s understandable really. My work is in apologetics. There are many times I would rather be doing some other things for myself. Of course, we have to take time for play and relaxation, but we can take too much at times. I like to read, but at the same time I sometimes have to work to get myself to read. You know what though? It’s worth it. It’s worth it when I realize that when push comes to shove that I can contribute and that I can be looked up to and admired. It’s worth it when I get to have the chance to get to talk to some of the greatest scholars out there regularly for my show.

Royce. I can tell you that when I was getting ready to go to college, I was told to not go into ministry. You know why? Because I could not handle public speaking. It would be too difficult for me. I should go into engineering or something like that. Nothing against engineering, but I had no passion there. What happened? I went into ministry.

You know what? When I was a senior in Bible College, I gave a senior sermon. That was preached to about 1,000 people. I had no problem with it. Even a year later people were still complimenting me on that sermon. I wish my detractors had been there to see it.

I would also sometimes speak at the Sunday night services. Normally, we were to speak for 15-20 minutes. I spoke for 45 and no one ever complained. Students stayed afterwards even to talk about the Bible.

I have also done a number of debates and I look forward to my next one not knowing when and where it will be. At some other churches I have preached and taught lessons. It’s always a joy. I even spoke at a church once after having my gallbladder removed. I had to have a friend drive me there and to sit the whole time since I couldn’t stand, but it was worth it because I love teaching.

It would be easy to make excuses Royce, but excuses don’t make anything except more failure. It would be easy to blame others, but it won’t change them and it will only make me bitter. In fact, I could say that maybe I do have some natural talents, like a natural inclination towards intelligence, but that doesn’t change the fact that I have to work with that intelligence still.

You see Royce, you do have to work ultimately to be a success. This comes in everything you do in life. I am married right now and I love my wife, but sometimes it is work. You know why? Because my natural inclination is to be a selfish individual that focuses mainly on myself. Being married reminds me of that constantly. I have to learn to die to myself. I have to learn to put my wants aside especially when it comes to my wife’s needs. You know what? It’s worth it. It is so very worth it. My wife is an absolute treasure to me and I really have no mercy on those who hurt her. The worst thing anyone can do to me is to hurt my wife.

As I sit here, I’m surrounded by books. Most of them I have read. I regularly go to the library and read books. For my podcast, I get in touch with major publishers and read the books that they send me and get the authors on my show. That takes time, but it is worth it.

And you know what? You can do the same thing. If you want to make the world a better place, well that’s wonderful, but you’re not going to do it by tearing yourself down. Build others up, and you won’t do that by having them keep think they’re victims of birth. Show them not by an apology but by living a life of success. You don’t benefit anyone by refusing to use the gifts you have to the best of your ability. You don’t benefit anyone either by trying to get them to think that the reason they’re not succeeding in America is because the system is rigged against them.

Stop the apology tour. It helps no one. Start living a life of success. I will be striving to do the same all the more. The best way you can help others is not by having them think they’re victims. It’s by encouraging them to see themselves as successes in the making. Which one are you doing?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Of Clorox And Wimps

Have we created a society of wimps? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, a news story came out involving Clorox Bleach. Apple had come out with a long list of Emojis. For those who don’t know, these are little icons that you can use when messaging someone. Clorox had a bottle of Clorox with all the Emojis on it with the following quote in a tweet:

“New emojis are alright but where’s the bleach.”

Now if you happen to be a normal rational person on planet Earth, you see that Clorox has just looked at a list of emojis which includes one of several household items and asked where bleach was. Unfortunately, Earth is filled with many people who aren’t normal and rational.

That is because this tweet was said to be racist.

Yes. You heard that right. Racist.

Why was it racist? Because there were emojis also of people with skin of different colors. The assumption being that surely, the PR person at Clorox was secretly a racist and sent out a message saying that the list of emojis needed to be bleached to get rid of all of that and return us to white skin. Clorox explained further they were speaking about objects in there that are usually messy or cause messes, like a bathtub or red wine.

Leave it to the offended crowd to not see that.

offendedpeople

Unfortunately, Clorox caved with an apology. What would have been better in the adult world, is to simply ignore people who are whiners. Give them more attention and they keep going this route. Our world is unfortunately getting more and more full of people who think the worst possible thing that you can do is to offend someone and that if you have offended someone, then you must make up for it in spades.

This is an ideology that as Christians we must fight.

Now let’s state something at the start. I am not at all suggesting that we should seek to be offensive in everything. While I do believe often in hard-hitting apologetics, I do not believe in offending for the sake of offending. I consider it more like if stepping on your toes is the only way to get you to move, then I will step as hard as I can. I am more concerned about getting you to the Gospel or protecting those who already believe the Gospel than I am about your feelings. We are getting closer and closer to a time where if we keep this up, the government will be increasingly used to protect peoples’ feelings.

If this is you, then just grow up.

You might not being able to help being offended. In fact, many times, you should feel offended about things, and if you are, there can be appropriate responses to that, but you do not police the world looking for things that offend you and in fact reading meaning into statements and deciding that if you think it is offensive, then the other person surely intended to be offensive. Try to practice some charitable interpretation. Do not assume the worst possible thing about what someone says. Of course, the worst possible thing could possibly be true, but there is no reason to assume it.

Why is this our enemy? Because the Gospel is guaranteed to be offensive. You really like being told you’re a sinner? I’m a Christian as it is, and I don’t like being told that message a lot of times. It is painful to be told that you are doing something wrong. It is painful to be told that something you are doing is sinful. It is painful to have to repent for something. These are meant for our joy in the long-term and to lead us to be happy and holy people, but they sting at the time. As the writer of Hebrews says, no discipline seems pleasant when we are going through it.

If we are to be ministers of the Gospel, we must build up our resolve and ignore passive-aggressive behavior like that. People are often going to try to guilt us into things. This is why I try to tell people, and even I slip up at this from time to time, is that no one can make you feel anything. You cannot make yourself feel happy. If you were feeling miserable, you’re not just going to say “I will feel happy now” and then feel happy. It will take work on your part. I do think you can get yourself to that point, but it will take work. It is a mistake then when you go to people, and this can often happen in marriage and again I am often guilty, and say “You made me feel angry when you did this” or something similar. It makes more sense to say “When you do X, I feel angry.” Now it could be that the other person did indeed do something wrong and has an issue to work on. It could also be you are way too sensitive and then you have an issue you need to work on. In some cases, it could be both.

And could that partially be what is behind this? We are living in an era where people do not want to take responsibility for their actions? We think that if you have sex, you should not be responsible for some outcomes, such as pregnancy. We do not encourage overcoming. This is also seen in the message of the problem of bullying. Bullies are not going to go away. Sorry. As long as there are people, some of those people will be jerks. Now should we try to stop that behavior? Sure. The number one thing we should be doing is making sure the behavior is irrelevant so people don’t even bother doing that. Bullies do what they do because they get the response that they want. When people are scared of them, they thrive.

How about building up victims instead? Instead of painting them as victims, let them see themselves as overcomers. They can overcome the bullies, but it will take work. Some cases could take a lot of work and they could take therapy in some cases. That’s okay. We need to be kind and encouraging at these times and let people work out any emotional issues that they have, but in doing this, we are empowering them to be stronger. If we are Christians, this is imperative, because we have to do that which shows that we are truly conquerors in Christ. We bear the image of God. We are to rule for Him. How dare we think we are going to be nothing. How can we possibly lower ourselves when God does so much to raise us up?

When you see the victim culture, do not give in and do not accept responsibility for their feelings. You can accept responsibility if you do wrong, and indeed you should. If someone misunderstands you, you can say you are sorry they thought such a thing and if you need to be clearer, you can do that, but a person who is truly someone worth it will also be interested in that relationship with you. People who are just trying to guilt you are not people you need to waste time on. To offend someone is not the end of the world. Offenses will come and sometimes they will be necessary. It is our choice how we respond to them.

We should be adults. Let’s stop being children.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Death Of An Innocent Black Child

How many more innocent are we going to let die at the hands of those who are meant to take care of us? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Okay. We’re all talking about Missouri now. There are many of us who have a strong outrage. After all, we have to witness the shedding of blood that is innocent way too often. It is especially tragic when it happens to a child. Even more tragic is that death comes at the hands of those who we pay with our own tax dollars to provide their service for us. They’re in the field that is supposed to take care of us and fight for the preservation of life.

And yet, it looks like the tool that they wield is wielded not for the preservation of life but for the destruction of life and what is the result? There are a mother and father who have a child that does not get to live the life that we would all hope that a child would get to live. Why do we even defend this action that involves taking the life of a child from a mother and a father?

Of course, it doesn’t help that the victim is black and the killer is white. Surely this should show that in our country, we are in a position of intense racial division. No doubt, this is a story that is worthy of all the major news networks as it really shows how little attention we give to the goodness of life in this country, yet hardly anyone is talking about this important story really.

What? You mean everyone is talking about this story? You mean there are riots going on in Ferguson now over the death of Michael Brown?

Oh. Well I wasn’t talking about that.

You see, what I was talking about was the report that came out on 11/26/2014 that since that death, there have been 981 black babies killed in the state of Missouri. Now the death of anyone should give us sadness on some level, but if the death of Michael Brown will bring this level of sadness, where is the outrage that 981 other black children have died in Missouri?

I’m not here to comment on the rightness or wrongness of the Brown indictment. I save that for those who have spent more time following the events, but I am wanting to comment that we have got so used to the death of babies in our country that it goes on around us constantly and we don’t even bat an eye any more.

Exactly how cold have we become?

Of course, I’m not encouraging rioting. That is not the answer. Still, it would be nice if some Christians had the same passion about defending the life of the unborn as many people in Ferguson have about providing vengeance (rightly or wrongly) for the death of Michael Brown. It is a sad state of affairs when we in this country who call on the name of Christ have less passion for our Lord than the world does for its causes. If people deem Michael Brown worthy of a riot, then surely we can at least say Jesus Christ should be deemed worthy of getting yourself out of your pew and actually doing something about the subject of abortion.

We can condemn the actions going on in Ferguson, and to be clear, I think we should, but let us also condemn any passivity on our part. Why is it the way abortion and the rest of America is the way it is today? It’s because we who call Jesus our Lord and claim that He is the sovereign of all and we owe our very lives to Him tend to due next to nothing whatsoever for Him.

Christian. Jesus didn’t call you to just sit in a pew on Sunday and be a “good person.” He called you to go out and be salt and light in the world. He called you to shine in the darkness and to spread the Kingdom of God. Either you are doing that today or you’re not. If you are, God bless you and continue to do more. If you’re not, then maybe you should examine yourself and see what it means when you say Jesus is Lord. I’m not saying see your salvation in jeopardy, but perhaps you should see if you’re really doing with your actions what your mouth proclaims in church on Sunday.

If you want to see the silent holocaust in America end, it’s not an option to sit and wait for someone else to do something. Do today what you can do.

In Christ,
Nick Peters