Should Babies With Disabilities Be Aborted?

Who gets to live? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday I saw on the Unbelievable forum on Facebook a post about abortion and if children with disabilities should be aborted. Naturally, autism showed up on the list. Seeing that, I knew I had to say something.

Wanted to comment here. I’m a devout Christian, an apologist with my own ministry and podcast, a college graduate, and a moderator here. I don’t say this in my capacity as a moderator but just to point out that I do what I can to contribute to the world.

And oh yes. I’m on the autism spectrum. I have Aspergers. Not only am I on it, but my wife is on it as well. My wife of eight years that is.

I am so thankful both of us were raised by Christian parents that never saw abortion as an option. I enjoy my life and I consider it a gift that I get to live life everyday. I realize we are high-functioning compared to others, but no one else really gets to determine if I will have joy in my life but me and no one else should decide for me if my life is or isn’t worth living.

I also don’t really like the term birth defect. It’s like those of us with a disability had something go wrong in manufacturing. Honestly, if a cure for Aspergers came out tomorrow, I wouldn’t take it. My differences do cause me some handicaps, but they also give me an advantage in how I think many times. I happily accept who I am and enjoy it.

I was told that wouldn’t some be better if they didn’t have a condition like spina bifida? In some ways, no doubt yes, but isn’t this a slippery slope to be going down? We are the ones who will determine who can enjoy their life and who cannot? Do we think it’s good to treat life in such a cheap way?

Now of course, there are ways that you can live your life that are bad. No one is denying that. There is most anything wrong you can do with something that is good. Sadly, the very good news of the Gospel has often been used for evil.

But if you want to see if something is good, you start with the something itself. Is life a good? Is it any wonder we have so many cases of suicide and such today when life is described in these terms? You can’t be happy unless you have perfect health or look perfect or have the best career or have so much money in the bank?

Nothing wrong with having any of those things. If you have them, give thanks. I know my wife gives thanks that she married a man who has such great good looks for example. (Yes. I know. If she reads this she will be rolling her eyes) Yet even if we have any of these things, if something happens to them at any time, does our life automatically become not worth living?

It’s interesting to me that so many people that have this position are atheists. Don’t tell me there are no moral implications that can follow from atheism. To be fair, many atheists are staunchly pro-life. I am thankful for them. However, you can be a consistent atheist and be staunchly pro-abortion and that is a concern for me. I do not see how you can be a devout Christian and be pro-abortion or if you will, pro-choice. Sorry Chelsea Clinton, but your position is the one that is entirely out of lines with Christianity.

From the womb to the tomb, life is sacred. Every human being regardless of power or money or fame has as much value to their life as the child just conceived in the womb. All of them equally partake of the Image of God. All of them are meant to reflect Him in some way and show who He is.

Abortion is an evil. Let’s stomp it out the best we can.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: A New Dawn For Christianity Part Two

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

In the second part of this book, we have the contributions from “Rev.” Michael Macmillan. I use the Reverend in quotation marks because I wonder what exactly he is a reverend for. I mean, the first part of this book argued that all gods are human constructs, so why should his construct be treated any differently? Perhaps the authors are saying that all gods are human constructs, except for theirs.

Macmillan lists his problems with supernatural theism and one part is the violence, such as the people God kills in the Bible. It’s interesting to see this in light of the idea that he has a problem with God not always intervening in cases of people with cancer and such. I find this an interesting juxtaposition. If God doesn’t intervene every time in the evil of cancer, He doesn’t exist. When He does intervene when it comes to evil people, He also doesn’t exist. If something is arbitrary, it is when Macmillan wants God to intervene and when he doesn’t.

Of course, there will be no interaction with scholars like Copan and others who have written on the topic of the God of the Old Testament. It’s enough for Macmillan to say he doesn’t like it. There’s nothing here arguing that God is obligated to keep anyone alive or that He owes life to anyone.

I also think it’s odd to say God is evil because He doesn’t always intervene with cancer. If that God isn’t worth believing in, well what is Macmillan’s god doing about cancer? It’s still going on. People are still dying. Macmillan says that it doesn’t fit with progressive Christianity to do petitionary prayer or intercessory prayer, even if those are natural.

If the Christian God is evil, what excuse does Macmillan’s god have? Could we apply the standard questions to him to ask if he is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent? Does this god really care? Why is Macmillan worshipping him? What is this god worth?

He also talks about Paul in Acts 17 as moving away from supernatural theism by saying God doesn’t dwell in temples made by human hands and such. It’s interesting he says this while having Paul say that God is unknowable. To an extent, He is as we cannot know everything about Him, but we can know some things about Him. If He was unknowable entirely, Paul could not even say this about Him.

As for saying in Him we live and move and have our being throws supernatural theism right out the window (And keep in mind I don’t use the term supernatural but Macmilland does so I use it for that reason here), how exactly? He gives no explanation. This is really part of classical theism and has been for a long time.

Macmillan says to ask any fundamentalist and he will tell you that the Bible contains the literal truths of Acts of God. This includes a six-day creation and a worldwide flood. He also adds in the virgin birth (Which I do affirm) and the deliverance of Israel. While I do not agree with young-Earth creationism or the flood being worldwide in reach, I do support the other two. Macmillan shows no interaction with the scholarship on these issues unfortunately.

In talking about Jesus, Macmillan says that the creeds of Christianity, and he has in mind the Nicene Creed, are dangerous since they turn Jesus into a being to be worshipped rather than someone whose life is to be emulated. Macmillan says that is a long road from rabble rouser to true God from true God. Indeed, it would be, but how was this point even reached?

I honestly don’t even know how Macmillan’s Jesus got crucified and for sedition as even Macmillan says. Jesus is apparently going around Israel teaching to give to the poor and have compassion on your fellow man. This Jesus would not be noticeable. He would not be crucified anymore than a Mr. Rogers would be crucified.

Macmillan also says that the message of the Kingdom of God has been lost. This is interesting since evangelical scholars have no problem with the message. Namely among them is N.T. Wright. Perhaps we can forgive Macmillan since it looks like he limit his reading to people like Borg, Ehrman, and Spong. I’m not saying to not read them, but read both sides!

Many of us won’t be surprised when he says how the journey ends. He tells his audience, as these are all sermons given, to point to themselves and say “I am the Christ!” and to point to their neighbor and say “You are the Christ!” and then to say “We are the Christ together!” At this point, it is clear that the deity Macmillan believes in is ultimately himself.

Macmillan’s Jesus will present no challenge to him. He will not call him to die to himself. He will not call him to take up a cross. He will not call him to repent of sins. He will instead build him up so much that he thinks that he is the Christ.

Macmillan further says that through the experiences he describes, we will meet and experience Jesus like never before. Of course, if Jesus is yourself this would follow. Macmillan and his audience will not get a deeper understanding of Jesus, but of themselves. Now we should understand ourselves, but worship is not about realizing who we are but realizing who God is.

Why also should we trust this experience is reliable? What about my fellow evangelicals who experience Jesus as described in orthodox Christianity? Do our experiences not count? How will we determine whose experiences count? What if two people in progressive Christianity disagree?

He also says that one of the greatest crimes and sins is the message of salvation. It is a horrible idea to say we need salvation and has robbed death of its meaning. No idea how this is possible, but it’s amazing that Macmillan will freely list out the sins of God, but when it comes to his own he has no need to be made righteous.

When talking about prayer, he asks what meaning it has if there is no God up there to hear us. I agree. What meaning does it have? Unfortunately, he never really answers that. Macmillan cannot beseech his god for anything apparently. What good does Macmillan’s god do? Better to have the God who heals some people of cancer instead of none. If the God of Christianity is evil for allowing anyone to die of cancer, what about Macmillan’s?

Macmillan in a message towards the end says that anyone who reads his book wins even if they don’t agree, because they know the rest of the story. Now we know about 200 years of science and Biblical scholarship. Well, no. We don’t. We know about a one-sided message that has been given.

He tells me it is likely I have never heard a pastor say the Easter story is metaphorical or that God is a human construct. Well, actually, not pastors, but I have heard plenty saying such things. I have spent years reading the scholarship which is why I’m convinced Macmillan is flat wrong on these issues. He has shown no interaction with the other side at all.

He tells me also that if I don’t believe, what makes me think I know better than the world’s leading Christian scholars? I don’t. The thing is, Macmillan does, because I have read the world’s leading Christian scholars. I think their arguments are far better than those on the other side.

Macmillan may claim the title reverend, but to quote another book, his god is too small. I see nothing in his good worthy of worship. It is rather a sort of amorphous blob who in the end will be made in the image of Macmillan instead of the other way around.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What’s The Point of Job?

What is the book supposed to help us understand? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have seen some discussions going on lately in a group I’m in on Facebook on the book of Job. What is going on in it? Sometimes, we go to the book of Job expecting to find the answer to the question of why God allows evil. It’s understandable. That’s what we’ve been told all our lives about it, isn’t it? If you’re going through suffering, try going through Job. It will help.

The question is how. Job never really addresses suffering. Even when God shows up towards the end of the book, God never addresses the suffering of Job. He never tells Job why what happened, happened. Job never saw what happened in the prologue of the book.

Yet the prologue of the book does contain the answer. It’s amazing we look at the book and try to find out what it’s about without maybe looking at the questions asked in the prologue to see what it’s about. It can be summed up easily in the question of the accuser.

Does Job serve God for nothing?

It’s an understandable question to ask. Look at Job. He’s the Bill Gates of his day with money. He’s loaded. He has everything he could ever want. He also has several kids who can carry on his legacy. Job lacks nothing. Why wouldn’t he serve God? Life is good. Job will keep serving God because God has blessed him.

Why does God agree to the challenge of the accuser? To show that there are other reasons for serving God besides blessing and to show that Job is a better man than the accuser thinks he is. Even when Job has lost everything and that includes his health, Job is still righteous in what he does.

In the end when God shows up, Job repents. He realizes that he did speak some things out of turn, but that God is still God and God is to be honored. Job doesn’t have perfect theology, but his theology is good enough. He doesn’t understand the ways of God, but he does understand God is to be honored. Job honors God. Job himself is honored.

God shows this publicly by blessing Job even more. This would be a divine vindication that would take place before everyone’s eyes. Everyone would know that Job had been honored by God as a result of this. Come to think of it, I think another righteous sufferer was honored about 2,000 years ago by a public display before the world….

So what does this book have to say to us today?

Imagine being a Christian and realizing that yes, Jesus did rise from the dead, but that we will not rise. What if you were told that there is no heaven to gain and no hell to shun? This life is all there is.

Will you still serve God?

If not, then do you serve God only for the benefits? Do you not serve God because of who He is and is He not worthy to be served even if He does nothing like that for you? There’s nothing wrong with enjoying blessings, but what if they aren’t there? Will you still serve?

You’re a man who speaks regularly of his love for his wife. Then, an accident occurs. From now on, sex will be out of the picture. Will you still love? Will you still serve? Will you still love?

Why do you serve? Do you serve for the benefits or because it’s the right thing to do?

That is what Job is asking.

Only you can answer that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Reflections On The Pain

What have I been thinking on since the accident? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Since the accident Thursday, there’s been a lot going on. We do have a car now, but I’ve mainly been thinking about all the pain that I’ve been in. It’s quite interesting that the real pain that came did not show up immediately at the hospital. It came later.

For instance, it was either Friday or Saturday night that I started developing a headache. Well, that’s not to big a deal. Unfortunately, it was and has been. For instance, pause in what you are doing. Look to your left and look to your right.

I can’t do that.

Seriously. I have to use my peripheral vision. I can’t turn my head one way or the other, not without some incredible strain and pain. If I go to bed to lie down or come from there to get up, both are painful. Moving to another side can be killer if not impossible. Having my head bent at any angle induces great pain.

It has been getting better, but it’s still killer. This is something that I think on and realize that even a simple action like looking to the side is something that can be taken for granted. I did in the past and now it would be a dream to get to do any of those without pain.

Sometimes I have to go and as painful as it is, just lie down. This is something I don’t like doing. I never take naps. I am always active and doing something. When those times come, Allie usually gives me a nice neck massage and puts some icyhot on my neck. (Okay. The massages are a nice benefit of this.)

We’ve been avoiding driving even with the car because the pain is too intense. I do take Ibuprofen, but it is never strong enough. When I wake up in the night, the first thing that I feel is the pain. After some time from the neck massage and such, I can usually go a few hours without, but it doesn’t last long.

As a Christian, I wonder about this. I don’t think God created a pain-free world in the beginning. Our nervous systems were designed to be able to experience pain and I don’t hold to perfection. Still, at times like this I wish some modifications were made. It’s not like I can do anything about this. I keep wondering what purpose my prolonged pain serves.

Yet at the same time, could I not be making a mistake in thinking God has to be teaching me something and as soon as I repent, the pain will go away? That’s the mistake of Job’s friends isn’t it? Could these things happen just because that’s the way the world was set up from the beginning? Could this be giving me something to look forward to in the full coming of the Kingdom when there will be no headaches and there will be no neck pain?

I wrote about how it is that I can take my own wife for granted. Do I not take other things for granted? Do I not take a life without headaches or being able to turn a certain way for granted? What other things am I taking for granted? What if I had lost the ability to walk or the ability to type on my computer or anything like that? Should I not consider what James says? Any good and perfect gift comes from the Father above?

I don’t think it’s wrong to pray to God and beg Him to remove my pain, and I hope readers will do that with me, but should I not consider my many reasons to be thankful? Isn’t that what we often do in suffering? We look at one instance of suffering which could be genuine and bad, and look at that and discount all the good that comes into our lives?

When I am past this, and I hope it’s soon, will I ever be the same way where I will look at lying down and getting up and not take them for granted? Will I have a headache someday and say “I would rather have this than the ones I had after the accident?” Will I go through the day without taking Ibuprofen and be thankful? Will I drive my car without being in pain and able to look both ways and rejoice?

Pain is seen as something that tells us the world is not as it should be, and we look forward to a day without it, but today, I think I should try to learn through it. Instead of seeing it as an adversary to be defeated, maybe see it as a companion on the journey encouraging me to count my blessings. Maybe I should realize that there are many more blessings I have in my life that I might have missed were it not for it? Maybe it should teach me to slow down and spend less time doing things that don’t matter and spend more time doing things that do matter.

Still, while all of that could be true, I do want your prayers very much. Allie and I have experienced great generosity from friends who have given us gifts or offered us gifts. It’s been fascinating to know we mean so much to so many people. Many people have got in touch to check on us and we are grateful to all of you.

Please pray for me. I want to return to relative normality soon.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Reflections On The Accident

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

If you’ve been on Facebook and seen my page or my wife’s page, my wife and I were in a car accident yesterday. I didn’t see a car coming and my wife’s side got Tboned. We had an ambulance come and take us to the hospital.

As soon as it happened, our airbags deployed. I don’t even remember seeing it, but Allie says she saw it all. They told us to turn the car off, but the key had been broken off and we couldn’t do that. Our car is totaled then.

In the ambulance, we rode together. Allie was lying on a bed and I was strapped to something to make sure my back was okay due to my scoliosis. I would reach over and hold Allie’s hand while we were riding. I also talked to the EMT. Allie was wanting me to be quiet, but didn’t say anything. I’m just trying to process everything and was asking questions to distract myself with conversation.

We got in and were put in separate rooms. Time seemed to drone on and on. I kept rethinking over and over about what happened. I didn’t really know. I was beating myself up for it majorly. My mother-in-law was coming to see us and I was thinking that I would get something about being more careful and such. I didn’t need it. I was beating myself up enough.

When Allie came to see me in her wheelchair, I held her hand but I cried. I was so sad thinking about what could have happened. Here is the most wonderful person in my life and I could have lost her.

I went in for X-rays then and I was trying to talk with the nurses taking care of me. I’m usually trying to make an impression and one thing I did was my birthday game. That’s where I get someone’s birthday and then I tell them what day of the week they were born on.

The whole time it was really hard to just feel helpless. It’s nothing I really like as a guy. I hated lying there and it was harder and harder for me I think because I wasn’t moving my body which was making it stiffer. I did ask for my book and a pen so I could circle anything I like.

I wasn’t able to do much theological thinking. I was wanting to, but the pain was too intense. Not knowing is something dreadful. I was sure I was okay because I had been walking around, but with scoliosis, better safe than sorry.

I had gone to the bathroom a few hours earlier and needed to go. They asked if I wanted something brought to me I could use or if I wanted to just go myself to the restroom. We live in an apartment complex and live on the third story, the top one. I told them I will have to get up and be walking soon so I might as well now. They did wheel me over and into the restroom, but everything else was me from that point on.

It had been awkward being handled by everyone else. For instance, I remember it being clear to me they were wanting to take my shirt off and slip a gown on me. I didn’t have much trouble with that and I was trying to work together with them.

One nurse came in with the name of Frances. I said, “Like Assisi, the patron saint of animals.” She said I must be Catholic since I knew that. Nope. Protestant. I just read a lot.

The evening was really rough. Allie and I didn’t sleep well. I would also keep imagining the scene over and over and thinking about what happened. I have felt awful. I know people say to not beat yourself up, and we all know that’s good advice, but we’re also not good at following advice.

Sometimes we’d both wake up and just talk to each other affirming how much we love each other and how thankful we are to be together. I’d say there are a lot of embraces, but we’re too sore to do that. I told Allie this morning that this is what it could be like for us when we’re an elderly couple.

I also remember thinking about my desire to be the man there. I want to push myself through everything to be the strongest that I can be and better take care of my wife. Like I said, I hate being helpless.

Chesterton said each of us is a great might-not-have-been. Yesterday, that could have been Allie and I. Our concerns now are getting better and finding good financial support to get a new car for us.

Either way, we are both blessed. When the accident occurred, it’s amazing what you think about. You don’t think about wanting to play a video game or watch a show or something like that. You think about the people you love. For me, that was mainly thinking about Allie. I was wanting to do all I could to make sure she was okay and trying to assure myself that I am still a good husband for Allie. The tendency is still there to beat myself up.

Coming close to losing something makes you appreciate how important it is. Never lose sight of that. James 4 tells us that we shouldn’t make presumptions on time. If it is God’s will, we will do such and such. None of us is owed another minute. God is in no debt to us. The only things He has to give are those things which He’s already promised. Everything else is a gift. Today is a gift. Your loved ones are gifts.

Allie and I wish to thank everyone who was reaching out to us. Please watch our Facebook pages to stay informed. Also, my wife wrote something on this. You can read that here. We also do have a way to donate to Deeper Waters on the sidebar of this blog if you want to help us out.

Please keep us in your prayers as we recover.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Do We Take Christianity Seriously?

If Christianity is true, does it matter? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Our church has a stations of the cross going on now. Yesterday, my wife and I joined our small group there to go through it together. At one point, someone in our group asked a question along the lines of why we don’t seem to have excitement about this. We have a God who loves us so much that He did all of this. Does it really matter?

Let’s use a different example. The Star Wars films are awfully popular, although I never got interested in them really. Let’s suppose something about them. Let’s suppose that we found proof beyond a shadow of a doubt that these events that happened a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away really happened. What difference would it make?

There would be several people wanting to go on space explorations to try to find the locations in the movie. Scientists would be researching in new ways once they realized that feats shown in the movie were popular. Many people would be doing whatever they could to tap into the force. Some would use it for good and some for evil.

Now let’s compare this to the claims of Christianity. God is the most awesome and powerful and intelligent and wise and good being of all. There is no one that compares to Him. He loves humanity greatly and sent His Son to die for us. By His death and resurrection, all who trust in Him will rise again in glorified bodies never to suffer or die again. Those who do not will face an eternity of judgment.

Before it’s even debated if these claims are true or not, let’s say something. They are serious claims. I hope we can all agree also that if they are true, they do make a difference. If God exists and has spoken, we should all want to listen to what He has to say.

But does it make a difference? Often, it doesn’t. One of the reasons I think this is the case for us is often many of us are too familiar with it. We have heard the stories all our lives and they no longer shock and amaze us. Too many Christians just know it’s true because it’s in the Bible, without bothering to see how we got the Bible and how we can know it’s treu.

It also is because there’s not much at stake for us. Today, we can often think the worst persecution is being made fun of on the internet or perhaps economic pressure from society. While these are something, they don’t compare to what goes on in other countries where being a Christian is a crime and you can be put to death. If you know that what you believe can get you put to death, you’re going to want to make sure of it’s truthfulness and if you’re sure it’s true, you should take it seriously.

Many times, it can also be we don’t realize the implications of what we believe. A lot of people just think, “Jesus rose from the dead. Therefore, Christianity is true.” The goal of Christianity is to make sure you get to Heaven. Very little of it seems to apply to this life.

If that is the idea you’ve got, then it’s a highly lacking one. Christianity says that Jesus is our companion in all things and the Holy Spirit lives in us. That means we have the third person of the Trinity (Maybe some Christians need to see what a difference that makes too!) living in us. We have a God we can come to in our hour of need. Jesus doesn’t just help us overcome death. He helps us in all of our battles here.

That also means all our suffering is redeemed. No suffering a Christian undergoes will be wasted by God. All of it will be used for His glory. That should really revolutionize the way we view suffering.

The resurrection also tells us that this world is good. It’s not an accident. Our bodies are good things and we should take care of them. It also means that there is something great and good worth focusing on. Sadly, many Christians say they love God, but they seldom bother to seek to understand anything about Him.

Think about this if you’re married and if you’re not, imagine you are. What kind of spouse are you if you only look to your spouse and think about the good feelings they give you and what they do for you? You’re not much of them. You need to seek to understand who your spouse is, do things for them, do what they want and like and need. There aren’t exact parallels, but the marriage relationship is the picture most often used of that of Christ and the church.

Now I haven’t said anything about if Christianity is true, but that’s a benefit of apologetics. By studying it, one sees that it is true and it does really change the way you live. If you haven’t studied any apologetics, I really encourage you to do so. If you found out that Star Wars really happened, it would change things. Won’t it change them if you find out Jesus is who He said He is and did what He said He would do and still does that?

If you and I are still unexcited about this, then maybe we need to examine ourselves.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Review of Paul: The Apostle

What are my thoughts on this movie? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Warning! Possible spoilers ahead!

So last night, my in-laws took Allie and I with them to see this movie. As far as Biblical movies go, I actually thought this one was very well done. I cannot really comment on the acting and such because I really just don’t normally notice that kind of thing. I pay more attention to the story.

The story is set in Rome with Paul being held as a prisoner and Luke coming to see him and staying with the Christians in the area. They are often hiding because Rome wants to kill them, especially since this is set at the time of the fire of Rome which Nero was more than happy to blame on the Christians. Christians were regularly lit on fire to provide light for Nero’s games and for any other events he had going on.

Luke meets up with Paul and encourages him to tell his story in an account, which will be the book of Acts. My question at this point is why is it that if this was meant to be Paul’s story that Luke would include so much information at the start that is not about Paul? This is a question that scholars will be debating on why Luke wrote what he wrote. Still, that is a bit nit-picky, but it’s just something I wonder.

Paul will regularly then recount events that happened prior to his coming to Rome and being a prisoner. You can see events like the stoning of Stephen and the road to Damascus. Sadly, there wasn’t much beyond that. It would be fascinating to see Paul at Mars Hill or in Ephesus casting out demons opposite the failed exorcists there or in the Philippian jail cell or in the raging ocean of Acts 27. Perhaps a fuller movie will come out sometime.

Luke also deals with the Christians in Rome who often have different attitudes with what to do. Some Christians want to take up arms and fight against Rome themselves. Some want to flee the city thinking there’s more good to be done outside. Some want to stay in the city thinking that they can still stay inside.

At this point, I find another problem I have as each person decides to do what they think God is revealing to them to do. This is common terminology in modern Christian circles today, but I don’t think it’s the way the ancients thought. It’s more of our individualism seeping through.  I always get bothered when I see something like this in a Biblical film.

The other major character is a Roman soldier who has a sick daughter and the struggles he and his wife have as the gods seem to be silent and each blames the other. This is the same soldier who also has to regularly deal with Paul. It is quite interesting how it all turns out. I leave it to you to go and see it for yourself.

Many times, Paul and Luke and others do quote Scriptural passages in the film. If you have a good Biblical knowledge, you’ll be able to recognize a number of them. Paul is seen as someone who is willing to suffer for Christ greatly. A great theme in the movie is that suffering is temporary. Eternal joy awaits instead.

Biblical movies have normally been a miss for me, but I think after Risen and now with this one, we’re getting more of a step in the right direction. I’m also thankful that a lot of the sappiness of Christian films was left out of this one. There is much suffering in the film and it should be clear to all that the Christian walk never promises freedom from it.

So yeah, I recommend going to see this one. It is an enjoyable film.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Have We Overspiritualized The Christian Walk?

Is there a danger to putting our best foot forward? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This is the kind of post that is really hard to write. It’s because I know there are some readers who will be shocked to realize some things about me, but I hope that if they do, it will bring them comfort. I know I am an answer man to many, but there are many times that I have my own struggles and those are often with the Christian walk.

Sometimes I think we overdo how it is. I know many people who have rich and vibrant prayer lives. I don’t deny that for a moment. For me, this is an honest struggle. I have a very hard time with prayer. It could be because of my Aspergers. It’s hard enough to talk to a person. Make that person divine and in fact a being who is tri-personal and it becomes even more difficult. I more often do minute prayers than long extended prayer times. I find it hard to know what it means to wrestle in prayer for someone. If that’s you, excellent. Not knocking you. I am better at brief prayers throughout the day.

Sometimes I see Christians talking about their Bible study and how awesome it is every day. God just shows them something new that they hadn’t seen before. If that’s you, excellent, but I wonder if I’m more like other Christians want to admit. Sometimes, you’re just reading the text. You don’t get anything immediately. Maybe you can make a connection. Honestly, I seem to get more just doing my nightly Bible reading with my wife. I read it out loud for us together and sometimes I do get things that way.

Church services can be outright boring to me. I’ve grown tired of preachers who just give a text and jump straight to an application and Christianity is all about just being a good person. This doesn’t even get to the music. The music part to me seems more like a concert. I don’t really relate and I can’t remember the last time I sang along. It’s all too awkward for me.

Sometimes I think we put forward a position where we shouldn’t struggle in the church and our lives are full of joy abundantly. Excuse me, but I know I’m rarely at that level. Many times when I am in a crisis, I find it hard to follow James and count all things joy. If anything, I can find myself lashing out at God and accusing Him and asking Him if He remembers His promises or if He even cares about the suffering going on.

Yet when I read the Psalms, I wonder if I’m not the odd one out. The Psalmists seemed to do that a lot. It’s strange that the question the Psalmists normally had was not if the people remembered the covenant, but if God remembered it.

We seem to have this attitude in the church that if we put forward an image of our lives being less than perfect, there’s something wrong with us. We’re not fooling anyone. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you’re free of struggles. Sometimes a good worship service shouldn’t leave you feeling happy. It should leave you feeling miserable with the conviction of sin. (This doesn’t deny that you could have happiness when you realize grace and forgiveness.)

1 in 3 men are said to struggle with pornography in the church, yet how often at a church service do you hear guys sharing that with other guys? It’s almost like we want to treat sin as if it’s not really real. Our messages at church are more self-help and can be found in any episode of Dr. Phil more often. You won’t get the Biblical text from him, but many times the messages are awfully similar.

Maybe also this idea of putting forth this image is damaging. It damages new Christians who think there’s something wrong with them and it bewilders skeptics who think we don’t take life seriously. Christianity is just a feel-good religion to them. I try to tell them sometimes being a good Christian will mean you feel miserable. You feel the evil in the world or you feel the weight of your own sin or anything else.

I fear we can present the Christian life as just one amazing experience after another. I doubt that’s what it’s really like for most people. On the other hand, some could say I am guilty of intellectualizing matters and focusing too much on that area. They could also be right. Could it be like in most other cases, moderation is what is needed? Maybe the middle ground.

I conclude this wondering what your thoughts are. Maybe you’re out there thinking you agree with me and there’s too much show in our personal lives and very little grow. Maybe you think I’m way off base and want to tell why. Comments are always open. Let me know.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

When It’s Not Good That God Is Good

What do you do when the goodness of God seems bad? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My wife has been through a hard time this week with relationship issues, medication problems, and on top of this we found out that a friend in Charlotte, died within the past week or so. As a husband, this is also a stressor on me. I would much rather be the one directly going through the suffering than her.

At times like this, it’s hard to be a Christian apologist. I’m supposed to be the man with the answers. The sad thing is there are truths that we cannot know, such as why a good God allows suffering to come into our lives at times.

I often debate with atheists. Many times, I am told that I believe in God so I can feel good about myself and have a source of comfort in hard times. While it is true there can be comfort, sometimes, it is not comfortable. Sometimes, one can think atheism itself would be comfortable. At least then you could say bad things happen because, well, bad things happen.

If Christian theism is true, and it is, then there is a good reason why bad things are happening. Not only that, there is a good God who is allowing these bad things to happen to you and they will somehow work toward your good. Sometimes those bad things also include the silence of heaven when it seems like God doesn’t care. Surely God will directly intervene, and yet many times He does not.

You see, the great fear is not then that God does not exist. Rather, as C.S. Lewis said, it is that God exists and that this is what He is really like. Dr. Douglas Groothuis in his book Walking Through Twilight talks about something he calls Misotheism. This is where you believe all the right things about God, but you have a hatred for Him at the time.

If you have never wrestled with misotheism, I wonder how seriously you are taking suffering in the world and your faith.

Many times we all want to act spiritual when that comes. When we go out in public, we have to show the world that we have it all together! This is what good Christians do, isn’t it? Not only that, the church doesn’t seem to often welcome sufferers. We have worship songs that more are meant to make us feel good and many times we can think that if we are feeling good, then all is right with the world and we’re being good Christians.

Good Christians can feel miserable. Go through Paul’s epistles. See how many times he is in a state of sorrow. Oh, he has an underlying joy to be sure, but many times there is much pain going on in his life.

The pain here also is that for me, intellectually, I know the goodness of God. It’s the emotional turbulence that’s the problem. It’s again the opposite of what atheists accuse me of. I have the emotional goodness supposedly and that overrules the intellectual problems. Not at all. Times of doubt for me come not when I encounter intellectual difficulties, those are usually able to be adequately answered and even if not there’s still a plethora of powerful evidence untouched, but rather from emotional difficulties.

That means at those times, I have to look and realize that a good God is allowing this season of suffering to take place. I must realize then there is something wrong with my concept of goodness or of love or of both. I seem to think at times that God being good and loving means that He will intervene in those times of dire need and do something directly. Maybe He won’t.

You see, when we think about God being good and loving, we often think that means He will do something right now. We want things to work out for our good, but we are not thinking of years down the road or even in eternity as not all will work out this side of eternity. We want God to intervene right now! We are short-sighted creatures. We do not see the long-term.

God does. Sometimes our short-term good would be long-term pain and we don’t know that. Picture the story of the boy who tries to help the butterfly break free from its casing. In doing so, he actually kills the butterfly because breaking free is what gives it the strength it needs to be a butterfly.

Many times, we will look back on times of suffering in our lives and think “I would never have chosen that, but God did use it for good.” When I was in high school, I went through a time of depression that was intense. That drove me to Bible College actually where I found out about Christian apologetics. I used to end the story there, but now it is not over there. It is Christian apologetics that led me to my wife Allie.

Her story meanwhile had her trying to kill herself over a bad relationship. She never would have wanted that, but lo and behold in a time of recovery, this other guy gets in contact with her and reaches out to her to be a friend. In the end, he became more than a friend. He became a husband.

I have to trust that God will work something good out of the suffering that is going on. It has not taken Him by surprise. He knows what is happening. I have to be willing to surrender short-term well-being and happiness for long-term good. I do not think we should read Jeremiah 29:11 and individualize it, but God has plans for each of us to shape us into the likeness of Christ and His desires for us are actually much greater than our own. Our dreams to Him are too small.

In each life a little rain must fall. Let’s be there and help one another out and please don’t give this nonsense that a Christian should always be happy. We shouldn’t be. We should mourn at times. We should know this world is not perfect. We should make it better, but we’re not God. We’re not going to do it all. We can’t change the whole world, but we can change the world of someone else, and that is our neighbor. Reach out to them. Listen to them. Be a friend. Help them out. Perhaps if more of us did that, we would find our world changed for the better.

For now, I choose to walk through the valley trying to find my way and only step by step. My wife and I are in a hard time, but I am sure that give it some time and we will be in a much better place and look back later and say “Can you believe we were that worried at that time?” God’s blessings sometimes come through sorrows that are meant to shape us to be like Jesus.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Walking Through Twilight

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

This book is a sad book. It is a tragic book to read. It is a book that you should read, but it is not a book you will read because you enjoy reading it. If you do enjoy reading it, I think there is something wrong with you. There are some cute moments throughout you might smile at, but the tone throughout is very somber and depressing.

As it should be.

Groothuis’s book is an honest look at what happens when a Christian philosopher who is an apologist has a wife who has been a companion in every way throughout his marriage start to go through dementia. What happens when she can’t read anymore or use a phone anymore or do basic things? What happens when you know the person is going to get worse and worse until they eventually die from the disease? What happens when you go from being a husband to being a caregiver?

The book is entirely honest, which is what makes it so hard. Groothuis says some of the things that many of us going through suffering think but hesitate to say. Consider his talk about Misotheism. This is the idea that one knows that God exists and holds many orthodox beliefs about Him, but hates Him.

There are many times one can meet atheists who say people are Christians because it makes us feel really good about ourselves. I do not relate to those comments, but I think here we have the opposite. One wonders if at times Groothuis might wish he didn’t have the apologetics and philosophical knowledge that he has. Sure, God provides a great hope in times of suffering, but sometimes He does seem cruel.

A reader would understandably think of the idea of C.S. Lewis. Lewis wrote about how his great fear in suffering wasn’t that God didn’t exist. It was that God did exist and that this is what He is really like. The mask has come off. God has claimed to be a good God of love, but in the end, look at the suffering He allows His servants to go through!

Groothuis writes from that same perspective. He finds great comfort in the laments in the Bible and especially in the book of Ecclesiastes. He looks back longingly to happier times with his wife, Becky, and thinks that in the resurrection, things will be different, but for now, they are bad and they are not going to get better.

Groothuis won’t go into a prolonged argument as to why God allows evil. That doesn’t matter at this point and when one is suffering, it is actually rather hollow. Instead, Groothuis will just describe the suffering and point to passages of Scripture that give him hope. There is some light apologetics mixed in from time to time, but most of what we see is a man baring his soul to the world.

Some things I understood from my own experience. Groothuis talks about visiting his wife in a psychiatric hospital and wanting to kill a man who was talking too loudly on the phone. I know when my own wife has been hurt by others that I have had that kind of rage built up inside of me. I also have been there when my wife has had to be hospitalized and staying by her side. When he describes Becky being in a place where people feel like inmates and the prisoners are trying to escape, I understand it.

Groothuis tells about at times living in fear worried about what Becky would do. Normally in the past, her approach would have brought joy, but now it brings pain. What is it that is wrong? He admits that at times he gets frustrated and this must be a pain to live with as well. Perhaps at times he wants to get angry with her, but what would that do? She cannot help the way she is definitely. Then, one deals with the guilt of that afterward.

It’s hard to imagine that in all of this, he still goes out there wanting to defend Christianity. This is what it means to truly trust in Christ. It means that even when everything seems against you, you are still obeying. Lewis talked about a Christian who looked at the world that seemed to have no God there, who looks up to Heaven in response and asks why God is silent, and yet obeys anyway. These are the most dangerous Christians in the world to those on the side of evil because their Christianity is not controlled by momentary circumstances.

Ultimately, that is also the good news. Becky’s condition could last a few years, but in light of eternity, it is a momentary circumstance. It does not seem like it when one is in it, but that is what it really is.

At the same time, that doesn’t mean that we who are on the outside need to give stale sayings of peace that are meant to soothe. They don’t. Too often I think it’s like we think we’re on some TV show and we’ll say just the right magic words and the person will suddenly have an epiphany and feel better about everything. Real life isn’t like that. Real life isn’t scripted and the people we encounter are not actors acting in pain. They are real people in real pain.

It can be easier for those of us on the outside to diminish pain. For instance, people who know me very well know that I am extremely hydrophobic. It is a wonder I was able to get baptized by full immersion since I am terrified of going underwater. My own wife can get frustrated with me in the swimming pool at times, yet she knows that this is a real pain. This is an honest phobia. The last thing you need to tell me is that there’s really nothing to be afraid of. Even if you think it’s true and even if it is true, it doesn’t change the pain.

What is better is to come alongside of those who are suffering. Suffer with them if possible. Don’t just give words. Words can be good, but sometimes, they’re cheap. Of course, if all you can do is give a phone call or something, at least do that, but if possible, come over. Think of what you could do. Help clean the house. Bring over a meal. Get a gift card for them. Sometimes, just listening itself is enough.

We should all be praying for Dr. Groothuis in his time. His book is a poignant look at suffering. It is not an enjoyable book. It is a sad book. It is also a needed book. We need to read this to understand suffering from the inside. It’s easy to talk about the problem of evil when you’re an academic in a classroom and life is going well. It’s harder when you know the arguments, but you feel something else entirely as you’re going through the problem right there.

Get this book and read it and then be prepared to enter into suffering. Do what you can to help your fellow man out. Remember that people you meet are all either going through suffering, have come out of it, or are about to go into it. In each life a little rain must fall, but we can make the most of it if we live out what we believe are already principles of Christian living.

In Christ,
Nick Peters