A Tribute To Nessie

How do you handle the loss of a furry friend? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last week, a friend took us to a concert and since I wasn’t able to do the blog and since I like to do the same number every week, I took a week off so no worries readers that this had stopped forever. While my wife enjoyed the concert (I actually stayed in the hotel to read instead which was fine to her and her friend), she had something concerning her. What about Nessie?

Just after my wife turned twelve, her family went to get a dog and had decided to get a West Highland White Terrier. The dog was named Nessie and Allie had a strong bond with her. When I started dating Allie, there were times when Allie and I would be sitting on the couch and the dog would jump up in between us. We suspect she didn’t like me too much then. After we married, Nessie stayed with Allie’s parents and when I came over for awhile to visit, she did seem a bit cold to me, perhaps saying I was the one who took Allie away. Eventually, she did come to accept me.

But that was about 16 years ago. Dogs age like everything else does. Nessie was getting sicker. Her hearing and eyesight were going. She had diabetes. There were other conditions as well. We were sure it would be any day now. Allie was dreading the day.

The day came and it was February 1st. Now I was the one thinking I would have to be the really strong one. After all, I’m the one that’s not nearly as close to the dog as everyone else is. Yet when I went over to see my in-laws, it was sad to see everyone holding the dog in a blanket as if to get one final time together.

We all rode to the vet together. Everyone decided we all needed to be back there when Nessie was put to sleep so she wouldn’t be alone. I actually found myself getting choked up which was surprising to me, but how could I not? This was death right here in front of me that I was watching.

We as Christians know that Jesus did defeat death ultimately, but it still has some hold on us. It’s not permanent, but it reminds us that something is wrong with this world. Death causes a separation of sorts to take place. You can no longer enjoy the person’s company the way that you did in the past. Honestly, I would think any skeptic of Christianity who wanted to see loved ones again would jump at the chance to see if this could be true.

Shortly after it was done, my wife left the room and couldn’t take it. I went out there with her of course. While we were out there, I saw the vet who did the operation go by. I asked him if it ever gets easier to do that. He told me it never does. Another friend who’s a vet confirmed the same thing when we talked to her on the phone.

That day, I felt a great sorrow in me and I couldn’t really explain it except it’s just death. Sometimes you want to go to God and say the system that has been set up just sucks. Of course, I realize that we can say that we’re responsible for that because of the fall and all, but regardless of what you think of that, we all hate the system at this point. We think it shouldn’t have happened. God should have done a better job.

Yet could I think of a better way? It’s tempting, but no. This world will just stay fallen until Christ returns. We have to deal with that. In the meantime, I think it’s okay to have that anger towards God. Not everything is perfect. The Psalmists regularly had such anger.

Here we are a few days later. I think I’ve already sufficiently grieved. My wife and her parents are different which is understandable. They were all closer to Nessie than I was. Allie has been listening to a song regularly by Disturbed about holding on to the memories. It really is a good one. The whole point is to hold on to and celebrate the people you love while there’s time.

Which is a lesson we don’t really ever seem to learn. We tend to take people for granted. They are not going to be in our lives forever. Allie was tempted to not get close to our cat Shiro some this weekend, but then realized that wouldn’t be fair. It would be saying she regretted getting Shiro and Nessie. We have to realize that love is worth it even if it comes with the pain of known loss. When Allie and I married, we knew it was till death do us part. We need to celebrate one another until that day comes that we can’t.

Too often, we treat those people like annoyances. Every chance to love is something special. Allie looks back now and says she wishes she had gone on walks with Nessie more instead of being on the computer so much. How many of us say the same kinds of things?

This is why whenever I go out somewhere and Allie doesn’t come with me, the last thing I say is “I love you” to her. If anything happened to me while I was out, that way at least the last thing I said to her would have been that I loved her and she said it to me. I want her to always know that.

Some of you may wonder about animal afterlife. I did an interview on my show on it with Dan Story. You can listen to that here.

This is a post that my wife wrote on Nessie. I hope you will read it as well to see her perspective. I think she writes much more from the heart than I do.

And finally, here is a picture I made at Allie’s request for Nessie. May we see her again someday.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: Impossible Love

What do I think of Craig and Medine Keener’s book published by Chosen books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you’re married, do you remember dating your current spouse? Like so many relationships, there were barriers to overcome. There are many events in life that can present so many challenges for a couple just to spend time together. We’ve all seen them.

Take my own relationship. My wife and I had it so that one of us had to travel about 250 miles to get to go on a date together. What a burden! Or take the Keeners! They had to overcome divorces from previous painful marriages, international war, and travel through a war-torn region where you had to eat bugs and scrounge for food and water to survive.

Okay. Now that I think about it, those two aren’t exactly comparable.

This is the love story of Craig Keener and his wife Medine. I have had Craig on my podcast before and he is a real individual. He has responded promptly many times when I have emailed him about something and reading this was a fascinating look into his life.

When I read this, I saw someone who strove to please God, but many times was broken and insecure. I suspect that that played a part probably in his diving into scholarship and producing excellent works, but it didn’t change that there was something he was lacking in his life, which I remember from my own experience, a woman to love.

Many of us who know Craig have not got to know his wife Medine, and yet her story is fascinating as well. You get introduced to Medine’s family and her parents in the book are such incredible people especially. Many people who complain about suffering and evil today can’t begin to imagine what Medine and her family went through and yet her parents had more faith and joy than many of us do today. We are truly a shameful people.

I cannot tell much about the story, but it involves Craig meeting Medine when she came to America as a student and never losing touch with her. Always there was a physical and romantic draw between the two of them, but both of them were hesitant. Also, many people around them were making prophetic statements about their lives and they inevitably led to the two of them coming together.

That being said, I do have this concern about that in that so many people might come away as we often do today thinking that this is how it should be for all of us. We should all receive messages of prophecy telling us who we are to marry and thus make the right choice. I doubt the Keeners would agree with such a sentiment. I think sometimes there are some individuals that need a specific spouse for a specific task and God does the work to bring them together, but I don’t think that’s the case for everyone.

One addition I thought would have helped would to have as much as possible a timeline of what happened. I was wondering when the events took place and one clue I did find was when 9/11 was referenced. Most of us don’t know about when a Civil War hit the area of the Congo. I am sure the Keeners did not take explicit notes of when everything happened, but some idea of chronology would be helpful.

This story is incredibly touching and will leave you thinking of the love that you have. It’s also helpful for those who often are perceived as living in the ivory towers to come out from time to time and speak to us on their own inner lives. It is good to know Craig the scholar, for instance, but it is better to know Craig the man, and now I have a deeper knowledge of his wife as well.

Congratulations to the Keeners on their impossible love and may all who read this be blessed.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Thoughts On Young Death

What do we think when someone young passes away? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I was going to do another book review, but last night I was looking over a Facebook page dedicated to my high school class’s 20th year reunion coming up. In a thread, I noticed comments about people we had lost. Three of them I was unaware of. Two had been lost to sickness. One died in a car accident. A final one went the awful way of suicide.

It was sobering.

I suspect when we get together for our reunion, we’re going to have fun and enjoy each other, but imagine getting out the yearbooks there and looking through and realizing “Oh wait. They’re not with us anymore.” There will be a fog of sadness hanging over the area then, and there should be. We live in a world where this just isn’t supposed to happen.

Sickness does come, but sickness is supposed to take us later in life. People in their 20’s aren’t supposed to die of diseases. Right? We all know it happens, but surely it won’t happen to us or to someone we know. Right? Well, if it happens to someone, there’s no guarantee it won’t.

What about a car accident? I have been in some of them. Last May, my wife and I were in a major accident and I still think I could have lost her. Think about how innocent it is. We all get in cars most days of the week and assume we will reach our destination safely, which is understandable. Most of the time, car accidents don’t happen.

This girl who died in this car accident I am sure got in the car with her life ahead of her with plans for the day and for the future. Those plans were tragically cut short. Life will never be the same. As I say this, my wife is out with her Celebrate Recovery sponsor. I saw her go off and I kissed her beforehand, but I realize I have no guarantee of ever seeing her again. It’s also another reason why whenever I leave the house I always tell Allie I love her and wait for her to say it back. If anything ever happened, may the last words we said to each other be “I love you.”

And then finally, suicide.

That dark path.

I say this married to someone who has had suicide attempts. I’ve even seen her after one. I easily count it the worst day of my life.

I read that this suicide from our high school class took place 12 years ago so either 2006 or 2007. If so, I remember what I was doing. I was preparing to move into an apartment so I could assure my parents I could handle living in Charlotte for Seminary. I moved to Charlotte on September 30, 2007.

While I was looking forward to a bright future, someone had decided they had no future. While I had a passion I thought worth living for, someone had decided there was nothing worth living for. While I was enjoying the gift of life, someone was considering it a curse and took theirs away.

Tragic indeed.

As a Christian, this hits home to me. For one thing, the resurrection tells me that all of the sufferings we see will be reversed. Someone might only live this time to their 20’s, but in eternity, they will live forever. The question then becomes how will they be living forever. Will it be eternal living or dying?

It also impresses on me the importance to tell people the good news of Christ. Now I’m not telling you to ram the gospel down someone’s throat so much that you’re annoying. I am telling you to try to be a bit more forward, and that goes for me as well.

And how will we spend this time? Do you think someone will look back and say “You know, I am so glad I didn’t waste so much time in my life telling my family I loved them.” I doubt they will say “If only I hadn’t gone to my son’s baseball game.” “If only I hadn’t had that romantic evening with my husband.” “If only I hadn’t taken my wife out for dinner that evening.”

The reality is, we take these things for granted too often. As a nerd, you might hear me talk about my wife a lot, and I think might doesn’t need to be in that sentence even. I never thought I would have anyone and I spend so much of my time celebrating that fact. I’m still amazed when I go to sleep at night and crawl into bed next to my wife. As I type this, I have pictures of her in here and I look at them spellbound thinking that I am the only man that gets to truly love my wife.

The people you have in your life, they’re not burdens. They’re not problems. They’re not annoyances. (Okay. Sometimes I can be annoying, but that’s different.) They’re people in the image of God. C.S. Lewis was right when he said next to the sacrament, your neighbor is the most holy sight you see.

Sometime this year, I anticipate seeing people, some of whom I haven’t seen in twenty years, again. Who knows how many people might be at a 25th reunion? Will we lose some? Perhaps. Should I treasure those that show up? Indeed.

Should I treasure those around me right now?

Should you?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

The Silence of Heaven

What do you do when the Heavens are silent? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night I was doing some Bible reading before bed. I had something else I wanted to blog on, but then I got to Hebrews 12:25 warning us about what happens if we ignore Him who speaks. It was a section that left me thinking.

You see, we often today make a big deal about the idea of hearing the voice of God. I think for the most part, it’s normally nonsense. Many people who are hearing the voice of God have a God who strangely enough tells them exactly what they want to hear, much like the pastor who feels called to go to a different church that conveniently is offering a bigger salary.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t times of questions and concerns. When the hard times in our lives hit, it’s not atheism that’s really the big fear. It’s not even that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead.

It’s that if we pulled back our ideas about God we would see a God who doesn’t care. As C.S. Lewis said, when his wife died, his fear wasn’t that there was no God. He had more than enough reason to know there was. It was that God existed and this is what He’s really like!

On the other hand, sometimes, one could hope that is. To say that God is all-good and allows suffering puzzles us. Especially if you hold to God knowing the end from the beginning, God created knowing all of this would happen as it did. God is not saying that this is a good thing, but it is good to allow us to go through it.

We often think that if God could just give us a little something, we would be able to handle it. Surely that’s not asking too much. Why not do that?

I have some thoughts on the matter, as you can expect.

For one thing, I think if that happened, we could make a steady diet of experiences. Too many of us get our theology from our experiences. If we do that, we could get a doctrine of God just because we ate too much pizza the night before.

Second, that could give us pride. Look at how special I am! God Himself did something like this for me!

Hey. That second one could be on to something. Could it be sometimes we have to look at sin seriously?

I’m not at all saying all suffering in our lives is because of our sin. Of course not. I am saying we should always be open to it. Have we looked at ourselves and examined ourselves? Could it be God has not pulled away from us, but we have pulled away from Him?

We could be asking God to do something when really we are not paying attention to what He has done. He has forgiven those of us who are Christians of everything. Why do we not rejoice about that every day? Could it be because we really don’t take sin seriously? We don’t realize what an affront our sin is to a holy God?

Perhaps we should realize God is always showing us mercy. That we are allowed to live is mercy. When we are angry and complain to God, He is showing us mercy in that He doesn’t destroy us on the spot. He could do that and who could say He was wrong for doing so? He doesn’t owe us another moment does He?

We could also be in a situation like Job. Some people think the question of Job is why is there pain and suffering in the world? When I went through a time of depression in my life, I went through Job repeatedly, because I thought that was the question of Job.

It’s not.

The question of Job is why do you serve God? If you took away Heaven and eternal life from us, would we still serve God? If we wouldn’t, then we have to ask if we’re really serving God for who He is or for what we want. A married couple is supposed to have sex together regularly, but if something happened to the wife physically that she couldn’t do that anymore, would the husband leave her? If so, you have to ask why he was there to begin with.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying the benefits of marriage any more than there is looking forward to Heaven and eternal life, There is something wrong if we exclude God from them much like if a husband excludes the person of his wife from sex and just wants her body. If God takes away the goodies, will you still serve?

This is what I think we have to ask most in these hard times. We have to ground our theology. God is there and He is good. Do we feel like serving? No? Serve any way. There have been mornings I have woken up angry with God about my life, and I still sit down at that computer and serve.

Anyone can serve God when they feel like it. Yay, you. You’re so awesome. Anyone can love their spouse when they feel like it. The times your marriage grows the most is when you love even when you don’t feel like it. The best times to grow in your walk with Christ is when you serve even when you don’t feel like it.

Feelings could come later of enjoying what you’re doing, but if they don’t, oh well. You’re still doing the right thing. Ultimately, it comes down to that. Do the right thing regardless. Your feelings should not really come into consideration with that. There is never any justification for doing the wrong thing.

And if it means just talking to God in prayer, be honest in those times. You can tell Him you’re mad or you don’t understand, but say you’re going to serve anyway. Then serve.

God will be pleased. Heaven may be seemingly silent now, but if one does this, you can expect one day you will hear Heaven. It will be the sound of applause that you hear then.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Shiro and Suffering

What can life with pets teach us about suffering? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you come to our apartment, you will quickly find out who really rules the roost. No. It’s not me. Well, obviously, it must be the wife. No. It’s not Allie. The undisputed ruler of our house is this guy.

This is Shiro. We got him when we had been married for about a year. We were searching for a new apartment to live and someone had abandoned him. They were going to take him to the pound if we didn’t do anything. Now we are different from most couples in that I have always been a fan of cats and Allie has preferred dogs, but this cat is different. She bonded with this cat immediately. We wound up adopting him.

No regrets.

Oh sure. Sometimes he gets on our nerves. Sometimes it’s really annoying to be wanting to sleep in the morning and hear that little kitty whining relentlessly because he wants to be fed. Such is life. We get a cat and we get the responsibilities. It’s worth it. Allie gets a great sense of joy when she’s sitting or lying on the couch and he jumps up right next to her.

Knowing this, picture our concern when we hear him making a noise that sounds like he’s throwing up on Wednesday morning. This has happened. He gets hairballs. Not this time. There’s blood there. We make an appointment for the vet.

So enter step one of the suffering for Shiro. We have to get him and put him in his kitty carrier. He’s not happy about that. One can picture him if he could thinking, “If these people love me, why are they locking me in this tiny confined area?” Sometimes on the road, he would get quiet. I told Allie that I suspected he had just resigned himself to his fate and knew he wasn’t escaping.

Step two of suffering is the vet itself. If any serious work is done on our cat, he has to be sedated because he turns fierce on those he doesn’t trust. We saw him in a vet office running around on the counter and hissing. He had apparently peed on himself in the carrier probably out of fear. When it came time to get him back in, it took two technicians working with gloves and a blanket to get him back in.

Allie was surprised by this, but not I. I was kind of expecting it. Shiro’s a lovable little guy to us, but he just doesn’t trust strangers and hey, which of us would really mark going down to the doctor as a favorite hobby of ours? Even more so when it’s at the hands of people you have given trust to.

Now step three. Three times a day we have to give him medicine. What does that involve? We can’t put it on his food or in his water. Nope. In case of a stomach ulcer, we have to take these pill halves, crush them, and then use a syringe and squirt the water from it in his mouth. First, we have to catch him. Then we have to hold him securely in a towel like a kitty burrito, and finally, we have to somehow get him to open his mouth without biting at us.

Not easy.

How many times we wish we could get him to see. If he would just work with us and not resist, it would all be done quickly and easily. Instead, he sees our hands and that syringe as threats to him instead of tools to help him in his health. I can’t blame him. He’s a cat. He wouldn’t understand if I tried to explain.

And every time I think about the problem of evil. (Yep. I’m a theology nerd.)

The difference between us and a cat is vast. The difference between us and the infinite God is even better. Am I much better? Do I not resist the hands of the potter? Do I think that the event in my life that is meant to chisel me into the likeness of Christ is really something for my harm? Do I really think God allows something into my life because He just wants to see me suffer or delights in my pain or something like that? Do I really think God is a great cosmic sadist?

Maybe if I just went along and submitted and allowed God to use the pain in my life somehow, things would work better. Of course, there are some distinctions. I think we should be hesitant to say God is directly doing something in our lives without strong evidence, but we can be sure that all that happens in our lives happens because God allowed it.

Yet if we believe Scripture, Romans 8 tells us that all things work for good to them that love the Lord. Are all things good? No. The text doesn’t say that. It says that everything will be used for good. That means no matter what happens in our lives, ultimately, we win.

Does that mean we don’t complain about suffering? No. The Psalmist does it. Does that mean we don’t cry in it or feel the pain? No. Again, the Psalmist does the same. Does it mean we don’t question? No. Same answer. It does mean that we do also what the Psalmist still does. We trust God anyway.

What does that look like? It means we keep going and we do the right thing even in the face of suffering. Suffering is never a justification for doing what is wrong. Do the right thing and give honor to God still. It could be God doesn’t explain it to us because He can’t. It’s not because of some limitation on His part, but because of one on ours. For all we know, it could involve events hundreds or thousands of years in the future.

And really, you’re not owed an explanation. It’s quite arrogant to think God should tell us XYZ. If He doesn’t tell us, it’s for our good. Perhaps if we knew we couldn’t be shaped the way we need to be.

And meanwhile, pray for our little Shiro. Things have been going well for him. We think it was most likely a new food we tried to give him. There has been no blood vomited at all, but he’s our little joy here and we are happy to have him around.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Does It Matter If The Resurrection Is A Metaphor?

Does it matter if the resurrection was literal? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Wednesday night, I was at the debate between my father-in-law, Mike Licona, and John Dominic Crossan about who the historical Jesus was and how he saw himself. I hate to say it, but it really wasn’t much of a debate because I don’t think anyone really understood what Crossan was arguing. Crossan was putting practically everything into the world of metaphor and saying that the message was a metaphor and that he would die for a metaphor and if the resurrection is literal, what difference would it make? The real question is are we living resurrected lives.

When I got up to ask a question, I said my wife and I enjoy being married. Still, we wonder what will happen when our time comes. Will we be together forever? I replied that a literal resurrection can assure us that we will be. What hope can a metaphor give us?

The reply was something along the lines of how the message was not the resurrection of individuals but that the human race would overcome. The violence of Rome would be overthrown by non-violence. This is supposedly the good news of Jesus.

There are a number of things I wonder about this, such as how this Jesus got crucified. Despite that, there is one thing I want to focus on. The resurrection. Does it make a difference if it’s a metaphor or literal?

I’m not going to go into making a whole case for the resurrection. That has been done plenty of times elsewhere. I am going to be emphasizing the difference it makes and to be fair, it is easy to miss this many times.

One big difference is that we live in a world where death is a reality. We see it all around us. We know that when the game over comes for someone, it really is game over barring a miracle. It’s a sad reality. When we bury a loved one, they are dead, and the relationship is not the same.

Will it ever be? Is that it?

We live in a world of injustice. Recently here in Atlanta, we had a police officer shot who died from that and his killer was found within 48 hours and also died when he pulled out a weapon on police officers. There are many crimes that take place and sadly, the culprit is never found. Some people seem to go free.

Will there ever be justice?

Sometimes people die from disease. Our friend, Nabeel Qureshi, died from stomach cancer at an extremely young age. Just today in my Facebook memories I saw something about a friend who passed away last year. She was an older lady, but it’s still hard to see.

Will this ever be righted?

What about our universe itself? Some of you out there I am sure believe we are responsible for some climate change. We live in a world there does seem to be a lot of destruction. We want to colonize other planets, but even if we do, the universe is destined to die a cold death and take us with it.

Is there any point?

What about our bodies themselves? Do they matter? Are human beings just objects. Does it matter what I do with my body? Does it matter how I behave sexually or how my diet is?

What difference does it make?

This is why the resurrection matters? Will we live again and see each other again? Yes. Will evil be judged and good rewarded? Yes. Will lives be redeemed that died from tragic disease? Yes. Will the Earth and the universe be renewed and made eternal paradises? Yes. Do our bodies matter and how we treat them? Yes.

The resurrection matters.

It matters that it’s literal.

I think I’ll stick with the literal resurrection. That’s the good news that overcame the Earth. Christianity isn’t just a nice story. It’s a reality about the world and everything in it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Those interested in the debate can listen to it here.

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