Deeper Waters Podcast 4/11/2020

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

One man lived around 2,000 years ago and claimed to be the Son of God and Messiah who rose from the dead. His followers were absolutely convinced of that. He established His church and it exists all over the world today. This man is normally seen as the most important figure in history. I, of course, refer to Jesus Christ.

Another man came about 1,800 years later. He claimed that Jesus did do that, but that the church got lost. Dangerous teachings came up in the church that undermined its teaching and Christ’s church had ceased to exist. This man claimed to restore the church and gave it new Scriptures that were supposed to be from God as well. His church is also around today. This man is Joseph Smith.

What can we know about them historically? If we don’t start off with the assumption that their Scriptures are inerrant and just use pure historical methodology, including what is in the texts that they gave us, what can be known about them? What would happen if we compared the two to one another?

My guest decided to do that. He wrote a book called The Historical Jesus and the Historical Joseph Smith. Both of these men made remarkable claims. Both of these men claimed their message was true. Both of them have churches today. Are they both right? Are they both wrong? Is one of them right?

My guest has been working for several years in the Utah area and has a great interest in reaching Mormons. His book is fair and treats both figures seriously and respectfully. His name is Tom Hobson.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Tom Hobson holds a degree in social work from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, a Master of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Biblical exegesis from Concordia Seminary St. Louis.  His dissertation was on the Mosaic law penalty “cut off from his people.”  He has written What’s on God’s Sin List for Today? (Wipf & Stock, 2011) and The Historical Jesus and the Historical Joseph Smith (Elm Hill, 2019).  He has also written journal articles including “Aselgeia in Mark 7:22,” which argues that Jesus did name homosexual behavior as a sin.  All of his academic work can be found on his website www.biblicalethic.org.    He was ordained as a Presbyterian pastor in 1983, has served churches in Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois, and taught as chair of Biblical studies and languages at Morthland College (2012-2016).  He is currently retired and lives in Belleville, Illinois.

Also, his book can be found at this site.

We did try some with livestreaming Saturday and it seemed to work well. We could try that again as well. I hope it does work, but we’re trying things now. Keep in mind we have a separate YouTube channel now. Please be watching for this episode.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Moving Into Part 2 of the Olivet Discourse.

Where do we go from here? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Verse 34 wraps up the first part of the Olivet Discourse. From there on, the terminology shifts. We go from “this generation” to “that day.” There is debate among Preterists even about whether this is still first-century or if it refers to later events. Thus, for this brief interlude, I want to speak more about other matters.

I really want to finish other statements in the Gospels. For instance, there is the saying that some here will not taste death until they see the Kingdom of God coming in power. This is often taken by skeptics of the New Testament as a failed prophecy of the return of Christ, which is odd since it nowhere says anything about a return, and it is taken by most Christians to refer to the transfiguration, which is not much of a prophecy because saying some people hearing Jesus would still be alive a week later isn’t too awe-inspiring. There are also passages such as not finishing going through all of Israel until the Son of Man comes or Jesus’s words before Caiaphas and others. I really want to finish as much of the Gospels as I can before moving elsewhere.

There are also a few places in Acts to cover. I am thinking of the disciples’ asking if Jesus was going to restore the kingdom to Israel. Not only that, believe it or not, there is some important eschatology to cover in Stephen’s stoning.

Some Old Testament verses will have to be covered. The most important one is Psalm 110:1. If you do not understand this verse, you will not understand eschatology. If you think this verse is not important to the New Testament, then you will have a major problem because this is the most quoted Old Testament verse in the New Testament.

A good friend of Deeper Waters has asked about Paul and James, naturally. After all, Paul pretty much had his PhD in the Old Testament so how did he supposedly miss what Jesus was saying? This is important to consider so we will look at passages about the resurrection to say what is being talked about and when and where Paul got His information from.

Finally, we will do some looking at Revelation, though to be extensive with that one would be difficult. We will discuss some matters such as the antichrist (Who is never specifically mentioned in the book. Consider that.) and the Beast and 666. We will also discuss how apocalyptic works should be read.

I hope this will be further informative for me as well. There are many secondary areas of Christianity I don’t care to discuss, but for some reason, I thoroughly enjoy eschatology and orthodox Preterism. I hope even if you disagree with my view, you have come to see how it is that someone can hold to it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Deeper Waters Apologetics YouTube Channel

What is our new resource? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Since we’re all under quarantine and I finally figured out again how to use my webcam, I decided to do something I’ve wanted to do for awhile and had spent some time talking to David Wood about, and that’s making a new YouTube channel. I have one just for fun videos I make and I have one for the podcast, but now I have one for short apologetics videos.

So what kinds of things do I plan to put up there?

Naturally, I started with a video about affirming the virgin birth, which I do affirm, and last night I did a video book review. I could make some short vids responding to current events in the world of apologetics. However, I do have a few ideas in mind for projects.

Tonight, for example, I plan to start a series for Autism Awareness Month, which is this month, on life on the spectrum. I will be tying this in to Christian apologetics and my personal recommendations on reaching people on the spectrum. I hope a video series like this will be more personal than written works on the topic. I plan on working to see how to incorporate images and other such things into my videos instead of just watching me talking.

I also plan on doing series on video games and apologetics. What theological themes can I find in games? I’m not saying no one else is doing this, but I really have not found it being done. I have been told to put up videos of my own gameplay so I do plan on doing that.

I also plan on doing a series on orthodox preterism. In addition, I want to deal with some of what I call the rapture brigade. These are people that make videos on YouTube about all the signs that the rapture is about to take place. They are always proven wrong, but they never seem to learn and keep making predictions.

Ultimately, I expect a lot of trial and error at the start, but I do hope that this will become something more mainstream in my own work. Social media is being more and more the place to go to make statements and with cable TV about to fade out of existence, people will be watching YouTube more for their information. Sadly also, many people don’t read books so I hope that this will fill in the gap.

As of this posting, there are just two videos up, but we have to start somewhere. Why not go and subscribe and share? With quarantine going on, I definitely plan on doing more of this.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Do Christians, Muslims, and Jews Worship the Same God? Four Views.

What do I think of Ronnie Campbell and Christopher Gnanakan’s book published by Zondervan? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When a Wheaton professor wore a hijab, it led to a major evangelical controversy. Do Christians, Muslims, and Jews worship the same God? In this volume, four different views are shared on the topic. If you think the answers are simply yes or no, you’re mistaken. So what are these views?

Wm. Andrew Schwartz and John B. Cobb Jr. both take the view of yes, we all worship the same God. Francis Beckwith takes the idea that in a way, we all do worship the same as a referent. Gerald McDermott holds a shared revelation view where Jews and Christians worship the same God, but not Muslims. Jerry Walls takes the position that none worship the same God.

Now going in, my position was very much that of Jerry Walls. I do think there are generic theistic arguments that can be used for all three of the Abrahamic faiths and you can only know which one is true by special revelation, but when we look at the deities described in the revelation, they’re very different. Namely, it comes down to the view of Jesus. Since Jesus is fully God and fully man, Christians necessarily worship a Trinity.

I found the first view of all worship the same God being the most unconvincing. For instance, it was said that there are many Christianities. At this point, I have to wonder if the authors have any idea what it means to be a Christian because if Christianity can be anything, then it means nothing.

It’s hard to disagree with Francis Beckwith, and as Jerry Walls said in the book, especially when he begins with an analogy involving Superman. (We’ll try to forgive him for never mentioning the Smallville series.) Still, at the end of the day, I just can’t sign easily on the dotted line. It’s hard to think that the Father of Jesus is the God of Muhammad.

Gerald McDermott would agree as he thinks there’s a radical division between Islam and Christianity. However, there was not any dispute among the Jews and Christians at the start about which God was worshipped. Therefore, Jews and Christians worship the same God. Muslims do not. This can make sense, but I agree with Walls that McDermott does seem to move too quickly through the doctrines of the Trinity, the resurrection, and the incarnation.

Finally, we get to Walls’s view. This is the view I did find the most convincing. Now you could say it’s because I approached the book with this view so yeah, bias is always a part, but also when one studies for years, they don’t form positions lightly. In all fairness, the positions of Beckwith and McDermott I did think made some good points.

Walls also did bring up something else that needed to be discussed. Even if we think they all worship the same God, does that count towards salvation for them? I wish the other authors had said more about that question. I don’t think Beckwith and McDermott would hold to a pluralistic view, but I wonder if the first authors might.

There are also two essays afterwards, mainly on evangelizing Muslims. These are good to have, but shouldn’t we include something on evangelizing Jews as well? Judaism is much smaller in number to be sure, but why not have one chapter on Muslims and one on Jews? Jews need their Messiah too, after all.

If this question interests you, then you should get this book. The extra benefit besides just the replies to the authors on their essay is the author of each essay gives one quick counter-reply to all the others. I like this touch and wish it would be used more often.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 4/4/2020

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

The past is a funny place. They do things differently there. So it is that they did not see the world we do. They didn’t know about germs and viruses like our world knows about right now. They didn’t know how to explain weather. Until Galileo, they thought the sun went around the Earth. They would never have dreamed of the internet, video games, Alexa devices, automobiles, or anything we have today.

Now seeing how they didn’t have all of that and we have so much more today, why should we take what they said back then seriously? These are modern times after all! You can Google and learn anything that you want to! Modern science has shown us so much about the world! Why would we want to go to another system like philosophy?

Maybe though, just maybe, those who came before us have something that they can teach us. Maybe science and philosophy can work together. Maybe if we go down this path, we can find that we are truly not alone in the universe, not in the sense of extraterrestrial life, though that could be, but in the sense of a God who is out there.

In the 13th century, there lived a monk named Thomas Aquinas who was named the dumb ox by his classmates. His teacher said that dumb ox would roar and the whole world would hear it. His teacher was right. Today, Thomas Aquinas’s philosophy is still shaping the thinking of many people.

It’s not just Catholics either. Protestants like myself can greatly value the teaching of Thomas Aquinas. In order to discuss him and mainly his arguments for God, I am bringing on an up and coming apologist to talk about the issues, something I am prone to do as others did the same for me and still do the same. His name is Gil Sanders.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Gil studied under Edward Feser for almost three years at PCC, and got his bachelors in philosophy at Cal State Los Angeles. He co-founded a Ratio Christi at PCC, lead a philosophy club, and went on to publish a paper in the CSULA journal. Gil’s special areas of research include philosophy of religion, metaphysics, politics, and ethics. 

We’ll be discussing Thomistic metaphysics, why anyone should care about Aquinas, and how Aquinas gave a convincing argument that God exists. I hope you’re looking forward to this one. We are still working hard on uploading older episodes. Stay tuned!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:34 Part 3

Does generation really refer to race? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

One possible way that some people look at Matthew 24:34 and explain it is by saying that generation refers to a specific people and race, namely the Jewish people. It’s saying that the Jewish people will not pass away until all of these things take place. This might possibly avoid the timing aspect as you can say that things started in the first century and will continue until things predicted in the later verses of the passage covered happen in a literalistic way. That can sound plausible, but it doesn’t really work.

For one thing, if you do a word search of the word genea which is translated as generation, every time it is used in the New Testament it refers to people of a specific time. If anything, just doing that will show how important it was to not be a part of this generation. This doesn’t mean in the sense of a people group, but of a mindset. After all, consider what Peter says in Acts to the Jews from all over the world in attendance. Let’s look at 2:40.

And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”

Is Peter telling them to cease being a part of the Jewish race? Not at all. Peter is telling them to separate from the wickedness of the people of the time. We could say he’s telling them to be part of the remnant well-known from the time of Elijah, a righteous minority that has always existed in Israel.

Further, if this generation will not pass away until all these things happen, does that mean that this generation, the Jewish race, could pass away after that? If so, then that presents a problem for Jews being there at the end of the millennium and any possibility that the covenant could come to an end.

But let’s return to the remnant. Consider near the end of Matthew 23.

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous, 30 saying, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 Thus you witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? 34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

The “you” here is quite pointed. Jesus is pointing to the Pharisees and scribes and others. They are the ones who will be judged. If you make it a race, then someone is saying that Jews of all time are guilty of the death of the Messiah and all Jews are going to be receiving this judgment.

There is an easy way to avoid this. Just simply embrace Orthodox Preterism and accept that Jesus is talking about the generation that He was with.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:34 Part 2

Could this passage refer to a future generation? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There are some people who see the language of this generation in Matthew 24:34 and think that it has to refer to a future generation. What Jesus is saying is that “This generation that sees the start of these things will also see the end.” Is this really a convincing way to look at the passage?

Well, no. For one thing, if Jesus was referring to a future generation, He could have easily said “that generation.” He never did. As I shared last time, in Matthew, this generation always refers to the present generation that is with Jesus. Matthew 23 ends with a message of judgment for this generation and all the righteous blood that will come on them. Why? Because they committed the ultimate evil of murdering their Messiah.

Now if the futurist reading is correct, it is not the generation that murdered the Messiah that will be punished for His murder. It is a future generation that had nothing to do with it. If my reading is correct, we could see both references to “this generation” as bookends.

The text also says that “all these things” will take place.” It is not some. It is all of them. The generation that sees it start is the same one that sees it end. This would include the destruction of the temple which means that whatever generation it is that sees the destruction of the temple, that is the generation that is being talked about.

Which one is it? It’s the one that saw it in 70 AD which would be the one responsible for the death of the Messiah. There is no reason to think that Jesus is talking about a third temple that will be built and then destroyed. When His disciples come to Him, they are asking about the temple that is before them and that is the one that He talks about.

Not only that, but as I showed throughout this, much of this only makes sense in the first century. Today, a siege would not mean as much when it is much easier to airdrop food into a city and there are nations all around the world that are willing to do so. There is no need to try to argue a future fulfillment when a past one works just fine with the text.

As a reminder at this point, this is about the coming of Jesus to His throne. This is not about the future resurrection of the dead. There are other passages that speak about the resurrection of the dead when Jesus returns, but this is not one of them. The disciples did not even understand that He was going to die at this point, let alone leave and return sometime in the future, but they did understand that if He was the Messiah, that He would be king and that if He said the temple was being destroyed, that must mean the age of His reign had begun.

But maybe generation doesn’t refer to a time frame. What if generation refers to a race? What if it means that the Jewish people will not pass away until this takes place? We’ll explore that next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:34 Part 1

When did Jesus say His coming would take place? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Here we have come to one of the key verses for Orthodox Preterism. When did Jesus say His coming would take place? Note that this is not talking about the return of Christ. For the orthodox Preterist, this is talking about the coming of Jesus to His throne. The return of Christ and the bodily resurrection with it are future events.

Let’s look at the verse.

“Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”

This part is multi-faceted, so in this section I am going to only talk about the positive case for my position. I will be dealing with other interpretations in future posts. Let’s start with seeing how Matthew uses this generation in the rest of the Gospel.

Matthew 11:16

“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,”

Matthew 12:38-45

38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.

43 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”

Matthew 23:36

Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

Now if you go and check all of these references, you’ll find that this generation in each case is the present generation that Jesus is talking with. The last one in Matthew 23 is especially fitting. In this one, Jesus is talking about the evil that the generation He is with has done and He says at the end that all the judgment He has spoken of will come upon this generation.

Notice also that Jesus says “This generation.” He does not say “That generation.” What is being said by those denying this interpretation is that a future generation will be punished for killing the Messiah when it was the generation at the time of Jesus that was guilty of that crime. Only the generation of Jesus could be justly accused of personally rejecting the Messiah in His ministry.

Jesus also told Caiaphas at the time of his trial that he would see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Father and coming on the clouds of glory. This fits entirely with this happening in the lifetime of Caiaphas. It’s a stretch to say that Caiaphas would see this in death.

Before the transfiguration, Jesus tells the people that some of them will not taste death until they see the Kingdom of God coming in power. This is usually thought to refer to the transfiguration since that event occurs always right after that. The problem is that it’s not much of a stretch to say something like that. Even with this virus going around, I could post on the Facebook group of my apartment complex and say “Many of you will still be alive eight days from now.” If I come back correct and say, “You should all accept me as a prophet now” I will probably be thought to be crazy.

Not only that, the transfiguration was not a public event. It involved only three other people who saw Jesus. How could these people be seeing the transfiguration and thinking that that is the kingdom of God coming in power? (Note also that this does not say they will see Jesus return. It says they will see the Kingdom of God come with power.)

Also, historically, we know that the destruction of the temple happened in 70 A.D. That would be a sign that God had abandoned that temple and the people had abandoned the covenant. Jesus died between 29-33 A.D. 70 A.D. would easily fit within a generation. God is giving them as much time as possible to repent.

For these reasons, I consider it best to interpret Matthew 24:34 in a very straightforward sense. It’s hard to think of a way Jesus could have been more clear about time. Matthew has used this generation consistently to refer to the generation of judgment and this is the great granddaddy of judgment. This is the judgment Matthew thinks Jesus is saying will come on the nation of Israel that rejected Him.

Next time we cover this topic, we will look at other possible interpretations.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse: Matthew 24:32-33

What does a fig tree have to do with Israel? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

These verses are ones dispensationalists point to. We’re supposed to look at Israel and see what’s going on God’s eschatological time clock by looking at them. Unfortunately, this doesn’t hold up and it can be seen just by looking at the discourse itself. Let’s look at verses 32-33.

32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.

Now notice that Jesus singles out the fig tree. Since He’s doing that, He must be talking about Israel. After all, fig trees represent Israel. Right? Well, let’s see about that.

First, look at Luke 21.

29 He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30 When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.

Jesus says the fig tree and all the trees. What other trees are we supposed to look at here? Second, Jesus says what is near at that time is the Kingdom of God. Has the Kingdom of God come at all or not? We could be spending more time looking at the Kingdom later on.

If you do a search for fig trees, there’s really nothing about them that show that they are meant to be a symbol of Israel. In a parable in Judges 9, the plant kingdom asks the fig tree to be their king. Now if the parable is about the people of Israel looking for a king, it’s saying Israel is going to Israel asking Israel to be their king. Make sense to you? It doesn’t to me either.

Also, in Matthew 21, Jesus curses a fig tree that we are often told is meant to symbolize Israel, but if that is the case, and I think a strong case can be made for that, then dispensationalists have a problem. After all, the fig tree is cursed to never bear fruit again. If that’s the case, then we would expect Israel to never bear fruit again. I hold such an interpretation with hesitancy as I believe God could use national Israel in the future.

Let’s also consider how many people made their predictions based on Israel. In 1948, Israel became a nation and people were making predictions based on that. After all, a generation is supposed to last forty years and this generation was supposed to not pass away until everything took place. Think such a thing seems far-fetched? Not at all. A few decades ago, a man named Edgar Whisenant rocked the Christian world with a book on 88 reasons the rapture will take place in 1988. As we can tell, he was wrong.

To dispensationalists reading this, even though you disagree with me on Preterism, please at least try to get your camp to stop writing books like that. They only embarrass us further. There has been great harm done to the body of Christ by people trying to predict events from an eschatological perspective by what they see going on in the news.

Some people then decided the six-day war was what started things. Nope. Wrong again. That was in 1967 and again, nothing happened 40 years later.

Could it just be that maybe the nation of Israel being established doesn’t have eschatological meaning at all?

Now some people might saying, “Are you saying we shouldn’t support Israel?” Not at all. Whether we do or not, it is not because the nation is supposedly that of God. It’s because if a nation is doing what is right, we should support it. One reason I personally think we should support Israel is they are a great buffer against Islam in the Middle East.

So dispensationalists, there’s nothing here about the fig tree representing Israel. The passage doesn’t work. Now if you interpret it as referring to the signs within the passage and not about the establishment of Israel, then it works just fine.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:31

What role will angels play? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Once again, we have a verse that many futurists assume is about something in the future. After all, look at angels going out and this gathering together and the sounds of a trumpet. A trumpet sounds at the resurrection. Right? Surely that’s what’s going on here! Let’s look at the verse.

“And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”

This would be an incredibly vague reference to a resurrection and trumpets have many more uses in Scripture and in the Roman Empire at the time. They could be used for war and they could also be used as a royal proclamation. I would go for a mixture of both of these. The Kingdom of God wages war on the kingdoms of man and the proclamation is the gospel going forth.

What about angels though? Angels are heavenly messengers aren’t they? Are they not the ones that are around the throne of God? If they’re going out, then surely that must mean something future is going on. Right?

No. The Greek word is aggelos and it can refer to a member of the heavenly entourage, but it can also refer to a messenger. John the Baptists is referred to as an aggelos. The word describes more function than anything else.

By the way, it’s worth noting the high Christology here. These are not the messengers of God, though they are that indeed, but in the text, they are the messengers of the Son. It’s one of those casual references easily missed.

The gathering of the elect refers to those who are Christians. At this point, there is zero interest in whether this is meant in a Calvinistic, Arminian, or some other sense. I really avoid that debate as much as I can.

And what about to the ends of the Earth? For the first-century Jews, this would not mean going all the way to North America or something, contrary to Mormon claims. This would mean going throughout the Roman Empire. By the end of the book of Acts, we see that this has been done. Not a shock to a Preterist that shortly after that, the temple gets destroyed.

We’re nearing the end of the first part. We will continue next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters