Book Plunge: Fallen

What do I think of Annie Lobert’s book published by Worthy Books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Annie Lobert’s book is all about how she got caught in sex trafficking and wound up escaping that and coming to Jesus. Now she runs a ministry called Hookers For Jesus to help women escape the sex trafficking industry. Her story is her personal memoir and is quite gripping.

I remember having it with me when I went to get a pizza for my wife and I and while at Little Caesar’s I’m just on page 8 and thinking, “Control your emotions. This is not a place to get sad.” That’s interesting because very rarely does a book emotionally grip me like that.

Her story is something different. It starts off with the story of a little girl who was scared of her Dad. Let’s say this upfront. Fathers. Please do not underestimate the role you play in the lives of your daughters. It’s amazing how much it matters if Dad is there or if he isn’t. That means active interest. You will influence her relationship with men greatly by how you act.

Annie winds up loving what she sees in boys and has dreams of the Disney type of love and marriage. Before too long, she decides she’s willing to sleep with a boy she loves. Shortly after that, he leaves her. This kind of pattern seems to keep happening.

When she leaves home, she goes to the big city and tries to get attention with her body, and she succeeds. One guy comes in who she wants to impress and she winds up going to Las Vegas with him to be with another friend who lives there with her boyfriend. She gets a job as an escort which he strangely approves of.

Then the truth comes out.

He demands all her money from all her work and if she doesn’t respond as he wants, the beatings come. Annie is trapped. She is in the sex trafficking industry now and this man is her pimp. From there starts a train of abuse regularly.

Not only that, in her adventures in being an escort girl, she has trouble after trouble. Police arrest her or she gets raped or even violent activity such as being put at gunpoint. In all of this, she is with an abusive man and believe it or not, she is insistent she loves him.

Eventually, she has enough and plans her escape. Still, even after this, she has more trouble coming her way with drug addictions and sickness and other abusive relationships. Finally, she reaches a breaking point and decides to let God be God and comes to Him.

From there, her story takes off as she learns more and more about what it means to be a follower of Christ. I don’t agree with all her exegesis in this part, but it’s hard to argue against the way her life is lived. As much as the first part of the book started bringing me sadness, this part started bringing me joy.

Annie’s book is a story of redemption for all who need it, which is all of us. For all who want to know about being loved and forgiven, this book is for you. Keep in mind sex trafficking doesn’t just mean being a prostitute or something of that sort. If you are willfully using your body to get love, then you are trafficking your body in some means.

The book ends with some testimonials from Destiny House, her ministry. These are all about women who have been damaged through the misuse of sex. Many of them come to the proper use in the end. So did Annie as she is now happily married to Oz Fox, the lead guitarist in Stryper.

Get this book and cry and smile both.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 10/19/2019

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

Atheism seems to be everywhere on the internet. Suppose you go on YouTube being your innocent self and you just want to listen to a favorite Christian song. Don’t be surprised if the comments section is full of atheists talking about how much bunk Christianity is.

It’s not just the internet. Today, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is often out there wherever a cross can be found on any tombstone trying to get it taken down. Religion is always a hot topic in the news. This is especially the case when social issues and sexual issues team up together.

Yet as critical atheists are of religion so often, how come the directions aren’t reversed. What if someone were to be critical of atheism? What if someone were to look past a lot of the bluster we can see and really examine the case?

My guest has done just that. He is a highly trained philosopher in the field and has recently written an excellent book looking at atheism from both a popular perspective and an academic perspective. He will deal with objections you find on the internet and objections you find in academia. His name is Stephen Parrish, author of Atheism: A Critical Analysis.

So who is he?

He has an A.A. in Liberal Arts from Schoolcraft College, a B.S. in biology and Chemistry from Eastern Michigan University, an A.M.L.S. in library science from the University of Michigan, an M.A. in philosophy from Wayne State University, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the same as well. He is currently a philosophy professor at Concordia University in Ann Arbor.

We’ll be talking about his book and about arguments of atheism on the popular and academic level. It will be an intense interview and a lot of it will be quite deep. I hope you’ll be watching for the next episode. Please be leaving positive reviews of our podcast as well.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Thoughts On Rain Man

What do I think of this film about an autistic man? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Some of you might be surprised to realize that this past weekend was the first time I ever watched Rain Man. My wife and I were looking for a movie on Hulu to watch and she suggested that one, so we did. Now normally when I watch, I’m multitasking, such as being on my phone or on the Switch at the same time, but I was definitely paying attention.

Let’s say something right up at the start. Dustin Hoffman does an incredible job playing the autistic man Raymond. I kept saying that over and over to Allie. His delivery and his mannerisms were excellent.

In the movie, Charlie is set to inherit a large amount of money and wants it, but finds out that it goes to an autistic brother he didn’t know he had. At the start, Charlie is annoyed by his brother. For example, one night, Raymond hears some strange noises coming from Charlie’s room and goes and sits on the bed in there where Charlie and his girlfriend are under the sheets. Yeah. We all know what’s going on. Charlie is completely oblivious to this until his girlfriend says something.

Sadly, the scene ends in anger. Charlie lets Raymond have it and Charlie’s girlfriend decides for the time being there are better men to pursue. This leaves Charlie further irritated with his brother but he wants to put up with him for the money.

He then learns about having to deal with his brother’s mannerisms. If Raymond needs to watch the People’s Court at the same time everyday, then they will watch it at the same time even if that means having to encourage a family of strangers to let them in and turn off the cartoons. Truly Raymond lives in his own world where he’s unaware of the discomfort of those around him by some of his actions.

We also learn that Raymond has an encyclopedic memory as he reads the phone book and tells a lady the next day he meets her phone number. He can also do math in his head. I thought I was really good at that, but Raymond in the movie is far better. This has its advantages when Charlie takes Raymond to Vegas and does some card counting.

Yet in this, something happens over time. Charlie actually grows to love his brother and be an advocate for him. He grows to show love to his brother and at that point, the money doesn’t really matter anymore. He would rather get to spend the time with his brother.

I don’t want to say more about it, but as someone on the spectrum, I really do think this gave an accurate portrayal of someone on the spectrum. Not high-functioning, to be sure, but someone who is on it. I could recognize some of my own extreme thinking in Raymond at times. It made perfect sense when Raymond got paralyzed on a crosswalk as it were because the sign suddenly switched to “Don’t Walk.”

Checking the movie on IMDB, I found it was the highest grossing movie of the year. There’s a reason why. Autism can be a strange world to those who don’t know about it and it’s becoming more and more of a reality as more and more people are learning about autism.

As I say that, I think of my friend Paul Compton who called me one day wondering about how to handle the news that his son had been diagnosed with Aspergers. So many people he said acted like he had received a diagnosis of cancer. I gave a different response. I told him to give thanks. He was going to learn to see the world through a whole new set of eyes. Learning to love the other, the one who is so different from us, always stretches us, but in the end, we are the better for it. At the start, Raymond was not easy to love, but in the end, it was difficult to not love him.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The World Turned Upside Down. Finding The Gospel In Stranger Things.

What do I think about Michael Heiser’s book published by Lexham Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My wife and I are fans of Stranger Things, the hit show on Netflix. (It’s one reason we want to get back someday our subscription to Netflix.) We’re not the only ones. Stranger Things has become the hit sensation that has got a huge fan following. The Duffer Brothers, the minds behind it, have hit upon something in our culture.

If you haven’t seen it, the show is set in the 80’s in a small county. Some pre-teen boys regularly play Dungeons and Dragons together and one night, things get real as in conjunction with some work in a science lab in the town, a monster takes one of the boys hostage when he’s alone and takes him to a parallel dimension known as the Upside Down to the people who know about it.

The boys also encounter a girl with psychic powers who was also being experimented on known only as Eleven. The series then involves the adventures of this party and others involved in their own families and anyone else in the town they involve trying to make sense of what’s happening. I really don’t want to say much more than that, but if you watch it, there’s a reason why it’s such an engrossing series.

Dr. Michael Heiser also agrees. He describes it as the series of his childhood, because it fits the time that he lived when he was growing up. He does not think for a moment that the Duffer brothers have in mind telling a Christian story, but in many of our stories there are things that do jive well with a Christian worldview. In this case, one of the big lessons in the series is that there are other powers in this world and we are not alone.

While much of Stranger Things involves science, a lot doesn’t fit with a scientific worldview. There are powers that the creatures and Eleven have that go beyond what we see science often showing. In the same way, we live in a world where there is much that is not known by science and cannot be known. This is not to mock science, but to say science has its limits.

There’s also the concept of a party. The boys form a small group of adventurers that do all that they can together to fight against an oppressive government agency and a monster from another world. They have divisions among themselves, but they ultimately stick together. Other people wind up joining in the adventure and so far in the seasons, what you see is, in the end, several differing quests come together and reach a conclusion.

Many of these center around family. When the young boy goes missing, his mother never gives up hope, even when his body is presented. That body is not her son’s. She’s right. Mothers somehow know. The bonds of family often run deep in Stranger Things.

Love is also a constant reality. Naturally, you have stories of teenage love and as the boys are coming of age, they are forming their own love relationships. Sometimes, these relationships hurt. Some people are scared to open up. Sadly, sometimes, some of the people die in the relationships due to the interactions of the monsters. There’s no guarantee that the story will have rainbows and puppies all throughout.

This book features on the first two seasons. I do hope a sequel will come out of the book when the series is done to give overall thoughts. Stranger Things I think hits on our culture because we all know there is something more. We don’t have to believe in an Upside Down, but we can believe there is another world beyond ours. We can believe there are greater powers. We can believe in good vs evil. We can believe in love and family.

Whatever you think of the series, you probably know someone who likes it. Why not give them this book if they are a non-Christian? Actually, why not if they are a Christian since they can think about it all the more? I highly endorse this book.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

A Response to Daniel Miessler

What do I think of what Daniel Miessler said about the Bible? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Someone recently shared with me a post by Daniel Miessler to show the Bible is fiction. At the start, this is something even difficult to say. Everything in the Bible is fiction? Every single thing? Nothing in it happened at all? Nebuchadnezzar never conquered Babylon? No one in the New Testament who is a major character ever even existed? (I have taken enough looking at mythicism to show it’s a joke theory I think.)

Still, let’s see what Miessler has to say. He wants to emphasize Genesis and Jesus. Now my main specialty area will be Jesus, but I have a few things to say about Genesis.

First, let’s look at comparisons about the flood. To begin with, much of this is also found in Dawkins’s Outgrowing God which I am writing an ebook response to at the time. One of my main sources I am using for the Genesis part is this one.

My source, in this case, is a researcher at Cambridge who specializes in Assyriology. Now let’s consider that Miessler is an expert in cyber security by contrast. All things being equal, before we even investigate the claims, which person is more likely to know the most about an Ancient Near Eastern culture and their writings? Ding ding ding! That’s right! It’s the one who actually studies those cultures.

I leave it to you to read the article that I shared to see some of the major problems, but let’s look at what Miessler says.

“Keep in mind the level of detail in these similarities. It’s not a matter of just a flood, but specific details: three birds sent out, resisting the call to build the ark, and a single man being chosen by God to build the ark. Then consider that the first story (Gilgamesh) came from Babylon — hundreds of years before the Bible was even written.”

To begin with, I don’t recall Noah ever resisting the call to build the ark. Second, if an event was historical to some extent, we can expect some similarities. The differences will be in the secondary details, but there will still be similarities.

Nothing is said about the differences. Nothing is said about a polytheistic culture living in the great symbiosis system versus a monotheistic covenant theology system. Nothing is said about the size and shape of the boats. Nothing is said about the purpose of the flood. Nothing is said about what happens to the hero of the story afterward. For example, in Noah’s study, he builds a vineyard, gets drunk, and is sexually shamed in some way by his grandson. (The language of the Bible is very euphemistic at this point.) Hardly a way to glorify your hero in the end!

The writing of Miessler is dated to September 18th, 2019. Why did he not avail himself of a study such as The Lost World of the Flood by Longman and Walton? I suspect that it is because this writer, like many non-Christians I meet, and sadly many Christians, has a fear of contrary thought. His source material is horrendous anyway.

Second, he says that this came from Babylon centuries before the Bible was written. Neither of these points is substantiated. Nothing is said about when the Bible was written. It looks like he’s going with a JEPD date of Genesis, but he does not argue for it. He merely assumes it. It would have been nice to see some effort here.

He also has in the footnotes that all of this is to show that God is fiction and was made up because we are scared of death and wanted to control people. If so, the plan failed miserably. In the Old Testament, you would think that if death was something that people were scared of, you’d see more explicit statements about resurrection and warnings about Hell and encouragements about the joy of Heaven. If it was to control people, it looks like that failed miserably too because in the Old Testament, the Jews are very rarely under control.

Such thinking anyway is quite fallacious. Imagine if I said, “Atheism is a system that exists because people don’t want to be under authority and they don’t want to be bound by God and live a life with the sexual freedom they want.” Could that be a motivation for some? Sure. Could some people be Christians because they fear death? Sure. Nothing in this really addresses the arguments for the beliefs.

By the way, Miessler, if you want to show that God is not real, it would serve you well to deal with some arguments for God. You do not do so in this piece. Now it could be you have elsewhere, but if you are making an argument that God is fiction, perhaps you could link to an earlier writing on your part.

It’s also worth noting that his information on Noah comes from ReligiousTolerance.org. Yep! This is first-rate research we are seeing right here!

Now let’s move to the fun part. Jesus. HIs source is Bandoli and even then, he doesn’t get the link right on his post. Fortunately, I was easily able to track it down. You can see it here.

If you go through the list, you will see that none of them have any documentation. The one exception is a book about Alexander the Great and not even a page number is cited. Everything else, the writer expects us to just take by faith, which apparently Miessler did and then the person who shared it with me. I often say that when an atheist looks at an argument, he doesn’t look to see if the argument is true. He just asks a question or two.

Does the argument argue that Christianity is false?

Does the argument make Christianity look bad?

If so, it is absolutely true and no research is needed. Now if anything is brought up contrary to atheism, that requires evidence. If anything is brought up contrary to Christianity, that requires no evidence. I, meanwhile, prefer to demolish a bad argument period regardless of if it’s against atheism or Christianity, and yes, there are plenty of bad arguments against atheism and plenty of bad arguments for Christianity.

Scholarship for the most part, even skeptical scholarship, doesn’t really take the copycat idea seriously anymore. The grand central hub of resources on the pagan copycat claim can be found here. Still, let’s go through the list and mention a few interesting ones.

Osiris is said to be the only true God, which is interesting to say since the Egyptian religions are very polytheistic. Osiris also didn’t rise from the dead. He was reconstructed by his wife, except for one particular body part she couldn’t find which she made a substitute of, and then ruled from thereon in the underworld and not the land of the living.

Horus doesn’t fare much better. Egyptologists have looked at the many claims given for him. As is said at one point in the article:

While all recognize that the image of the baby Horus and Isis has influenced the Christian iconography of Madonna and Child, this is where the similarity stops. There is no evidence for the idea that Horus was virgin born.

Of course, evidence is a small thing for internet atheists to consider. This argues against Christianity so it had to be true. Most atheists will share it without bothering to check it out.

Mithra is also amusing. We have NO writings by worshipers of Mithra. There are also three different versions. Which one is had in mind? Since we don’t have writings from his followers, our main sources are artwork and the writings of the church fathers about Mithra. So much of this is nonsense. They did not practice baptism (Not babtism) but rather the followers were put under a bull and had its blood poured out on them. That is obviously a one to one parallel with going into the water and being submerged into it.

For claims about Buddha and Krishna, Mike Licona interviewed two scholars in those fields who found these kinds of arguments far less than convincing. You can read that here. Again, there’s a reason the copycat thesis is not taken seriously.

Let’s look now at Bible contradictions. The first is about the flood. This is not so much a contradiction as a supposed falsehood. Miessler is under the impression the text requires a global flood. It doesn’t. The flood I contend was local, though the scope would be considered the known world of the time. Hence, questions about foreign animals and the like will not be something that concerns me. That means there’s nothing left.

He then says in Luke, the angel spoke to Mary. In Matthew, to Joseph. Which is it? These don’t contradict. The angel tells Mary she will give birth while being a virgin (Which I do affirm) and then tells Joseph later on when he hears the news that Mary is telling the truth and don’t be afraid to marry her. That doesn’t mean the story is true, though I affirm that it is, but this is hardly a contradiction.

He says the word for virgin is Almah and means young woman of marriageable age. In Isaiah, definitely. In the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the word is parthenos and definitely means virgin. He also says Jesus had other brothers and sisters. Most Protestants would agree and say only Jesus had a virgin birth (Which I do affirm) and the rest came the natural way. Even a Catholic or Orthodox who holds to perpetual virginity should at least have no problem seeing that this wouldn’t violate the virgin birth as held by Protestants.

As for the census, the wording in Luke 2 is quite difficult. Ben Witherington in my interview with him indicated it could mean a smaller census taking place before the great census later on. Further, if Luke was really fabricating something, I see no reason to think he would fabricate something everyone would know was false.

He says the Bible says to honor your father and mother, but Jesus says to hate your parents and call no one father. It’s incredible that people still have such a hard time reading basic instructions. No one ever took Jesus to mean that we must actually hate our parents until internet atheists came along. Jesus’s statement there is one of comparison. Your love of the Kingdom must come before even familial obligations.

He then says God says killing is wrong, yet advocates genocide. To begin with, the Hebrew word is Ratsach. There are a number of other words that refer to killing. This kind of killing is being forbidden. Killing, in general, is not. As for genocide, we are sure that Miessler will never read a work such as Did God Really Command Genocide? After all, contrary thought is way too frightening. You can listen to my interview with Matthew Flannagan, one of the authors, here.

He also goes after slavery. Nothing is said about how Israelites in the wilderness were supposed to make their living. Slavery is never defined. He also says we all know it’s wrong, which is really a recent innovation. I would like to know how on atheism Miessler would know that slavery is wrong. Again, at any rate, he could have talked to a scholar about the topic like I did here.

He also says about the genealogy of Jesus that if Joseph isn’t the father, why give a genealogy to someone who isn’t related to you? Joseph’s is given for legal reasons. Joseph would be seen as the legal parent of Jesus. Keep in mind, an adopted son became Caesar after all.

He then asks about the Passover. Wouldn’t an all-knowing God know who was faithful and who wasn’t? This is more a judicial review of sorts. Those who were faithful were to make a sacrifice to show to everyone else they were and to make a public demonstration of their trust in the promises of YHWH.

Finally, what about Abraham being asked to kill his son? To begin with, Isaac was the child of promise and had a miraculous birth in the account. Isaac was also promised to be the one through whom Abraham’s blessings would come. When Isaac and Abraham go to offer the sacrifice, they are accompanied by others. Abraham stops them at one point and tells them they must wait. Abraham and Isaac will go alone and they will both return.

Isaac is also not a wimp here. He’s carrying the wood himself for the sacrifice. Keep in mind Abraham was well over 100. Does anyone really think Isaac couldn’t have outrun him or fought him off or something like that? Would Isaac be willing to be sacrificed? Apparently. Death wasn’t the big deal to people back then that it is today. People faced death everyday on a regular basis.

Abraham instead was trusting God’s promise. Either YHWH would stop him somehow, or YHWH would raise him from the dead. As it is, Abraham was stopped.

He asks how is Jesus’s sacrifice the ultimate one if He didn’t stay dead. That’s not a requirement though. The sacrifice is offered to God. God can do with it what He wants. The giving back of life to Jesus is saying that God approves of the offering and of the life His Son lived. Justice has been paid.

He then asks if Jesus removed our sins, why do we have to avoid sin and accept Him to avoid eternity in Hell? This is really such a simple question I can’t believe anyone is really asking it like a stumper. We avoid sin because sin dishonors God and because it goes against our own purpose in this world. We are to live holy lives. Why do we have to accept Jesus? Because in accepting Jesus, we agree with God’s verdict and seek His forgiveness. It is never forced.

He also says why does the Bible say so much about treating slaves, how to kill enemies, and how to avoid angering God, but never anything such as not to harm a child. Probably because the ways of YHWH on many things were counter-cultural and different. Not harming children is largely basic, though Israelites were forbidden from sacrificing their children unlike their pagan neighbors.

The next two assume a worldwide flood. I have no need to reply since I don’t hold to that.

The next is about the problem of evil and the suffering of children. To begin with, the logical problem of evil is no longer used as a disproof of God. The probabilistic problem of evil and evidential problem is. Evil cannot disprove God, but it can make His existence seem unlikely.

There is no easy solution to this and I recommend reading works, especially Clay Jones’s book Why Does God Allow Evil? which I interviewed him on here. What I want to know is why Miessler considers this an evil. If we are all just a cosmic accident, we have no meaning and purpose, so what difference does it make? A child dies or an old man dies. Their lives are meaningless and they will both go to nothing.

Finally, he says Wikipedia can be updated. Why not Scripture? For one thing, Wikipedia regularly gets things wrong, such as the Shane Fitzgerald incident. Second, imagine the chaos if all around the world people had different books all said to be the Bible and they were different for that culture or the manuscripts were radically differing. The system God has works now.

Miessler then tells us we have two options.

#1.

God created all these stories and characters thousands of years before the Bible in order to trick people, and then created new stories and characters that were almost exactly the same. But the version that went into the Bible—even with all the contradictions and immoral teachings—is the actual word of God. …OR

#2

The Bible was created during a time where stories were orally passed down over thousands of years. Stories constantly morphed and changed over time, and the Bible is a collection of these. This is why it has the nearly identical flood story from Gilgamesh, and why Jesus has the same characteristics as Dionysus, Osiris, Horus, Mithra, and Krishna. The contradictions and immorality in the stories are not evidence that God is flawed or evil, but rather that humans invented him, just like the thousands of other gods that we used to but no longer believe in.

Let’s go with #3.

Miessler is someone who wouldn’t recognize good scholarship if it came up to him and smacked him in the face. He is highly ignorant of the evidence for Christianity and believes anything found in atheist works without reservation. The real case is the Bible needs to be studied contextually and when this is done rightly, one can see it’s true and Jesus rose from the dead.

He then concludes:

If you hadn’t been taught Christianity since you were a young child, which of these two explanations would make the most sense to you?

Well, none of the earliest Christians were taught Christianity since they were young children and yet the faith thrived at that point. What makes the most sense to me is Miessler doesn’t ever study what he seriously disagrees with and believes anything that argues against it. Christians who study these issues don’t even blink anymore. Those who believe Miessler are just as much people of faith as he is.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 10/12/2019

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

For many of us living in America, that Jesus is the Messiah doesn’t mean much to us. It should, but your average churchgoer doesn’t know what that means except some special title among the Jews. If you’re a Jewish person, that title means something.

It really matters to you if the Messiah has come or not. It matters to you that the God of Israel will be glorified. It matters to you that the promise made to Abraham and the other patriarchs has been fulfilled and the promise made to David has been fulfilled.

Yet many Jews today balk at the idea of Jesus being the Messiah.

Even if Jesus rose from the dead, what difference does it make? How does that show he is the Messiah? Answering Jewish people on this requires a whole lot more than just a minimal facts approach or something similar. it requires an understanding of Judaism and how it is that the Messiah fits in.

Fortunately, I do have a friend who does just that.

He will be joining me this Saturday on the show. We will be discussing evangelism to Jewish people and how to tell them the good news that the Messiah has already come. He is indeed the Messiah of the Jews as well as the Gentiles. My friend who has studied this has recently written the book The Resurrection of the Jewish Messiah and his name is Eric Chabot.

So who is he?


He has an MA from Southern Evangelical Seminary and has spoken several times at the National Apologetics Conference in Charlotte, NC. He is a graduate of the Cross Examined Apologetics Instructors Academy and a member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society. He is an instructor at the Messianic Studies Institute in Columbus, Ohio and Adjunct instructor at Xenos Christian Fellowship there as well. He has been doing outreach since 2004 and is the founder and director of Ratio Christi at Ohio State University and director at Columbus State University College Ratio Christi. He is a speaker for CJF ministries and has spoken at numerous churches and other locations. He has written a short booklet on “Is Yeshua The Jewish Messiah?” and co-authored a work called “Does God Exist? Why It Matters.”

(We still hope he affirms the virgin birth, which I do affirm.)

Jewish apologetics is something we don’t see much of, but it is a needed field. I am thankful to have someone in the field studying it since the Jewish people are the ones that brought about our Messiah and brought about the Old Testament for us. We owe it to them to tell them the good news about Messiah Jesus.

Be listening please and leave us a positive review on Deeper Waters.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Thoughts On Joker

What does Joker teach us about ourselves? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

First off, spoiler alert. If you haven’t seen Joker yet and plan to see it, do not read this yet. If you keep reading, don’t get angry with me and say “You spoiled something!” You were warned at the beginning. Yes. There are a lot of them in here and if you read ahead you will get filled in on several key plot points.

Anyway, my wife and I saw this movie yesterday thanks to a friend who gave us a couple of tickets to see whatever movie we wanted. This is definitely a dark movie and you might want to take your kids with you to see Batman, but I recommend you really consider before taking them to see this one.

Also, something that my wife would want me to say and I agree with is that Joaquin Phoenix is masterful at this role. We have a Joker who could rival Heath Ledger and even in her mind the best Joker of all, Mark Hamill, from Batman: The Animated Series. Phoenix does an incredibly convincing job of playing a man wrestling with delusional thinking to an extreme.

This movie also gives us a look at what mental illness can be like and the problem when the system doesn’t seem to be there. I could understand that. It’s hard to find good therapists and good psychiatrists nowadays. There’s also a stigma involving mental health.

Probably the best quote in the movie about this is something Joker writes in his notebook. “The worst part of having a mental illness is people expect you to behave as if you don’t.” Now I’m not saying there isn’t some element of the will involved in mental illness. I have a problem with it when people make a negative condition their identity. I also think it’s wrong to think that psychiatric medications will solve all the problems. They can help, but good therapy does the best.

At the same time, we would never go to someone in a wheelchair and expect them to get up and walk as if they were fine. We give full understanding there. Yet when it comes to mental health, there is a stigma. Watch what happens next time a mass shooting takes place. What will be the first thing said before we really know anything about the shooter? Mental health. After all, such a person would have to be mental. Right?

This brings us to something about the evil in Joker. Let’s start with the beginning. Joker’s name in this is Arthur Fleck and at the start, he is a clown waving a sign to advertise for a business. Some street kids steal the sign and he pursues them only to have them knock him down by breaking the sign in his face and kicking him relentlessly while he’s on the ground and leaving him alone. These are kids sadly doing evil just to do evil.

Because of this, one of his fellow workers gives him a gun to defend himself. Arthur knows he’s not to have one but he’s told it will be okay. Later on he’s on a Subway and some guys start assaulting him there. At one point, he starts shooting at them. Now I am someone who believes in self-defense and thinks when you’re in the midst of being assaulted and you are in danger, it is proper to fight back.

He goes beyond that. He takes out two of the three who have assaulted him. The third is wounded and hobbling away. Arthur chases after him and ends up shooting him to kill him. At that point, it is not self-defense, but murder, seeing as Arthur was in no danger from the guy at the time.

The thing is Arthur has no remorse. There is no sadness to him. If anything, he lives with freedom. He seems to become a more confident individual. As he tells a social worker he works with, he now knows that he exists. He has made some sort of impact on the world. He has not been a doormat. He stood up for himself.

We see him walking into the apartment of the woman he wants and kissing her and her wrapping her arms around him and kissing back. Soon they’re going out together and when his mother gets sick and is in the hospital, she’s right there by his side. She thinks whoever shot the guys on the subway was a hero, not knowing it was him.

Here’s the problem with that though. None of that happened. We find out later on that he wanders into her apartment and she doesn’t know who he is and refers to her as the man down the hall. It all looks real, but it’s part of the delusion. This is why I put a pause on the mental topic. Joker really does have issues and a large part of this movie is wondering what is real and what isn’t.

He reads a letter his mother has sent to Thomas Wayne where she writes that Thomas Wayne is really Arthur’s father. He finds a way to get in to see Wayne, unless that’s part of the delusion. He is told he is adopted and gets the files from Arkham to see. In them, we find that it is said that Arthur is an adopted child and not the son of Thomas Wayne.

Once again, is this real or not? Fans of DC comics will know that faking adoptions is nothing new to the rich and powerful who want to cover up anything that could damage their reputation. It’s entirely possible Thomas Wayne could have had an affair and then painted Arthur’s mother as delusional and faked several documents to that effect.

One other major delusion involves the figure of Murray Franklin. Murray is a talk show host that Arthur and his mother watch every night. Arthur has a delusion where he is in the audience and shouts out to Murray that he loves him. Murray talks with him and asks him to join him on stage and tells him privately something along the lines of, “You see all these lights and all this fanfare? I’d trade it away in a second to have a son like you.” Murray becomes the father in a sense that Arthur doesn’t have and in his apartment with his mother there are several video tapes of the Murray Franklin show, not common for a talk show.

Yet at one point Arthur goes to do some stand-up and a condition that he says he has that causes him to laugh uncontrollably for no reason at times kicks in. The tape is sent to the Murray Franklin show where it is played and Murray mocks Arthur and refers to him as a Joker, hence the name. Later, the show says there was a positive response to the clip and they want Arthur to come on the show to talk with Murray.

Again, keep in mind what I said about spoilers.

Before he goes on, Arthur ends up killing his mother with a pillow, probably revenge since he thinks she lied to him about his origins. Next, he kills the co-worker who gave him the gun that he could use. Then, he goes on Murray’s show and admits to killing the guys on the Subway. After some conversation, he kills Murray on live TV and riots break out all over Gotham as clown figures take to the streets that had been inspired first by the Subway killings and then Murray Franklin’s death propelled it even further.

While the police are taking Joker away, some clowns driving an ambulance crash into the car and pull Joker out. We also see at this point one of the clowns follow Thomas Wayne and his wife out killing them in front of young Bruce Wayne. Joker is treated as a hero by his fellow clowns.

The movie ends with him talking to another social worker, same race and gender as the first, at a mental hospital, probably Arkham. When he leaves, his footsteps are bloody for awhile and then he is being chased back and forth by someone. I honestly still don’t know what to make of this scene. Does it mean everything was a delusion? Hard to say. Fans of the series do know that some things are real, such as the murder of the Waynes and Bruce being left behind.

We also know Joker does become a sociopath villain, yet here is the real danger. I do not think Joker is the threat he is because he is a sociopath. He is the threat because his heart is evil. This is the real culprit behind everything. Sociopathy could make him more prone to that as could perhaps any mental illness, but you want to know who is really incredibly capable of doing great evil out there? You want to know who it is we should really watch for great evil?

You and me.

Clay Jones did his own research on genocides for his book on evil and found out that the people who commit genocides are normally ordinary people. You can see Hitler was the mastermind behind the Holocaust, but Hitler could not have done everything on his own. He needed to enlist the aid of others. These were men who were often good fathers to their kids and good husbands to their wives.

In Lamentations, Jeremiah writes about a siege and how good women cooked their own children who became their food when they were starving. Today, people who would otherwise be good people murder their own children in abortion and think nothing of it. It would be easy to say everyone has a mental illness and if we could just eliminate the illness, we would remove evil from the world.

That’s a delusion in itself.

Joker is delusional? Yep. So are every single one of us to some extent. We all readily believe lies about ourselves and about God consistently. We all think things that we shouldn’t and believe things that we shouldn’t. Christians do it. Atheists do it. Everyone does it. Unfortunately, we also convince ourselves our thinking is spot on in all of this.

So who could be the Joker? You or I could. If we think that we are above a certain evil, that could be the sign that we are most likely to fall for it. Of course, it doesn’t mean we will, but pride often comes before that fall. How many guys have had friendly chats with that female co-worker over lunch thinking nothing will come of it only to wind up in a hotel room a few months later? Yep. It happens.

Joker is definitely a film to get you to think about human evil and what it is. I left the film thinking I had seen something interesting, but still unsure about what it was. I suppose that’s intentional on the part of the writers and directors. Maybe we cannot know what is and isn’t true in Joker’s story, but we can know that despite what he says about his life being a comedy, when he uses it for evil, it is a tragedy.

Let’s use our lives for good. Be a comedy.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Resurrection of the Jewish Messiah

What do I think of Eric Chabot’s self-published book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Resurrection apologetics when interacting with Jewish people is often an entirely different animal. I remember seeing a debate live that Michael Brown did against a rabbi. At the end, I went up to the rabbi, sadly with a crowd, and asked about the resurrection. I just got the reply, “Didn’t happen” and then he turned to answer others.

Okay. Thanks for that information. Glad we had the discussion.

A Jewish scholar like Pinchas Lapides actually believes Jesus rose from the dead and yet doesn’t see Him to be the Messiah. I am sure there are many who would not be convinced even if they knew the resurrection happened. Why? Because Israel has not been restored and the Messianic age has not been brought about.

Christians need to take these concerns seriously.

After all, Messiah means something. Christ is not the last name of Jesus and He is not the son of Mr. and Mrs. Christ. Messiah means that Jesus is the King and the King of Israel specifically. Many of us today have lost that kind of thinking.

Eric Chabot does specialize in answering Jewish objections to Jesus, a needed ministry today. While debating with Jews isn’t as prominent normally as it is with Muslims or atheists or other groups, let’s remember that these were the chosen people of God. They are the ones who gave us our Old Testament and who gave us our Messiah, King Jesus.

Chabot’s book deals with many areas that will be common to us today. What about oral tradition? Why did Paul change his mind and see Jesus as Messiah? Did Jesus really exist? Was He just a copy of pagan gods. (Although it would have been nice to have seen a bit more about the virgin birth, which I do affirm.)

He also gets into why this matters for Judaism. Why would it be that the Messiah would need to be resurrected? How does this fit within the promises of Israel? What about the question of where the Messianic age is?

If you’re looking for general information on the resurrection to help with dealing with atheist friends, there is a lot of good material in here that you can use. The book is short and can be read in a day or two. There is plenty of scholarly interaction as well.

However, it also has the bonus of being a book with information on Jewish apologetics specifically. Christians need to recognize this as we too often treat the Old Testament as an add-on to this real book called the New Testament and gloss over the story of Israel entirely. Paul told us Israel’s story is our story and they are our people as well. We need to learn from them and learn how to reach the Jewish people God loves.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Gospel Allegiance

What do I think of Matthew Bates’s book published by Brazos Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

What is the gospel? Many pastors today write books on the topic and talk about how central it is and how important it is to be proclaiming the good news. Sadly, many of them don’t have the good news right, and these are not the liberals. These are conservative God-honoring pastors who truly want to build up the church. The gospel becomes all about what happens individually in a person’s life. Justification by faith is said to be the gospel or in some cases I’ve seen such as saying Calvinism is the gospel.

My wife and I once attended a church where the pastor at the end of every sermon gave a call to accept Jesus as savior. Unfortunately, it seemed like the whole goal every time was to get someone to go to heaven. It’s as if it’s decided that the whole point of Jesus coming and dying and rising again is all about the next life and not here.

Matthew Bates says this must change. Now while it sounds like he’s wanting to change the gospel, what he’s wanting to change is our perception. He wants the gospel to go beyond forgiveness of sins. He’s not opposed to that as it’s certainly included in the message and he’s not opposed to justification by faith, but what is the gospel?

The gospel is about Jesus coming and living and dying and rising again and thus, being the Messiah, the King of the Jews, and everyone else for that matter. We treat Messiah like it’s a name. I have even had atheists ask me why a Jewish guy would have a Greek last name, as if Jesus was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Christ. The religion of Islam stresses that Jesus is the Christ, but it gives no content to this whatsoever.

When we say Jesus is the Messiah, we mean He is the king and He came to institute the Kingdom of God on Earth. Our response to this is not intellectual assent which is normally meant by faith. Instead, what is required is a life of allegiance. This does not mean that we earn our salvation, but that our lives model what we say we believe.

The kingship of Jesus means that we are not just agreeing with a proposition, but living lives of loyalty to the king. When we get the gospel wrong, we make the gospel be all about what happens to us. The gospel is all about what Jesus did and who He is. You could give a gospel presentation today to people that would not require Jesus being the Messiah or being the king. We are doing something wrong at that point.

Bates’s message then is that this a more biblical way of viewing salvation. Salvation is something that God does in us, but we willingly submit to him with a life of faith lived outward in allegiance to him. Bates does take on some of our modern pastors who emphasize too much justification by faith. He doesn’t disagree with them, but he does say that we need to move beyond that. He does have some problems with Catholicism, though he does not say Catholics are not Christians and is concerned when any Christian is restricted from partaking of the Lord’s Supper.

This is stuff I have already believed, but once you see it spelled out, it’s hard to not see it in other places. When I hear someone give a gospel presentation or read it now, it seems so lacking. While this is something I have even done a sermon on, it is something that needs to be stressed. We have made Christianity be about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, which is reducing Jesus down to the buddy Jesus idea, and not about Jesus being king. When I introduce myself at a Celebrate Recovery meeting, I do not describe myself as a faithful believer in Jesus, but rather as a faithful servant of king Jesus.

I hope more pastors and more Christians read Bates’s book. Bates is doing the church a great service. He is taking the material of scholars and giving it to the public on these issues in a way that is easy to understand. This book is highly readable for the layman and I recommend it greatly.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Gift Of Punishments

Is a punishment from God a gift? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Tolkien lived a rough life I understand. I heard a video yesterday my wife played talking about it and how someone wrote Tolkien about how he viewed death. Tolkien responded with “What punishments of God are not gifts?” Now, this is not to say that every time a death occurs, it is a direct punishment from God, or any suffering for that matter, but it is a good perspective on it.

If we are Christians who believe that everything passes through God’s hand and that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord, then every trial and temptation that comes our way is a gift to help shape us into Christlikeness. Perhaps someone might say, “I don’t see how God can use this.” That does not mean that he cannot. This is the true biblical definition of faith. It is trust in the sovereign Lord even when one does not know what He is doing because of who He is.

It doesn’t mean one enjoys the time of suffering. We normally do not. Few of us wake up and embrace suffering in the morning and give thanks for it. We are not good at doing what James says at counting it joy when trials come upon us at all times.

But that is what we are told to do.

I am a part of Celebrate Recovery here. Let’s suppose that I have a man I talk to who is addicted to porn. Is it good that he is? No. Can it be used for good? Absolutely. God has allowed him to see a weakness in his character that can be removed so that he can be more like Jesus. Through his current real lack of love for women, he can grow into a deep love for them and perhaps his own current or future wife. (Yes. Pornography is a lack of love of women. It is simply treating them as bodies.)

Not all suffering comes through moral failings on our part. I think I remember Tolkien’s parents dying at a young age and him being raised by a priest. We are not people who hold to the “Law of Attraction” that says what happens to you is what you attract. Sometimes it can be. Lie down with dogs and you can get fleas. Make foolish and prideful decisions and you can expect consequences.

Still, even with that suffering, one can grow into a deeper trust in Christ in those times. If we refuse to accept these times as good, then we are doing what Job said not to do. We are saying we want to accept good things when they come from God, but if it’s anything we don’t like, we don’t want to accept it. Isn’t it quite incredible that when God gives us goods that we don’t deserve, even as simple as rain and sunshine, we don’t complain, but when God allows any kind of suffering in our lives, and we all deserve that biblically, then we start to complain?

Hebrews also tells us that if we are disciplined, then that means we are sons. What this tells us is that if suffering isn’t part of our lives, we might be doing something wrong. God disciplines all of His sons and daughters. Our refusal to accept it only makes it harder. Imagine if the stone moved every time the sculptor came with the chisel and resisted it. The work would either not get done or come out horribly.

If something comes into our lives, it is something God can use for our good. Our problem is we don’t turn to Him when that happens. Instead, we often get angry with Him and act like He is in the wrong. I am not saying that all such anger is wrong. It happens. The Psalms are full of it. The good for them is that the Psalmist still trusts God with His anger. Be honest with your emotions with God, but trust Him anyway.

Again, as Job says, we ought to accept trouble from God and not just good. It does not mean that God is against us or He doesn’t love us. Maybe it’s just, and I know this is a bizarre thought but I will share it anyway, maybe an omniscient being actually knows some things that we don’t know. Maybe we should be humble and ask for the faith to submit to God in trust when things are rough knowing more of who He is. If we struggle there, maybe we need to change our theology.

Whatever happens to you today, if you love the Lord, it will be used for your good. How can you lose?

In Christ,
Nick Peters