Government Won’t Change The Culture

How do Christians win a culture war? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Imagine the picture in the society. Committed Christians are a small minority in the population. Most people are involved in movements that are often highly religious, but are not Christian, and don’t care about traditional Christian values. Christians are seen as crazy because of the opinions that they hold on their doctrine and their practice. The government is actively working to silence thoughts that are critical of them. Immorality is at a high and there are numerous cases of sexual immorality all taking place.

Yes. Yes. This is the state of America today.

America? I was talking about the Roman Empire in the time when Christians first came about.

However, there are a number of parallels to our Christian society today. We could say there are a number of parallels to any Christian society anywhere. There are parallels to Christians in China. There are parallels to Christians in Muslim nations.

Let’s look at the first Christians. Now it is true that eventually the government did become Christian, but until then, what did the Christians do? Did they sit on their hands depressed and give up because the overarching government presence wasn’t going their way normally? No. Now this is not to say that the Christians did not appeal to the Roman government at times and stand up for themselves. There is no wrong in that.

Actually, Justin Martyr did just that writing letters to the emperor explaining Christianity. There are at times you read the letters and think with the way Justin talks to the emperor that he is being either incredibly brave or incredibly foolhardy. Still, he was making a case for the Christians.

Ah. But the Roman Empire didn’t have mass social media to deal with either!

And they also didn’t have it to use. Can you imagine what Paul would be doing today with podcasting, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and everything else? No doubt, he would be banned in a lot of places, but he would still be producing material. A Christian in Rome could not immediately communicate with one in Egypt. All travel would be long and arduous. As much as internet and the media can be a hindrance, use them properly and they will be gifts.

Still, as we look at what happened to change the society, it wasn’t a top-down approach. We in America often seem to base our hopes on how the elections go. Now I am not at all saying elections are unimportant. By all means, vote for the best leaders that you can, but if you do not win those elections, it does not mean all is lost.

You know who are really making a difference in our culture right now?

Parents. Parents going out and complaining to their school board about what is going on in the classroom. These people are taking the stand. We live in a country where we have a document of some importance that says “We the people.” It does not say “They the government.” We The People have the power.

Of course, I am not advocating violence at all, which I sadly have to say or else someone is going to say I want that, but I am advocating that we stand up for ourselves. Run for school board. Run for office. Organize together.

When Duck Dynasty was removed from A&E and then from Cracker Barrel, Christians united. They formed a Facebook page, got unified, and cancelled their services with these companies until they relented. When leftists went after Chick-Fil-A, we had Chick-Fil-A Day and sent their sales soaring for that one day. We showed what we could do with our people and what did we do with these great results?

Nothing. Not a thing.

The homosexual and transgender community are a far far far lesser percentage than Christians are and yet they get more and more of what they want. Why? They speak up. They protest. They make noise. They use the media well. They know how to interact with the culture.

We don’t. If anything, we think by not speaking up and not being judgmental, we are being meek, like Jesus. Jesus was meek, but not the way we think of it. Meek people the way we often think of them are not worth being crucified. Jesus was enough of a counter-cultural force that they had to give Him the ultimate death penalty to silence Him.

Learn to say no. Learn to be unified. Don’t like what’s going on? If you’re a Christian parent, meet with several other Christian parents. Use social media and meet across the nation. Show up at your school board and let them know you’re angry. Write to your senators, congressmen, etc. Let them know where you stand. Honestly, we could learn a few things from the LGBTQ+ community.

Do you want to boycott a company? That’s absolutely useless unless it is unified, like it was with the push to get Duck Dynasty back. Form groups like Facebook pages and get millions joined in and protesting. Get recognized. Let people know you’re out there and you refuse to be a pushover.

Then take your Christianity seriously. The early Christians did. When a plague came, most everyone else fled. The Christians stayed behind and cared for the sick, unknowingly building up an immunity for themselves in the process. One of the most radical things you can do is authentically live Christianity.

Be someone of upright and pure character. Shun pornography and speak out against that industry and live a chaste and holy life sexually. Don’t be someone greedy and give generously. Care for those around you who can’t care for themselves. It’s a shame Christians are more often known for what we stand against, rampant immorality, than who we stand for, Jesus Christ.

And yes, that means study Christianity and take it seriously. Really learn about what you believe and why. Christianity can’t just be a hobby, but it has to be something you take seriously.

Christians overcame in the Roman Empire and that lasted for a long time.

History can repeat itself.

Save the culture. Be Jesus to it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Divorce And Rejection

On what level is divorce experienced as rejection? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I was talking with a good friend of mine over the weekend about divorce and rejection and I figured this would be something good to write about. Divorce is a form of rejection indeed, but there is a deeper sense of it than any other kind that I know of. Divorce is a rejection that stings every day.

I understand being rejected by the opposite sex. That happens, and it stings, but the worst part of this rejection is that in this case, you have given everything you have to a member of the opposite sex and made a promise to honor them and have been living it out and you still get told it’s not enough. This is not to say there are not times where divorce can be a sad necessity, but this is talking about people like myself who strived every day to honor our vows.

I remember being in DivorceCare and hearing a girl say “Well, when the person who made a promise to you to honor and cherish you always breaks that promise, other rejections really don’t bother you.” Good for her, but I was on the opposite end. For me, every rejection reminds me of that one.

It is something that remains with you every day. I had an interview for a scholarship opportunity here over the weekend and in talking about it since the man wanted my story, and he told me if I wanted to know who all tends to hate divorce the most, the answer is simple. Divorced people. He’s absolutely right. We hate it.

Rejection is painful because you are being told you are not up to quality in some way. It hurts to the degree that the person has a place in your life. If it’s someone you have a crush on and ask out and they say no, it will hurt to the degree that you put a certain amount of hope in that person. If it’s a parent or family member, it will hurt to the degree that you wanted to have a good relationship with that person.

A divorce hurts you to the degree that that relationship meant to you. Considering it’s someone that you, if you’re in a Christian marriage, made a promise to God and man to honor forever, it can hurt all the more since this is the last relationship that should have ended. It was entered in freely with a promise and it has become shattered.

Peter Kreeft has said divorce is like a suicide and a murder at the same time. You take the one-flesh union that has been built and you kill it. It is destroying another person, the other one in the covenant, and yourself as well. Of course, it’s up to the parties involved how they choose to live from that point on.

For all concerned about me, as I said in the interview, I am still playing to win. It’s why I’m still looking to remarry again someday. It hurts every day, but it’s up to me if I am going to have the hurt conquer me or if I am going to conquer it. I have deliberately chosen to do the latter. My writings on this are mainly to let others know what it’s like and to encourage those in this situation.

When you talk to people who are divorced or going through it, remember what you say. The only people who really understand it are the ones who have gone through it. Others can have compassion, but it will be one that doesn’t see what it’s fully like through no fault of their own, and hopefully, they never will see it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Book Plunge: Back To Virtue

What do I think of Peter Kreeft’s book published by Ignatius Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We often talk about people being good today. We have debates about morality and the nature of it. Something we don’t often talk about is virtue. The word seems dated most often. My main introduction to the word virtue was back when I played Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar. It’s an oddity in that the goal of that game in addition to being an RPG with fighting monsters, was to gain virtue. Sure. You could trick that blind shopkeeper and pay less for what you needed and get it, but you would lose virtue. Sure. You could run from that enemy you could defeat, but you would lose virtue. Show enough virtue and you can go to a shrine and get recognition for it to complete the game.

Maybe that’s why I saw it there. We think of virtue perhaps as a medieval concept. Our notion of character is that so much of morality that we need to abandon is restraining. How can you have any fun?

So ditch that Christian morality on sexuality and have at it! As long as you both consent, what’s the harm? Don’t worry about pride. Think highly of yourself. Know that you’re the best. Greed is good! About the only exception to this would be envy, because envy is the one deadly sin that has no pleasure to it.

Kreeft thinks we need some of this system back. If we do not have virtue, then our civilization will die. As a big fan of Lewis, Kreeft uses Lewis’s account of ships on the water. Ships on the water need to know three things, how to stay afloat, how to avoid hitting other ships, and why you are there in the first place. Our culture often works on the first two, but we don’t pay attention to the third.

Our approach is utilitarian. If it feels good, do it. Does it bring us what we call happiness? Then do it. Too often, we see what we call morality as a bad thing to an extent. Why do we use terms like goody two-shoes? A fuddy-duddy is someone who is spoiling our fun.

Kreeft tells us that the virtues are actually more enjoyable. The way of righteousness might cause us to abandon some short-term pleasures, but in the end, we will have more true joy than anyone else. Perhaps part of the problem in our culture is that we don’t know what happiness or joy are.

Kreeft takes us to the Sermon on the Mount for this and gives it as a real sermon that Christians today are to really follow. He also sees the beatitudes as being in contrast to the seven deadly sins. He walks us through each sin and then explains the counterpart to it in the beatitudes.

What he says, I leave to you, but Kreeft is always a stimulating writer. He speaks on an everyday level and at the same time, if you have heard him speak, it’s hard to read the book without hearing his tone and voice with it. While Kreeft is a Catholic, I have found his writings quite enjoyable as a Protestant and in some ways, he seems more Protestant than a lot of Protestants I know.

Kreeft in the end lays down what is at stake. We either go back to virtue or our civilization perishes. We cannot turn back the nuclear clock. Nuclear weapons are here to stay. We can do something about the people who have access to them.

Christ called us to be a virtuous people. It’s not an option for us. I recommend getting this book to learn more about how to do that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Hitler In Heaven?

What would you think of this news? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Peter Kreeft is one of my favorite writers and speakers and I plan to write a review of a book of his tomorrow, but last night I was listening to a talk of his on the nature of Heaven. Somewhere in there, he was talking about deathbed conversions and said that yes, you could live the worst life possible and still convert and be in the loving presence of God. He said that what if Hitler as the allies were closing in and before he shot himself somehow repented and came to Christ? Would he be in Heaven? His answer was yes.

Honestly, I recoiled a bit when I heard that. Then I took a moment to think about that. Why should I? We all don’t doubt that Hitler was a very evil man. Generally, the rule is that the first one to point to Hitler is the one who will lose the debate. It’s understandable. You want to talk about evil? You look to Hitler.

I could especially imagine some Jewish people recoiling at this thought. “Why, that’s the man who killed my grandparents! He tried to wipe out my people! Why would I want to have anything to do with a God who would forgive him?”

On the surface, this is understandable. Most all of us have people in this world we can’t stand. We have people who hurt us tremendously. Reality is that in many cases, it is okay to be angry with them. I’m learning this now. I don’t want to hate my ex-wife at all, but I also realize I have to allow some anger. After all, if I just try to bottle it all up, that could much easier lead to hatred. I can be angry and upset that I was unjustly hurt and I feel it every day. I still pray for her and want the best, but I can accept that something awful happened.

Chrysostom, a church father, once said that if you are angry out of proportion or wrongfully with someone, that is a sin. Most of us could agree with that. Even a skeptic might not use the word sin, but he could say “Yes. You shouldn’t be angry like that.” However, Chrysostom also went the other way. If you should be angry with someone and you are not, that is also a sin. I am not at all saying he is infallible, but it is certainly a statement to think about. Some events in life should lead to anger in you.

So now let’s get back to Hitler. What if you were presented with news that was absolutely certain that he had repented like that and he would be part of the blessed for all eternity despite what he did? Your response doesn’t reveal a lot about God. It doesn’t reveal a lot about Hitler. I contend they reveal absolutely nothing about those two. They reveal a lot about you.

After all, what grounds do you have for getting into eternity that Hitler wouldn’t have? Could you say you did more good works? Sure, but that’s not the basis for God forgiving you. Could you say you were more faithful? Yes, but again, that is not why you are forgiven. God doesn’t owe you forgiveness. Could you say you didn’t do the evil Hitler did? Yes, but God is not letting you in for what you didn’t do and He will talk more about what you did do. (Sins of omission excluded here are an exception here.)

So what is your reason for God forgiving you? Because you asked. You repented. You did not deserve that grace? You did not earn it? God does not owe you forgiveness. Apart from the grace of God, you would wind up in Hell and you would deserve it, as would I.

And God would not be unjust in a bit of it.

There will never be a point in all of eternity where you deserve to be there. Every moment you are there is still a gift of grace. You will depend on God for everything all your life, including grace. Every moment there is a moment of His love and mercy. Every moment He gives you here to repent also is such a moment.

Years ago I wrote a blog about if your murderer will be in Heaven. The reality is God can take the people who should have been the most hostile to each other on Earth and by His grace transform them into great lovers of one another. Perhaps if we sought repentance more and more now, we could see the same thing happen here on Earth.

So did Hitler repent? If I had to take Vegas odds, I’d bet against it, but if he did, we should rejoice. We should celebrate it, because were it not for the grace of God we would be like him. By forsaking God, we all have the capacity to live like Hitler, but by repentance, we all have the capacity to live like Jesus.

Choose this day who you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

The Mistake of Asking if God Loves Us.

What is wrong with the question of if God loves us? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In discussing this, I am not at all saying that it’s not understandable someone asks this question. It’s part of the problem of evil. It’s something many of us have wondered about when suffering. It can be worse sometimes when we know God is good, and yet He allows events in our lives or the lives of others that horrible. We often know this is the crucible that gets us to be living a holy life and be more like Jesus, but we understand His own prayer of “But if there be another way, let this cup pass through me.”

Yet as I have pondered this question more, I think the truth is we have enough evidence God loves us. We could ask that if the cross and the resurrection are not sufficient evidence, then what else can be needed? Now at this point, I don’t normally go this, but I would say that when some Calvinists do say that God doesn’t love everyone, that this is something I definitely don’t hold to and looking at what has happened with Tyler Vela recently, which puts this on my mind, if he was of that persuasion, and I do not know if he was or not, I can understand more the dilemma.

If God does not love someone, then He could be more loving than He is. That is nonsense as it shows a lack in God. God loves all and God loves people in Hell so much He actually gives them what they want and in a way, is for their own good as well. They want life apart from Him and so they get that.

Yet still, if this is the wrong question to ask, then what is the right question. The right question is “Do I love God?” In this, there are obviously degrees of love. God cannot grow in His love. We can. If you ask happily married couples, they would say they loved each other enough to marry each other, but they would also say that their love has grown more over the years so they love their spouse now more than when they married them.

The more you come to know a person, the more you are capable of loving them. If you do not love your neighbor, the fault is not in your neighbor, no matter how many faults they have. The fault is in you. Love is a choice and you are responsible for the choices you make. Your neighbor does not make them for you.

So do you love God? Now how this is determined is often misunderstood in our culture. It is not in having a great passion, although one can have that. It is best shown in how one acts. Do you act in ways that show that God matters in your life?

The danger here is always legalism. However, here is a starting point to keep in mind. If you even ask the question, it means that you care if you love God, and if you care then to some degree, you do love God. I don’t know anyone who can lie awake at night wondering if they love their enemies.

Then whatever love you have, water it and tend to it. Love grows naturally that way, much like the love of a husband and wife if they properly care for it. Can you be doing more? Always. Can you always be growing in love? Yes. Do you lack love for God? Yes. The saintliest person here on Earth still lacks love for God. Only Jesus didn’t have a lack.

At the same time, accept that. You’re allowed to have imperfections. God doesn’t demand you make yourself perfect. As you walk the walk, He will do that in you. Accept the lack and ask God to purify you further and make you more like Jesus.

Does God love you? Yes. Do you love God? That’s the real question.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

What Is It?

Do we think about what things are anymore? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you are a cat owner, you understand the curiosity of a cat. Many times when I open my closet door to get out clothes for the day, my cat will just happen to wander in and I wait as he explores a little bit before he comes out again. After all, it’s been a few days since he’s been in there and something might have changed. Cats are curious. They want to know.

Yesterday, I wrote about how people don’t talk about what marriage is. Today, I saw someone post on Facebook Seth Dillon of the Babylon Bee asking why some people hate jokes more than child porn? This about Balenciaga and their advertising activity lately whereas the Babylon Bee can get banned on Twitter for a joke. I also had someone respond to my blog on TheologyWeb about how words like marriage are pretty much meaningless in our society today.

There is a case to be made that marriage is our third most meaningless word in society today. The others are God and love. When normal people talk about these terms, they never define them. They just talk about them as if everyone knows them when really hardly anyone does. The terms become whatever the speaker thinks they are.

Our culture sadly abandoned metaphysics long ago. Because of that, we no longer think of what things are. Why should we? After all, Kant came along and said we can’t know the things in themselves, but only how they appear to us.

Now it could be said that science is the exception to this. Don’t we go out and discover reality? That’s the goal, but that’s also the goal of most every other field out there as well, just done differently. Every field has its own methods, but each is aimed at truth to some degree.

Yet nowadays, even that has been lowered. A lot of people look at how “Follow the science” worked in 2020. We also see science being used to control in the case of something such as climate change controversies. We see how science is selectively ignored when it comes to abortion as all of a sudden, it does get closer to metaphysics supposedly asking “Well what is a person really?”

If we are the ones who are ultimately at the center of reality, then words are what will matter the most to us. If we determine reality, it goes a step further. It is not just what the person said, but how we feel about what the person said. It doesn’t matter what the other person meant to say. It is how we see the words that matters and if I see your words as violence, then they are violence.

This is especially the case in the area of sexuality. We talk a lot about the topic, but we don’t think about it. We don’t ask what it is, how it came to be, and what we should use it for. This is the last thing our culture wants to do.

After all, if you define something and talk about a purpose of it, you have to talk about a right and a wrong way to use it, and that cannot be allowed. We might  say “Well, we don’t allow XYZ yet”, but it’s easy to respond that we are allowing activities today that we never would have dreamed of allowing years ago. Every step that has been taken by those on the left to push the envelope has led to it being pushed further and further. It’s easy to claim the slippery slope fallacy, but the truth is sometimes slopes are slippery and people do fall down them.

What is needed in our culture? A return to learning what things are and to watch the terms that we use. Defining terms is not just good for debate, but it is also good for society. We use so many words without thinking about what they mean. Kierkegaard once said something about how we care so much about the freedom of speech, but think so little about the freedom of thought that gives our speech meaning.

Until we learn what we’re talking about, maybe it would be best to just not say anything at all.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

But They’re So Nice

Should you change your mind because your neighbor is nice? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My parents are part of the Methodist Church which just underwent a huge split over the issue of the definition of marriage. Naturally, my folks want to talk to me about what’s going on and my thoughts on the matter. One comment I have heard from them is that they have friends who know someone who’s same-sex attracted and they’ll say “But they’re so nice….”

I don’t have any reason to question that. There are several who are nice people. However, how does that become an argument to say “Therefore, I should vote to redefine marriage.”?

The issue when it comes to what the Methodist Church wants to do is “What is the nature of marriage?” Now if you think nature is fluid, meaning that a man and a woman is not the essence of marriage, meaning something essential to marriage, it’s up to you to define what is.  You can say marriage is fluid, but if there is nothing essential to marriage, as in marriage has no real characteristic of it, then marriage is essentially nothing.

I have written about this in several other places, so I don’t want to make this blog on the nature of marriage. I do want to discuss the question about people being nice. I really don’t understand why this is so persuasive, aside from the fact that people think with their emotions more than they do with their heads.

For one thing, if every same-sex attracted person was among the nicest people on the planet, that would say nothing about the nature of marriage itself. I regularly hear, and have experienced, that Mormons are usually incredibly kind people. If someone is willing to grant that, does that mean that they should rush down to the Mormon Church to convert?

Of course not, and even if they did, how many contradictions would you have in your mindset on the same issue? If you met a really nice Muslim after that, would you determine that Mormonism is false and Islam is true? If you encountered a nice atheist then, would you conclude that God doesn’t exist? If every atheist was practically a saint, that would say nothing about the arguments for or against theism.

Contrary, suppose Christians you met were jerks, and sadly, this could be true. Christians shouldn’t be, but if one encounters a Christian who is a jerk, that doesn’t say anything about whether Christianity is true or false. Christianity could have the best ethical system in the world and yet if people fail to live up to it, that says nothing about the system of ethics. It just says a lot about the followers.

We could say that people who vote to redefine marriage are implicitly saying then that everyone who holds to marriage as has always been understood is a jerk. Do they really want to say that? If you vote because person A of this persuasion is nice, does that mean the person opposed is mean?

When you look at the nature of marriage in the church situation, only one question needs to be asked. What is marriage? If you see it as fluid and changeable, then act accordingly. If you hold to a reality that says the man-woman unit is essential to marriage, then do the same.

Give a real reason. Even if you support the redefining of marriage, I hope this is something that can be agreed to. People should strive to be moral, but that doesn’t mean their position is true.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Joy in God’s Absence

Can someone be happy when giving up on God? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As I continue looking at the news of Tyler, one aspect of it that didn’t surprise me was when he talked about being in a good mood even after abandoning God, not in the sense of going atheist, but in the sense of abandoning Christianity. This sounds like a shock to many people. I get that. After all, if God is the greatest source of joy in your life, then surely losing that would be misery wouldn’t it?

But notice the conditional statement.

If God is the greatest source of joy in your life.

What if He isn’t?

What if He’s a misery, actually?

What if you think God is someone who doesn’t care about you, doesn’t want to help you, and refuses to be there in your suffering? If your idea of God is of a God who is cruel and uncaring, what if you lost that idea? What if that idea was gone from your mind? It could be relieving. You no longer have to work to please this tyrant then.

I contend that when people turn their back on God or refuse to believe in Him, they often have an extremely negative view of Him. N.T. Wright has talked about new students entering a university when he was on duty as a chaplain there and when asked about their religion that they didn’t believe in God. He would say “Tell me about this God you don’t believe in. I probably don’t believe in that God either.” Sometimes, they would smile thinking that they had heard many of the clergy there were secretly atheists.

So if you tell me that there is a god who stands absent in your suffering and doesn’t care about your pain at all, then I will say, “Yes. I don’t believe in that god either.” My concern at this point is the idea that when you answer the question of God differently, how your worldview changes is a result of what place you gave Him in your worldview. Consider a parallel.

I live in New Orleans. This is a city that has a problem of crime. I could watch the local news tonight and hear hypothetically about a resident of the city who was murdered and think “Well that sucks”, but I won’t stay awake at night thinking about them. Now if it turned out that someone I know well here on the campus was murdered and I would never see them again, that would hit me very differently.

We are all like that. If we weren’t, there are people dying every day everywhere and somehow many of us can have joy and sleep peacefully at night. What hits us hard is based on how close someone was to us. We can hear about thousands dying in a disaster somewhere and it is saddening, but when we hear about the death of one person close to us that we know, that is far harder for us to take.

If you remove God from your worldview and it doesn’t change, then that is an indicator of what place He played in your worldview. If God was mainly there for emotional support, well you can get that in several other places. If God is just there to fill in the gaps in scientific thinking, then that means the study of science leads to that kind of atheism.

Yet what if God is the foundation for everything? I find it fascinating so many atheists question if God exists, but they don’t stop to think about what it means to exist. It sounds like a simple question, but it isn’t. This is a gift that Classical Theism brings to the table.

To get back to the joy of the absence, it makes sense that if someone you perceive as a negative influence in your life is gone, there can be joy. That shouldn’t be surprising. The concern is that if we look at the emotions as the guide, they are always temporary. They will fade. What then? Also, what if the emotions guide the worldview? What if we say “I feel this, so now I must fit my idea of God to correspond with this emotion.”?

When I get in the point of wondering if God cares for me, I have to go back to what I know. Does God exist? Yes. There are too many good arguments I know of. Did Jesus rise from the dead? Yes. I know no other way to explain the data and the person of Jesus is hard to explain outside of Christianity. Then I have to interpret everything in light of that.

I also know if you go the way of skepticism, you eventually have to lower Jesus. It’s the question of if someone is willing to do that or not. Time will tell.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Thankfulness And Silence

Are we to have a Happy Thanksgiving? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have been writing this week in response to the news of Tyler Vela about divorce and silence. Today, being Thanksgiving, I don’t have to work and there are no classes. Naturally, I turn off the alarm and choose to sleep in as long as I can.

Yet early in the morning when I start to wake up, who is right there waiting for me but Shiro. So what do I do? Stay in bed for just a little bit to hold him and pet him and get some kitty kisses from him. Starting Thanksgiving with my little kitty is certainly a great way to begin the day with thankfulness.

Honestly, Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday of all. I’m not one for meal situations and I don’t like a lot of traditional Thanksgiving foods. The only exception for me is pumpkin pie. I am fine with not going to Thanksgiving meals at all. (Although I’m sure Shiro would be thrilled if anyone wanted to bring by a bite of turkey for him.)

Today, I was intending to just write about Thanksgiving, but as I thought about it, I realized this has relevance to the silence of God. Years ago, I read something from Tim Keller about thankfulness. It was a portion of Scripture that I had read several times and yet, a few key words in that Scripture I had never taken the time to consider.

Let’s look at Romans 1.

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

We can get caught up in so many debates about this passage. It can be classical apologetics vs. presuppositionalism. It can be about the nature of design arguments. It can be questions of if someone can truly be an atheist or not.

Fine questions and worth discussion, but did you notice that part at the end? This is about people who the text says know God and they didn’t glorify Him, but also, they didn’t give thanks. They were not appreciative of God. They didn’t show gratitude.

If you don’t appreciate something and you’re not thankful for it, it can lead to a resentment or it can lead to an entitlement attitude. Here in America, if you live here, you are generally a rich person. You might think you’re poor, but compared to the majority of the world, you are rich. What do we want? More. We mourn about how little we have so often.

I also think this does contribute to divorce. Where does this idea come from that the grass is greener on the other side? As a nerd, I was amazed most every day that I was actually married and I do long for that again. If you think something is owed to you, you will not be grateful for it. There’s a reason the entitlement mindset is causing so much damage in our country.

So what about the silence of God?

Too often, it’s likely that God has already spoken and we have not appreciated what has been said. Skepticism is one thing and if it’s purely intellectual, that can be worked on, but if emotion is driving it, the most powerful intellectual arguments won’t do a thing. Why do you think I get concerned with so many of our younger generation demanding more and more and more?

However, what if we are really saying to God, “What you have done is not good enough?” If we do not appreciate the ways God has spoken, should He really say anymore? If we do not appreciate whatever God has given us, why would He bother giving us more?

The Jews have a Passover song called Dayenu. The lyrics are much longer and interspersed with a chorus, but they go as follows talking about the Passover.

Had we been taken out of Egypt and not had judgment executed upon the Egyptians, it would’ve been enough. Had judgment been executed upon the Egyptians and not upon their idols, it would’ve been enough. Had judgment been executed upon their idols, and not their firstborn, it would’ve been enough. Had judgment been executed upon their firstborn, and we had not received their wealth, it would’ve been enough. Had we received their wealth, and not had the sea split for us, it would’ve been enough. Had the sea been split the sea for us, and we had not been led through it to dry land, it would’ve been enough. Had we been led to dry land, and our enemies not drowned in the sea behind us, it would’ve been enough for us. Had our enemies drowned, and our needs not have been provided for in the desert for 40 years, it would’ve been enough. Had we been supported in the desert and not been given bread, it would have been enough. Had we been given bread and not been given the Sabbath, it would have been enough. Had we been given the Sabbath and not been brought to Mount Sinai, it would have been enough. Had we been brought to Mount Sinai and not been sent the Torah, it would have been enough. Had we been sent the Torah and not been brought to Israel, it would have been enough. Had we been brought to Israel and not been built the Holy Temple, it would have been enough.

What this is saying is that every step would have been enough. God owed nothing more. God owes us nothing more. The only thing He has to give is what He promised. It’s often asked about the problem of evil, “Why did God kill so many?” It’s never considered how many He let live. He had no obligation. It’s as if we are saying “God owes us life.” No. He doesn’t.

If you are owed nothing, and you are given everything, what is that? It’s not payment for something. It’s not God is in debt to you. It is all a gift. All is grace.

I am thankful for many things today. My family and my friends are high up there. I am thankful to be in the city of New Orleans, a city I have come to love, and working on my education at a school I love with a job that I thoroughly enjoy and meeting new people. I am thankful I can rebuild my life and remarry someday. I am thankful that I have got to be a person of influence somehow through the internet. I am thankful I am making it through my divorce bit by bit. I am thankful for the people who have donated to me through Patreon or Risen Jesus to show their support for me. I am thankful for a cute little kitty currently sleeping on my bed. I am thankful I have so many books and games here to keep my mind active. All is grace.

And I’m definitely thankful for grace. It would have been enough, but the one who said it wasn’t enough was God Himself. He looked at all the ways He had loved us so far and said “It’s not enough.” Ephesians 2 even says it’s still not enough. He will spend all of eternity showing us how much He loves us.

I don’t deserve it. Neither do you. It’s all a gift. It’s all grace.

Happy Thanksgiving.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Near To The Brokenhearted

Is God there in suffering? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’m still looking at my discussion with the Mentionables about Tyler Vela. I want to emphasize in this that none of this is meant as an attack. It’s meant to speak to those like Tyler who are suffering in divorce and wondering where God is in the suffering. It’s a common question and as one who has gone through that suffering and is going through it, I get it.

We often have an idea that God is to be near when we are suffering. David’s Psalm of repentance says that a broken and contrite heart will not be despised. He is supposed to be near to the brokenhearted. How can this be true when the heavens seem to be silent?

It makes sense to us. What do we want when we’re in pain most often? Comfort. We want something to either stop the pain or guide us through it. We are in a society where we are quite often addicted to comfort. We do not often know how to handle pain and deal with it.

I can speak as someone who has gone through all kinds of pain. I have had major back surgery, my gallbladder removed after that put me through intense pain, intense toothaches, panic attacks, major depression, a marriage where numerous difficulties happened for me, followed by the painful rejection of divorce.

I’m not a stranger to pain.

In all of these, I am sure God has been with me, but I cannot say I have had major signs of His presence or anything of that sort. I actually consider that a good thing. Now when my back surgery took place, I had no crisis of faith. If anything, the chaplain in the hospital was impressed with the way I handled things.

My panic attack stage was different. This makes sense really. i suspect we often hate emotional pain far more than we do physical pain. This was a time of years where I spent crying out to God in agony, even when I went to Bible College. What brought me out of that? The study of apologetics. It was learning about what I believe and why and coming to some real ideas of who God is.

In all my tears, I did not have an unusual experience of any sort.

Thank God.

If I had, I might never have embarked on the path I was in. I would never have been in the walk of a greater walk that I am in now. I would never be getting to live out these truths and share them to others and help them in their distress.

That is one advantage of being divorced. I can help others who have gone through it. It is definitely a blessing that I get to help others and it means so much that my writings help other people out who are struggling. That is one reason I am writing this. It might not help Tyler, but it can help someone else, it is worth it.

How is God near to us? It’s not necessarily in feelings. It could just mean He is there. You might not experience Him, but He’s there. Just because He is there, it doesn’t mean He has to make His presence manifestly known. You have to be told you are not alone. If anything, we could say you have to be told that because you are NOT experiencing anything. Why would anyone need to say God is near to the brokenhearted if every person who was brokenhearted was convinced He’s obviously there?

That’s really hard to trust, but it needs to be accepted. It’s easy to be angry with God for not giving something that He never promised. Many of our disappointments with God are based on false ideas of what we expect and especially what we would do if we were God.

Those times of supposed silence can lead us into something deeper. That’s what happened for me, and it is better to have that than to have an experience that will not last. This is not to say that experience is never valid, but that experience needs to be rooted in something more certain. Every experience is interpreted. How do you know that emotion is from God? It feels good. Why not be a Mormon? They think that feeling is really good. A lot of Ex-Mormons still hold the burning in the bosom is a real sensation and a great one.

What does one do then when God seems silent? Trust. Trust what He said and the promises He made. Some could say that this is circular, but it isn’t. It’s an internal test for consistency.

Suffering is hard. I’m thankful I also had several friends with me who helped me with the grief too. I have my hobbies also. I also could rely on thinking about the empty tomb and the resurrection and the reasons I know God is real. This is not something that makes the pain go away. It can make it bearable, but that largely depends on how you handle it.

It’s also important to not pursue a feeling. Our Christianity is not based on a feeling. It’s based on holiness and trust.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

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