Shiro and Suffering

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

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

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

No regrets.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not easy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Deeper Waters Podcast Update

When’s the next episode coming? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Some of you might be watching your podcast feed and wondering when the next episode is coming. I wanted to make a post today since I normally do on Thursday to give an update. I hope it will clear up any concerns you have and that you will be patient with me and know I still really want to bring you the best information that I can.

First on the list is my look at Tim Perry’s book Mary For Evangelicals. Tim Perry has been gracious and agreed to come on, but first, his Dad died and then we had to cancel. Understandable. We had a rescheduling done but he’s in charge of a church and one of the other members died and that had to be attended to. Right now, we’re looking at a Christmas date for a kind of theme show so sometime in December I anticipate that interview coming.

Next was our Protestant/Catholic dialogue. We had a three-way email going and unfortunately on the recording date it was found there was confusion about the time. This led to us having to do things differently. As it stands, I have done an hour-long interview with my Protestant guest. Before too long, I plan on doing one with my Catholic guest. I hope to remove bias and grill both of them with the same intensity. I am a Protestant, but I always strive to be fair.

Third is Kyle Greenwood’s interview. Some of you may know there was a personal crisis going on in our household for a while. That same thing happened Saturday and I honestly had to cancel the show at practically the last minute because that situation needed my care. We are going to be working on rescheduling that one.

Still, be assured friends I am trying to do the reading for the show to keep you informed and getting the best books that I can from publishers. I do have someone who helps me with audio formatting and such. Other than that, I am the one who does all the reading and all the interviewing and everything else. It is something that does keep me busy. I often tell my guests before an interview that they have the easy part. They get to just answer questions about what they have already written about. For me, I have to keep coming up with those questions.

I do really apologize if some of you have been getting concerned about the next episode coming up. There is nothing wrong with your podcast feed and if you ever think there is, feel free to contact me and let me know and I will tell you there is nothing wrong or look into why there apparently is something wrong. If you also have a recommendation for the show or if you have a reason why you should think you should be a guest yourself, please let me also know about that.

Finally, please go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the show. Every time I check and see a new one, it’s really a great sensation. It’s excellent to know how much you guys value the show and why.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Why I Don’t Take Internet Bible Critics Seriously

Should you really pay attention to that critic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Let’s be fair. There are some skeptics out there that do their homework. They do try to really find out what scholars in the world of the Bible are saying and make reasonable cases. I disagree, but at least they are doing their due diligence.

The majority are not.

For the past couple of weeks or so, I’ve been going through a big book. It’s Behind The Scenes of the Old Testament and it’s about 512 pages and most of these pages have plenty of lines on them. It’s the kind of book that these same skeptics will not even read. It would be practically a miracle if they even skimmed it and looked at the pictures.

And yet, these same people will think they can speak with authority on the events in the Bible. They will speak on slavery in the Old Testament and all they have is their knowledge of the Civil War in America and the fact that they are offended and think that is sufficient. Never will they dare ask questions like, “What is slavery in the ancient world? What was the purpose of it? What other alternatives did they have?”

Let alone do these people really have an understanding of the Law for Christians. Many think that the Law was meant to lead us to some kind of Utopia and everything in it is a moral principle for all time. It’d be kind of hard for a Christian to say this since Jesus in the New Testament said that Moses permitted divorce to the people because their hearts were hard. This is not to say there are no moral truths in the Law, but the purpose of the Law is not to produce perfect people.

Too many critics of the Bible read the Bible from a modern Western perspective and then look back on the dumb and unenlightened culture they see in the Bible thinking they’ve made a powerful critique. Argument from outrage is a favorite. God did XYZ! What kind of God would do this? The conquest narratives are a favorite. Lately, I’ve seen David’s baby dying as a result of David’s sin as an example of this. (Strangely enough, these same people will also defend abortion. Go figure.)

My advice to Christians on this is to first off not take such critics seriously. If someone is not willing to read and study life in the Ancient Near East, they shouldn’t comment on it. If they do, we shouldn’t take their comments seriously. I say the same thing about Christians who want to go and critique evolution, but will never ever pick up a book on science in their lifetime. Reading your favorite Christian who argues against evolution without studying science yourself and just repeating what they say is just as bad as reading a new atheist on the Bible and repeating what they say without studying it yourself.

Let me make a caveat here. If you are a Christian and you do read the science and you do want to argue against evolution, have at it. It’s not the route I take as evolution is a non-issue to me. I just don’t repeat the arguments. Someone could be making powerful arguments against evolution or talking nonsense. I don’t know.

Also Christians, if I go after the atheists for doing this, I want to be fair and go after us. Too many of us who are Christians don’t bother to study the context either. We take one little section out of a prophecy and either make it about the end times in a dispensational paradigm (As if the prophets never ever said anything about their own culture) or they make it about themselves.

Let’s go with an example. In Jeremiah 29:11, God tells the people that He knows the plans He has for them, plans to prosper and not harm and to give them a hope and a future. Great passage. It’s used so many times in cards for college graduates and such. Horrible interpretation right there.

Jeremiah is making this point to Israel as they are going to Babylon. If you are sending a card to a college graduate who’s part of a covenant people and is being shipped off to Babylon, then that’s okay. If not, you might want to rethink it.

“Great. So are you saying this verse is useless aside from historical information?”

Not at all. We could apply this to us today. Picture a pastor saying this.

“The children of Israel had received a promise from God. They were about to face suffering and that suffering would make them wonder about the promise. They would doubt it and think God had failed them to let this happen. God assures them that is not so. In the same way, we today are recipients of the promises given to Israel and in Christ. We can often go through hardship and suffering still where we wonder if God has abandoned us. Hebrews tells us that God will never leave us or forsake us. As there was a purpose for the children of Israel going into Babylon, so there is a purpose for our suffering and Romans 8 tells us that God will work all things for good to those that love the Lord. Whatever you are going through in your life, realize that God is in control. As He did for the children of Israel in being with them in their suffering, so will He be with you.”

There. If anything, this is a richer understanding I think because it is connected to the New Testament. In the passage in Jeremiah, we can know that some of the people who went to Babylon never came back. After all, the return was about 70 years later. In the New Testament, some promises are individualized, such as Romans 8. We will all in Christ be resurrected in new and glorified bodies and each of us will give an account of what we have done and each of us will be treated accordingly. At the same time, we are a community in Christ and should live that way.

Studying the context of the passage goes a long way and will help us. Critics of the Bible need to really work to study the text instead of thinking that outrage is an argument. Christians need to study it because we think it comes from God and we need to treat it seriously and not misapply it. Will we always interpret it properly? Of course not, but we should always seek to bring the best information to the table that we can.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

The Agenda Project’s Ad

What does a baby deserve? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So Agenda Project has an ad that has been making rounds lately. It has a cute little baby smiling and giggling as babies do. All along words regularly pop up on the screen. I could tell you more, but hey, why not take less than a minute and watch the ad yourself?

At the start when watching, I was wondering what the point of this ad was. We are told the baby deserves to be wanted. The baby deserves to be loved. Yes. Who would dispute that? Then the third one, at least for me, gives a chill. She deserves to be a choice.

To deserve according to the dictionary means to be worthy of. With that, then we can say with the meme on the internet at the three things this baby deserves, one of them is not like the other. Something in the list just really doesn’t belong.

Is the ad saying that if the baby is not loved and not wanted supposedly, she should be a choice? But then that doesn’t fit. If she is not loved and not wanted, why change the last one then to “She is a choice.”? If she is loved and she is wanted, why should she be a choice?

Let’s also acknowledge something. Abortion activists have been telling us that this is not a baby for so long. What is in the womb is a fetus. This ad dispels the myth. Now some abortion advocates are, at last, acknowledging that these are babies. Good on them at least for that! It’s still wicked and evil, but hopefully, confession is the path to recovery.

Sadly, I’m skeptical of that. I think groups like Planned Parenthood know very well that these are babies. They just don’t care. The problem with these babies is that they may deserve to be loved and wanted, and they are, but they also get in the way of our sex lives and our careers and well, we can’t have that now can we?

This ad is also unclear. This is a baby that is not in the womb. Does this mean that infanticide is now okay? Is the baby always a choice? Can she be a choice when she is outside of the womb?

I have no intention of holding back. Abortion is just an evil practice. When we read our Old Testaments and read about the Canaanites that Israel drove out, we need to realize we are worse than they were. They sacrificed their children to be sure, but usually, they did it for something like the good of the harvest for the community. When we do it, we do it at the altar of convenience.

Years ago I was at an apologetics conference where Chuck Colson was speaking and he said that if you are a Christian who supports abortion, you really need to check on the status of your faith. He got a standing ovation and sadly that surprised him because usually, that statement was quite controversial. Perhaps it is, but I agree with it.

Perhaps in the future, more abortions activists might be even more straightforward. We can hope. My fear is that if they are, our society would have reached such a place of immorality that they still won’t care.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What Does It Mean To Love?

When we say we love something or someone, what do we mean? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Like God, love is one of the most meaningless words in the universe.

Wait. Does that sound problematic to some of you? Do I sound like a nihilist? Well, on both counts, I believe both of them.

Is it because neither are real? Absolutely not. Love is real and God is real. The problem with these words is usually they’re said devoid of content. Ask someone if they believe in God. Whatever the answer, you always have to ask what they mean by that. Someone in a pantheistic religion means something far different by that than a devout Christian in the West does.

And what about love? I can tell you numerous things and people that I love. God. My wife. My family. Friends. Gaming. My cat. Reading. Good debate. All of these are things or persons that I love. The problem is I can’t give love the same meaning across the board entirely.

I love my God, but that has to be a far greater love than anything else on the list. I also love my wife, but when I say I love the rest of my family, there are certainly ways that I love my wife that I will never love my family. This is so strong that if anyone in my family or even extended family with marriage tried to love my wife the same way, we would be moving away from them entirely and possibly having a lot of counseling.

Generally, when it comes to persons, I think the idea of love also means that we seek what is genuinely good for the other for the sake of the other. We won’t do that perfectly in the sense that we can have a false idea of what is good for the other, though to be fair, our intentions are good.

But what role do our feelings play in this? Some people have this idea that if you love someone, you should always feel a certain way towards them. You won’t. Sometimes, you might feel the opposite. There are mornings I have got up and I have been upset about how my life is going and I have not felt love for God in me. What of it? That means that day I have no responsibility to walk a Christian life? Not at all. God is my king, and when you have a king, it doesn’t matter if you feel like serving Him or not.

I have a wife also, and there are many times that I can be upset with her about something. In every marriage, there is some conflict. I do not believe Jesus was married, but if He was, He would not have had a perfect marriage because He would have been married to an imperfect woman. If He could not have had a perfect marriage, I don’t expect I will.

So what happens if I get up in the morning and Allie and I are fighting and I don’t really feel a lot of love in me? I love anyway. We have this strange view in our culture that if you love someone when you don’t feel like it, it’s not genuine. On the contrary, I think that’s when love is the most genuine. It’s when one rises above their moods and does the right thing regardless.

Lindsay Harold on her blog wrote a piece arguing that wives as an example should have sex with their husbands even when they don’t feel like it. It’s another example. What virtue is it to do what you feel like doing? Wow. You did good because you felt like doing it. You obviously deserve a reward!

Can love produce feelings? It sure can. Does that mean it is a feeling? Of course not. We have turned the idea of falling into love as something sacred and there can be no wrong. It’s why we have this idea that our hearts are so infallible and that we just need to follow our heart constantly. We all know from Scripture that that is not really the case.

How did we get to this point in our culture? It’s because like many other things, we stopped thinking about it. We don’t think about God. We don’t think about love. We don’t think about sex. We don’t really think much about anything. We spend a lot of time doing things. We don’t spend time thinking about what we’re doing. We do what we feel like and that’s that.

None of this is to say feelings and emotions are evil. They are not. God gave them to us for a reason. It is to say that they are not to control us. When we know the right thing to do, we are to do it anyway. If you feel like it, fine. If not, it doesn’t matter. Do it anyway.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

What Is Your Opponent Reading?

How important is good reading to a discussion? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I am a strong supporter of good reading. As it stands, right now I’m going through Behind The Scenes of the Old Testament which is a very big book. Why? Because I want to be more informed on the matters that I talk about. I am of the mindset that those who do not read will always be at the mercy of those who do.

Yet I also want to encourage a look at the opposite approach. Sometimes when I am in dialogue with a non-Christian, I will ask them when was the last time they read a book on this topic that disagreed with them. I’m not surprised that I really can’t think of one time that that question was answered well.

If you want to go out there and talk with people who disagree with you, it helps you greatly to know what they really think. You can get some of that from reading comments or maybe watching videos or articles and blogs on the internet, but the fullest treatment to be found is often in the books. Not only should you read books, but you should read books by the best minds that you can find.

Most scholars don’t put out their work for free because like most of us, they have bills to pay as well. If you watch a YouTube video or debate of one of them speaking, you will, in essence, get a picture and a paragraph. You will get a Reader’s Digest version of what they think and why. The fullest treatment to be found is in the books.

When I meet a non-Christian who is not willing to read, I just don’t take them seriously. It’s not a shock that usually the arguments they have then arguments from outrage or arguments from incredulity. Many people who claim to be on the side of reason honor it with their lips, but their heads are far from it.

Let’s also consider the irony here. These are people who often talk about Christians living in their own little bubbles and not wanting to have anything to do with a contrary thought. Sadly, sometimes they are right about that. The problem is when they refuse to read the best books that disagree with them, they’re doing the exact same thing. They are refusing to consider any contrary thought and what a shock that they don’t change their minds.

If you are someone who is out there in the field and doing debates with skeptics, I urge you to know their material well. I urge you to know it so well that if you had to, you could put on the skeptic hat and make a better presentation for their side than their opponents could. If you don’t know a subject matter, don’t argue about it. You’re being just as bad as your opponents are then. Make sure you’re doing the reading about what you believe, but read about what you don’t believe as well. It will help you in the long run.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 11/10/2018: Kyle Greenwood

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the deeper waters and find out.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth. In due Christian fashion, we have been debating it ever since. I suspect that the two most debated books in the Bible are Genesis and Revelation and when it comes to Genesis, it’s largely the first 11 chapters and especially the first two.

So if we have been debating this for so long, and our Jewish friends before us have been debating it, what have we been saying? It might be too much to ask one man to go all throughout history and see what people are saying about Genesis, but fortunately, our guest this week took the path of editing a volume on it. By doing this, he allowed a number of people to look at the text and how it was interpreted throughout history.

He’ll be here with us today to talk about that book. We will look throughout history. Has it been the case that everywhere people have been talking about this book it was believed that the Earth is young and that only changed when evolution came along? How have people seen Adam and Eve? All these questions and more will be discussed with my guest, Kyle Greenwood.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Kyle Greenwood earned the Master of Divinity from Hebrew Union College and the PhD from Hebrew Union College—Jewish Institute of Religion. He taught nine years at Colorado Christian University and is now an associated faculty in Old Testament at Denver Seminary and Fuller Theological Seminary. Greenwood is the author of Scripture and Cosmology: Reading the Bible between the Ancient World and Modern Science, is the editor of Since the Beginning: Interpreting Genesis 1–2 Through the Ages and just submitted a manuscript to Zondervan titledDictionary of English Grammar for Students of Biblical Languages. Kyle has been married to his wife Karen for over twenty-five years and they have three teenage children. When he’s not teaching or writing, he enjoys exploring the outdoor playgrounds of Colorado and serving in his local church.

We’ll be discussing the interpretation of these passages throughout the ages. We’ll talk about how the Jews interpreted it, how the Fathers interpreted it, how the medievals interpreted it, how the Reformers interpreted it, and then how it is interpreted in our times. We will discuss the different ways the text can be approached. Some people will like and think are treating the text properly. Some will be thought by a few out there to be a horrible way to approach the text. Some approaches could actually just make us laugh.

For those wondering where the show has been the past few weeks, we have had cancelations beyond my control and things like that. We hope to be back on an even schedule before too long. Please do realize I am trying to do all that I can to make this show the best that I can for you. I hope you’ll go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Evidence Considered

Was Jesus’s tomb found empty? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In chapter 34 of Evidence Considered, Jelbert decides to take on Gary Habermas on if there was an empty tomb or not. At the start, Jelbert says that all of Habermas’s material comes from Christian sources. He also says these are diluted by internal disagreements and contradictions.

However, Habermas is just doing what all scholars do. Even Bart Ehrman will grant this point.

If historians want to know what Jesus said and did they are more or less constrained to use the New Testament Gospels as their principal sources. Let me emphasize that this is not for religious or theological reasons–for instance, that these and these alone can be trusted. It is for historical reasons pure and simple. (Ehrman, The New Testament, page 215)

Now if Jelbert thinks he has some sources that are more relevant to the life of Jesus and closer to the time, he’s free to come forward and show them to us. I am sure the scholarly world would love to hear these sources. If not, then there’s no reason to complain because Habermas uses the main sources that we have. Everyone does that.

Jelbert says that Jesus had in the accounts left the tomb. Why on Earth would it be that angels would have left it open? This sounds like a good question unless you actually think about it for a few seconds. The tomb was open so that everyone could see that it was empty. It wasn’t open so that Jesus could get out, but so that others could get in.

He also says Habermas makes two assumptions. The first is that the Gospels are reliable which is what needs to be shown and that anyone would care to disprove the story anyway. Naturally, both of these are weak claims.

For the former, he’s not trying to prove the Gospels are reliable. He’s trying to prove a part of the tradition in the Gospels, the empty tomb, is reliable, That’s a big difference. The way he’s doing it is by examining the sources we have with normal scholarly protocol. Again, everyone in the field does this.

For the second, apparently Paul might have been in such a position. We know that within a year or two he was already out there persecuting Christians and that’s just one person we’re told about. Christians were regularly facing some sort of persecution from Jewish interlocutors.

Jelbert goes on to say that Christian teachings explicitly encouraged belief without sight. Not at all, but we have the usual litany. Let’s go through each of them.

We have Jesus with Thomas saying “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” This is a strange passage to use because it would imply that we who are later on are in a better position than the apostles who saw Jesus themselves. Thomas’s problem was that he had every reason to trust Jesus and he failed to believe.

1 Cor. 1:19 says God will destroy the wisdom of the wise and the intelligence of the intelligent he will frustrate. This verse has absolutely nothing to do with seeing something. What it is talking about is a masterful rhetorical work where the teaching of Jesus would challenge the sophists of the day by going against their preconceived notions of what a king should be and by revealing them to be frauds. Sophists, after all, could stand up one day and make a powerful argument that the nation ought to go to war against the enemy and receive applause for it, and the next day get up and argue the exact opposite.

No list of verses like this would be complete without Hebrews 11:1. I have written on that one before here. Nothing further needs to be said.

Jelbert says 1 Thess. 5:21 is often brought out, but that it applies to prophecy. I do agree on that one. Still, I think it’s a principle that can easily be applied across the board.

When he talks about the women discovering the tomb, he says that if the Gospel writers wrote that, they probably believed it. Yet this is what strikes me as odd. Jelbert talks about the accounts evolving over time. If they did, why did this part not evolve? Wouldn’t women witnesses be one of the first ones to change? Why not make the disciples into the heroes?

Jelbert says Mark and Luke have the women wanting to anoint the body with spices, but Matthew has them just wanting to look in the tomb. This is because Matthew has a story about guards that is found nowhere else. There’s one reason that I really think the story has credibility and this is something Jelbert never mentions. The text says the story has been told “to this day.”

If this story wasn’t being told in Matthew’s day, any reader would say, “Well not it hasn’t. We’ve never heard that story.” This is a direct acknowledgment of what was being said at the time. Again, Jelbert never mentions this.

Jelbert also says since Matthew changes Mark, that shows he doesn’t think Mark is reliable. That doesn’t follow. It could mean he does some editing to highlight certain points. It could be he wants to refine a detail. It could be he thinks a detail is unneeded. Jelbert just assumes the worst and goes with it.

Jelbert says that Paul never mentions the tomb at all, but what he needs to show is that he needs to. Paul writes about Jesus buried and risen and the word there indicates coming up from a lying down position. As a Pharisee, Paul would believe that what is placed in the tomb naturally comes back up again. Also, one will search in vain for any interaction with a work like Gundry’s Soma In Biblical Greek to see what is meant by a body.

Jelbert also says that when Paul says “Last of all he appeared to me, it implies an exhaustive list.” Why? Your guess is as good as mine. I see nothing here to make me think the list had to be exhaustive.

Getting back to the guard story, Jelbert says the chief priests and Pharisees go on the Sabbath to request a guard from Pilate who gives them one. That’s a problem at the start because there’s debate on if Pilate gives them a guard of if he acknowledges they had their own guards. He says the angels knock the soldiers out with an earthquake, which again I do not see in the text. They come to and run to the leaders who tell them what to say and assure them they will keep them safe. Jelbert says none of this is plausible. I suppose it isn’t when you straw man all of it.

Jelbert also says that if a body was raised from a mass grave, that would not leave an empty tomb. Sure, but no one claims it is a mass grave. If Jelbert thinks he has such a source, let him show it. All four of our early sources here all agree that Jesus was buried in a tomb alone.

Jelbert now goes to 1 Cor. 15 and the passage about the spiritual body. If this means immaterial, we have a problem. Paul speaks of spiritual men in chapters 2 and 3. He speaks of a spiritual rock in chapter 10. In that same chapter he writes about spiritual food and drink. Spiritual does not necessitate immaterial and again, the reader is invited to check the work of Gundry.

Right now I am convinced the tomb was empty, but not only that, so is Jelbert’s critique of it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Thought For Election Day

What can we think about what happens at the polls today? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Today in America, we have an election going on and it is one that has been anticipated for quite some time. Lately, every election has been touted as the most important election of our lifetime. So it is that this one is as well the most important election of our lifetime, until, of course, the 2020 election.

I’m all for doing your civic duty. My wife and I both did early voting together. This is what I think we should do in America if we want to have a say in what goes on. There’s no wrong in voting and we should support the people that we think will do the best job.

At the same time, there can be too much dependence, as if the government is supposed to fix everything. One subject I have done some reading on is economics, which is really a fascinating topic. Not too long ago I was in a Facebook discussion dealing with the housing situation in our country. What was the major solution? Government.

My stance is simple. Any power that is given to the government like that is power that can be used against you someday. If the government can tell you what you can sell or not sell something you own for, they can do the same to anyone else. They can control your property and tell you how to handle it.

This is why I am convinced government cannot be our savior. We should strive for one that is good, but we can’t make it our everything. We actually have power ourselves to do something about many of the problems we see. The problem with housing could lead to things that can help us out much like some entrepreneurs started companies like Uber and Lyft.

There is another fear I have in this. The more we let government do the work of caring for the sick and the poor, the less the church realizes that this is its responsibility. The early church regularly cared for the sick and in the fourth century, the emperor Julian the Apostate complained that the church was doing the work of not just taking care of its own sick, but the sick in the pagan communities.

Maybe, just maybe, we can consider doing that in the church today. Please understand I am not advocating the social Gospel. Economic well-being is not the goal of the Gospel. However, if the Gospel is truly being spread somewhere, I think that insofar as the society embraces that, it will be better off economically. It will care for the poor all the more.

We can react so much against Liberation theology that we forget that part of Christianity is indeed helping those in need. Liberation theology just takes one part and makes it the central part. We should emphasize the central part of salvation in Christ, without neglecting the lesser part. Even Paul, when given the right hand of fellowship by the apostles, was asked to remember the poor.

I don’t know what will happen tonight. Neither do you. I do know, whatever happens, my marching orders are the same. Preach the Gospel and seek to bring about the Kingdom. If the government we elect is favorable to that, then all the better. If not, then we still have the same orders anyway.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: Always Be Ready

What do I think of Hugh and Kathy Ross’s book published by Reasons To Believe? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I read a lot of apologetics books. I read all levels. Some books are entry level. Some are intermediate. Some are advanced. I have high standards. When Hugh And Kathy Ross sent me an apologetics book they had written, I saw the title and thought it looked like something basic. I looked at the bibliography. It was only three pages.

Great.

So I pick it up. There is one chapter dedicated to science apologetics. I really don’t know much about what to say with that. I have a stance that I stay out of science debates like that. I don’t know enough to recognize nonsense from accuracy. I think science is fascinating, but I can’t argue one side anyway.

But that’s the only kind of chapter like that. The rest of the book starts getting fascinating as Hugh Ross talks so much about how he came to believe in Christianity. It’s a fascinating autobiographical look at things. I count Dr. Ross a dear friend of mine and I knew some of it, but a lot I didn’t know and it was amazing stuff.

Did I agree with all of it? No. Ross makes a lot about Israel being founded in 1948 and that as a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. As an orthodox Preterist, I don’t agree, but the great thing about Ross is I know he wouldn’t have any problem with that.  If you want to work with Reasons To Believe, you’re actually required to have something that you disagree with Ross on.

Yet the story just gets fascinating to see Ross describe growing up and his life on the autism spectrum, something I relate to as one on the spectrum as well. Ross talks about problems in school and the care that he got from one special teacher. Teachers. Please never underestimate the influence that you could have on one student.

Ross also talks about the influence of Kathy on his life after he met her. At this point, as one who knows Ross’s story with her, I would have liked to have heard more. He talks about her showing up at a Bible Study he was at and then sometime later on, we hear that he’s her bride. Whoa! How did we get to that point so quickly? I would have liked to have read more how the romance developed. This could be especially helpful for people on the spectrum who are waiting to get married.

Ross goes throughout the book then talking about ministry opportunities that have come up in his life in working with the church and the launching of Reasons To Believe. Ross has it apparently that he gets into encounters all the time where he gets to share the gospel. I found this to be exciting reading.

That means that in the end, this could very well be my favorite book that I’ve ever read by Ross. It left me wanting those own opportunities to come and watching the world around me for when they could show up. It’s my sincere prayer that they will.

If you’re wanting to get a book that will equip you to go out there and have the best answers to deal with those who contradict the faith, this isn’t the book for you. If you want a book that can help discuss how to approach people better and give the Gospel, especially in a church setting, and examples of ways you can use apologetics in evangelism, this is the book for you. Veteran apologists will not likely learn much in the area of apologetics knowledge, but hopefully, they will gain a desire to interact more.

In Christ,
Nick Peters