Matt Chandler and Elevation

Is Matt Chandler’s sermon in need of censorship? Let’s talk about it today on Deeper Waters.

Recently, Steven Furtick of Elevation Church, had an event known as Code Orange Revival where he had a dozen preachers from other churches come and speak to the congregation. One name that was quite different from the others in the list was Matt Chandler.

And oddly enough, when his sermon was to be rebroadcast, it wasn’t. A statement issued by Geoff Schultz, who is the motion graphic designer at Elevation said the following:

“The team decided to focus the rebroadcast on Jesus, so we reformatted the content a bit – We are trying to stay in the flow of what the Spirit is leading us to do.”

Reformatting the content a bit seems to mean “changing it altogether.”

Instead, there was a video played of prayer going on. Why? Could this sermon have been such a disaster that it deserved to not be played?

Wanting to know, I listened to it myself. Chandler’s message is certainly powerful. I am not saying that I agreed with everything that he said in the sermon, but I certainly liked the majority of it and there was a clear emphasis on exegesis.

He also regularly points out that the Bible is not about us and even says the Bible is not about Elevation. The Bible is about Jesus. He wants us to know that God is for us, but that is only because God is for His glory first and He is glorified when we come to Him in repentance.

In the video, Furtick doesn’t seem too happy about how different this message is. Could there be some intention on Matt Chandler giving a message like this? I do not know, but I am open to it. There is something different to hear about the Kingdom of God rather than the Kingdom of Man.

To be fair though, while I think we rightfully say Elevation should not have skipped a rebroadcast of the sermon at the proper time, many of us can understand why this sermon would not be popular.

After all, we are all sinners and we are all about ourselves and to hear that God’s glory is more important than ours runs counter to our sinful intuitions. There is a part of us that wants to cringe at that. We are not sure if we can trust God to look out for us.

But this is also our sinful nature that must be worked out of us. This is the gravity of it. We are told that actions speak louder than words. When I kiss my wife, there is a message being told in that action. Let us suppose we asked the question “What is the message being told when we sin against God, especially knowingly?”

The message is that we wish for God to not exist. We want to be on that throne. We want to seek our good above the good of God. Every act of sin turns out to be then an act of divine treason and in a New Testament sense, it is saying that we are Lord and Jesus is not. We do not bow to Caesar. We seek to be Caesar.

Yet this sermon that glorified Christ was said to be the sermon that did not glorify Christ. How is this possible?

This is the kind of preaching we need to hear more often. Again, I do not agree with all Matt said, but it was obvious he had done some serious study of the text and had done some serious theology as well in working through the implications of his beliefs. Not only that, he was a quite humorous individual and I do value it when a pastor not only gives a sermon, but throws in the humor that also shows that he enjoys what he’s doing.

Some might think Jesus would not have been like that, but works like Trueblood’s “The Humor of Christ” shows that Jesus had a number of jokes in his sermons. He was a popular preacher and a preacher that one does not enjoy hearing will not be a popular preacher.

There is much speculation about why Chandler’s sermon was pulled at the time, and I think some of it could be likely. Time will hopefully tell what happened, but hopefully, more people will hear this message than that of someone like T.D. Jakes.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Scripture and the Words of Christ

How did the early church view the Words of Jesus? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Last night I was reading Ken Bailey’s latest book “Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes.” It’s a fascinating look at 1 Corinthians and I urge everyone to read it. What I was reading was about 1 Corinthians 9 and something was said that was one of those things we know already, but we don’t really think about until it hits us right between the eyes..

Last night, I wrote about the Jewishness of Jesus and how startling He was to His contemporaries. Later as I read, I was reading Bailey’s thoughts on 1 Corinthians 9 and in there he stated that the words of Jesus were being seen immediately on par with the words of Scripture.

That is something we think about and is fairly obvious to us in some ways. If Jesus was truly God in the flesh and Scripture is that which God says, then it would follow that whatever Jesus said would be Scripture. What is amazing is that this was such a quick recognition. It wasn’t the case that we had to wait until Nicea and then people started looking back and thinking “You know, all those things Jesus said, I’m starting to think maybe he was even YHWH in the flesh!”

The idea of Jesus being YHWH was not a development that came with paganism. It came right out of a Jewish milleu. Paul is being entirely consistent with his Jewish tradition. Note also that Bailey points out that in 1 Corinthians 9, Paul does not really say he became a Gentile. Instead, he says that he became like one not under the Law, save the law of Christ. Why? Paul can’t become a Gentile because he is a Jew and that is something that will never change.

Now of course Paul can stop following Jewish customs, although he will follow them if it will help someone come to the gospel. Today there are people who can abandon Judaism altogether and become atheists, but yet they still realize that even while atheists, they are still Jews. Some of them even still follow the rules of kosher eating as atheists.

The point is that Jesus was given this high place immediately. The last of the prophets before John the Baptist that had come was Malachi and that was about 400 years before Christ. The Heavens had been silent. It is my belief that God was wanting people to think about the time He had been silent for 400 years before sending Moses. Now, He was to send the prophet like Moses but greater than Moses. The people would be truly free from slavery.

Everything from Malachi and earlier that we have in the Old Testament was seen as authoritative Scripture and that would not be taken lightly. Notice what the 1st century Jewish historian Josephus says about the Old Testament in “Against Apion”.

For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another, [as the Greeks have,] but only twenty-two books, which contain the records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine; and of them five belong to Moses, which contain his laws and the traditions of the origin of mankind till his death. This interval of time was little short of three thousand years; but as to the time from the death of Moses till the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, who reigned after Xerxes, the prophets, who were after Moses, wrote down what was done in their times in thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to God, and precepts for the conduct of human life. It is true, our history hath been written since Artaxerxes very particularly, but hath not been esteemed of the like authority with the former by our forefathers, because there hath not been an exact succession of prophets since that time; and how firmly we have given credit to these books of our own nation is evident by what we do; for during so many ages as have already passed, no one has been so bold as either to add any thing to them, to take any thing from them, or to make any change in them; but it is become natural to all Jews immediately, and from their very birth, to esteem these books to contain Divine doctrines, and to persist in them, and, if occasion be willingly to die for them

And yet, immediately the words of Christ are given such a position and we can often take them so lightly. We have heard the gospel stories so much that often times we do not have the amazement of them that we know that we should have. Let us not lose sight of this. The words of Jesus are the words of God Himself and if we take God seriously, we must take Jesus seriously. Perhaps if we do not take Jesus seriously, we should question if we are doing the same for God.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Jesus The Jew

Does it matter that Jesus was a Jew? Let’s talk about it today at Deeper Waters.

For those who don’t know, I’ve taken a new job on the night shift and since I work by myself or with one another, I have found that I can listen to the radio or to podcasts. I have been playing much of N.T. Wright who frequently speaks about the relation of Jesus to Second Temple Judaism. What makes this interesting for me is that a lady I work back there with who doesn’t mind hearing this is Jewish and not Messianic.

This is something that gets me pondering as I hear this. What does it mean to say that Jesus is Jewish? How does an understanding of Judaism at the time help us with understanding the New Testament? Do we really need to bother with all that stuff in the Old Testament to understand the New?

To begin with, imagine reading the gospels without knowing what comes prior. How confusing it would be! Matthew opens up with a genealogy that assumes you know about the persons of the Old Testament. Mark opens up with Scriptural fulfillment and Scripture quoted. Luke starts with talking about the priestly system. John has a wonderful prologue where within Jesus is seen as greater than Moses.

All of this assumes an understanding of the Old Testament. What about Jesus in particular? What we want to do is consider Jesus in light of his relationship to YHWH. Jesus shows up with the claim to be YHWH in the flesh and begins doing numerous miracles to back this claim. What on Earth is supposed to be done with this man?

Well we could shut him up as insane and if we found someone making similar claims today that would be our first thought. The Jews could not do that however because this man showed all signs of being in his right mind. He was doing numerous miracles which does not come along with insanity.

Maybe we can best him in debate! Yet at every turn, Jesus humiliates his opponents. With lines like “Have you not read?” he displays their ignorance in that which they ought to be experts on. His mind is fully rational and despite all attempts to show otherwise, those who seek to best him end up being bested themselves.

These claims however simply cannot be true. It cannot be true that a man like this is YHWH in the flesh! He does not keep the law! He works with sinners! He is lowly and disgraceful. He attends all these parties where tax collectors and prostitutes are present and he tells people to work on the Sabbath.

Within a Greek system, the idea of a man being a god and doing miracles would be unusual, but would be tolerable. Paul and Barnabas were mistook for Zeus and Hermes. Jesus is not in this system however. Jesus is in a system loyal to YHWH and while there could be openness to multiple persons being in YHWH, it wasn’t set in stone and to think YHWH would become flesh?!

Then Jesus also claims that he is the long awaited Messiah. I can think about what that means to a Jew today, but what about back then? The first thought would have been about freedom from Rome. Surely the Messiah will come to set us free. The Messiah can overcome the Roman Empire. We will enter the Davidic Kingdom once more when Messiah comes.

Messiah did not come at the head of an army. He did not come with much pomp and grandeur. There is nothing in Jesus that ever suggests that He is a military genius. He simply travels around with a bunch of ragtag followers, most of whom were going nowhere in society to begin with.

This is the Messiah?

Yes he was. What does it mean when we think about that today? I listen to Wright and I wonder what a Jewish mind is thinking when they hear about Jesus who is Lord and Savior and being worshiped as God. It is no scandal for us to do that, but let us never lose sight of the fact that it sure sounds scandalous. For the Jew listening, it likely is.

This gets us to the crucifixion. With the claims that Jesus made and how he showed no signs of insanity, I can only conclude one of two things is true. Either what Jesus said was false and the crucifixion was the most righteous act of all that put to death the most wicked man who ever lived, or what Jesus said was true, and the crucifixion was the most wicked act of all putting to death the most righteous man who ever lived.

There is no middle ground.

Now as it was then, Jesus is someone that people have to respond to and something has to be said about Him. Perhaps some of the Christ myth idea is reactionary to this, but also failing to account the awesomeness of this figure thinking that anyone could just make him up. If you’ll believe that, you will believe anything else. Ultimately, this is the case. What will the person who denies all of Jesus and His claims believe? It is not that they will believe nothing. The problem is that they will believe anything else.

It should not be a surprise that even our calendar system is based on this man and as He refused to stay dead 2000 years ago, so He refuses to stay dead today. Jesus was the true revolutionary of all time. It is not the case that Jesus turned the world upside down however. The reality is He turned it right-side up and we would hardly today recognize a world where Jesus never existed.

If we are to appreciate Jesus more however, I urge us also to not just think about Him as man and God, important and essential as both of those are, but let us think about him as a Jew in a Jewish system and may we never look at Him the same way again.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Driscoll/Brierley Discussion

So who’s the bad guy in this discussion? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I recently got to listen to the Mark Driscoll interview that he had with Justin Brierley of Unbelievable? Let me go ahead at the start and present a possible bias. I do consider Justin Brierley a good friend and I have been on his program before. I consider Justin a great guy and he’s done a lot for my wife and I.

Being an Aspie, I wonder if there’s things I can see in this conversation that others might miss. I also want to state up front that what I say about Mark Driscoll is based solely on this interview. I have not seen his sermons or read his books. I am just looking at the interview and asking “Was Driscoll out of line?”

First off, I’ll say about Driscoll that I do like his style. I found a number of things he said in the interview quite amusing. Of course, that could also be because I have a sarcastic mindset. I also like the idea of him being straight forward and confrontational. I think part of the problem in America is that we Christians have let the world walk all over us and not had a spine.

As for Brierley in the discussion, I will grant that there were times I think he should have spoken more, such as when asked about Penal Substitution. Of course, I also realize that it could be that he is a moderator of a debate show and has to learn to be as neutral as possible. He could have also thought the interview was not about him and that stating his opinion could reflect that of the organization he represented and did not want to do that.

I can understand where Driscoll was coming from some in that there are times I do think Brierley can be too polite. I understand not all people are confrontational. That’s fine. At the same time, there are times where one does need to just bite the bullet and offend someone. Jesus did that several times.

Looking at Driscoll’s part, I do think he was too defensive when he told Brierley that the only parts being picked out in the book were ones that were the most controversial. Well that’s what an interview is for I think! These are the parts of the book I’ve heard about and those are the exact questions I’d want an interviewer asking. I want to know what the author thinks about the most controversial parts of his book.

I would have thought that Driscoll should have been prepared for such questions, particularly since people are wanting to know more about him and for someone so confrontational, I would have thought he would have handled that better. If anything, I would think it would be seen as a welcome opportunity to finally silence the critics. (Assuming his position is right. I’m not saying it is, but if he thinks it is, he could have seen it that way.)

Driscoll also complained that his wife did not get to speak much and it seemed like Brierley ignored her. On the contrary, Brierley said that she could speak at any time and he did not want it to be just Driscoll, but from what I gathered, it seemed like Driscoll spoke so much that Mrs. Driscoll never got a chance to say anything unless she was personally addressed. Could this be a failing on the part of Driscoll that the Mrs. does not think she can speak? I don’t know. All I have is this one interview, but I do not think Driscoll had a real basis for this complaint.

I do think Driscoll has a valid point about Britain not having a great Bible teacher. Honestly, some bloggers have thought Driscoll was thinking about himself, but I don’t see that. Our country has often had noted teachers throughout it that are known from Moody to Billy Graham. Of course, none of these fit the criteria of young. If Driscoll is known all throughout America however, it could be that he might be doing something right we can learn from. This is not necessarily so however as one could easily say Benny Hinn and T.D. Jakes are known throughout America as well.

Sometimes I thought Driscoll’s approach was too simplistic. When asked about his view on women in ministry and where he got it from he said “The Bible!” and talked about what a great book it was and how everyone should read it. Granted, I think the answer is funny and straightforward, but I wonder also since the other side, people like Brierley would also say their view is biblical.

At times, I wondered if Driscoll himself was reading his own culture into the Bible instead of understanding the culture of the Bible. You really cannot isolate Scripture from its social context and when you try to do that, you will replace it with another context, most likely your own culture.

I do think Driscoll’s answer on questions of Reformed thought was very unsatisfactory. Driscoll used the analogy of a parent saving their child against their will, but this is not what happens with God as the person who is saved at the time of being saved is NOT his child. Ephesians 2 makes it clear that we were once children of wrath.

It was odd to hear Driscoll speak around that point about people making decisions based on feelings, and later saying that when he speaks a word of prophecy, he does it based on what he feels led to do. To speak a word of prophecy sounds like a serious decision to me and Driscoll made it clear that he was, yet his basis for this was a feeling.

Now we come to the major point of disagreement. Women in ministry. Now personally, I would probably have more sympathies for Driscoll’s position. I cannot sign on the line yet about women being pastors. However, having said that, it is not a hill I am willing to die on and I definitely think women can still be active and involved in ministry.

People are talking about this and how offensive it is. No one seems to be asking one question. “Could Driscoll’s position be true?” It does not work to say that you find a position offensive. Several people find the doctrine that Jesus is the only way to be offensive and because of that say Christianity cannot be true. Christianity is offensive however. It does teach that people are sinners who can’t save themselves and must rely on Christ. There is no other way. That offends people, yet we tell them they must deal with it.

Now let’s look at Driscoll’s position. Could it be that it is biblical that women don’t pastor churches? Could it be that in fact women can be too motherly and present God in a way that might tone down some arguments? Keep in mind that this is his position and not necessarily mine. I would side more with the reasons of Lewis in an essay he wrote on this topic most likely, but let us not discount Driscoll’s view because we find it offensive. Let us do study to find if it is true. In saying this, I do not doubt that women can certainly give the hard truth if need be, but is this the way it naturally is?

For instance, many of us young men growing up knew about which parent to approach if we wanted something. If we wanted to do something questionable and/or dangerous, we went to see Dad. If we skinned our knee or needed some comfort, we went to Mom. There’s a reason for that.

Is the way to determine this to compare Driscoll’s church to Brierley’s? No. The way to do it is to have skilled researchers that know how to compare churches that have women as pastors to churches that have men as pastors and see if this is the case. Of course, if Driscoll can make his case biblically, that will settle the deal, but if we are uncertain, there is nothing wrong with looking at his question in other areas.

Note the danger we get in if we just play the offensive card. A few years ago, Lawrence Summers had to resign from a position at Harvard when he said that there are some skills men are better at than women. There was an outcry against what he said without asking one question about what he said. “Is he right?” If he is right, well he’s right and saying that it offends someone will not change the fact that he is right.

Men and women are different and God values those differences. I do believe I’d have more sympathy with Driscoll’s position because I do believe that men have been given the place of leadership and that men need to stand up and take charge of the situations around them.

This is not anti-woman at all. Those who know me know the devotion I show my Mrs. and that I do not look down on her because she is a woman. In fact, I take my position of leadership very seriously as I have to remember that when I stand before God, I give an account not only of how I turned out, but how my family turned out based on my leadership and that is a serious charge. For those who think the Bible is sexist in Ephesians 5, have you seen what it tells me I must do as a man? I must love my wife as Christ loved the church. Do you know what a calling that is? Do you know how serious that is? The Bible gives me the greatest responsibility that I must answer for.

I think it would be wrong then to say that Mark Driscoll is sexist because he holds this position. If he is sexist, it is not because of this. Elizabeth Elliot even holds the position that women should not be pastors. Does she hold this position because she hates her own sex? When we look at whether this is the way it should be, we have to look at the arguments themselves and not how we feel.

This is not to say that Driscoll’s arguments were the best of course. For Driscoll wanting Brierley to give the verses, it would have been nice if Driscoll himself had given some. Could we have had more of a discussion on passages like 1 Corinthians 11 or 1 Timothy 2?

Driscoll also emphasized getting the young men saved, but could there not be a good reason for this? In Driscoll’s view, the men are the leaders of society and if the men are living Christian lives, it could be expected the people would follow. In ancient times, if the king of a land became a Christian, it would not be a surprise for the people to soon follow suit. We can look at this statistically? Could it be that if men become Christians, more of the family is prone to follow than if the wife or a child becomes a Christian? Of course there are individual exceptions, but we must ask on a whole if Driscoll’s position is correct.

In that case, I don’t think Driscoll is sexist in saying this. Again, he could be sexist in other ways, but not in this one. Driscoll just wants men to be men and to lead their families and the best way to lead them is to be like Christ and how can they be like Christ if they do not know who Christ is?

At this point, Driscoll chooses to ask Brierley some questions. I have already briefly discussed how Brierley answered on Penal Substitution. I do not see how Brierley struggles to believe in that, but rather how he wants to be careful about how he presents it.

As for the literal Hell question, I would have asked what Driscoll meant by a literal Hell. If he meant a place that actually has flames and worms, then no. I don’t believe in a literal Hell either. That is just because I don’t believe that is what the Bible has in mind. Now I don’t think annihilationism is the way to go, but it was surprising to me how Driscoll spoke about that being a feminine position when someone he said he admires, like John Stott, held to that position. Was Stott really affected strongly be feminism?

Having said that, I don’t think Brierley was annoying or impolite in the interview. I also would not call him a liberal Christian. When I think of people we call liberal Christians, I think of ones who want the name of Christian but hold to stances that deny essential Christian doctrine, such as the deity of Christ. I do not really consider such people Christians, but there is not much other name for them in our society. I do not see Brierley backing down on essential issues.

At the end of the day, let us remember that if we are in apologetics, one question e should be asking at the start of any claim is “Is it true?” It seems too many people are jumping at Driscoll and immediately talking about how offensive they find what he says before asking the question “Is it true?”

If it is, I think we should all want to know that. If Brierley comes to the conclusion that it is true and thus, his wife needs to step down, well that will have to be accepted, but I think he’d want to do that rather than to go against the truth. If it comes that the conclusion is not true, then we have nothing to worry about. If it is, let us give thanks that it was brought to our attention so we could discover it. If it is not, let us give thanks anyway that we got to come together in a disagreement and work together on studying a position to learn if it is true.

That’s my opinions on the matter. I overall think Brierley handled himself well. I also think Driscoll does raise some points worth thinking about and we need to watch to see how we respond. We don’t want to be reactionary people but people seeking the truth in all things, even if we don’t always like that truth.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Thoughts On The Eucharist

Do we think about what it means to say the body of Christ is broken for us? Let’s see as we dive into Deeper Waters.

I have a job on the night shift now and on my job, I can listen to the radio or a podcast while doing something else, so last night I was listening to some N.T. Wright, and I was thinking about what he said about Christian unity. At one point, he brought up the Eucharist, also known as Communion, and I started thinking about that.

When I got back from my honeymoon, the first Sunday that we had was Communion Sunday and I remember my wife had hurt her leg somehow so we were in the back room of the church watching the service on a projection screen and then Communion was served. One of the deacons came back with the bread and juice each time for us and I remember that I took it from him and used it to serve my wife. I remember how much that spoke to me then realizing that I was in charge of a family now and that I had to use that position to raise my wife up in Christ as well as any future children we might have.

So last night, I thought about Communion again and I thought about what Christ says in that his body is broken for us. We all know that this happened in the crucifixion. It was there that Christ was made subject to the evil of the world in the form of the Roman Empire and of the Jewish authorities at the time.

Then you think about how we constantly hear about unity in the epistles. Christ tore apart the wall to unite Jews and Gentiles as one. You think about how Jesus prayed that we would have unity. Yet by contrast, you see in 1 Corinthians that some say “I follow Cephas.” Some say “I follow Paul.” Some say “I follow Apollos.” Others say, “I follow Christ.”

We can be tempted to think of Paul just randomly picking prominent names at the time, but Ken Bailey in “Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes” sees the text differently. Cephas would refer to Peter, who would be known as having a Jewish role. Cephas was a Jewish name after all. Apollos was a Greek name and would be a leading Greek seeing as he was from Alexandria. Paul of Tarsus had a Roman name and was a Roman citizen. You have allegiance then to Jewish culture, Greek society, and Roman heritage. Of course, there are also still the super-spiritual types who say “I follow Christ” and like many who say that today when popular teachers are mentioned, there is a lot of arrogance in that as the point is not to lift up Christ, but to show one’s self as superior in practice.

Divisions in the body. They’re a sad reality. Now that does not mean there is never ground for disagreement. That does not mean there is no chastisement. The purpose of such is to lead to healing. What we must remember is that we are all one body and that is the body of Christ.

Thus, when we speak about how in Communion the body of Christ is broken for us, then we should realize that when we bring about division in the body, that we are in fact crucifying Christ all over again. When we have bodies that attack themselves, then those bodies do not survive. So if the body of Christ attacks itself, it is in bad health. We do know that body survives however due to what Scripture says, but that does not justify our attacking that body.

How far are we willing to break the denominational lines? Am I willing to go to a soup kitchen in the name of Jesus if the person I’m with is a Calvinist or Arminian? Can I raise funds for the poor with an old-earther or a young-earther? Can I do street evangelism with a dispensationalist or a preterist? Can I visit those in the hospital with a charismatic or non-charismatic? Can I do Bible study with a Baptist, a Roman Catholic, or an Eastern Orthodox?

Some of us might say “I feel uncomfortable with some of those people.” If so, then do you want to spend eternity with God because being with Him eternally will also mean being with some of those people. They will be redeemed and renewed truly, but God will never destroy them. He will destroy what is not them. Them, the people themselves and not just their belief systems, are the ones you will spend eternity with. If that is the case, then ought you not to prepare for that now by learning to love your fellow brother and sister in Christ, no matter how wrong you might think their doctrine is?

Communion is meant to be for unity and meals are often times of unity, but what are we united in? We are united in the belief that Jesus Christ is the Messiah who died and rose again that we might be justified in the sight of God and bring about the restoration of creation to its full redemption. We are united on the question of Jesus and who He is and His relation to God. All else is secondary. Let’s keep it that way and be a unified front today.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters and Ratio Christi

What happens when Deeper Waters and Ratio Christi come together? Let’s find out as we dive into Deeper Waters.

Ratio Christi is a ministry dedicated to reaching the college student in the intellectual climate he finds himself in. They are not interested in competing with other ministries, but in working with those ministries to equip students the best that they can so that students can make a stand for their faith at secular campuses. There will be a link below with more information about Ratio Christi in it.

Recently, I got to speak with some people from Ratio Christi who have been looking for me to be their social media and communications specialist. What does this mean? It means that someone monitors Facebook and the blogs and is a specialist on the internet ready to help those who have questions.

Consider a student sitting in class who is told that there is no evidence that Jesus exists. He can send an email then or a tweet and it will come to me and if I am there, I will be able to give an answer that he can use in class if need be. Students will have a place they can go to regularly to ask questions. There will also be help on Facebook debates and posting of regular material that will be helpful to students.

From time to time, this will involve public speaking on my part. This is just fine for me and something that I enjoy anyway. It could mean that with this position, I could be coming to your college campus soon to give a talk on an area of the faith you need to know something about.

This is where you dear readers of Deeper Waters can come in. Some of you might see the “donate” button at the top and think “I’d like to give, but I want my gift to be tax-deductible.” No problem. You can now give to Deeper Waters through Ratio Christi. At the end of this post, I will be including a link showing how to donate.

Why should you donate? I do have endorsements and allow me to share those now.

“I count Nick Peters as a friend of mine and believe the ministry of Deeper Waters challenges Christians and non-believers alike to think through the implications of their worldview. Nick’s approach is rigorous and logical but remains Christ-centred at heart. We need people like Nick, prepared to “stick their neck out” to engage with the kinds of questions many people are asking today.”

Justin Brierley
“Unbelievable?” presenter

“The life of Nick Peters itself is a testimony of God’s favor and power. God has given this brilliant young man a passion for using the mind–which is often neglected by Christians–to reach the seeker and the doubter. He is resilient, focused, and disciplined. I believe many will be impacted positively for God’s kingdom through his servant, Nick. And I am proud to call him
my son-in-law!”

Mike Licona
Apologetics Coordinator of the North American Mission Board

“I have known Nick Peters for a couple of years and, in spite of several serious physical ailments, he excels at graduate level research, writing, debate/dialogue, and evangelistic efforts with those of other faiths. I commend his ministry.”

Gary R. Habermas
Distinguished Research Professor, Liberty University

“I have known Nick for many years and have had the privilege of having him on staff as a voluntary moderator/leader in a theology debate forum which ministers to all segments of society. He worked his way into upper leadership due to both his personal character and apologetics ability. I have always known him to conduct himself in a Christian and God-honouring way and could recommend him for apologetics work without reservation.”

DeeDee Warren
Co-owner of

“I have known Nick Peters for several years and have been featuring his contributions as a guest writer on the Tekton website for nearly that entire time. He is also my ‘go to’ person for several important topics that are outside my scope, such as arguments for the existence of God and theism as a basis for morals. I find that he is able to succinctly and masterfully address these topics in a thorough and competent way. His talents are such that I have deigned to have him
as a Tekton ministry partner, and I cannot recommend him enough.”

James Patrick Holding
Founder of Tektonics Ministries

“In the years that I have known Nick Peters, my respect and appreciation for him has only grown. In my opinion, Nick is a meticulous thinker, an astute apologist, and an effective communicator. I have always found his arguments to be logical and his positions Biblical.

Let me also say that Nick exhibits another quality sometimes missing in apologetics- he has a tender heart and great “people skills.” I believe that his kind demeanor is reflective of a life yielded to Christ and led by the Spirit. Nick Peters is an example to all who aspire toward apologetics and evangelism.”

Alex McFarland
author and broadcaster

At the end of this, I will also be including a link to a video by Mike Licona of a further endorsement.

I hope many of you readers will become supporters of me in this regard. I will be including links at the bottom. If not your financial support, grant me your prayer support in this.

Expect regular updates as well and be a supporter of Ratio Christi.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

More information about Ratio Christi can be found here.

You can support me through Ratio Christi by debit or credit card here

A video endorsement by Mike Licona can be watched here

High Context and the Perspicuity of Scripture

What hath the Big Bang Theory to do with hermeneutics? Let’s find out as we dive into Deeper Waters.

Just recently on Facebook, I was in a dialogue with a skeptic who was saying that God should have made His novel clearer. This is the kind of thinking that I find I regularly seem to have to argue against. Why is it that God should have made it clearer, and clearer to who?

What 21st century American thinkers can think is clear might not be what a 12th century Japanese person thinks is clear. It might not be what a 17th century Chinese person thinks is clear. It might not be what a 3rd century Egyptian thinks is clear. Why should it be that our society is the one that gets precedence?

Note that this also implies that Scripture will be dispensed at the lowest level possible. Why think Scripture should be that way? I would think that God, if He is the most awesome being of all, would in fact NOT be simplistic in His writing. The reality is that he would write far better than any author could in having multiple levels of depth to what he writes.

Consider this in light of the Geisler controversy. The idea is that the text does not seem to create any clear indication of being apocalyptic in Matthew 27:52-53 and even if it was, it must still be literal somehow. (Never mind that hardly anyone stops to think about what that means.)

One aspect missed in this is that the Bible is written in a high context society. The Bible assumes that you knew the prerequisite background knowledge to understand what is being said. Take the book of Revelation for instance. Two thirds of Revelation alludes to Old Testament Scriptures. It assumes that you have a working knowledge of the Old Testament. If you don’t have that, you will misunderstand the book. You cannot open Revelation and have just the text and understand it without knowing the background of the Old Testament.

Consider for an example the Big Bang Theory.

Oh I don’t mean the scientific theory. I mean the TV show. If you don’t know about this sitcom, it’s one that some friends suggested my wife and I watch, not only because they suspect one character (Sheldon) has Asperger’s, but they thought I in particular would since these are really four intellectual geeks together. The show is filled with such humor.

Regularly throughout the series, one will find bits of humor that depend on having a high knowledge of the subject matter discussed. I have no doubt that if I was more of a scientist, I would understand much of the humor even more. There is enough in the text that one can get a basic understanding of what is being said, but the more knowledge you possess of the subject, the more you will understand the inner-depths of the text.

If I want to enjoy a joke more in the series, I can look up a name or a word in the joke and do some studying and then look back at that joke when I watch a rerun and say “Ah! Now I understand that. It makes a lot more sense now!” What do I do with the Bible? The same thing. I go back and understand the context that the text is in, and that includes its historical and social context. Could it be that the Bible is not written from the perspective and reading style of modern Americans, but rather Ancient Jews?

When asked then how we can know what the text means, the answer is the same as that which Paul gave to Timothy. It’s 2 Timothy 2:15. Study to show yourself approved.

If we want to understand the deepest things of God, we will have to study. There are no shortcuts to this.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Lordship Over Scholarship

What is the real relationship between Lordship and Scholarship? Let’s find out as we dive into Deeper Waters.

In the whole Geisler controversy, one statement that has been repeated, and I understand is repeated in the book Geisler just released with Bill Roach, “Defending Inerrancy” is the idea that there must be times that we put Lordship over scholarship. This saying sounds oh so good. It sounds really spiritual. Still, we must ask if this is really a good statement to use?

Let’s clear something up. If something is really true, scholarship can never change that. Scholarship can never disprove it. It might raise at times some arguments that are somewhat persuasive and may seem to have the evidence on their side, but there are a number of times that such arguments have been overturned in the history of thought. If we believe something is true then, we should have no fear of following the evidence where it leads.

In one way, Lordship is always over scholarship in that Christ is Lord of all in the sense that He is the supreme ruler of the universe, whether or not people recognize His Lordship. There are unbelieving scholars and Christ is Lord over them in that He is sovereign over them, but He is not Lord in the sense that He has a salvific relationship with them.

Having said that, the Lordship over scholarship does not work if we mean instead that spirituality goes over scholarship. A good argument should never be replaced with personal piety. Don’t get me wrong in this. I do think being holy is very important for people and we should all seek to be holy, but we should not say “X is a really holy person, so therefore X is right in his opinion on Y.”

Unfortunately, this is what it usually comes down to. Are you really going to disagree with brother X? Do you know how much that man prays? Do you know about all the time he spends at the homeless shelter caring for people down there? Do you know how much of his money he gives to the poor? Do you know how much time he spends every day in Bible reading? Look at the devotion he has to his wife. Are you saying that he’s wrong?

All of those questions could have excellent answers, and brother X could still be wrong. Only one is infallible and that is God Himself. We dare not give infallibility to anyone else.

So when Geisler says this in response to Licona, what are we to say? Well let’s look further at what is said.

“we do not wish to stifle scholarship but only to reject bad scholarship.”

For this first part, there can be no disagreement. In fact, to be clear, we should not stifle bad scholarship per se. If someone wants to research something, if we’re convinced it’s going to be shown to be completely ridiculous, then we should be able to say “By all means go ahead.” We should be eager to help them in their search because we know in the end, that their view will show itself to be false by their own study. If it doesn’t, then we might actually have to consider that we dismissed it too quickly.

Should we reject bad scholarship? Yes, but I do not think we reject bad scholarship because it reaches conclusions we don’t like. We should reject bad scholarship because it is bad scholarship. It is bad scholarship because it does not reason through the evidence properly and/or research it properly.

“Further, as Evangelicals we must beware of desiring a seat at the table of contemporary scholarship, which is riddled with presuppositions that are antagonistic to Evangelical Christianity.”

On the contrary, I think we should eagerly be desiring this! How are we supposed to make an impact on the world of scholarship if we don’t want to seat at the table. Imagine what it could mean for Christianity if Christians were seen as trusted authorities in each field.

C.S. Lewis once talked about what it would mean if Christians were so up on their game in the world of ideas that whenever an unbeliever got a textbook for a class that was written by the best in the field, that that person was a Christian. This isn’t just in the area of religion! What if the best astronomer was a Christian? What if the best heart surgeon was? What if the best psychologist was? What if the best lawyer was?

If we run from interaction with the scholars, then who is going to be the influence on them? Are we going to wind up saying that Christianity has nothing to offer in the marketplace of ideas and that it cannot compete when contemporary scholarship shows up? Are we to say Christianity should be afraid of scholarship?

In saying all of this, I do not think Mike holds the position he does because he wants to be recognized at the table. Quite the contrary. I think he holds the position he does because that is where the evidence leads, and that is what we want in scholarship. We want scholars who will approach the data as fairly as they can and reach the conclusion of truth. We often say we want atheists and agnostics and others to put aside their presuppositions and study Christianity. Should we not do the same?

After all, if we tell them that if you just study it objectively without a naturalistic presupposition, then you will realize Christianity is true, then we should certainly have no qualms about those of us who are Christians being willing to do the same thing. If Christianity is true, then Christians should be able to say “If I approached this issue without my Christian presuppositions, would I reach the same conclusion?”

The reason we could be against such a thing could be that we don’t think the evidence is as strong as it could be. If so, then are we really believing in Christianity the way we should? Are we believing in it because of the evidence or in ignorance of the evidence?

“Indeed, when necessary, we must place Lordship over scholarship (2 Cor. 10:5).”

What does this really mean? How do we place Lordship over scholarship? Is this saying that regardless of what scholarship says, we must remember that unless it agrees with the Lord, it is wrong? Now of course, that is true. If God is the God of all truth and if scholarship disagrees with God, then scholarship is wrong.

The problem is we could be dependent on our presuppositions at that point and not really examining the case. It’s an event where we say that all evidence is admissible into the courtroom, but only on the grounds that the evidence agrees with the conclusion that we’ve already reached.

This is a more fideistic position where we wind up saying “You can keep all your data over there. I’ll have my faith in Jesus Christ over here.” We must not ever divorce the truth of the gospel of Christ from the truth of reality. The gospel is just as real as this keyboard I am using is. That being the case, we should again be willing to look at any “evidence” that comes against it.

When we deal with scholarship, upon what grounds do we do so? We don’t do so in saying something like “I know you have scholarship over there that presents arguments that seem to indicate the Bible is wrong on X, but the Bible is the Word of God and therefore your scholarship is wrong.” This is arguing from the conclusion alone. We must show why the conclusion reached is invalid and we do this by showing that the data is either wrong and/or it is being misunderstood or misinterpreted in some way.

“We do not oppose scholarship, but only scholarship whose presuppositions and methodological procedures are opposed to the Faith once for all committed to the saints.”

But why? I want atheist scholarship to be the best scholarship it can be. I want Muslim scholars to be the best scholars they can be. I want the same for Jewish and Agnostic scholars. I don’t care about their worldview. This is what I care about. What is the argument? What is the data for the argument?

If we say that good scholarship is only scholarship that agrees with Christianity, then we are stacking the deck in our favor. “We will only accept good scholarship and good scholarship is that which already agrees with us.” How can this be seen as an honest interpretation of the data?

When we give our atheist friend a book that reflects Christian scholarship, we again want them to be willing to case aside their presuppositions and just honestly examine the argument and see what is thought of it. Do we wish to be hypocrites when our atheist friends give us books that reflect atheist scholarship? He is to be open-minded with the evidence, but we are to study it from our own presuppositions.

What is to be afraid of? If Christianity is true, it will stand the test of time. It will hold up to any argument against it. It could be at times that we don’t have all the data we need, but we can then show the data is incomplete or poor reasoning. If we think we have enough positive data on our side, I think it’s quite alright to look at a case that seems negative and say “You do have a good argument here, but I have several good arguments here as well. For this negative case, let me just wait a little while and see what new data shows up.” I would not have a problem with an atheist doing the same.

So is Lordship over scholarship? In the sense I mentioned earlier of Christ being Lord of all, yes. In the sense that spirituality wins, no. Let us freely approach the table of academia because we are sure that the Christ who was strong enough to conquer the Roman Empire is also strong enough to handle scholarship.

Is Deeper Waters Mike Licona’s Mouthpiece?

So where does everything on Deeper Waters come from? Let’s find out as we dive into those Deeper Waters.

A lot of people have said that Mike Licona has been awfully quiet in his debate with Norman Geisler and I have been told by some that there is suspicion that what is really happening is that Mike is quiet in public but is instead using my blog as it were as a sort of mouthpiece. How far this goes I am not sure. Does Mike just give me the information? Does he write the posts wholesale? Does he just tell me what topics to write about?

Here’s the answer to those last three questions. No, no, and no.

There is no one in the family that I agree with entirely. That includes my own wife. We have disagreements. No doubt that some will think that Mike is a respected authority in the area, and I do not dispute that. Despite that, there are areas that I do disagree with him on.

When this whole controversy surrounded him erupted, my wife and I were getting ready to see the Liconas for her birthday and when I went down there, Mike and I spent a lot of time discussing the Bible and how to handle this. Mike has come to me to seek my opinion on some matters. There is a mutual respect there.

Why is he quiet in public? It is because this is not a debate he needs to waste his time with. He needs to be preparing for the more important debates and writing more books. This is something that I have said repeatedly that he just needs to leave to J.P. Holding, Max Andrews, and myself. Of course, there are some things he will share and in fact ask me to not share on my blog, and when it comes to that, I do respect his desire for privacy in that area. I often disagree, but I do respect.

If anyone knows me, they probably know that I am too much of a free agent to be one who will just allow someone else to do my thinking for me and to be used in such a way. I would hope that readers would realize that my own writing style come through the blog and when I write on a topic, I write on a topic because I want to write about it. Now that doesn’t mean that no one else has any impact on what I say, but the final decision comes from me.

What do the Liconas know in advance? Hardly anything. In fact, the time that they read the blog is usually about the same time anyone else has the option, and that is after it has been published. Even in this debate, I have not sent my blogs to the Liconas in advance to have them look over it and see if they approve or not. I’ve just written and published.

Now if I thought Mike was in violation of Inerrancy and Geisler was correct, I would be telling him so, but I have made it a point to be as impartial as possible and examine the evidence and when I do, I just conclude that Mike is not violating Inerrancy and I believe that while his view could be wrong, we need to find out if it is wrong, not by simply asserting by authority and pointing to Inerrancy, but by examining the evidence of the claim. I don’t know about you, but for me, if this is what the Bible is teaching I want to know. On this, Mike and I do agree. He wants to know what the Bible teaches as well.

When you read Deeper Waters, you are not reading the opinion necessarily of Mike Licona. It could be that he agrees with what I say here, but it is not because I have written it. He agrees with something because he believes it to be true and if it is true, then it can be said to be his opinion. It is an idea however that exists independently in my own mind and that I put to the text and share to the world. It is my doing my little part for the future of evangelicalism.

Have I realized the risks for me from the beginning of the debate? Yep. I sure have. Once again, I point to what people know about me. If something is going on that I don’t believe is right, I am not one to sit in the background and do nothing.

Also, for those who need more convincing, my in-laws have areas that they disagree with me on and they think I’m wrong on and they have talked to me about those areas. We’ve had some give and take exchanges and there are a number of areas that today, I still don’t agree with them on, and they know it.

Back when we were engaged, I remember my now mother-in-law being with my wife and I and talking about relationships with parents. My mother-in-law told my wife that she had no doubt that whenever push came to shove, I would not hesitate to stand up to parents in defense of my wife. That has happened a number of times. I have even stood up to her parents before if I thought they were in the wrong concerning her and let them know it.

I have no doubt to them that sometimes that’s annoying to have a son-in-law that can do that, but then at the same time, I think it makes them thankful they have a son-in-law who does not just cave in to pressure like that and at the same time is devoted to their daughter and will defend her at any time if I think someone is in the wrong concerning her.

They also know that if I thought that Mike was in the wrong on this, I would be letting him know entirely. That does not mean in the wrong on his interpretation, but it means in the wrong on Inerrancy. His interpretation could very well be wrong, but that does not mean that he is violating Inerrancy. Is his interpretation wrong? I honestly don’t know. I’m open I’ll say at least.

So for now, let this post stand as my statement that what I write is my own thinking. Now some people might think that this too could be a written post of Mike’s to deny the idea, but if they do, let them present their evidence other than a conspiracy theory. If someone wants to believe that, I probably won’t convince them, but for those who want to know for sure, I hope this settles the issue.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Code Red on Code Orange

So a big church with a number of satellites in the Charlotte area is celebrating a major revival. Is this a good thing? Let’s find out as we dive into Deeper Waters.

I’m not really a fan of the term “Revival.” Yeah. I understand the concept, but I don’t really like saying that Christians are dead. Unfortunately also, too many revivals seem to be something like Gatorade before the big game. They give you a good burst of energy for awhile and then you fizzle back out to where you were before with no long term growth.

Growing up in the Methodist church, I never went to Resurrection, a big youth event, but I do remember when the kids came back from it, that they would soon have a youth Sunday where they would lead worship and everyone was so pleased that the kids were so excited about God and indeed they were!

For about a week.

Then what happened? It was the same thing again. Now I’m not knocking emotional highs entirely. Some people are more prone to them. If they have them, great. I have a problem however with simply a high with nothing behind it, especially if just a strong emotional reaction is seen as evidence that God is at work.

The idea of basing how we live on our emotions leads to chaos. This is one reason why so many marriages are failing in America. “I just don’t feel like I love him anymore.” I recall talking to a friend a few months ago who told me “Isn’t love a feeling?” I had to inform him that if that’s what he thinks, then when he gets married, he could have a lot of difficulties, because that feeling just doesn’t last long term and sometimes, the negative opposite feelings can show up.

Now the church that I’m speaking about is one located right here in Charlotte where I currently reside and is known as Elevation church. It’s pastor is Steven Furtick. Elevation has been a growing church for some time. There is no doubt that Furtick is a very charismatic speaker with a gift for public speaking. Charisma can be misleading. Great people can have charisma. So can very wicked people.

Is Furtick getting those who come to have life-changing experiences based not on emotional highs but rather on the conviction that they are sinners and need the grace of Christ in their lives to be saved? Is there heavy discipleship going on learning about the essentials of the faith? If Code Orange is any indication, then the answer would be no.

Let’s look at some of the line-up.

First off is Craig Groeschel. Do you know him? He’s the one who recently wrote about how God wants to use “idiots for Christ.” (See link below) To point to someone like Peter or John won’t work. They might have been such when they were called, but consider how often a Seminary is a four-year education. These guys had three years of day-in and day-out being with Jesus Christ Himself and learning under Him.

Which education do you believe is more substantial?

Do you believe they graduated idiots or not?

Next up is Jentezen Franklin, who is well on the path to becoming a well-recognized Word of Faith teacher. By the way, have I mentioned that these sermons are going to be broadcast on TBN? You know TBN. It’s that station with all those televangelists that are a constant shame on the body of Christ.

The big name I notice however is T.D. Jakes. I know a lot of people like his material, and some of it in relation to right living could be decent, but let us not forget something important. Jakes is also part of the Word of Faith movement and with his background in Oneness Pentecostalism, we have never seen a clear affirmation of the doctrine of the Trinity.

The doctrine of the Trinity. Remember that? That’s the doctrine the church spent centuries developing in their understanding of and had to deal with heretical versions of, like the Sabellian heresy. What was that heresy? It was the idea that God is one person who keeps switching between being the Father to being the Son and being the Holy Spirit. One person and three modes of being in relation to the salvation mission. This is a view held by Oneness Pentecostals today.

You know, the group Jakes comes out of.

Remember how I said that it seems that the people of Elevation are not getting a firm teaching on the essentials of the faith? If you allow someone in your pulpit who denies an essential, then you are simply telling your congregation that you do not view it as an essential.

Are we to say Elevation does not consider the Trinity an important subject? Well maybe they do, but that’s obviously a secondary doctrine we can disagree on!

The early church would have had none of that. The Reformers would have had none of that. The Medievals in the middle would have had none of that.

By all means, let them bring forward their arguments, but let them realize we are prepared to answer them.

In fact, of all the speakers, the only one I can think of recommending at this point based on what I know of them is Matt Chandler.

Looking at Elevation, there is a great danger here, and that danger is that the church seems to be built around the ideas of Steven Furtick entirely. Let us consider what they have to say in the fourth value listed in their “code.”

“We Are United Under One Vision – Elevation is built on the vision God gave Pastor Steven. We will aggressively defend our unity and that vision.”

As was said on the Fighting for the Faith podcast (see link below) this is making Furtick a prophet for all intents and purposes. The church then is built around what Furtick sees and the people of the church are to aggressively defend the vision of Furtick.

Of course, there have never been groups that have started based on the visions of one man, well, unless you want to count that little group that poses no trouble for Christians today known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormons.

Now am I saying Elevation is a cult? No. I am also quite certain that most people there are honest Christians. I am saying that that potential is there however and this is something we should be on the look out for.

You want to see true revival? It won’t come with emotional highs alone. It also won’t come with just good news. Oh there is good news of course, but let us remember the good news is only good news when we know the bad news as well. The bad news is that we are all sinners who cannot save ourselves. The good news is we have a God who sent His Son to die so that we could be with Him. The gospel is not about us specifically. It tells us much about God. It tells us of His great love, justice, mercy, power, and wisdom.

As for Furtick’s teachings themselves, many of them can be found in a book he wrote called “Sun Stand Still.” I cannot point to a better response to what is in that book than that of my best man at my wedding, David Sorrell. David wrote a series of reviews of chapters of the book that can be found on the Tekton Ticker blog of J.P. Holding. (see link below) I urge all to watch David closely as I do not doubt that he has much to do for the kingdom here. He is a good apologist, but more important than that, he is a good friend I respect and honor greatly.

For now, I advise readers to be on their guard. It may sound good and people may feel good about it, but that does not mean that Code Orange is good. Considering that someone like Jakes is there and that we could be getting into Word of Faith doctrines, I do think we need a Code Red concerning Code Orange.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Groeschel on being an idiot for Christ can be found here

Fighting for the Faith review of Code Orange can be found here

A list of Code Orange speakers can be found here

Elevation’s Code can be found here

David Sorrell’s reviews of “Sun Stand Still” can be found here