What’s A Body To Do?

If matter matters, what about my body? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Last time, we talked about the existence of matter itself and how the resurrection makes a difference. Recently, I had Jehovah’s Witnesses at my door as you can read about in a recent post. One statement that they made was that Jesus laid down his body. Why would he pick it up again?

Well why wouldn’t he?

What we are told is that our resurrection will be like that of Jesus’s and if we will rise again bodily, then that means that Jesus rose again bodily. Now I was told “Why couldn’t it not be instead like that of Lazarus?” Why? Because the Scriptures do not say we rise like Lazarus, but that we rise like Jesus. We rise in a body that is immortal and will not die again. Lazarus rose only to die again.

Now some of us might think that 1 Cor. 15 rules against that since it contrasts between the physical body and the spiritual body. It really doesn’t. Even a skeptical NT scholar like Dale Martin says that to think of the translation as physical is really a bad one. The better idea is to think of the force that dominates. Is it going to be the desires of the flesh that dominates or is it going to be the power of the Spirit that dominates?

What about flesh and blood? Quite likely, this is an idiom that refers to perishable sinful nature. This means our bodies as we have them now are unfit for Heaven, but it does not follow from that that all bodies are unfit for Heaven.

So what does this mean for us overall? Let’s suppose that we go on from here and assume that this is a physical body that is rising up. What does this say about our bodies right now?

When Jesus rose again, the idea was that the body was something that you would want to escape. It was a prison. Hence, some Gnostic cults were against sexual activity. After all, why imprison another soul in a body? In a culture that was like this, the resurrection would have been seen as nonsensical. Why on Earth would someone want to live again in their body? The body was meant to be temporal. To be set free from the body was the ultimate healing. At the end of Plato’s “Phaedo”, Socrates orders an offering to be given to Asclepius. Why? Asclepius was a Greek god of healing and Socrates was experiencing death, release from the body, the ultimate healing.

The Christians did not see it that way because Jesus rose in the body. That meant ipso facto that the body was a good thing. God was not going to allow death to have a victory over the human body and He had set about a way to make sure that death would not spell the end. Indeed, someone who is without a body is compared in Scripture to someone who is naked. (2 Cor. 5) We are not angels. We are meant to be bodied. (Yes. When you have a Christian loved one die, God does not get another angel. You will never be an angel, and that is just fine.)

This then means that like the environment, what you do with your body matters. For instance, before my marriage, as an Aspie, I had a very limited diet. Now in a sense, it still is of course, but it has expanded as I’m wanting to be one who leads my family for a long time. In the past before the marriage, it was pizza every night. Some of you might wonder about my being overweight with that. The reality is I eat less overall and tend to be active. I weigh about 120.

We do not treat our body lightly for the same reason we do not neglect the environment. I do realize I still have a way to go, but we are all on the path of sanctification. Not all of us are health guru types. Our body is not just excess baggage for us. It is an important aspect of who we are. It is not an accident that we live in a body. We are meant to experience the world as bodied creatures.

Christians are unique in that we are believers of resurrection to a bodied life. We believe that this body is good and that God will raise it up again, which is one reason we bury our dead. Of course, God is capable of re-creating bodies, so that someone who dies in an animal attack and gets their body ground up, or in an explosion or something of that sort, can be resurrected. That is no problem. It does not mean the matter will have to be identical either. Not all our questions are answered explicitly in Scripture, but we know that it is not beyond the power of God.

Since our bodies matter, does that have any impact on ethics? There are such in the Pauline epistles, but we will discuss that next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Matter Matters

So does it matter what we think about matter? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

We’ve been doing a study on the difference that the resurrection of Christ makes. Note that in this study I am assuming that the resurrection is true. There are other times that I have answered the question of the resurrection, but for now, rather than give an apologetic, it is simply to point out that there is much more that the resurrection means for us than what we take from it. It certainly means we are forgiven and have eternal life, but we are missing far more than we realize with our approach to the resurrection.

In the Greek world, there was already growing a movement against matter that later comes out more in the Gnostic heresy. From a Platonic perspective, this world was the world of change and the good and perfect world was the unchanging world of the forms. For the Gnostics, matter was a creation of an evil god and it was the role of Jesus to free us from the material world and take us to our real dwellings.

Thankfully, we are past this in the church today. We never have any ideas in the church that the world is going to go away and that we’ll all live forever in an immaterial Heaven. Oh? You mean we still have that kind of belief. Of course, most Christians would realize that we are in Heaven bodily after the resurrection, but many times that line is blurred. I think of the time I heard a pastor speaking at a sermon about a friend who had died and how the next day, he knew his friend was walking on those streets of gold.

Now we can quibble about how we will interpret the description in Heaven in Revelation and if it’s literal or not. (I say not) However, the point to make is that his friend was not walking on those streets of gold if they were real. Why? It is because the body of his friend was still in the ground and until the resurrection took place, his body would remain in the ground. I advise pastors doing a funeral to simply say that the Christian who has died is in the presence of Jesus. Don’t talk about the body being up there. It is not and will not be until the final resurrection.

What we need to realize is that in the resurrection, we get the realization coming in that the creation of the world was not an accident. It was not a plan B. It was not that God’s angelic world didn’t hold up since the devil rebelled so he figured he’d just try with another world altogether. No. This world was part of the plan all along. In fact, it would seem odd for God to create a world of even less perfect creatures than the angels and say “Maybe they’ll do better.”

My wife happens to be a great lover of nature and she is right when she tells me that it is a shame that the New Age movement outdoes us it seems in environmentalism. Christians can too often write off proper care for the environment. Now I am not in any way saying to go out and be a tree hugger or join PETA or something of that sort. I happen to think man is to be in charge of the environment and master and use it, but he is also to have a respect for it as the creation of God.

When we do our environmental duty, perhaps we could go out singing the hymn of “This Is My Father’s World.” It is created for us to use, but not to abuse. We are the caretakers of the creation acting on the behalf of God. It is certainly the case that while we do not worship the creation, we should be the ones doing such a job taking care of it that we put the New Age movement to shame. It is not a sin for the Christian to love the world God created. In fact, I would say it is a sin for him to not do so.

When God resurrects Jesus from the dead, we find that He is really saying that the other side is wrong. This is a good world. It is a good world because Christ rose in a material body. Does the fact that He rose in a body say anything about our bodies? We’ll save that for next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Why I Am A Gamer

Why enjoy a hobby that has so much violence? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

The following blog entry is also a guest blog entry at NearEmmaus. Brian LePort who runs it started asking questions about football of all things and whether there are any theological questions. Now to be honest, I don’t care a bit about football. I watch the Super Bowl for the same reason several of you probably do. I want to see the commercials! The only sport I could ever get into any at all is Braves baseball. Yet I saw the question about football being violent and thought from a different perspective that I could handle that.

Why? Not because I like football, but because from as far back as I can remember, I’ve had a great interest in video games. For me, it started with realizing my parents had something called a ColecoVision (Some of you remember those I’m sure). My favorite game on it was not a fighting game but a puzzle game called Ladybug. (I would love to be able to download this game on the Wii today!) I could often reach level 100 on the game. I had it mastered from an early age. (It’s not as easy to do on the computer)

Being in Elementary School, I realized I needed to get a Nintendo soon and so like many others, I grew up playing games like Super Mario Brothers and the Legend of Zelda. Link of the Zelda series was a hero of mine growing up. I still remember taking a Nintendo Power magazine to the place I’d get my hair cut. In it, I showed a picture of Link from Zelda II and said that I wanted my hair to look like that.

And before too long, people at my school knew who was the main expert on video games. While there are puzzle games and some adventure games I still enjoy, far and long the games I enjoy the most are RPGs. I prefer Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Kingdom Hearts, etc. A notable exception could be multi-player games such as how in Charlotte I got together with friends every Sunday night to play Super Smash Brothers Brawl. When I visit my in-laws, we can play the Wii Sports or Mario Kart Wii. I also like to play the old classic games.

Now with puzzle games we don’t really have much problem of course. That my Dad and I can still play Dr. Mario today is not really a problem to anyone. What about a game where you get a sword and cut through monsters? Isn’t that violent?

Why yes. Yes it is.

Now note in this that for me, I don’t play games that have gratuitous violence. There are limits for me. I do not really like to see the sight of blood that much. I could take something such as playing Goldeneye on the 64 and seeing the blood come down when my character died, but to see someone get shot at regularly and have blood come gushing out would not be something that I want to see. Just yesterday my wife and I watched “Flags of our Fathers” and I had to cover my eyes a number of times because I can’t stand the blood. Watching “House M.D.” can be difficult and I have no idea how I got through the first season of Dexter. This could also be a question of conscience, which many of this is. Note that if someone reads this and still has hesitations and really doesn’t think they should play the games I play, that is just fine with me. I have no problem there. Let us follow a Romans 14 perspective and see this as a matter of conscience. Of course, if you have a real objection, then bring it.

Yet if we are to say that something is to be rejected because it contains violence, then frankly we Christians will have to reject the Bible as well which has much violence in it, something that we need to accept. God is a holy God and those who go against Him are dealt with in accordance with what they do wrong, and sometimes His instrument for doing that is human beings. This still goes on today. Romans 13 speaks about government being such a force that bears the sword. Yes. There are times violence is necessary.


It would be nice if we all lived in a world where everyone would sit down to peace conferences and be willing to do all that was necessary, but because we are still in the flesh, such is not going on. There are people who will want to get whatever they want and who cares about anyone else? There will be people who do not follow the rules of others and go forward on their own authority seeking to stomp on anyone who gets in their way.

But are we not told that blessed are the peacemakers?

Those familiar with Westerns know that Wyatt Earp referred to his gun as the peacemaker. Let’s suppose I had been out somewhere and came home and heard my wife screaming inside. I go in and find some man attacking her and getting a weapon, I manage to kill her assailant. In doing this, I have become a peacemaker the way Earp said his gun was. The person who I dealt with was someone who was violating the peace. By eliminating him, I have restored the peace that he shattered.

“But Jesus told us to love our enemies! Should we kill them?”

Most of us would not consider it loving to lock someone behind bars in a destitute situation for years or to charge a really hefty fine for something. This is what we do however! Why? Because love does not mean everyone gets to do what they want without any consequences whatsoever. Now some have argued that Jesus would forgive people. Yes he would. So should we. However, there is a difference between private and public forgiveness. Someone can privately receive forgiveness for what they’ve done, but they still owe a debt to society and that debt is to be repaid. For an example, David in the sin of Bathsheba was privately forgiven, but his son still died. Forgiveness does not automatically mean there are no consequences. In fact, the Christian narrative should remind us that all actions we do have consequences.

If someone is out there actively doing evil, you can be sure that they are NOT seeking forgiveness. They are not in a state of repentance. I hold that Christians should always be willing to forgive, but they are not to offer forgiveness until the person comes to them and asks for forgiveness. Some might think that is not a good attitude to have, but why think that when that is the exact position God Himself holds?

Yet are we not to turn the other cheek?

Jesus’s statement was about an event in the private setting that constituted a simple insult. The idea was to end the cycle of retaliation before it starts. It says absolutely nothing about physical danger. It is not being like Christ to do nothing while someone inflicts serious injury on innocent people. If you are insulted, it can be a mark of character to simply not choose to retaliate in private. In public, matters are different. While it can be questioned whether Edmund Burke said it, I can easily agree with the idea that “All that is needed for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing.” If we sit back and do nothing in the face of evil, let us not be surprised that evil flourishes.

So what about the gaming area since you are the one doing the activity?

And I have no qualms about it. Note for instance that in many games today, one is fighting monsters who are not rational human beings and seek only destruction. (Never mind in these worlds for some reason they all breed like rabbits and are all deadset on destroying you and your party) There are times you fight people, but again, this is in a public forum with fighting those who wish to do evil and are not repentance. There are times in RPGs where you can be given the choice to let a character go who seems repentant.

We also should realize that a game must be considered in the world that it is in. We can look and say that on Earth it would not be like this, but then on Earth we don’t have dragons flying around us and imps breeding everywhere. In this world, if one does not fight evil villains, then the good of the whole world will suffer and we must seek to bring about the good of the world and not just that of an individual.

Of course, we must be sure we are fighting for the good of the world. Are we doing that? If someone is going on a quest and slaying monsters but they’re only doing that so they can get to the hapless village and destroy it, then it would be apparent that while they could be doing good on the way, their overall approach is not good and is therefore something that should be condemned.

Now what about football with all of this? It’s also important to consider that men by nature do tend to enjoy violent activities. That’s the way we are. We’re warriors at heart. Men like something to fight for. One of the reasons I believe marriage can domesticate a man for instance is that it gives him something he can fight for. Many of us men would hopefully be ready for action immediately if someone were to do something that would endanger our wives. We have this instinct to protect and fight born into us. We grow up with toy guns and swords and all manner of activity like this.

What we need to ask is what are we going to do with all this aggression and energy that we can have? Football could be a fine outlet for some people, though I would advise them to be extremely careful. Several older people today suffer greatly because of injuries they got when playing football while young. Of course, on a field, one should only use enough force to take down an opponent. (Don’t expect technical terms from me on football. I couldn’t tell you) I do understand that there are such things as unnecessary roughness in a sport like football. It can be necessary to knock down your opponent. It does not mean it is necessary to pummel him on the ground to keep him down.

Of course, every Christian will have to examine themselves. My great concern for us gamers is not that we will become violent people, but that we will spend too much time with our hobby. I make it a point for instance that when game time comes here, I usually listen to an MP3 at the same time so I can at least be educating myself as well. (Somehow, I don’t think this would work in a football game) Of course, that doesn’t hold if I’m playing a multi-player game with friends in which it’s just fun fellowship. Now if you really have serious qualms about this and you’re not even sure why, you can examine those, but you do not have to partake of something. This is the freedom of the Christian.

As we observe our freedom, let us be careful about how we approach another person’s freedom. What you might find questionable they could have no problem for and let each be fully convinced in his own mind.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Wife of Jesus

Did Jesus have a wife? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Okay. We’ve all heard the story by now. Jesus supposedly had a wife according to a 4th century document. Keep in mind we really don’t have much and it has been pointed out that the fragment is rectangular that we have indicating some editing has been done. Either way, the main story about it can be found here:


So what are we to make of this?

My take? Absolutely nothing.

Why is that? Because this document is incredibly late. It would be just as false to take seriously a 4th century document that had Jesus walking around proclaiming explicitly the doctrine of the Trinity. It’d have made things easier for us today if He’d done that (Although I think much more difficult overall for people back then), but He did not. There is no doubt that other groups and even some Christians in the second and third centuries and onward would want to put words in Jesus’s mouth so He could advocate their views.

What do we do? We critically examine any text. We look at the dating of the manuscript, any claim of authorship, any information on the dating, authorship, and accuracy of the manuscript be it external or internal, and then make an informed decision. We have several works that describe how this is done for books of the New Testament and describing how it is done for books that are not in the canon, such as many Gnostic works like the Gospel of Thomas.

What is amazing about this is that the gospels which can all easily be dated to within 100 years of the events that they talk about are immediately rejected as biased and unreliable. Meanwhile, we have one fragment that says something centuries later and all of a sudden this is seen as something highly reliable. The double standard is incredible.

However, let’s also suppose that worse comes to worse and that as it turns out Jesus had a wife while He was on Earth. I don’t think that He did, but let us suppose for the sake of argument that He did. What do we lose by that?


Why would we? It’s no sin to be married. It’s no sin to have sex within marriage. If Jesus had been a married guy, well we’d realize the gospels did not consider this important to mention, but that’s okay. That again would not mean that they are inaccurate in everything they say. It would just mean that they are incomplete, and that’s okay because any biography of anyone will have to be incomplete. If you wrote an exhaustive biography of anyone it would be massively huge.

What we have here is simply a non-story. This kind of claim has been made before and it will be made again. The best thing to do is to have the church improve their skills at thinking so that not everyone has to panic at the thought that a new finding has come up. We have gone through this before and we will go through it again. As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing worth talking about. I simply write this for those who might be concerned and want an opinion on the matter.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Jesus Was Right

Jesus made some strange claims. What to make of them? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

We’re looking at the topic of the resurrection now and what difference it makes. We’ve made the point in our introduction that there is something different about the resurrection of Jesus. If all we had was the resurrection of Lazarus, well that would be nice, but we would not have a new religion. We have one because Jesus rose again. For many Christians, the resurrection is a demonstration of the deity of Christ, but is that all? Even if it is, how does that work?

Throughout the gospels, one finds Jesus making great claims about Himself. There will not be an exhaustive list here, but He claims to have the power to forgive sin, He claims to be Lord of the Sabbath, He claims that your response to Him will be what determines your final destiny, He interprets the Law of Moses by His own authority, and claims to have a unique relationship to YHWH unlike anyone else. Jesus was not explicit with His claims in a modern sense, but His claims were easily understood by His audience.

It was these claims along with actions like the cleansing of the temple that led to the crucifixion of Jesus. Let’s pause to see what the crucifixion in itself would say about Jesus. To the Roman world, it would say that Jesus was someone who was opposed to Caesar and died for it. For the Jewish world, it would mean that Jesus was one who was opposed to YHWH and died as a blasphemer to Him. Thus, Jesus was wrong whichever way He turned. He could not please the Romans and He could not please the Jews.

Did God agree with that decision?

The resurrection is God’s way of saying “No!” It is giving the stamp of approval to the life of Jesus. In resurrecting His Son from the dead, God showed that Jesus was truly who He claimed to be and He has the authority to make those kinds of judgments. Now we will get later on in another post as to the kind of body Jesus rose in and what a difference that makes, but for now, let it just be stressed that the act of resurrecting Jesus was a reversal of the claims of His opponents. In biblical language, God vindicated Jesus.

What this means for us today is that the claims of Jesus are to be taken with an emphatic seriousness. In no other person has God spoken in such a way and to such great claims. He was not, to use the trilemma, someone who was insane or someone who was the devil out of Hell. He really was and is the rightful king of this world.

What has this to do with deity? It means that Jesus’s claim to have that authority in Himself is backed. Now I do believe it is a mistake to go to the gospels thinking that these were only written to show that God walked among us. They do show that, but they also show more than that and we dare not miss out on the whole because we are fixated with a part. We know that God has acted in Jesus by the resurrection as in resurrecting Jesus, God also upholds His own honor. God sees someone speaking with this kind of authority and says “Yes. That one is right. He speaks for me.” This is not something adoptionist by the way for those who are concerned. This is just recognition. Jesus speaks for God perfectly because He only perfectly embodies the nature of God.

We can often spend so much time looking at the deity of Jesus that we can miss the message of Jesus and realize that that message is right. The first lesson we need to learn then is that Jesus was, nay, IS right.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Why The Resurrection Matters

Jesus rose from the dead. So what? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

We Christians do know, supposedly, that the resurrection is the most awesome event ever. It is the event that changed the world. If I ever say Jesus’s resurrection turned the world upside-down, my Mrs. is always quick to remind me of what I really mean to say as I’ve told her before. It did not turn it upside-down. It turned it right-side up. Christians will happily go to church on Easter and you will hear “He is risen! He is risen indeed!”

But then comes the time when you ask why it matters so much. So Jesus came and died and rose again. What does that have to do with anything? We believe that Lazarus was resurrected as well, but yet you do not hear anything about celebrating Lazarus day in the church. We frankly don’t know what day it took place on. Throughout the Bible we can find occasional resurrections taking place, but only Christ’s is celebrated. Why? Is it just because we like Him more?

The most common answer we can get is that because Jesus rose from the dead, we can be forgiven of our sins. Yes. This is true, but again, is that it? Now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that that is a small part of the matter. Forgiveness of sins is a huge deal and it is something we should all be thankful for and frankly, if that was all that it established, then that would be reason enough to celebrate.

Yet what if we’re throwing a party for the good news when we do not have all of the good news? What if there is even more that we can tell people in our evangelism? What if in fact we can find that the resurrection makes a difference in how we approach our lives entirely? What if it means something not just for us as individual Christians but rather means something on a grander and universal scale?

Keep in mind in all of this writing that I plan to do on the resurrection, I am not going to be giving a defense of the resurrection. That is important to do. I have done it before as well. There are numerous books out there that you can get to get a defense of the resurrection. The problem is most of us get to the point of establishing the resurrection if we are apologists and then it’s “Christianity is true,” and we move on from there. Yes. Christianity is true then, but then what is it that Christianity is saying that is true?

So in all of this, I am going to be for the sake of argument assuming the resurrection to be true. I want to write to the Christian in the pew who believes the resurrection and then say “Now here is what this means to you.” It is my sincere hope that as we look at various topics, we will transcend what we have earlier said about Christianity. We are not going to forsake that, but we are going to past it. The resurrection of Jesus means Christianity is true and that we are forgiven, but it also means more than that, and if we can grasp this, and this includes myself, how much better could our lives be?

Barring nothing else coming up, I hope that the next blog post will really start to dig into some of the ways the resurrection changes reality. I hope you’ll come along for the journey.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Why Apologetics Should Be A Requirement For Every Pastor.

Are you fit to lead the flock? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Imagine you live in the first century and you’re a shepherd. You are leading your flock to the water when lo and behold, you notice a wolf is coming. Being the good shepherd, you approach the wolf and say,

“Greetings friend. Come and let us understand your desires with the flock. Let us sit down and share a meal together. You may come and freely interact with my flock and I will allow you to do so.”

You seem puzzled later on when you notice that you have less sheep than you did before.

Or, picture this scenario.

This time you see the wolf and come up to him and get your rod and begin to chase him away. The flock is safe and the wolf knows to not come by.

Which shepherd is truly the good shepherd?

Now let’s talk about another flock, the church. In the church, there are people of all levels. There are some who are seniors and have been in church all their lives. There are youth who are just now getting to make their faith their own. There are the middle-aged who grew up in the church or have just decided to come to church after becoming parents. With them being parents, there are new children in the church who need someone to look out for them as well until they make their faith their own.

Over them is a man that we call the pastor who is to be a shepherd to the flock.

Now while they’re in the building, they could be safe from various threats, but you, the pastor cannot be a babysitter and watch your flock every day and this is one way the people differ from a literal flock of sheep. However, you can equip them so that they can be prepared. Prepared for what?

Well that twelve year-old boy you have in your audience? He’s going to be on YouTube looking up a favorite Christian song he learned in your church one day and on the side under related videos, he’s going to see something from a group like the Rational Response Squad telling him about all the errors in the Bible and why there is no God. Is that boy prepared if he happens to click that link?

That fifteen year-old boy? Well he’s thinking about getting his driver’s license soon and is already thinking about his freedom. While he’s on his computer, he’s not looking up music. He’s looking for ways to impress his girlfriend when lo and behold, here comes this email inviting him to come to a site so he can “understand” women all the more. Why not? His best buds in school are already starting to talk about their sexual exploits.

See that sixteen year-old girl? Well she’s being given permission to date now and is looking forward to it, but her friends at school are telling her that she needs to sleep with a guy so she can really understand if he loves her or not and hey, don’t worry about pregnancy. As long as he uses a condom it’s okay and if worse comes to worse, you can just get an abortion. Oh it’s not a life. Science has established that. It’s only those bigoted Christians who think that.

How about those eighteen year-olds? They’re graduating and have the whole world ahead of them and are getting ready to go off to college. After a lifetime of Sunday School, they will be put face to face with 25 years of atheism in the form of a professor and all they have is just being told what Jesus has done for them, which the professor will nicely dismiss as a delusion that they grew up with. They need to learn some critical thinking and realize feeling something doesn’t make it so.

How about that middle-aged couple? Their marriage is in trouble right now because he’s considering having an affair. What’s the big deal? If it feels right, do it. He’s just following his heart after all.

That other couple over there? He’s about to be put in a position where he will have to do something unethical at work in order to keep his job. Now sure, it will damage his Christian testimony and his reputation for life, but he has nowhere else to go because the church also has not been a bastion of help for people but has rather chose to focus only on their emotional needs and preaching the same feel-good message for years.

There’s yet another couple. Right now, they’re a bit confused. You see, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been visiting them and they’ve been learning some things that their pastor hasn’t taught them. They’ve learned that the word Trinity isn’t in the Bible and that the Greek scholars really know that John 1:1 doesn’t mean what they think it means. They’ve been invited to the Kingdom Hall and these people are so nice and loving, how can they not be Christians? Besides, who are we to judge?

That elderly woman over there? Her husband just passed away and thankfully, you consoled her through the funeral service but now she’s been watching this guy on TV who’s a preacher and he’s promising her that she will be provided for if she makes a faith donation. Now the church has always supported faith and surely she thinks the pastor will. She just needs to take that social security check she’s going to live on and mail it to this preacher. Surely God will reward her. That’s faith after all. Right?

This is only a start of what is going on in your church at this moment.

And you might not know any of these stories are happening.

It is essential that you learn apologetics for these situations. Why should that boy believe there is a God? Why should he not engage in pornography? Why should a girl not sleep around? As we go through the list we see questions of truth, ethics, the nature of faith, etc. No doubt I’ve only given a small subsection of all the problems that could take place in a church. There are myriads more that can and do happen.

Do you have that rod ready?

Pastor. You need apologetics. Now please understand I am not saying you need to be a specialist, but if you are told about apologetics and you answer “What’s that?” then I firmly believe you have no business leading the flock as you are unprepared to defend them and you’re just setting them up to be eaten by wolves.

I realize you’re a busy guy. You have to do your Bible Study to prepare a sermon as well as your own study for your own edification. You have to have a prayer life. You have to be on call for if a member of your congregation has a 3 A.M. emergency where they call you and need you to visit them at the hospital. You have to attend meetings on all manner of subjects at the church. You have to do counseling. Never mind you also have to have time for your own family be it dating your wife, watching your son’s football games, or attending your daughter’s piano recitals.

You have a busy and important job. I understand that.

Here are just two things to do.

First, get some basics. Once you have those basics, such as starting with the books Lee Strobel has written interviewing leading Christian scholars, then at least get the places where people can go to. Give them resources online and offline they can check out for information. This is assuming you don’t make this a specialist area. If you do, God bless you. If not, that’s fine. Not everyone can do that and God bless you as well, but know the basics.

Second, if you really can’t specialize here, then make sure you know someone who does. I think it would be great if every congregation had an apologetics go-to guy. You need someone who knows the information or knows the very best place to get the information. We have ministers of music and youth ministers and such today. It will be a blessed day in the church when congregations also set up ministers of apologetics.

Now suppose you reject this advice. You just want to give them the Bible alone.

Well when they get their Bible attacked and all they have to retreat to is a feeling, we’ll have several Christians that if they keep their faith even, will be of no use because they will not speak out about it and will not act on it out of sheer fear of the world around them. They will form a bifurcation between their faith and the way they live their lives and never shall the two meet. You’ll pretty much simply have a mutual support group that will be able to do nothing to win people over to Jesus Christ.

And when your congregation eventually dies from old age, that church will die with it.

This is a new age where people need more than “The Bible Says So” and “I feel Jesus in my heart.” If we were going to go on a mission to a foreign country, we would seek to learn the language and the culture of that country. Why is it that when we evangelize our neighbor who thinks differently than we do, we don’t seek to understand his language and culture? You need to know how to evangelize the man in China if you wish to speak to him. You need to know how to evangelize your next-door neighbor if you wish to speak to him and both can involve entering another culture.

Now if your opinion is along the lines of “Well I never” then you need to get rid of that pride. Having a strong feeling that you should preach is not reason enough that you should preach. If you think it is, then you’re in for a world of hurt when the Mormons visit your flock and they develop a strong feeling that the Book of Mormon is true. Be willing to humble yourself and learn about the defense of your flock. Their very souls could be on the line and you will be judged one day for how you lead them. You can complain here, but before God, there are no excuses.

Be prepared for the wolves, and then prepare your flock.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Did Jesus Exist?

What do I think of Bart Ehrman’s latest book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I’ve had this one sitting for awhile meaning to read it but some of you may know how it is. You find one more book that you want to order at the library and you do so and that becomes another and then another and then another and those books you have at home that you’re meaning to read never seem to get there. Encouragement from others on this book finally got me to sit down and go through it and I do agree, it is a good book.

A great advantage that we have in this book is that this is someone that normally the atheist community respects, although there has been quite a backlash against Ehrman since he wrote it. It is quite amazing that atheists who often say Christians go against all of scholarship in being against evolution can often themselves do the same in going against all of scholarship in being Christ-mythers and yet they think that this is a respectable position. It is not. It never has been. It never will be.

Not only this, Ehrman gives plenty of evidences that the Christian can use in dating the evidences. For instance, Ehrman says within a couple of decades of Jesus’s death, we have numerous accounts of his life in a wide geographical area. He notes that there are at least eleven sources. (82-83) He makes it clear that there are possibly more. On page 108 we read “The Other is that the Acts account gives clear evidence of being very early and Palestinian in origin.”

Also, Ehrman does not hold back when he speaks about people like Acharya S. and Freke and Gandy in “The Jesus Mysteries.” He repeats a number of statements that he refers to as howlers that can be found in them. He will also throughout the book deal with other Mythicists like Richard Carrier, G.A. Wells, Earl Doherty, and Robert Price. I do know Price has recently responded to Ehrman’s appearance on Unbelievable? talking about this and Carrier was quite vehement in his reply to Ehrman.

Ehrman also includes a basic historiography and tells us about how we can establish someone’s existence in the ancient world. He lays myth to the idea that the Romans kept excessive records and points out that there is hardly mention of many people whose existence we do not doubt in the ancient sources. Josephus is not mentioned for instance. Ehrman also thinks it’s implausible to point out that Caesar is mentioned, as if the person who rules the Roman Empire could be compared with any person living in the Empire. (Nevertheless, Jesus does get an impressive number of mentions)

I do think his responses to why Jesus isn’t mentioned in other sources are weak. I would answer that the reason Jesus isn’t mentioned is the same as it would be today. Suppose you hear about someone halfway around the world who is working miracles. Are you really going to investigate it? Even if you get on your computer, you’ll find one site that explains it away and that can be enough. Most of us don’t take that claim seriously, even if we believe in miracles!

Now transplant that to the Roman Empire. Suppose you’re in Rome. You hear about this Jewish rabbi in the backwater area of Palestine who is doing miracles. What are you going to say? Simple. “What a bunch of ignorant superstitious people.” You’re not going to bother because you’re predisposed to be against miracles, especially if you hear about a resurrection. After all, who wants to come back to life anyway? Finally, if you hear he has been crucified, well that clinches it. No great ruler would be crucified.

In fact, this is something Ehrman states repeatedly with regards to crucifixion. Jesus’s crucifixion is not something the early Christians would have made up. They would have done anything to avoid it, but the reason that they preached it is that they could not avoid it. It was an undeniable fact and they not only had to share it, but they even saw the basis for it in the Scriptures. If this was the wisdom of God, they were to find it.

Also, Ehrman does a number on the position that because something is in the Bible, we should not accept it as evidence. Ehrman believes the atheist is as wrong as the fundamentalist Christian. It is neither fair nor scholarly. Something does not fall outside the realm of historical inquiry just because the word “Scripture” is given to it. He also says there is no God-given hermeneutic for reading them and they are human and historical. Christians can agree by and large. While we think there is a divine origin, it is also through human authors.

In looking at a response to Mythicist themselves, Ehrman repeatedly points out that the whole of scholarship is in disagreement. The book gives an impression of one Ehrman is disappointed he has to write. The idea is that this theory is so absurd that it does not even, as he says, get a toe-hold in the academy. This also includes even the claim that Nazareth didn’t exist of Rene Salm and Ehrman frequently quotes scholars on the subject, seeing as archaeology is not his area, who make it clear how shoddy they think Salm’s approach is.

He also goes after Kersey Graves, who is a regular source for mythicists, and says that not one of his claims is footnoted with any scholarly evidence. Where does Graves get his information from? We don’t know. We do know that numerous mythicists online are still quick to point to his material about 16 crucified saviors. It is always important to ask people who make the claims about Jesus being a copycat Messiah to back their claims with primary sources.

When it comes to those pagan beliefs, Ehrman says that they did not have a foothold in Palestine and that while there are similiarities, there is no basis to say copying was going on. This brings up a point some readers might wonder about. What do I think about this book in comparison with J.P. Holding’s “Shattering the Christ-Myth.” After all, Holding spends much more time on the matter of copycats then Ehrman.

Overall, I do think Holding’s work is more thorough and better at dealing with the copycat theory and every other aspect. This could also be because Holding’s material is written by a group of individuals. One wonders how long one could write individually on the Christ-myth before one thinks they were repeating themselves. One can find much more in Holding’s book on Mithras, the Testimonium Flavianum, and Remsberg’s list. (I don’t think Remsberg is even mentioned in Ehrman’s.)

Many Christians find disappointment with Ehrman’s book at the end when he describes Jesus as a failed apocalyptic prophet. Coming from a Preterist perspective, I did not find this section disappointing but rather confirming. After all, I see Ehrman as reading the predictions of Jesus with the same fundamentalist thinking he condemns elsewhere. I can easily look at the text and say “Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet and He was right!”

While I do think Holding’s material is superior for the reasons given, I still think this is an important one as the skeptic is more prone to listen to someone like Ehrman. I will still be including links to both resources.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Shattering the Christ Myth can be found [url=http://www.amazon.com/Shattering-Christ-James-Patrick-Holding/dp/1606472712/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1347303077&sr=1-1&keywords=shattering+the+christ+myth]here[/url]

Did Jesus Exist? can be found [url=http://www.amazon.com/Did-Jesus-Exist-Historical-Argument/dp/0062204602/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1347303116&sr=1-1&keywords=did+jesus+exist]here[/url]

Tips on Bible Study

What are some good ideas to follow when studying the Bible? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

One of the great mistakes we can make in apologetics is to study that so much that we sometimes forget we’re to really know about the Bible. Studying the Bible can be difficult. Maybe you’re not into apologetics but just want to know the Bible better. When it’s just you and the Bible, what can you do?

First off, don’t be a maverick Christian and think that only you have been taught anything by the Holy Spirit. Too many Christians think it should just be them and their Bible. By that standard, you ought to forsake the assembling with other Christians. After all, what can they add to you? It’s you and Jesus after all. Why listen to your pastor on Sunday? You don’t need to hear anything he has to say. You’ve got the Holy Spirit.

When you’re doing that, don’t restrict yourself to one time either. There are many great insights in this age, but there are many from the church fathers as well and other great thinkers of the past. When answering questions, sometimes we reinvent the wheel. Chances are, someone else in history has asked the question you’re asking and you can find out a better answer to it by studying how it was addressed in the past.

Second, don’t be afraid to use those resources. If you have to get out a commentary, get out a commentary. If you need to look up the word in another passage, feel free to. With resources available on the internet, there’s no reason to not do this. If you have the time to read this blog, then you also have the time to be able to do Bible Study. You can use several sites like BlueLetterBible or BibleGateway.

Read books also about the history and culture of the Bible. The Bible was not written in a vacuum and you will make many mistakes if you think it was. Seek to understand the world of the Bible and the world around the Bible. Seek to know what was going on at the time. Look at what was going on beforehand as well. What happened in between Malachi and the gospels for instance? Your understanding can be greatly enhanced by learning this.

Learn some good theology as well. You can find this by studying philosophy in the early church and by looking at the way Second Temple Judaism interpreted the Old Testament. What difference does the Trinity make? Do you want to approach the text with a right understanding or not? Note that this will help you in other areas. Could you understand eschatology or soteriology better by understanding the thought of Jews at the time?

When you study the text itself, I recommend you come asking questions about it. If you believe the Bible is Inerrant and Infallible, I find then a helpful position to take is to ask why God put a text where He did. For instance, we read every night before we go to bed a passage of the day on my phone. Recently, we read about Joseph being faithful in the case of Potiphar’s wife. I started asking “Why is that in there?” God could just as easily have said Joseph displeased his master and was accused of wrongdoing and thrown in prison. God wanted us to know what the accusation was. God wanted us to know how Joseph responded. Why does this matter? Why did God include it? Why did Moses? Could it be they also needed to know about faithfulness in the presence of sexual temptation?

Recently also, my wife lost a good friend of hers to death. We looked at the 1 Thess. 4 passage then. Here’s something to think about. How did Paul know what he knew? Now we could say it was revealed by God as a prophecy of sorts, and that could be, but could it not be by studying the Old Testament that Paul somehow pieced some matters together? He spent three years in Arabia after all. We can do reverse engineering and look at the conclusion and see “If this is correct, how did Paul reach it?”

You know, you might never find out the answer, but part of your growth would be in asking questions still and learning how to do that. A good disciple would be one who is asking questions and not just one who is waiting to have the answers fed to Him.

Bible Study is important and it’s more than just what you get in Sunday School. I hope tips like this are helpful.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

A Response to Sandra Fluke

Should we be in support of abortion? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

While I have rarely gone after speeches that have been given in politics here, Sandra Fluke will be an exception. I won’t deny at the outset that I am thoroughly Republican and Conservative. I was interested in seeing what she had to say seeing as the only thing I can think of she’s known for is the pushing that health care should cover birth control. This said from someone who is studying law and generally, you have to make good money to do that.

Put this in perspective. My Mrs. and I have the case with both of us being unemployed now and we still pay for our own. It costs about $25 a month. We’re hardly going broke on that.

At any rate, let’s go through the speech and see what she said. For any interested, the transcript I have comes from the Daily Kos and will be linked at the end. Fluke starts off with this:

“Some of you may remember that earlier this year, Republicans shut me out of a hearing on contraception. In fact, on that panel, they didn’t hear from a single woman, even though they were debating an issue that affects nearly every woman.”

I think she has a great idea! Why should we accept decisions made by men concerning women when not a single woman is on the panel that decides! Such a decision should be seen as automatically invalid!

You know, kind of like the Supreme Court panel that decided on Roe V. Wade and consisted of all men.

I wonder if Fluke would stand by that decision or not. Could it be that the main point to look at is not “Who made the decision” but “Why did they make the decision?”

Fluke goes on to warn us about two futures for our country. What does she say?

“In that America, your new president could be a man who stands by when a public figure tries to silence a private citizen with hateful slurs.”

Because we’ve seen all the support that has come out for women like Ann Romney, Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and others. Numerous women have been insulted. Has Sandra Fluke forgotten the recent comments of Jason Biggs? Is Sandra Fluke unaware of the women who spoke at the RNC? In fact, for Fluke, let’s go back and talk about Carrie Prejean. All she did was say that marriage is between a man and a woman and before too long, she was being joked about in the media with jokes being made about her body. Yes. There was an attempt to silence Prejean.

Btw, this would be in the name of tolerance as well.

Next she says

“Who won’t stand up to the slurs, or to any of the extreme, bigoted voices in his own party.”

We’ll be eagerly awaiting for the repudiation of people like Jason Biggs. I personally do not endorse anyone who speaks slurs in such a way regardless of their party. It is ironic that she makes such a statement while talking about bigotry. Which side is it that is most often wanting to call someone a bigot?

“An America in which access to birth control is controlled by people who will never use it;”

I’m still unsure of what she’s talking about. We have no problem getting birth control here, but of course, it’s most likely Fluke has in mind that other form of birth control called “abortion.” It never seems to occur to her that there could be actual moral objections to abortion. Fluke and others have this idea that the reason people want to ban abortion is that there is some sort of war on women going on.

“in which politicians redefine rape so survivors are victimized all over again”

This is likely about Todd Akin. Keep in mind Romney and others came out against that statement. Ann Coulter even wrote a piece demanding that Todd Akin drop out of the race. We try to clean up our own house.

What does Fluke want instead?

“First of all, we’d have the right to choose.”

The right to choose what? For instance, can I say I want to live in a country where I have the right to shut down someone just because they’re a woman? There is such a thing as the freedom to choose, but the goal of freedom is to choose the good and not just choose what you’d like. The question we have to ask is not “Do we want the freedom to abort?” but rather “Is this a good freedom to have?”

One of my contentions in the abortion debate is that we do not deny that there is always a good desired in the case of abortion. Women can abort for safety from lovers, for financial security, for their health, for their jobs. These in themselves are not bad things. The question is are we seeking good means to those things. Is abortion a good means to a good end or is it a bad means to a bad end? If it is the latter, we should seek to do away with it. If it is the former, then let us keep it.

If people like myself are right, abortion is not a great giver of freedom. It is a great limiter. It limits the freedom of the baby to exist. Sandra Fluke may get to choose, but by her actions, the baby she could carry will never get to choose. IF we keep in mind how many of those aborted babies are female, then we could easily say that the real war on women is coming from the pro-abortion side and the ones who really value women are the pro-life said.

It is sad that part of the view that we have a war on women is because some people are against abortion. Is that the only way women can be free? Women can only be free if they are allowed to have sex without consequences? For those who would be supposedly against turning women into sex objects, why is it that they treat themselves only according to a sexual purpose? Looking at my own Mrs., sex is a great part of our relationship, but it is certainly not the only part. Let us not deny that it is important to realize women are sexual beings, but they do more than just sex. My wife is an encouragement, a support, she fixes meals, she takes care of the house, she listens to a lot of my crazy ideas, and she is a great comfort in any time of distress I have. Sex for us is an important part of that expression of our love for one another and one could say the greatest expression of that love, but it is not the only aspect we each have.

“in which we decide when to start our families.”

You have that right right now. You can do that. We are doing that. I do not see any reason to think that this is going to change. Listening to Sandra Fluke, you’d think that all Republicans want women to be barefoot and pregnant and in the kitchen again. It just isn’t so. Many of us believe in the great things women can do and encourage them. That is one reason so many women were speakers at the RNC.

“An America in which our president, when he hears a young woman has been verbally attacked, thinks of his daughters—not his delegates or donors—and stands with all women. And strangers come together, reach out and lift her up. And then, instead of trying to silence her, you invite me here—and give me a microphone—to amplify our voice. That’s the difference.”

We eagerly await the news of all the standing up that was done for Carrie Prejean. We also look forward to the support that is to be given to the women that have been slandered by Jason Biggs. Or is it rather the case that only certain women get that kind of treatment? You will get the favors if you walk the line of the feminist movement. As soon as you come out as being pro-life, you are not worthy any more.

Not everything has been covered of course, but what we see in Fluke’s speech overall is simply an appeal to fear as if we will suddenly live in the supposed Dark Ages again if Republicans get elected. Well I have a fear as well. I have a fear about how many more babies could be killed in the future if this trend continues. I worry about what will happen if personal autonomy becomes the rallying point for America instead of the good of the society as a whole. I worry about people who are listening more to emotion than to reason and data.

The greatest freedom for women would in fact be the freedom to be women, and part of that would be to be able to celebrate the gift of being able to give birth, something that only a woman can do and thus something incredibly feminine. It is a shame the so-called party of women just doesn’t see it that way.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The link to Fluke’s talk can be found