The Woman In The Wall

Can there be a harlot in the genealogy of Jesus? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

We’re looking at the Christmas story this month and going through the genealogy in Matthew. Our next stop is to look at the story of a woman that is also surprising to find mentioned specifically. Any time, Matthew could have left out these women, but he chose not to.

If you asked a lot of people for a favorite character in the Bible other than Jesus, you would get a lot of responses. For my wife, right there high up on the list would be Rahab. Rahab? Yep. Who was she? When the Israelites invaded Jericho, they sent spies to find out what was going on in the city beforehand. The spies went to a spot where a woman named Rahab was who was a prostitute. She had heard about what Israel’s God had done for them and responded favorably to the spies and hid them so that they would not be found. In return, they granted her and all those with her their lives.

The Israelites had gone to a place where people would be found. As it is today, a place of prostitution is a busy place as most men passing through an area wouldn’t mind getting a little bit of sex in on the way. The place was known enough that when soldiers from Jericho came through looking for the spies of Israel, they made sure to stop there. Rahab’s response showed her faithfulness to the God of Israel and her desire to be included amongst the people. After all, once her city was destroyed, where else could she go? This was a drastic act of faith on her part as she was abandoning her ways and lifestyle to be a part of Israel.

How is she seen in the New Testament? Quite favorably! When James writes his epistle. He gives two examples of faith. One of them is Abraham’s offer of Isaac, which would have been a defining story for the people of Israel and one that they would all have known about. If you wanted an Exhibit A for faith, you would always go to Abraham. Who is the other story? It’s the story of Rahab! This woman who was a prostitute is being put right alongside the very founder of the Jewish people! What greater compliment could be given to her?

What this means to us today is even more amazing I think than Tamar. Tamar was in a position where she could have thought she had to do what she did. Rahab was not. Rahab could have stayed a prostitute and blown off the people of Israel as if it was just a myth. She did not. She was ready to turn her life around and give herself over to the people of Israel and let their God be her God, something that we will see even more of with our next woman in the account. As a result, she was not only in the people of Israel, but she was included in the genealogy of Jesus Himself. She who had used sex so disgracefully in the past had sex used so wonderfully in her to bring about a child through whom would come about the very savior of the people. Matthew is not only reaching out to women here as being in the genealogy, but to a gentile as well!

This is why my wife likes Rahab so much. Rahab is a reminder that with all the screw-ups we’ve made in life, that when we come to God and seek to make Him to be our God, then we are capable of being used. Now since Jesus has come, you will not be used to bring about the lineage of the Messiah any more. That’s been done. You could be used to bring about the birth of Christ in the life of your fellow man. It does not matter if you were a prostitute before or anything else. You are not beyond redemption and not beyond leading someone else into redemption.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Why Is Tamar There?

What is Tamar doing in the genealogy of Christ? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Tonight, I’d like to start looking at Christmas information and start with the genealogies of Christ. After all, around this time of year, Christians are asked a lot of questions about what we believe. The first place to start would be what we usually turn to at the beginning, and that is the book of Matthew, the first book of the New Testament. It starts off with a genealogy. What we’ll be looking at is a few of the unusual names in there.

First, why do these genealogies exist to begin with? I have a mother-in-law who enjoys doing genealogies and a cousin who does. Shortly after our wedding, my cousin gave me the Peters family genealogy. In there, I found information on myself and my parents of course, but then I was surprised to also find my wife was already included along with her family and her birthday. My cousin had really done his homework.

Genealogies were extremely important to Jews. You had to establish your pedigree in the ancient world. When Nathaniel says “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” he is speaking a common sentiment. When the Jews have a hatred of the Samaritans, they are also going along with this. Your origins story was extremely important, and this would have to be the most important story of all Matthew was writing. What were the origins of the Son of God?

As we go through the list, we find some names we don’t expect. The first one is Tamar. What is unusual about her?

To begin with, women were not usually in genealogies. This was about men. Matthew has a number of women in his which sets it out as unusual. This had to be a purposeful addition and since a writer would only want to include the most important information in a writing, there had to be some purposeful meaning behind what was said. Matthew wants us to know that Tamar is included in the lineage and not just Judah.

Establishing that Jesus is from the tribe of Judah is important since this is where the Messiah was to come from, but establishing Tamar was not. After all, we have no mention in this genealogy of Sarah, Rebekkah, or Leah, the respective wives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (Jacob did have Rachel and two concubines, but Judah was born through Leah.) The first mention we have of a woman is Tamar.

Note that I said woman and not wife. Tamar was not a wife. In fact, she was the daughter-in-law of Judah. The story is found in Genesis 38. Tamar was the wife of Judah’s son and that son was wicked so God put him to death. History kept repeating and Tamar was doubtful she would get a child then since Judah was hesitant to give his youngest son to her. So what did Tamar do? She disguised herself as a prostitute and waited for Judah to come by. Judah falls for the ruse and in that encounter, Tamar gets pregnant. She gives birth to Perez and Zerah. Perez is the one through whom Jesus comes.

In some cases in history, genealogies are given flavor to make the person look good, such as saying that one is descended from the gods. Part of the authenticity of the account of Matthew is that it includes such a shameful event. Every Jew would recognize it immediately, yet Matthew includes it. Why? Because it would not be denied for one point. The way the Christians dealt with a number of scandals was to admit them. We will look more at this in our look at the virgin birth so put it in the back of your mind for now.

Not only that, that a person of shame is used in the account can show the way of God in using that which is shameful regularly to fulfill His purposes. Many people wonder how God could use them, and the genealogy can indicate to us that anyone can be used. Also, not only can we be used, but our sinful actions can be. We should not seek to sin, but when we do, it cannot overturn the purposes of God. By biblical standards, the action between Judah and Tamar was wicked, but the child does not bear the blame. The child was still used to bring about righteousness for all people.

We today should be thankful to see these people in the genealogy of Christ and it can remind us of how the accounts are authentic due to the criteria of embarrassment that Tamar brings.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Things I’m Thankful for in 2012

What do I have to celebrate on Thanksgiving? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I am happy to get back to the blog and see that everyone has still been reading quite faithfully. I’m sorry I have not had anything new to post. I was up in Baltimore celebrating Thanksgiving with my wife’s grandparents. We were gone from Tuesday to Saturday so today I am really trying to sit down and take some time out to write a post in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday. I simply wish to share what I am thankful for and hope it inspires you to remember what you are thankful for.

First, I’m thankful for salvation in Jesus Christ. Lately, I’ve been reading Blaise Pascal’s “Pensees” and about the utter sinfulness of man and it’s really left me in a state of mind where I’m thinking more and more about how fallen we are and how much of what we do is tainted with our fallenness. The more I think about it, the more I realize that in most every action we do, I am sure some of our fallen nature is coming through. Pascal writes that we should come to God realizing this, and I quite agree. It is through ideas like this that I am becoming more and more appreciative of the great gift of salvation that is found in Christ.

Second, I am thankful for my wife Allie. I have regularly thought of the Proverb that says “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” It certainly is true. I was one who was quite sure a good girl would never come along but lo and behold, I found one who for some strange reason is absolutely crazy about me and loves me. It is a concept that to this day I do not understand and I will freely admit, I do not fully realize.

Earlier today we were on the phone with Allie’s best friend in Charlotte who had said that I am one of those people who is naturally confident. I told her that no, that is not the case. I have often been very unsure of myself in the past, but somehow, after I got married, that really changed. The affirmation of Allie has transformed in ways that I cannot imagine. Readers of this blog know, for instance, that my diet has expanded a good deal since Allie came along, something that has my parents and several doctors stunned.

Also, I have been learning how to love someone and I find that if there are times Allie does something that disturbs me, that lo and behold, I can realize that I am guilty of the same thing. Strangely enough, it doesn’t seem as big a deal when I do it. It is quite amazing the way we work in this system. C.S. Lewis once said that we should show as much grace to someone to grant them the best of intentions for actions that we do not understand. Marriage is a life lesson in that.

I am thankful for my immediate family. When we were visiting my grandfather-in-law and grandmother-in-law, my grandfather-in-law made an interesting statement. He wanted us to imagine two people marrying and they each have no other relatives alive. They have no brothers. They have no sisters. They have no parents or children or cousins or aunts or uncles. I had never really thought about that before, but it was quite a poignant question. What would that be like?

Family really is a gift. Where I live, I have my parents right next door which can be helpful if we’re in some sort of emergency. In another house, I have my aunt and uncle, a couple in their 80’s at this time of writing. We go over to see them regularly. There have been times we’ve gone out walking and just come back to have a chat with them. Allie likes to talk to my uncle especially about his time in World War 2.

My parents made sure to raise me up in church but they also respected my freedom to think for myself. They didn’t always agree with what I did, although they’d say I was certainly a good kid who never gave them much trouble. I was also in school the kind of lazy student who never studied much and was playing video games constantly. It’s something that made apologetics such a gold mine discovery for me since it gave me something that I could do and really enjoy.

Today, I’m thankful to have my parents nearby with their learning and a lesson is certainly true. The more you grow up, the more you do realize your parents actually do know some things. It’s quite amazing, but they do. I have often told Allie that your relationship with your parents changes dramatically when you leave home. Being now not just someone who has left home, but someone married, I suspect my parents see me in a totally different light.

I’m thankful on the other end for my in-laws. It’s so great that they are incredibly supportive of me and saw fit to trust Allie to me and we are a great match as they know. They are pleased that they have a son-in-law who is in the faith, in the field of apologetics, and who has Asperger’s. I am in a unique position to understand Allie. I remember times when we were engaged where they would call me asking what I thought about what was going on in Allie’s life at times. Sometimes that Aspie perspective is needed.

I’ve found my in-laws are someone I can turn to. I like how my father-in-law refers to me as his buddy and likes to talk apologetics shop with me and really treats my ideas and thoughts with consideration. I like the relationship I have with my mother-in-law as well. She’s someone who is an encouragement to me at times and is a great help to have when it comes to financial matters. Over Thanksgiving, I enjoyed getting to converse and laugh with my brother-in-law. Allie’s family has treated me like I’ve always been a part of the family, not just the grandparents we visited, but her other grandmother in Nebraska who I can chat with on the phone frequently (And who seems to enjoy losing at Words With Friends).

I’m thankful for my friends. My former roommate is still someone who I can count on regularly and I’m thankful for the fun we still share even though once again we live hundreds of miles apart. I’m thankful for other friends as well such as one in Edinburgh, some twins in Charlotte, Allie’s best friend and her husband back in Charlotte, new friends we’re making at our new church, and numerous others. Friendship really is such a great gift.

Speaking of church, I’m thankful for the new church we attend. We’ve found a place that we can call home. Our pastor understands how we are with Asperger’s and takes the time to let us know privately and gently if we need to change something. I’m thankful that he is a man who is open to having someone in the apologetics field being at his church and shows no sign of intimidation or hostility to me because of my field, as many pastors do.

I’m thankful for the house that we live in. It’s my grandmother’s old house which means it’s one full of memories, but I think she would be happy knowing her home is being put to good use. I miss her when I think about it, but I still suspect that somehow she knows what is going on. We are blessed to be a couple starting out and having a house that we can call our own and build our lives together in.

I’m thankful that we rescued a cat last year who has brought an extra touch of joy to our lives. How can we not smile when we see him come to us and give a cute little meow? We joke about how pathetic he is, but it’s a bright spot in our world. It’s a regular ritual in the evening when we try to think of a fun way to let him know that it’s time for “DINNER!” Animals are a great gift that God has given us.

I’m thankful that to this day I still have my health and my mind. I realize I am not the most healthy man out there, but I’m able to function on a day-to-day basis. I’m thankful that I have a sharp mind that is helpful for reviewing data in the apologetics field. At the same time, I am thankful that my wife by and large is able to keep me humble as she can with this. I have to remember she wants a humble man.

There is much in life right now that is difficult for me, including especially our financial situation, but by and large, there is much that is good. I am thankful for so much this year. I look forward to more next year.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Jesus Scandals

What did I think of “The Jesus Scandals?” Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Back around Easter, I was listening to the radio program “Unbelievable?” when I heard that there was a give away of David Instone-Brewer’s book “The Jesus Scandals.” I was quite anxious to get it and thus entered the contest to win one of a number of copies given away. Fortunately, I happened to be one of the names drawn. It was only recently found out that the American winners had not yet received their copies so just a week or so ago, I got my copy.

The idea of the Jesus Scandals is that the gospels are more authentic due to the scandalous facts about the life of Jesus. Some of these we might not really think about in our Western society. For instance, I have a number of male friends who are not married. At this age, that can be common. In the time of the Jews, this was something to be avoided. After all, everyone was expected to be married and if you weren’t, there had to be some strongly negative reason for that. The main one that would be pointed to would be Jesus’s parentage. (Yeah right. Born of a virgin?) If your atheist friends are skeptical of this, it would not have been any different in a Jewish society. I have often been asked “Would you believe your spouse if she was pregnant and said it was of the Holy Spirit?” I would be hard-pressed in that situation and would probably be like Joseph and need a dream from God to believe otherwise.

We must keep in mind after all that the Bible only gives us snapshots of what happened. When Mary told Joseph about what happened, we can be sure that Joseph did not believe it immediately since it took a dream from God to stop his plans from divorcing her. Imagine then how it would be for Jesus in His ministry, especially when it was asked whose son He was and have the questioner be told “The son of Joseph, you know, THAT Joseph.” Jesus had a huge black mark against Him.

Yet in the gospels, none of this is denied. The virgin birth is there to explain what happened and it would hardly have drawn sympathy. It would have made more sense to say something like “It was a tragedy that this young Jewish woman named Mary was raped, but the child grew up anyway and Joseph was a noble father who raised him like his own.” No. Instead, it goes for the route that skepticism would go against, and that was that Jesus was of divine origin.

Why would the gospels contain such scandalous events? Because they could not be denied. These were events that were known by the common populace. The gospel authors had to explain them. They chose an odd way by affirming each of them, including the crucifixion and resurrection. I think a work like this could be read in tandem with J.P. Holding’s “The Impossible Faith” to great benefit.

I do appreciate that Instone-Brewer has a chapter on disabilities in there. As many know, my wife and I both have Asperger’s, and it made me consider that both of us would be shunned in the time of Jesus, but as we know today, we are not shunned. We were both on the Theopologetics podcast to talk about how the church can be more receiving of those with disabilities. Such a talk would not take place in the time of Jesus. That we do have this talk today shows how far we’ve come.

Instone-Brewer also shows his scholarly knowledge of the Rabbinic writings, but does so in a way that’s not overbearing. The reader will not need a strong knowledge of the literature to know what Instone-Brewer is talking about. Fortunately, for those who do want more knowledge, he includes a list of recommended books in the back.

The chapters are also short enough that one could use them as a springboard at a church discussion group or could use the idea at a discussion around the water cooler. Each chapter can be read in only a few minutes and can provide plenty of food for thought for interesting discussion. Also, at the end of each chapter, Instone-Brewer includes an application piece that is relevant to what we are doing today.

I do think this book would be an interesting one for the person wanting to know more about the historical Jesus. The book uses the criterion of embarrassment to indicate that something is more likely to be true if it’s embarrassing to the cause. Aside from that, there won’t be much on historicity, but that was not the goal of this particular book.

This book thus comes with my recommendation. Do yourself a favor and buy it, or with Christmas coming, buy it for that non-Christian friend you have.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes

What are my thoughts on this book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Everywhere you go, people are the same. Right? Oh there are some basic differences of course, but if you cut any of us, we bleed. Mankind really hasn’t changed that much in all the years we’ve been around. When we read Aristotle or Cicero or Moses, we are reading someone was pretty similar to us and had the exact same struggles we do. We can regularly see it in their own writings can’t we?

Or, maybe we don’t. We just think we do.

Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes (MSWWE from now on) is a book that helps to expose us to the fact that people are not like us. The authors, E. Randolph Richards and Brandon O’Brien, show numerous examples of the way our culture misreads the Bible based on our Western presuppositions and that people in other cultures are quite different. This can be shown to be the case in Biblical times, but also in modern times as Richards has several examples in his book from his missionary service in Indonesia.

For instance, if you had an affair, would you feel guilty? Here in the West, you would. In Indonesia, there would be no guilt until everyone else said you did something wrong. What time does that church event start? Here, you could say “Mid-day” and most people would be there at Noon. There, you’d say “Mid-day” and most people would show up when it started to get hot. If you say “All people serving in the church must be eighteen”, here it’d be a strict rule. Over there, there would be exceptions.

Much of this seems foreign to our experience, and for good reason. It is. One of the greatest signs of this is our intense individualism where we think everything has to be about us. There is even a chapter in the book on how people take a passage like Jeremiah 29:11 and make it to be about God having a personal plan for them. Somehow, all those Israelites that died during the attack of Nebuchadnezzar missed that.

The authors also bring out important realities of the system that was around then and is still around in most countries today, such as the honor/shame system and the patron/client system. Consider the story of David and Bathsheba. That is a story we all learn something from, but when it is read through the lens of honor and shame, all of a sudden several new facets of the story show up that the Western reader would not notice.

What does this mean? It means that there’s further reason to drop this nonsense idea that so many have that all we need is to just have the Bible. Now of course, the Bible contains all that is necessary for faith and practice, but if you want to know all that it contains, you will have to study it well, and for many people, that is anathema, and is in fact part of the individualism that we have today. If God wants ME to get something out of the Bible, He will make it plain to ME.

When speaking about the patron/client model then, we actually make it seem like the problem is that God isn’t doing what He’s supposed to be doing. If an atheist wishes to discuss the problem of divine hiddenness, it’s always that God is hiding Himself, instead of realizing that maybe God has revealed Himself and we are the ones hiding from Him. Skeptics today make the most outlandish claims about what they think God is required to do, such as a cross on the moon or everyone having the same dream at the same time, not aware that all of these are actions that would require further explanation through the social context of each culture.

The ideas that could be embraced if we would but study are monumental. How much different will you approach a text like Romans 8:28 if you realize that God is your patron working all things for good. Now I do have a small disagreement with the authors. I do think God does work all things for individual good. The caveat I would add is that some of that might not happen until in what I call, the after-death. Many people will die with suffering on them that I think God will redeem in eternity. I do agree with their collectivist approach and would contend that all those God will work the good for are Israel. The true Israel is really Jesus Christ and all who are “in Him” are in Israel. (I would even contend at this point that Romans could be about identifying who Israel is.)

I am not really including quotes on this because I find quotes to be inadequate for this one. There are such large pieces of thought that you need the whole context to see them all. I think the reader not familiar with the social context will learn something from every chapter, and I think many of us who already are will have our insights greatly expanded by reading this book.

The authors also do not resolve many of the difficulties. They present the scenario and they leave it to you and I to work out the difficulties in our own reading of Scripture and try to learn to read with new eyes. The authors also give points to ponder at the end to show how we can avoid doing what we’ve been doing. What questions can we start bringing to the text that will help us understand it?

Also, the authors do present points of application for us to consider, which can also make this book an excellent choice for small groups at churches. (All churches could be greatly benefited by having a small group that is based around this book.) The authors don’t want to make this just a detached scholarly work, but they want it to be one that will engage us and force us to come to the text and see if we have been projecting our own culture on to it.

Many works in this field have been extremely scholarly, and I applaud those, but I am thankful now that when someone asks me one book I can recommend on the topic, I will not have to hesitate. MSWWE is on the top of the list!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Religious Excuse

Does it matter if an opinion is religious? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Last night on Bill O’Reilly, Greg Gutfeld filled in for O’Reilly and had as his last guest a lawyer from the ACLU. They were discussing abortion and in the midst of it John Flannery, the lawyer, says “You see by inches how people have made the religious notion that conception is the beginning of personhood as the standard which challenges both contraception and a woman’s right of choice to have an abortion.”

Did you notice it? Let’s take a look at it, except this time I’m going to take out one word. Try not to look back and see if you notice the difference.

“You see by inches how people have made the notion that conception is the beginning of personhood as the standard which challenges both contraception and a woman’s right of choice to have an abortion.”

What’s the difference?

The difference is that in the second one, I left out the word religious. Go back and look if you have to. How does that change it?

In the second one, you see a notion has been made and this is believed then to be a notion that can be challenged by the evidence. If you don’t know the source, you will study the claim or you will give arguments against the claim if you already believe that the claim is false. You will point to scientific arguments if you have them or philosophical and metaphysical arguments. This is a point that can be debated.

What happens when it’s made a religious notion?

Because of this, we have something called poisoning the well taking place. At this point, one does not need to challenge the claim then. One needs to just point out that the source is supposedly biased and therefore cannot be trusted. A huge number of people that oppose abortion in this country are religious. Of course, there are people who oppose abortion who are not. I do know of atheists who oppose abortion and I thank God for them. Still, even they I’m sure would agree most of the opposition comes from people of faith.

What do you do then? Simply. You just disregard them all at once.

The religious people don’t have any real reasons after all for thinking abortion is wrong other than that their holy book says so. Since we no longer take that as an authority in the public square today, then we can dismiss with that. Now if they don’t want to follow just what the Bible says, well that is their choice, but the problem is that a large number of people who are religious do not use just the Bible. We also have scientific, philosophical, and metaphysical arguments for why we believe what we believe about what is in the womb.

How do you know if the argument is religious or not? It’s simple. You just ask if you can take it out of the mouth of the religious person and put it in the mouth of an atheist and see if it is the exact same argument. Suppose I give scientific data for why I believe life begins at conception. Could an atheist not give the exact same data? If so, then the argument is not religious. It is scientific.

Of course, someone could reply that the reason someone wants to ban abortion is because of a religious reason. Certainly that could be the case, but that is also irrelevant to the argument. Let us suppose that someone committed a crime against some that I love, such as my wife. I give a testimony at a trial on why this person should be locked up and have the key thrown away. Will it damage the data I present to just say “Well of course you want that. It was your wife that was victimized?” No. The data stands or falls on its own. If you think i have bias that is causing me to misread the data, you must show that by looking at the data itself. If there is a misreading taking place, it can be demonstrated.

This is taking place in many of our debates today including the debate on redefining marriage. It is just assumed that the data that is presented cannot be correct. Why? Because it is being made by people of religion and we all know that because they are biased, they are to be discounted.

This allows the person who holds the position opposed to the person of faith to ignore the only question that matters. That question is “Is the position true?” There is no mention of the reason behind it any more. There is no mention of the data. There is no talk about having an argument. All that needs to be said is that the person who holds to the position is religious and automatically, it is assumed to be fallacious. (Do note this all fellow people who hold to a religion. This is also an insult as it implies the only reason you believe X is because your holy book says so and if it said otherwise, you would say otherwise.)

When a person brings up religion then, tell them to get on the subject. When you argue against abortion or against redefining marriage, you are not arguing to convert someone to your worldview concerning religion. You are arguing for an ethical position. Of course, those of us who are Christians will have no objections to someone becoming a Christian, but let’s be clear each time on what battle it is that we are fighting.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

A Year Of Biblical Mockery

What do I think of Rachel Held Evans’s book “A Year of Biblical Womanhood”? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

This book has been quite the talk lately and I’ve had an interest in it particularly since on Chick-Fil-A day, Evans came out with a post urging Christians to not participate and feeling like she was on the edge of apostasy because of this. This is an example of emotional tyranny, as I stated that day. It’s an area of concern because Evans does hold a place of high popularity on the web and yet, her methodology and approach is the kind that is a threat to the church today.

My ministry partner is J.P. Holding of Tektonics and he and I both decided to write a review of this book on the same day having read it independently. J.P. is egalitarian in his approach to men and women. I am more complementarian. This is an area where we are free to disagree with one another. We both agree that this book is one to avoid, and this is important since it cannot be said the reason people oppose this book automatically is that they are complementarian.

Of course, there are some points Evans does get right. These seem to be more incidental than the result of any real study. It is true that a woman should seek to be a woman. Perhaps in some areas Evans wanted to express some concerns of the complementarian view most expressed in the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, which will be called CBMW from here on. CMBW would have welcomed honest critiques, but this is not that.

If you want to know what reading Evans on the CBMW is like, just go read Richard Dawkins on what faith is and then you’ll get a pretty good idea. The danger is that in reading something like this, the reader could think “CBMW thinks that? How absurd!” If CBMW did have the opinions Evans gives in a number of places, then yes, there would be concern. This is not the case and I am going to include at the end links that point to critiques from women on this work, one of which is from the CBMW.

Evans’s approach was to go through the Bible and take as many passages as she could in the full literal sense which means calling her husband “Master” and being at the gate of a city with a sign saying “Dan is awesome!” At one point, she even gets on the roof of her house and has a picture of it. Evans may think she is demonstrating the opinion that the CBMW gives us an absurd approach, but no member of it would agree with her hermeneutic. People who might have seen her doing this would not have thought “Wow. The CBMW is crazy,” but rather “That lady is crazy.” Worse, they might have thought Christianity is crazy, but who cares about bringing embarrassment to the cause of Christ when feminism is on the line?

Numerous places in the book indicate that Evans is pushing her own neuroses onto the world. For instance, on page xviii she says her parents both loved the Bible but “they seemed to know instinctively that rules that left people guilt-ridden, exhausted, and confused were not really from God.” Evans doesn’t bother to consider that maybe the rest of the world isn’t like her. The idea that for some people, and most of the world in fact, guilt is not the reality but shame is. It is the understatement of the year on page 9 when she says “I’m kind of a whiner.”

Evans also makes statements on page xx such as “It is biblical for a woman to be sold by her father, biblical for her to be forced to marry her rapist, biblical for her to remain silent in church, biblical for her to cover her head, and biblical for her to be one of multiple wives.” Thank you Evans for demonstrating once again the mindset that exists in the fundamentalists atheists I encounter regularly. Absent is any idea about giving a historical context to the passages. Instead, assume the worst about them and make a mockery of the text as a result. People like the new atheists will certainly be appreciative for Evans at this point.

The assumption throughout her book is that women often get the shaft. For instance, on page 10, she says it is interesting that in the case of Miriam and Aaron, that Aaron was not punished for speaking out about Moses’s wife. Absent is any thought that Aaron was the high priest and his being unclean would have put all the people in jeopardy. Note also that as the brother, it would have brought great shame to him to have his sister in that way and know that he was responsible. Furthermore, does Evans want to give her readers that all the sexism she thinks she sees in society extends to God Himself?

Her misreading is further shown on page 17. She writes “I’d been reminded about a million times that the Bible didn’t explicitly command contentious women to sit on their roofs, and that rooftops in the ancient Near East would have been flat and habitable anyway, but I was determined to engage in some kind of public display of contrition for my verbal misdeeds.”

In other words, who cares about the context?! We have an agenda to push! Sure, the Bible never says to do this, as CBMW knows. Sure, roofs in those days were an extra room of the house. It doesn’t matter. She had to publicly show everyone that she’d done wrong. Evans could have done something like going to a soup kitchen or she could have got online and donated some money to a charity or worked at a children’s hospital. Nah. Sitting on the roof is much better.

On page 22, Evans says that the idea of homemaking being a woman’s highest calling is the centerpiece of the biblical womanhood movement. This was news to a lot of people in the CBMW. As Mary Kassian says:

“Homemaking as woman’s highest calling is our critical centerpiece? Hmmm. Maybe I didn’t get the memo. I found myself curious about which “proponent of the modern biblical womanhood movement” used “strong, unequivocal language” about homemaking being woman’s highest calling. And which complementarian in her right mind would even remotely assert that “the only sphere in which a woman can truly bring glory to God is in the home.” I am personally acquainted with virtually everyone at the core of the modern biblical womanhood movement. If anyone in my yard is saying this, I want to know about it.”

Kassian points out that the sources Evans cites are not representative of CBMW. These include Debi Pearl (More on her later), who is seen as extremist and fringe and her teachings have led to the deaths of children by abuse. Next is Stacy McDonald, part of the Vision Forum and Biblical Patriarchy movement, which is also not representative of CBMW. The last is Dororthy Patterson from something she wrote twenty years ago. Kassian did something unorthodox at this point. She contacted Patterson. Patterson clarified that she would point out she doesn’t do all the chores herself and family-obsessed was not the best choice of words. Family-impassioned is much better.

Kassian is right then to say that this is not the highest calling. She goes on to say that one of her friends, Nancy Leigh Demoss, who she wrote a book on womanhood with, has never been married or given birth to biological children. If it was all about homemaking, then it would seem that DeMoss is failing miserably, yet no one in the CBMW seems to think that this is the case.

At many points in the book, Evans’s anger towards anything masculine reaches the point of absurdity. For instance, in talking about Christmas, she asks who does all the work in cooking and filling out Christmas cards and filling stockings and making sure toys have batteries? A woman does that. Who is it that gets all the credit? Santa does. A man.

Oh come on!

For one thing, in my own family growing up, my parents did the Christmas stuff together, aside from the cooking, seeing as my Dad is a disaster in the kitchen. My Dad was an active part of Christmas in his own way. I seriously doubt any child is thinking on Christmas about how much better men supposedly are than women because it is Santa Claus, a man, who brings them their gifts. I suppose Evans could also discount my review since it’s written by a man then.

Throughout the book, Proverbs 31 is shown as an example. Evans doubts that such a woman ever existed, and she’s right. (As one woman I remember reading long ago said “How does she have time for sex?!”) Still, that doesn’t stop Evans! She writes on page 77 that “I decided to take a page from the literalists and turn the whole chapter into a to-do list based on various Bible translations, divided into daily tasks and tasks to be accomplished by the end of the month.”

As one who has to deal with fundamentalist atheists who insist that everything has to be taken literally and when it’s literal, the Bible is absurd, therefore it’s not the Word of God, thank you very much Rachel Held Evans. It is an approach like this that only makes the task of the apologist harder. You know, who they are? On page 53, Evans writes about these people that actually study the Bible and look at the Laws and why they are the way they are and says “These are useful insights, I suppose, but sometimes I wish these apologists wouldn’t be in such a hurry to explain these troubling texts way, that they would allow themselves to be bothered by them now and then.”

Forget the intellectual truth that is of concern here! Go with the emotions!

Of course, the problem is the literalism that Evans embodies. On page 87 she says “Here’s the thing. Christians seem to think that because the Bible is inspired, all of it should be taken literally.”

Perhaps if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool fundamentalist you do, but a generalization like this is not helpful to Christians. In fact, in writing something like this, I get the impression that Evans is writing hoping non-Christian will read this. If so, then thanks again for providing fodder for the fundamentalist atheists out there. Evans might wish I was bothered some by biblical texts. I wish she would be bothered by embarrassing the faith.

On page 145, Evans says that the first proclamation of the resurrection on Easter was by women, and yet most services begin with a man telling that truth to the congregation.

I find it more concerning rather that instead of thinking about the message that is being given, Evans is more concerned that the message is being proclaimed by a man. Now if a congregation wanted to have a woman saying it, I would not have a problem, but I’m not going to make a big deal.

On page 208, we see an example of Debi Pearl who we mentioned earlier. Evans writes that about Pearl’s book that “At one point, she encourages a young mother whose husband routinely beat her and threatened to kill her with a kitchen knife to stop ‘blabbing about his sins’ and win him back by showing him more respect.” Evans says she threw her copy across the living room seven times.

Why yes. I’m sure that that kind of attitude is certainly representative of the CBMW movement.

I am complementarian and I would tell that woman to get her and her child or children out of there and get them where they can be safe and call the authorities on a scummy man like that. My view as a complementarian has been that if a man is the king of his castle, then the woman gets treated like a queen. To make such a statement as this and say it is representative of the CBMW movement is an incredibly serious charge, and as Kassian’s statements would show, one easily disproven, yet that doesn’t stop Evans from publishing it, and sadly, few people will probably research to get the other side.

On page 255, Evans says “I’ve watched congregations devote years and years to heated arguments about whether a female missionary should be allowed to share about her ministry on a Sunday morning, whether students should have female Sunday school teachers, whether girls should be encouraged to attend seminary, whether women should be permitted to collect the offering or write the church newsletter or make an announcement…all while thirty thousand children die every day from preventable disease. If that’s not an adventure in missing the point, I don’t know what is.”

Indeed! In fact, I have heard an account about a woman who while these children were dying, was blogging regularly, sleeping in a tent during her period, and ordering an electronic baby to practice the idea of motherhood, all of this while these children are dying! In fact, this person spent a year doing this kind of work. All that time spent in a tent, on a rooftop, at the city gate with a sign saying “Dan is awesome!”, and being a young Martha Stewart, could have been spent caring for those children instead. If that’s not an adventure in missing the point, I don’t know what is.

Of course, we should all be more concerned, but it’s too easy to say “Nothing else is worth talking about if this is the case.” If Evans was following her own advice, she would not have even written the book. In fact, chances are, I would have no idea who she is because she’d be a missionary over there constantly helping them out. Evans’s technique is to try to guilt others, all the while while she complained about the Bible being used as a weapon of guilt. It’s this kind of hypocritical approach that is problematic.

In conclusion, Evans won’t help women know what it really means to be a woman. If anything, she has just as much of the sexism towards men as she thinks the men she has in mind towards women. No doubt, sexism should be condemned anywhere, but Evans’s approach will be more problematic. Even worse is her methodology while approaching Scripture. Evans has her theories on why LifeWay didn’t carry this book. I have a better explanation why they didn’t. They read it and realized this isn’t the kind of stuff they want to promote. Let’s hope the rest of the church agrees.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

J.P. Holding’s review can be found here.

Mary Kassian’s review can be found here.

Your Duty As An Apologist

What does the Lord require of you (and me)? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I’ve done a lot of writing lately on why apologetics matters so much, but what does it mean to the individual apologist? How are we to live our lives in ministry? Are our callings different from those of others? To be an apologist is a serious responsibility and it is not one to be taken lightly. It is also one that we all fail at from time to time, like any other task, and need to remember the importance of.

To begin with, we need to remember that we are slaves of Christ. We are not our own. We are bought with a price. This means a dependence on Christ, and this is an area I will admit I am not the best at, though marriage has helped greatly. Prayer is something I do have a hard time with, but it is something I have been working on. When the wife and I pray together at night, I try to recall all the prayer requests from throughout the day and the recent past that I think need addressing. I also try to give thanks for what has happened. Prayers also become a review of the day where I try to see where God has been at work in our lives.

Why am I the one praying? This is the point where I bring forward a related duty. I do know there are female apologists out there, and thank God for them, but I am one who does believe a man leads the household, and that means spiritually as well. Of course, women pray on their own, but it’s my belief that a husband is in some ways to be a priest for his wife and come before God on her behalf.

Now to something then that will apply to men and women equally, love your family. What? What does that have to do with apologetics? It has everything to do with it. You are constantly defending the reality that Jesus is Lord of the universe, yet how can He be seen as Lord of the universe if He is not seen as Lord within your own household? If you are not living the life of a Christian spouse and a Christian parent, depending on your marital and parent status, you are not living a Christian life, period. This does not mean that you are non-Christian, but it does mean in your life, you have sin and you need to deal with it. Of course, I realize no one can be a perfect spouse or parent. There is always room for improvement. The only point is to make sure this is a priority.

In our world of apologetics, there are several of us. I belong to the Christian Apologetics Alliance online. With a quick check, I see that we have 1,816 member. This is a lot of people just on Facebook. None of us is standing alone. We have several people. The work you do is important. However, several other people are doing it as well so be willing to cut yourself some slack. Yet when it comes to your spouse, no one else can be a spouse to your spouse but you. When it comes to your children, only one other person can really be a parent to that child, but you don’t want that child to grow up with an absentee father or mother. They will regret it and they will not look happily at the work that you do. Do not expect God to bless your apologetics career if you are not being a blessing to your own family.

Thus, you must study of course, but always set aside time. When your wife wants to go out and do some shopping, don’t do it with complaining. Take that time for her. Trust that God can make your private time fruitful. In our home, I try to do activities regularly for Allie, but we also have some quiet time where she can do her own thing and I can read my book. She can be playing on the Wii, for instance, and I have my book out and I’m getting in my reading. I recently got a Kindle from a friend so after we go to bed, I can be lying next to her for awhile, but I have my Kindle out with the book light getting in some reading. She knows that I need to do a blog like this regularly, but when the work is done, I try to make sure it stays done. Remember, you are not married to your work. You are married to your spouse.

When that time of study comes, make it fruitful. Read good books that will encourage your mind. From time to time, read something lighthearted and fun as well. Of writing books there is no end and too much study will make you tired. When you read a book, try to make sure it is one you want to make an investment in. Remember that you cannot master every field out there so choose your battles wisely.

For instance, on this blog now, I try to avoid science debates. My position on this has changed over the years. In the past, I would have stood staunchly against the evolutionary position. Today, I don’t care. Why? Because I see it making no difference to if Jesus rose from the dead firstly. The second reason is that I am not a scientist. I realize I am speaking out of my field. I do not want Richard Dawkins speaking on theology or philosophy without proper study (And I see what an embarrassment it is when he does). Why should I then be speaking on his field without doing the proper study?

Now an objector out there is saying “But Nick, don’t you know about all the scientific problems with evolution?” I know about the scientific claims, but I cannot explain the problems. Now if you can and you think you can plant a rock in someone’s shoe that can get them to the gospel, more power to you. I’m not going to stop you, but I’m not going to argue with someone on it when I am not trained or read-up in that area. This is also why I do not use the first two arguments of William Lane Craig (I also think they’re inductive without a metaphysical backing) as I could not begin to explain the science behind them. When someone critiques them scientifically to me I’m of the opinion of “Go ahead and say what you will. It’s over my head and not my argument anyway.” Why would I want to rest my position on an argument I don’t understand. If you understand it, have at it. Realize there are areas you don’t understand as well and respect others in those areas.

Recognize the awesome responsibility you have. I see us often as the heroes in the front lines fighting the battles. Many of our brothers and sisters are not as intellectually equipped. This is no fault of theirs. This is not saying they’re stupid either. This is just saying some people are geared towards the academic side and some are not. Those that are not often have strengths in other areas where we fall short. They could excel at empathy for instance. We all have our gifts in the body and we need to respect that not everyone is an apologist. (Though everyone should know where to get the answers to the questions and everyone should respect our ministry as well)

That means that these people are depending on you to fight. You must realize that. What I often think with some of these people is what if they went after someone who was not as equipped as I am, such as my wife or my mother. How would I handle that? That is often why I can be tough as nails on some aggressive and antagonistic people, because I know they would be more than happy to do the same to the people that I love.

Be studied then. Be ready to take that challenge. Realize how often you might be the one that someone turns to for help and when they do, you want to be ready. Not everyone will know people in the Christian Apologetics Alliance, for instance, but they could know you. You could be the only local person they know and if you don’t know the answer, such as a question outside of your field, then make sure that you know a place that they can go to.

Take time for pleasures as well. All work and no play does have an affect. There is a point to play in your life. It is important to rest to recharge your intellectual batteries. What I tell people is what ever you do, do it seriously. When it comes time for work or study, you do it hard. When it comes time to play, you play hard. My friends who play me in games know that when it comes to ones like Scrabble or Super Smash Brothers, I take no prisoners.

When those times of play come, do make it a point to not beat yourself up for enjoying yourself. There are several apologists out there who are taking time to watch the big game. (Although not this one. I could care less) They might be reading during a commercial, but they do have their other interests and they’ve got to where they are as well. You do not want to be a workaholic.

Make sure you are living a holy life as well, and this gets us to the last great temptation, pride. Those of us intellectually gifted can have a great temptation to pride. You can marvel at God using you, but do so in humility. Realize that it is an honor to be used by God and you are but a servant doing your duty. Do not think that you are so special and that is why God is using you, but realize that you are being used by God and it could be because you in fact are not special, as 1 Cor. 1 indicates. God often likes to use the weak and lowly and shameful. Realize that for whatever reason, God has invited you to participate in the spreading of His Kingdom. He doesn’t need you. He could do it without you. You are not necessary to the plan. Still, you are used and that is a work of grace just as much as salvation is.

When someone comes along like your spouse and is concerned that you are getting puffed up, take it seriously. I have regularly told Allie that I am on guard as much as I can be against pride. I want to be humble and I have told her that this is a battle that I have to fight regularly. I must realize when temptation comes that my God is not honored when I am being prideful. Furthermore, Allie does not want a man who is prideful. That is not attractive to her at all (And keep that in mind fellow men. We want our wives to be attracted to us). Your God already thinks you’re worth sending His Son for. Your spouse already thought you were special enough to spend the rest of their life with.

Be willing to help your fellow apologist and to help the layman always. Recently, J. Warner Wallace of linked to a post I’d written on the importance of teaching, and I thank him for his correction. It is not teaching that is needed, but training. If you can, help build other people up so they can shine in the community. They are not your competition. The mission is not about you. When you meet a layman wanting to learn, train him up. When you meet a fellow apologist who could use some help, such as they might be just starting out, be willing to take a disciple if they are someone who is studying in your area. For those who are already established, your blessing on those climbing up the ladder can be highly instrumental.

We train because we’re not just building up people with facts, but we’re building up people who know how to use them. It is not enough to put a sword in a soldier’s hand. You must teach him how exactly he is to use that sword. It is not enough to just give a copy of “Case For Christ” to the interested layman. You must train him up on how he is to use that information and teach the art of debate.

We all have a serious task as slaves of Christ. Give it your all and remember as the Scripture says, that when you are finished, you are just servants doing what you have been told.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Atheism’s New Clothes By David Glass

What do I think about David Glass’s new book “Atheism’s New Clothes” by David Glass? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

When Brian Auten said he was giving away a book from David Glass about Atheism’s New Clothes at the price of a review, I was eager to do so, especially since the book came with a high recommendation from Tim McGrew, someone who I take extremely seriously in the apologetics world. My copy of Glass’s book came in recently and within a week of starting it, I had had it read and on the first day was messaging a friend of mine saying “You must get this.”

The title of the book comes from what is known as the Courtier’s reply from that great beacon of philosophical learning that goes by the name of P.Z. Myers at his blog “Pharyngula.” The reply goes as follows:

” I have considered the impudent accusations of Mr Dawkins with exasperation at his lack of serious scholarship. He has apparently not read the detailed discourses of Count Roderigo of Seville on the exquisite and exotic leathers of the Emperor’s boots, nor does he give a moment’s consideration to Bellini’s masterwork, On the Luminescence of the Emperor’s Feathered Hat. We have entire schools dedicated to writing learned treatises on the beauty of the Emperor’s raiment, and every major newspaper runs a section dedicated to imperial fashion; Dawkins cavalierly dismisses them all. He even laughs at the highly popular and most persuasive arguments of his fellow countryman, Lord D. T. Mawkscribbler, who famously pointed out that the Emperor would not wear common cotton, nor uncomfortable polyester, but must, I say must, wear undergarments of the finest silk.

Dawkins arrogantly ignores all these deep philosophical ponderings to crudely accuse the Emperor of nudity.

Personally, I suspect that perhaps the Emperor might not be fully clothed — how else to explain the apparent sloth of the staff at the palace laundry — but, well, everyone else does seem to go on about his clothes, and this Dawkins fellow is such a rude upstart who lacks the wit of my elegant circumlocutions, that, while unable to deal with the substance of his accusations, I should at least chide him for his very bad form.

Until Dawkins has trained in the shops of Paris and Milan, until he has learned to tell the difference between a ruffled flounce and a puffy pantaloon, we should all pretend he has not spoken out against the Emperor’s taste. His training in biology may give him the ability to recognize dangling genitalia when he sees it, but it has not taught him the proper appreciation of Imaginary Fabrics.”

The basis behind this is that it’s ridiculous to say you have not read on it. Glass correctly says it is a wonderful piece of rhetoric (p. 27), but does not count as a response. The whole idea behind it is as that it is obvious that there is no God just as much as it was obvious to the little boy that the emperor was naked. It’s a wonder that something that is so obvious has been passed over by the majority world. It doesn’t matter if the new atheists think this is the case. The question they need to ask is why I should think this is the case.

Glass points to the emphasis on science that the new atheists make on page 20. He correctly shows that it has taken the place of religion. This is a criticism I have often raised where it has become the new priesthood. Glass also says on page 21 that the problem with the new atheists basing their atheism on science is that the question of if science leads to atheism is a question of philosophy and not of science.

On the same page, Glass points out that in the past, atheists have looked at the arguments for God’s existence in great detail. The new atheists do not. To make matters even worse for them, they don’t even really look at the arguments from philosophical atheists for atheism. Glass points out that Dawkins does attempt to deal with theistic arguments in chapter 3, and as critics have pointed out, this is the weakest part of the book. (Yes. Anyone who quotes Dawkins as an authority on say, the Thomistic arguments, does not know what they’re talking about.)

All of this is in the first chapter describing the new atheists, and I personally think this is the best chapter in the book.

Glass goes on to deal with the definition of faith that the new atheists put forward. He argues persuasively that the new atheists have redefined faith as belief without evidence, and then shown how silly this is, which is in fact something any Christian philosopher or scholar would agree with, and yet in thinking that they have shown how silly this concept is, the new atheists think they have destroyed the notion of faith.

On page 39, Glass shows how Sam Harris briefly points out that Paul Tillich has a different definition of faith, but says that anyone is free to redefine faith as they want and bring it into conformity with some ideal. As Glass points out, this is in fact what Harris himself has done, as well as the rest of the new atheists! Nowhere do you see any NT lexicons cited that will say that this is what the biblical writers meant by faith. It is something they believe without evidence. Perhaps we should remember what Hitchens could say. “That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.”

An amusing example on page 40 is Glass citing Harris who says:

“Of Hebrews 11:1, Harris claims that ‘read in the right way, this passage seems to render faith entirely self-justifying: perhaps the very fact that one believes in something which has not yet come to pass (‘things hoped for’) or for which one has no evidence (‘things not seen’) constitutes evidence for its actuality (‘assurance’)’ ” He then goes on to set up a scenario where he thinks Nicole Kidman has a love for him and that this must be the case. How else does one explain the feeling?

As Glass points out, this is probably the clearest example of someone making the text say what they want it to say. Absent is any real exegesis of the text, yet this does not stop the new atheists! If one approached a science experiment the way they approach the Bible, the new atheists would be outraged, and rightfully so. It is because of their presupposition in advance that religion is ipso facto nonsense that they think the text does not deserve any real study.

After this chapter, Glass goes on to talk about science and faith. Is there really a conflict?

Glass does a fine job of showing there is no ultimate conflict. Of course, there are times the fields overlap and can seem to be contradict, but this has not been established. This situation also exists with science and history or science and philosophy. The idea that there is a major conflict came from people like Draper and Andrew Dickson White in the 19th century. A better look could be found in a work edited by the agnostic Ronald Numbers called “Galileo Goes To Jail.”

Glass on page 84 shows that this is readily apparent in their problem with miracles, something scientists like Copernicus, Kepler, Newton, etc. never had a problem with. The new atheists claim that belief in miracles means one rejects science presupposes that all events are brought about by natural laws. Of course, this would follow if there was no God, but that is the question being raised. It is saying “It is irrational to believe in miracles if there is no God.” Is anyone seriously disagreeing with that?

In fact, Dawkins says the last word was written on this by Hume. (It’s strange that for the new atheists who claim to want to use the latest research, that they look at the 18th century and don’t look to see if any interaction has taken place since then.) I refer the reader to my review of “Miracles” by Craig Keener that can be found here.

The next two chapters deal with the origin of the universe and fine-tuning respectively. This is not my area of expertise as the arguments are scientific rather than metaphysical. I leave that to the reader who has an interest in that area. The next chapter we will look at deals with the Boeing 747 argument of Dawkins.

Glass points out that Dawkins has said that science has set us free from religion, but instead his Boeing 747 argument is a philosophical argument, one that comes from Hume in fact. If it is science that deals the death knell, why is it that Dawkins wanders into philosophy? If Dawkins is allowed to give a philosophical argument against God’s existence, shouldn’t he consider more seriously the philosophical arguments for God’s existence? Before someone says that he has done that in chapter 3 of The God Delusion, I suggest you realize that his understanding of the arguments is incredibly shallow, even of the ones I don’t agree with, such as the ontological argument.

It would have been good for Glass to give more arguments on how a doctrine like the simplicity of God can deal with much of this. The argument is metaphysical and it is my contention that much of our problem in the debates we have today in many areas is that we have neglected the area of metaphysics. Interestingly, most people who I debate with don’t even know what it is, but they know that it is nonsense!

The next chapter is on evolution and the origins of religion. Glass is correct in showing that the origin of an idea does not go against the truth of the idea. Suppose that God exists. Could it not be the case that He would wire our brains through an evolutionary process in such a way that we would come to realize that He exists? (This could be expanded later on with Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism that Glass gets into later on.)

Glass points out on page 188 that Dawkins brings up cargo cults and says that it seems that Christianity almost certainly began the same way and spread with the same speed. Any evidence of this? Nope. It is amazing how far one can get without evidence! All you need is a theory that you think is plausible. Dawkins, of course, does not bother reading something like Rodney Stark’s “The Rise of Christianity.”

Chapter 8 deals with morality and the problem of evil, an area the new atheists lack in, especially since we have something like “The Moral Landscape” by Harris. In fact, Glass points out that if goodness is well-being, then if religion promotes goodness for people and their well-being, then it would seem that Harris should be in favor of religion. Dennett has even shown some beneficial aspects of religious belief.

Glass shows that the new atheists have this idea that for the Christian, the only place they get moral guidance is from the Bible. I have argued against this position for some time. It is my contention that something is not moral because the Bible says so, but the Bible says something is or is not moral because it is. Glass also points out that the new atheists when looking at tyrannical societies like Stalin’s, say that Stalin’s behavior was the kind of behavior religious people have (Even though Stalin was staunchly anti-religious) and so their reigns of terror are the fault of religion anyway!

Glass also shows that the new atheists do not spend much time with the problem of evil which is usually the best argument used against theism. The new atheists have not on their own established any metaphysical basis for morality. When it comes to looking at the claims, the new atheists once again ignore evidence. For the new atheists, evidence is only something a Christian has to provide. The new atheist doesn’t have to.

The ninth chapter is about the Bible. The reason many chapter reviews are getting sparse now for me is that many of these arguments are dealt with by other authors. This is not to say Glass does a bad job of that. He does a great job. Taking care of the new atheists today is like shooting fish in a barrel. As I have said before, we should thank God for the new atheists. They are injuring their own side and helping to wake up ours.

One amusing point in here is that the new atheists argue that the Bible was written by ignorant men. Glass responds that this is in fact the case. The writers were ignorant and we’ve never said otherwise. As can be expected, the new atheists do not deal with evidence. When the new atheists make a claim about the Bible, it is obvious who they go to. It will be a writer like Bart Ehrman, John Loftus, Robert Price, or Dan Barker. Interacting with any Christian scholarship that opposes is out of the question. After all, such people are ipso facto deluded and why waste time with people who are deluded?

Much of this continues with the tenth chapter on Jesus and the resurrection. Glass amusingly tells of how Dawkins says the Da Vinci Code is fiction, and rightfully so, but when Dawkins talks about the formation of the canon, one would be hard-pressed to really show the difference between the two views. Again, it is another case where the new atheists ignore evidence. In fact, Dawkins and Hitchens even say it can be questioned if Jesus existed at all. To say that is a serious question in NT studies would be like questioning descent with modification to biologists.

Fortunately, Glass does give the positive case for the resurrection of Jesus and how NT historians do take the claim seriously. It is the central question of Christianity and it is one that is historical and it is a wonder that the new atheists do not spend more time on it. Well, it would be if it wasn’t for the fact that the new atheists have reached a verdict beforehand so why bother with evidence?

The final chapter is on the question of if life has meaning. This is not an argument I use so I will not be critiquing on it.

The person who is highly familiar with Christian apologetics will get some out of this book and is thus worth reading, but there will also be much that has been seen before. This is not the fault of Glass of course. It’s just that there is so little in the new atheists that there is not much that needs to be said. Still, the book comes with great recommendations from people like Paul Copan and John Lennox and for good reason. The first chapter I still think is the best and I’m pleased to see chapter two is there as I do think Glass is pioneering some in this field.

In conclusion, I do recommend this book and I look forward to seeing what else Glass comes out with.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

David Glass’s web site can be found here.

How To Save A Country

What can we do at this point in time? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I’ve been mulling things over a lot after the election. Actually, my wife would tell you it was extremely depressing for me. The way I see things, our country is heading into financial ruin and immorality is on the rise. To make matters worse, we have enemies in the Middle East who are closer to getting a nuclear weapon and who knows what havoc they can wreck on us or another country if they happen to develop one? Personally, we’re not in good financial straits as jobs cannot be found and I currently still lack health insurance. It’s not a good position to be in.

But sometimes, the darkest moment is just before the dawn. It is when things are their darkest that the light can shine the most.

I am conservative in my politics, morality, and economics. I do believe that good capitalist principles are the way to economically grow our society and provide the best way that we can all care for the poor. I do believe Romney would have installed such principles, but I also do not believe that would have been enough. It would have been a good buffer, but the change needed would not come through just that.

When we review the election, we realize that one state legalized marijuana. Also, there were states that for the first time decided to redefine marriage. There was celebration elsewhere that the country had elected an openly gay senator. We have spent much time in our country looking at the financial situation that we are in, and there is no fault in that, but what connection could all of these have?

The connection is all of them are about people seeking to make the government give them what they want.

The root problem is hedonism.

Hedonism is the belief that pleasure is the highest good. Of course, there is no doubt that pleasure is a good. To say something brings pleasure is not to say that that something is bad. On the other hand, if something is good, we can expect it to have a connection to pleasure. It does not work the other way around. There are many things that we consider pleasurable that we do not consider good, hence our term of guilty pleasures.

In fact, this is what Harold O.J. Brown wrote of when he talked about sensate cultures. These are cultures that no longer pursue the great ideas. There is no concern of truth or goodness or beauty itself. There is only the satisfaction of our own desires because we have nothing higher to look for. There are no ideals. We want what pleases us. Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.

Gone from this is any notion of work. It is wanting to reap the fruit of success without having paid the price for it. The reason I am where I am in apologetics is for the price of buying books, going to conferences, seeking an education, etc. It cannt be done secondhand. The reason many people in this country are wealthy is not because of inheritance or lottery winnings, though those do apply, but because of hard work. Many resent that, and they seek to bring the rich down to their level.

Consider this passage in Amos 2:12

“But you made the Nazirites drink wine
and commanded the prophets not to prophesy.”

Nazirites were forbidden to drink wine in showing a holy lifestyle for a vow. Prophets were supposed to, well, prophesy. The people wanted to silence these beacons of holiness and bring them down to their level rather than raise them up. For a contemporary example, consider the debate on redefining marriage. Are we getting a rational debate in the public square when we present our view? No. We are told that we are bigoted discriminating homophobic haters, and that’s just including terms that I can use in this blog!

No debate. It’s just an attempt to shut you down, and the sad reality is that it usually works. An insult is not an argument. It should not be taken as one.

What is the answer to this hedonism?

The last time I wrote on this, I said that Jesus did not show up. The church did not do its part. For those worried about the future of our country, we have only one answer. We must be Christians. Only Christianity can save our country. Only Christianity can save us from our hedonistic lifestyle. Only Christianity can stop us from seeking entitlements more and more and going into financial ruin. Only Christianity can build up our defense enough that we are more than ready to handle any threat from a nuclear Iran, or even better, make sure that that never happens.

Great preaching has changed societies. John Wesley’s work was instrumental in changing England. Many places in the world have seen change when they have heard the gospel for the first time. Most of all, there is the Roman Empire. It was there that Christianity first showed up, and in the end, Christ defeated Caesar. Now when I say this, I do not mean a theocracy. This should still be a country where everyone is free to worship how they see fit, but it should be one permeated with Christian values.

Some might think God has judged us and there is no stopping it. Sometimes that happens. We cannot know that. We must go on and do the work of an evangelist. Last night in fact, my wife and I were doing nightly Bible-reading with the verse-a-day app and the first verse we had in a short passage was this one:

“But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”

Paul’s advice to Timothy still applies to us today. This is a dark hour, but it is also the finest hour for apologists. Too long have we let the world bully us into submission and silence us. Now it must be the time where we rise up and say “No more!” We all seek to make a difference in the kingdom and that starts with our own backyards. Those of us living in America can see the way we’re going. If we love our neighbor and see them making a foolish decision, we will warn them. How much more should we do so if we love our country?

I challenge you, let the Christian revolution in this country start today! Let it be that the church of Christ will refuse to be beat down any more but will stand up for the precious truths that Christians have died for since the time of Christ. If we die in the battle, then we die, but let us have what happens with Tertullian happen to us. Our blood will be the seed of the church.

We can do this. It will take work, but we can fight this, and we can win.

In Christ,
Nick Peters