Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

What’s going to be your response to all the little monsters running around tonight? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Tonight, several kids are going to be roaming our neighborhoods going door to door and asking for candy. Tonight also, a number of Christians are concerned. Should we even celebrate Halloween? Isn’t this a day rooted in paganism meant to worship the devil?

After several years of ministry work, I have become more and more suspicious of this idea that “X has its origin in paganism! Let’s not use it!” Chances are, I suspect most of you refer to the days of the week by their traditional names, names that come straight out of Norse mythology. Do you think you’re honoring paganism?

Some people think the wedding ring comes from a pagan tradition. I’m not here to say if it did or not, but let’s suppose it did. How many of you out there are going to chuck your wedding ring at this point so you can be free from the stigma of paganism?

As Christians, we are called to go out and to redeem the world. We are not called to run in fright from it, and unfortunately days like Halloween often get Christians in a reaction mode instead of a proactive mode. It is this idea that we must avoid any taint of something that comes from pagans.

The greatest philosophical traditions we have today find their roots in Plato and Aristotle. They weren’t Christians. Shall we reject the syllogism? Greek plays are still around today. Should we avoid reading those? If we were to visit Greece or Rome, must we avoid the temples in order to avoid paganism?

Or should we say what Paul said, that these are not gods at all. We can eat meat in the marketplace with confidence because we know the idols are just statues. We can also give out candy with confidence in the marketplace because we know today belongs to the Lord, just like any other day!

When we run from the threat of paganism constantly, we are only getting ourselves into a fear mode thinking that God cannot overcome the world. I can point to several activities out there I enjoy that some Christians will say are demonic. I can point to some that you likely enjoy as well that some Christians will say the same thing about.

I grew up playing RPGs like D&D and Collectible Card Games like Magic: The Gathering. I never once had any inkling to get into the occult because of it. I have read all the Harry Potter books and I own all the movies. I still play Final Fantasy to this day.

Now some of you might think you don’t do anything like that. Okay. Do you read a Bible other than the KJV? Do you know there are some extreme groups out there that would say you’re doing something demonic? Yes. They really exist. Some Christians are so scared of demons that they lose sight of the fact that God is greater than the demons.

My wife has a story that several years ago when she was in Middle School, she went out walking with the dog and local kids starting making fun of her. She came in crying to which one of her Dad’s friends, a big muscular guy said “Do you want me to go out walking with you?” Now I can assure you as much as she could be scared to go out walking again, if she had this friend with her, she wouldn’t be so scared. If any kid tried to give her any lip, he’d be right there to deal with them.

In the same way, you have the God of the universe on your side. Why on Earth should you be afraid of something like a demon? Now I’m not advocating being cocky or foolhardy. Don’t go out there looking for this stuff, but don’t be out there living in fear of it either.

If you’re scared you’re going to be influenced by paganism on this day, well it looks like you already are. You’re letting it control your life in that you’re unable to celebrate a day when all that is going on for the huge majority of people is just kids going out and getting candy.

If you want to be concerned about the well-being of your kids, and you should be, I wouldn’t be scared about getting candy, save for health and dental reasons, but be concerned about real threats that are out there for your children.

Be concerned about the rampant materialism that ends up in greed wanting to get hold of your kids. Get concerned about the loose sexual ethics (or lack thereof) that could get your kid sleeping with their date on prom night. Get concerned with the atheism in colleges and universities today that are out there seeking to deconvert your children. These are real threats and these are the ones to be concerned about.

As for the origins of Halloween, let’s suppose for the sake of argument, it’s pagan. So what? Really? So what? Yes. So what? If we look at Psalm 51, our origins are that we were conceived in sin and we have been redeemed. Are we saying the God of the universe is too powerful to redeem a day? In fact, if the original goal of the day had been to worship the devil and today, kids run around just getting candy, I’d say “Job well done!”

And when you give our candy, don’t be boring in it. If you’re a Christian family, you make sure you give out the best candy on the block! You do your best to make sure kids know that your Christianity does not mean you live in fear of the world.

And if you come by the Peters’ household, we’ll have some waiting for you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What Only You Can Do

Is there a task of the Christian husband that only he can do? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I love doing apologetics. It really lights up my day. There is a great joy in getting to enter the arena of debate. There is a fascination about learning all that you can do and being able to walk with confidence in your worldview having done the sufficient study. There are extremely exciting times when the truth of your worldview really hits you and it ends in rejoicing. There’s something special about getting to help someone out of doubt. Of course, being an apologist has many struggles, but it has many blessings.

But I also know that I’m not the only one doing this. There are thousands of others out there in the world doing what I do. We all have to work together as we all have one common goal. That common goal is that we are to defend the faith once and for all delivered to the saints and we are to affirm Christianity to a world in need of the gospel.

If I was seriously incapacitated for a time, I know several other people who I could count on who would be willing to do blog posts for me here if need be. That would be no problem. I know others would be doing the debating. That would be no problem. I could find someone else who could host my show for the time being. That would be no problem.

Yet there is a work that I have (And work is not the best term to use still) that no one else out there can do.

No one else can be a husband to Allie.

Allie and I have lately been going through Love and Respect, which I checked out at the library for us. We read a chapter every night and it’s being a firm reminder to me on how I need to be a better husband. I did disagree with something said last night in asking who should make the first move. Should the wife be more respectful or should the husband be more loving? The real answer to that question is “Yes.”

Who makes the first move? Irrelevant. The fact is as soon as you learn what you need to do, you move. A wife should always be seeking to grow more in respect of her husband. A husband should always be seeking to grow in love for his wife.

And so I’ve been reading this book and getting convicted more and more on how I need to be more loving than I am, (And Allie already does consider me a very loving husband) and this is especially so because no one else can do this job. Allie’s parents can love her as parents. Her in-laws can love her as in-laws. Her brother can love her as a brother. Her friends can love her as friends.

None of those relationships is like the one that she has with me.

I am the one who is to sleep by her side every night. I am the one who is to present her before the throne on the day of judgment to see how I’ve done with my family. I am the one who is to provide for her. I am the one who is to protect her from harm. I am the one who takes her to the hospital or doctor if she’s sick.

Now some things others can do to an extent. Other people can listen when she has problems for instance, and they should. Others can handle doctor trips if need be at times, but there will definitely be no replacements for things like, say, kissing my wife every morning before I get out of bed. Sorry guys, but no one else gets that privilege and she’s not accepting applications anyway.

I have told many men in my field that if you go out there and you be the best apologist that you can be and answer every question and have every opponent quaking at the thought of having to deal with you, but you fail with your wife, then I count you as a failure overall. Spouse comes before work and career.

If you know me on Facebook, it’s even why I started a group today on there for Christian men who are married or plan to get married so we could come and help one other to fulfill the calling that we have to be good husbands to our wives.

Marriage is being under attack from the world today and it’s of utmost importance that we defend it. We cannot truly defend it unless we are truly living it. One of the best ways to get people to honor marriage today is if we seek to honor it more ourselves.

People in any kind of ministry, please remember that you do not have to save the world of everyone else, but you are to save the world of your wife. You are the greatest hero she has and your first priority will be to her. Let others take the slack in ministry if need be and count on them to help you, but make sure she knows she can count on you to love her properly.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Demon-Haunted World

What do I think of this work of the man who brought us Cosmos? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Carl Sagan is famous for saying “The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be.” While as a Christian I disagree with this sentiment, there is a debt of gratitude owed to Sagan as Sagan was one of those people wanting to popularize science for a non-scientific audience and open them up to scientific thinking.

I read Sagan’s book after an atheist recommended I read it in response to my suggesting he read Keener’s “Miracles.” I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw in Sagan’s work. While Sagan is definitely an atheist, one does not find the usual vitriol one has come to find in the works of the new atheists. I often had the impression that Sagan would have been the kind of atheist I could sit down and reasonably chat with concerning why I hold the position that I do.

In fact, much of what is in this book should be amenable to Christians easily and if some of it is not, that could point to a great insecurity that exists in the mind of the Christian who has that fear. Why should we who think God revealed Himself in Jesus in this world think that further study in this world will somehow disprove that truth? (And besides, if it did, we should be thankful. Who wants to go through life believing what is untrue?)

We should be applauding the work of Sagan to get science into the mainstream and support scientific research. I also wholly agree with him that our young people are not thinking enough, though that does not just extend to science, and need to have a greater education rather than just being entertained all day. I would support entirely seeing shows on TV that would grab the interest of young people so they could learn about areas such as science.

When I was in school, for instance, we would watch 3-2-1-Contact. I know several others who grew up watching people like Bill Nye, the Science Guy. While I am against just purely entertaining our children, I think there are ways we can do education that are attractive to students and make them want to learn. I know today a number of adults that still remember rules of grammar and math by thinking of old episodes of Schoolhouse Rock.

Yet there are some concerns. I think too often Sagan puts all the eggs in the science basket. Science is an important piece of the puzzle, but it can too often be made the whole deal. This could be understandable however since science was the passion of Sagan and it’s easy to see everything in light of that passion and think it is the most important.

Sagan is certainly right to go after the gullibility in our culture with pseudoscience, as he should, but when it comes to him stepping out of his field, he is too quick to also buy into gullibility. We must all check ourselves for bias and it’s too easy to think a story or claim meshes with our worldview and is therefore reliable. i will not thus comment on Sagan’s science. I am not an authority there. But there are areas I do consider myself an authority in that I think Sagan gets wrong. It is a warning to all of us.

For instance, on page 37, Sagan sees metaphysics as philosophy or as he says “Truths you could recognize just by thinking about them.” This is not an accurate description. Metaphysics is really the study of being as being. It is true to say that metaphysics has no laboratory while physics does, but this is the problem of saying that a branch of knowledge is not as valid because it does not go about the same way another one does. History has no laboratory. Mathematics has no laboratory. Literature has no laboratory, yet we would not say that those are less valid branches of knowledge. It is a mistake to see the way that science does what it does and think every other way is insufficient.

Also, Sagan makes the claim that Deuteronomy was a forgery found in the time of Josiah. Considering works have been written on Deuteronomy showing that it fits in perfectly as a Suzerain treaty which dates to the time it is traditionally thought to have been written in, this is problematic. In fact, one could hardly say it agrees with Josiah. Why would Josiah write a document that would put his kingship thus far in a bad light by showing how far he had failed?

I also think Sagan should be taken with a huge grain of salt when talking about the medieval period, especially since his main source seems to be Gibbon. (Another problematic area comes in when one would like to check Sagan’s sources. He does say what books he uses, but no page numbers are cited so one cannot know where the claims are found.) This is especially with regards to Witch Trials and the Inquisition. More modern readers would be benefited by seeing a work like Kamen’s on the Spanish Inquisition or seeing the research of James Hannam on the medieval period.

There are other areas where Sagan just gets facts wrong such as thinking the transmission of the biblical accounts would be like a telephone game (page 357) or that the Bible teaches a flat Earth (300) or claims of genocide in the Bible. (290)

Also, on page 278, Sagan thinks an infinite universe would be a problem for Christian theism. I do not see why this is. It would mean changing one’s interpretation of Genesis perhaps (Though I hold to Walton’s view so that would not be much of a problem) but from a Thomistic perspective, an eternal universe still depends on God.

Commendable in all of this also is the fact that Sagan does not deny the failures of science. Science has brought us cures for diseases, but it has also brought us weapons of mass destruction. The solution to this is not to teach more science, but rather to teach more morality. Science can be just as badly used as religion can be. One can say science works by pointing to launching a man to the moon, but one could also say it works by pointing at a missile hitting a city. A difference with religion of course is that the man who launches a missile on innocents is not violating any principles of science, but a Christian who murders an innocent man is violating a principle of Christianity.

Despite all this, I found myself rather pleased ultimately by Sagan’s work. While I do think he puts too much in the science basket, it is understandable and one would hope that today’s new atheists would learn to be a bit more like Sagan. I can thus commend this work to others in understanding the importance of science for our society.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

An Unarmed Opponent

Would you be willing to fight an opponent who is unarmed? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

If anyone has seen me, they know I’m not much physically. I weigh about 120 pounds and don’t have any muscle mass to me at all. Now I can run pretty good and I do seem to have limitless energy for physical work, but I’d be practically useless in a fight.

Now let’s suppose that I’m in an alley somewhere and I have an opponent who I know seeks to harm me physically. My opponent is unarmed. I have a gun that I know how to use well and it’s loaded and I’m ready to fire.

Who are you putting your money on in this fight when the guy charges at me?

A gun is a great equalizer.

In our modern age, we are facing an onslaught in the church. Now let’s face it. A lot of us might not be intellectually gifted, and that’s okay. Not all of us are physically gifted, but that doesn’t mean we’re necessarily useless physically. When we look at what’s going on outside the church, we can look at ourselves and wonder if we can do much.

Is there some sort of equalizer like a gun?

There is.

It’s called truth.

Most of the apologists that you know out there and admire are not necessarily intellectually gifted. Many of them are just people who have worked hard, much like someone might have a natural bent towards athletics in the world, but a lot of them get where they are simply because they wanted to and worked out hard at a gym and practiced to get to where they are.

It can be easy to look at the apologetics world and see what is being done and think that you can’t do that much. You’re not really a thinker too much. You don’t know how to do this deep philosophy. You’re someone who considers yourself ordinary.

It is also wrong to think that way.

I honestly do think I have a natural bent towards intellectual matters, but I know most of what I’m doing today is because I work at it. It’s because I’m spending time reading and asking questions and listening to podcasts and taking place in actual arguments. Everyone has to work in this field. Just like in sports, there is no such thing as success without effort.

I’d like you to know something about your opponent also.

They’re not that tough usually.

Seriously. Most opponents I meet are like little dogs. They like to bark a lot and act like they’re big, but they’re not. The majority of arguments you will come across from people have no substance from them.

Which ones do have substance? Usually from the atheists who are taking this seriously, and they’re the ones who are also open to evidence. The ones that tend to bark the loudest are the ones that are most resistant to any real dialogue whatsoever.

What would it take? Just a simple reading of simple apologetics books designed for the layman. Books like “The Case for the Real Jesus” or “Cold-Case Christianity” or “Reinventing Jesus.” Of course, if you want to read more scholarly books, feel free!

It would mean spending your time on a commute to work listening to a podcast like my own Deeper Waters Podcast, or other podcasts like Unbelievable? Keep in mind the reason we do this kind of work is so we can equip you, the layman, so you will be ready. My greatest hope would be that I would be able to help people so much that they don’t really need me any more.

In reality also, most of your opponents have not looked at the arguments that they throw at you. “Christianity was copied from pagan myths!” It is most likely that the person who says this has never read any of these pagan myths. They have just read it online. If you are reading informed people and getting information from them, you will be ahead of the game. If you know what you believe and why you believe it both, you are prepared for much of what you see out there.

And besides, don’t you want to do that anyway? Don’t you do that in every other area of life? Why not do that with the most important area of your life, your worldview you live by every day?

And if enough of us do this, we can start having our Christian revolution. We can start making an impact for Christ. We do not need to fear our opponents. They are little dogs that are making much bark, but their bite is not there. You do not have to be a genius or total academic to defeat your enemy. You just have to be informed.

Something you should be anyway.

Please make sure you are informing yourself. To lower yourself intellectually if that is your concern is not an option. You may not have the kind of mind you desire, but you should love the Lord with all the mind that you have.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 10/26/2013 Brent Sandy

What’s coming up on today’s episode of Deeper Waters? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Recently, I reviewed a book called The Lost World of Scripture and recommended it as one of the best books I have ever read on getting a handle on the world of the Bible. Today, I am pleased to say that one of the authors of this fine book, Brent Sandy, will be my guest. Due to scheduling complications, we are also holding the show a little bit later and thus it will air from 6-8 PM EST today.

If I were to recommend one book on understanding the world of the New Testament it would be this one. I hope that this interview with Brent Sandy will bring out all the benefits that you’ll get by reading this book. (Unfortunately, John Walton did not come along for the ride this time, People who want to hear my interview with him on The Lost World of Genesis One are advised to go here.

The Lost World of Scripture brings out more than any other book I’ve read on the topic just how different the culture was for the average person back then than it is today. It is also a highly readable book yet one that still uses some of the best scholarly information that is out there. If readers will take the time to absorb the material that is in this book, they will approach the text in a far better light.

But what about Inerrancy? Now that will have to be discussed as this book will be controversial to some who hold to a more wooden form of Inerrancy. The authors do hold to Inerrancy however and that is an important part I think of why it is that they wrote this book. They want to make sure that we are really understanding what it is that the Bible is saying and are applying to properly.

I recommend that you keep this episode on reference and perhaps even consider taking some notes while you listen. (Unless of course you’re driving at the time) Learn the material in here and you will be able to deal with a good number of the skeptical objections that you will encounter in the world when it comes to questions about the nature of Scripture.

Skeptics of the Bible should also read this book. What happens too often is that too many skeptics think they’re informed on the Bible when they’ve simply read their own culture into the text, said it doesn’t make sense, and moved on as if they’ve demonstrated that the Bible is false. Not all do this of course, but too many do this. (Of course, too many Christians also read their own culture into the text and think they find biblical justification for their own biases.)

So please be joining me today to hear Brent Sandy speak on this important topic and when the book comes out on December 1st, please be sure to pick up a copy. The show airs from 6-8 PM EST and the call in number is 714-242-5180. The link can be found here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Lights Out With Pliny

Did Pliny neglect to talk about the darkness at the time of Christ? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

For the sake of discussion with this post, I’m going to be assuming the darkness at the crucifixion of Christ was an actual event and not an apocalyptic image. Now granted for the sake of argument that that is the case, an objection is raised. “If this was such an event, why did Pliny never mention it? Pliny gives an exhaustive list in book 2 of the eclipses that happened.”

So it is and most people get this kind of idea from Gibbon. Surely when Pliny was recording the history of these events he would have mentioned an event of great darkness like this. Yet the solution to this for anyone is to simply look at the chapter in Pliny.

Most of us will be impressed when we hear of a chapter, but this is a short chapter in Pliny. In Latin, it is eighteen words. The relevant portion when translated reads as follows:

“eclipses are sometimes very long, like that after Cesar’s death, when the sun was pale almost a year.”

Pliny then does not give an exhaustive look at all the eclipses and thus we should not be surprised if he does not mention the one that happened at the time of Christ. What could be said about that if it is a literal event? Most people would chalk it up as some kind of anomaly. It’d be nice to have known what caused it, but they couldn’t know. It might cause some talk for awhile, but when no one could figure anything out and no great disasters happened shortly afterwards, everyone would just move on.

Do we have similar events happening other times? Yes. There was a dark day even in American history. It was back in 1780. What caused it? To this day, no one knows for sure, but no one denies that it was dark all throughout the day on that day. Details of that dark day can be found here.

If there’s one lesson definitely that we can get from this brief little look, it’s that one should always be seeking to test primary sources. On the internet, this is much easier to do. Also, if one has a device like a Kindle, one can download many old books for free and go through them and look and see. This requires just a little bit of research.

Unfortunately, while atheists usually mock Christians as being people who are gullible, too many of them wind up buying into myths like this because it just seems to fit with the idea of people being ignorant and unscientific back then and overly gullible. If there is a story that fits the picture, then the story is true, such as the myth that they believed in a flat Earth.

This is not to say Christians never do this. Unfortunately, they do, and if anyone thinks I am wrong on citing a source on this blog, then please by all means let me know. I realize I am capable of making mistakes too and I encourage everyone to check everyone else for mistakes, including myself. It has been said that a cry of the Reformation was “To the sources!” I think that is a cry we should all agree with.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Lies Your Sunday School Teacher Told You

Did your Sunday School teacher tell you lies? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I often have this tendency to get into debates with people such as Christ mythers who have no clue what they’re talking about, but think they do. It can be fun for a day or so and then it just gets tiring. I think the same drive often gets me to get books like Alexander Drake’s “Lies Your Sunday School Teacher Told You”, particularly when I’m just trying to see what book I can borrow for free for the month on my Kindle.

If I were to go through and give a refutation of all the points that Drake gets wrong, it would require a book about four times the length. The problem in our society today is that the Bible is a difficult and complex book to understand and people expect it to be custom-wrapped from God and be written in a style and language that they readily understand, after all, it’s the “Word of God.”

In that sense, Drake is just like the Christians that he wants to open the eyes of. His work shows no interaction with the scholarly community. Instead, the appeal is far more emotional with questions about slavery, hell, God’s behavior in the OT, etc.

Now if we had just the title alone, even that is inaccurate, but it does point to a problem in the church definitely. The only way you can say the Sunday School teacher is telling you lies is if the following is true. It must be the case that the teacher is teaching you one thing. It must then be the case the teacher knows that what they are teaching you is not true. To teach something that is wrong is not a lie, any more than a child getting the wrong answer on a math quiz is lying. To teach something you know to be wrong is a lie.

Unfortunately, most Sunday School teachers, and for that matter, most pastors today, don’t really do in-depth study of the Bible to be able to handle objections like Drake’s, which are really simple and childish. That Drake found them convincing does not say anything about Drake’s abilities as a researcher, but it speaks volumes about the failure of the church to educate. When people like Drake fall away, they become stronger evangelists for their new worldview and are more than happy to speak about what the church has not spoken about.

Now Drake does think his readers haven’t read the Bible or they’d know it’s fiction. I have in fact read the Bible well over a dozen times straight through. When I get done going straight through, I start all over again doing the same thing. Bible reading is an important part of my life. Also important, is reading the best in scholarship on the Bible from all perspectives.

Reading Drake, one sees very little scholarship, save one can tell he’s read about critical theories such as the JEPD hypothesis. There is no indication he has interacted with Licona, Bauckham, Wright, Evans, Keener, Witherington, etc. The inability of many of these writers to interact with the other side is a disservice they do to themselves and to their readers.

To be fair, there are times that Drake does make some points that he sees as being parallels in the Bible. These are also sad points to think about because it shows that if Drake had done the work, he could have seen even more ways the Bible refers to its own self and how later passages were to be seen in light of earlier ones.

What people with objections like Drake’s need to do first is go and see if anyone else in church history has asked their question, and that will require research. Chances are, you will not come across a new “Bible contradiction” that someone somewhere in church history has not answered. You might think the answer is inadequate, but you owe it to yourself and your audience to show you have interacted with that side. An argument can be seen as easily convincing after all if you only give one side of it.

Were Drake interested, he could readily find volumes written on the interpretation of Scripture and how it fits in with its own culture. A volume coming out soon that would deal with much of what is said would be “The Lost World of Scripture” and I highly recommend any curious reader get it.

That people like Drake are out there who don’t know better but think they do is a tragedy. It is exactly what we can expect though when we see the church failing to do one of the jobs that Christ gave us to do, teach. When the church gets moving and starts educating its ranks, we will find fewer and fewer Drakes in our midst.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Lost World of Scripture

What do I think of this volume by Brent Sandy and John Walton? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

One of the perks of being in the business of having a radio show on apologetics and getting great scholars on is that you can get to read advance books. Some of you reading this will want to go straight to Amazon and get this book. Unfortunately, as of this writing, it’s not out yet. It’s due out on December 1st. Yet if this is what you were wanting to do, then I tell you this in the strongest terms. Put this on your wish list immediately! If I could, I would give the book 6 stars on Amazon.

If you want to be keeping up with biblical studies at all and have a thorough knowledge of what is going on in the Bible, this book is required reading. This is the kind of book I think every skeptic should have to read before they go on about how many errors are in the Bible or ask questions like “Why didn’t anyone write it down immediately?”

As I started reading this book, after just finishing two chapters I knew I was reading one of the most important books in biblical studies that I would ever read. The information was also presented in an easy to approach format and even though I have read books in this field for years, much of the information was new even to me.

LWS (Lost World of Scripture) seeks to bring us back into touch with the historical background that the Bible was written in. The name is familiar to some since John Walton, a co-author, wrote The Lost World of Genesis One. I have high hopes that the viewpoints of people like Walton and his co-author, Brent Sandy, will soon became the norm in the world of biblical studies and maybe we’ll actually begin reading the Bible the way it was meant to be read instead of treating it like it was a modern book sent to us, a fax or email from Heaven as it were.

The largest emphasis I see in this book is on the orality of Scripture. We live in a world after what the authors have called the Gutenberg Galaxy. Want to get information out there? Write it down! (This blog post is just such an example!) In the ancient world, the rule was “Want to get information out there? Start talking!” The oral word was seen as more valuable than the written word. If you could go read a book by someone or else hear someone talk about what they said, the spoken word would be seen as more valuable. (And much more accessible as fewer people could read.)

This might sound odd to us, but it shouldn’t be. Many of us can know what it is like to get to read a book by someone and learn from it, but better still is it to get to sit down and talk with those people and learn from them. I do not doubt I have learned much from this book, but I also realize it could be possible to learn even more when talking with the authors (Which such a chance granted does not usually come in our world) and really get to discuss it with them.

When we treat the Bible as if it was meant to be read more than heard, then we will have problems in our society. Of course we should read the Bible, but the original recipients of the gospel would hear it. Even with the written words, they would still hear it as most could not read and would rely on a reader telling them what the written text says.

Also important is what this all says for Inerrancy. The authors make statements that will no doubt be seen as controversial for Inerrancy, but I think they are certainly true. We really need to examine what it is that we mean by Inerrancy. As each generation often needs to say what the truth is they uphold, so do we. We have uncovered more information than was had at meetings like the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy. Even saying “The Bible is true in all that it affirms” might not be enough, because there are times that we have to ask what is being affirmed. Proverbs are not iron-clad rules, for instance. They are generalities. Are we then saying Proverbs are generally inerrant?

Walton and Sandy do not have an answer to this that is definitive, nor should they. This is not a statement for just two people to make. This is something that would require the evangelical community as a whole coming together. This would require as many scholars as willing in the relevant fields to come together in light of new information and say that we today still want to uphold the truth of Scripture and give it the high place it deserves. How shall we go about doing this?

After finishing this book, I definitely conclude it is one of the most important ones I have read and so much of what I see online from atheists could be dismantled if they would be willing to engage with this book. So many Christians would have a deeper appreciation and understanding of Scripture if they would read what is in this book. If you care at all about biblical studies, you must go straight to Amazon now and put this in your wish list!

It is time to find the world that has been lost to us.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Inconsistency in Historiography

Does the NT get treated differently than other works? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Ancient history can be difficult. For that matter, so can modern history. We can have a hard time piecing together events that happened yesterday if we try to remember them. For ancient history, there are definitely no memory accounts today that are oral. Instead, we rely largely on archaeology and written documents.

Yet when it comes to Jesus, we find that while these methods generally serve us well, the rules change when He shows up.

We are often told about how important it is to have eyewitness testimony. Now by and large, that’s always great, but what about someone like Alexander the Great? What about someone like Hannibal? We do not have contemporary accounts of the existence of these people, and these people both did remarkable things. Alexander conquered the world around the age of 30! Isn’t that something worth mentioning? Hannibal was a general that nearly conquered the Roman Empire. Isn’t that something worth mentioning?

And yet, contemporaries are silent.

Now someone could say that we have archaeological evidence such as coins of Alexander the Great. Wonderful. We also have coins of Zeus. Now I’m not saying the coins of Alex are useless. I do affirm he existed and did indeed conquer the world. I’m just pointing out the differences in methodology.

But now what we will be told is “Yeah, but none of these others are claimed to have risen from the dead and have a religion based on them. For that kind of claim, we need to have some sort of extraordinary evidence!”

Because we all know conquering the world and nearly conquering the Roman Empire are not extraordinary claims to make about someone in the ancient world at all.

The more important point to realize is that the standards have indeed changed. Yet if we are to have a consistent methodology, how can it be that we have one if we change the standards based on the kind of claim that we see? Why not use the same standards? If you don’t have to have eyewitness testimony for Alexander and Hannibal, why is it a necessity for Jesus? (To which we do have eyewitness testimony. I don’t encounter people with a refutation of Jesus and the Eyewitnesses by Bauckham.)

Now I’m not saying don’t be skeptical. Skepticism is fine. In fact, I’d say every apologist in the world can understand someone being skeptical of the claim. What I have a problem with is unreasonable skepticism, the kind that says that I will only believe in the resurrection if God Himself appeared to me. (To which, I think most of these people would still disbelieve even then and chalk it up to a hallucination.)

The only statement I wish to make here is let’s simply be consistent. If we are not, then the skeptic is proving the Christian right in that the Bible is treated by a different standard than every other work out there in ancient history. Could it be the skeptic might be frightened what he will come across if he uses the same standard?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Japanese People Love Jesus

How far has the gospel reached? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

My mother-in-law recently got an IPhone and thus, no longer needs the ITouch that she’d got for Christmas. She sent it to my wife instead. Now my wife, Allie, has a love for most everything Japanese, except their food. She can’t stand their food. One app she downloaded was a Japanese radio app. She was surprised to find a Christian station on there and one that included hymns. Allie doesn’t care for hymns too much, but she knows that I love them.

So last night as we’re going to sleep we hear these Japanese singers singing hymns and I am just moved with amazement. Japan is a religious country in many ways and a highly technological country, but Christianity does not have too much of an impact there sadly. It’s because of my wife’s great love for the country that we pray God will bring the gospel there every night and we’d love to get to be a part of that somehow. (I have this great dream still that someday I’m going to get to take my wife to Japan.)

The weddings in Japan are usually Christian, but births and deaths are more done in Shinto and Buddhist style. It’s not the case that Christianity is unheard of. It’s just not ranked well, although there actually are Japanese seminaries which makes me glad to know that even there, young ministers are training for the gospel.

It’s also an honor based system which would make it even harder to go outside of one’s family lines and take on a different religion. I heard these singers last night and thought that these people are getting no recognition most likely for what they do. Many of our singers in even Christian music today can go on concert tours and be recognized. Probably not so over there. I wonder how a radio station supporting hymns and other Christian music even stays open.

But what’s incredible the most about this? They love Jesus. I just thought last night about how cool it is that in this country out in the ocean so far away in time and space from where the story of Jesus took place, that there are several people who love Jesus. As Allie pointed out, they probably love him more than many of us do, and their great reason could be that they sacrifice so much more to love Him.

Often times, skeptics of Christianity tell me that if God wanted to get His message out, He chose a poor way to do it. Yes. It’s a way that’s so poor that here, 2,000 years later, in our own neck of the woods (Here in America at least), greatly separated by time and space, we are still talking about this subject constantly to this day. It was such a bad method that today in America, there are numerous people who would be willing to die for Jesus at this moment and you’ll find millions more, if not billions more all over the world.

Some you’ll even find in Japan.

Because some Japanese people love Jesus. How cool is that?

In Christ,
Nick Peters