Avoiding The Echochamber

Could you be making a mistake in your quest for truth? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’m a part of the Unbelievable? forum on Facebook and on there I’ve seen someone posting material from Answers in Genesis. Now I’m not a YEC at all, though I tend to not be dogmatic about it, but I saw the debate going on afterwards with those who were non-Christians stating about how evolution is a fact and asking their opponents if they’d ever read anything on evolution. It was apparent that they hadn’t. All they could say over and over was “No evidence of evolution.” Now again, I am not someone who studies the case, but I am convinced that any evolutionary biologist would give what he says is evidence for evolution. Now to be fair, he could be wrong in his assessment. It could be poor evidence or it could be insufficient evidence, but make no mistake that it is evidence.

Now if you’re a Christian, picture how it looks to you when the atheist that you encounter says there’s no evidence for the existence of God or there’s no evidence for the existence of Jesus. How much does it faze you? If you know what you’re talking about, the answer should be not a bit. Your immediate impression will be that this is someone who you shouldn’t take seriously. After all, if you are debating this, you have your reasons for what you believe. Now again, it could be your evidence is poor or insufficient, but make no mistake that you do indeed have evidence for your position.

My great concern is not with the evolution debate as that is just an example, but with the idea that many people have on both sides of theism vs atheism or most any other debate that they live in an echochamber. They don’t know what the other side believes aside from what they’ve read in their own side. Unfortunately, this is not the way to do debate. If you want to debate a position, you need to read what you can on both sides. Frankly, when I meet someone who challenges Christianity and talks about a book I should read, I’m going to my local library web site immediately to see if I can find that book.

This gives you an advantage in that if you are doing this right, you should know your opponents argument better than they do and in fact, you could if you had to make a positive case for it. When I was in Charlotte once in Seminary, a member of our church had to do a project on a social issue and he chose abortion. He wanted a debate to be recorded at his church and there was going to be a student from the local university who was pro-choice who was going to come down and argue for abortion. Unfortunately, the day of the debate, he got sick and they called me at the last minute and asked if I could do it. Did I? Yep. In fact, I went and made the best argument for abortion that I could. Anyone watching it could be very well convinced that I was a pro-choicer, and I am definitely not. I think abortion is one of the worst evils that there is, but I think it’s important to know the other side.

Now of course, you can’t study everything in-depth. That’s why the main area I stick to is New Testament studies these days and I try to read what I can on both sides of the issue. When Bart Ehrman has a new book coming out, I really want to get my hands on it and read it as soon as I can. When someone messages me about a book in my area that is giving them grief, I try to get a copy and go through it. Reading the other side can be a very eye-opening experience. You get to see them in their own words and you can often correct misunderstandings in your own worldview. I can say there have been things I’ve read in Ehrman for instance that led to me changing my viewpoint on some matters because there are some cases I think he does make a sound case for his position on certain interpretations. Just because someone is a non-Christian does not mean that they are wrong in everything.

Frankly, with all the time we spend doing so many other things, we could all bear to spend some more time reading and learning. We especially who are Christians should be trying to do this. After all, if there is anything in this world worth learning about, it’s the revelation of God in Christ. I can often go to sleep at night looking forward to what I can learn about and study the next day. As a Christian also, a good reader will grow in their love of Christ more and more the more they strive to know about Him.

Please try to avoid the echochamber. Whatever side you are on in a debate, it is easy to be convinced of it if you only listen to that which already agrees with you. If you want to argue, learn what your opponents really believe. If you do not do this, you simply end up looking ridiculous to them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 10/31/2015: Mark Hunnemann

What’s coming up on the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Halloween is upon us. It’s the time where we think about all those scary things that go bump in the night and sit around campfires and tell ghost stories and try our hardest to scare each other. Some people really do get scared on Halloween and there are many concerns about how Christians as well should celebrate the holiday or even if they should celebrate it at all. Each year, I try to have someone come on who is familiar with the occult to talk about these kinds of things usually due to their experience in such matters. A few years ago I was advised to never study it for myself and I have followed that. Therefore, I decided to have my friend Mark Hunnemann come on who wrote Seeing Ghosts Through God’s Eyes. So who is he?


In his own words:

I graduated in 1979 from ASU (Appalachian St U) with a BA in Philosophy…minor in religion. Went directly to graduate school or seminary at Covenant Theological Seminary in St Louis as well as Erskine, where I graduated…..3 year Masters of Divinity Degree. I debated on whether to get PhD in Philosophy and teach but felt the Lord calling me to the pastoral ministry. I was ordained in 1985 in the ARP (Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church) and was an assistant pastor for 4 years in my hometown of Greensboro, NC. I then started a church plant and was pastor for 10 years. I now focus on writing and educating people re the explosive growth of the occult worldview, which has now displaced secularism as the main threat of Christianity. I have also worked with people who are oppressed because their homes are demonically infested.

We’ll be talking about his book and famous ghost stories and what evidence there is that anything unusual is going on. What about in a day and age where there’s rampant skepticism of anything demonic? Don’t we live in America and in the 21st century and in the modern scientific age? What are people today to do about demons? On the other hand, are there not some people on the opposite end who do think that nearly everything that they see around them is demonic? I can’t help but think of a video Allie and I watched recently from the Prophecy Club that we just ended up laughing at, particularly when the guy who was an ex-satanist started saying that Pokemon was a plot to lure our kids into satanism. How do we find the fine middle line to avoid complete hysteria and complete ignorance? After all, Lewis told us years ago that a demon would be equally pleased with a magician as he would a materialist. We’ll also talk about some of those ghost shows that you see on TV and what we can learn from them or rather, not learn from them.

I hope you’ll be tuning in this Saturday to hear Mark, and Happy Halloween!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Genesis, Science, and the Beginning

What do I think of Ben Smith’s book on Genesis and science? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I reviewed this book and Jay Hall’s book since I’m hosting a debate between both of them on my show. More can be said from my perspective on Smith’s book since it deals more with the interpretation of Scripture, which is something that I do know about. There are places where Smith does touch on scientific issues, many of which I don’t know much about, but one that is interesting to me is the eruption of supernovas as indication of an old universe. I will not be interacting with science in this review since that is not my area. Smith is also not a theistic evolutionist and he has a separate book for evolution and thus, that will not be covered.

Smith starts with talking about the dispute we have going on today and the many views that are out there on the first part of Genesis which he numbers to be ten, including his own. The book is up-to-date since it includes John Walton’s view, which has also been the view that I hold to and while I’m not sold on Smith’s view yet, he has intrigued me with it. In fact, in some ways, it looks like many facets of Walton’s view could be included in Smith’s view and I do not doubt that Smith would think that many of Walton’s insights are valuable, especially since Walton is often quoted favorably.

Smith holds to a view known as the Prophetic Days View. A similarity this view has with Walton’s is that the days are indeed 24-hour days. The difference is that in this week, God declared what it was that He was going to be doing without necessarily completing it on that day. I find this view intriguing and it could do a good job explaining some of the data, but I do wonder if this is still how the ancients would have seen this. Walton in his work was able to point to corresponding writings that indicated likewise in the ancient world. Smith’s view would be more convincing for me if he could do likewise.

Smith also does write about how he used to be YEC and points out the reason he was one for so long was that he never read anything that disagreed with him, until he picked up a Hugh Ross book and then found out this guy wasn’t the person that he was made out to be and ten years of reading YEC material had not prepared him for that. It was a hard change, but he eventually made the change. Smith rightly points out that this is a problem that we have in our day and age that few people will bother to read anything that really disagrees with them. It’s easy to be convinced your viewpoint is the right viewpoint when you stay in an echochamber of your own thoughts. Reading disagreeing material is one of the best ways you can grow.

I also agree with Smith that there are some on the other side who do accuse OECs of believing in a different god and a different gospel. This kind of language absolutely must stop. YECs should think that those of us who are OECs are missing the truth if they are convinced of YEC, but to say that we are outside the fold is something altogether differently. Fortunately, most do not do this, but the ones that do this tend to speak very loudly.

Smith also does have a section on the question of death before the fall. This is an excellent part of the book where he states that many of our beliefs on animals could arise more from sentiment than they do from the Bible. This is something that our culture must watch for, especially when we live in an age of Disney and we can turn animals into creatures that feel and think like we do and increase our sympathies towards them. Of course, many of us who have this concern don’t really hesitate to go and visit the McDonald’s and get a hamburger so perhaps it is not God that is inconsistent, but we that are.

Also, there are two appendices dealing with meanings of Hebrew words and a look at what is meant by the firmament. Both of those will be helpful.

I can’t say I’m sold on the concordist view yet. There are times that such a viewpoint has got us in trouble in the past because we read a text thinking it was talking about science when really it wasn’t. This is a danger I’m very concerned about so I’m hesitant at this point.

Overall, this is a fascinating book and the viewpoint is intriguing. Anyone who is skeptical of the Genesis account needs to give it a look.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: YES: Young Earth Science and the Dawn of a New Worldview

What do I think of Jay Hall’s book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’m not a YEC. I really don’t consider it a credible position based on what I’ve read, but when Jay Hall got in touch with me wanting to be on my show to talk about YEC, I agreed if he was willing to appear alongside an OEC and have it be a debate on YEC vs. OEC. Thus, I should state upfront that this is a review copy that I have been sent.

Something unusual about this book is I do not recall a single mention of God or of Scripture in the text. It could be my memory is faulty, but all I saw was scientific arguments. In some ways, this is refreshing to see. I did not have hammered down my throat that YEC is a literal interpretation of Genesis and is in fact the only literal interpretation. I also have not seen anything that indicates that people like myself who are more OEC are heretics. On both sides of the aisle, this is the kind of exchange that needs to stop. We can think each other’s position is problematic, but let us never make it a salvation issue.

As a non-scientist, I freely admit I did not understand much of what was written here, and if you are not a scientist, you will be lost as well. I do consider that more of a problem because if you’re wanting to write to a popular audience, you need to be able to speak in language that they understand. What you will see of is a lot of quoted material. While it is good to know that someone is doing the reading, as a reader of books that make arguments, I did notice some concerns. For instance, many of these quotations came from sources that could be around 100 years old or older. For foundational material, that’s understandable, but a great scientist today could likely never read Newton and you could be a great evolutionary biologist and never read Charles Darwin himself.

Furthermore, many of these quotes also had ellipses. I understand that many times quotes are too long and many times we do need to shorten them, but when it comes to that, I always wonder about what has been left out. Older material might be harder to come by and if all you have is quotes without a context, you have to give the author the benefit of the doubt, but if you approach a book skeptically as I try to do, you have to ask the question. Of course no one can always give the full context of every quote, but when many of these quotes have this, my skepticism goes up.

I cannot thus say anything on the positives or the negatives of the arguments themselves as I leave that for the people in the sciences to decide, but I can say that when in the end he says that YECs need not be bullied, with this I do agree. If anyone in the field has any argument to make, I think we should listen to that argument and make the best response we can. If someone is convinced the Earth is young, they have all right to go and do the research and experiments necessary and write the papers to try to demonstrate to their peers their opinion. At the same time, they have to be ready for any pushback that comes. This does not apply to just YECs of course. This applies to everyone. Science is all the better for hearing all sides and it could be the sides that we might consider the least likely could point out ways that we can refine our own position.

I would say if you want to see a lot of arguments that are claimed to be scientific for a YEC, this could be a good place to go to. As I said earlier, I cannot either endorse or condemn the science. I am not a scientist and I leave that for the scientists, but I am for good debate across the table, and I hope that the exchange of ideas keeps coming.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: God With Us

What do I think of Kreider’s book published by P&R? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In Scripture we are told that we love because He first loved us. We would not know Him well unless He revealed Himself to us. Probably the person who came the closest without special revelation was Aristotle, and who among us possesses his intellect, his reasoning capability, and the time he had to come to his conclusions, and even then he had a lot of errors in his thinking. Kreider’s book is about how God has revealed Himself to us and in fact how that revelation is actually a condescension on the part of God. God comes in ways that we would not expect a great and powerful king to come.

Basically, you get a walk through the Bible and you get to see how God interacts with His people, which is just fine, and many parts along the way you would not likely have noticed on your own. For instance, consider that the first person God is said to appear to in the Bible is in fact Hagar, who is the slave woman of Abraham. In fact, God had made no promise concerning a child of Hagar and the fact that Hagar got pregnant by Abraham was a way of showing Abraham was trying to take control of the promise of God on His own, and while God owed Hagar nothing, He in fact made a promise to her concerning her offspring and provided for her.

The book goes on through the Biblical story and of course comes to the ultimate form of condescension. In this case, it was that Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, in being God by nature, chose to take on the nature of humanity. Other deities could have made appearances as humans in other forms, but the Son of God entered into the full of it even being born in a shameful position, living a shameful life, and dying a shameful death.

Which brings me to what I would say is my only major criticism of the work. I would have liked to have seen more about honor and shame in the Bible as this makes the idea of God’s interactions with us even greater. The Son of God who is worthy of all honor chose to start at the place of lowest honor that He could. Not only that, He died a death that was utterly shameful and would have been met with mockery and derision. Still, this is what God did and that fact should bring us all pause.

The author’s point then for us is that if our God regularly lowered Himself in order to serve us, ought we not do the same for one another? Indeed we should and one of the great problems of the church is we don’t serve. I have told my own wife lately that if you want to see men who are often struggling the most with pride, look no further than the ministry, and I include myself in that number as well. Very few have a servant’s heart any more. We have to constantly remember that we’re here to serve a name and not to make one.

For many, this will be a good reminder on the story of the Bible. For more, hopefully it will be a resource to make you examine your own heart and see if you are living like Jesus.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: How To Memorize Scripture?

What do I think of Jacob Freidman’s book on Scripture memorization? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Jacob Freidman contacted me and offered me the gift of his book for a review. It’s a short book, one you could read in about an hour, and even comes with some fun trivia at the end, but the main goal is to get you to memorize Scripture. In the book, you also see that Freidman is one who has a deep heritage in Scripture being both Jewish and a believer in Jesus. Freidman’s work is short and to the point and if followed depending on one’s learning style could help one greatly in memorizing Scripture.

Rightly, he starts off by pointing out the reason for memorizing Scripture. We don’t memorize it for the sake of memorizing it or just to show off to others around us how much we know about the Bible. We do it because having Scripture in our heads better lets it be an influence on us. I have found it immensely helpful in my own personal life to be having an awareness of what the Scripture says and not only when I’m struggling with a decision, but also as I try to go to sleep at night I can think on a particular passage of Scripture and try to analyze it and to see what gems I can get out of it.

Freidman starts by asking you to take a quiz that he provides to help better figure out what kind of learner you are. Are you a visual learner or an auditory learner or a kinesthetic learner? All of them will learn differently, although some of us have varying degrees of how far we go. Once you get that, Freidman gives you an example of a passage and shows how you could go about learning to memorize that passage. These are good techniques you’d likely find on any book written on memory itself, but Freidman has packed it in tight into a nice little package so you can easily have it at your disposal.

There is no need here to go into detail, but Freidman wants you to always keep in mind again as he closes your motivation. The reason we are to do this is because we are all to have a high view of Scripture, especially since Jesus and His apostles did, and we should hide it in our hearts. Freidman rightly has some material at the start of the book on how the ancients had to memorize due to them not being a literate society. It would have been nice to see some apologetic information there, but I am not surprised it wasn’t there because this is not a book on apologetics. Still, the point is there that if the ancients did this because of their high view of Scripture, and keep in mind Paul wrote to Gentile churches where they already had a high enough view that Paul could quote a passage that we might think obscure and they could recognize it from their Old Testaments, then we should also have a high view.

I commend Freidman. The work is inexpensive and can be read in an hour and I do agree that memorization is something incredibly helpful to have.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 10/24/2015: David Wilkie

What’s coming up on the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Art. We see it in the world all around us. While we might think it only exists in drawings and paintings, any time we sit down to watch TV, in some way, we are seeing art. Even the way a news reporter dresses and the way their show is lined out is meant to make a statement. The commercials that will take place are often artistic in some sense. Music is all around us and many of us travel with our devices listening to music that we hear and as much as cars have advanced, though sadly we did not get the flying cars that we were told we would get, it is quite likely music will be a part of them for some time.

What impact can a Christian have when it comes to art? Many times in the apologetics world, we have focused on the world of the head. Bring forward a good argument and that’s enough. For some people, it could be, but many times it’s not just the message that reaches people, but it’s the medium that reaches them as well and art is a fantastic medium. Why not have on the show someone who brings together the world of art and the world of Christianity? This week, I have decided to do that by having David Wilkie come on. If you don’t know him, he’s the author of the popular comic strip Coffee With Jesus.


So who is he? According to his bio:

Born in Germany of a Californian Army father and a New York Italian mother, Dave Wilkie considers himself a Transcontinental American, though he’s still trying to find a home state.
From his earliest days, Dave was fascinated with the written word as well as the audio and visual arts. He enjoyed most the ability of all of these mediums to make people laugh and think. Compiling audio montages became a hobby early on.

Dave has held numerous and varied positions in his career, a career that started in journalism, if you count delivering The Washington Post as a 6th grader a job in journalism.
Dave has been an advertising copywriter, creative director, producer, musician, on-air talent, clergyman, fax repairman and artist, sometimes all at once. His favorite role is that of Grounds Maintenance Foreman for Radio Free Babylon, the organization he founded with his wife, Katie, in 2000. “You can’t edit a mowed and manicured lawn,” he says.
Dave and his family reside in Florida, with Roman, their Australian shepherd.

This Saturday then, we’ll be talking about art and apologetics. How can a Christian be a witness for Christ? Is it possible to use artwork in order to make an impact for the Kingdom? How should Christians best engage with the media that is around them and use it for the glory of God? What kind of skills does one need to get in the world of art in order to best use this medium for the Gospel?

Tune in next time to the Deeper Waters Podcast!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Seeing Ghosts Through God’s Eyes?

What do I think about Mark Hunnemann’s book on ghosts? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Mark Hunnemann is a friend of mine and I respect his knowledge and experience. I was eager to read his book on ghosts because this is just an interesting area of discussion. I don’t really watch ghost hunter shows or anything like that. I have seen a couple of episodes but frankly, it just looked stupid. When I was on my honeymoon with my wife, we went to a museum together at the beach and we were told there was a ghost walk going on where we’d hear stories about ghosts at Ocean Isle Beach. We thought we’d see what it was like since it was free. It started with a picture that was supposed to show ghosts through a window which I told my wife Allie that it looked to me like it just needed more Windex. Things kind of went downhill from there and to this day we can make jokes about the “Kindred spirit of the mailbox.”

I opened up Mark’s book then wanting to get a fuller look at ghosts from a biblical perspective. Mark comes from an area that is quite easily to identify as extremely Calvinist with a strong presuppositionalism. If you do not share this viewpoint, which I do not, then this can be problematic. If his Calvinism and his interpretation of Scripture holds, then his conclusion I think follows well, but while I am skeptical of ghosts, though I do try to remain open, there are some problems that I was facing as I went through that I did not think were being answered and this could be due to a lack of real data on the topic.

I would have liked to have seen more interaction with that data. For instance, I was not too familiar with EMV technology when I started the book and what its impact is supposed to be on studies of ghosts. I ended the book not familiar with EMV technology and what its impact is supposed to be on studies of ghosts. This kind of material was not dealt with. Of course it could be the data gathered from these means is bogus. It could be that these are faked accounts. I am not a specialist so I cannot say. The point is that it needs to be dealt with.

I also was left wondering what the view of the afterdeath was. For instance, it’s my belief that Heaven and Hell do not refer to particular places. They refer instead to states of relation between God and man. You could see my view as akin to Lewis’s in The Great Divorce. Thus, a person who dies I think could still be here, though I would not call them someone who appears as a ghost. They have to be somewhere after all. Does that mean they are wandering in a world apart from God? Not at all. That’s impossible. God is omnipresent and I think those on the other side to use a better term see the glory that is already there that we miss out on. Non-Christians meanwhile live in shame and anger knowing they are surrounded by the presence of one they’ve hated so much.

I could also agree with the writer that many of these are demonic beings coming in another form. I have no problem with that and while I do think it’s good to be skeptical of claims, one does not need to be unreasonably skeptical, but yet I couldn’t help but wonder if demons explain all stories. What also of more innocent stories such as the accounts of people who feel the presence of a loved one in their room suddenly for a brief moment and then the phone rings to tell them that that loved one died?

To get back to theory of people being here in some sense though dead, could that be behind some ghosts? Could they be in fact people who have died apart from Christ and are living lives of agony as restless wanderers at times? I am open. Could I know that? No. Could I establish it? No. Do I have any strong cases? No. I am just open. While we are told that ghosts are supposed to represent all of the public around us, I do not think we can really establish that. Too much of ghost hunting seems to be speculation built on speculation built on speculation. How could anyone know some of these things? One could have an interesting theory and maybe interesting evidence for it, but I hesitate to call it knowledge.

Mark no doubt writes with a knowledge and love of God and many of his statements on grace and forgiveness are beautiful, but being one who does not share the viewpoint of Calvinism or the presuppositional approach, I found myself just wondering about the other data. You can say all you want that the position of ghosts does contradict the Word of God. I would have no problem with that, but that does not mean that it does not need to be explained. One could argue from a more YEC perspective that evolution contradicts the Word of God. (I do not share this position but I am speaking on a hypothetical) Even if that is so, one still needs to explain the data and not just show that it contradicts Scripture. This is part of having a fully cohesive worldview to explain all the data.

On that note, the importance of worldview thinking I was pleased to see. Not enough people do think about the worldviews that they hold and frankly, I think many of the problems we see in the church could be corrected if we just had good theology. Perhaps indeed much of our speculation with ghosts and matters like that would be less prevalent if we just had good theology. I am concerned when our churches seem to put a fascination into us of the dark side when we don’t know enough about our own side. (And this is done even by having regular events that “expose” satanism or seeing satanism involved in everything.)

If there is another edition put out of this book, I would like to see more interaction with the data that disagrees and what’s wrong or inconsistent about it in itself. Also, while I understand the writer writes from a Calvinistic viewpoint, it does come out too strong and those who do not share that viewpoint will find it hard to relate to or follow the arguments or find themselves persuaded. The material on grace and forgiveness is good and encouraging, but the argumentation and data need to be improved.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Mark’s book is available for purchase here.

Book Plunge: Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.

What do I think of Nabeel Qureshi’s book published by Zondervan? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Imagine growing up a Muslim all your life and being taught Muslim beliefs all your life and having that thoroughly interwoven with your family life. Your family wants you to grow up to be a good Muslim and one who will share the perceived truth of Islam. This was Nabeel Qureshi’s life until he went on a trip once and met a friend who happened to be reading the Bible and for the first time, he encountered someone who actually could give some pushback to what he said. Nabeel began a quest to show his friend the truth of Islam. Instead, as the book title shows, he ended up bowing his knee to Jesus Christ.

I wish to give a disclaimer at the start. While I do seek to avoid bias in a work, I know many of the people involved in this book. I consider Nabeel a friend of mine. I know David Wood as well and consider him a friend and I know his wife too. (I know Nabeel’s wife too, but she isn’t mentioned much in the book as his wedding is more part of an epilogue, but she is a wonderful woman.) Nabeel also shares about his time that he spent with Mike Licona and Gary Habermas. Licona I am related to by marriage and Habermas is a friend of ours as well having introduced me to Mike’s daughter and then having married us. I ask the reader to know I am striving to go by content.

Nabeel’s book is just a fascinating book to read as it is full of good information, but it is also written in an exciting story fashion. Nabeel draws you into his family life and how he grew up and he explains Muslim terminology along the way. Nabeel grew up in a family that had great respect for religion and at the same time, they were a family that many of us would not mind having as neighbors. They were grieved by the actions of 9/11 and often were just trying to raise up their children in the Islamic faith out of their great devotion to it, including Nabeel’s Dad going with him to a church play when a friend invited him and joining him for a dialogue with Licona and Habermas. The family was one with great love for Nabeel.

Nabeel then goes on a trip and meets a friend there who his mother can tell is a good young man Nabeel should spend time with. That friend turns out to be David Wood and that is where the story really kicks off. When the two friends got to their hotel room, Nabeel saw David reading the Bible. Nabeel was quite stunned seeing as he’d never seen someone read the Bible as it were, for fun. (How many of our lives could be different if some people saw us reading the Bible?) This led to Nabeel going to his evangelism to try to convince David that the Bible had been changed. The problem for Nabeel was that this time, it didn’t work. David had his answers ready asking Nabeel where he heard that claim before and if he could give examples.

Still despite their religious disagreements, the two managed to maintain a strong friendship. Nabeel saw this as absolutely essential for his conversion. It was the kindness that David showed him in powerfully, yet gently, answering his questions and asking good ones of his own that got him thinking. David eventually invited Nabeel to join him to meet Mike Licona and Gary Habermas for a dream team meeting to discuss the historical Jesus. Nabeel brought his dad for the first one he went to and his dad presented the swoon theory. Nabeel saw his Dad as one of the most powerful debaters he knew.

And his star fell that night.

This started Nabeel looking at the data for Christianity and he had to admit it was convincing. The evidence for the resurrection is especially powerful, but Nabeel is not convinced as he tells David. Islam has much better evidence. David’s up for the challenge and says there’s another meeting of minds at Mike’s house before too long and it’s not just Christians, but seekers of all paths that are there. Why not come? In fact, Nabeel can come and give a case for Islam. Nabeel is thrilled with this and goes to give his presentation only to find out that his case doesn’t really stand up with Mike asking Nabeel how he knows the stories about Muhammad are accurate.

So Nabeel goes back to his studies again and this time decides to study Muhammad. He does not like what he sees and this from Muslim sources! When he looks at modern sources, they ignore these problematic passages and looking online doesn’t provide him much comfort either. Maybe the Koran can stand up better. Turns out for Nabeel, it didn’t. This left him in a tailspin wondering what exactly he should do.

That’s when he prays for God to show him what to do and as commonly happens in the Muslim world, Nabeel gets dreams. These dreams are incredibly convincing and end up with Nabeel finally converting.

You might think I’ve told you everything. I really haven’t. The content of the book and watching how the dialogues take place are everything. This is a book that is one that you do not want to put down. The chapters are brief enough that you could read one in a small sitting and then save another one for later. You will also not get bogged down by a lot of complex terminology. There is also a lot of good humor thrown in. I read some of the book in a very public place and as it turns out, started laughing out loud at a number of parts.

Most importantly, Nabeel ends with a real look at grace and what it means for evangelism and this is something I know he lives out. He also shows the pain that this had on his family to which we should all seek to pray for Nabeel’s family that they might come to see that God has revealed Himself in Jesus. Knowing Nabeel personally, I know that he prays for those who are outside the fold, including people in ISIS, and there can be no doubt that his family is on that list. Reading the book in the end will give you a greater wonder and appreciation of the grace of God, which I’m sure would please Nabeel.

In the end, there are also several smaller chapters written by people like Mike, David, Gary, and others. These give the reader a little bit more information and insight into Nabeel.

I cannot recommend this book enough. It is an excellent, enjoyable, and informative read. Why not pick it up from our Estore today?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: How To Read Job

What do I think of Tremper Longman and John Walton’s book published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Job. It’s one of those books that we often don’t know what to do with, but we think we know everything about it. The story seems straight forward enough. Job is a good and righteous man who is put to a test when the devil challenges God. As a result, Job loses all that he has and his health as well. His own wife says to curse God and die and his three friends who come to comfort him instead end up getting in a religious debate with him telling him he needs to repent. Job stands against them and in the end, God speaks to Job and Job recognizes the grandeur of God and he receives back all the wealth that he lost doubled. Through this, we better understand suffering in the universe.

Or maybe we don’t….

Frankly, if Job is meant to address the question of why we suffer, it did a terrible job. Job himself at the end of the story does not know why he suffered and while he does get back everything and more, it would have still left a lasting impression on him. In fact, we look at many times that Job speaks angrily in the book before God shows up and think “This guy doesn’t sound so righteous right now.” When God shows up, we’re even more puzzled. Rather than give an answer as to what happened, God looks more like He’s saying “Yo! I’m God! Sit down and shut up once you hear about all the cool things I can do!”

Maybe we’re misreading Job then. Maybe in fact the question is not at all about why good people suffer. Good people suffering is just what puts a deeper question in perspective.

What if the deeper question behind the book is “Why should any man be righteous?” Often times Christians are asked by atheists if they would be a good person if there was no God. That’s a valid question and it’s a question not just for Christians but for anyone. Why should anyone be good? Let’s also keep in mind that when we talk about this goodness, the talk is entirely about life on this side of eternity. Longman and Walton argue that Job is really not arguing for an afterlife even in some of our places where we think he does. The book doesn’t even hint at one at the end when it would make the most sense. Everything is about this life.

Job lives in a worldview with a basic principle that if you do good you can expect good and if you do evil, you can expect to be punished. A major difference between Job and his friends and the world around them is that there is no trace of polytheism being spoken about. There is no indication that there is a ritual that Job needs to undertake in order to be pronounced pure. The topic is all about moral shortcomings. In fact, contrary to what we might think, Job might not be as much of a saint as we think. The narrator tells us Job offered sacrifices for each of his children after they all got together in case one of them sinned and cursed God in their hearts. The problem is we have no indication that this happened and could such a sacrifice even provide for the children to begin with? Is this a hint that Job has a view of a capricious deity sitting at the computer ready to hit the smite button?


Of course, Job is noble in that he doesn’t curse God when struck with calamity, but he is less than noble when he throughout his dialogue accuses God of being unjust and asks for an advocate. Note he’s not wanting what we often think he wants. We tend to see Jesus in the advocate. Job is not wanting someone to atone for his sins so he can be righteous before God because he thinks he already is. Job is wanting someone who will stand before God on his behalf and argue that God is unjust. It would be a wasted attempt anyway. What would Job gain if he showed God was unjust anyway?

Meanwhile, his friends and everyone else does seem to follow the principle above known as the retribution principle. After all, if Job is suffering, well he must have sinned in some way. It’s amazing that this book is one written that shows that our individual sin is not the cause of all the suffering that we go through in life, and yet we still hold to that doctrine. How many of us in a time of suffering start looking at our lives trying to find that one sin, even if it was a sin that was committed decades ago, that we think God is holding us accountable for? If so, what kind of God do we think we’re serving? That’s not to say that there’s never time for self-examination, but are we making God into someone spiteful?

The point we are to get out of the story is about the importance of wisdom, which is talked about much in this book, especially at the start of Job’s final long discourse. The wisdom in the end is to learn to trust God. God’s resume is not to just say “Hey! I can do cool stuff!” It’s saying “I keep this whole universe in motion. You do not. Do you think I don’t know what I’m doing?” Comparisons are drawn with the two animal creatures described also with the implication being that for the latter definitely, God is greater than this beast. You could not begin to know how to tame this beast and bend Him to your will. With God it is impossible.

This leaves us thinking about prayer. Many times in prayer we do try to manipulate God. I know I’ve been guilty of it in the past and it’s really hard to learn to come to God and realize there’s no magic formula where you can say just the right words and then God will give you what you want. You also can’t just say “Look at all my good deeds” and then think that God is obligated to give you something. The book should teach us that God has no obligations to us. He does not owe us a single thing. Everything that he gives us is an act of grace. This is something I will have to watch for more when I pray and no doubt, I will make the mistake again in the future.

Also, rather than be a book to aid us in suffering, this should be a book that is a boot camp for us before we enter suffering. It will cause us to ask the question if we properly read it of “Would I serve God even if there was no reward?” We could think of other parallels. Would the husband love his wife if sex was no longer part of the deal? Would the wife love her husband if he could no longer provide financial or physical security? How many of our relationships involve loving so we can get something that we want rather than doing the right thing because it’s the right thing? How many of us have a walk with God like that? Of course God promises to reward us for our faithfulness and even uses that as our motivation, but we are not to be purely mercenary.

Walton and Longman’s book will give you a lot to think about. The view I have of Job has been drastically changed by reading this book and I think in fact for the better. I now seek to ask myself why I strive to live a righteous life and make my motivations pure. Are you doing the same?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Note: This book was freely provided to me by IVP for review purposes. You can purchase your own copy and support Deeper Waters here.