Deeper Waters Podcast 7/2/2016: John J. Collins

What’s coming up this Saturday? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

For those wondering where the new episodes are, we have had problems with the recording program I have been using. I have switched it and another podcaster has confirmed I have made a good switch and that he had similar problems. I did a check with him yesterday and it worked out well and we’re going to do another one later on. We will try to get in touch with the guests scheduled and get them to come on again and repeat.

Anyway, this Saturday we’re going to be talking about a lot of writings from the intertestamental period of the New Testament. These will include apocalypse, prophecy, and pseudepigraphy. Who better to have come on to discuss these then the author of the book Apocalypse, Prophecy, and Pseudepigraphy, a book I have reviewed earlier. That is Dr. John J. Collins. Who is he?


A native of Ireland, Professor Collins was a professor of Hebrew Bible at the University of Chicago from 1991 until his arrival at YDS in 2000. He previously taught at the University of Notre Dame. He has published widely on the subjects of apocalypticism, wisdom, Hellenistic Judaism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. His books include The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Biography; Early Judaism: A Comprehensive Overview; the commentary on Daniel in the Hermeneia series; The Scepter and the Star: The Messiahs of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Ancient Literature; Apocalypticism in the Dead Sea Scrolls; Jewish Wisdom in the Hellenistic Age; The Apocalyptic Imagination; Between Athens and Jerusalem: Jewish Identity in the Hellenistic Diaspora; Introduction to the Hebrew Bible with CD-ROM; Does the Bible Justify Violence?; Jewish Cult and Hellenistic Culture; Encounters with Biblical Theology; The Bible after Babel: Historical Criticism in a Postmodern Age; King and Messiah as Son of God (with Adela Yarbro Collins); and Beyond the Qumran Community: The Sectarian Movement of the Dead Sea Scrolls. He is coeditor of the three-volume Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism, The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism, and The Oxford Handbook of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and has participated in the editing of the Dead Sea Scrolls. He is general editor of the Yale Anchor Bible series. He has served as editor of the Journal for the Study of Judaism Supplement Series, Dead Sea Discoveries, and Journal of Biblical Literature, and as president of both the Catholic Biblical Association and the Society of Biblical Literature. He holds an honorary D.Litt. from University College Dublin, and an honorary Th. D. from the University of Zurich. Professor Collins is a fellow of Trumbull College.

This show promises to be an in-depth look at these topics. We’ll learn what they are and why they matter so much for us as Christians today. I hope you’ll be tuning in for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast and please do consider going on ITunes and leaving a positive review of the show. It makes me so happy to see them!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Is This Apologetics Stuff Really Necessary?

Does it really matter if we do apologetics? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So we’ve been going over apologetics basics lately and some of you might think it sounds like a lot of work. Is this something we really need to do? Can’t we just take our children to church every Sunday and expect them to turn out okay? It’s good if you’re wondering that. Let’s talk about why it matters.

Would you really consider doing something like this in any other situation? Would you say that you take your child to the doctor so regularly health habits at home to take care of their body aren’t necessary? Would you say you have your child in school so their studying on their own isn’t really necessary? Would you say that you live with your spouse every day so working to maintain your marriage really isn’t necessary?

Why do you take care of all these things? You do so because you think they’re important and they require diligence to maintain. Why not treat faith the same way?

Next, let’s suppose you want people to believe in Christianity. Why? Do you want to believe in Jesus because that will make them into a good person? Do you want them to believe because you want them to go to Heaven? Do you want them to believe because they will avoid Hell? Those can be good reasons, but they are not the reasons. All those reasons depend on Christianity being true. The promise of Heaven and the warning of Hell only matter if Christianity is true. Being a good person is great, but would you want that goodness to be based on truth or not?

So let’s look at the main reason someone should believe in Christianity. In fact, it’s the reason that we should believe in anything. It’s true. What do we mean when we say it’s true? Do we mean it makes you a good person? No. Do we mean it’s a great moral system? No. Do we mean that it brings joy in life? No. Those could all be true, but none of those state what it means to say Christianity is true.

What it means is this. You believe that Jesus, a person who is fully man and fully God, came on Earth, proclaimed the Kingdom of God, worked miracles, was crucified, buried, and rose bodily again from the dead and that He calls for allegiance from everyone. You believe forgiveness is found only in Him. These are indeed amazing claims.

Let’s grant the new atheists something on this. When they say that if you were told your spouse was cheating on you, you’d want evidence, but when you’re told the above, you think it’s a virtue to blindly believe, they have a point. Unfortunately, that does describe many Christians. If you don’t have a reason that you should believe other than your personal feelings, then why should anyone else.

Would you want your marriage to be maintained on personal feelings? Would you want your employment to be based on personal feelings? Would you want your relationship with your children to be based on personal feelings? Of course not. These are good when they come, but one can’t make a steady diet out of them, because those feelings will fade from time to time for any number of reasons.

How about instead having another reason? How about having something historical? Now it could be you evangelize someone and your personal testimony is enough, but what if it isn’t? Do you want to be caught flat-footed? Do you want to tell people Jesus is the most important aspect of your life and not be prepared when people ask you for any evidence of the reality of this? Do you want to say you’ve never thought like this about the most important aspect of your life? Or what you say is the most important aspect?

This is especially so for parents. Often times, you’re sending your children to college with about a dozen years of Sunday School vs. a professor with twenty-five years of atheism. Do you really think this is a fair fight? Do you really think your children have a chance? Now sure, some who abandon the faith come back later, but look at all the time they spend away and some of their most important choices are made in that time, such as marriage and career choices. All this time they could be a testimony of Jesus. Instead, they’re a testimony against Christians as long as they’re apostate.

Not only that, but this will help you more to realize the importance of a holy life. This will be something you can say is a reality. This will give you confidence in your evangelism. There won’t be people you’re scared to evangelize because they might have questions. You can’t specialize in every worldview out there. You’re not going to be an expert on every religious group and non-religious group in the world. You can be someone who knows your own worldview at least so you can have something to talk about when you meet someone who doesn’t believe what you believe.

Of course, some of you could be wondering how you can fit this into your schedule. You don’t have time to be a scholar. What do you do?

That’s for another time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Apologetics And Personal Testimony

What role does my testimony play in apologetics? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We’ve been talking about the basics of apologetics. I think that for many people, the main form of apologetics they have is their personal testimony. This is not without use today, but at the same time, there can be a danger to it. I’d like today then to advise you of how and when to use your personal testimony.

One problem today is that everyone has a testimony. There are Muslims and Mormons and Buddhists and Hindus and even atheists that can tell how their worldview changing changed their life. Why should your testimony be given credence over theirs? You could say “Well mine is based on facts.” Okay. What facts? If you say the resurrection of Jesus, then it comes to “How do you know that’s a fact?” If you say “My testimony” then you’re begging the question. You know your testimony is true because Jesus rose. You know Jesus rose because that’s what makes your testimony true. This is where apologetics comes in.

Another danger is something a pastor once pointed out that I heard on a radio broadcast. Sometimes you can make it that your life before Christ sounds better than the one after. “Yeah. Before Christ, I was out drinking regularly. I was partying with my friends. I was sleeping with a different woman every night. I had all the cash and fast cars that I wanted. I just felt empty. Today, I attend a Bible study most every night and I don’t watch a number of TV shows and I don’t sleep around.”

I could go on with that. Now keep in mind I’m not encouraging the prior kind of lifestyle, but if you’re wanting to evangelize to someone, do you really think they’d want the lifestyle you describe now instead of the other? Of course, few of us will come out and say it just like that, but we have to watch ourselves because this does happen.

If these aren’t the times to use a personal testimony, then when do you do so?

I recommend that you do it after you’ve made your apologetic presentation. C.S. Lewis said once that if you go out evangelizing with a church group, send your arguers forward first. They’re the ones who will break down the intellectual barriers. After that, then have your people come forward with the testimonies. In other words, you make your presentation first for why Christianity is true and then you have someone come forward with what a difference it makes.

Still, I hesitate to use the method at all because you do not believe in Christianity because it brings about a good in your life or because it works or something like that. You believe in it because it’s true. Now it could be that it could make you feel good or it could “work” as it were, but that is not the reason to believe it. That’s just a nice benefit from it. (And for what it’s meant to do, it most definitely works.) When we emphasize our testimony, we’re pointing away too often from the truth question and to the pragmatic question.

One exception to this could be a bona fide miracle. If you have eyewitness testimony of a miracle that you have seen, that is something valid. It doesn’t mean it’s true of course, but I am open to people sharing that. That’s in fact an apologetic in itself of something quite objective.

I look forward to the day when people have more reason to believe than just what they feel and experience. They believe because there is good evidence Jesus rose from the dead. If we know this evidence more and can share it, we give people something real they have to deal with. They could try to use psychology to explain away our experience, but dealing with actual history is something different.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: How I Changed My Mind About Evolution

What do I think of Kathryn Applegate and J.B. Stump’s book published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When you see a title like this, your first inclination would probably be to think that this is a book by several ex-atheists who came to Christ and then as a result changed their minds on evolution. That’s a natural idea to think. Unfortunately, it’s dead wrong. In fact, this is about Christians who came to either believe in evolution or be open to it and saw no conflict with their Christian faith.

I find this interesting because I find myself in the category of people who are open. If you ask why I don’t come out and affirm, it’s because I don’t possess the scientific acumen to really examine the evidence. I also don’t possess the desire to spend years reading about it when my focus is elsewhere. How did I reach this conclusion?

It actually happened when I was studying at Southern Evangelical Seminary. I was writing a research paper on science and religion and thinking about the interplay between the two and how so many people so often claim that war is going on between the two. I also combined this with the Thomism that I had been learning about. I thought about the five ways and how those were valid ways of showing God exists long before the scientific arguments of our day came along such as the first two ways of William Lane Craig or of the Intelligent Design movement.

I started asking how much could I grant and still have Christianity? I realized it was quite a lot. My research got me to realize that if evolution is true, we have to accept it. We have no other choice. If something is true and if we believe the Bible is inerrant, it will not contradict the Bible. We might have to change our interpretation of the Scriptures.

I also thought about this because I had seen too many Christians, and sadly it was sometimes myself, critiquing evolution without understanding science. But wait, wasn’t it my concern that the new atheists were critiquing ideas without bothering to understand them? Ought I not be consistent? Now that being said, I am not opposed to Christians critiquing evolution. I just say that if you want to do it, make sure you build a case that is scientific. If evolution falls, let it fall because it is bad science. Let it never be the case that we make it the Bible vs. science. That damages the faith community and the scientific community both. (And atheists make the same mistake of such a dichotomy which I think leads to great ignorance on both the Bible and science.)

So enough about me, let’s get to the book. This book contains twenty-five accounts of people who accept evolution or are open and are committed Christians. I was very pleased to see N.T. Wright in here who wrote an essay on how this is a major issue in America, but not so much of one in the U.K.

Sometimes I thought the title was not as accurate. Some were Christians who never really had a problem with evolution. Some were, but not all. Can we really speak of them changing their mind on evolution?

Also, I understand that we should read more elsewhere to learn about evolution itself, but I would have liked to have seen more argumentation for evolution. Still, if you grant that at the most each author had about ten pages, I suppose I can see why it was lacking. Much of it was more autobiographical.

What I saw over and over was the need to really look at science and how science really can be a gateway to the glory of God. True, there are pastors and Biblical scholars in this book, but let us not think they are the only ones who are bringing the truth of God. The scientists can do it too. Sure, science won’t bring us the message of salvation by itself, but it does still help our lives here tremendously and explain the wonders of the God that the scholars and pastors reveal.

I realize there are some Christians who still struggle with this and I understand it. In fact, the editors of this book do and I’m sure most of the writers in the book do. Still, I always want to point to the foundation. If you found out evolution was true, would that refute for you the fact that Jesus rose from the dead? If it does, then you might not have a good apologetic for the resurrection to begin with. If Jesus rose from the dead, then how can evolution disprove that?

Could it also be that you believe in a God not with a certain nature but who works a certain way? We can still be made by God and formed over time. In fact, all of us are. From the time our parents have sex and conceive us, we spend nine months being formed and yet none of us thinks that that undermines our being made in the image of God.

I recommend that if you don’t know science, try to grant what can be established scientifically. If you do know and you think you can argue, make a case. If evolution is false like I said, it deserves to fall. Stick instead to your strengths ultimately. You don’t have to answer everything. The resurrection is the sure foundation. If you have that, you have Christianity. Christianity does not rest on old creation. It rests on new creation.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Why Do We Do Apologetics?

So if we know what apologetics is, why do we do it? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, I decided to go back to basics for some readers and started with the question of what is apologetics. Now you might have read that and thought “Okay. I see what it is. Why do you do it?” This is something that can confuse many people in the church. Aren’t we supposed to have faith?

Well yes, if you understand it biblically. If you misunderstand faith, then no. A lot of writers called the new atheists like to say something like faith is believing without evidence. Peter Boghossian has defined it as pretending to know things you don’t know. I wish this was limited to atheists, but it isn’t. A mentor of mine told me of some kids on a youth retreat who went evangelizing on the beach and when they got a hard question just said “That’s why it’s called faith.” Some pastors have even made a similar response.

Faith is not believing without evidence but trusting in what has shown itself to be reliable. I have written about that here. Blind faith, which is what the new atheists advocate, is not a Christian virtue. It is in fact, just stupidity. If God wanted us to truly have no evidence, there would not even be a Bible. We would just be told a claim somehow and said “Believe it.” Jesus also would not have done miracles. He would have just shown up and made a claim and said “Believe it.”

So if we realize we’re not to have blind faith, then what? Why do we engage in apologetics. There are three reasons.

The first is to answer those who contradict the faith. When we meet atheists and skeptics and Muslims and Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses and anyone else, sadly sometimes people who claim to be Christians, we have to give an answer. If someone is saying something that is inaccurate, we need to show what is the accurate answer. We don’t need to let a challenge stand without a response. Of course, if others have already responded, it might be wiser to sit to the side especially if you’re not equipped on the topic and use it as a learning time.

The second is to help with our own doubts. It’s okay to have doubts. Everyone should. I don’t care what your worldview is. If you don’t doubt what you believe sometime, you’re not really taking it seriously. What happens to you if you’re a Christian and you get caught in a spiral of emotions and you start to doubt that Christianity is true? In those times, you tell your emotions to sit back and listen to the facts. When you are asked why you believe, you will have more than a personal testimony. You can give your testimony, but back it up with claims that your opponent can verify first.

Third is to help your fellow Christians. Many Christians unfortunately have an idea that you can’t ask questions or doubt. This is false. When you end up giving a defense of the faith, this can encourage them. In fact, in a debate in a public forum, like Facebook even, I rarely have in mind converting my opponent. I’m thinking more of the audience that is watching. Those people can be encouraged by a strong showing of how Christianity can be defended.

Apologetics again is also fun. The more you do it, the more you can enjoy it. It’s quite fun to know that an atheist who thought he would shut you down has nothing to say after awhile and it’s great to see your fellow Christians encouraged. I hope this writing is starting to get you interested in studying this fascinating field for yourself.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 6/25/2016: Jonathan Leeman

What’s coming up this Saturday on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s dive into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Politics. The very word makes us immediately want to hold our ground against our opponent. If you asked people what are the two most divisive forces in the world, chances are you’d hear politics along with religion. Whether or not that’s true, that would show how our society views both of those. If that’s the case, then what are we to think of the idea of church being political?

That is exactly what we have in this week’s guest. My guest is Jonathan Leeman who is the author of the book Political Church. It is a book that I have reviewed previously.

So who is he?

View More:

Jonathan Leeman is the editorial director for 9Marks. After doing undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science, Jonathan began his career in journalism where he worked as an editor for an international economics magazine in Washington, D. C. Since his call to ministry, Jonathan has earned a master of divinity and a Ph.D. in theology and worked as an interim pastor.

Today he edits the 9Marks series of books as well as the 9Marks Journal. He has written for a number of publications and is the author or editor of a number books:

Jonathan lives with his wife and four daughters in a suburb of Washington, DC and serves as an elder at Capitol Hill Baptist Church. He is also an occasional lecturer at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and teaches adjunctively for The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the Reformed Theological Seminary.

So we’ll be jumping into the hot seat. You might not get something such as who you should vote for this election cycle, but what you will get is how the church is to function and not just the church, but all of our societies. Politics is unavoidable just like religion is. As long as we are going to be doing politics then, we might as well be doing politics well.

As we prepare to go into the 2016 election season, politics is on everyone’s mind and so is religion still. Why not be prepared to talk about them? I hope you’ll be listening this Saturday as I interview Jonathan Leeman on this book. Please also go to ITunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What Is Apologetics?

What are we doing on this blog? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My wife is the inspiration for this series I’m starting. Recently, I told her that I wish she would share more of the stuff that I write on Facebook. She said she would, but a lot of it is very heady and a lot of her friends might not even know what apologetics is and would just get confused. The idea came to me then that sometimes in apologetics, we spend so much time talking about the deep stuff, we can forget there are people still on the shallow end of the pool who might want to come deeper but are scared to because they haven’t learned the basics of the shallows yet.

So let’s start with basics and since this is an apologetics blog, the question can be asked “What is apologetics?” It is not as was once joked, going up to a non-Christian and saying “I’m so sorry you’re going to Hell.” Too often, when we hear about apologetics, we think that someone is apologizing for something. That’s not at all the case.

The word comes from the Greek word apologia. An apologia was what you did when you went to court and had to make a defense. Plato wrote a dialogue with Socrates defending himself on trial and called it The Apology. Justin Martyr wrote a letter to the emperor to defend Christianity from criticisms and it was called The First Apology.

So when a Christian engages in apologetics, what they are doing is trying to defend Christianity. If someone comes up to you and asks “Why are you a Christian?” your answer is an apology of sorts. Even if all you do is give your personal testimony, it is an apology.

In fact, this gets us to a problem. Many times our apologetics is not really apologetics. Often times, you don’t tell why you are a Christian but rather how you became a Christian. Imagine being in the hospital for a loved one that you took there and having someone call and say “You’re at the hospital? Why?” They do not want to hear how you used the GPS to get there. They want to know the reason you are where you are. The journey to get there is not that interesting to them.

So if someone says to you “Why are you a Christian?” and you answer by telling how you grew up in a Christian home and were taught the Bible and came forward once in a church service and prayed to make Christ your savior, you’ve told something interesting and how you got to where you are today, but you have not told why you are staying there. I find it interesting that when I debate many online atheists, they still do the same thing. They still start with their personal testimony, like they can’t get past their Christian days.

How you got where you are can be interesting, but it’s more important to know why you’re still there today. You can’t live in the past forever. If I was to suggest some areas of apologetics to have basics on, it would be these.

First, I think you need a reason for the existence of God. Many people go with a design argument and that can be fine. You can also use C.S. Lewis’s moral argument. You can argue from the beginning of the universe. There are several arguments to use.

Second, you need a basic argument for believing the Bible. This could be something about archaeological discoveries that back the Bible. It could be the manuscript evidence that shows the text has been handed down well. Personally, I’d prefer you have some of each.

Third, you need an argument for Jesus. You need to be able to show what He claimed about Himself and that it matters. You need to definitely be able to show that He rose from the dead. This last one is central to the Christian faith.

“But I don’t want to be a scholar.”

In today’s world, it’s incredibly easy really. I definitely encourage reading books because that is where the best information is, but there are other ways. You can go on ITunesU and listen to seminary lectures given by scholars in the field. You can listen to podcasts, and readers of this blog know that I have one that I would be thrilled to have you listen to. Many of us will happily dedicate time to our favorite TV series or to playing a game or to a sport. How much are we willing to dedicate to Jesus who we say is central to our lives? If our devotion to these in practice is greater than our devotion to Jesus, we have a problem.

I’m also not saying that you have to quit your job and do nothing but apologetics, but you can listen to podcasts some such as during your commute to and from work. This is an investment of your time for what you say is most important. It can also help bring others to Jesus. Why not do it?

Another good apologetic today in our day and age is your marriage. If you are single, make sure you honor the opposite sex well. If you are married, honor your spouse well. Outside of Jesus Christ, your spouse should be your next great priority. Even if you have children, your spouse must come first.

I hope you’ll find something else out if you start this journey. Apologetics is fun. It’s a great feeling of confidence to know you have the answers when someone asks you a question. There is something enjoyable about disarming someone who thinks he is going to destroy your faith. It’s also just fun learning new things, especially things about Jesus. You will also come to have a deeper walk with Jesus as you learn more about Him and who He is and that will result in a greater commitment to holiness on your part.

I hope you will take this seriously and prepare for the journey.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

How To Be Blessed By God

Is there a way to receive the blessing of God? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you’re a theist, you do want to be blessed by God. How do you get that blessing? If you turn on the televangelists, you will often hear that you need to send in your faith donation. If you do, you will be blessed. (That blessing usually consisted of an end of poverty and being able to be rich and never sick.) If that is what you have in mind, you have the wrong idea.

This post came to me after hearing our pastor’s sermon the Sunday before last. We have been going through the book of James and it’s a really great series. James is straight-forward and I like that as someone who is an Aspie and likes people to just tell it to me like it is.

In the sermon, our pastor read from the book and I’ve read it several times. Despite that, we all know of times where it’s like we hear something for the first time. Look at what is found in James 1:22-25.

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

“They will be blessed.”

I thought immediately what a contrast this is to the Word of Faith teachers. They say you will be blessed if you just “have faith” and give your money to them. (Interestingly, they never think about giving away their money to other ministries and getting a hundredfold return. Funny how that works.) James has a much simpler way to be blessed really, and yet at the same time a much more difficult way that we will not consider following as much.

We would like it if we could just send in some money and do a one-time deal. Not so for James. For James, it is about living a life of holiness. Interestingly, we see holiness as something that binds us. James sees it as the opposite. James sees it as what sets us free. In fact, James makes a stronger case for what this entails next.

26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

We can all support giving, but let’s look at the first and the last ones and see how we do.

#1. Keep a tight rein on your tongue.

#2. Avoid being polluted by the world.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not doing so hot many times. It’s easy to say we should keep a tight rein on the tongue, until I get into an argument with the Mrs. and let loose a zinger that makes me think “What the heck was I thinking?” It’s easy to say we’re not polluted by the world, until I find out how much I get obsessed with things of this world.

The idea James wants us to get is holiness is the way to blessing. That blessing may not be in material goods. Some people are blessed in that way. Being rich is not really evil, though James is not a fan of the rich, but what you do with riches can be. The greatest blessing is likely having the wisdom James spoke of in living life right. We could say holiness is its own reward.

Contrast this then to the name it-claim it people today. You don’t name holiness and claim it and thus have the blessing. You pursue it. Think seriously about what it is you pursue. For men, it immediately comes to mind to say sex with our wives. For women, it could be comfort or security or some material aspects like food or clothing or jewelry. Just look and try to be honest and ask “What do I pursue the most?”

Then stop and ask “And what if I pursued holiness instead?”

You know what? You will receive instead the blessing of God. What does it mean about you then if you look at that and say “Yeah, but I’d rather have all the other stuff.” There’s nothing wrong necessarily with the other stuff, but it’s not to take the place of God.

And maybe, just maybe, our churches would be different if that is what we were pursuing. It was a shame to me that after Orlando, many of us had to state that we don’t condone the violence, as if people thought mass murder was a common position in Christianity. It should be that we live such holy lives that people would automatically think “Well they sure weren’t a Christian” when they hear about a mass murderer.

So today, I have been like the televangelists in one way. I have spoken about something and said it is a sure route to the blessing of God. The differences is on what that route is and what the blessing is. The other difference is on your end, are you going to do it?

I leave that to you and to me.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Apocalypse, Prophecy, and Pseudepigraphy

What do I think of John J. Collins’s book on Apocalypse, Prophecy, and Pseudepigraphy? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Many readers might have a hard time even with the title of this book in the modern church. That first one certainly sounds like the book of Revelation at least. The second one has to be about the end of the world. That third one is some term most people just don’t know. Unfortunately, they will be lost with that kind of thinking and that is why the modern church needs to understand this more.

Collins’s book is certainly in-depth. Keep in mind, it does imply you know a lot about the underlying material so some readers could get lost at that point, but hopefully it will drive them to get more familiar with it. Since we have come across many more writings in the Dead Sea Scrolls, we have had much more light shed on Biblical studies. Unfortunately, most people are picking something up like this expecting to hear about the end of the world.

Collins is one of the most knowledgeable people on this subject if not the most knowledgeable and he has shared that knowledge. Collins will speak about what each of these is and what difference it makes. In fact, he deals with many ideas that have popped up in the history of the study of this field. One I was pleasantly surprised by was the inscription found about a decade ago dealing with the idea that supposedly there was a belief about the Messiah dying and rising from the dead three days later. What does he say about it? Well you’ll have to get the book to read it, but he doesn’t come out in favor of that interpretation of the text.

When it comes to prophecy, he points out that too many times in our churches today, we read the prophecy passages as if they were all about the future and said nothing for their own times. Very little of the prophets was actually foretelling the future. That was a part of what some of them did, but not entirely. Much more was on the issues of the day such as getting people to turn from sin to righteousness.

The last category refers to writings that were written under other names. The books of Enoch are some of our first examples. A less well known but one that would make sense in the ancient world was the Sibylline Oracles. Many of these would be written to promote a certain view and then this would be given more authority because it had the name of a famous person or source attached to it, such as Enoch or Ezra.

This is a complex book and one not for the faint of heart. Still, if you are interested in this subject, it helps to have one of the best minds in the field in your library to guide you on it. Hopefully the reader of this book will want to invest more in the literature under discussion.

In Christ,
Nick Peters


Do we hate homosexuals? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A few days ago while roaming through my FB feed, I saw an atheist put up something about how Christians have responded to the homosexual challenge with not being in favor of redefining marriage, saying homosexuality is a sin, etc. It was saying this kind of thinking is what led to the shooting in Orlando. It concluded with saying Christians really have nothing good to say about homosexuals.

Challenge accepted.

I immediately went to my wall and made a post describing that and then followed with some good things I do believe about homosexuals.

Homosexuals are created in the image of God.
Homosexuals are people that Jesus Christ loves and died for.
Homosexuals are people that can be redeemed just as all sinners like myself can be redeemed.
Homosexuals are people that can spend eternity in the loving presence of God.

As a Biblical Christian, I choose to follow the example of Jesus. Jesus spoke the strongest words ever against sin that any one has ever spoken. Jesus also showed more love to sinners than any other man has ever shown. The two can live in harmony quite easily.

The next day, a friend of mine posts this on my wall wondering how I would respond to it. The article is about Christians and homophobia. Let’s start there.

What is this term homophobia? You know, in the past, the homosexual movement was upset that their homosexuality was listed as a mental disorder. How is that they treat us today? They use a term that describes a mental disorder. Apparently, it’s wrong to do it to them, but it’s okay to do it to us.

Let’s also consider if we have homophobia. How many of us are truly scared of homosexuals? Now we might not like homosexual practice. It might not be something we find appealing at all. That does not mean we don’t like the people. When football season comes around, my wife loves to watch the Super Bowl and I only care about the commercials, but I am not a footballphobe. I do not get scared when I watch a football game. I just don’t like it.

Still, let’s suppose I had a phobia. What does that mean? It means I have an irrational belief not in accordance with the evidence. What apparently is the response of people like Samantha Field, the writer of this piece? It’s to use it as a weapon to bludgeon me, to make me a horrible person, or to use as a piece of mockery. Seriously? That’s what you want to say?

You see, if Field wants to say that I have homophobia, she needs to show this. If the only piece of evidence is that I disagree with homosexual practice, then perhaps I could accuse her of having Christophobia because she disagrees with the orthodox Christian position on homosexual practice. Does that sound ridiculous to you? It does to me also, but that is exactly what we are being accused of.

So let’s leap into the meat of the article. Field has just described what happened when she grew up and said the word hate about someone to her parents. They would tell her she shouldn’t use that term.

I always felt like I was being particularly witty, since “intense or passionate dislike” is the dictionary definition of hate. Colloquially, hate does have a connotation that “intense dislike” just doesn’t encompass, but Christian culture has bent and twisted the word hate until it’s practically meaningless. When a Christian looks me in the eye and says “of course I don’t hate you!” what they actually mean is something akin to I don’t personally want to assault youwith my bare hands. To a conservative Christian, unless they’re actively and personally wishing you —personally– harm, than you can’t possibly accuse them of hating you.

The irony here is intense as we will see. Without evidence right now, Field has said that conservative Christians they really mean by hate that they don’t want to assault you with their bare hands. The only way they can hate is if they actively and personally wish you harm. I find it amazing that we are the ones accused of prejudice and discrimination and stereotyping when this kind of behavior goes on.

I am a conservative Christian. I have no hatred of homosexuals. I can happily have relationships with people who are homosexuals. When my friends have told me about homosexual struggles that they have, I have not looked on them as any worse. In fact, most conservative Christians that I know think the same way.

That’s how Thabiti Anyabwile and the people who agree with him can say this:

Return the discussion to sexual behavior in all its yuckiest gag-inducing truth … In all the politeness, we’ve actually stopped talking about the things that lie at the heart of the issue–sexual promiscuity of an abominable sort … I think we should describe sin (and righteousness) the way God does. And I think it would be a good thing if more people were gagging on the reality of the sexual behavior that is now becoming public law, protected, and even promoted in public schools

That sense of moral outrage you’re now likely feeling–either at the descriptions above or at me for writing them–that gut-wrenching, jaw-clenching, hand-over-your-mouth, “I feel dirty” moral outrage is the gag reflex.

Do note something about this. Not once has anything been said about homosexuals as people. We have spoken of practice and if you read the article, it’s not a tirade of hatred against homosexuals. It does insist on speaking the truth in love.

So let’s put it in perspective.

I have said that whenever I or anyone else sins, I have committed divine treason. I have inwardly by that action wished that God was not God and that I was on His throne. I have denied His omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, justice, goodness, love, etc. Now I would not do these things verbally. I would honor all of those with my lips, but when I sin, it shows my heart is still far from realizing those. Because of those actions I agree with the statement we said in the Lutheran church I attended in Knoxville, that I justly deserve God’s full punishment and sentence. If He pronounced judgment on me, He would be in the right.

I do not like that really, but it is true. By the standards of Field then, I must hate myself because of the wicked practice I can see in my own life. I do not. I am still called to care and love my own self, but I am called to love God first.

Unfortunately, Field has confused disapproval of the behavior with hatred towards the individual.