What Makes Grace So Amazing?

Why do we call it amazing grace? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We really don’t understand grace. For many of us, there has to be a catch. No one can be like that. It gets to be a real problem when we talk about whether grace is deserved.

Earlier this week, I wrote an article on this kind of topic. Many of us I think fear being taken advantage of. We fear being in someone else’s debt. We fear having the floor pulled out from under us when we dare give someone else our trust.

In a thread discussing the article I wrote earlier, someone talked about God giving more grace than we deserve. That’s actually a contradiction. If you deserved any of it, it would not be grace. Go to work and do your job and if your employer pays you, you don’t consider that an example of unmerited favor. You gave of yourself, He gives back to you.

Grace is never deserved. Grace is never earned. That’s a contradiction in terms. We really don’t get this today. When it comes to love, we often put so many conditions on it. The wife and husband can say “I love you” but often thought to be secretly implied in that is “Provided you keep doing XYZ or you avoid doing XYZ.” They way the love is expressed can change, but the love should still be there. (This is of course, excepting serious cases like infidelity and abuse. With the former, love can still be there for restoration and with the latter, that is still true, but one must have serious work done to make sure it doesn’t happen again.)

What I have found as a secret to doing this in my own personal walk is to remember the love that I have been shown. God has forgiven me and anything I have done to Him is far worse than anything my fellow man could ever do to me or, dare I say it, anything I could ever do to them. Should I not give that same kind of love and forgiveness? If I do not, am I not being just like the unmerciful servant in the parable of Jesus? If I really believe I have been forgiven of divine treason against God, essentially wishing He was dead so I could sit on the throne, then should I not show forgiveness towards everything else which is petty by comparison?

And yes, all sin is divine treason. When we sin, we deny either or all of the following about God:

His omnipotence because He doesn’t have the power to judge.

His omniscience because He either won’t know about it or doesn’t see how He’s clearly against me and doesn’t have my best interests at heart and doesn’t know what He’s talking about with this sin deal.

His omnipresence because He’s not present to notice the event.

His justice because He either won’t enforce it or He is misusing it.

His love because we have to go against Him to get what is really good.

His eternality because the sin will eventually go away on its own.

I could go on and on. The last one comes to me as well since Lewis said once we have this idea that time will erase wrongs. It won’t. Sometimes I’ll remember things I did wrong even back in Elementary School and it could be tempting to just say “I was young and stupid then,” and that could be true, but I ask forgiveness. There is no expiration date.

Just now, my wife brought in our cat to see me. As I held him, I thought that we’re a lot like him sometimes. Our cat doesn’t really like to be held and is quick to whine when it happens. We can picture him sometimes saying he wishes we would love him less.

We might have to ask if we want God to love us less.

Some of you might wonder why we would want a thing like that.

Because when God loves us, He doesn’t just come and forgive us. That’s a big matter, but it’s just part of it. He comes and does a work on us because He loves us that roots out the very nature that led us to give in to temptation. He does divine surgery, and most of us don’t delight in surgery.

When I was nearly 16, I had scoliosis surgery done or else in a decade, I would be walking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Today, I walk and even run and jump just fine, but back for about a year after the event, I was not like that. I was not lying on a couch thinking it was so awesome that I was given surgery to recover. I was in excruciating pain constantly.

Sometime after that, I went through a time of deep depression. That lasted longer and I consider it far worse. Still, that time was essential for my growth. It made me into the person I am today.

We always have to remember God has a purpose for any suffering that comes into our lives. It will help others, but it’s not just for them. That suffering is for us. If we deny that, we are making a statement to God about how we see Him. This is why we often want Him to love us less really. We’d like to just get forgiveness without the change that comes with it, or if we have the change, please make it an American change that happens pretty much instantly like popcorn fixed in two minutes in the microwave or a problem on a sitcom that is resolved in half an hour.

That’s also because of our fixation with happiness. God will give us happiness in the long run, but the goal at the moment is holiness. It’s God’s love that we must relish in and long for all the more. We must make that love and that desire central. That comes over any family love, any sexual love, any romantic love, and friend love, any love of any kind.

But to get back to grace, it is always unearned. It is always a gift. It is foolish of us to reject the gift because we don’t deserve it. Of course, we don’t! If we did, it wouldn’t be grace. Wouldn’t it be the height of arrogance to go to God and say that He owes us a blessing or forgiveness because of the good that we have done? (And most of us, myself included, have done that.)

This I also find something to keep in mind in suffering. I look at all the good I do have in my life. How much of it do I deserve? The sun comes up and shines on our city every morning. How do I express my thanks? I sit here at the desk in my office looking out the window at a world of vibrant colors and life everywhere outside and a world bigger than any video game or comic book world that I could imagine knowing even more is coming someday than I could ever fathom. What thanks do I give? Do I treat this as if it was a given and expect more? It’s not and I don’t deserve more.

This is why thankfulness is so important to us all. If we could think about the good things we have, I think most of us would have a better mood. There can still be sorrow and sadness, and that’s okay, but could it be we’d have far more joy if we had more thankfulness?

Perhaps we could.

And maybe one of the first things to be thankful for is amazing grace. If you are a Christian, every sin that you have committed is not held against you. You are clear before the throne of God. Think about that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 6/29/2019

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

One of the most talked about biblical movies of all time is the Ten Commandments. These ten laws have become enshrined in our culture. You can see them at the Supreme Court building and they are often seen to be the moral foundation of our civilization.

We want to say that, but then it gets confusing. Is the fourth commandment required in our society and if so, why do we observe it on Sunday instead of Saturday? What about other laws that are there? If your wife is having her period, is it wrong to have sex with her? Should we wear tattoos if we’re Christians? And geez, doesn’t the Old Testament allow for slavery?

The law is confusing.

What if we’re misunderstanding it? What if the Law, while often containing good moral principles for us, really isn’t even, well, Law? What if it is something different? What could we see about it if we compared it to other cultures in the Ancient Near East?

And if there’s any Old Testament scholar who knows how to do that, it’s my guest this Saturday. After all, this is the man who has had his hand in a continued series on this very topic. Book after book has come out opening readers to a new world in the Old Testament. Well, maybe a new world isn’t the best way to describe it. After all, every book in this series refers to a lost world. The author of this series is, of course, John Walton, and he returns once again this Saturday to talk about his book The Lost World of the Torah.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

John H. Walton (Ph.D. Hebrew Union College) is Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College and Graduate School where he has taught for almost twenty years. Dr. Walton has published nearly 30 books, among them commentaries, reference works, text books, scholarly monographs, and popular academic works. He was the Old Testament general editor for the Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (NIV, NKJV, NRSV), and is perhaps most widely known for the “Lost World” books (including The Lost World of Genesis One,The Lost World of Adam and Eve, and The Lost World of the Flood). His areas of expertise include the importance of the ancient Near East for interpreting the Old Testament as well as the dialogue between science and faith.

I hope you’ll be listening as we discuss the Old Testament Law and how we are to understand it. What does it mean for us as Christians? Do we apply it across the board or not? If it’s not in effect, does that mean we can totally ignore it? What moral principles can we get if any from the Law?

I am working on getting the shows for this month updated. We are having some problems with the web site. Please be patient as I am working on things and in the meantime, you can check to see some of them on YouTube. Please also leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast on iTunes.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Bachelorette and Pre-Marital Sex

If all sin is forgiven, what makes pre-marital sex such a big deal? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A friend of mine pointed me to this news story about Bachelorette star Hannah Brown. Brown has been outspoken about her Christian faith this season. Yea! Unfortunately, she has also been outspoken that she engages in pre-marital sex and it’s no big deal. The headline to the story includes the line of “A man does not control anything I do.”

Well, that makes sense. After all, Jesus Christ is a man and she is certainly not listening to Him on this matter. We also know that one of the best ways to resist a man is to have pre-marital sex with him. Obviously, that is just sticking it to the man entirely.

She says in the story that she has pre-marital sex and Jesus still loves her. Yes. That’s true. However, since Jesus also loves Hitler and everyone else on the planet, that’s not really saying much. If anything, this is Brown saying she wants to take advantage of Jesus. She doesn’t care as long as she has His love, which she has by virtue of being a human being.

We can all have love for people who we know are doing things that are wrong. One great example of this for all of us is ourselves. Most of us love ourselves even though we don’t approve of our behavior always. If you are married, your spouse will wrong you sometimes and you hopefully still love them. If not marriage, most any friendship and family relationship will have this.

On the Bachelorette there was a guy named Luke Parker who is a Bible believing Christian. He has the Biblical stance on pre-marital sex and even said he wants to be sent home if he found out Brown had slept with any of the other guys. Guess who the bad guy is in this scenario? Yep. Claims of toxic masculinity have been raised.

Because, you know, it’s totally toxic to say that a woman is worth waiting for and worth a lifelong covenant before you have sex with her. Bad Parker! Be less toxic and sleep with the girl without a lifetime commitment!

What I have said before, and still stand by, is that sexual behavior really demonstrates how you see yourself. Women are really the gatekeepers because the majority of the time, it is the man who is pursuing. This isn’t to say that there aren’t exceptions, but really, it normally doesn’t take much to get a man going.

So if you’re a woman, you have to ask, what does it worth for you to be totally naked to a man and give all of your body to him. Does he just have to show you a really good time? Does he have to date you for a week? A month? A year? Do you have to be engaged to him? Whatever it is, once the threshold is met, then you can give yourself to the guy. The price has been paid as it were.

Here’s the deal. The easier you make it, the more you treat yourself as something common and not worth as much. Does that mean this is a conscious decision? No. Does it mean you automatically realize a degrading of your own self? No. Yet if you haven’t thought about this before, I really urge you to consider it.

Now if you do save this for marriage, then you are going the distance you need to go. You are telling every man that wants to be with you that you are worthy of a lifelong commitment. You are also exclusive with that and won’t give yourself to anyone else.

That also means your relationship with him is different from everyone else. I am a gamer. I love it when my wife plays games with me, but I could just as easily have a male friend come over and do that. My wife loves swimming. I hate it. I can do that with her, but she can just as easily do that with female friends.

What separates our relationship from every other relationship? Well bluntly, we have sex together. That means that I have exclusive rights to her and she has the same with me. I am the only man who has ever had sex with Allie and she is the only woman who has ever had sex with me.

Brown can say all she wants to that she can have sex and Jesus will still love her. As I have said, she is right, but she can also abuse children all she wants to, or anything else. If we are thinking of someone of a more leftist mentality, we could say she could degrade homosexuals and pollute the environment and Jesus would still love her.

The question is if she is loving Jesus. Insofar as she is living a sinful lifestyle, she is not. Am I condemning myself and my fellow Christians some with that? Yep. Our love of Jesus is also lacking in some ways always. None of us love perfectly.

What we have to ask is if we are caring enough about our sin to do something about it. If we are not, then everyone else has all freedom to legitimately question our love for Jesus. It’s necessary in Christianity that Jesus loves us, but the truth of how seriously we take Christianity is how much we love him.

Luke Parker meanwhile is the one who is the hero here and upholding the dignity of women. It’s a strange world where men who think that it’s best to not sleep with women without being married are using women. We need more men like Parker who think a woman is worth a lifetime commitment and he won’t enjoy her sexually until he gives her what she’s worth upfront. Let’s hope more of the women also raise the stakes to that level.

Ladies. Let me also assure you that this will motivate your man to be better. As an Aspie, my parents tried to change my diet for decades with friends working with me, therapists, and everything else. Nothing. Not even close. Allie is married to me for less than a year and she already makes me want to be better. Why? Because of how motivating it is to be with her.

Raise the stakes for your man. You’re worth it and when he pushes himself for you, he’ll think he’s worth it too.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

A Place To Share

Is the church a place where sinners can freely come? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night, my wife and I were at Celebrate Recovery, as we often are on Monday nights. Generally, when someone says something they introduce themselves by saying their name and what their struggle is. Last night, I’m sitting at my table when I hear someone say his name and say “And I struggle with pornography.”

I had heard that kind of thing several times before, but this time, I couldn’t shake it. The raw candidness of the moment struck me. It might be different if this was an audience of just men, but it wasn’t. This was an audience of men and women.

And yet, in this place, there is no condemnation, which was amazing to me. Picture the idea of a guy who can stand up with mixed audience and say this kind of thing. This means that this guy is openly admitting to women that he has a problem with viewing women as sexual objects and they could be included in that group.

Yet if you know anything about a good Celebrate Recovery group, grace is a major part of it. There was forgiveness there entirely and people do accept one another in spite of our sinful selves. We know we cannot truly condemn another because we have our own struggles.

Contrast this to another situation I’ve seen recently. A friend of mine wrote an article on the LGBT community and Chick-Fil-A. What a shock it was to me when it was shared in an apologetics group I belong to with the claim that it was pro-LGBT and that by implication, Ratio Christi is being pro-LGBT. Why? Because the article opposes shaming homosexuals and that’s what we need to do.

Now I am not opposed to shaming per se. The question is who do we do it to and why? When we encounter people with sinful struggles, is it right to shame them for those struggles? I don’t see this going on with Jesus in the Gospels. The ones that get shamed are the ones that think they’re entirely alright.

We have a problem in how those dealing with sin see the church today. When you look in the New Testament, sinners aren’t scared to come to Jesus. How many people who are struggling with sin are scared to come to church today? If we are supposed to represent Jesus and they weren’t scared to Jesus but are scared to come to us, we’re not doing a good job.

This isn’t to say that we’re never tough on sin. Sometimes, some people need someone to look them in the eye and tell them they’re participating in sinful behavior. That’s a very delicate time and should be handled with precision and care. Many of us who are Christians have appreciated someone getting blunt with us and saying such.

I am thankful that there are places that Christians can go and share their struggles and hopefully, that will extend to non-Christians as well. Anyone should be able to go to your average church and say what’s really going on and if you can’t, well, perhaps we’re not being Jesus like we should. Grace and truth both must be a part of all that we do. Truth without grace will be just a bludgeon. Grace without truth will be a license. Find the balance.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Importance Of Gratitude

Does it make a difference if you’re appreciative? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, my pastor preached a sermon on faithfulness and thankfulness from Colossians. The pastor isn’t one of those guys who gives these lightweight sermons that’s all pure application. Nope. It all comes out of a deep theology and I greatly respect that.

My wife also struggles with depression due to Borderline Personality Disorder and when we meet with people to talk about this topic, one of the things that most often comes up is the importance of gratitude. Try to go to bed with gratitude at the end of every day. If anything, just give thanks that the day is finally over.

Thankfulness is extremely important. In Romans 1, we are even told that one of the reasons that the wrath of God comes on man is that they did not acknowledge God nor give thanks to Him. The danger with thankfulness not being present is it makes us take things for granted. That includes even the greatest blessings of our lives.

Last night as I was going to sleep, I started thinking about this whole idea again. I have plenty of friends I know who are single and it is not because they want to be. I understand the pain very well. Until Allie came into my life, I had the same situation. You go to bed every night and you want someone to be next to you. As a guy, part of that is naturally wanting to be able to have sex, but also just being able to share your life with a woman you love and who loves you.

If I cease to give thanks for her and the life we share together, am I not on the path of taking her for granted? I treat her as if she’s just obviously there, but she isn’t. God doesn’t owe me another minute with her. Should I not celebrate what I do have?

Of course, every marriage will have problems and struggles in it. That’s just going to happen when you have two sinful people living together and sharing their lives intimately, but all of those are worth it to get to spend the time with the love of my life. If I take her for granted, I will also be prone to mistreat her and let the relationship deteriorate.

Also, next month, my wife and I will be celebrating nine years together. This is something incredible to me. Allie has been in my life for about a quarter of it. For her, I have been in her life for about a third of it. (I am nearly ten years older than she is.) How can I not give thanks?

Sometimes skeptics raise the question about why God takes lives in the Old Testament. I always start this by asking the same question. What does God owe us? If we could say He owes us anything, it’s justice. Here we receive mercy, which is something we don’t deserve, and we complain about it instead.

Many of you know that my wife and I don’t have a lot of money now. Donations don’t come easy when you’re not officially a 501c3 on your own and even then, it’s still hard. It doesn’t mean I don’t give thanks. Everyday is an adventure in its own way. We have had super generous friends who have donated so much to us and we are extremely thankful.

Two cases come to mind. At men’s group at our church last year, we talked about coveting and I expressed how Allie had really wanted a Nintendo Switch but her folks said it was too expensive. I said it was hard when I knew my wife really wanted something and couldn’t provide it.

A couple of weeks later someone from the group spoke to my wife about that conversation. He ended up buying us a Switch.

My wife and I also like the Pokemon games. I made a post about a month ago about how I would be saving up Amazon credit so I could get them both of us. A friend told us not to worry. When they came out, he would buy them for us.

These are two blessings that come to mind. People don’t have to be generous, but they are, and I have told Allie that if we ever get to the point of prosperity on our own, I plan to be generous. One of the greatest kindnesses you can do is go to your neighbor and help give them something they need or want. I can easily say I have not forgotten these blessings and they give me hope whenever I think about them that our situation can change.

And you know what? When I find myself giving thanks like this, I find my mood does improve. I really do appreciate things and see so much more what blessings I have in my life. It leaves me in greater appreciation to the God who gives so much to me.

Strange thing, isn’t it? Paul is right. Giving thanks to God is extremely important. Perhaps we could all be improved by giving thanks.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: For Thou Art With Me

What do I think of Bruce Baker’s book published by Grace Acres? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Death is never an easy topic to talk about. For many of us, it can seem far away. If you’re someone with a terminal illness, you have a better awareness than many that you are living on borrowed time.

That’s the situation of Pastor Bruce Baker. He has ALS and he knows that he only has so long to live. Yet being a pastor, one has to wonder how he approaches a sensitive topic like this. What are you thinking? Do you want to die and be with Christ? At the same time, is it possible to feel cheated, as if you’ve lived your life for God all these years and then he strikes you with a death sentence through a horrible disease?

Baker’s book is largely a pastoral book. It’s written for those who have a terminal illness and those who love them. It’s not written from an apologetics perspective, though I understand he could write one like that as he told me in correspondence he used to teach such a class. If you’re wanting a justification for God in the face of suffering, you need to look somewhere else. If you’re wanting to know how to walk with God in the suffering, you’ve come to the right place.

At the same time, some issues relating to an apologetic approach are discussed, such as what about assisted suicide. Baker has sympathies with the position insofar as he can understand why someone with a terminal illness would choose that route, but in the end, he makes the case against it. Overall, I find it a persuasive case against any kind of suicide ultimately.

Naturally, being a pastor talking about death, he has a section on the gospel as a whole and what it means. If you aren’t right with God, Baker wants to make sure that you are. He also wants you to see what it means to your Christian faith when you think about not just dying but how you will die.

He has a section on what the Bible says happens when you die. If there was one area of disagreement I had, it would have been here, and yet it’s a minor point. Baker sees the story of the rich man and Lazarus as a historical account since a name is given to the poor man. I think it’s more Jesus saying the rich man is unnamed because he’s not worth talking about and the poor man is worth talking about and he is given a name indicating that the Lord helps him. The story isn’t meant to tell us about what the afterdeath is like, but rather it’s meant to tell us about how God doesn’t view the rich with favor or the poor with shame.

The book is also short, which I’m sure is helpful for those who do have a short time. You could go and read chapter by chapter if you want or just jump to a chapter you think is relevant. There are also sections at the end of the chapters with questions for you to think about.

Ultimately, this is a good book to have if you’re thinking about that time and reading as someone outside of that perspective, I am sure if I had a terminal illness this would be something I’d think about a lot more. I sincerely hope that it does help those in need. We need some more writing in this kind of area for those undergoing suffering.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 6/22/2019

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


Now there’s a great way to begin a blog post that I’m sure leaves you feeling great.

But in reality, we all know that death is coming. We may not like to think about it, but that doesn’t change that it is coming. We often try to distract ourselves from it by filling our lives with amusements to keep us going onward. We want to act like things will go on forever and won’t ever change.

We act that way, but then something happens suddenly. Sometimes it can come out of nowhere. Last year, I got in a major car accident when a car T-boned us on my wife’s side. We both walked away from that accident, but it definitely left an impression on me on how I could have lost her.

I could have. A car accident could happen today for all I know. A shooting could take place at a public place. I have no idea what is going to happen today. Isn’t it a bit presumptuous for me to live like life will go on normally? That doesn’t mean I live in fear, but it does mean I don’t take my life around me for granted.

It especially means that if you have a terminal illness. If that is the case, then you know definitely that you are living on borrowed time. So what do you do? How do you handle it? Also, where is God in this time?

My guest this Saturday wrote a book on this topic for those who are terminally ill and their loved ones. He has ALS and is a pastor who knows what Scripture says about this topic. His book is called For Thou Art With Me and his name is Bruce Baker.

So who is he?

Bruce Baker is the former pastor of Washington County Bible Church in Brenham TX. Due to the health problems he faces, he resigned from that position Easter Sunday, 2019.

Bruce served in the Navy for over 11 years as an Electronics Technician (rising to the level of Chief Petty Officer) before leaving the service to work as a TV engineer at a Christian television station. It was during this time he felt the call of God to enter the ministry full-time. He enrolled at Calvary Bible College graduating with a BS in Christian Ministries; he then continued on to Calvary Theological Seminary, where he graduated with a Master’s of Divinity degree (Pastoral Studies) with highest honors. He earned his PhD in Systematic Theology from Baptist Bible Seminary, Clark’s Summit, PA. 

Before Bruce came to Texas, he was the Senior Pastor of Jenison Bible Church, Hudsonville, MI. Prior to that he was Senior Pastor of Open Door Bible Church in Belton, MO, and Adjunct Professor of Bible and Theology at Calvary Bible College and Theological Seminary. It was during his tenure in Missouri that his passion for teaching Bible and Theology to pastors who had no access to any formal education was kindled. To date he has taught in eight different countries on four separate continents. 

He is a contributing author to the book “Progressive Dispensationalism” as well as the author of numerous journal and magazine articles. “Spiritual Maturity” is his first full-length book. “For Thou Art With Me” is his second book, written primarily to share with others the peace he has experienced after his own terminal illness diagnosis. He was diagnosed with ALS in November, 2017. He is currently working on a third book concerning the attributes of God.

Dr. Baker and his wife, Bonnie, have been married over 37 years and have three grown children and ten grandchildren.

Pastor Baker and I will be talking about what it’s like living with a terminal illness and how Christianity offers help in this time. We will also be talking about those left behind. I hope you’ll be listening this Saturday to this important topic and please go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Council of Nicea and the New Testament

What are the myths about the Council of Nicea? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A few weeks ago in a Facebook debate, a Catholic actually brought forward this canard that keeps going around the internet. I think it might have started with Thomas Paine and like many myths, it just refuses to die. This is the idea that the books that were to make up the New Testament were voted on at the Council of Nicea.

Years ago an atheist in a debate told me that when they found out this vote took place, that is what nailed the coffin on Christianity for them. To inform me about what happened, they sent me a link to an article. The article was by Roger Pearse who I know to do upstanding history. Keep in mind, this article was supposed to back their case. I didn’t have to go far. Please note how the article BEGINS!

” There seem to be a number of legends about the First Council of Nicaea (325AD) in circulation on the internet, presented as fact.  Some people seem to think that the council, which was the first council of all the Bishops of the Christian Church, either invented the New Testament, or edited it to remove references to reincarnation (or whatever) or burned large numbers of heretical works, or whatever.  This is not the case.  This page documents the problem, and provides links to all the ancient source material in order to allow everyone to check the truth for themselves.”

Atheists regularly do like to spread this myth. None of them bother to do any study of the history of canonization. After all, for most the way of checking a claim is to see if it argues against Christianity. If it does, then it has to be absolutely true. It it makes Christianity look good or neutral at best, then it must be absolutely false.

The Council of Nicea was mainly held to deal with the Arian heresy. Other topics were discussed there and other pledges made, but the New Testament being voted on was not one of them. One of the reasons I think it is so easy to make this kind of claim is because of Constantine. If Hitler is our modern evil villain in the present age, then the worst person you can be compared to apparently in the Christian era is Constantine.

So if you want to talk about the origins of the New Testament, what else do you do but go back in time and blame Constantine, the source of all evils from the ancient world. Fortunately, if someone makes this claim to you, remember that it is they who are making the claim. What that means is that it is up to them to back the claim. If they cannot back it, then you have no reason to believe it. Make sure also they give you a real source for the claim, someone who has done their homework or a scholar and not just Joe Blow on the internet who you have no reason to believe.

We live in a day and age where if something is said about Jesus on the internet and it gets popular, you have good grounds to question it. It’s on the internet that debates over Jesus mythicism take place and not in the halls of scholarship. It’s here that we discuss whether Jesus is based on pagan myths that were around at the time or not. Again, not in the halls of scholarship. The internet is the place where so many bad ideas that died long ago rise again and find new life. No new information has come forward to back them. Instead, it is just that people who once didn’t have a way of getting their message out can now do so.

Keep in mind also that nothing I have said in here requires being a Christian. You can be an atheist and know that the Council of Nicea did not vote on the books of the New Testament. There is nothing about this claim that involves the miraculous at all. It’s just a question of who is doing history and who is believing myths.

Hint: It’s not the Christian (normally) in this case who’s believing myths.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament

What do I think about John Walton’s book published by Baker Academic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

For some time, John Walton has been one of my favorite Old Testament scholars if not my favorite. When I see a book from him coming out, I make a request for it immediately. Going through his book that he wrote now on thought from the ANE and the Old Testament, I was not disappointed.

To be fair, portions of this book seem to cover material that exists in his other books, which isn’t too surprising. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. If you’ve read the series of books for his Lost World ideas, then you will see a lot of material repeated.

You will also see material that you haven’t seen before. For example, I have not seen a work from Walton dealing very much with the concept of death and the afterdeath, as I prefer to call it, in his other books. You will find that here. Overall, the aim of the work is to give you a look at how the world was for Israel and its neighbors.

Some ways of thinking were similar. Some were different. Israel was much more focused on the idea of a covenant. Other societies couldn’t do that as much coming from a polytheistic background. One individual god might make a covenant, but no other people had one god that made them an everlasting covenant and refused any other gods.

Walton goes through to show what the similarities and differences are. This comes through in five different sections that include comparative studies, literature, religion, cosmos, and people. The third one might be misleading to some as it is the section that focuses on religion as religion, but all the other sections definitely had something to do with religion as the deities were involved with everything.

The book is also written in a layout whereby you don’t have to go straight through. If you want to study just one section, you can do that and not be missing out because you didn’t read earlier chapters. There are several sidebars that give interesting information that you can read if you want to, but I would not think they are required. The book is also easy to understand for the layman so you don’t need specialized knowledge to get at what Walton is getting at.

Christians who are wanting to understand the Old Testament better in light of the surrounding culture and how Israel saw its place in the cultural stream will want to read this book. I would also encourage skeptics to read this so they can have better informed disagreements instead of trotting out the usual concordist approach to the Old Testament. Frankly, just anyone wanting to understand the Old Testament should read this book.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Why The Church Should Deal With Prophecy Experts

What difference does it make if Christians claim to be prophecy experts? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last Friday I wrote about how to be a prophecy expert, which was rather tongue in cheek in its approach. Now why do such a thing? Granted, I don’t care for dispensationalist thinking a bit, but is there something more to it? Is there some actual danger that is at work with this?

Yes there is. For one thing, when a preacher like John Hagee makes these claims, people take it seriously. Some of these claims have been so serious that people have sold their homes and such, particularly with people like Harold Camping. People then broadcast all of this everywhere and guess what the media sees as representative of Christianity?

Let me state this right upfront also. There are plenty of good dispensationalists who love Jesus and don’t at all buy into this kind of behavior and condemn it. They don’t go out making active predictions about when the rapture will take place and don’t try to find fulfillments of the Bible in the news everyday. I even had a dispensationalist come on my show to critique The Harbinger.

Now let’s get back to the media. This idea is something then that really damages our witness to the world. If we can be shown to be wrong on something that people can verify easily, such as a simple realization that the end of the world didn’t come on such and such a date, why should they take us seriously on what they can’t verify so quickly, such as the resurrection of Jesus?

If a pastor does this, the pastor needs to be held to account. John Hagee should not have the public ministry he does after his blood moons error. When we have a pastor who has an affair or something of that sort, we call him to account, and rightfully so. Shouldn’t we do the same with a pastor who shares false teaching at this level?

Note also that these people never seem to recant of their errors. Hagee has never said anything in repentance about the blood moons that I know of. I know a lady who blocked me from her channel on YouTube because she made predictions based on the solar eclipse a couple of years ago in August and I kept asking if she would repent. Nope. Never happened.

Second, prophecy experts can tend to distract us from our real mission. There are Christians with all the charts and graphs that can tell when the rapture is to take place and who the antichrist is, but they don’t have a clue on the doctrine of the atonement, or the Trinity, or the resurrection of Jesus.

This is not to say that one could never study the former, but if you know more about that than you do about the essentials, you have a problem. We have a tendency to go for this knowledge that seems more esoteric. After all, you are in the know if you know that stuff.

This gets to another concern. Many people study this so much that they try to figure out everything about who the antichrist is. They spend less time thinking about who Jesus is. Shouldn’t He be our main focus?

Finally, these ideas also have very large political ramifications. How do we treat the nation of Israel and peace treaties and such? Many people are hesitant to see any peace treaty signed because they are convinced that’s the antichrist. (As if if that was the case, we could somehow stop a prophecy from being fulfilled.) How much energy has been spent trying to make a red heifer (You know, God needs the help). What we think about prophecy could affect people all over the world we don’t know about.

I encourage Christians to really study end times ideas on their own. I say that as someone who grew up with the dispensationlist movement. Now I have found my eschatological home in orthodox Preterism. This viewpoint makes the most sense of all of the Scriptures, but if I abandoned it tomorrow, I would still have the same problem with prophecy experts.

In Christ,
Nick Peters