Evil And Responsibility

Why argue about evil? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I ultimately think the problem of evil is a failure. The logical problem has been solved as even most atheistic scholars in the field will admit, but that doesn’t stop the more emotional forms about certain kinds of evil being allowed. One of the big objections I have with this is that it doesn’t really deal with the theistic or historical arguments which still stand regardless. From a practical standpoint, it eliminates the cause of hope in the face of the evil while still allowing the evil to stand. Hardly a win.

That being said, I have noticed too often that evil is more of an excuse. This past weekend, I was engaged in a debate with someone where evil came up and the objection of children being molested by Catholic priests. I agree this is a real problem and needs to be addressed. However, I asked him that if that was a concern of his if he condemned the public school system as well. I was told that was a red herring, but how could it be? If we’re talking about suffering children, public schools have the same problem. In reality, public schools are more dangerous. Now if children suffering through sexual abuse is the issue, it should be easy to say, “I agree. We also have a problem in the public school and that needs to be taken care of.” Instead, as you can imagine, it isn’t.

Most of us have an idea that a man is not measured by his words. If you want to know where someone stands on an issue, you don’t look at just their words. You look at their actions. Consider the case of Charles Blondin. It’s a true story that he put a rope across Niagara and walked across with an audience watching. Crowds would gather and one time, he came with a wheelbarrow.

“Do you believe I can cross this pushing a wheelbarrow?”


“Do you think I could do it with a person in the wheelbarrow?”


“Who wants to climb in?”

No one did then, although later Blondin’s manager did.

That’s an extreme example, but you could apply it to several other cases. I have a phobia of water. If I tell you that I am now convinced that water is safe, yet I hesitate to get into a swimming pool, you have reason to disbelieve my words. You can say all you want to that flying is safe, but if you refuse to get on that plane, then we can question if you really believe your data.

We do this in philosophy too. If someone says morality is relative and then complains about evil, we see an inconsistency. I find it amazing that the people who are often the ones to complain the most about evil in the world of evil in the Bible, are also the ones who state that morality is relative. You can’t have it both ways.

So what do you do with someone who says that they don’t understand why God allows XYZ evil, but then they go and do nothing about that evil? I infer from that, that they don’t really care about that evil. They care about using that evil as an argument against God. Note, this is assuming an evil you can do something about no matter how small. A Jewish person can do nothing about the holocaust that happened decades ago.

You see, the problem of evil isn’t just a problem for Christians. It’s one for everyone. Everyone has to give an answer for evil. This is also the case with Christians on other issues. You want to complain about abortion? Do what you can to end it. You want to complain about redefining marriage? If you’re single, treat marriage as holy and don’t have sex with anyone until you’re married and if you are married, treat your own marriage seriously. Do you care about sex trafficking? Then at least avoid pornography which encourages that. Do you care about the poor? Then give of y our own resources. The government has a horrid record of helping the poor.

From now on then, I think one of my approaches with skeptics will be to ask them what they’re doing about evil. I should also be willing to accept it if they ask me the same question back. This doesn’t mean we don’t answer the problem of evil, but I want to see if the skeptic really cares about the evil, or if he just wants to use evil to attack Christianity not caring about the victims.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Does God Know What’s Happening In Genesis?

How do we read these texts? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Sometimes in the book of Genesis, it seems like God doesn’t know what’s going on. Now some of you might be thinking I’m referring to the creation passage and using that in this debate. No. I am not. I am instead referring to passages where God asks some questions or indicates He needs to investigate a matter.

Let’s start with Genesis 3. God comes walking through the garden at one point asking Adam where he is. While some might question if God knows the future, right now, this is asking if God even knows the present. Did God know where Adam was? Absolutely. He knew what had happened already. So why ask the question?

It’s asked to give Adam a chance to respond properly. As we know from the text, he didn’t. He played the blame game and blamed God and Eve both. Eve did the same thing and blamed the serpent. Unfortunately for the serpent, he had no one else to pass the buck to. God doesn’t buy any of it and punishes all of them.

Why phrase it this way? God is being presented in a way that we can understand. We will see this more when we get to impassibility. This is the language used especially in the Psalms when God is described as a rock, a shield, a hen over her young, or being told to wake up and bring about judgment. It’s not as if the Psalmist thought God was literally sleeping.

Another place to go to is Genesis 11. In this, the people decide to build a tower to the heavens. The problem with this is the flood came and the people were told to go throughout the Earth and fill it. Instead, they say they will stay in one place so that they can avoid another flood. God says “Let us go down and see what is going on.”

Why say this? It’s actually meant to be sarcasm. Here the people are trying to build something to reach to the heavens and God is in the heavens and saying “I think I see some tiny smidgen of something down there. Let’s go see what this thing is.” Consider it like Goliath talking smack to David about how insignificant an attacker he was. The text is speaking in mocking language of what God is doing to the people.

Finally, when Abraham barters with God, God seems to reason within Himself what He should do. Of course, this would mean that God would be ignorant of something. This again is not just the future, but the present. It is also God asking what the right thing to do is, which would mean God has a moral requirement and that laws of morality are above Him.

What is the purpose of this text then? It is to show Abraham as a mediator. After all, mediating is somewhat important in the Bible. Yes. God really does heed what men say. How that works will be something talked about later on. God is in charge of this deal the whole time. He sets the standards. Once a limit is reached, God says no more.

He also already does know what’s going on. It’s not as if God literally has to go and investigate. (And for what it’s worth, God is never seen going through the towns.) God is acting in a way we can relate to.

Now immediately, the objection pops up of, “But you’re not taking the text literally!” I am taking it literally in the sense that I think this is what the author intended. I am not taking it literalistically in the sense of reading it as a wooden text much like I don’t read in Deuteronomy of God being a consuming fire and think that He’s a giant cosmic bunsen burner.

All this sets us up for another such occurrence in Genesis in a passage with a lot of debate about it so we will save that for next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)


Does God change? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In Malachi 3:6, God says that He does not change. This has also been a position that the church has held historically. God is the same from ages to ages. Now I know at the start there are some objections people are going to have. Doesn’t the text say God changed His mind? Didn’t God become a man? Doesn’t that count as a change?

We will get to those.

Right now, I just want to establish immutability, which means that you cannot change. This means that any change whatsoever in the nature of God does not take place. God’s nature will always stay the same.

One reason we can say this is a change is from something else to something else. We are talking about changes that change one’s nature as well, but ultimately, I would say this means no chronological change in God. God is not moving along the timeline from not being a creator to being a creator, for example. God is doing all things eternally and not moving along the timeline.

After all, God does not age. I realize some people are open theists and would disagree with my position and I plan on speaking about God and the future. For now, this is just an articulation of my position as I have said and a defense in the face of criticism will come later.

Some who are theologically inclined are wondering probably if I will say anything about impassibility. That will be a later set of posts as well as I think there are some differences there, but at the same time it is something that I hold to.

If we do hold to simplicity, immutability will also follow. God does not have several parts that can change from one thing to another. Also, if God’s very nature is to be, then that being is not changed by something else. How can what it mean to be really change? Can a limitation be put on God that wasn’t there before?

The ultimate point of much of this is to show that God is not like anything else. He is not a creature. He is not the superhero God like the Greek gods and others who are pretty much really powerful humans with superpowers. It’s also hard to say how some of this is pagan thought since no pagan gods in a polytheistic sense would be immutable or simple.

This also means that God cannot be changed by anything else. That will be either good news or bad news depending on how you see Him. If you see Him as all-loving and all-compassionate, then that is a good thing since He will stay the same and not change. If you see Him as wicked and destructive as His immutability will mean that He will stay that way.

But what about prayer? Don’t we pray to God? What about God changing His mind? What about the incarnation? Again, questions about emotions and God will come along later.

Hopefully, next time we will be able to speak on this topic.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: Fault Lines

What do I think of Voddie Baucham Jrs book published by Salem Books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Baucham is concerned about the evangelical church in America and the rest of the world for that matter. Too many good Christians are buying into Critical Race Theory. It might look good for awhile. After all, who wants to say that black lives don’t matter? Don’t we all agree that racism is a bad thing? Don’t we all want justice? Of course, but there are bad ways to get good things.

Baucham does agree that racism is in America, but America is not systematically racist. Racism is not at the root of all of our ills. He also sees CRT as Marxist and pagan in its origins. It will do more harm by far than good.

Baucham also deals with statistics on crime and other issues. For example, he tells the story of a young man who died tragically at the hands of police. A police officer pinned him to the ground and mocked him. He pleaded with the officers saying that they were going to kill him. The officers did nothing and kept making jokes.

No. That’s not George Floyd. That’s Tony Timpa. Timpa had schizophrenia and had called the police himself because he was off his meds and he had already been handcuffed by a security guard. Timpa died under those police officers before the paramedics arrived.

Most of you never heard of him because he was white.

On October 5, 2016, an officer was nearly beaten to death by a suspect. She knew she should have used her weapon. Her supervisor told her she should have. Why didn’t she?

Because she knew the next day she and her family would undergo scrutiny on the national news. There are real world consequences?

What about Dylan Noble? During a routine traffic stop, he reached into his wasitband and was shot 11 times. Why do you not know about him? He’s white.

Breanna Taylor made the national news when she did in a shooting involving the police. A police officer served an eviction notice on her Dad. The Dad pulled a weapon and the officer pulled out his gun and fired. The bullet passed through his arm and hit Ciara which caused her death eventually. Why do you not know about this? She was white.

Why bring these up? Because people love to bring up stories that fuel a narrative. In this case, it’s the idea that the police treat the black population unfairly. Baucham argues there is further evidence to back this.

Meanwhile , a National Academy of Sciences study ignited controversy when its authors proclaimed, “ We find no evidence of anti – Black or anti – Hispanic disparities across shootings, and White officers are not more likely to shoot minority civilians than non – White officers. ” 14 More fundamentally, the researchers noted that “ using population as a benchmark makes the strong assumption that White and Black civilians have equal exposure to situations that result in FOIS, ” which is the only way the 2.5 – to – 1 ratio could be viewed as prima facie evidence of police bias. Instead, they noted that contrary to the accepted narrative, “ If there are racial differences in exposure to these situations, calculations of racial disparity based on population benchmarks will be misleading. ” 15 In other words, the 2.5 – to – 1 ratio, taken at face value, is actually misleading.

CRT will not bring about unity. It will only bring further division. For example, if every incident involving interaction between blacks and whites is made into racism, even if no racist motives can be shown, then there will be hesitancy to act in any situation. Not only that, but if you cry wolf, real racism will go unnoticed. Even today, I am highly suspicious as soon as someone says “racist” about something or someone.

Baucham stresses that CRT has Marxist origins and thus is highly antithetical to Christian values. The church could let the nose of this camel in thinking they are doing good, only to wind up having the whole camel in and that will lead to chaos on other issues.

For many on the CRT side, if you deny that you are a racist, well that just shows you are a racist. No matter what you do, you are racist. You can marry someone of the another race or have children of another race and still be considered to be racist. You are guilty of racism until you are proven innocent, and you cannot be proven innocent.

I was amazed also to read parts of a sermon that Obama gave to a black church on a Father’s Day. I never supported Obama, but I have to say I agree so much with what he said.

Yes, we need more cops on the street. Yes, we need fewer guns in the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. Yes, we need more money for our schools, and more outstanding teachers in the classroom, and more afterschool programs for our children. Yes, we need more jobs and more job training and more opportunity in our communities. But we also need families to raise our children. We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child — it’s the courage to raise one.

The problems for the black community by and large are not from without but from within. Fatherlessness is too common and too many black men are dying at the hands of other black men. Restoring the family to the black community would be the best gift that could be given. CRT will not do that as groups like BLM are opposed to the typical nuclear family.

This book is written from a Christian perspective, but I think a non-Christian would get something out of it. They won’t care likely about what is going on in the church over this, but I would hope they would look at the case either way. I really hope Baucham is wrong about a future earthquake coming, but I fear that he is right.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Simplicity and The Trinity

Can God be simple and triune? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When talking about simplicity, I have said that God has no parts. This means that you cannot put A and B and C together and get God. There isn’t anything you can take away from God. We could say that what God is, He is that one something.

As Christians, we certainly don’t want to deny the Trinity. I think the evidence for that is overwhelming. However, while many of us, especially in the Protestant tradition, are good at making the Scriptural case for the Trinity, we sadly don’t often seem to go beyond that to the theology of the Trinity and how that would work with doctrines like simplicity. (Never mind your average churchgoer has never even heard of it.)

Something that we also have to avoid is tri-theism. When we talk about the three persons in God sharing one nature, we don’t mean it like having three different humans together and all those humans share human nature. That is true, but they also don’t exist in a relationship such that they’re bound up with one another. Even if you took a family of three persons, the family can still be separated.

In the Trinity, all the persons subsist within one another. They only differ by their relationship. The Father is the one who begets, the Son the one who is begotten, and the Spirit the one who proceeds. (I know Catholic and Orthodox both disagree on whether the Spirit proceeds from the Father or from the Father and the Son, but all agree He proceeds)

Because of this, we can say one of the aspects of God’s very nature is Trinity. However, the three persons of the Trinity are not three parts put together. If somehow the Son was gone, would we say we only have 66.6% of God left and He has to make up for the lack somehow? Such would imply that each person has their own exist apart from the other and when we get to that, we have tri-theism going on.

The difficulty for us here is that we can’t think of anything else in existence like this, but this should not be a shock. If God is real, why should we expect Him to be like us in this way? Too often, the view of God in modern dialogue is often God who is a superhero.

What do I mean by a superhero God? God is not a being who is not radically different from us, but He is like us except a lot more powerful, smarter, bigger, etc. Take a human and power him up enough and eventually you get to God, which is ironically what the Mormons have. God is also an agent who plays by our rules. God is a being who has to live by the same moral principles we do, as if God were subject to morality.

On that point, let’s be clear that what God does is good, but we cannot say it is moral as if God has an obligation to do something for us. God by virtue of being God and the ground of all being can do things that we cannot. Hence, one of the first questions I ask an atheist in this kind of dialogue is “Who does God owe life to?” The only obligations God has to us are those He has promised to us.”

God is not a superhero. God is someone different from us radically. We have lost often in the church this kind of deep theology. Many of us are ready to get the Trinity off of the bookshelves when it comes time to debate Jehovah’s Witnesses, but then we don’t really think about the doctrine outside of that.

So why do I hold to simplicity and the Trinity? Because the other options lower God and I just prefer to say God has existence (Or rather is existence as that is His nature) in a way greater than I realize and that way is triune. The other options are heretical in some way such as tri-theism, unitarianism, or modalism.

I plan to from here on look at other attributes of God and why they matter.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: Napoleon’s Hemorrhoids

What do I think of Phil Mason’s book published by Skyhorse publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I will get back to Simplicity soon, but for now, I wanted to review this book I finished over the weekend. I enjoy reading about little oddities in history and this book is full of them. It’s my goal then to tell some that I really liked and give some thoughts from a Christian perspective.

At the start, Mason says that the reason we have civilization today is beer. We have an old Sumerian recipe for beer and that recipe caused people to stop and work on agriculture instead of being hunters and gatherers. After all, they wanted more beer. If this theory is accurate, then the reason we are on the internet today and I am writing and you are reading is because some people once wanted to drink beer. Incredible.

It has also been theorized that another drink helped save civilization. That is the sacred drink of tea. The Industrial Revolution took off in Britain according to this because people had to gather together and often, the water wasn’t the best, but tea contains enough health benefits that it could be used. No other nation had the Industrial Revolution take off so if this is so, tea has done our world a great service.

Now with many of these, from a Christian perspective, you could argue that God was orchestrating some events. That could be so, but I hesitate to say such a thing. After all, I have presented some positive events. What happens if I present negative events, and there are several of those.

Let’s start with the fact that starlings are in America because Shakespeare wrote Henry the IV. Yes. There was a man in America who wanted to bring every bird mentioned in Shakespeare to America and since Shakespeare referred to the starling one time in that play, 100 starlings were brought over and they have been a problem to our American ecosystem ever since. The same happened in Australia as a man wanted to hunt rabbits so he brought some over and now Australia has a problem with the rabbit population.

At Lincoln’s second inauguration, there was a young man who broke through the ranks and almost got to the president. He was stopped and restrained because the police thought he was really harmless and so they let him go. Want to know what happened to him? I’ll just tell you his name was John Wilkes Booth.

Why did the Battle of Gettysburg take place in the Civil War? It wasn’t planned, but one army leader heard a story about shoes being on sale in a town and his troops needed shoes. The journey to get them was seen as hostile by the other side and thus began a major battle that took place and could have changed the tide of the war, all because someone wanted shoes for his troops.

One example that should definitely give us pause in saying God is behind some events is Hitler. Mason lists numerous times that there were assassination plots against Hitler and at the last moment, something changed in Hitler’s plans and he avoided assassination every time. It was also through a quirk circumstance he describes that Mengele avoided capture as well.

This is the danger of many of my fellow Christians when we often try to read into history, including our personal history. We often like to try to read what we think God is doing in every situation in our lives. I have said before that it would be awesome if we Christians spent as much time trying to interpret Scripture rightly as we do trying to interpret our experiences rightly.

On the other hand, this book is informative, but it’s also fun. You can read about how some actors in Hollywood got big breaks through chance events. About the only topic I didn’t really get into was the one on sports since I didn’t understand a lot of the analogies.

People who like history should get this book and go through it. Each chapter contains several bite-sized section that would take at the most a couple of minutes to read. These will also be great conversation pieces to make any group gathering interesting and leave you looking really informed as well.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Why Does Simplicity Matter?

What difference does it make to say that God is simple? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In the last post, I explained simplicity and what it meant. I also pointed out this has been a historic position so even if someone disagrees, it should not be disagreed with lightly. There are objections and I will likely get to those next week, but for now, let’s ask what difference does it make. Is this just something that a theologian can stick in their hat for a trivia game or does it have a point?

It’s the latter. Everything about God has a point.

When we look at the early church, they lived in a world where monotheism was not the norm. You had gods in polytheistic gods and normally, these weren’t really gods, but just really powerful beings. Zeus was seen as the king of the gods in Greek and Roman thought, but even he had a beginning and he ran in terror from his wife many times. We could consider them to be like superheroes you would read about in comics today.

None of these are an ultimate explanation. Each of them needs a cause. When we get to Scripture, it’s radically different. Right at the start we read “In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.” John says “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”

Did you catch that?

None of these have an origin story for how God came to be. God is just there from the beginning. The Bible in itself is not meant to be an argument for the existence of God. It’s to tell us something different. It has God right from the beginning and it makes no sense to say how He came to be. He never did. Why does the Bible never explain this explicitly? Because it’s not meant to be a philosophy book either.

We can say God says His name is “I AM” which indicates that He has eternal existing, but that is just simply stated. Moses never gets a philosophical treatise on the matter. He’s not supposed to. These are the matters left for us to work out and explore some, which we should. If two lovers love each other, they want to know everything they can about the other. If I love a game or a TV show, I look into it and try to find out more about it. I am reading through the complete Peanuts collection right now and when I see a new character in the strip, in a quest for information, I look up information about that character online.

If you love God, you will want to know more about Him. The Bible is not meant to answer these questions. He’s left them for us to explore.

So what does this matter? It gets us into the very nature of God. If we understand the nature of God better and realize that God is not just a really powerful creature, that definitely helps in dealing with the whole foolish “I just go one god further” objection from atheists. The other gods normally rejected are just superhero gods. None of them are the grounds of reality for the most part. Of course, even if one goes with a God who is fully simple, religions like Islam and Judaism are still in the running. Mormonism, on the contrary, is ruled out.

Also, God is not a combination of things. God is not a being who has goodness and power and love. God is these things. This shouldn’t surprise us as we get a clue in 1 John that says “God is love.” God does not merely have loving qualities as we do. God is love. Note that that cannot be reversed to say “Love is God.” Love does not have the attributes of God. God has the nature of love.

This also means God is totally different from the rest of His creation, which is meant to be. Isaiah was right in the section starting at chapter 40 with the whole challenge to the false gods. When you realize something like this, many new atheist objections, including the classic “Who made God?” fall to the wayside. Note also that many of these objections were being answered before they were even being asked. Skeptics today hardly ask any questions Christians didn’t ask themselves for centuries.

God is not a conglomerate. He is one being. He is not made up of parts. You can’t put attributes together in a metaphysical blender and get God. He is truly unique.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

What Is Divine Simplicity?

What does it mean when we say God is simple? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Usually when I tell people I hold to God being simple, I get a normal response. “How can you say God is simple? God is infinite in all that He is. God is the greatest being in the universe. Something like that cannot be simple!”

The problem is, we are speaking of it in a different way. When we say something is simple, such as a simple math problem or a simple brain teaser or saying there’s a simple solution to something, we mean that it is easy to understand. You can grasp the idea without problem. You can really wrap your head around it.

No one is saying God is easy to understand. No one who defends divine simplicity means that. If anything, a God that is simple in this sense is even harder I think to understand.

What it means is something basic. God has no parts. Now if you mean something like the computer I write on, most of us could understand that. God is not a material being. You cannot put Him together. Sure. However, we also mean that there is no combination of anything in God.

Take an angel for example. An angel has a nature. An angel also has existence. What you get with an angel is a certain nature that is granted existence. This is a combination of nature + existence. The medieval philosophers would tell you that when God created Michael, He broke the mold. Literally. Each angel is its own nature. That’s how you can tell one angel from another.

With God, there is no combination here. God is not God nature + existence. It’s not that there is a nature of God and that nature was granted existence. No angel exists based upon itself. Every angel in essence has a borrowed existence. Every angel depends on God for its being always. The same for everything else.

This would even happen with the universe if it was eternal. The universe could hypothetically be without beginning and still depend on something else for its existing. Consider the idea of a statue in front of a mirror. The statue is eternal and the mirror is eternal. The statue is eternally reflecting the mirror. If you want to say no one is looking at what is in the mirror, you could say a beam of light from an eternal flashlight with eternal batteries is shining on the mirror at an angle and eternally being reflected. In either case, the image or the light being reflected are both eternal too.

Question. Are the image and the light caused?

Yes. They are dependent on something else for their existing. The same would apply with multiple other examples. If you had an eternal table with an eternal book sitting on it, the eternal table is the cause of the book eternally being supported on it.

Okay. So the universe could hypothetically be eternal or perhaps there’s an eternal multiverse. Why can’t it be what is ultimate? Why need God then?

Because the universe, like the book and light and image, does not contain the principle for its existing in itself. The universe is composed as it is matter + a nature + existing. God is the one thing that is different. God is the only being in the universe whose very nature is to be. If you want to know what it means to be, look at God. Remove any kind of limitation out there and in the end, you get God.

This is also established in church history. Here are some quotes. (Thanks to this site for compiling them.)

“He is a simple, uncompounded Being, without diverse members, and altogether like, and equal to himself, since He is wholly understanding, and wholly spirit, and wholly thought, and wholly intelligence, and wholly reason, and wholly hearing, and wholly seeing, and wholly light, and the whole source of all that is good— even as the religious and pious are wont to speak concerning God.” ~ Irenaeus, Against Heresies2.13.3.

“For God, who compounded all things to give them being, is not compound, nor of similar nature to the things made by Him through the Word. Far be the thought. For He is simple essence, in which quality is not, nor, as James says, ‘any variableness or shadow of turning’ (James 1:17). Accordingly, if it is shown that it is not from virtue (for in God there is no quality, neither is there in the Son), then He must be proper to God’s essence. And this you will certainly admit if mental apprehension is not utterly destroyed in you. But what is that which is proper to and identical with the essence of God, and an Offspring from it by nature, if not by this very fact coessential with Him that begot it? For this is the distinctive relation of a Son to a Father, and he who denies this, does not hold that the Word is Son in nature and in truth.” ~ Athanasius, Ad Afros Epistola Synodica8

“God, however, has no body, but simple essence: no parts, but an all-embracing whole: nothing quickened, but everything living. God is therefore all life, and all one, not compounded of parts, but perfect in His simplicity, and, as the Father, must be Father to His begotten in all that He Himself is, for the perfect birth of the Son makes Him perfect Father in all that He has. So, if He is proper Father to the Son, the Son must possess all the properties of the Father. Yet how can this be, if the Son has not the quality of prescience, if there is anything from His Author, which is wanting in His birth? To say that there is one of God’s properties which He has not, is almost equivalent to saying that He has none of them. And what is proper to God, if not the knowledge of the future, a vision, which embraces the invisible and unborn world, and has within its scope that which is not yet, but is to be?” ~ Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity9.61.
“Do you worship what you know or what you do not know? If I answer, I worship what I know, they immediately reply, What is the essence of the object of worship? Then, if I confess that I am ignorant of the essence, they turn on me again and say, So you worship you know not what. I answer that the word to know has many meanings. We say that we know the greatness of God, His power, His wisdom, His goodness, His providence over us, and the justness of His judgment; but not His very essence. The question is, therefore, only put for the sake of dispute. For he who denies that he knows the essence does not confess himself to be ignorant of God, because our idea of God is gathered from all the attributes which I have enumerated. But God, he says, is simple, and whatever attribute of Him you have reckoned as knowable is of His essence. But the absurdities involved in this sophism are innumerable. When all these high attributes have been enumerated, are they all names of one essence? And is there the same mutual force in His awfulness and His loving-kindness, His justice and His creative power, His providence and His foreknowledge, and His bestowal of rewards and punishments, His majesty and His providence? In mentioning any one of these do we declare His essence? If they say, yes, let them not ask if we know the essence of God, but let them enquire of us whether we know God to be awful, or just, or merciful. These we confess that we know. If they say that essence is something distinct, let them not put us in the wrong on the score of simplicity. For they confess themselves that there is a distinction between the essence and each one of the attributes enumerated. The operations are various, and the essence simple, but we say that we know our God from His operations, but do not undertake to approach near to His essence. His operations come down to us, but His essence remains beyond our reach.” ~ Basil of Caesarea, Letter234.
“Let them tell me in what sense Paul says, ‘Now we know in part’ (1 Cor. 13) do we know His essence in part, as knowing parts of His essence? No. This is absurd; for God is without parts. But do we know the whole essence?” ~ Basil of Caesarea, Letter235.
“The Divine Nature, then, is boundless and hard to understand, and all that we can comprehend of Him is His boundlessness; even though one may conceive that because He is of a simple Nature He is therefore either wholly incomprehensible or perfectly comprehensible. For let us farther enquire what is implied by is of a simple Nature? For it is quite certain that this simplicity is not itself its nature, just as composition is not by itself the essence of compound beings.” ~ Gregory Nazianzen, Oration45.
“For our statement does not hereby violate the simplicity of the Godhead, since community and specific difference are not essence, so that the conjunction of these should render the subject composite. But on the one side the essence by itself remains whatever it is in nature, being what it is, while, on the other, every one possessed of reason would say that these — community and specific difference — were among the accompanying conceptions and attributes: since even in us men there may be discerned some community with the Divine Nature, but Divinity is not the more on that account humanity, or humanity Divinity. For while we believe that God is good, we also find this character predicated of men in Scripture. But the special signification in each case establishes a distinction in the community arising from the use of the homonymous term. For He Who is the fountain of goodness is named from it; but he who has some share of goodness also partakes in the name, and God is not for this reason composite, that He shares with men the title of good. From these considerations it must obviously be allowed that the idea of community is one thing, and that of essence another, and we are not on that account any the more to maintain composition or multiplicity of parts in that simple Nature which has nothing to do with quantity, because some of the attributes we contemplate in It are either regarded as special, or have a sort of common significance.” ~ Gregory of Nyssa, Against Eunomius12.5.

“‘God,’ so far as the human mind can form an idea, is the name of that nature or substance which is above all things. ‘Father’ is a word expressive of a secret and ineffable mystery. When you hear the word ‘God,’ you must understand thereby a substance without beginning, without end, simple, uncompounded, invisible, incorporeal, ineffable, inappreciable, which has in it nothing which has been either added or created” ~ Rufinus, Commentary on the Apostles’ Creed4.
“But far be it from being so, since in truth in the Godhead is absolutely simple essence, and therefore to be is there the same as to be wise. But if to be is there the same as to be wise, then the Father is not wise by that wisdom which He begot; otherwise He did not beget it, but it begot Him. For what else do we say when we say, that to Him to be is the same as to be wise, unless that He is by that whereby He is wise? Wherefore, that which is the cause to Him of being wise, is itself also the cause to Him that He is; and accordingly, if the wisdom which He begot is the cause to Him of being wise, it is also the cause to Him that He is; and this cannot be the case, except either by begetting or by creating Him. But no one ever said in any sense that wisdom is either the begetter or the creator of the Father; for what could be more senseless? Therefore both the Father Himself is wisdom, and the Son is in such way called the wisdom of the Father, as He is called the light of the Father; that is, that in the same manner as light from light, and yet both one light, so we are to understand wisdom of wisdom, and yet both one wisdom; and therefore also one essence, since, in God, to be, is the same as to be wise. For what to be wise is to wisdom, and to be able is to power, and to be eternal is to eternity, and to be just to justice, and to be great to greatness, that being itself is to essence. And since in the Divine simplicity, to be wise is nothing else than to be, therefore wisdom there is the same as essence.” ~ Augustine, On the Trinity7.1.2.

“When, therefore, it is said of the Holy Spirit, ‘For He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak,’ so much the more is a simple nature, which is simple [uncompounded] in the truest sense, to be either understood or believed, which in its extent and sublimity far surpasses the nature of our minds. For there is mutability in our mind, which comes by learning to the perception of what it was previously ignorant of, and loses by unlearning what it formerly knew; and is deceived by what has a similarity to truth, so as to approve of the false in place of the true, and is hindered by its own obscurity as by a kind of darkness from arriving at the truth. And so that substance is not in the truest sense simple, to which being is not identical with knowing; for it can exist without the possession of knowledge. But it cannot be so with that divine substance, for it is what it has. And on this account it has not knowledge in any such way as that the knowledge whereby it knows should be to it one thing, and the essence whereby it exists another; but both are one. Nor ought that to be called both, which is simply one.” ~ Augustine, Tractate on the Gospel of John99.

Aquinas held to divine simplicity so much that after the existence of God in the Summa was established, simplicity was the first attribute of God’s that was defended.

It was also held to in the Reformation.

We know, however, that God’s power, arm, hand, nature, face, Spirit, wisdom, etc., are all one thing; for apart from the creation there is nothing but the one simple Deity himself. [Luther’s Works vol. 37, 61]

Christ’s body is at the right hand of God; that is granted. The right hand of God, [64] however, is everywhere, as you must grant from our previous demonstration. Therefore it surely is present also in the bread and wine at table. Now where the right hand of God is, there Christ’s body and blood must be, for the right hand of God is not divisible into many parts but a single, simple entity. So too, the article of the Creed does not say that Christ is at one part, such as a little finger or fingernail of the right hand of God, but it says without qualification, “at the right hand of God,” that wherever and whatever God’s right hand is in reality and in name, there is Christ, the Son of man. [Luther’s Works vol. 37, 63-64]

Those interested in can look further. I do not have exhaustive resources here, but I am inclined to think our skepticism of the doctrine is more modern. I don’t think many people want to say God is made of parts and no one wants to say He is easy to understand, but the latter is a misunderstanding of the doctrine. When we say God is simple, we are also agreeing with how He described Himself. “I AM.” What it means to be God is what it means to be.

Now what difference does this make? That’s for another blog.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: Investigating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ: A New Transdisciplinary Approach

What do I think of Andrew Loke’s book published by Routledge? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If I were to use one word to describe this book, it would be thorough. Loke leaves practically no stone unturned and he deals with numerous obscure objections to the resurrection in a logical format. He lists out the possibilities in each case at the start and in the end all the evidence points to Jesus being raised from the dead.

He starts with what the earliest Christians claimed. This is the natural place to start as all we have at the beginning as many skeptics will say is a claim. Meticulously, he goes through piece by piece answering most every possible step you could think of. That includes scholars well known and respected in the field, like Ehrman, to those on the fringe, like Richard Carrier. I was extremely pleased to see this as while most scholars don’t really bother with Carrier, someone does need to and Loke is the kind of guy to do it.

On and on Loke will go looking at each section of the chain and sometimes you will be left wondering how he can write any more on the topic and lo and behold, he does. Loke wants to make absolutely sure that he has left no stone unturned.

If you want to read a chapter on its own, you can go and read the chapter relevant to what you’re studying. Do you want to know if the disciples’ experience of seeing something was something extramental or purely in their heads, go to that chapter. Do you want to know the details surrounding the burial of Jesus? Go to that chapter.

While this is a historical book, there is philosophy covered as well. Loke has apparently written earlier on the existence of God so he doesn’t make that case, but it’s good to know that foundation is there. He does have a chapter here on the question of miracles for those who want to know about that. He is just as thorough in this area as he is in other areas.

There’s also a chapter on combination hypotheses. After all, maybe you say to yourself, “Okay. My case against the empty tomb isn’t that good, but it makes more sense when you combine it with these other arguments.” Don’t be so sure. Loke has this covered.

Now for the bad part. At the time of this publishing, to get a hardcover copy of this book is awfully expensive. It will cost you a little over $100. That’s the bad news.

Here’s the really good news. If you want to read this on your Kindle or computer, you can get a somewhat better price. How does free sound? Yep. Completely free. I checked just today to make sure and it has been free for years. That means you really have no excuse to engage with this book. You can get it here.

This is my challenge then to those who don’t believe in the resurrection. Give this free book a try. Don’t have a Kindle? You can either get one or you can read it on an Amazon app on your computer or even get the app on your phone. Try to even do something like fifteen minutes a day with the book. You could say you will lose time, but how many of us would spend that time watching Netflix or playing video games? We all have time for entertainment. Just give some of it to this.

It’s free. Face this book and see what you think and if you disagree, at least have an informed disagreement.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Thoughts On The Rich Man and Lazarus

What does this parable tell us? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I am sometimes engaged in debates on the final fate of people and particularly, the unbelievers. Do they go to a place of torment or are they annihilated? Sometimes, many people will go to Luke 16 with the parable of the rich man and Lazarus to get some answers. It’s understandable, but this parable is really not about the nature of heaven and hell.

Let’s start with the story. The rich man wears purple. The wording could indicate that this even goes down to his undergarments, the garments people wouldn’t normally see. Why does this matter? Because purple was the color of royalty and prestige. If you were wearing purple, you were a big deal.

This man lives in luxury every day. Outside his gate though is a man named Lazarus. Note that the rich man has a gate which means he has a good living place. After all, gates were means of protection. This guy can afford some security.

Let’s start with Lazarus being named. It would bring to mind Eleazar which means God has helped. Some people look at the parable having a man with a real name and say “No other parable has this so this isn’t a parable.” This is understandable, but it is mistaken. The reason Lazarus is named is to show him as a worthwhile and honorable individual. The rich man, who most people would look up to and admire becomes in the eyes of God a “What’s his name?”

Lazarus meanwhile is someone who is sick and has nothing and dogs lick his wounds. Some people think that the licking of a dog was seen as medicinal. Either way, the message is that dogs are doing more for Lazarus than this rich man, who could clearly afford to help him.

Lazarus dies and he gets a personal escort of angels. Note that what is said about his death is just that he died. Nothing. No one notices him. The rich man dies and is buried. Burial was important for one’s honor and it is also done by someone else. No one can bury themselves. The rich man is remembered when he dies.

However, in the afterdeath, Lazarus is in Abraham’s bosom and the rich man is in hell. The rich man now has to look up to see Abraham and Lazarus and in all of this, he still sees Lazarus as a tool. This also shows that the rich man was aware of Lazarus since he knew his name. His attitude remains unchanged and he still sees Lazarus as a servant and refuses to even address him.

He does call Abraham, father, which indicates this was a Jewish man. He also doesn’t want to go to be where Lazarus was, but he wants to bring Lazarus to where he is. Lazarus remains completely silent. This time, he has an advocate and one great one to have, Abraham.

Abraham also refers to the rich man as son, a familial name. It is showing a degree of care, but Abraham reminds the rich man that in the past, Lazarus had nothing and the rich man had everything. Now the roles are reversed. There is also a chasm fixed so that people cannot go back and forth. This should also be another indication the story isn’t literal. (What would happen if you fell down the chasm anyway? Would you “die” or would it be like a Mario game and you would just reappear where you started?)

The rich man then asks that Lazarus be sent to his family of five brothers. Again, Lazarus is the servant. However, why does the rich man have five brothers? Jesus didn’t need to be specific. He could have said family and it would have worked. Why five brothers?

Could it be because in the Old Testament, Judah had five brothers? Judah would be a picture of Jerusalem. Is this Jesus pointing out that Jerusalem itself is under judgment? Quite likely.

Abraham says they have Moses and the prophets. The rich man insists that is not enough. Many of us hear this today. It is a common argument today from skeptics that they need God to do something for them personally before they will believe. I have no reason to believe those people are really seeking. Most of them are not interested in diving into the best works they can defending a Christian worldview to see what they really have to say.

It’s a shame to have some people miss out on God because they are caught in emotional arguments. These same people will often chide Christians for believing for emotional reasons. This is understandable as if atheists shouldn’t make eternal judgments based on emotions, neither should Christians. Many Christians could bear to read some scholarship as well.

We all know skeptics who are like this. The problem they claim is that there is not enough evidence when normally, the evidence that is there has not really been considered. Sometimes God does give more, but why should He if someone isn’t considering what they already have? Abraham says the rich man’s brothers won’t believe even if someone rises from the dead.

This is true.

After all, I have also met a number of skeptics that have said that even if God is real and Jesus rose from the dead, they won’t worship Him. This is normally for an emotional reason. Odds are you have met someone like that too.

This is not a parable about the afterdeath. This is a parable about those who God honors as well. That’s humbling too. Many of you who look up to me as a Christian to admire, and I hope I am, know my name from my writings and debates. Who is the real hero in the Kingdom of God though? It could be an unknown person that when they die, the world will neither know nor care. Meanwhile, those great celebrities who walk the streets of Hollywood and are known by everyone? They could be the ones that find themselves in a position of shame forever.

If this is true, you should consider your choices carefully. Before rejecting it also, you should make sure that you have investigated it fairly and don’t just have an emotional reason. If you are a Christian, be living so that you will be honored like Lazarus was when your time comes.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)