Some Thoughts On Self-Improvement

How do we grow in character? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have been doing a lot of personal work on myself lately and I wanted to share some of that with you all. I don’t want to go into reasons, but I have a firm determination to live my life and enjoy it despite circumstances. Lately, I have noticed a strong struggle I have with anxiety. I have been recommended to read Telling Yourself The Truth which I have read before, but I am going through it again on Kindle and this time highlighting. I personally find it easier to highlight on Kindle instead of in a print book.

When I finish a chapter a day of that, I have also been reading some Albert Ellis. While he was an atheist, Ellis came up with a remarkable theory in psychology and self-help that I do think is thoroughly Biblical. We often think that we are angry or depressed or what-have-you because of the circumstancecs in our lives. There is no doubt that these do play a part in our moods in our day to day living. However, they are not the main causes of our emotions.

Many people will have many different reactions to the same event. Consider on one extreme, for example, my friend David Wood, if he is told that a loved one has died. His reaction? Most likely, something along the lines of “That sucks” and goes on with his day. He’s a sociopath after all and has no emotions. Then there are some people who are heavily emotional and will depending on the person be practically suicidal. Most people will not go to either of those extremes and will be found in the middle.

So you say “People will have different responses because they are different” and that is Ellis’s insight here. What happens to you can be awful and undesirable by you, but what is really the worst about it is what you tell yourself about it. If you have a loved one die, that is a tragedy and you will naturally feel sad and grieve. If you tell yourself that it’s the end of the world and there’s no point in living, then don’t be surprised when you arrive in a suicidal tailspin.

There have been times I’m sure many of us have been in a suicidal state over a powerful loss. If you have to get help, which I do recommend, do so. There is no shame in seeking a therapist out. I have one that I talk to in addition to my own work and many therapists themselves go to see therapists since they can be blind to their own bad thinking. Ultimately though, if you make any person indispensable to your life, you are making that person into a god, and only one is worthy of that kind of attention.

I have also been working on something else for myself and this is something extremely difficult on the spectrum. I suspect many neurotypicals do this naturally, but I don’t for sure. That has been eye contact. At the most, this should be no more than three seconds. Still, at least one second. Smiling is also recommended and then just learning to make polite conversation. I still hate small talk, but I will talk about something of substance.

Why bring this up? Because I wrote yesterday about self-control in areas that we are lacking. These are some of mine. I recognize I am prone to anxious thinking, have difficulty with social interactions, and that I need to work on these. There are other areas to be sure, but these are some I’m trying to conquer first.

Now as a Christian, of course, I advocate prayer and leaning on God, but remember the saying that not even God can drive a parked car. All the prayer in the world will not matter if we are not willing to bend ourselves. You can pray all you want to for God to help you lose that extra weight, but if you refuse to diet and exercise, it’s not going to happen. You can pray that God will help you learn another language, but if you never pick up the book and study, it just won’t happen.

In the same way, if you pray and that is all you do, then you are essentially asking God to do the work for you, which He will not. You are told to die to yourself. No one else can do that for you.

This is also good news though. It means the power to change your own life and how you live is fully possible. If you are a Christian, you should realize this. Philippians is one of the best books on the nature of joy in the New Testament, or even the whole Bible. Where was it written from? A prison cell. No. This was not a prison where Paul was served three square meals a day and had cable TV and a workout room. This was a prison no one would want to be in.

Yet Paul had joy.

Honestly, in light of all that we can complain about, we’re pretty pathetic. Paul is dealing with an actual prison cell and many of us get upset if someone cuts us off in traffic or says something negative about us on Facebook. This is not to discount that we can have some real problems, but let us put it in perspective. Most of what we stress about won’t be bothering us a year from now. Naturally, some things will. Just today, I posted in a group I’m in about one of our own who committed suicide last year and from time to time, I still think about him and ask “If I had stayed in his life, with what I do in ministry, could I have helped him?” It’s really futile thinking, but it’s something we have a tendency to do. Events like that will stick with us, but the good news is they don’t have to hurt as much as they do initially or control our lives. That’s up to us.

It’s also good to do this with other Christians and to have a thorough knowledge of Scripture to remind you of the promises you hold to. Again, if you need a therapist also, there’s no shame in getting one. If your case is severe, I don’t even rule out medication. For some people, it can practically be a necessity, but I would advise that if you seek medication, seek therapy also.

The main takeaway from this is developing Christian character is within our grasp, if we develop the needed self-discipline and lean on God working in us. We have to be willing. I heard the saying once from Catholic theologian Peter Kreeft that, and he quoting someone else, that if you are not a saint right now, it is because you do not want to be one. No matter what branch of Christianity you hold to, saint is a title none of us should hesitate to seek. Do you want to be one? Then aim for it.

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

More On Pointless Debates

What difference do some debates make? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If there’s a debate I don’t really care for on the internet, or anywhere else, it’s Calvinism vs Arminianism. I suspect my church is more in the Calvinist camp. I am not. I also don’t really care. Let’s start with some simple suggestions.

Can we as Christians please stop acting like we are more holy or righteous or take Scripture more seriously than someone else because we disagree? I am thoroughly convinced there are people on both sides of the debate that have a deep love for Jesus and Scripture and want to be faithful to the text and for whatever reason just disagree.

I remember reading years ago that Charles Simeon, a preacher of a couple of centuries ago, had said that if a Calvinist or an Arminian had been by Paul’s side as he was writing his letters, both of them would have asked that he mark out some passages he wrote. I am not saying the issue of sovereignty and free-will don’t matter. I am not saying that salvation doesn’t matter either. I am saying what is the practical difference in our primary job based on our position on these topics?

Let’s suppose that Christ has predestined everyone who is going to believe in Him like the Calvinists say. You know what? We still have the Great Commission to do because that is how we are to reach those people so let’s get out there and do it the best we can because God is worthy of our very best. If we go lax on what He commands us, then we are not taking Him seriously.

Now let’s suppose that they are wrong and that God will judge the world fairly still, as Scripture says and I think we can all agree on that, but we know that the odds of someone hearing the true gospel are greatly increased if we do the Great Commission. So what do we do? We go out there and we do the Great Commission to the best of our ability because God is worthy of our very best. In other words, whichever view is correct, we are to handle the situation the exact same way.

Now some might say the former view could lead to laziness. If that is the case, then we need to work on that ourselves. We need to learn greater discipline. Others will say the latter view will lead to anxiety. That is again a problem we need to work on for ourselves. We again need to learn greater discipline. I have heard it was once attributed to Augustine that we should work as if everything depended on us and pray as if everything depended on God.

This is not to say that we if we are studying theology should not have opinions on these issues or even discuss them, but my rule on matters that I consider secondary is that they should never be seen as a matter of division. Never should we go to those issues and use them as an excuse to bludgeon our fellow Christian with spirituality. Your neighbor could be entirely wrong and still love Jesus deeply. As I heard Steve Brown once say, “We will just agree to disagree and when we get to Heaven, Jesus will tell you that you were wrong.”

As I said, I am much more Arminian in my approach, but I would hope any Calvinist would happily be willing to put aside his personal disagreements with my theology and join hands with me when it comes to evangelizing non-Christians and answering cultists, atheists, other religions, etc. I can say on my end that I will put mine aside. My only concern will be making sure our arguments are good arguments. Yes. I have made it a point to take down plenty of bad arguments Christians put forward.

Too many of our debates that we actually divide over are really debates that are rather pointless. By pointless, I do not mean the truth doesn’t matter, but that they don’t really impact the way that we do evangelism or our orders to do the Great Commission. You can find Calvinists and Arminians both who have excellent reputations as missionaries and are devoted to Jesus.

On a similar path, I’d consider the debate about what happens to unbelievers when they die in a similar light. Some might think they want to do evangelism to help people avoid eternal conscious torment. If you hold to conditional immortality, wouldn’t that make you not be as motivated to witness to the lost? However, someone who holds to conditional immortality could agree that non-existence is a terrible fate to suffer and want to make sure people are in the Kingdom. He could say that maybe the holder to ECT gives a negative view of God, but the ECT can say the same back.

Here’s what they both have in common.

They both have the Great Commission to do. They both have the same marching orders. They both also have fates that they don’t want unbelievers to have (Or they shouldn’t want them to have) and they both have a Kingdom they want to serve and bring others into (Or they should want to at least).

Again, this doesn’t mean that in this debate the truth doesn’t matter. It means let’s try to remember that this is an in-house debate. I saw someone recently on Facebook saying that if someone wasn’t a believer in ECT, they weren’t much of a Christian. Now my view on Heaven and Hell is a bit more nuanced, but I immediately jumped in to defend my brothers and sisters who hold to conditional immortality. I would certainly hope that in any case, a Calvinist would do that for an Arminian and vice-versa, and the same for what happens when an unbeliever dies.

Again, none of this is saying don’t bother with the debate, but none of these debates are really debates that are essential to the gospel. You can believe on either end and still be a devout Christian. Perhaps it could even help our debates if we tried to realize the people on the other side are Christians like we are, maybe in some ways even better Christians. Perhaps even if we disagree with them in the end, we can still be humble and learn something from them.

And perhaps we can give a better demonstration of Christ to the world by handling our disagreements properly.

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

Book Plunge: Of Thee I Zing

What do I think of Laura Ingraham’s book published by Threshold Publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I was at the library nearest my home recently which is small and sadly, doesn’t have a great audio book section where I get my books to go through while driving. I did see this and being a conservative, I did decide to check it out. Now I know some of my leftist readers could be tempted to ignore this since it’s by Laura Ingraham, but I really encourage you to not do so.

Ingraham’s book is based on her visit prior to a local mall and especially the food court area and looking at society around her. Many of us can point to moral decline in various areas to show that our country is in trouble, but Ingraham is looking at popular culture and noticing a lot of problems. Why are men walking around and carrying purses? Why are we often zombies staring into our phone screens?

As a conservative and a Catholic, she does sometimes show that side of her, but those times are the exception. I suspect many on the left will even look at these problems that Ingraham sees and agree on a number of them. As I was driving, many times I would find myself nodding my head and sometimes laughing as I listened to what she has to say about society.

Consider parenting. Do you know how much people pay to babyproof their homes so the children won’t get hurt? What about what we actually name those little ones? With some names that are being given, you can expect that eventually, these kids will come to hate their parents. Let’s also not forget that child we’ve seen in the supermarket who is throwing a tantrum and treating their parent or parents like garbage only to be given a candy bar when they get up front.

Sometimes, the parents can be even worse when the children get older. What about the mother who has plenty of cosmetic surgery done to her because she wants to look like her daughter in her early 20’s? Even more creepy can be when they go out looking for dates together. Some women just have a hard time accepting that they’re older and that doesn’t mean their beauty has to fade, but it does mean that they are to be more mature.

She does have some statements about religion. Too many of our worship services are done like they are performances or concerts instead of actual worship. If anyone thinks that the biggest threat to the church is people like Dawkins and Hitchens and others, they’re simply wrong. The real threat to the church comes from within. It’s not necessarily moral failure, although that is part of it, but just laziness in our church. How many times does a pastor do something just to get a pop culture reference in so he can seem “hip” to the audience?

Other areas include airplane travel. What about the parents who let their kids run amok on a plane and do whatever they want? Many of us have had that experience of the person behind you constantly kicking your seat only to see it’s a little kid and the parents aren’t doing anything. Is it really necessary to watch the demonstration every time of how to put on an oxygen mask if you have seen it numerous times before?

Of course, there’s our shopping as well. How many of us will regularly go to Starbucks and spend an exorbitant amount to get a drink that really won’t last that long? There’s also the people who get on their laptops and stay in the coffeeshop as a personal office. Many of them are never going to get a drink or a snack, but they will just mooch off of the company wifi.

If you are someone on the left, don’t let that Laura Ingraham wrote this make you not interested. I think we can all agree in some ways that our culture has problems, something I am considering blogging on a lot more this week. Many of our concepts are just embarrassing to consider and one wonders what future generations will think about us. You don’t even have to go into really controversial areas to see this.

So when you read this, or listen to it as I did, you will get a fun look at American culture and something that will hopefully make you laugh. Conservatives will also enjoy the every now and then zing of companies like CNN. Leftists listening will just bite their tongue at this point, but go on to enjoy much of what is said and amazingly at times, find themselves agreeing with Laura Ingraham.

If you think our culture is in decline, get something like this and see how right you are.

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

The Devil Is Not Your Whipping Boy

Who is responsible? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The church is odd in America. We talk too much about Heaven to the extent that the here and now doesn’t really matter at all. We also at the same time talk way too much about the devil. Whenever someone feels tempted by something, “Well that’s Satan trying to lead you into temptation.” The devil is practically treated as this omnipresent figure that has this huge massive plan and is working it out bit by bit.

The devil is not the opposite of God or the counterpart of God. This isn’t even a contest. There is no way the two are on an even remotely similar playing field.

Reality is that if you are a Christian, you cannot do anything about the devil really. Now I know you can give the Scripture and make him flee in that sense, but you do not control him literally. There is really only one person you control in this world and that is yourself.

If we keep saying to people over and over that the devil is tempting them, even if true, we are robbing them of something important. James also tells us that our temptations come from within and the desires that we have. We undergo temptation because we have a sin nature. Whether the devil is tempting us or not then is irrelevant. We have to fight the battle relying on the Holy Spirit, Scripture, etc.

This is the same kind of struggle we can talk about when it comes to addiction. If you struggle with alcohol and you remove the alcohol from your life to fight the addiction, you may deal with the behavior, but you don’t deal with the root. The addictive personality is still there. The problems that lead you to drinking are still there. Alcohol may be a source of evil for you, but it is not responsible for your suffering. You are. You need to own up to that and say “I am going to work on whatever it is in me that tells me that I need alcohol in my life.”

Many men struggle with porn and unless you move far away and live in a monastery, odds are you will not remove all women from your life and even if you did, you would still need to deal with the addictive personality. If you still want to have a good relationship with a woman, you are going to need to learn what it is in you that makes you want to engage in pornography. What is the lack that you are trying to fill in your life?

Too often in our churches we talk about Satan being the cause of our suffering in our life and our struggle with temptations. That does nothing to help us in our own personal dealings with suffering. We could quote the old saying of “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Even back in the garden, “The devil made me do it” defense was tried. It didn’t work then and it won’t work today. We know that for Adam and Eve, that defense was a way of them blaming someone else for their sin. If we repeat the claim, we are just repeating the sin of Adam and Eve.

Now why do I think we don’t do this? Because it’s just a whole lot easier to blame the devil for what we’re going through. If we go the other way, we have to look at ourselves and examine ourselves and consider all the things that we are doing wrong in our lives. That could take a lot of work. For some, that could even take therapy. We might have to spend a lot of time in repentance. Nah. It’s easier to blame the devil.

It is sure if we go that route, we will never work on the issues inside of us and we will never develop true Christian character. Not only that, instead of talking about the devil doing things to us, we could spend a lot more time talking about how Christ is transforming us. It would certainly be a lot more worthwhile.

We could also learn to rely on our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and go to them in confession and listen to what they say about our sins. Sometimes they might call us our and we might not like that, but we need to hear it. They can also though speak forgiveness in our lives like we need to hear. We in turn can help them with their struggles. After all, I am someone who is not tempted with alcohol for example, so I can be strong for you when you’re not. You can be strong in areas where I am weak. It’s how we work together.

Christ has dealt with and will deal with the devil. Let’s stop focusing on the devil and work on ourselves.

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

Isaiah 45:7

Did God create evil? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

You’re reading in Isaiah and you come across this passage in 45:7.

“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all theseĀ things.”

If you’re a Christian, this doesn’t seem right. If you’re an atheist, you jump up and down like you just found buried treasure and go straight on Facebook to share your profound knowledge that even the Bible teaches that God created evil. Take that Christians! Your God is the source of evil Himself!

But if you’re thoughtful on either side, you pause and ask what is going on in the passage. That’s really a much more rational approach to take. After all, if something seems to go against the whole thrust of the story, then you need to see if you might be misunderstanding something. To my atheist readers, you should also want to be sure of this. You know how you think some Christians can embarrass themselves, and they do, when they don’t know anything about evolution and argue against it? Don’t be the same with the Bible.

So what is going on? This passage is talking about Cyrus going out before the Lord to bring about judgment. Like Babylon, Cyrus will be an instrument of God. Yes. I know atheists are already having an issue about a man’s name being given 200 years in advance, but the dating of Isaiah is a separate point to this one so let’s bookshelf that one for now. We’re taking the passage as is.

God is then talking about what He brings about in the world. Light and darkness are the first examples. Many of us don’t like the dark, but darkness does not necessarily equal evil. The night time is not an evil time. In Scripture, God is the God of the night time just as much as He is of the day. The night is a blessed time where we can all sleep and recharge for the next day.

However, we can see light and darkness as opposites. These are parallels. Sometimes in Hebrew, this is known as a merism. You mention two opposite things to include everything between them. When the Bible says God created the Heavens and the Earth, it is talking about two contrasting objects that really means in essence, everything. God made it all.

When we see the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, this is also a merism. It doesn’t mean that the couple had no idea of good or evil beforehand or any epistemology. It is speaking in language of wisdom more than anything else. It is saying that Adam and Eve by taking the fruit would make themselves to be the source of wisdom and order for their lives and not God. We should all know in Scripture wisdom is kind of a big deal.

So it is with this, we see light and darkness to form a contrast. Then we look at the next topic. That’s peace and evil. Attentive readers should realize this doesn’t exactly work the same way as light and darkness. We know those two are opposites. Peace and evil are not necessarily opposites. We can say peace is good, but is it always. Suppose no one ever went to war to stop Hitler and his concentration camps. Jews were rounded up around Europe and destroyed. Would Europe have peace? Sure. Would that be good. No. War was a good thing here because it brought an end to suffering. I realize one could say the Jews didn’t have peace, and that is true, but the good benefit of World War II was we brought peace to them and to Europe by stopping an evil man.

Even more, we can look at the Hebrew words here. The word for peace is Shalom, which is to be expected, and the word for evil is ra. Ra can mean evil, but it can mean a variety of things, even bad figs. Hebrew is in some ways a limited language where one word can have multiple meanings.

The word is used in Genesis to describe the bad vines and cows in the dreams of Pharaoh. Jacob uses the word to describe sorrow if he lost Benjamin. It describes mischief in Exodus 32. It describes beasts in Leviticus 26, which I don’t think can be considered evil. The thing is, I could easily keep going and list more examples. If you want to see more, they’re all available online. I have no need to keep demonstrating the point.

Not only that, the best opposite word for evil would be Tov. That would mean goodness, as it does in Genesis 1. That is not what is used. So what is being said?

It’s talking about calamity. God can bring that about on a people that He says are doing evil. God is a God of judgment. If people do evil, God will judge them eventually which can be in the form of calamity. Why should He allow peace for a nation that is evil and disregards Him? If we want justice at all in this world, we have to realize some people will experience calamity.

So to Christian readers, no need to panic. God did not create evil. To atheist readers, no need to jump up and down as if you found the Fountain of Youth. The argument you want is not here.

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

How To Not Be Taken Seriously

What are some arguments to avoid if you want a good dialogue? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, I wrote about how not all atheists on the internet are alike. Some atheists are what are known as internet atheists or fundamentalist atheists. So what are some arguments that they use? I am going to give a few of them and keep in mind, it’s not just the arguments but how they’re asked. If someone asks about these and I think they genuinely want an answer, that’s one thing. If they assert them constantly and don’t dialogue on them, then I don’t take them seriously.

Let’s start with one of the biggest ones. Jesus never even existed. If you say this, it is thoroughly difficult to take you seriously. Most Christians I know don’t even bother interacting with this nonsense any more. Most of these arguments are hugely question-begging and done from people who know nothing about how to do history. Along with this goes the pagan copycat argument.

Following this route, if you cite Richard Carrier as if he’s the best thing ever to happen to New Testament scholarship, then you will not be taken seriously. By the way, when I say Richard Carrier, I mean the unemployed polyamorous prominent internet blogger who’s banned from SkeptiCon. Carrier also doesn’t teach at any accredited university or seminary. There’s a reason for that. It’s not because of credentials, but because of his positions.

If you present faith as believing without evidence, I don’t have reason to take that seriously either. This is a constant mantra that the new atheists had. This is again a question that can be asked still in an inquisitive way that I would be happy to correct since so many Christians get this wrong sadly. Faith is really seen more as trust in that which has been shown to be reliable. It’s not blind belief.

And following that pathway, if you cite the new atheists regularly, that will be a red flag. No. The God Delusion is not a devastating book to theism. Even some atheists wrote about that book being an embarrassment. Michael Ruse endorsed the book the McGraths wrote in reply saying that Dawkins’s book left him embarrassed to be an atheist.

If you outright refuse to read whatever disagrees with you, then you won’t be taken seriously. The number one I use is Andrew Loke’s book nowadays. This book is absolutely free to read on a Kindle device. I have seen some people make so many excuses to not read it. Look. If you have time to go on Facebook and just argue against me relentlessly, you can put aside some time to read what disagrees with you. I could understand if I was asking you to buy the print version that costs over $100. I am asking you to read something free.

If you also refer to my book as the BuyBull, I will not take you seriously. Any time I hear someone say this, I walk away thinking they’re practically someone in high school who doesn’t know better. I am up for a good insult just as much, but this is not one. It gets into this idea that everything in the Bible is completely stupid and false. For some people, you would think they would rather commit ritual suicide than admit there is something in the Bible that can be true.

This will not shut down debate, but as a rule, in academic debate, I do not read Wikipedia. Wikis are just fine for pop culture items. I will go to wikis for TV shows and movies and video games as I trust the fans on the internet to be able to know about these topics. When it comes to more serious issues, I don’t know who edited that Wiki article last.

“But if you check the notes on the article, you get fine sources!”

“Then give me those sources directly.”

Memes are another kind of defeater. About the only exception is if you have a meme that is a quote of something someone has said. It’s just put in a pithy illustration. If you think a meme is a great presenter of an argument, I don’t take it seriously. A meme is meant to be either an illustration of a point already made, or a quip meant to be purely humorous, and I have plenty of those that I use constantly. It’s not meant to be the argument itself.

If you are someone also who emphasizes science above everything and especially says everything must be explained scientifically, then I don’t take that seriously. This is not because I am anti-science, but I am anti making everything science. It’s not. There are plenty of things that we know that we don’t know scientifically. I don’t have to wake up everyday and do scientific tests to see if my parents love me. History and Math are not necessarily known through science. Science can contribute in some ways, such as archaeology, but not mostly. Philosophy is another such area.

I am also cautious about those who present the Middle Ages as a Dark Ages where science was shut down entirely and the Christians were killing anyone who dared challenge them. Thankfully, this myth is starting to be undone in the world around us. One leading voice doing this is atheist Tim O’Neill.

Also, if I am in a Facebook debate and most every comment I give gets the laugh emoticon from you, I will know you are a waste of time. The laugh emoticon should really be saved for jokes. When it’s used in a debate like that, it just comes across as petty.

Keep in mind also that all of this is said in light of knowing how something is said is just as important. If an atheist comes to me and says, “But I have heard that scholars say Jesus never existed and is based on pagan myths,” and I can tell he’s just stating that as if to say that’s what he’s read, but is open to knowing otherwise, then no problem. The same for every other item on this list.

Many of us in apologetics hope to someday find better debates, but too many atheists are really dumbing down their side. Yes. I also know many Christians are doing this. We often are cleaning our own house out. I too rarely see leading atheists doing the same.

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

More Than Heaven

Is there more for Christians to talk about than Heaven. Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It’s the time of year where Vacation Bible School is going on and the emphasis is to try to get children to make a decision to follow Jesus. I don’t have a problem with that, but I do have a problem with how it is done and what we are telling them. We get them in the classroom and then we tell them that they need to accept Jesus to make sure that they can go to Heaven when they die.

I do realize that tragedies can happen and children can die. From my class of 99 in high school, we have already had a few deaths. Some were to suicide and at least one was to a car crash. It happens. However, if we were betting on the odds, we would say that these kids are likely to live a few more decades.

And we’re to tell the youngest among us that the goal of life to focus on is to focus on what will happen to them decades in the future?

What do they do now? Why are they here for these decades that they have? What is the point of living?

Our “Christian” influence would have them think that the only point of life is what happens when you die. They need to know this life matters. Christ told us that He came that we might have life and have it in abundance. There’s no indication that He meant that you will have that life when you die. One of the fruit of the Spirit we are to have now is joy. Nothing indicates that you will have joy when you die, but you won’t in this life.

What are we teaching children about the hear and now? Eternal life doesn’t begin in Christianity just when you die. It begins when you trust Jesus right now. You are to begin holy living right now. Are we teaching the children about the resurrection of Jesus, or is that doctrine only a means to talk about Heaven? Are we teaching them about holy living now, especially when they will face temptation in the future and bluntly, our children will especially face sexual temptation in the near future? Are they ready for that?

This isn’t just for the kids either. We do this with adults. Adults are taught intentionally or unintentionally that the whole goal of Christianity is to get to Heaven. They are not taught about the hear and now. The overwhelming majority of people I fear could tell you about Heaven but they will also confuse that with the Kingdom of Heaven. They don’t realize the Kingdom of Heaven is a teaching for here and now.

If this is the case, we should not be surprised if people aren’t excited about their Christianity or know what to do with it. All they have to do here is to be a “good person” because we know that absolutely no one else in society has that goal at all. For many, it’s like this life is just a sort of trial run and the real purpose of life comes when you die. This life isn’t a trial run, but it is a trial in a sense and it is here we determine if we are really focused on the matters of God or not.

So what do we teach children? I am not saying don’t teach them about Heaven and I am not saying don’t teach them to live good lives. Teach them why. We are to live holy lives here because Jesus came and by His death and resurrection revealed Himself to be God’s King. We are to live our lives as servants of the King and how we live them will reflect how we see the King and in turn how people will see the King through us.

Salvation is not a one-time decision. It is a lifetime. When you marry someone, you make a decision that you publicly announce at once, but it is a lifetime decision to be faithful and true to the person you have committed to. Why do you then go out and live a life of faithfulness to that person? It is not so that you will be married. You do it because you are married. In the same way, salvation is a decision made at one time, but it is also a lifetime decision. You don’t live a good life before the King because you want Him to take you to Heaven when you die. You do it because He is your King and it is not about what the King does for you, but it is about what you do for Him.

I would like to hope that someday the church will realize this, but I keep fearing that our future focus is getting us so caught that we don’t realize what we are to do in the present and we are not giving our young people anything different for the here and now than the world has. If anything, we feed into their individualism and selfish mindsets where the goal of Christianity is all about them and what happens when they die. Christianity is about every facet of your life, and that includes the here and now.

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

Not All Atheists Are Alike

What do you do when you encounter that atheist? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

An atheist friend of Deeper Waters (Yes. There are atheists who read what I write and like it even though they disagree because of my own handling of the issues) wanted me to remind everyone that while not all Christians are alike, neither are all atheists alike. This is something I hold strongly to hence I use terms often like “internet atheists.” You can think of them as fundamentalist atheists, fundy atheists, evangelical atheists, etc. Something really amusing about these people is they spend more time talking about God than a lot of Christians do.

You know these people. These are the people that break out in hysterics when anything religious is mentioned. These are the people that show up on a YouTube video of a Christian song with a bunch of Christians minding their own business and want to argue with them. These are the people who talk about the BuyBull and constantly say Jesus never even existed and share mindless memes and emotional arguments.

These are the people who also usually think they’re the smartest ones in the room. They think they are masters of reason and that theists never have any good points and atheists always win every debate that they’re in (I can attest I have heard debates where I thought the atheist was wrong, but that he beat his Christian opponent) and that every Christian is just emotionally committed. I always say that these people honor reason with their lips, but their heads are far from it.

One test I usually give these people is to link to Andrew Loke’s book on the resurrection. This book is very scholarly, and it is also very free. It costs an atheist nothing to get it. So far however, no atheist who mouths off about how weak Christian theism is has yet to be willing to get this book and go through it. If an atheist wants to be serious about religion, they need to be willing to read something like this.

The sad reality is that so many of these people think that they are giving brilliant arguments if no one answers them. What’s sad is that no one answers them not because they are unanswerable, but because it is a waste of time. You make a serious comment and you just get the laugh response and more obnoxiousness. For me, these people are like slinkies. It can be kind of fun at first, but after awhile, you realize it’s going to be the same thing over and over. They’re really boring and they just drain your time and don’t give any intellectual stimulation back.

Another trait of these people is an absolute hatred of Christianity. They cannot think of any good thing about Christianity. Christianity is the source of all evil in the world. It is responsible for the holding back of science and for all the suffering people on the LGBTQ+ group go through. For them, Christianity must die because it is Christianity.

Fortunately, not all atheists are like that. There are some atheists who are interested in honest dialogue. They disagree intellectually with Christianity, but they know that many Christians are fine and wonderful people, granting many are jerks, and that Christianity has brought some good to the world. They realize someone can be intelligent and rational and believe in God. They present actual arguments with actual premises and read what disagrees with them and are always learning.

If only we had more like these.

Something else good is that usually, these atheists are willing to shut down their more embarrassing brothers. I also want to point out that I try to do the same with Christians who give bad arguments. These atheists and I agree that there are bad arguments for their positions and there are bad arguments for Christianity and we don’t like any of them.

When you’re online or even in person, find out what atheist it is you have met. The nature of the objections is a big clue, but how they give the objections is as well. If someone said, “Well, I’m skeptical because it looks like a lot of scholars think Jesus never even existed” and you present the data otherwise and they respond positively with something at least like, “Wow. I hadn’t heard that before. Let me think about that and study it and get back to you.”

For the other kind, I tend to just ignore them for the most part. They are just big time drainers and impervious to any reason whatsoever. For the atheist types who oppose this, please do your part also with these people and help us shut them down all the more. They do your side more damage than they do mine after all. If you are one of the negative atheists I wrote about, really consider what you’re doing. If anything, you’re giving more evidence to Christian theism just by your obnoxiousness.

And for my Christians, do what you can to be avoid being their counterpart. Study and know your side well. Also, don’t be obnoxious in presenting the gospel.

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

Should Kids Be Taught Religion?

If we avoid talk of sex with our children, should we do the same with religion? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Earlier this week, I blogged about the problem of stealing our childhood from our kids. I was asked by a commenter if that would include religion since we don’t want to introduce kids to the world of sex early. Let them be kids before they get involved in a religious debate they don’t understand. Right?

I figured this would come up. Now to be sure, when I say don’t introduce kids to sex, I mean the actual graphic real sex. At the same time, sex is in a sense unavoidable. Girls should be raised to be girls and boys should be raised to be boys. Girls and boys should both be taught basics on how their bodies work and when they have questions and “explore” we should be willing to answer. I have heard it recommended that we don’t come up with nicknames for body parts. Call them what they are.

As for religion, I am not saying we need to get children involved in debates on the age of the Earth or about the rapture or if they should speak in tongues. At the same time, this should be age appropriate. You don’t need to show a teenager a porn video to explain sex to them, but you also aren’t going to talk to them the way you would talk to a five year-old.

Religion is often a family affair so parents will likely bring their children to church and thus to Sunday School. The kids should be allowed to ask questions about any subject matter brought up in class. My Dad and I both share a love of the Fox Trot comic strip and writing this brought to mind this.

Personally, if I was in Jason’s Sunday School class, I would be glad to see that he was thinking this way and not giving any look. This would be a student trying to grasp the idea. Now as someone who is not a Star Wars fan really, I can’t tell how accurate the description is, but if a student is asking, we should celebrate that.

And just as we teach a student in elementary school elementary math and we increase it as the kid grows older, so we should do with religion. When they start entering the teenage area, we need more than just Bible drills. We need them to be having an informed worldview about why they believe what they believe.

Also, this same route would go with politics. Let’s face it. When six year-olds write letters to the president and include statements about the economy and foreign policy, those are the overwhelming majority of the time coming from the parents and not the children. We can raise children with our ideas and we inevitably will, but we should not ban them from asking any question that they want.

As children grow older with the topic of sex and especially getting into puberty, we definitely need to be answering more questions and explaining more material. Girls need to learn what it means to be a woman and boys need to learn what it means to be a man. However, that is for that case.

When children are young and in Elementary school, we don’t need to be rushing them to be adults. We are preparing them for that, but they are also still kids and they only get to be kids once. Sex is often considered an adult topic for a reason. We can refer to a child’s innocence being taken from them.

There is no hard and fast rule, but do things in proper moderation and in proportion to the child’s skills. Many children should be taught math on their age level. For me, my parents knew I was advanced in math early on and I was treated accordingly. If a child seems to be a political prodigy or a religious one, then treat that properly too. However, sex is in the issue of morality and thus makes it different. Also, it’s done with other people and we don’t want small children engaging yet.

But please, don’t use children as pawns in political and religious debates. Let them be kids. They have plenty of years in adulthood to argue with the rest of us on Facebook. Let them enjoy being kids for now.

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

Why The Genetic Fallacy Matters

Does where that idea came from matter? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

On Facebook in the span of 24 hours, I have seen two posts arguing against evolution making the exact same mistake. The first one was claiming that Darwin was a member of a Masonic lodge and was involved with Luciferian practices. The other one was claiming that evolution was used in the history of racism. Now you should know that my stance is to neither argue for or against evolution. I’m not a scientist. However, I am opposed to bad arguments. That includes bad arguments against positions I oppose, such as when I have worked to take to task conservative memes against liberals here that are based on falsehoods.

This is simply called the genetic fallacy. It says nothing about the position itself. Let’s suppose that Adam Smith, who is considered the father of capitalism, was a colossal jerk to everyone he met. That would not change anything about capitalism whatsoever. I have a friend who considers Marx the most wicked man who ever lived. Even if that is true, that says nothing about Communism being true or false.

Now with the claims we have here, I am extremely skeptical of the former claim, but I am open to the latter. I have seen some writings that lead me to think that there was some racism involved in Darwin. There are some people who also think this was involved in the holocaust of Hitler. That is a question for historians of science and World War II to discuss. For the worst case scenario, I will grant that these claims are true.

None of this says anything about evolution being true or false. It makes no difference. If you are a Christian sharing these arguments, you are not doing our side any favors whatsoever. If anything, you are further embarrassing us. I don’t doubt you mean well. I don’t doubt you do this out of zeal for Christ. However, Paul warned us in Romans about a zeal that is not in accordance with knowledge.

If you want to argue against evolution, and I have no problem if you do because if it can be shown to be bad science, we should reject it, then you are going to have to argue against it on scientific grounds. Let’s consider some parallels in our own field of interest.

I am not a KJV-onlyist, but I have heard claims before that King James who was behind the KJV was a homosexual known as a flaming queen. Let’s suppose that was true. What does that say about evolution? Absolutely nothing. The KJV will have to be critiqued on the grounds of the translation.

Recently, we have had the Ravi Zacharias scandal break out. I understand people not wanting to use Ravi’s material and books anymore. That is a matter of wisdom. That being said, let’s consider the arguments. Are they false because Ravi turned out to be a pervert? Not at all.

I consider myself to be a Thomist and a Protestant. Are you going to refute Thomism by telling me that he was a Roman Catholic? Not a bit. Is Aristotle disproven just because he didn’t use the Bible? Not at all.

Mark is portrayed in Acts as a Momma’s Boy who left the team of Paul and Barnabas early and caused a division between the church’s two first great missionaries. Does this mean his Gospel is not reliable? Not a bit.

The only time pointing to the character of the person matters is if the claim is centered around the reputation of the person involved. If a person is testifying to something in a court of law that they have seen and it can be shown that the person is a compulsive liar, for example, then you have grounds to doubt their testimony. Outside of that, none whatsoever.

As I said each time this came up, let’s suppose Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb, was a complete jerk. Let’s suppose he was a satanist who molested children and ate cats for breakfast. None of this is true, of course. However, if it was, it would not make a difference to the residents of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The bombs still worked regardless of his character.

Please don’t make embarrassing arguments. They’re not worthy of Jesus.

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