You Don’t Have To Feel Called

What is required for you to serve? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Just recently, I was dialoguing with someone who apparently went to a church that guilted them about the Great Commission. Now if you read this blog faithfully, you know I have a joke about the whole idea of always doing something for Jesus. It comes from listening to a video with a Christian complaining about playing Pokemon Go with saying “You could be doing evangelism.”

Follow this through and it won’t work. I could go and do my job to provide for my family, but I could be doing evangelism instead. I could be sleeping at night, but I could be doing evangelism. I could have a family game night with my family and enrich my relationship with my kids, or I could be doing evangelism. I could be making love to my spouse, or I could be doing evangelism. On and on we can go.

However, the more I talked to this person, I told them that maybe if you’re asking questions so much about the Great Commission, you should consider being a missionary. The response I got was that they had never felt called. Sadly, I was anticipating such a response.

It’s amazing we have so many churches here that are Protestant and claim that Scripture is their final authority and yet go with this idea that you need to feel called in order to be a missionary or a pastor or anything like that. We will often point to Paul.

There is nothing that says what happened to Paul is supposed to happen to everyone in ministry. Nothing states that all are required to have a Damascus Road experience. It’s a kind of arrogance of our age that we all expect our lives are supposed to be just like the great heroes of the Bible.

Besides that, after hearing several ministers who are convinced they are called to preach, I wonder if they are really being called if it’s part of a divine punishment on the behalf of God towards us. Too many of these preachers just don’t have a clue how to preach or how to lead a church or both. It’s always fascinating also that when they think they are being called to another church, that church usually just happens to offer a bigger salary.

Instead, here are some criteria I would look for.

Do you have a desire. If you don’t have a strong passion in you for, say, the people of Turkey, you probably shouldn’t be a missionary over there. If you hate the thought of doing apologetics, you should probably not consider entering the apologetics ministry. On the other hand, if you have a strong desire to tell people you meet about Jesus and tell them how to become Christians, you should probably look into some material on doing evangelism, which brings us to the next point.

If you have the ability to do what you want to do well, you should consider doing it. I am not saying a Savant by any means. Everyone in every field will make some big mistakes. Everyone in any field will screw up at the start a few times and yes, even later on in their ministry they will make mistakes. This is more asking if you have a competency that can be built on. If you’re a good thinker, you could consider apologetics. If you’re an outgoing person, you could consider evangelism. If you know how to listen well, you could consider counseling.

The last is opportunity. Do you ever have the chance to do what you are wanting to do. In our day and age with the internet, this is becoming easier and easier. It’s been said that Paul would be absolutely crazy with excitement today if he could have the opportunities we have to share the gospel with the internet. We have more opportunity and means to share Christianity than ever before.

Please don’t rely on a feeling of being called. This is nowhere stated in Scripture and our modern emphasis today on feelings being the way God communicates so often with us I find to be quite dangerous. Most anything around you can influence your feelings. If I feel really tired, for example, and drink an energy drink to keep going, I will likely have anxiety the rest of the day as well. Again, anything can influence your feelings.

What we are looking at is something more stable to determine the best way for you to serve. Try going with that instead.

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

What Hill Will You Die On?

Are some battles the ones that are essential? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently in a group I’m in, someone shared a picture with someone saying on social media, “Answer me one question and I will convert to atheism. Show me the evidence for the Big Bang Theory.” I find it incredibly sad that someone could make a post like that and even if it wasn’t real, we know there are people who think that way.

For one thing, let’s start with a basic quibble. Every position has something that can be called evidence. The most crazy conspiracy theory out there that no one else will believe in except the one person who does still has evidence. You could say he’s interpreting it wrongly or that it’s not really true, but it is still evidence. If you asked if there was any evidence for Muhammad’s night flight, I could say that we do have Muslim sources saying that. That is evidence. Do I trust that evidence and think the sources are reliable? No.

This person likely meant proof, but even that is problematic for there is very little in life that we have proof for and certainly not in the area of science. We can have extremely good evidence in science for something, but that evidence is always probabilistic. It’s the same with history also. Historians don’t speak of proof. There are many events that are so sure that it’s ridiculous to doubt them, such as the crucifixion of Jesus, but that does not mean we speak of “proof.”

So after that, let’s get to the more serious point. This is not a hill to die on. Many readers I have here are YECs, but I would say the same thing to someone who was OEC and was saying “Show me the evidence of evolution and I will become an atheist.” What has to be asked is what is absolutely necessary for Christianity to be true. That doesn’t mean the other doctrines are unimportant or that they are false. It means what is absolutely necessary.

Let’s consider something with evolution. Let’s suppose you had thought that Piltdown Man was good evidence for the theory. Some people did believe that. I was trying to see how many dissertations were written on it, but I could not find that number aside from creationist websites citing 500 and I did not want to use the opponent to back the statistic.

Now we know it was a hoax. Does that mean that anyone who thought it was real should automatically conclude evolution is false? No. It could be false, but all that is really false in this case is one finding. Now you could say you question the scientific establishment after that, which is a separate issue, but the core leading cases for evolution and the science behind it would still be there. What that is would be up to the scientists to explain, but I have never had one tell me the case is built on one discovery.

So what about Christianity? You definitely need the existence of God for that. You also need Jesus being fully God and man or else we are not truly reconciled by the grace of God, which also entails the Trinity eventually, and you need the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead. This is also not saying that you necessarily have to affirm everything to be a Christian. For example, I don’t expect a small child to understand the Trinity nor do I think the early church was quoting the Nicene Creed, though the seeds of the doctrine were there.

What about inerrancy? That is something important, but there could hypothetically be an error in the Scriptures and Christianity could still be true. It could still be that God exists and Jesus rose from the dead. After all, the early church didn’t even have a New Testament and it’s not like a slip-up in a later writer could overturn a past historical event. Note that this does not mean inerrancy is false. That is not relevant at this point. It is just saying it is not an essential. It’s not even saying the doctrine is unimportant. It can still be important and I understand many churches and Christian schools putting it in a statement of faith.

The same applies to YEC. The same applies to OEC or to Evolutionary creationism. If you look at any of these and say “If this is not true, I am abandoning Christianity”, then you are basing your faith on something other than the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. You could say if they are false, “I still have the resurrection of Jesus, but now I really have to rethink doctrine XYZ” and that’s okay!

For me, there have been many positions on which I have changed my stance. One such example is eschatology. I used to be a strong dispensationalist. I grew up listening to Southern Gospel music and so many songs are about the rapture. I was challenged by a Baptist minister especially to rethink that with plenty of reasons and like C.S. Lewis being dragged into the kingdom, I went kicking and screaming. Over several years time, I moved into orthodox Preterism. I have a strong passion to talk about eschatology and that doctrine, but I will not base my Christianity on it. I would say if it was shown to be false, “Whoa. I really gotta rethink the Olivet Discourse and the book of Revelation.” Maybe I would never even find an understanding of them. That’s okay. For all of us, there are things in the Bible that we don’t understand and aspects of our theology we are still working out.

Please note that at this point, I am not saying YEC, OEC, or EC are false. Right now, it doesn’t matter. I’m also not saying your stance on origins and creation doesn’t matter. I’m not saying you can’t have strong positions on those issues, be passionate about them, and argue for them. I am simply saying don’t base Christianity on them. Christianity needs to be based on the life of Jesus Christ and His resurrection.

Odds are if you are journeying on your Christian life and studying, you will change your mind on a number of issues, and that’s okay. There will still be many things you don’t know in the end also, no matter how much you study. If any of us could comprehend God, we would be God and He would not be. There are going to always be passages of the Bible that you don’t understand and you will not be a perfect interpreter of every one of them. That’s also okay.

Don’t be like this person who based their faith on something other than Jesus. Maybe he’s right. Maybe he’s wrong. I don’t really care on that issue. What I want to know is where does he stand on the resurrection of Jesus. It would be better to get Jesus right and everything else wrong, than to get everything else right and Jesus wrong.

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

Forgiveness From The Cross

How does Jesus forgive? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I don’t really read devotional material a lot. Most if is rather shallow to me and doesn’t really move me in any way. The exception in the past has been G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis devotionals. Right now, every day I read the Daily Stoic and I’m going through the Old Testament Apocrypha. A few days ago, I was going through the Stoic, whose author has not admitted any religious faith of any kind, and the author talked about Jesus on the cross and how whatever your religious persuasion is, the words of Jesus offering forgiveness to His tormentors is stunning and gives a chill.

Which leaves me again wondering, “Why doesn’t it?” I suspect it is because, as I have said before, we have grown up so much with Jesus in the culture that we aren’t really surprised by Him. We don’t consider His life anymore.

Now I know there are some skeptics reading this who will say, “You need to make a historical case that that is what was said.” There is a place for that, but I honestly want to just focus on the story today. What we all can agree on is that the story exists. This is something Tom Gilson hits on in his book Too Good To Be False. Whatever we think about the story, we can all agree that it exists. (And if it doesn’t, what are we talking about?)

What we are looking at is the unique character of forgiveness done on the cross. What does this tell us about Jesus? Like Gilson, I contend this is the kind of figure that we just can’t create wholesale. Today, it might be more doable, but that’s because we actually have a Jesus to use as a basis.

Today, we can easily talk about the way that someone is treating us and denouncing it and say that we are being crucified by them. We realize we are using hyperbole, but that is what we do. While I normally have problems with the word “literally” in the case of Jesus, He “literally” was being crucified.

This isn’t anything mild. This is being nailed to a cross with the intent being to not only kill, but also shame. Jesus could very well have been completely naked up there being exposed to everyone who walked by. This was done in public for everyone around to see. Jesus was an object lesson. Not only that, his accusers were convinced they were doing a righteous act, but it was also being done largely out of envy, from the people that were supposed to reflect the God of Israel.

There was indeed evil behind what they were doing, but to some extent, ignorance. On that basis, Jesus seeks forgiveness for them. It’s really incredible this is said from the cross. If you or I were wronged in a horrid way, it would be more likely for us to think about the incident hours or maybe days or weeks or longer later and say, “I really do need to have an attitude of forgiveness to them.” Jesus says it while it is going on.

How many of us are willing to say we’re at that level?

Frankly also, what we go through today is the overwhelming majority of the time mild compared to crucifixion. This is one reason why when I meet people who are Christians struggling with forgiveness, I tell them to do this exercise. Picture that you are with the person you are struggling to forgive and you are in the presence of Jesus telling Jesus all that He did to you.

Except Jesus is on the cross at the time.

If it sounds silly by comparison, that’s the point.

That will also, hopefully, make forgiveness easier.

This doesn’t mean they’re clean and free forever. It really means that you are leaving them in the hands of God and letting Him judge them. Now if they repent and come to God, that doesn’t even mean there are no consequences. God can remove eternal consequences, but there can still be temporary ones. David was forgiven for his sin with Bathsheba, but his son still died.

It also doesn’t mean the wrong done to you doesn’t matter. It definitely does. It doesn’t mean it wasn’t wrong. It very well could have been. It means you are not holding this person accountable. That also doesn’t mean everything goes back. You can forgive someone for something, but it doesn’t mean they are trusted again.

Here’s the hard part for us Christians. This is not optional. This is commanded. Jesus tells us that if you do not forgive, your Father will not forgive your sins. Now having said that, I don’t think it’s good to go up to your offender and say “I forgive you.” I think you are robbing them of the gift of repentance and frankly, they may not think they did anything wrong so it could make matters worse. However, you are to have the attitude of forgiveness. In your own heart, you are to relinquish the right to seek justice for your own personal reasons. That doesn’t mean no justice. You can forgive someone for what they did to you, but still think the police need to know for various reasons, such as the person being a danger to themselves or the community.

However, I still want to emphasize how shocking Jesus is. We can read the story and think it’s a nice story, but if it’s true, how incredible is that? Jesus lived His example of forgiveness and love and mercy even to the cross. There are no cries for justice. There is only mercy and forgiveness.

Live like that.

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

Removing God From Evil

Why does it not make sense to me to see people make the argument from evil? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Suppose you know the basic Christian claims, but you don’t know the reasons behind them. You don’t know the case for why Jesus rose from the dead and you don’t know the case for the existence of God. Suppose also that you don’t really know the arguments for atheism. You don’t see a strong case for something like evolution so you’re skeptical. Essentially, you’re a more neutral person in this debate. I realize this is highly unlikely, but this is a thought analogy.

Now you are presented with the problem of evil. Again, you don’t know a strong case against God or for God one way or the other. All you know is that if you go with this problem, then you have a case for not thinking God exists. It’s not a certain one, but it’s a probabilistic one. However, you also know something else about the problem of evil.

You know the problem of evil entails real suffering. You know a woman being raped involves real suffering. You know children starving in Africa involves real suffering. You know that there have been such evils in the past as 9/11 and the holocaust.

You also know that on atheism, at least what you are presented, those are still being seen as evil. You also know that on theism, especially Christian theism, there is a good God who is involved in some way you are told and will one day redeem the suffering people go through and bring about justice. You don’t know how this will happen or when, but you know on Christianity, it is claimed to be happening someday.

Then you start to think. “If I go with this argument, then I remove God from the picture and if I do, there is no basis for redemption of suffering or future justice.” That means that the rapist can still get away with it. That means the children dying just pass out of existence. That means that some people who were involved in the holocaust will never face ultimate justice.

You remove God from the picture, and yet the evil still exists. The person who has been raped has still been raped. The child who is dying in Africa is still dying. 9/11 and the holocaust still happened regardless.

What have you gained from this? You still have the problem and not a solution. It would seem that on a practical ground at least, you would want theism of some kind to be true. Note that I am not speaking on the argumentative level here. I am not saying at this point the arguments for Christian theism or atheism are better. I’m speaking about which one would you at least want to be true?

From my standpoint, at least on theism, you can have some level of hope regardless. If the rapist is never found, you can at least believe that there is a God who will judge him one day. If you go through suffering, you can at least believe that that suffering will be redeemed not just for good, but also for your good. You can believe that the innocents who die can be brought into the loving manifest presence of God and enjoy Him forever.

To be fair, I could also understand an atheist who would see this and say “It would be wonderful if that was true, and I honestly wish it was, but I don’t believe that it is.” That’s a fair position. I don’t understand anyone who would say, “I really don’t want that to be true. I don’t want justice to be brought to the evildoer and I don’t want suffering to be redeemed for good.” That doesn’t really make sense. You could go on and say it’s a fairy tale if you want to, but still say, “It would be nice though if that fairy tale was true.”

For me then, when I then look at the arguments for and against Christian theism, the arguments for have a lot more power to them. Evil is a very good argument to appeal to one’s emotions, but from a rational and a practical standpoint, I find it greatly lacking. This is not to say one cannot argue against God on other grounds, but evil is not the best one. It also is not to say that one should say Christian theism is true because they want it to be true. Not at all. None of this is an argument for Christian theism. It is just a way of looking at the problem as it is presented.

This is definitely nothing against making arguments for theism and definitely not saying we don’t need to answer the problem of evil. We do. This is just my saying from a practical standpoint, the argument doesn’t make sense. It might seem to gain an intellectual victory perhaps, but it doesn’t really change the suffering and removes the hope in the face of that suffering.

Also, none of this resolves us whatever our viewpoint of our responsibility. While those of us who are Christians do believe in prayer, if we just pray while there is something more we can do, then we have not done enough. If you have a loved one in a car accident and they are in the doctor’s care, then prayer is about all you can do, but you could possibly also visit the rest of the family and be support. You might not be able to go overseas and feed starving children in Africa, but you can support a missionary or special program to help provide food and water for them.

By the way, one such organization to go to is Jonathan’s Impact. They are friends of Deeper Waters. Jonathan was a young boy who I never got to meet, but looked up to me from a distance and I invested a lot of time in this fine young man. His death is certainly a tragedy, but his parents are fulfilling a deep desire that Jonathan had. If you want to help out the people in Africa, please consider this organization.

So in the end, I find from just a practical standpoint the argument from evil removes hope. From a philosophical standpoint on other grounds, I find it just fails. However, if I didn’t have the philosophy, I would at least want something like Christian theism to be true.

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

Sins We Don’t Speak Of

Is the church really taking holiness seriously? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday when I was in Sunday School, I don’t know how it got started, but we started talking about secret sins. These are the sins that you never really hear anything about in church. Right now, our pastor is getting ready to go through the Ten Commandments with us so it’s my hope that we’ll be hearing more about these kinds of sins.

The deal with these sins is that we don’t really like to talk about them because they hit so close to home. They are what we all struggle with. One that came to my mind immediately was gluttony. We all know of pastors who are quite rotund who are getting up telling us how to live our lives, but you can be sure too many of them are not talking about this sin.

We just went through Gay Pride Month. Now many people think the church talks way too much about homosexuality, which is odd because I honestly hardly hear anything about it from the pulpit, but when was the last time you heard something about pride from the pulpit? This is considered the chief sin many times. This is supposed to be the sin that made the devil, the devil. Do you hear about it often?

But speaking of homosexuality, our leader also gave us a statistic. I don’t know the source for it as I didn’t get to ask in class, but he said 15% of Christians in the church struggle with same-sex attraction. Even if that number is too high, some do. There is nothing said from the pulpit to help these Christians who could want to get rid of these attractions even.

Along those lines, what about pornography? It’s been said that 1 in 3 men in the church struggle with this. A large number of pastors even struggle with pornography. It’s not just a man’s problem either. More and more women are struggling with pornography. When do you hear anything about it?

It’s amazing really how many of our sins are sexual in nature. We need to talk about abortion and not just that it’s wrong, but that there is mercy and forgiveness for those who have gone this route. A number of women in the church have had abortions and some people will go to the church seeking solace after having one. We need to be able to say that abortion is wrong, but that yes, there is forgiveness available.

The church has a stigma when it comes to divorce as well. This is even the case when divorce could be justified and the right thing to do, such as in cases of adultery and/or abuse. If someone is divorced, negative thoughts are assumed about them, which is our natural tendency. Imagine going through a parking lot and seeing a car with damage on from an accident. You might assume the person was a bad driver, which is my tendency. Maybe they came in contact with the bad driver. You don’t know until you ask. Again, we need grace and mercy here.

Why don’t we talk about these sins? Are we afraid of offending people? Then we’re not really walking as Jesus did. However, if we don’t talk about them, we don’t get to have people come to the cross if it is something they have done wrong to receive mercy and forgiveness and grace, or we don’t get to give them healing from pain that has been afflicted to them in their lives.

Too many of our sermons really feel good messages to help us feel better about ourselves. Sometimes we should feel miserable about ourselves. We should so that it will drive us to repentance, which will bring us an even greater joy. If we want to be like Jesus, we need that repentance as well. The church does not do anyone any favors by neglecting the topic of sin. It’s easy to talk about the sins everyone else is doing and how bad the world is. We need to remember to clean up our own house first.

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

New Autism Video

How can the church improve with people on the spectrum? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This will be a short blog entry. I normally wouldn’t do something like this, but this is an important video series I think needs to get out. I was thinking of doing a series on eschatology, and that will probably come in the future. For now, I am thinking some blog posts however on that topic since I did surprise someone I admire recently with my viewpoints on end times.

Honestly, I made this video on Sunday, but I made some mistakes with how to render it properly and a lot of technical stuff and I thank a friend of mine who helped me out. In the future, I hope to someday learn how to make better videos with at least basic effects and editing. For now, this is just going to be me talking about my own experiences and thoughts on the matter.

In future videos, I will be looking at other points on how I think the church can do better to reach people on the spectrum. After all, these are also people that Jesus loves and died for and they need to know that as well. The language you use to reach someone on the spectrum will be vastly different from what you use to reach your everyday neurotypical.

For me, making the videos is ultimately the easy part. After I distribute them, it is up to the rest of the church what they will do with them. Do we want to heed the call to show Christ to the person on the spectrum, or are we going to just let this group of people fall by the wayside, which would be in disobedience to Christ? One reason I am sending this out via blog is in the hopes that some of you will watch, share, and ultimately, act.

Please keep an eye on my channel for the latest videos as I plan to produce them more often. The best way to do that, of course, is to subscribe. Also, if you really like what you see, please do consider becoming a partner on Patreon. Every little bit helps.

And here is the video:

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

MacArthur and the Principle of Charity

How do we read even our opponents? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There’s a rule in debates of any kind that if there are at least two possible readings of a text and you have no good reason to prefer one to the other, you go with the one that puts your opponent in the best light. You would want him to do the same to you if he thought your statements were ambiguous. If you don’t understand a concept also, you should not put it in a way that is absolutely ludicrous.

So let’s look at something John MacArthur is claimed to have said. My friend who shared it is a Catholic and I have not known him to post false information so if this was never said, I will gladly rescind any comments about MacArthur, but the concept will still be the same because this is a common mistake. Anyway, it all begins with this picture.

I understand a lot of my fellow Protestants get antsy when they hear the phrase “Mother of God” and I will be discussing that concern later on, but no matter how much you might think Catholicism is false whether you just disagree with it or whether you think it’s the biggest cult on Earth, and I am indeed the former, let’s state something about what is meant by Mother of God. The fact is that no Catholic takes it to mean something along the lines of, “God did not exist and then Mary came along and Mary gave birth to God and God came into existence at that point.” Every Catholic knows that God in His divine essence was not born. God is eternal. They do know that a man named Jesus who is both God and man was born. That is what is meant.

Now that doesn’t mean you have to accept every bit of Mariology that comes from Catholics and Orthodox, but it does mean that you can accept this term when it is understood. If by Mother of God, one means that Mary gave birth to a person who is fully God and fully man and brought the incarnation into the world through her body, there is not a problem. Protestants agree that Mary was the one to do this and to this degree, she should indeed be honored even in Protestant circles. While I think Catholics and Orthodox have gone too far with Mary, I think the Protestant reaction has gone too far in the other direction.

Now let’s address something a Protestant friend said in the discussion. Catholics should say what they mean. When people hear Mother of God, they do tend to think something along the lines of God came into being through Mary. Why not let them just say what they mean then?

The problem here is that everyone does theological shorthand. Were you to go up to Protestant Evangelicals and ask “Is Jesus God?”, they would say yes. Now you go to someone like Greg Stafford, who is a Jehovah’s Witness who wrote a book defending them. He will take that and go this way.

Jesus is God.
God is a Trinity.
Jesus is a Trinity.

Obviously, no one accepts this, but Stafford will use it to show the Trinity is nonsense if you think Jesus is God. Some will look at this and say, “I know it’s wrong, but I don’t see where.” The problem is the first premise is theological shorthand. Evangelicals don’t go around stating the doctrine as “Jesus is the man in whom the fullness of the divine nature, the second person of the Trinity, dwells in bodily form.” No. We just speak of the deity of Christ and say Jesus is God hoping people will understand rather than use a long and clunky phrase every time.

Getting back to the picture itself, the reality is MacArthur should know enough about Catholicism to know this. I could grant some grace to Joe Protestant who doesn’t walk in highly theological circles and hears this phrase and reacts that way. On the other hand, how much better would our discussions be if we would go to our opponents over ideas like this and say “Do you really believe this? Explain this to me please.”

And again, if the citation is wrong and MacArthur never said this, fair enough. This can be changed. What is still the same is the point. We ought to read our opponents in the best possible light and if we don’t know something, try to understand before critiquing. How much better could our dialogues be if we did that?

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

How Does This Work?

Do we need to know how two things work together? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I saw again someone asking the question on how an immaterial mind, like God, can affect a material world? I am not at all saying that we shouldn’t ask the question, but I find it striking that these people act like saying “We don’t know, therefore it can’t happen.” These are also the same people who share the idea that religion is against finding answers to questions and science is the one that says, “I don’t know. Let’s find out.”

Apparently, that means in all questions except for those about religion.

I replied the same way that I always do. Right now, I am sitting at my desk typing, at this point, on this blog. I am willing myself to type. I do not know how that works, but yet I am doing it. Even if I held to a purely materialistic view of man, which I don’t, I would not know how to explain that.

When it comes to the world we live in, let’s suppose, as I do, that I have arguments for God, an immaterial being, that I find conclusive. Let’s also suppose that while they are not hills I am ready to die on and a debate I don’t really enter into that much, let’s suppose that I have reasons I find conclusive for believing in an immaterial aspect to me. One such reason even in scientific circles is Near-Death Experiences. True, some scientists do think they’re bunk, but some, and not just Christian ones, spend a great deal of study on these. My thinking on them is I think some of them are true, but they are not meant to give you the furniture of the afterdeath.

I do also take it as a given that there is such a thing as a material world. I’m not going to bother dealing with the thoughts of people like Bishop Berkeley or Eastern thought that can say the material world is an illusion at this point. That could be fascinating to do some time but now is not that time. For now, we’ll just say that there is something immaterial and there is a material world.

Let’s also suppose, as I do, that I have reasons I think justify me in believing in the reality of miracles, such as the resurrection of Jesus. Even if there had been no resurrection, that does not mean I would be unjustified in believing in miracles if I think I have good evidence of them. If this is the case, then I already have reason to believe the immaterial can act on the material.

In what might seem like a slight detour, let’s consider evolutionary biology. In this area, many creationists often say that there is no known mechanism on how life came about from non-life to get evolution started. There are many proposals, but none that are conclusive. Again, I am not a scientist, but let us suppose that this is still the case. This in no way means that there is no answer or that the answer cannot be found. It could be hypothetically the case that the answer is never found, but it will not disprove evolutionary biology. I would encourage those on the more creationist side of the debate to not go that route as it is just God of the gaps and if an answer is ever found, that seemingly puts God out of a job.

However, evolutionary biologists who would complain about that technique of creationists, and I think rightly so, need to make sure they’re not making the same mistake. This would be a sort of materialism-of-the-gaps. Now in both of these debates, it would be different if someone could give some sort of argument that could prove that either of these is impossible, but as far as I know, this has never been done.

This also means that you are not obligated to know every in and out of your worldview no matter what it is. I don’t expect an evolutionary biologist who is an atheist to tell me every aspect of the history of our species and of our cosmos and answer every question I have in order to hold his position. He should want to know as much as he can, but no one can know it all. At the same time, on the grounds given above, a Christian can say they do not know for sure, but why not be “scientific” and say “Let’s find out.”

Either way, this is a poor objection. I would like it that the side that keeps saying “Let’s find out” would want to actually study the subject they are arguing against and find out if they are misunderstanding.

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

Spiritual Forces At Work

When should we be hesitant to speak? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There are two types of talk in the church that I am hesitant when I hear people expressing. Both are eeriely similar. One is when Christians talk about what God is doing and one is talking about what the devil is doing.

Let’s start with what the devil is doing. There seems to be a dangerous overemphasis on this. If a Christian is struggling with a sin or an unbeliever is being obstinate in their ways, well that’s Satan at work there. Now I am not denying that demonic powers can be at work at times, but consider this. We talk so much about the devil that I understand how some Christians think he’s really the mirror opposite of God, as if he’s omnipotent and omnipresent.

Sadly, when we talk about this, we hardly ever talk about the person involved. When a man is struggling with pornography, well that’s Satan going after him. That could be, but here’s what I do know is going on. A man is watching pornography and wanting to stop and struggling. Am I to think that if the devil was removed from the picture, that the man would no longer have the struggle? If you think that, then it would seem that if we could just remove Satan from the picture we would all be perfect people.

If you don’t, then you know that with or without the devil, the man is struggling. The man himself needs to repent. The man needs to get help such as accountability software and a therapist and a group like Celebrate Recovery. So let’s consider, of these two elements, the man himself and the devil, which one does the man have the most control over.

Shouldn’t that be the focus?

And should we presume the devil is at work without a sound basis?

Now what about God?

I have heard Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox all talk about what God is doing in their midst. Each one claims the favor of God for their actions. Now in my view, God is at work in all three churches to bring about His glory and there are real Christians in each church.

However, when we do this, we are acting as if we are sitting on the divine council itself and we are seeing what the will of God is and can know it. Once again, this could be God at work, but maybe God is not directly guiding people all the time any more than the devil is directly tempting people all the time. As Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, evil people know how to give good gifts to their children and I don’t think we should say they’re only doing that because God is guiding them.

My problem here is with a sort of presumption and when we do this, we are giving divine authority to our own decisions and actions. We act like we are as certain of this as Moses was that He was doing the will of God in guiding the people of Israel. This is awfully dangerous and I really think we can add a lot of danger for new Christians who are going to presume they should be able to sense the direction of God in their own lives so much.

Perhaps we should have some humility towards the divine and just do what we know God has revealed for us to do in Scripture and trust that He is at work somehow in what we do even if we don’t know how and it doesn’t mean He is directly causing the events to happen. Once again, what can we know the most about? We can know about what we are to do many times and we can control what we do.

Maybe we should focus on what we know.

Again, none of this is denying that God or the devil could specifically be causing XYZ. What is being said is we can’t know, but we can know our part. Focus on what we do know and not on what we don’t.

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

Thoughts on The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

What do I think of Douglas Adams’s work? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Opening note: This is about the original trilogy. It’s not about parts four and five. That doesn’t make sense? That’s fine.

One of my favorite lines to use to answer a question is to just say “42.” Where does it come from? The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. (HGG) The book is often quoted in pop culture the way that the Princess Bride is in movies. Maybe not that much, but that’s the best parallel I can come up with.

As I started, I found that Adams was a marvelous writer who has great humor with juxtaposition. He’ll get you going on something that you think is really important and then all of a sudden, he will shift totally to something else as if that point he was going on doesn’t matter, and yet at the same time, it seems natural. Also in these books, hardly anything is serious, even if it is a serious matter. Someone destroyed the planet? Well, that’s rough, but move on. Are you facing certain death? Too bad, but somehow it will work out.

The work is also no doubt, extremely imaginative. Adams has a creative genius that has created multiple worlds and races and has a unique idea of naming. Even after introducing a new race, before too long, you think you know it. Again, there’s a naturalness to the writing style.

For me, the first book was by far the most enjoyable. This is the one that starts Arthur Dent, the main character, on his trek through the universe exploring various worlds after the Earth is destroyed. This one was the one that seemed to have the most guiding it in the sense of purpose and destination. This is the one where the story seemed the most cohesive.

The second one is The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, which really only shows up at one point in the novel. Here, there isn’t much that I found memorable aside from the lines near the start about in the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.

The third book is Life, The Universe, and Everything. At this point, I started being convinced that it was being made up as Adams went along bit by bit. Sometimes it seemed like something was introduced and Adams completely lost sight of it later on. I have been told by others that they also thought the first book was the best and the second and third just weren’t the same. At the same time, I am intrigued enough that I plan to go through books four and five, especially since I bought book five when I saw that it was on sale at a bookstore going out of business.

Douglas Adams was an atheist, but that doesn’t mean Christians can’t enjoy the work just like we can enjoy movies and TV shows and music by non-Christians. We need to be engaging with the work of non-Christians to understand where they are coming from and how they see the world. If we stay in our own subculture, we won’t be able to interact with the culture around us. Paul knew the pagan poets well enough to quote them.

If you like science fiction and you’re looking for a good read, this is an amusing one to go through. I plan on reading parts four and five as I said and I will review them when I am done. I don’t know yet if at this point it will be reviewing them one by one or reviewing them as parts four and five of the trilogy combined. Didn’t make sense again? That’s okay.

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