The Knock At Your Door

What do you do when the other side comes knocking at your door?

Wednesday as my wife and I were heading out, we saw some women standing near our car. Now I’m not normally an outgoing type, but I push myself at times and I did this time because I could recognize by the way they were dressed and that they were carrying books that they were Jehovah’s Witnesses. I asked them about their books so they could confirm my suspicions. They told me that they were Bible Students and waiting for some others. Bible Students is often another way of saying Jehovah’s Witnesses so I had my findings confirmed. I invited them to stop by.

This morning, they did just that.

This is also why you study your Bible and why the church needs to have people studying their Bibles. If these people knock on your door and you are not prepared, they will turn you inside out. These people know several several verses that you probably do not know. These are verses that are not taught in your average church service.

When was the last time you heard a sermon in church on the Kingdom of God? Yeah. That’s what I thought. That’s especially sad since this was one of the greatest emphases of the historical Jesus. When was the last time you heard a message about the Trinity? How about the nature of the resurrection?

Well guess what. Jehovah’s Witnesses have a lot to say about all of those and if all you have is what you usually hear in churches on Sunday, unless your church is the rare exception, you are not prepared. Think you’ve got those pet verses you like to use to show the Trinity? Well guess what. Jehovah’s Witnesses have an answer to those. Now I think the answer is wrong and is based on poor hermeneutics, but it is still an answer and if you don’t have a reply ready for them, it will not go well for you.

And you know what? You can’t get that answer right when they knock on your door. You have to have it ready then.

I had my answer ready then. Many passages they brought out such as Psalms 37 with the meek inheriting the Earth and such, I agreed with. When they asked about miracles and that we don’t have them going on, I was ready to point them to Craig Keener. My favorite was to talk about the Kingdom of God that Jesus taught and tie it in to Matthew 24 with my understanding of orthodox Preterism. They didn’t really care for that and it was quite a problem for them.

Now you might think some of my responses are wrong, but I want to point something out. These people are going around doing evangelism, like we’re supposed to be doing. These people are studying in their evangelism, like we should be doing. These people are confronting those who disagree with them, like we should be doing. These people are being more serious about a false gospel than we are often being about the true gospel and you know who they want to reach? You and your family and your neighbors.

Some of you might want to study when they show up, but that’s like preparing for combat when the enemy shows up at your house. You have to be ready then. You have to be prepared at all times. If you are not being prepared, start. If you do not have a well-grounded theology that can handle the objections that are presented, start.

One point I did stress is that I read books that disagree with me. They wanted to avoid saying that they did this and just pay some lip service to the idea. This is a great weakness of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They are very selective in what they’re allowed to read. Don’t be like that. Read what you can. That’s just good humility.

Jehovah’s Witnesses and others should be a lesson to us all. We need to prepare. Imagine how the church would be if we were as true to the true Gospel as Jehovah’s Witnesses are to a false one.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 11/7/2015: Slow To Judge

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

Wisdom. It’s a word many of us would love to use but we find it hard to come by. In fact, many of us are like Adam and Eve in the garden and want to get the fruit to make us wise, but we want to on our terms and to do it immediately. We don’t want to work for wisdom. Have we really learned the value of wisdom and how to live a wise life? Is there a way to help us on the path of wisdom and see how we can go about it? Fortunately, that there is, and that guide comes from Dr. David Capes with his book Slow To Judge. Even more fortunate, he’s going to be passing on the wisdom by being my guest on the show this Saturday.

So who is he?

capes,david

According to his bio:

David B. Capes is the Thomas Nelson Research Professor in the School of Theology at Houston Baptist University.

Before coming to academic life, David served churches in various roles in Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas. He graduated from Mercer University (BA 1978) and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv 1982; PhD 1990). He has done additional work at Baylor University and was twice named a Visiting Fellow at the University of Edinburgh (2000 and 2009). He has authored, co-authored, and edited a dozen books and numerous articles on early Christianity, culture, and Scripture.

For over 20 years he has been active in interfaith dialogue with Jews and Muslims around the world. In 1996 he began a radio show in Houston which addresses current events and cultural questions through the lens of faith. “A Show of Faith” airs weekly on 1070 KNTH.

In 2004 David became the lead scholar on The Voice, a dynamic translation of the Bible into English. He has served as one of the main writers, reviewers, and editors on the project. As an award-winning teacher and popular speaker, he has been delighted to team up with Ecclesia Bible Society and Thomas Nelson Publishers to help believers, young and old, step into the story of Scripture.

We’ll be talking then about this book and how he has lived it out, especially since he has been one of the main speakers on a radio show in Houston where he has had to spend time with other beliefs since he did it with a rabbi and a Catholic priest. (We have not yet received word as to if they ever walked into a bar after a show.) Capes hasn’t just written about wisdom but he has had to live it out and when he’s asked about the book, we can be sure that we’ll get to see how we can find that wisdom that we need and apply it to our own lives.

I hope you’ll be listening then to the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast as we seek to discuss a book that is not so much about getting apologetics answer but rather how one should do apologetics. How ought one to interact with those who don’t believe and how should one approach difficult questions and situations? Tune in and we’ll talk about it!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Slow To Judge

What do I think about David Capes’s book published by Thomas Nelson? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Slow To Judge is not your typical book on Christian apologetics. If you’re wanting to get an answer on a question like if Jesus rose from the dead or dealing with the problem of evil, this is not the book for you. If you’re wanting a book on how to approach the debates on those kinds of topics, then this is the book for you. This is a book more akin to Greg Koukl’s Tactics. Capes throughout the book is encouraging you to not be too quick to judge. At the same time, he doesn’t want you to back down for a moment on your convictions, but make sure you’re doing something to promote honest debate.

You might be wondering why someone who is a New Testament scholar would be qualified to write a work like this. Capes has an advantage that he has been a regular host of a radio show where he appeared alongside a Jew and a priest to discuss various issues and take phone calls. (We have received no word if they ever went to a bar after the show.) Because of this, Capes learned how to have interfaith dialogues. He disagrees strongly with his co-hosts, but he also considers them good friends. As much as people know me to be firm in my debates with unbelievers many times, I much more prefer the ones I can have an honest discussion with rather than the ones that come with a strong chip on their shoulder.

And throughout the book, Capes takes a look at a number of ways real discussion is being hampered today. One such way is by the use of terms that end in phobia, something I’ve been surprised to see even Peter Boghossian agrees with. Too often in our culture, someone can be labeled a name like a homophobe or accused of homophobia and the person is immediately on the defensive for anything they have to say. It’s a good rhetorical play to make, but it’s not one that really adds any substance and most of us on the other side immediately realize what kind of mindset we’re dealing with.

Also, when it comes to judging too quickly, there’s one group that often gets left out that is judged too quickly and I speak as a member of that group, the disabled. My wife and I both have Aspergers and it’s amazing how because you don’t immediately understand and follow social protocol that people will often assume the worst of you. I can actually very well understand the world of someone like Sheldon Cooper even if I do find it humorous at times. There are many times I have to send an email to the people I know who are neurotypicals about a situation and ask if I am missing something. Too often when people see me, they can think that I’m rude or something of that sort when it really isn’t my intention to be.

The discussion on tolerance is also extremely helpful. Tolerance has been used as a weapon by those who claim to hold to it the most. For all the time they have spent preaching this Gospel of tolerance, you think they’d be willing to practice it. In fact, I have often said that the best way to spot an intolerant person is to find someone who is a champion of tolerance and then disagree with them on one of their chief virtues.

I also think the discussion on recognizing differences in other religions is quite helpful, although some in the Christian community will be shocked to learn that the early church didn’t really have a problem adopting certain literary and artistic forms from the pagans around them. Indeed, why should everything be invented wholesale? Too often the idea is the Christians could have nothing to gain from the pagans who were around them or else the Christians had everything to gain. The simple reality is that the Christians wrote their New Testament in the Greek language and last I checked, that wasn’t some heavenly language.

The book ends with a look at two figures. Fethullah Gulen is the first and C.S. Lewis is the second. Most of us have heard of the second, but I’d never heard of the former, which is a shame. He’s apparently a Muslim leader who is quite moderate and very condemning of acts of terrorism and sees Islam in more spiritual terms. Would I disagree with some stances on this? Yep. I would. I have my own opinions of Islam, but I do wish this guy was more well-known and more Muslims were listening to him. C.S. Lewis meanwhile definitely knew about the pagan world around him and interacted with it and is a model we can all learn from.

Again, I do not agree with everything in Capes book, but he’s absolutely right on the importance of wisdom. Ultimately, that’s what the book is all about. Wisdom. There are too many people with a lot of knowledge, but they don’t have any wisdom and do great harm to the body of Christ because of that. There are two extremes I think can be made. If you only have a hammer, everything will look like a nail. If you only have a hug, everything will look like a kitten. We need wisdom to know which is which. Reading this book is a good start for the quest for wisdom.

In Christ,
Nick Peters