Tips For Apologetics

If you want to learn apologetics, what are some tips you should follow? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, a friend messaged me wanting my tips on apologetics. There’s a whole big world out there of things to learn. It looks so big and you look so small. How can you go out there and grasp it all? What are you to do if you want to be good in the world of apologetics? I gave my reply and I’d like to expound on it here.

First off, choose the area that interests you. At most, I recommend specializing in two areas. There are many that these could be. You might choose another religion or New Testament or Philosophy or social issues or dealing with cults. Any of these can work, but choose the areas that you are most interested in. Let those be focus areas for you. If you try to take on too much, you will find yourself being a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. Okay. So what happens when those areas come up? What happens if you’re a New Testament guy and a question comes up on evolution?

Simple. You defer to a friend and say they can answer the question. That’s the benefit of having other friends in the field. You all can rely on each other. If you’re at a place where you can’t go to a friend, you can say that it’s not your area so your opinion isn’t authoritative, but if you had to say something you’d say whatever it is you say. This kind of thing shouldn’t happen too often. If you’re invited to speak somewhere on the topic of the New Testament, you really shouldn’t be in the Q&A given a question on if you think homosexuals should be allowed to marry each other or not.

Second, once you have your area, read, and read the best that you can. Look for the scholars in the field. Look for books published by academic presses and try to read those. Try to read the best scholars on both sides of the issue so that you can know the side of the opposition just as well as you know your own. Also, when you’re not reading, try listening to podcasts. Naturally, I happen to favor my own, the Deeper Waters Podcast, but also consider shows like Unbelievable? or go to ITunes U and listen to a Seminary course. You can also go and get something at your library like Portable Professor or Modern Scholar. These are courses on CD that you can listen to and do so while doing something else, like driving.

Third, find a good mentor. This is someone you can look up to who will guide you on your journey and is willing to invest in you. You can have several mentors, but I really recommend having one that is your main mentor. Let this be a person who will hold you accountable.

Fourth, don’t neglect your personal life. Apologetics is not all just intellectual. Be a person of prayer and Bible study. If you’re married or a parent, be sure to not neglect your marriage or your children. Be a part of the local body of believers and seek to do what you can to help them out. If you neglect your own spiritual health and only treat yourself like an intellectual, you will crash.

Finally, don’t be afraid to fail. You will. Everyone flubs in the service of the Kingdom. It’s tempting to try to look at someone like William Lane Craig and compare yourself, but Bill Craig got where he was after decades of training. It’s not realistic for you to expect that you should be at the same level when you start. No one starts off as a professional. Everyone starts off as an amateur.

These are all tips I’d give someone starting out and wanting to learn. You’re entering into a noble affair and don’t lose sight of why you do it, for the glory of God in Christ Jesus.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Need For Rest

How important is it to just take a break? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last Sunday, my pastor gave a wonderful sermon on the need for rest in our generation where we have devices that can keep us in touch with all of the world. This is definitely so for those of us in ministry because we can be tempted to say “This is the work of God. How dare we stop in our work?” Many of us who do not see ourselves under the Jewish Law might look at the Sabbath command and think that that was something for them back then and we don’t really need it today. While I’m not advocating that we should all rest on Saturday, I am advocating that we all take a day to rest and frankly, while most will do so on Sunday, for a pastor, it will obviously have to be another day of the week.

Since I’m not a pastor leading a church I do take a break on Sundays. I don’t do debates on Facebook and I don’t do debates on blogs. That is a day for me to get away. If someone comes to me with a question, I will ask them if they can get back to me on Monday. This is time that I need to wind down. Honestly, debates and questions can wear you out after a time. My day of rest is the day that I do not have to be owing to anyone. I will often spend it with a book or listening to the latest episode of Unbelievable? Usually when I do that, I will be going through a game at the same time.

What that activity of rest tells us is that we are not in charge of the world. We are not the saviors of the world. You see, I realize that there are several several people who are doing apologetics just like I am. This is the work of God and God was doing it before I came on the scene and He’ll be doing it after I leave this scene. God is not dependent on me in anyway. Rest is a humble reminder of that. It’s a reminder that to get to serve in the Kingdom is a gift of grace in itself. Yet God is not a kind of taskmaster that expects us to work 24/7. He knows that we need to rest.

Along those lines, I want to remind you that if you’re in ministry, it’s important to not have your ministry be what you’re married to. If you are a married person, there are many people that can do the work of ministry that you do, but there is only one person who is married to your spouse. If you’re a man, no one else can be the husband of your wife. If you’re a woman, no one else can be the wife of your husband. With regard to children, if you’re a woman, no one else can be the mother to your children. If you’re a man, no one else can be the father to your children. These are responsibilities you’re directly assigned in Ephesians. If you succeed at everything else but are not the spouse or parent you need to be, then overall you have failed in ministry.

Therefore, if you are a spouse, make sure that your spouse comes before your ministry. If you are a parent, make sure your children also come before your ministry. Ministry is not an excuse to not do the things you’ve been commanded to do. In fact, it should be a greater call for you to do them. How will people take your ministry seriously if they know that you are not responsibly caring for your own family?

So Sunday is my day to take a break. I advise you to pick one and stick with it. The world can wait and your other duties will be there the next day. You need to take time for you lest you burn out. God didn’t make you to run forever. Rest.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Do Women Need Theology?

Is it wrong for a woman to study theology? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Alyssa Poblete has written a piece at The Gospel Coalition on why women need good theology. I find this piece very important and inspirational, but at the same time, I find it puzzling. Poblete starts somewhere, but I don’t really see the connection in her argument with where she starts. She starts with talking about studying theology and remarking about starting a blog for women on theology to a pastor who told her,

“Just be careful. You don’t want women becoming spiritual leaders in the home or, even worse, wanting to become pastors.”

Now notice the pastor never condemned the blog. The pastor never condemned the study of theology. If he did, Poblete makes no mention of it. What he said was he didn’t want women usurping the role of men in the home or becoming pastors.

Now I happen to be a complementarian and Poblete says she has no problem with complementarianism. In fact, she says that she loves it. I also agree with her that the feminist movement wanted equality in some areas where women should have had equality, but it has gone too far with an effort to eliminate all distinctions between the sexes. This is simply just a denial of the simple reality we see all around us that men and women are different. Yet, I want to point out that I can easily hold to the following beliefs.

Women need to study theology.

Men should lead the household.

Women should not be pastors of churches.

Now could I be wrong about those last two? Sure. I could be. The point is that there is no necessary contradiction between those and a woman studying theology. In fact, Poblete herself says that she holds to those. As she herself says.

So I do not think women should be pastors or spiritual leaders in the home, and I would be devastated if anyone used this article to argue such points.

So since we all agree on that, I cannot help but wonder what the problem is. Perhaps it should be important to state that the reason for the stance that I hold in this regard is that it is a respect issue. Biblically, if a man is meant to lead his household, if the wife usurps on the spiritual matters, that is a lack of respect to her husband, and that is a lack of respect that will burn at his soul and eat away at his notions of his masculinity. A woman can be a great help however even if she has more spiritual knowledge and she can give her viewpoint to her husband, but the respect issue is letting him have the final say.

I definitely however do want to highlight that I agree with Poblete. Women should study and her reasons are excellent. Jesus did encourage women studying and that was something revolutionary about him. He not only traveled with male disciples, but He also traveled with female disciples.

Poblete is also right that it’s for the joy of women. What greater joy can there be for a Christian woman (Or any woman for that matter.) than knowing God? For those who think doctrine and theology should be no part of our study, then what is the point of worship? How can you really worship God if you do not know who He is? Will not having a full and rich doctrine of God lead you to a greater worship and appreciation. Having a greater knowledge of God will help you when difficult times come in your life and it will help you when it comes to raising your own children as well and being the supportive wife you need to be.

Finally, I agree that it is for the glory of God. Our goal in life is to know God and we should be seeking to get started on that. God is glorified when we glory in Him and we can do that more and more if we come to know Him as He is. Men are not the only sex created to give glory to God. Women are as well. Women also give glory to God through ways other than having sex with their husbands, making babies, and raising children. A woman can be single all her life and give glory to God based on how she lives her life. All women, married or single, should be seeking to embrace the reality of God and know Him better.

So in the end, I think Poblete has made some excellent points, yet I wonder why she is upset over what the pastor said. The pastor was not at all condemning the study of theology by women. If he was, I would have had a problem with him as well. The pastor was simply giving a good complementarian viewpoint. Now again, he could be wrong in his viewpoint, but that does not mean that he is being inconsistent.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

An Open Challenge To David McAfee

Will the gauntlet be picked up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Not too long ago, upon seeing someone else talk about the book, I wrote a review of David McAfee’s Disproving Christianity. As you might expect, I found the book as sorely lacking in what it needed. The appearance I get is that David McAfee just looked up passages on Bible Gateway and read Wikipedia about them. There was no interaction with scholarly material. There was no bibliography. There was not an argument against the resurrection of Jesus at all. It pretty much boiled down to “If there are contradictions in the Bible, then Christianity is false.”

This has no basis in reality. Not even Bart Ehrman would totally buy this idea as he was a believer in Christianity for awhile even while thinking the Bible was not inerrant. There’s no reason to think the Bible is an all-or-nothing game, as if because we show that because the Bible supposedly contradicts on if man has seen God or not, that that means that Pontius Pilate never existed since the Bible records his existence. This is the way a fundamentalist thinks and this is why I say that McAfee is a fundamentalist as well. He applies the exact same standard the fundamentalist Christians he condemns does and does not engage with scholarship.

He has also written a book called The Belief Book which I plan on reviewing soon. It is designed for children. Remember Christian friends. It’s wrong for you to teach your own children to be Christians, but it’s perfectly okay for atheists to write books teaching atheism to children. Those who are telling you that you can’t teach your own children something are doing so because they have something else in mind that they want to teach your children. Yet in this book, others have told me that he really questions the existence of Jesus even, just as he does in Disproving Christianity. This would be enough to cue the laugh track anywhere else.

Yet it looks like McAfee has supplied himself with a bunch of yes men. These are not scholars, but simply his fan base who aren’t any more educated than he is. In my interactions, I have seen the same disdain for scholarship and the abundance of presuppositional atheism. Not a shock that the idea that Jesus never even existed is right at home there. For some reason, McAfee is treated as if he is an authority of some kind.

So right now, I am really making a public challenge. I have done so on his Facebook page, but I will do so right here. If David McAfee is sure he’s right, he’s free to face me on a debate on the resurrection of Jesus.

Why should he engage me? Well he already has to an extent.

mcafee responds

You see, this is part of the modus operandi of David McAfee. He will often put up a response without showing the other side as if what was said was automatically brilliant. Unfortunately, he didn’t bother to respond to my reply. McAfee says my response to the claim of 41,000 denominations was to simply ask “What’s a denomination?” This is not so. I in fact told what a denomination was. A denomination was a self-governing entity. McAfee posted up his response and while he linked to what I said earlier, but we know most people will never click the link. One thing McAfee might want to keep in mind is that if someone answers your response, it doesn’t bode well to put up your response and never return and answer them again, which of course, he never did.

I could also point out that I do happen to already have some scholarly endorsements. I am not saying all are scholars, but a number of them are. As readers of this blog know, I happen to have my own ministry and my own podcast and on my podcast, I have also interacted with the work of scholars. There are also several Ebooks of mine that are available. I have also appeared on shows like Atheist Analysis and had a debate with Ken Humphreys who runs the web site of Jesus Never Existed and one with Matthew Ferguson of Adversus Apologetica which you can download here on if Jesus rose from the dead and one on Unbelievable? where I answered the question of where was God in Haiti after the great 2010 earthquake. This in addition to being a speaker as well, such as at the New Orleans Defend The Faith 2015 Conference.

So if McAfee wants to think he has triumphed in a snippet over me, then he is welcome to come and face me in a debate. He might have an easy time surrounded by all his fans who will not give him a challenge to what he believes, but let’s see if he will be willing to face someone who does disagree with him.

The gauntlet has been cast down.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 3/14/2015: Jerry Walls

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

Awhile back, I reviewed the book Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory. As it stands, I interviewed Dr. Walls on this book last Monday. That interview will be being worked on and will come out hopefully on Saturday. We spent about forty minutes on Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory each. If you don’t know who Dr. Walls is, let me tell you some about him.

Jerry Walls

Jerry L. Walls is Scholar in Residence and Professor of Philosophy at Houston Baptist University. He has authored or edited over a dozen books and over eighty articles and reviews. Among his books are: Hell: The Logic of Damnation (University of Notre Dame Press, 1992); Heaven: The Logic of Eternal Joy (Oxford University Press, 2002); Purgatory: The Logic of Total Transformation (Oxford University Press, 2012); and The Oxford Handbook of Eschatology, ed. (Oxford University Press, 2008). His co-authored book with David Baggett, Good God: The Theistic Foundations of Morality (Oxford University Press, 2011) was named the best book in apologetics and evangelism by Christianity Today in their annual book awards in 2012. He is also a big sports fan, and has done two books about basketball: Basketball and Philosophy: Thinking outside the Paint (coedited with Greg Bassham, University of Kentucky Press, 2007); and Wisdom from the Hardwood: Defining a Success Worth Shooting For(Gray Matter Books, 2012).

I should also point out that I found out that Dr. Walls and his son (Who has written an excellent book on the Legend of Zelda) are big tea drinkers and so that definitely shows that they’re on the path of righteousness.

We started with talk about Heaven and the question we had to ask was if Heaven was boring. That was where we started. Why is it that we do not celebrate the idea of Heaven? Why is it that there is just not a lot of appeal to the topic? We talked about how our view of God affects our view of Heaven and how our view of this current world does that as well. It really does make a difference if you have a false view of creation. If all you have is a sort of pie-in-the-sky by and by mindset where you will just fly away, you will not take this world seriously nor the idea that God is really going to redeem this world.

What about Hell? We did ask the hard questions. If God knows what it will take to make me believe, why does He not just do that? What about the question of those who have never heard? Why not go with the idea that God annihilates us in the end instead? How can it possibly be that anyone will be in Heaven if they know that there will be loved ones suffering forever in Hell? These are all hard questions, but Dr. Walls was willing to take them on.

Finally, we got to Purgatory. This was an interesting one. Dr. Walls is not a Catholic, but yet thinks we should try to reclaim this doctrine. We talked about the idea of post-mortem evangelism and we also talked about the importance of sanctification. How does this tie in with the Great Commission? If there is a chance that God will reach people without our activity and even after death, does that change our motivation?

You might not agree with all Dr. Walls says, but you can be sure it will leave you thinking. This was an astounding interview and I hope you’ll listen for it when it comes out.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Gospel of the Lord

What do I think about Michael Bird’s book The Gospel of the Lord published by Eerdmans’s?


Michael Bird is really just a treat to read. Whenever I read him, I wish more scholars could write like him. Sometimes, we seem to have this idea that scholarly writing should be dry and serious. Yet, I can’t help but think that Chesterton said years ago that funny and serious are not opposites. The opposite of funny is just not funny. I say this because Bird is definitely a serious writer who knows his stuff well having an extensive bibliography in the material he produces, and yet as you are reading focusing on the subject, he will wow you with some funny joke or illustration to make his point.

As an example of this, Bird says that some think Jesus did not preach a Gospel. Instead, this was something added in by the later church and is an anachronism. Bird realizes that this is a prominent position and says of it

“Yes I think that such a scholarly view, dominant and durable as it has been, is about as sure-footed as a mountain goat on a very steep iceberg.”

Yes. Seeing classic lines like that throughout the book give it an excellent approach as you can see that Bird is serious in his stuff and he enjoys it as well. It would be wonderful if many other NT scholars followed the same line. Many of us can see Jesus used humor in his teaching. Why not do the same in our writing?

But let’s get to the book focus itself. If you want to come here and find out what the Gospel of the Lord is and what an impact it will have on your life and what it means to be a Christian, you won’t find much of that here. What is being written about is the idea of the Gospel and how it came to be. What was meant by Gospel? What about the oral tradition? Why was it recorded the way that it was recorded? What about questions like the synoptic problem or the reliability of the Gospel of John? How much of this really traces back to Jesus and how much of it is just material the early church added in?

Bird does rightly state that the Gospels are giving the story of Jesus becoming Lord. This is classic N.T. Wright as well. God is becoming king in Jesus and restoring His Kingdom. Jesus is the agent that God is acting through and acting through in a much more unique way than any past prophet since Jesus is more than a prophet, but God Himself visiting His people. This is the message that rocked the world and it wasn’t some “I met Jesus and He makes me happy and gives me fulfillment and He’ll do the same for you.” Paul’s would have been “I’ve seen Jesus and He’s the risen King of this universe and you’d better get in line because Caesar is no longer in charge.” Paul did not use those exact words, but that is certainly the sentiment there when he proclaims that Jesus is Lord.

We also discuss the question of why the biographical information of Jesus is there. It seems odd that if the early church wasn’t interested in the historical Jesus, that they would put so much into this historical figure. Why not just go with a sayings Gospel that would be revealed much like the Gnostics got their revelations? We could also ask why the early church would invent a Jesus who said nothing about what they were struggling with at the time. The Jesus of the Gospels says nothing about if we should eat meat offered to idols or how church services are to be conducted or how much of the law a Gentile must follow, particularly with regard to circumcision.

Why also would the issues of Jesus be a pre-Easter narrative? Wouldn’t it be better to have the authoritative teachings on the lips of a post-resurrected Jesus? This is something interesting about the Gospel accounts of the resurrection. They’re so lacking in theology. Now you might say God raises Jesus from the dead in them, true enough, but you don’t see any statement really about ramifications. You don’t see any talk about salvation by grace through faith being explained. Jesus does not say “Because I have been raised, it means that God is doing X, Y, Z.” We go to the epistles for that.

Bird also talks about the oral tradition and how it would have been shaped by eyewitnesses. This did not rise up in a vacuum. These people were not just passing around sayings and claiming they came from revelation. They were claiming in the face of those who would have known better, that Jesus really did live at such and such a time and did say such and such a thing. Now this is going to seem foreign to many on the Internet who happen to think the idea that Jesus never even existed is all the rage among scholars. (It isn’t. It’s more like talking about people who believe the Earth is flat.) Yet this is the material that we are dealing with. Richard Bauckham has also done a magnificent job on this in Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Of course, this is going to be presented to a crowd that will first say “The Gospels were written late and were not contemporary” and then when you show that say “Eyewitness testimony is unreliable.” You have to keep moving that goalpost!


Also definitely worth highlighting is this statement by Bird that I think should be written in gold and passed on to everyone on the Internet and elsewhere who debates about Christianity any.

“There are two approaches to the Gospels that I ardently deride. First, some über-secularists want to read the Bible as nothing more than a deposit of silly ancient magic, mischievous myths, wacky rituals, and surreal superstitions. They engage in endless comparisons of the Bible with other mythic religions to flatten out the distinctive elements of the story. Added to that is advocacy of countless conspiracy theories to explain away any historical elements in the text. This approach is coupled with an inherent distaste for anything supernatural, pre-modern, and reeking of religion. Such skeptics become positively evangelical in their zealous fervor to prove that nothing in the Bible actually happened. Second, then there are those equally ardent Bible-believers who want to treat the Bible as if it fell down from heaven in 1611, written in ye aulde English, bound in pristine leather, with words of Jesus in red, Scofield’s notes, and charts of the end times. Such persons regard exploring topics like problems in Johannine chronology just as religiously affronting as worshiping a life-size golden statue of Barack Obama. Now I have to say that both approaches bore the proverbial pants off me. They are equally as dogmatic as they are dull. They are as uninformed as they are unimaginative. There is another way”

If only this could be written in gold and plastered on the mirror of every debater anywhere of the historical Jesus. How much better off we would be! I have so often met the former who would think that if you have to admit to a historical Jesus, you might as well go on and commit ritual suicide. I like to tell such people that many atheists admit the existence of a historical Jesus and go on to lead happy and meaningful lives. On the other hand, there are people who put a doctrine like Inerrancy on a pedestal. (We surely don’t know anyone like that around here) Some followers of this school of thought are so convinced that if you show one contradiction in the Bible, the whole thing is false. Unfortunately, this has led many skeptics to think the exact same thing, hence there are some books where the authors actually think they disprove Christianity just by showing Bible contradictions.

Bird treats this study of the historical Jesus so seriously that he goes on to say

“Second, we need to get our hands and feet dirty in the mud and muck of history. Jesus is not an ahistorical religious icon who can be deciphered entirely apart from any historical situation. On the contrary, he could not have been born as Savior of the world somewhere in the Amazon rainforest or in the Gobi Desert. He came to Israel and through Israel, to make good God’s promises to save the world through a renewed Israel. So, whether we like it or not, we are obligated to study Jesus in his historical context. I would go so far to say that this is even a necessary task of discipleship. For it is in the context of Israel’s Scripture and in the socio-political circumstance of Roman Palestine that Jesus is revealed as the Messiah and Son of God. So unless we are proponents of a docetic christology in which Jesus only seems human, we are committed to a study of the historical person Jesus of Nazareth in his own context. That means archaeological, social-historical, and cultural studies of the extant sources as far as they are available to us. It requires immersing ourselves in as much of the primary literature of the first century as we can get our hands on — Jewish, Greek, and Roman — so that we can walk, talk, hear, and smell the world of Jesus. It entails that we go through the Gospels unit by unit and ask what exactly Jesus intended and how his hearers would have understood him. It equally involves asking why the Evangelists have told the story as they have and why they have the peculiarities that they do. Third, we have to explore the impact that the Gospels intended to make on their implied audiences and how the four Gospels as a whole intend to shape the believing communities who read them now”

Did I read that right? Making studying the historical Jesus necessary for discipleship. Yes. Yes you did. And that includes studying him in his historical context. That means not imposing our 21st century ideas on to Jesus. It means doing real work. Again, look at the two groups Bird talked about above. The group of skeptics won’t because they say “If God wanted to reveal this to me, He would have made it clearer to me” as if God is just looking for your intellectual agreement to what He has to say. The second will say “If it’s the Word of God, it will be understandable by the Holy Spirit.” Both groups are just lazy. The first refuses to do any work and prefers their arrogant atheistic presuppositionalism. The second group is just as arrogant and thinks it’s God’s job to make the text clear to them.

Bird also talks about delivering such information on university campuses. While students expect to hear Jesus is a bunch of nonsense, Bird points out that much of their information comes from The Simpsons more than real historical study. This is becoming increasingly a problem when those who argue the most on this topic can quite often do the least reading. If they do any reading at all, they are only reading what agrees with them. That is assuming that they will even read a book. Too many of them will just read what they find on the Internet and treat that as Gospel.

Bird writes throughout the book on oral tradition and the forming of the Gospels and yes, the genre of the Gospels, something I’ve had some strong reason to write on due to certain people having a strong position that the Gospels cannot be Greco-Roman biographies. Bird does place them firmly within this category. However, the information in the Gospels is entirely from a Jewish viewpoint. These works are saturated in the Old Testament and in fact assume a thorough background with the Old Testament and with the area of Israel often times as well. This would show that the early church was also already treating the Old Testament quite seriously.

While I could go on, I think enough has been said at this point. Those wishing I had said more I hope will realize that I leave that to you in getting this book and learning the magnificent information in it. Bird is a wonderful writer with excellent humor and I look forward to reading more by him.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

We’re Not All Happy. They’re Not All Miserable.

Are we putting too many false images on Christianity? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There is a meme that I have seen and it looks like it first showed up on the Freedom From Atheism Foundation page, which tells me I have no need to take them seriously until this is changed. This meme there developed great controversy and I am not going to show it because I find it exactly that horrid. The meme is to illustrate the difference between Christians and atheist. On the left is a picture of a father and mother happy with their children playing together. It’s a beautiful picture and meant to show what Christians are like. On the other side, meant to show an atheist, is a punk goth kid in a Nightwish T-shirt about to cut his wrist. Am I going to put a picture up of it? No. I don’t want to see it and I don’t want to do it justice.

I tend to be a guy with a very long fuse.

This set me off immediately when I saw it.

You see, it’s true no doubt that there are many Christian families that are very happy. That’s wonderful. It’s true that there are many atheists that could say they are miserable. That’s true and that’s not wonderful. Of course, I want them out of atheism, but I don’t want to see someone miserable just because they’re an atheist, though I would hope God will use that misery in their life to show them Christ. Yet we all know in reality that this is not the way the world really works. There are also Christians that struggle with depression regularly. There are atheists that are having the time of their lives and are quite happy.

We do not want to send a promise that Jesus never gave. Now I think in reality, we should all be much happier if we’re Christians. We should realize the joy of Christianity, and if we don’t, we might have to strengthen our understanding of what we believe, but I also know there are times of sorrow. There are chemical imbalances some people have that leave them depressed. There are times that are temporary but we have to deal with. Paul said when it comes to death, for instance, that we grieve, but we do not grieve like those who have no hope. Being a Christian does not mean that you have to be happy all the time. In the same way, while I do think atheism is a hopeless and miserable worldview, I do not think that means an atheist will be miserable all the time. There are plenty of good and wonderful things to be happy about on this Earth.

Also, I have a great concern of what an image like this does to Christians who do struggle. There are Christians who wrestle with cutting and depression. What happens when they see something like this? Well you’ve just added guilt to the grief over whatever it is that they’re already struggling with. In fact, this is one reason we should support the ministry of counseling. It’s good that we have these people and I have in fact taken use of a counselor in the past myself. We all could use people to help us with these issues.

In the end, wherever I see this meme, I do intend to go against it. I think it makes a false reality that will drive more people away than bring to Christ and it will hurt many that do belong to Christ.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Embarrassment of Christian Media

Why is it that we are not making the most of media? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My church meets at a movie theater. Yesterday, my wife and I arrive to help set up in the auditorium. As we’re going back and forth, I see behind the counter a promotion for an upcoming movie called Four Blood Moons. I’m looking at this as one who has written on it before and I’m thinking “Please, please, say it isn’t what I think it is.” Unfortunately, if you’ve clicked the first link, you already know that this is not a joke.

As you can see by the description given by the producer of the film.

It is rare that science, history and scripture align with each other, yet the last three series of Four Blood Moons have done exactly that. Are these the “signs” that God refers to in the Bible? If they are, what do they mean? What is their significance for us today? In his riveting and highly acclaimed book, Pastor John Hagee explores the supernatural connection of certain celestial events to biblical prophecy-and to the future of God’s chosen people and to the nations of the world. In the movie “Four Blood Moons,” produced by Rick Eldridge and directed by the Academy Award Winner, Kieth Merrill; these veteran filmmakers illustrate this fascinating phenomenon in a very compelling docu-drama. Cinematic recreations of historical events from the United States, Israel and throughout the Middle East; along with expert testimonials from scientists, historians and religious scholars, are used to illustrate this story told in narrative format by a celebrity host. Just as in biblical times, perhaps God is controlling the sun, the moon, and the stars to send our generation a signal that something big is about to happen. The question is: Are we watching and listening for His message?

It is hard to say if I’m more angry or sad about this coming out.

To begin with, I happened to like D’Souza’s What’s So Great About Christianity?, but if this is the way that he’s going to be going now, then I have to ask D’Souza to please step down from doing this sort of thing. This is an embarrassment. Anyone can do some basic research and see that the blood moon phenomena just doesn’t apply. It is the kind of thing that skeptics of the Christian faith will just mock and sadly. Worse, I think nothing will really happen that is major, though it is the Middle East so anything could be construed as a fulfillment. When that happens, atheists will be able to point to something in recent history and use that to not only not take the movie seriously, but not take Christianity seriously.

I have also been disturbed to see that both Hugh Ross and Dennis Prager are in this. I fear I am hoping against hope that their only role in the movie will be showing up and saying “No.” Unfortunately, there is a strong part of me that is quite sure that they’re not being invited on to give a negative critique of the idea.

In fact, let’s consider what’s going through the minds of people behind this film at the time. “Let’s see. Easter is coming. What kind of film should we make? We could make a film that will go public where we’ll discuss the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, the reason why we observe Easter. We would discuss with Gary Habermas, N.T. Wright, Mike Licona, William Lane Craig, and others. If Christians went to see it, they would learn about the reality of the resurrection of Jesus. If non-Christians went to see it, they would have a case made that they might never see otherwise. We could do that, or we could go with blood moons. Let’s do blood moons!”

In a recent book review, I wrote about how we Christians keep blundering in media. We make movies that only appeal to Christians. How are we going to reach the world if we stay in the circle of our own interests and make films that only those like us will want to see? Of course, there’s a place for encouraging each other, but we hardly see films pushing a Christian message, unless that message is made cheesy and explicit. Fellow Christians. Please realize this. The world makes movies that espouse a view of the world that is not in your face and that view of the world is in fact having an impact on people. Dare I say it but maybe we could learn something from our opponents? Maybe we could learn that our audiences are not supposed to be so dumb that they have to have everything spelled out for them? Why do you think a series like the Chronicles of Narnia is so enthralling? What about Lord of the Rings? The Gospel is NEVER spelled out in these and you’ll find fans of those series all across the religious spectrum.

It is my sincere hope that Four Blood Moons will be entirely neglected and that the studio will lose out on this project. If this is the way that D’Souza is going to go with jumping on bandwagons in this way, then it would do him well to just get out now. When people come and hold to theories like this, it makes me really wonder if I can take their viewpoint seriously on other matters. If that is what I can think as a Christian, what will those outside Christianity think? They already think our view is crazy enough as it is. Is there any need we have to add to that?

How about we spend this Easter focused on the resurrection and not blood moons?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Simplistic Answers

Are we just not thinking enough about deep issues? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

One great hazard of doing apologetics today is our culture has been trained to think in soundbites. We often hope we can have that one great line of wisdom that we see in the movies that will just leave us spellbound. Unfortunately, real life is rarely like that. Usually if you are struggling through a hard time, there is no one thing anyone can say that will suddenly make you see the light. It is often a long process of healing and thinking and in the case of Christians, prayer and Bible study. Those who wants simple answers are often just going to turn out to be simplistic thinkers.

One great culprit today of this is the meme. Now don’t get me wrong here. I love memes. Memes are hilarious if you want to just make a joke. Memes can be effective also if you have made an argument and are wanting to make a visual impact with how wrong the other side is with what you’ve already demonstrated. In that regard, I have no problem with memes. Too often however, memes are seen as the start of the argument. Memes are sound bite arguments and they come loaded with beliefs that are supposedly already seen as correct and before you can deal with what the meme itself says, you have to deal with all the back issues and that can be extremely taxing and time-consuming.

That’s a problem for a culture with a short attention span that now just posts tl;dr. (If you’re not up on internet slang, it simply means “Too long. Didn’t read.”)

Religion is a difficult topic and unfortunately people think the answers should be simple. Why does God allow evil? How do you know that He exists? What about the relationship between science and religion? What does the Bible say about slavery or homosexuality or any other topic? Why should I believe that Jesus rose from the dead? Any religious system will have the hard questions that comes its way and when a religion has a strong intellectual culture to it, as Christianity does, those answers are not going to be simplistic. If you think you’re going to topple Christianity or any other worldview by just using a meme, you are a simplistic anti-intellectual.

The sadness is that many people who take this kind of approach consider themselves intellectual. From the atheist side, I call this atheistic presuppositionalism. Too many internet atheists have the idea that if you’re an atheist, you are rational. No need to read the other side because, hey, those are indoctrinated fundies there. You can just easily spread all the information you find through those great sources of knowledge, Google and Wikipedia. When you set the standards for what the other side must do, they are impossible to meet, such as people that demand that God do a miracle for them or say “Well if it was true, everyone would believe it.” (As if God just wants your intellectual assent.)

And let’s be fair. We Christians aren’t much better. If you want to topple an idea like evolution, you might have to do something like, I don’t know, study evolution? (Yeah. I know that’s really far out there to suggest doing that, but hey, I think it could work.) How can you call yourself someone who is able to critique evolution if you are never willing to go out and actually read what the evolutionists themselves write? I in fact think that if you want to argue against a viewpoint, you need to know the best arguments that exist against that viewpoint well enough that you could argue it yourself.

In our day and age, this simplistic thinking is going on and what we need to do is move past it more and more. There will always be people on both sides who only hear what their itching ears want to hear. It’s one reason in debates I’ve been asking “When was the last time you read a work of scholarship that disagreed with you.” If someone doesn’t answer the question, I find it incredibly revealing.

While we cannot change what happens on the other side, we who are Christians can do better. It’s why we need to start serious discipleship in our churches with learning how to work through and think through issues. I consider it wrong when a non-Christian engages in simplistic thinking, but it is a direct contradiction of the commands of Christ to us when we who are Christians do the same thing. No, we’re not all going to be great intellectuals. But still, what we do have, we are commanded to love Christ with it. We are commanded to think about the things of Christ. This is not optional.

If we are complaining about those outside the fold, let’s make sure our own house is in order.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 3/7/2015: John Walton

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

Back in 2013, we were blessed to have John Walton come on the show and talk about The Lost World of Genesis One. Now John Walton has brought us another excellent book, The Lost World of Adam and Eve. As soon as I saw this was coming, I knew I wanted Walton back on the show again and indeed, he was happy to come back again to what I believe could be the first podcast interview on the book that will be done.

So who is John Walton?


According to his bio:

John’s research and his energized presentations are rooted in his passion for drawing people into a better understanding of God’s self-revelation in Scripture. John (PhD, Hebrew Union College) is a professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College and Graduate School. He focuses his research on the literature and cultures of the ancient Near East and the Old Testament, with a particular interest in Genesis. Before his role at Wheaton, John taught for 20 years at Moody Bible Institute.

John has authored many articles and books, including The Lost World of Adam and Eve, The Lost World of Genesis One, Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, and Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament. John also served as general editor of the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Old Testament and co-author of the IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament.

John’s ministry experience includes church classes for all age groups, high school Bible studies, and adult Sunday school classes, as well as serving as a teacher for “The Bible in 90 Days.

I have found John Walton’s viewpoint on the Old Testament to be incredibly eye-opening. Prior to reading the book, I had done my own research project on science and Christianity and came to the conclusion that the best arguments I could find are metaphysical arguments and it does not help to marry our apologetics to science. If some want to do scientific apologetics, that’s fine, but it’s really not something that I prefer to use. Also, N.T. Wright had been a scholar definitely helping with my understanding of the New Testament. For years, I had been working to learn how Jews at the time would understand Jesus and thought “How would Jews at the time of Moses understand Genesis?” John Walton provided the answers.

That’s why I’m thrilled to have him come back on the show again. We’re going to be talking about his views on Adam and Eve and asking the hard questions. We will be asking what role scientific data does play and how much impact should it have on our reading? We will be asking him what the impact is of other human beings besides Adam and Eve being around. Doesn’t that go against what Jesus said in the Gospels? We will be asking about the serpent in the Garden and what was the impact of the event called the fall on humanity?

So be watching your podcast feed! You won’t want to miss this one!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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