Andrew Perry on 1 Cor. 8:6 Part 4

Is Jesus YHWH? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

What dose it mean to say Jesus is included in the divine identity?

If we consider relative identity (‘a is the same F as b’),45 it doesn’t seem that this framework will give us
an understanding for inclusive identity. Logically, two are one (the same) relative to their satisfying a
categorical predicate (‘the same F’; Fido and Pooch are the same breed’). Does Paul think that Jesus is the
same God as Yahweh? One doubt would be that he distinguishes them in terms of ‘God the Father and
the Lord Jesus Christ’. However, putting this doubt aside, if Paul believed that they were the same God,
this doesn’t necessarily imply that he is ‘including’ Jesus in the divine identity of Yahweh/God of Israel

Yet Perry never seems to define what is meant by this. Do we mean they are the same God? If you mean they are the same person, then no. I am not surprised that Jesus is differentiated from the Father. If anything, this convinces me. They needed two different ways to speak of them to avoid confusion.

The language of the divine nature deals with this. There are two persons at least that share the divine nature. Again, what that is needs to be fleshed out for us, but for the ancient audience in a high-context society familiar with Jewish thought, that would have been much better understood.

If we think of shared identity or group identity, these are examples of ‘inclusive’ identity. We might say
‘a is a member of the same class as b’. There are many gods and many lords and these would be classes in
which we might place the God of Israel and the Lord Jesus Christ. Putting it in this way, doesn’t
obviously include Jesus in the class of many gods, but rather the class of many lords. In fact, 1 Cor 8:6
doesn’t lend itself to an inclusivity thesis, since Paul would seem to affirm that the “tous” class of gods
has only one member and likewise the “tous” class of lords. He assigns deity to the Father and lordship
to Jesus

IF Perry goes with this, then he would have to deny that the Father is Lord since the Father is not in the class of Lords but Jesus is. If Jesus not being in the category of gods means He cannot have the divine nature, then the Father not being included in the category of lords means He cannot have the nature of Lord. Is there any Jew that would remotely think that possible?

It is one thing to claim that Paul includes Jesus within the divine identity of the God of Israel; it is another
thing to show this worked out in his writing. We have noted the declarative quality of Christological
Monotheism. For example, we might ask whether (for Paul) it was God the Father that included Jesus
within his identity. If this were the case, and suppose that he did so through the bestowal of his Spirit
upon Jesus, does this have any implication as regards intrinsic deity in respect of Jesus? If Jesus is
included within the divine identity of the God of Israel, is the identity nevertheless still retained by the
God of Israel as his identity in such an inclusion?

Perry is responding more to adoptionism in this case than to Trinitarianism. First off, there is nothing that says Paul has to work this all out in his writing. In his society, his listeners would be expected to work that out and know the background knowledge to do that. Perry wants an ancient writing to read like a modern one.

Next time, we will look at some verses that seem to identify Jesus with YHWH in the New Testament.

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


Andrew Perry on 1 Cor. 8:6 Part 3

What about the Shema? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Perry begins this section with this:

J. W. Adey comments, “The ‘one God’ of Biblical revelation is a single ‘person’ God, the Father only,
unambiguously unitarian or monotheistic…” The Shema would seem to be a clear expression of that
monotheism. The singleness of God is not about his (compound) unity, but about there being a sole

We all agree that the Shema refers to one God, but thus far, that does not equal one person in the one God. I have long said that the biggest mistake Arians make is the assumption of unipersonalism. Every Trinitarian agrees that there is one God.

Christological Monotheism holds that Jesus is included within the divine identity of the God of Israel. As
a second move it affirms a continual adherence on the part of Paul to Jewish Monotheism. The two
propositions introduce a confusion into the definition of monotheism between what is one and unity.
Jewish (as well as scriptural) Monotheism is not about unity but about there being a single God. The
compound unity of the Father and the Son is not informative for Paul’s use of the Shema

Perry can say all he wants that this introduces a confusion, but what is meant? If he means hard to understand, that applies to most everything about God. God is omniscient and people have free-will. God is eternal and acts in time. Now if he could show something was a contradiction, that would be a problem, but thus far, he hasn’t. If his point is that there is a sole God, then he is not arguing against Christological monothiesm. We hold to that.

This observation introduces a requirement for Christological Monotheism: it needs to show that
‘inclusion within the divine identity’ is actually relevant to a characterization of ‘monotheism’. The contrary
challenge is that we can characterize Jewish Monotheism, Scriptural Monotheism and Pauline
Monotheism, referring to the singleness of God, as well as showing that Jesus is included within the
divine identity of the God of Israel but without this being a matter of monotheism and instead being a
matter of cosmology. The drive to have ‘inclusive identity’ part of a definition of monotheism seems
anachronistic and based in the needs of Christian theology rather than an accurate description of NT

Even if Perry was right about motives, so what? The data is what matters. Besides that, the assumption is that the later Fathers got a Christology in mind and then went back and plugged that into the New Testament. Maybe, just maybe, they read it out of the New Testament?

If we want to be faithful to the etymology ‘mono/theism’ (mo,noj/qeo,j), then we should include the
following Pauline ‘mono’ texts ‘only God’ (1 Tim 1:17; cf. Jude v. 25) and ‘only Sovereign…who only has
immortality’ (1 Tim 6:15-16). These texts, coupled with the distinction between the Son and the invisible
God in Colossians, gives us a consistent monotheistic pattern in Paul’s thought that doesn’t include the

Yet a Christological monotheist can say the Son is included in the divine identity and so when we speak of the only God, then that is what is going on. Does Perry do the same though when we get to Jude 4 and Jesus is our only Lord? Based on what is said here, if Perry interprets that the same way, then the Father cannot be our Lord.

We should ask whether it is possible for the Shema to be rewritten or rearranged so as to include Jesus Christ
within the divine identity of the God of Israel. The question here is whether the semantics of ‘one’ (dxa,
́eHäd) in the Shema allow this possibility. Our argument is that they do not, because ‘one’ is about
singleness and not unity whereas ‘inclusion within the divine identity’ is about unity, i.e. requires a sense
corresponding to ‘unity’ in the Shema.

Okay. Let’s see then.

A quotation of the Shema in Zech 14:9 assists this analysis.
And Yahweh shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be Yahweh one, and his name
one. Zech 14:9 (KJV revised)
Adey comments on this text, “the way
́HD qualifies Yahweh and ‘Yahweh’ in Zech 14:9, classifying but not
(it is said) identifying, connects and complies syntactically and semantically with reading
́HD as a numeral
‘one’ in the Shema.”35 And a further quotation,
Have we not all one father? Hath not one God ( ́ē
l) created us? (Mal 2:10 KJV)
Adey’s comment on this text is, “The singularity of ‘God’ is further emphasized by the grammatically
singular form ́ēl”.36 The singleness of Yahweh is also seen in the complementary statements that God is
alone God or that Yahweh is alone Yahweh (2 Kgs 19:15, 19; Neh 9:6; Ps 83:18).

And the problem is? I don’t see it. We all affirm that there is one God. What is the problem?

Where ́eHäd might be used for ‘oneness’ or ‘unity’, then there is a two that remains two, as for example in
the case of “the two shall be one flesh” (Gen 2:24). Adey observes,
“…whilst ‘one’ in the appropriate context may be transposed into a metaphoric sense as ‘unity’
(‘oneness’), dismantling ‘one’ as ‘unity’ does not end up with ‘one’ (thing). ‘Unity’ requires at least two (parts or persons) for its meaning. In Deut 6:4 the only theistic party is Yahweh. The text has
none other that is God but He, and this justifies asserting that the given four semantic units in the
Shemastatement are insufficient to provide for or even evoke the concept of (some pluraloneness
as) unity.

And again, I don’t see the problem here. Unity requires at least two. That’s what we have. At least two persons. Thus, God can be a unified one since He has three persons.

That’s all to say about the Shema for now. Let’s see what comes up next time.

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

Andrew Perry on 1 Cor. 8:6 Part 1

Is 1 Cor. 8:6 a Trinitarian text? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In light of my blog on 1 Cor. 8:6, I was challenged to go through a paper by Andrew Perry that can be found here. So I did go through and sadly, much of what I saw from someone who is no fool on the topic was still going by the same mistakes many anti-Trinitarians make. Let’s dive in and see what i saw.

Wright says that it has an “apparently extraordinary ‘high’
christology” and it is a “Christian redefinition of the Jewish confession of faith, the Shema”. This remark
shows that Wright (and it is true of others4) is conducting his analysis within the socio-historic context of
Jewish Monotheism in the Second Temple period. He (and it is true of others) is not considering the text
just within the context of inspired Scripture, i.e. what text means within the context supplied by the Spirit
alone. This narrower and different context of appraisal generates the questions: does the Spirit present
Deut 6:4 as a ‘Jewish’ confession of faith or rather a proclamation of divine revelation? Would the Spirit
‘redefine’ its own presentation in Deut 6:4?

One wonders how it is that one is supposed to know what the Spirit, which here is listed as an “it” is saying. Does Perry alone have this insight or is it just that no Trinitarian has it? Has Wright committed a major flaw in actually going to the socio-historical context to understand the text? Could it be that Paul did not write in a vacuum but that Jews actually did some thinking about the Old Testament from the ending of the Jewish canon to the time of Jesus?

And if they did, could it perhaps be beneficial to us to look at that? Yes it could be, but Perry will have none of that. This reminds me greatly of Francis Beckwith’s statement that if they can’t win with logic, they will trump with spirituality.

This also assumes that the Shema has been redefined in an evangelical understanding of 1 Cor. 8:6. It has not been. The Shema is still a statement of monotheism. Instead, Jesus is being included in that monotheistic context. Were the Shema changed into a statement of ditheism, yes, that would be a change, but that is not what is going on here.

The intertextuality of the NT with the OT is so vast and any intertextuality with
contemporary Jewish and non-Jewish literature so tiny that the method of bring extra-Biblical parallels to
bear must take second place.

Tiny? Not at all. Are we to assume that in all those Jewish writings, they didn’t really have anything much to say about the Shema, the defining statement of Jewish monotheism? On the one hand, we have it that this was supposed to be a defining doctrine of Israel. On the other hand, the references to it would be tiny.

The flow of ethical argument in this part of the Corinthians’ letter is also not essential for a discussion of
how Christological Monotheism reads 1 Cor 8:6. The situation in Corinth and the teaching about
knowledge which Paul was opposing is addressed by a statement with two main clauses: one that is
monotheistic and one that is about the Lord Jesus Christ. To say that there are two clauses, only one of
which is monotheistic, is to take the opposite position to Christological Monotheism, and it doesn’t
depend on any particular view about the situation in Corinth regarding food offered to idols. This is our
‘critical’ argument against Christological Monotheism. Hence, we are characterizing the position of this
paper as ‘monotheistic Christology’.

Yet the argument from us is that all of the clauses here are monotheistic. If they are not, then it is not the Shema. As soon as Perry presents it any other way, then he is not really engaging with the argument as is from the evangelical perspective. He can say that to interpret his position is opposite of Christological monotheism, but it seems to boil down to “This position is wrong because it disagrees with my position.” That only works if you establish your own position.

In looking at 1 Cor. 8:6, Perry says that the proposal is:

“Any Greek-speaking Jew who hears a Christian say what 1 Cor 8:6 says is
bound to hear those words as a claim that Yhwh is now somehow identified with Jesus Christ.” Such a
proposition, without evidence in Second Temple writings from Greek-speaking Jews, is of little value as it

First off, I thought that the Second Temple writings didn’t matter. Now supposedly a silence from them does matter. Which is it?

Second, what is actually supposed to be said in these writings? Are we to expect Greek Jews outside of the apostles were talking about Jesus? However, if the question is could the Jews conceive of someone being in this kind of position, the answer is yes.

If you asked the Jews how God made the world, they would tell you through Wisdom. This is seen in Proverbs 8 especially. The extra irony to this is that this is a passage ancient and modern-day Arians point to to say Jesus is a creation. However, what do Jewish writings say about Wisdom? Let’s go to the Wisdom of Solomon starting at chapter 9 verse 9.

With you is wisdom, she who knows your works
and was present when you made the world;
she understands what is pleasing in your sight
and what is right according to your commandments.
10 Send her forth from the holy heavens,
and from the throne of your glory send her,
that she may labor at my side
and that I may learn what is pleasing to you.
11 For she knows and understands all things,
and she will guide me wisely in my actions
and guard me with her glory.
12 Then my works will be acceptable,
and I shall judge your people justly
and shall be worthy of the throne of my father.
13 For who can learn the counsel of God?
Or who can discern what the Lord wills?
14 For the reasoning of mortals is worthless,
and our designs are likely to fail,
15 for a perishable body weighs down the soul,
and this earthy tent burdens the thoughtful mind.
16 We can hardly guess at what is on earth,
and what is at hand we find with labor,
but who has traced out what is in the heavens?
17 Who has learned your counsel
unless you have given wisdom
and sent your holy spirit from on high?
18 And thus the paths of those on earth were set right,
and people were taught what pleases you
and were saved by wisdom.”

No doubt, Wisdom is being referred to here. Yet let’s look at what happens in the next chapter.

Starting at verse 18:

She brought them over the Red Sea
and led them through deep waters,
19 but she drowned their enemies
and cast them up from the depth of the sea.
20 Therefore the righteous plundered the ungodly;
they sang hymns, O Lord, to your holy name
and praised with one accord your defending hand,
21 for wisdom opened the mouths of those who were mute
and made the tongues of infants speak clearly.

Beg your pardon?

Wisdom did that? Isn’t that what God did in the Old Testament? Indeed. It also doesn’t say God by His Wisdom did X. It said Wisdom did this. At the same time, there is still an idea of the Lord being praised. Go ahead and keep reading and you can ask “Is this praising Wisdom or the Lord?” Not only that, but if we look at the last verse quoted above, we can see a parallel to Exodus 4:11.

Then the Lord said to him, “Who gives speech to mortals? Who makes them mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?

All of this needs to be taken into consideration. One cannot just say “Well, the Wisdom of Solomon isn’t in the Bible” (I realize some Christians do have it in theirs, but for those who do not, that does not mean we can disregard it even if we don’t view it as Scripture.). Data is data. The Bible was not written in a vacuum.

One more point for tonight. Perry goes on to say this:

A more plausible proposal would be that a Greek-speaking Jew would see an allusion in Paul’s words to
the Shema in, for example, ‘God’, ‘us/our’ and ‘one’, but it is not obvious that Yhwh is to be identified
with Jesus Christ. Rather, the descriptive aspect of ‘our God’ and ‘one’ is picked up by ‘to us…one
God’, which therefore in turn identifies ‘the Father’ as Yhwh rather than Jesus Christ. Further, the
counting aspect of Paul’s conjoined statements, ‘one…and one’, rather militates against the interpretation
that Christ is being placed within the identity of the one God of Israel. The Shema has a single
occurrence of ‘one’ whereas 1 Cor 8:6 has two occurrences. Finally, if we accept Wright’s claim, we still
have to do the work of saying what we mean by ‘included within the identity of the one God of Israel’ –
this could be explained as simply as the indwelling of God’s Spirit rather than anything more complicated,
say, such as a recognition of an incarnation.

But if Kurios is a reference to YHWH in the Shema and it is applied to Jesus here, then yes, Jesus is being identified as the Lord in the Shema. The problem with making a divide is ultimately, you can say Jesus isn’t the one God, but then you have to say that YHWH isn’t the one Lord. If anyone is guilty of dividing the Shema and splitting it, it is the anti-Trinitarian.

Do we still have to do the work of explaining what is meant by being included in the divine identity? Yes. And? Having to do the work of explaining the concept isn’t a problem. Saying the indwelling of God’s Spirit is quite complicated. There were plenty of people in the Old and New Testaments that were said to be indwelled with the Spirit of God. Are they to be included in the Shema because of that?

We will continue with more of this next time.

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

1 Cor. 8:6 and the Trinity

Does this verse demonstrate that Jesus is included in the divine nature? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’m a member on Facebook for a group to debate the doctrine of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Sadly, many witnesses really do not know what they’re arguing against when it comes to the Trinity. Most arguments against the Trinity are arguments against modalism. Also sadly, too many Christians outside of this group that are lay Christians would probably explain the Trinity using modalistic descriptions.

One passage that can regularly come up from JWs is 1 Cor. 8:6. They seem to think it really makes the case. Let’s look at it.

yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

There you have it! There is one God, the Father! Jesus is not that one God. Jesus is Lord, but He is not God. On a surface level, one can say, “If that’s the case, then the Father is God, but He is not Lord.” That is indeed problematic enough, but let’s go further in looking at this text.

There are two parallel themes.

1A: For us, there is but one God, the Father.

1B: From whom all things came and for whom we live.

2A: And there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ,

2B: Through whom all things came and through whom we live.

There is indeed parallelism here, which is fascinating, but could there still be something more. Imagine that a Jew makes a statement that there is one God. What will other Jews immediately think of? The Shema, Israel’s great monotheistic statement.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

The terms Lord, God, and One, are all repeated here. Paul is using intertextuality to call to mind an Old Testament text. The same takes place in Romans 1. Paul uses terms like creator, and “male and female” to point to Genesis 1 as the basis for his argument for divine revelation in creation and for the wrongness of same-sex erotic practice.

What then Paul is doing is he is taking Jesus and he is slipping him into the Shema, Christianizing it and putting Jesus in the divine nature. Rather than denying the deity of Christ, Paul is emphasizing it in strong terms. Also, Jesus is presented as the means of creation, which is incredible since in Isaiah 44:24, God is said to have done creation alone.

“This is what the Lord says—
your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb:

I am the Lord,
the Maker of all things,
who stretches out the heavens,
who spreads out the earth by myself,

Some can see this as wisdom, but if you read Jewish writings like the Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom was taking on a more and more role of deity as a hypostasis of God. The formula is always the same in the New Testament be it John 1, 1 Cor. 8, Hebrews 1, or Col. 1. The Father is the source and the Son is the means.

I have presented this several times asking JWs to show where my exegesis is wrong. To date, no one has. Let’s look at some objections that are brought up.

“But Jesus is not His Father!”

Which shows the person doesn’t understand Trinitarian thinking. Saying Jesus is God is theological shorthand. It really is saying Jesus fully partakes of the divine nature. It in no way means Jesus is the Father.

“But the Shema never mentions Jesus!”

True, and irrelevant. This is progressive revelation. This assumes God had to reveal Himself as triune from the get-go or else He isn’t.

“But what about these passages that show Jesus is not God?”

And whatever passage is brought up needs to be discussed, but unless a JW wants to deny inerrancy, which I don’t think they do, then they need to explain this passage as well and show where my exegesis is wrong. If not, then you are saying this one passage teaches X and the other one teaches non-X, which is a denial of inerrancy.

The gauntlet has been cast down. I wait to see if any JWs are willing to pick it up and take the challenge. Show where the exegesis is wrong.

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


Prophets On Eternal Progression

What do Mormon Prophets say? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

By prophets, I don’t mean biblical prophets. I mean Mormon prophets. These are the people that speak authoritatively for the church and give the new revelation that is coming down.  Many people might not know that Mormons have a doctrine called eternal progression. In the words of one of their presidents, Lorenzo Snow

“As man is, God once was.
As God is, man may become.”

This isn’t like the Eastern Orthodox doctrine of theosis, which even Protestants can accept. This is saying something that would be blasphemous to the position of theosis. This is one of the great exaltations of man and one of the great lowerings of God. It means that God literally was once just an ordinary man and He progressed to Godhood and now we are His creation and one day we will progress to His level. Not only that, He is still progressing.

The source of these quotes is a book by a Mormon named Daniel Ludlow. The book is called Latter-Day Prophets Speak, which is a great source of Mormon claims. Let’s take a look at a small sample of some of these claims.

If I improve upon what the Lord has given me , and continue to improve , I shall become like those who have gone before me ; I shall be exalted in the celestial kingdom and be filled to overflowing with all the power I can wield ; and all the keys of knowledge I can manage will be committed unto me . What do we want more ? I shall be just like every other man – have all that I can , in my capacity , comprehend and manage . – Brigham Young , Journal of Discourses 6 : 276 , August 28 , 1852
We understand that we are to be made kings and priests unto God ; now if I be made the king and lawgiver to my family , and if I have many sons , I shall become the father of ready fathers , for they will have sons , and their sons will have sons , and so on , from generation to generation , and , in this way , I may become the father of many fathers , or the king of ready kings . This will constitute every man a prince , king , lord , or whatever the Father sees fit to confer upon us.In this way we can become King of kings , the Lord of lords , or , Father of fathers , or Prince of princes , and this is the only course , for another man is not going to raise up a kingdom for you . – Brigham Young , Journal of Discourses 8 : 265 – 266 , July 14 , 1855 76
MEN , AS GODS , SHALL ORGANIZE NEW WORLDSI expect , if … faithful , … that we shah see the time … that we shall know how to prepare to organize an earth like this – know how to prepare that earth , how to redeem it , how to sanctify it , and how to glorify it , with those who live upon it who hearken to our counsels.The Father and the Son have attained to this point already ; I am on the way , and so are you , and every faithful servant Of God … After men have got their exaltations and their crowns – have become Gods , even the sons of God – are made Kings of kings and Lords of lords , they have the power then of propagating their species in spirit ; and that is the first of their operations with regard to organizing a world . Power is then given to them to organize the elements , and then commence the organization of tabernacles . How can they do it ? Have they to go to that earth ? Yes , an Adam will have to go there , and he cannot do without Eve ; he must have Eve to commence the work of generation , and they will go into the garden , and continue to eat and drink of the fruits of the corporeal world , until this grosser matter is diffused sufficiently through their celestial bodies to enable them , according to the established laws , to produce mortal tabernacles for their spiritual children.This is the key for you . The faithful will become Gods , even the sons of God . – Brigham Young , Journal of Discourses 6 : 274 – 275 , August 28 , 1852
We shall go on from one step to another , reaching forth into the eternities until we become like the Gods , and shall be able to frame for ourselves , by the behest and command of the Almighty . All those who are counted worthy to be exalted and to become Gods , even the sons of God , will go forth and have earths and worlds like those who framed this and millions on millions of others . – Brigham Young , Journal of Discourses 17 : 143 , July 19 , 1874
If there was a point where man in his progression could not proceed any further , the very idea would throw a gloom over every intelligent and reflecting mind . God Himself is increasing and progressing in knowledge , power , and dominion , and will do so , worlds without end . It is just so with us . – Wilford Woodruff , Journal of Discourses 6 : 120 , December 6 , 1857
I will fully grant that Mormons are good and kind people when they come to your door. They are delightful. Many of you would love to have Mormons for neighbors. However, there is still the reality that our righteousness is as filthy rags.
Honestly, it could be that many missionaries that come to your door might not know this. I’m not sure. Don’t presume that they do. However, this is the same lie that comes in the Garden of Eden that led to the fall of man. It’s philosophically incoherent and impossible, but anti-biblical and theologically corrupt.
I knew about this doctrine already and I knew the defenses for it, but when I read these quotes, I realized I was reading something truly evil. Again, none of this is said to disparage the Mormons as people. I love them greatly and I want to see them come to the true gospel where God is infinitely greater than you are and you will never be as He is. Still, this God far greater than you reaches down in love to you and seeks to make you holy and pure. He wants to make you a reflection of Him in some sense still.
I definitely thus far recommend this book to people who want to reach Mormons. Since they came to see me even while living on a seminary campus and visiting the seminary, I have been even more regularly reading material on Mormonism. It is a fascinating belief system in so many ways and it’s a shame to see so many Mormons falling for a false Jesus.
Let’s give them the real one.
In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: Passport to Heaven

What do I think of Micah Wilder’s book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I like the Wilders. I got to know them when I read Lynn Wilder’s book Unveiling Grace and I ended up feeling like I knew her family well at the end of the book. It is an excellent look at what goes on in the Mormon Church and it all started with her son Micah going on his mission trip and becoming a Christian when he was challenged to just read the New Testament like a child. Now, Micah has released his story. Normally, one refers to writers by their last name, but since this concerns a family, I will be calling him Micah.

Micah is certainly an amusing writer to read at times. Consider one part where he notices the walls closing in on him of Christianity and having to leave behind Mormonism. At that point, we get the description that goes as follows:

My head was pounding and my throat was so dry that my pitiful wails came out sounding like the distant honks of a lonely Canadian goose.

That’s a word picture for you.

Why is this so difficult? Isn’t it just changing a religion? Don’t Christians change denominations all the time? As Micah says

The mere thought of the high cost I had to pay frightened me and made me feel guilty. After all, every facet of my life was so deeply entrenched in my religious identity: my family, friends, school, career path, relationships, reputation, hopes, dreams, earthly aspirations, culture, respect, and more. I couldn’t even fathom a life outside of that which I knew. Was I willing to walk away from everything the world had to offer?

Mormonism essentially becomes someone’s life and society. The closest parallel I could think of to this book was reading Nabeel Qureshi’s Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus and how after he became a Christian, wished God would kill him then so he wouldn’t have to tell his parents and disgrace them. There are a lot of similarities though between Islam and Mormonism, so this isn’t too much of a shock.

HIs story starts with him going on his mission and he has been assigned to Mexico, but then while playing a sport in the training facility, an injury occurs out of nowhere. Micah’s writing at this point when the doctor comes to him to tell him what it is is quite amusing.

“Hmmm…” the trainer said. “It sounds like you might have a broken rib.” The look on his face betrayed him, however. We both knew I was a dead man. There was no way I had broken a rib; I hadn’t had any physical contact with anyone. Whatever had happened came out of thin air, as if God Himself had poked me in the back with His almighty finger.


He turned toward me (while conveniently avoiding eye contact) and proceeded to serve up my death sentence rather coldly: “It’s a primary spontaneous pneumothorax.”

concluding with

Dear Lord no! I thought to myself. I’m going to die! I had had no idea what his prognosis meant, but it sure sounded hopeless. As the doctor was nonchalantly exiting the room, he glanced over at me and, in a rather routine style, declared, “Oh. Your lung collapsed.” “Oh?” I said sheepishly. His heart may have been in the right place, but his bedside manner needed a little polishing.

To all ladies reading this, think “Man-cold.” Whatever sickness or injury a man has, it’s a death sentence. Unfortunately, Micah got stuck with Dr. House delivering the news. What are you going to do?

Anyway, because of this, he is sent instead to Florida. (Suffering missionary, eh?) As he describes his journey as a zealous Mormon, one statement he made stood out to me. We need to do better.

Unfortunately, the benevolence demonstrated by these few godly individuals was not commonplace in my experiences as a missionary. In the thousands upon thousands of people I had engaged with, I could count— perhaps only on one hand— the number of Christians who not only displayed to me a genuine Christlike love, but also proclaimed the gospel as revealed in God’s Word.

Too many might turn Mormons away because they don’t know how to answer them. That itself shows we need to do better. Most of our Christians are no match for the Mormons that come to their door. There’s a reason for that.

He contrasts this also with how he sees himself as a Christian now and how he would interact with Mormons today. This is a statement our church needs to hear.

Contrary to what the world seems to preach, true love is not affirming others in their sinful and lost state, it is proclaiming the Christ who can liberate them from captivity. Therefore, my greatest calling as a Christian is to be a conduit of God’s love to unbelievers by proclaiming to them the grace and truth found only in Jesus of Nazareth.

I also quite loved this simple statement he has later on

I’m not saved because of a church; I’m part of the church because I am saved.

But the long and the short of it is he did meet a pastor who challenged him and urged him to read the New Testament. He also was regularly going to a place Mormons seemed to hang out with for some time called the Edgewater Hotel. There, he would meet a man named Erik who would become a sort of mentor for him.

As you can tell from the description I have given, Micah does become a Christian. This led to his family and his girlfriend who he eventually married becoming Christians. Not only that, his sister married one of the missionaries he had been on his mission with who also became a Christian.

Micah’s book is a delightful read and there are so many quotes I highlighted that I won’t share, but get to the point of what a difference Jesus makes in your life. I won’t share them because they do come up in places where he is having interactions with the leaders in his church that could spoil plot points. One statement I will tell you is that he says to not make Jesus part of your testimony. Make Jesus your testimony.

If there was anything I would change in this book, I have just two criticisms.

It can be hard to follow the timeline since he goes from when the events happened, which can make sense, but they can be hard to follow for the person who wasn’t there. That could lead to confusion at times. I also know one chapter was on a hurricane and yet I was wondering what the whole chapter was about with the title until the end as the hurricane was never named and if you didn’t live there, you might not know about it.

The other is that I would like to have heard something about how Micah was doing his day-to-day duties. While he was wrestling with this, was he still also going around telling people about Joseph Smith and believing in him and giving a testimony? What kinds of things was he saying on his mission to people he visited?

Despite those critiques, I still see this as a great story about a young man being changed by Jesus on his mission, something we should all consider should happen. It also lets people in and see what the world of Mormonism is really like. I also don’t know any book that is an account of a missionary becoming a Christian besides this one, so if you want to understand Mormonism more, give this one a try.

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



The Trinity and Acts 2:36

Does Acts 2:36 disprove the deity of Christ? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’ve had two times where I have interacted with someone online from the group called the Iglesia Ni Cristo, a cult group that seems to have the strategy online of “Say the same thing over and over preferably very loudly and ignore anything to the contrary.” Last night, I encountered someone who seemed to think the only verse in the Bible worth talking about was Acts 2:36. This is one a lot of skeptics of the deity of Christ and/or the Trinity use.

So what does the verse say?

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

The idea is rooted in the word “made.” If Jesus was made Lord and Christ at His resurrection, then He was not these things before. Right?

The Greek word is ποιεο and if you want to base your argument on this word, well good look. Unfortunately, it’s one of those words that has a lot of meanings behind it. Here’s what you can find at

  1. to make
    1. with the names of things made, to produce, construct, form, fashion, etc.
    2. to be the authors of, the cause
    3. to make ready, to prepare
    4. to produce, bear, shoot forth
    5. to acquire, to provide a thing for one’s self
    6. to make a thing out of something
    7. to (make i.e.) render one anything
      1. to (make i.e.) constitute or appoint one anything, to appoint or ordain one that
      2. to (make i.e.) declare one anything
    8. to put one forth, to lead him out
    9. to make one do something
      1. cause one to
    10. to be the authors of a thing (to cause, bring about)
  2. to do
    1. to act rightly, do well
      1. to carry out, to execute
    2. to do a thing unto one
      1. to do to one
    3. with designation of time: to pass, spend
    4. to celebrate, keep
      1. to make ready, and so at the same time to institute, the celebration of the passover
    5. to perform: to a promise

So let’s go a different route. Let’s start with Lord and limit our usage to Lukan usage before the resurrection. Luke 1:43 has Elizabeth referring to Mary as the mother of her Lord. In Luke 2:11, the angels say that born in Bethlehem is Jesus, who is Christ the Lord. In 3:4, John the Baptist prepares the way for the Lord and then here comes Jesus.

In 5:8, Simon calls Jesus, Lord. A leper does the same in 5:12. In 6:46, Jesus asks why call Him, “Lord, Lord” and not do what He says? The friends of the centurion call Jesus Lord in 7:6 and Luke calls Jesus Lord himself in verse 13 and again in 31.

In 9:54, two of Jesus’s disciples refer to Him as Lord and two would-be disciples do so in verses 57 and 61. Luke again calls Jesus the Lord in 10:1 and the returning disciples in verse 17 call Jesus Lord as well.

Honestly, I suspect at this point this is getting repetitive. You can search on your own and find the numerous places where many people in the Gospels call Jesus the Lord in Luke and this before His resurrection. So what about Christ?

Yep. Luke 2:11 mentioned above and Simeon is told in the came chapter he won’t die until he sees the Lord’s Christ. Demons declare Jesus to be Christ in chapter 4 and in chapter 9, Peter makes his great declaration of faith that Jesus is the Christ.

So now, either all of these verses are wrong or need to be reinterpreted or Acts 2:36 needs to be.

So how do we read Acts 2:36 then?

It’s easy. The resurrection was the action whereby God declared that Jesus was indeed Lord and Christ. It is God’s vindication of the claims of Jesus. It in now way means that Jesus became Lord and Christ at that point or else Jesus Himself is wrong many times throughout the Gospels and surely should have corrected all those people giving Him those titles.

Thus, the INC and the JWs and anyone else using this verse just really doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Unfortunately, such groups will continue to do so because they don’t know better. They will also avoid contrary scholarship that disagrees because sadly, they don’t want to know better.

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

Deeper Waters Podcast 6/20/2020

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

Mormonism is a strange religious movement. While there are noted differences between it and Christianity, even those of us who know it is not Christian have some difficulties from it. Namely, there are many skeptics who like to point out supposed parallels between Christianity and Mormonism. Why is it you believe the former and not the latter? Isn’t that special pleading?

We wouldn’t want to be doing that would we? Paul claims to see Jesus appear on the Damascus Road. Joseph Smith claims to see the Father and the Son in a heavenly vision. 500 people are said to have seen the risen Jesus at one time. Several people also saw the golden plates of Joseph Smith didn’t they? Shouldn’t we be consistent? Shouldn’t we either accept both or reject both?

It’s really sad that this is a neglected area of apologetics. We have two accounts of claims of seeing something and both of them are foundational to the religion. No one has really done an in-depth look at both of these accounts as far as I know.

Until now.

Thankfully, someone stepped up to the plate and wrote an excellent book on the topic. I’ll be discussing with him this Saturday about it. I sometimes think of him as one of the best apologists you’ve never heard of. Some of you have, of course, but to many people, he’s not as well-known which is a shame. I find all of his material to be excellent. His name is Rob Bowman and he’ll be joining me Saturday.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Robert M. Bowman Jr. is the president of Faith Thinkers, a Christian apologetics ministry ( He holds MA and PhD degrees in biblical studies from Fuller Theological Seminary and South African Theological Seminary. Rob has taught undergraduate and graduate students at Biola University, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Southern Evangelical Seminary, and elsewhere. He is the author of some 60 periodical articles and the author or co-author of 15 books including Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ (with J. Ed Komoszewski), Faith Thinkers: 30 Christian Apologists You Should Know, and Jesus’ Resurrection and Joseph’s Visions: Examining the Foundations of Christianity and Mormonism.

I hope you’ll be joining us this Saturday. We are again working on getting the shows done and uploaded. There has been a lot going on and I personally apologize for that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Rough Stone Rolling

What do I think of Richard Lyman Bushman’s book published by Knopf? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Mormonism is certainly a fascinating movement to look at. It’s got a founder who had a reputation even in his time of being a con-man and grew up to knowingly have multiple wives and yet establish what is seen as a branch of Christianity if not a restoration of the ancient faith by millions of people. Today, the Mormon Church has at least 15,000,000 members.

It all started with Joseph Smith. This account of Joseph Smith is written by a Mormon. Still, I went through it thinking that this is important information that I wish more Mormons would read. Some of the problems that many missionaries try to deny are there stated. Joseph had multiple wives. He really did hold to divine exaltation. He was involved with the Masons. He did have an army of sorts called the Danites.

The story begins not with Smith but with his family. Bushman looks at who Smith’s parents were and how they got where they were. The story seems to start off slow as it seems to take awhile to get to the story of the plates and their translation. I do note that there isn’t much interaction with the problem of the date of the first vision in comparison to the revival in the area.

From here on there is a thoroughly detailed look at the life of this man. At some times, I could actually have sympathy for Joseph. Particularly at the start when I read about a leg injury he had as a boy.

A benefit though for this one is that though Bushman is, as I said, a Mormon, this book is not glowing with praise of Smith. There is some of that there, but it does not stand out. Bushman is trying to be as impartial as he can be.

Those who are not familiar with the history of Mormonism will see a lot more of how it was interacting with the culture of the time. These interactions were not just religious ones, but they were also political in nature. While our country may uphold separation of church and state, and properly understood I support that, there is a sense in which it is also unavoidable. There will always be interaction between the church and the state.

If anyone is left being someone I have great sympathy for in this book, it’s Joseph’s wife Emma. For some strange reason, she was never really happy with plural marriage. There are times of great anger and when she told her kids later about her husband after Joseph died, she tried to avoid anything about plural marriage.

Mormons need to read a book like this so they can get an account of Joseph Smith from a Mormon source. There can be no claims of anti-Mormon bias. They can read all about the Danites and about polygamy.

Christians need to read this to get a better understanding of Mormons they want to evangelize to. They can understand the history of Mormonism and also contrast it to the history of Christianity. When I have been told that the faiths were similar in their founding, it’s pretty clear that they were not.

I am thankful Bushman wrote this account. It is a long one, but it is a readable one. The only big hurdle for most readers will be the length, but it is worthwhile if you get through it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Jesus’s Resurrection and Joseph’s Visions

What do I think of Rob Bowman’s book published by Deward Publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If there’s any area in the study of the resurrection we needed a great source on, it was comparing the resurrection to the visions of Joseph Smith. After all, aren’t what happened to Paul and Joseph comparable? Aren’t the witnesses to the golden plates and the witnesses to the resurrection comparable? If we accept one, are we not obligated to accept the other?

Thankfully, that niche has been filled. Rob Bowman has written an excellent book looking at the visions of Joseph Smith and comparing them to the resurrection. The bulk of the book is dedicated to Smith which isn’t a surprise since most Christians are familiar with the resurrection who read these kinds of books. Also, Smith came from a much more literary time so there are more writings to go through around his time.

However, even if you have read material defending the resurrection of Jesus, and I hope you have, you still need to go through what Bowman says about it. It’s really an excellent defense of the doctrine and very easy to understand. If you want a short defense of the resurrection of Jesus, this is an excellent one to go through.

When we get to Smith, Bowman truly shows his mastery of the information. There is hardly a stone left unturned here and Bowman interacts with the very best of Mormon apologetics. His familiarity with the material is simply astounding.

As he goes through Smith’s visions, he goes through piece by piece and points out in detail that could be painstaking if it wasn’t such an enjoyable read all that is questionable and why, always making sure to say it’s not because it’s miraculous. It gets down to the real historical claims such as when was the revival that Joseph Smith talked about and was he truly persecuted for claims of a vision.

He’ll also ask about the appearance of Moroni because even if you grant miraculous events and angelic encounters, there are reasons in the account itself to really question that the event happened. This is not the usual approach of using DNA testing or lacking archaeological evidence to go after Mormonism. This is striking at the heart. After all, Mormonism often is said to stand or fall on the first vision of Joseph Smith.

If you are someone who wants to interact with Mormons, you owe it to yourself to read this book. If you don’t interact with them, but you debate the resurrection of Jesus with skeptics, you need to read this book. This is a thorough and excellent reply to one common objection.

If I could recommend one book on dealing with Mormonism now, it would be this one. This is really one that any Mormon who is wanting to stay a strong Mormon needs to interact with. It will be a great reference for counter-cult apologetics for many years to come.

In Christ,
Nick Peters