A Little Change

What difference can one insignificant event make? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, I spoke on the phone with two old friends and all of us knew each other. We all worked at the same Wal-Mart, a different one than the one I am at now, and came from different and yet similar places in life. One of them was my friend Roger, who was involved in ministry and had a background of severe severe fundamentalism. It’s so much so that I would say it’s practically cultlike, and he would not disagree. He and I have discussed this before.

We all just happened to work together and then I went to seminary and we fell out and lost touch. Then lo and behold, Roger gets in touch with me one day and says he needs my help. He’s on the verge of losing his faith. I was absolutely shocked, but I told him I would work with him and for months, I did. I didn’t give pat answers and I demanded that he do his own work and study. Today, he is an extremely strong Christian and a devoted husband and father. If you want the whole story, you can find it here along with links to the story from his side.

As I thought about the way our friendships worked together, I thought about how my Dad and I are watching the Flash together and how parallel Earths are a reality in that. In those cases, there are various Earths and there could be minor differences from life here or there could be major differences, such as one Earth where the Nazis won World War II. I have sometimes wondered what life would be like on a parallel Earth where Roger and I never worked together.

Would someone else have been there to reach him? If not, would he have fallen away? What would have happened to his marriage? What would have happened to his kids? How could that affect matters years, decades, or centuries down the road?

There’s no way for us to tell, but it does show me that even small events in our lives can have a great impact. I was just a guy looking for a job and a way to pay my bills. Wal-Mart was definitely not a career and because of my interest in gaming, which Roger and I share, I just happened to be placed in electronics and worked alongside him as he worked in the cell phone area.

Right now, I hate working at a Wal-Mart again, but I try to remember that even here, I can be having an influence. Most of the kids I work are young enough that I could be their father, and so I try to be an older and wiser figure for them and advise them on their lives. The majority I think do know that I am a Christian. I am a respected individual, at least with them.

Who knows? Maybe sometime in the future I will encounter one of them and they will tell me something I did or said made a major difference for them. Now that doesn’t mean I stay there as God can use me anywhere, but it means like I said yesterday that this is His story and not mine and He does have a way of working it together.

So it could be for you. Wherever you are in life, God can use you somehow to have some influence on matters. Even the worst things in your life can be used.

There’s a story of how Corrie Ten Boom and her sister were thrown into a prison camp and they had a smuggled Bible with them somehow and were able to do a Bible study with the women. Hundreds came to Christ. Corrie’s sister was someone who wanted to give thanks for everything, even the fleas in their room. Corrie thought she was crazy in all of this. How can you appreciate things like this?

Thankfully though, the guards never entered their room so they were able to continue ministry to the women and have an impact. It was only later they found out why the guards never came in. No. It wasn’t a major miracle or anything like that.

The guards didn’t want to be around the fleas.

Thank God for those fleas.

I’m sure many times, Corrie and her sister were not happy they shared their room with fleas, but those fleas even served a good purpose. If simple fleas can be used like that, what else can be? It’s not easy to do this. I know this as I do work that really bores me to no end, but I do try to remember that I have my own goals I want to reach outside of that place.

Maybe someone will be reached like Roger.

Reached because of whatever fleas I have to deal with.

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

Not Just Love Is A Choice

What else is a choice in love? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When you go through divorce, there are times as a Christian it seems like God is absent. For me, it’s normally when I’m at work and have nothing to keep my mind going and sadly, it goes downhill. Sometimes I think about matters with my ex and how she struggled with the question of love, including if I loved her. It was in some thinking that I reached a conclusion that relates to God as well.

I could always do more to show love. None of us do it perfectly. We are told love is a choice. If you want to love someone, you just do it. You don’t worry about having a feeling or not. You just do it. That is true.

However, it is also a choice to choose to believe that you are loved by someone. This doesn’t mean if you believe someone loves you, they do. Many a man has been disappointed after all thinking that the beautiful woman that he sees is madly in love with him as well. It does mean that if someone has shown you a loving attitude, you have to trust them by a choice that they genuinely love you, even if from a human perspective, and rightly so, that love is imperfect.

I thought about this with God recently as well. If I was someone who was doubting that God loved me, what more could He do for me to show me His love for me? Whatever else was done, if that was my requirement, would I not always ask for more? Would I not always insist that He go a bit further?

This kind of goes along with the problem of evil. We are told often that there is too much evil in the universe for there to be a good God. Okay. Well how much is too much? Is it that if there’s 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust it’s too much but 5 million would have been just fine? Do there need to be 20% less rapes and then it’s okay? 15% less children being abused and God becomes a possibility then? This is something difficult if not impossible to quantify.

Isn’t the problem of evil also when you get to it a trust problem? I don’t trust that God could be a good God or a real God if this is how He runs the universe? Naturally, we assume that we know better and hey, who can blame us. We’ve got a great track record on knowing how best to handle our problems so many times. Right?

If we are struggling with the reality of if we are loved or not at times, the problem most likely lies with us. Now with people, I can understand questioning at times, but with God, it definitely lies with us. We also know if we’re Christians how easy it is to lose sight. One moment, you’re doing great and saying you will never doubt God again and lo and behold a week later…..Or you go through a hard time and think “I have learned my lesson on trusting God now” and yet again a week later….

Going through divorce, I do get it. When a central relationship in your life shatters violently, it does cause reverberations across the board. I notice now that generally, I have a much harder time trusting people than I did before. I look forward to a new relationship with eagerness and fear. In making big decisions, there’s always a tendency to second guess myself now.

The thing I have to realize is that since I am loved by God, if I am loving Him back, which I strive for, all will work out somehow. God knows my desires and He knows how to provide for me. This isn’t my story. It’s His. I just play a bit part in it.

If you struggle with trust, I hope this helps you out also. This realization has been a good help to me as well. Sometimes we in the apologetics community can give an air of having it all together, which I think happens in ministry, but I have made it a point to want to make sure my audience knows I have struggles just like they do. Maybe they’re not exactly the same, but they’re struggles. I’m thankful many of my readers walk with me in them.

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

This Is Home

Where do you belong? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Many Christians today have an idea that the Earth is just a temporary place. As someone who used to listen to southern Gospel constantly, I remember those songs well that referred to Earth in such language. Just as I started writing this, I remembered one saying that we were living in our temporary home.

Sadly, a lot of Christians do have this view. I remember a few months ago, my folks kept playing a song about the Hills of Home Calling Me. I never liked hearing it. It always treats this world as just a place we’re at now, but thank goodness that another world is calling me away from here.

Unfortunately for this view, I don’t see it in Scripture. Genesis starts off with God telling us to fill the Earth and subdue it. Is there any reason to think that His plan has changed? If this world is what God made for us to live in and for Him to dwell with us in and that it is to be a temple, why think He is undoing all of that? Did the devil have a victory in making the whole world irredeemable?

It is true that in many places such as 2 Peter 3 and Revelation, we see images of the destruction of Earth, but these I would contend hold to more of a purification. If we were to live in a Heaven forever, for instance, I have to ask why is there a new Earth created? Does the old Earth pass away? Yes, but so does our old self pass away when we become Christians and none of us died and rose again when we became Christians. At least, not literally.

The danger in this is that it moves us more towards a Gnostic form of Christianity where the material world is something bad and thus we have to escape it to go to a spiritual dimension of sorts. Now I seriously doubt anyone singing these kinds of songs are likely thinking that all material things are bad, but this is a bent that too many Christians sadly have. This world is treated as a plan gone wrong and now we have to move on to plan B.

I am not an environmentalist, but I don’t believe in abusing our Earth either and this kind of thinking can lead to that. Who cares what we do to the environment? We aren’t going to be here. For a good conservative look at taking care of the environment, I recommend the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.

God meant to dwell on this world forever with us. He wants to redeem all of creation and not ditch it forever. Redemption begins with us and as Romans 8 says, the creation is eagerly awaiting its own turn. Whatever you might think is waiting for us that God has prepared in eternity, we can be assured that what is really waiting for us is actually much better.

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

Book Plunge: God’s Gravediggers Part 6

Is Hell an insurmountable problem? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It’s not really a shock when an emotional atheist complains about Hell. One expects it really. Normally, I enjoy going through atheist books, but I just found Bradley to be taxing. There was no challenge and it consistently felt like an emotional rant.

It’s not a shock that on a side note, he refers at the start of this chapter to the Middle Ages as the Dark Ages. Most historians know that this was not the case at all. Science was very much on the rise in the Middle Ages.

Also in the chapter, he has a reference to an authority on how many times Hell is mentioned in the New Testament. His source is Dial The Truth Ministries on the internet. It would have been awful for him to, you know, pick up a Lexicon and/or Concordance or actually look at what a real Biblical scholar says.

Also, Bradley still always treats Hell as if it’s a burning inferno and never interacts with what evangelical scholars say about it. I do realize I have friends who hold to conditional immortality and I do not hold to that, but I don’t want to make that an issue here. Someone of that position can choose to respond to Bradley in their own way.

Bradley describes burning someone forever as cruel, to which I can say I don’t hold to that so that is not a problem. He also says that one should not be punished forever for crimes done in a finite time, but the length of time it takes to do an evil says nothing about how evil it was. We just had a school shooting recently that could have been done in a couple of hours. Meanwhile, running a Ponzi scheme for years takes a lot longer. Which one do we think should have the biggest sentence? Both are crimes and evil, but one is a worse evil even if it didn’t take as long.

He also says God would not punish someone for lack of correct belief. This is true. I do not hold that He does. God punishes people for their sins. It’s not as if that if you didn’t believe in Jesus, you are sin-free. Even if one is a skeptic of Christianity, most of us know we have all done wrong things in our life and some things we are ashamed of.

He also says God would not be unforgiving forever, and that is true. However, there is no reason to believe those in Hell would ever truly repent. If someone wants to make that case, let them. I hold that they are constantly in a state of sin and rebellion.

Really, these are all basic objections and most any Christian writing a defense of the doctrine of Hell would address these. Even if Bradley thinks the defenses are weak, he should at least interact with them. I kept wondering if he ever really read anyone who disagreed with him. I am skeptical of that.

Bradley thinks one has lost their logical marbles, (Yes. His words) for thinking God could not create a world that lacked moral evil. However, he gives no justification for this claim. After all, if God is going to create free agents who can choose, then it seems like He has to accept some of them will freely choose evil. Bradley does think the only interpretation of Christianity apparently is also a hyper-Calvinistic one.

He does say “What about Heaven? Isn’t that a place of perfection?” Indeed, and it is also a place we go to after we choose that kind of life. It is the result of choosing God. Even the angels had to make that choice.

Bradley also says that all of this is part of fundamentalist beliefs and he should know. After all, he used to be one of them. I would question the used to be part. Bradley, as far as I am concerned, lived his life a fundamentalist and I pray he did not die one. He just took one for the other side. (And once again as I point out, these guys love to give their personal testimonies.)

I really wish there was more to go on, but there isn’t. Naturally, Bradley doesn’t address my interpretation of the doctrine. This isn’t because I’m so special, but because I think Lewis held to this and it’s my understanding that the Orthodox Church holds to a similar view. Bradley only knows one view and that one, he doesn’t know well.

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

 

On Those Who Never Heard

What about those who never heard the gospel through no fault of their own? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Going through my review of chapter 5 of God’s Gravediggers, I found out that if I wrote something on those who never heard, I was not able to find it. I needed to clear that up. Therefore, this will be my question about those who through no fault of their own never heard the gospel in their lifetime?

Obviously, many people fall in this category. Even before Jesus, we have several people and many of them devout Jews in the Old Testament who never heard the gospel. What about people living in places like Australia and Japan in 35 A.D. The gospel would not reach there by then and even if it hypothetically had, there is no way it reached everyone.

What about babies who die before any age of accountability? What about people who have a severe mental handicap and cannot understand the message? These are all important questions.

At the start, let’s be clear. The Bible never answers this question I think because God doesn’t want us to have the answer. I believe if we did, it might cause us to grow even lazier in the job of what we’re supposed to be doing. God gives us the Great Commission. There is no Plan-B. He never says “If you should fail, this is what I’m doing instead, just so you know.”

We are told in the Psalms that God will judge the world with equity and Genesis has Abraham saying “Will not the judge of all the Earth do right?” (It’s important to note that for the purposes of this article, I am treating this like an internal critique of Christianity and so any allegation of the Bible not being reliable or anything like that is not relevant to this.) At the start then, one major point is no one will be able to say “It wasn’t fair.”

We also know that God is all-good in Christianity. God will not do anything that is evil. At the same time, God will also treat sin seriously, but He is a God of mercy as well as justice. The cross also shows us that God is working His part to get people into the Kingdom. He is making the initiative. (I will not be getting into Calvinist-Arminian issues, although I am much more Arminian)

We also know the text says that there is no other name given under Heaven by which we must be saved. However, does this mean that everyone has to explicitly know the name of Jesus? If so, then you have a problem with Old Testament saints who would not know that name. So what does it mean by the name of Jesus?

In this case, name refers to authority. When the apostles say this to the ruling Jews, they are essentially saying, “Jesus determines who is in the Kingdom and not you.” We use the same kind of language when we speak of stopping in the name of the Law. So if I am right, then this means that one does not have to explicitly hear the message.

We also know that Jesus said that many would come from all directions to the great banquet in the end while many of the Jews would be cast out. Revelation 7 speaks of a great multitude from all over that no man could number. Some will say that the way is narrow and few will find it, but I really think Jesus is speaking to the audience right there and saying few of the Jews of the time would come to Jesus, and if so, that is correct. One has to have an interpretation of Scripture that balances all of them and I hold that mine does.

My thinking then is God will judge people by the light they have and how obedient they were to it. I also think that if they are seeking more, God will give it. Sometimes, it will be by missionaries who come. It’s amazing how many missionaries have stories of people they came to who had never heard the gospel and yet later tell the missionaries, “We had a tradition here that one day people with a book would show up and they would be the ones with the message of the one true God.” Such events have happened.

There are also cases where miraculous events happen. Many Muslims have stories of Jesus appearing to them in dreams and visions and leading them to come to Christianity. Nabeel Qureshi in his book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus even tells about his own experience with this. These stories are becoming more and more common in the Muslim world and it has happened in other religions as well.

What about babies and the mentally handicapped? I’m prone to think that God will welcome them all into the Kingdom seeing as they could do nothing good or bad ultimately to affect their destiny. Children are even often seen as a salvation picture in the Bible. Why not go ahead and abort children so they can go to Heaven? Because getting to Heaven is not the only goal of Christianity and we are not to do evil that good may result.

This is a brief run-down, but they are my thoughts on the matter.

Now you know.

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

The Problem of Pleasure

Why is there so much good in the world? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We have all seen the problem of evil trotted out. Why would there be evil in the world if God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good? This is a good question and I have addressed it many other times before, but let us consider something else.

If evil counts as evidence of the existing of God, shouldn’t it also go the other way? If all the evil counts as evidence against God, then could we not say “If the world is a random accident with no intentional cause whatsoever, why is there so much good in the world?” This isn’t a question original with me. It’s one that was asked by G.K. Chesterton.

Chesterton said that we all know that we have to eat in order to survive, but that doesn’t mean food had to be tasty. We have to drink to survive, but that doesn’t mean that water had to be refreshing. We have to reproduce in order to survive, but the intense pleasure that comes from sexual reproduction didn’t have to be there.

The world could also exist in black and white and odds are it would have worked just fine. However, there is a huge multiplicity of colors. As a gamer, I remember when the Super Nintendo was being advertised that it was said to have 32,000 colors. It was impressive for many of us when we got a Crayola box of crayons that had 64 colors. This is 500 times that.

What we have to ask is if the world is mostly evil with some bits of good popping up every now and then, or is it mostly good, with evil being the interruption to it. There is suffering in every life and I know this firsthand with a lot that I have gone through, major surgery, intense depression, and divorce, but overall, I am convinced the world is mostly good. This is my Father’s world.

Ah, but I live in America and I have food and shelter and technology and so many other blessings. What about the rest of the world? However, what is said about the rest of the world often is those people often take their faith far more seriously and have a lot more joy than we do. There’s a reason there’s such a joke about first-world problems.

There are Christians in Iran who are getting baptized and doing so knowing that that can lead to their execution. When I read Craig Keener’s Impossible Love, I remember reading about the attitude of Keener’s father-in-law and thinking that I wish I had the courage that he had. He was definitely facing realities that I had never faced, such as being on medication and having to escape from a civil war and being forced to eat rats when there was nothing else.

So again, what’s the point in all of this? If evil counts as evidence against God, shouldn’t the opposite be true? Shouldn’t good count as evidence for God? After all, if you are looking at data, you have to look at all data. If the universe has no intent behind it and no purpose, why should I think good would just happen? Why should food taste good or sex be incredible?

As a Christian also, I should give thanks for the good in the world more often and not take it for granted. I should enjoy time with good family and friends and appreciate the little things as well. Actually, that would be good advice for all of us, and if Lewis is correct, the more we enjoy true pleasure for the sake of that pleasure alone, we are more prone to come to God anyway. Perhaps if you focus on evil, you will be further drawn away.

So if you’re an atheist now, here’s something to think about. How do you address the problem of pleasure? Is there more good or evil in the world?

I leave that to you.

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

School Shootings And Evil

Is this proof there is no God? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night, I saw on Unbelievable? in Facebook a thread with a news story about the school shooting yesterday and showing it as proof that God does not exist. The problem with something like this is that proof is a strong word to use. I could understand skepticism, but most philosophers, even atheistic ones, agree that there would be no proof here. The logical problem of evil is not really used that much anymore.

Now I have some political thoughts on this event that I shared yesterday on Facebook and I plan on sharing here as an addendum to this post, but the theological ones are the ones worth talking about. I have said on another post that I do not understand the usage of the problem of evil in this way.

This is not about whether theism is true or not as this point cannot establish theism or atheism. This is on a more matter of living everyday and of practicality. We could consider it a sort of Pascal’s Wager point on how you would want the universe to be.

Let’s suppose we have two universes. In one, there is no God. Now right away, since I think God is necessary for the universe to exist in any way, I am granting a huge point, but this is just for the sake of argument. In this universe, matters are exactly the same for the most part and the school shooting has taken place.

Will the victims ever live again? Not a chance.

Will the parents ever see their children again? No way.

Will the teacher who was killed ever see their family again and vice-versa? Forget about it.

Will anyone who does such a crime and somehow gets away with it ever get justice? Not necessarily.

Is there any hope for healing? Perhaps, but it sure isn’t built in hope of resurrection.

In a Christian universe, all the answers are different. Now this does not show God exists, but it does show we should hope that God does exist. That an atheist wants to use this is practically a way to me of saying, “Let’s push some hopelessness!”

The pushback I received was mind-boggling. Unfortunately, that thread seems to have been eliminated so I will have to go by memory.

First I had said that good can come out of this, and so the reply was “So you’re saying what happened was good?”

Good grief. Do these people not read?

Let’s be clear. Evil is evil. That’s a tautology, but no one can make evil good. God doesn’t even make evil good. God makes evil people into good people and brings good things out of evil things. There is a difference.

But don’t I believe in Heaven in that this gunman could have repented right before death and received forgiveness and gone to Heaven?

He could have, though I think if someone is that bent on evil it is highly unlikely. However, would you honestly want it to be otherwise? If you would rather someone suffer for evil rather than realize the error of their ways and turn, then that reveals very little about the evildoer and much more about yourself. We should always hope someone will change their ways and repent. We should always hope someone would embrace the good.

Right now, I have an ex-wife. It would be easy to delight if something goes wrong with her and her desires and she has to suffer, but why should I want that at all? Note that this is even a woman who has accused me of being abusive to her and shattered my heart to pieces and I suffer everyday because of it. Why should I delight in her suffering? That will not help me at all in my life.

Instead, I pray for her constantly and that God will show her mercy and where I am in error, let justice and mercy come to me appropriately. If I were to pray that she suffer instead, then that reveals nothing about her and more about me.  Anyone can treat their friends well. It’s how you treat those who wrong you and your loved ones that shows who you are.

However, just because someone is in Heaven or in Hell doesn’t mean that it’s all equal. There are degrees of blessing and degrees of suffering. My ministry partner and I have talked about people who will be scrubbing toilets in the New Jerusalem.

There is also the claim that someone who is murdered if their murderer repents could be forced to spend eternity with the person who murdered them.

Yes? And?

That article is sufficient to deal with those claims.

I was also told that I said the murderer is good. Not at all. Scripture tells us none are good but God alone. The beauty of the Gospel is that it takes evil people and makes them good people, people like you and I.

To those who lost loved ones yesterday, Christianity offers hope of resurrection. It says that good can come out of the darkest places. It offers our Lord who Himself was in the darkest place and out of that came the greatest good. It also says that those who turn to Him can have hope.

From just a practical basis, I would hope Christianity was true and I would think any honest atheist would want to know that there could be a way that good could come out of evil and there will be hope. In an atheistic universe, I gain no practical benefit from this.

May we all pray for those involved yesterday and that includes the shooter’s family who has their own suffering as well.

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

Political addendum:

So after this shooting, I did watch and saw Biden make a speech where he pretty much immediately went after the gun lobby and called for the passing of stronger laws concerning guns.
I am old enough to remember where the politicizing of a tragedy was normally condemned right after it happened, but I guess that the rules change when the left has power.
But since it has already been done, here are some points to consider.
If someone is really willing to break a law against murder and even kill kids doing it, do you really think they are going to pay attention to a gun law? Does anyone think the only place to get guns is through a licensed dealer or a place that does background checks?
Here are some better ideas.
From now on, police investigate every claim about someone making any sort of threat whatsoever against a school. If it comes out sometime in this that the villain (And here’s a side point. Don’t mention their names. They don’t deserve credibility. Just call them the X shooter for whatever school it was) was reported many times and had a history of threats and the police never did anything, that’s on them then.
When we say a place is a gun-free zone, what we are really saying is “Come in here and start shooting because we can’t stop you!” Everyone should agree that most people who have guns in this country are good and law-abiding citizens. The overwhelming majority would never do what some idiot did today.
If gun laws won’t stop these people, and they won’t, what will stop them?
For one thing, enforce the laws we have. If someone commits a crime that results in the intentional taking of a human life, don’t dilly-dally on it. Get them in and get them in jail and keep them locked up. If we have to use the death penalty, we do. Let people see that crime has a price to it.
Second, there are countless veterans all over this country who would love to have a side job of some kind where they get to patrol our area schools and keep students safe. Let them take security positions in schools. Many of them would be glad to do it on even a volunteer position.
Third, any teacher who wants to should be allowed to have a gun with them. Don’t think you can trust them with it? Then why trust them with your kids? Teachers are adults who should have the right to arm themselves, especially to protect students that can often be like family to them.
A law will not stop a shooter, but what could stop them is the thought that there are several people in that school who could kill them just as quickly before they get to go on a mass shooting spree. The best defense is indeed a good offense. Let the criminals wonder who it is that has guns in a school or any other place for that matter and let them ask if they are willing to take that risk.
Gun laws do not work and gun-free zones do not work. If you want to murder someone, you will not be stopped by a law. Fear is what will work.

When Your Enemy Suffers

What do you do when your opponent suffers? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Proverbs 24: 17 Do not gloat when your enemy falls;
    when they stumble, do not let your heart rejoice,
18 or the Lord will see and disapprove
    and turn his wrath away from them.

I was about to write out another blog on the next chapter of Bradley’s book when I saw the news shared in the thread on it at theologyweb.com. Bradley died earlier this year at 91. I had to pause some at that one.

Do I like Bradley’s book? No. Normally, I enjoy going through atheist material, but this one just seems same-old, same-old and is a real disappointment. My reading through Sean Carroll’s The Big Picture is at least engaging. If anything, I find reading Bradley embarrassing as he thinks he knows what he’s talking about when really he doesn’t and pulls out the same old tripe arguments that have been answered multiple times before.

However, I still had sadness when I saw this. My longing at the time and my personal prayer was that he somehow managed to get a bit of grace before he died that he turned to the Lord he had shunned throughout his adult life. Do I know that this happened or have any strong evidence? No, but a man can hope.

I have at least two vivid memories of the opposite happening in my past. One time was when Stephen Jay Gould passed away. I was on America Online then and I remember being in the chat room and hearing the people speak who were vocal creationists, whether YEC or OEC I don’t know, and saying things like “You think it’s hot where he is right now?”

Whatever your doctrine of Hell, this is something that should never be said. People who hold to conditional immortality and people who hold to eternal conscious torment should all agree on one thing. It is a tragedy when people go to Hell. We would all like in some way for universalism to be true, but I fear that it isn’t. I found it just awful thinking that some people were practically gloating that their enemy was in Hell. If it wasn’t for the grace of God, they would be too and frankly, I didn’t see a lot of that grace there.

The other incident was on PALtalk when the Pope had died. Now I do not believe Catholics are outside of the grace of God. Some people do. Let’s suppose that’s true. Even if it is, should you have the attitude that these people did that the Pope busted Hell wide open, as I remember hearing? That should be a cause of sorrow for you.

In the causes of justice, I think some exceptions can be made I was on PALtalk again when someone messaged me about Saddam Hussein’s sons being found and killed and said “Isn’t this good news?” In a sense, it is good in that they will not be able to bring about evil on this Earth anymore. In another sense though, it is sad, because now they are quite likely in a place of dark eternity where there is no escape.

The Bible does show times of celebration when the enemies are defeated, but let us make sure we are celebrating first that God acted according to His covenant and provided justice and relief and secondly, that their evil is no longer being done. If we act like we are pure and innocent and don’t deserve judgment, we’re asking for it.

As a divorced man, I have to watch myself with this. I do have times of anger every now and then, but they are rare. If anything, for my ex-wife, I pray for her well-being and blessing. I don’t know where exactly she is right now. I do not check. I do not search.

Am I saying she is my enemy? In a sense, she did hurt me deeper than anyone else ever has and she has spread untruths about me claiming that I abused her, but I don’t like to think about her that way. I prefer to see her as someone who is hurt and confused and needs to come to grips with her own issues. I prefer to think that nothing was done out of a malicious attempt to hurt me even though that is what happened.

After all, I have my own sins that God could call me to account for if He wanted to. Forgiveness was not owed to me. Now God did promise He would forgive, but it was conditional on that I repented. Had I never done that, God had no obligation to forgive and indeed I have no reason to think He would. Every moment I spend in a blessed eternity with Him will be a gift of grace. There will never be a time in my existence when I am not dependent on that grace.

I hope Dr. Bradley somehow came to Christ in his final moments before he passed on. God will do what is right and no one will say it wasn’t fair, but I can hope. May I live with grace and forgiveness to my own personal enemies throughout my life.

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

The World Of Divorce

What’s it like going through it? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This season of DivorceCare just ended. I suspect it will be my last time here. I am in the process of applying to be a student at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and I will then be moving to New Orleans when accepted. Even if I don’t start a semester immediately, I want to be able to get situated, get good employment, and start meeting people.

It really left me tonight thinking about the world of divorce. It’s still a struggle for all of us. I am helping someone out now who is on the journey just as I was helped, but all of us on the path are still hurting.

Other couples can be difficult to see. I am reading through an apocalyptic novel, a chapter a night right now, involving a simple country guy who somehow survives a plague that outright kills most of humanity and recently, he has come across a girl he went to school with who also survived. Tuesday night, they professed their love for each other and well, we know what comes next. No. The book didn’t describe the scene at all, but you did know what was happening. (Do you need to seek a minister to marry you if the world has come to an end like that? Questions theologians ask.)

Did I go to bed depressed some? Yep. I thought about this tonight as we described seeing other couples sometimes. When I was married, it was we were getting together with friends. Now, I am getting together with a friend. When you’re married, your friends seem to be other couples. When you’re single, not as much.

I really do miss that interaction. I wonder if I will ever experience the love of a woman again and getting to give her my love as well. Add in that I’m on the spectrum and that makes it even harder. I understand many guys have a hard time knowing if a woman is flirting with them. For me, it’s far harder.

Not only that, but how do you properly express yourself? How do I know I’m not being a stalker type? How do I show someone how much I adore them without appearing too obsessed over a person?

How do you even make the first move? I remember reading a book on flirting and it told to go through a week at a time. The first week was learning to make eye contact. Hard, but doable. I start looking everyone in the eye as I am told to not just look the opposite sex but the same sex so you can just get better used to eye contact. Okay. Good.

Then the next week was when wisdom shows it’s a good idea, give a gentle smile to someone you deem attractive. I started doing that and I was really surprised how many smiles I got back. I don’t know what that means exactly. I couldn’t help but wonder if they thought I was cute possibly.

So far so good. Let’s go to step three!

Small talk.

I don’t think I came back for months and still I struggle with this one as I despise small talk.

It’s a hope of mine to get to seminary and find guys who will be my wingmen and give me tips on if a girl is interested in me or not. I would totally miss it if they were. I do love the academic life and the intellectual arena, but I am not the best when it comes to the social arena.

Some people might think I focus on that too much. First off, as a guy, I think about physical interaction a lot and miss it everyday so yeah, this is something I focus on. Second, it’s easy for people who are still married to talk about learning to focus on God. Divorce really rips out something from you and it’s as if you’ve lost a limb or even a few of them.

Add in also now that when I am at work, I am essentially bored silly. My work doesn’t challenge me and I realize I did not go to college for this. When I am spoken to by my managers, it is essentially to tell me about things I have done wrong or they think are wrong. I see other people interacting fine and wonder what I’m missing. Really, one of the times I feel the loneliest of all in my life is when I’m at work. I am truly an outsider.

I look at the world around me and see so much chaos going on and I want to be out there doing something and making a difference, but here I am doing what any high schooler could do. I spend 40 hours a week doing it. At least on the way to and fro I can listen to an audible book and while I’m at work I can on breaks read my other books. I won’t deny that work at least pays the bills, but I want meaning in what I do.

When I fill out a survey online and I get asked my marital status, it is still always painful to select divorced. It was a word I never wanted to use to describe myself. I really think I tried to do most everything I could do to be a good and loving husband. In the end, it was rejection.

Rejection is painful. It’s one reason I hate going to work as I feel like an outsider there. I have been there for about ten months and thus far no one has even asked for my Facebook information or anything like that. The only exception is one person who got fired and came through my line and wanted my number and I gave it to him.

I am thankful my parents have provided me a place to live. I am also thankful that I get to spend my time with my cat here. I don’t want to say life is completely terrible. It’s not. I still enjoy my reading and doing my apologetics and I love my gaming time with my friends. I have more money for that now and I also am now playing Final Fantasy XIV online with friends of mine. (If you play, let me know. I am Phoenix Skywing.)

I also try to live by the maxim that the best revenge is a life well lived. I have no wish to harm my ex-wife. I don’t even know where she is right now or what she’s doing. I have a general idea, but I don’t look her up or anything like that. She’s made her decision. I still pray for her every night, but I don’t watch her or keep tabs or anything like that.

For going to New Orleans, I am looking for a church now that is autism friendly. I am also going to talk about getting a job with the New Orleans Baptist Association if I don’t get one at a local church. I have also given some thought to doing Christian comedy from an autistic Christian perspective. One benefit of my work now is I have so many interactions that really show the way people think that I can make plenty of jokes about how people act in a retail environment.

The biggest concern about this is sadly, the church can treat divorce like it’s the unpardonable sin. This is one area we definitely need to improve on. I am thankful I have a good church family. I can’t imagine going through this and having a church family that would kick me while I’m down as if I was an awful sinner because of what happened. Sadly, there are too many people who cannot say the same thing about having a good church.

Until then, I will be sharing my Patreon also so that if I do lose my job, which wouldn’t surprise me frankly, I can at least have some more income coming in in the meanwhile and hopefully, I can get to a point of working entirely from home doing apologetics. I also ask people who want to encourage to mainly listen if you have not gone through divorce. Help from people who have not been there is often remembered as being more painful than it is helpful.

If you have been through it, I welcome you walking beside me, especially if you’re a guy and can share in the struggles that guys have. I remember as an example talking to a guy friend here who has gone through it about the struggle I had at the start of it when I felt guilty finding myself attracted to other women. I remember also thinking about going through a store and saying to myself, “She would like this. Oh yeah. Right. She did that.” I was so used to buying her gifts and now so much I have to unthink. Having a guy who has walked the walk has been essential to me.

Divorce is painful. Even writing this blog has been painful. There are times I can be minding my own business and just get hit with sudden sorrow for a moment or so. One reason I think I game a lot now is so that I can have my mind off of the matter for a short time. I have a goal I can accomplish and I work on doing that.

Many of you have been there and I appreciate that. Also, not all of you are Christians even, but I appreciate your help as well. I am thankful that as much as I love debate, posts like this don’t become debate posts. I am also thankful some people I know have been inspired to speak out and share their stories on divorce. I would love to see the stigma against it broken. This is also why I have a Facebook group for Christian men and divorce. Feel free to find it and join in, but you have to answer all the questions to get in.

And if you have read this long, I appreciate your reading. I do really look forward to what’s coming up in my life, though I won’t deny it is somewhat frightening too. I have never lived as far away as in Louisiana, but I want to do something to make a difference down there as well.

Please be praying for me and consider becoming a contributor to my Patreon as well. All the support I can get will be great and I am a spender who tries to be conscientious with money. I am always looking for a bargain.

Again, thank you for reading.

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

Divorce About A Year Later

How is life today? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Some of you know I have been applying to NOBTS. If you don’t know that, then obviously you need to subscribe to my newsletter. Recently while filling out the application, I had to explain the circumstances of my divorce. That involved getting out the paperwork and looking at it again. I don’t remember the exact date, but it was this month.

So how is it a year later?

Well, everyday in some ways, it still hurts.  Little things can happen that remind me of something from her. Sometimes, it can even be good things. I can pet my cat and be thinking about missing getting to touch her as well. I can hear someone say something and remember that she used to say that as well. Any time I feel rejection in some way, rightly or wrongly, it brings it back and I think about how I have been rejected.

That’s something that makes divorce so much different than something like death. Divorce is an intentional rejection by someone that is treating you like a problem that has to be eliminated. It doesn’t happen by accident. Sometimes it is justified, but in my case, it wasn’t, and the irony is I had plenty of people, even priests and pastors and others telling me I could get a divorce at any time and it would be biblically based. One priest said a divorce was a godly option or I could remain a martyr in my marriage.

Loneliness is a big problem for me. That’s one more reason I want to move to the campus. I have friends, but very few of them are local, though it is nice for something like Final Fantasy XIV to have some people I can play it with. (If you play too, find me on there. My name is Phoenix Skywing.) It would be nice to have fellow men around who share my theological passions.

Of course, there’s also women to consider. A seminary could be a great place to find a devoted Christian woman who’s looking for her MRS degree. I had hoped that I would never be involved in this search again as it’s extremely difficult being on the spectrum and having to approach someone, but it looks like I am. Add in also that I am completely inept at knowing if someone is flirting with me or not.

It’s really odd to think I’m talking with my therapist about women I am interested in and getting advice. Normally, this seems to come up in most every weekly session. I still hate to this day going to bed at night and realizing that I am sleeping alone. I love having Shiro here with me, but it’s hard to think he’s stuck in one room at my parents’ house since they already have a cat and he only has me. He seems to tolerate my Mom some, and is slowly maybe starting to accept my Dad, but there’s no one he ultimately trusts but me.

There are some people who after a divorce seem to take a view that sex before marriage will be no big deal. I still hold the view that I don’t want it to happen, but having been married before and enjoyed that fruit, I also know what a great temptation it is for me. Fortunately, I have been able to avoid pornography still. That’s not about how awesome I am. There’s a great need to rely on the grace of God and His strength when I am weak.

However, as a guy, this is definitely a great want in my life. I find women to be absolutely beautiful and I don’t want to go through life alone. I also still wouldn’t mind being a Dad someday. Therefore, I do strive to be careful with women and have already set up some boundaries for when I am dating to help make temptation less likely to master me.

I have also become somewhat of an advocate for men going through divorce. One man was inspired to tell his story after I shared mine. I have also set up a Facebook group for Christian men going through divorce or who have gone through it or who are about to go through it.

It’s really sad divorce comes with such a stigma to it. We can think that if many churches today heard that Paul was coming back, they wouldn’t question him about coming behind the pulpit despite having been a murderer, but if news came out that Paul was a divorcee, then there would be serious questions as that had to be explained. I am not saying we should not take divorce seriously. We should. I am saying it is not the unpardonable sin.

Something that also stings in my case is knowing I was accused of being abusive by her. There are plenty of people who knew both of us who would tell you that this is not the case. As I said earlier, I have been told that I had grounds and I have tended to choose to not go into that due to my desire to not shame her. The news came out in September because we thought she had gone missing. A few people knew about it before I went public, but I had kept it secret for a reason.

I would be crazy to deny there was also some shame involved in that. I hate having to tell people I’m divorced. Divorce can be a scarlet letter that you wear.

At the same time, I try to not let it dominate my life. Many people can think about getting revenge on their exes. This is actually how Sue Grafton’s alphabet murder series came about. She kept thinking of how she could kill her ex and then thought, “Why not turn it into a book series?” For me, I don’t really want that. There is a part of me that wants justice, but I want mercy also for her. I have decided personally that the best revenge is a life well-lived.

Even last night, I had a dream that we found out she had to go to the hospital again. This is just a dream, of course, so don’t take this as a fact, but I woke up from it and going back to sleep, I began praying for her again and her well-being. Can I say she has hurt me more than anyone else ever has? Yep. 100%. Still, I try to think of how I have treated my God and then I remember I too have rejected too many times one who loves me so much and I pray for mercy.

Going to work five days a week is a pain as well mainly because my job requires nothing that gives me any challenge intellectually, but is instead a lot of socializing. It’s one reason I am working on making Deeper Waters self-sustaining so that I can just do apologetics work full-time. Again, please consider becoming a donor to help make this so. The more free time I have, the more I can do the important things, like hopefully starting up the podcast again one day.

This is a season in my life. It’s a sad season, but it is still a season. It will pass. The thing is that when people say that, it doesn’t really help that much. You don’t want to have to wait for the season to end. You want it to end then.

Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of people have been in my corner. I haven’t really lost relationships. If anything, my pain has been something that has helped some other men, and for that, I am grateful. I have one really good friend who has gone down this road and has interacted with me regularly. He had someone do the same for him. I am helping someone else down this road now and hope to help others down it too.

Still, I can’t deny the pain is real. You have to choose to keep going. There were times early on when it was sometimes tempting to just quit. That was never the answer though, although everyone I understand thinks about it at some point. I have chosen to face my pain consistently, but never doubt that it is very much there.

Sometimes people will reach out and say things that I also know are meant to be supportive, but they have the exact opposite effect. Some of it can even be true, such as the importance of being thankful for what you have. I am and should be, but I also do acknowledge there is a real loss on my end and a real desire for other gifts, like a remarriage some day.

Honestly, if you haven’t been through a divorce, one of the best things you can do is just listen. I might just need to vent a bit at times and then I can come to my own conclusions. Naturally, pray as well.

Thanks to so many people who have been there for me. I hope many of you never have to go through the pain of divorce, justified or unjustified. For those wanting to know about seminary, just follow my Facebook or subscribe to my newsletter for updates.

Thank you again for everything.

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