What Hill Will You Die On?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus Shock

What do we do with the words of Jesus? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In all frankness right at the start, the title of this comes from Peter Kreeft. I can just think of no better way to describe this than he did, though he was taking a different approach. I started thinking about this one recently when talking with some skeptics on Facebook. Usually, we see the same verses pop up that we already know are being misunderstood.

Let’s consider Luke 14:26.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.”

Such a statement is Jewish hyperbole and leave it to so many today to read it literalistically. The problem for those of us in the apologetics field is that we can be so easy responding to the misinterpretation that we miss the real interpretation. No. Jesus does not want us to literally hate our parents or ourselves, but He is calling us to literally do something.

So guys. If you’re married, how many of you men out there love your wives? How many women love your husbands? How much are you to love Jesus? You are to love Jesus so much that by comparison, your love for those people would seem like hatred. They can’t even be remotely in the same league as Jesus. Jesus doesn’t tell you to give up your family, but you would need to be willing to if need be.

Really. He said that.

Note that not only did He say this, but He made it about Himself. It’s not just that you need to do this to be a servant in the Kingdom of God. Perhaps that could be more understandable. No. Jesus made it about Himself. You need to be willing to eliminate these from your life if you are going to be a disciple of Jesus. Other great rabbis would speak about God. Jesus spoke about Himself.

What does that tell you about how He saw Himself?

Consider also another favorite one that is used. Jesus says that a man should not go and bury his father first. He needs to let the dead bury their own dead. Now the reality is the man’s father was likely still very much alive. The man was just saying he needed to fulfill his familial obligations first and then he could fulfill his obligation to Jesus.

Jesus won’t have it.

Yes. He actually says this.

Really. Let it sink in.

Are you ready to make that kind of commitment to Jesus?

Do you make this commitment to Him?

The problem for so many of us is that we have heard these kinds of sayings so much that we just tend to gloss over them. They no longer really surprise us. I have heard that when king Clovis II was told first about the crucifixion of Jesus, he immediately reached for his sword and said, “They wouldn’t have done that if I had been there.” We know that it was necessary that He be crucified, but we need to let the surprise of it sink in. This really happened. He really did this for us. Odds are if we had been there, we would have also been crying out to God to not let this happen.

Kind of like we do with much of our own suffering.

And God did let it happen.

Much like He lets our suffering happen.

And Jesus’s suffering ended in far greater good.

So……

Usually, many of my fellow apologists agree that Jesus Mythicism, the idea that Jesus never existed, is thoroughly stupid. This is another reason for it. If Jesus never existed, I don’t think we would be capable of creating a figure like Him. I realize that’s not the same kind of argument that you can normally put forward in historical studies, but it is one. We could point to characters later on like Aslan, but that’s after we have the model of Jesus to look to.

For those of us in apologetics, let’s make sure we don’t spend so much time on misinterpretation that we ignore real interpretation. Jesus said the things He said and as has been said, they were the most incredible things ever said by human lips. We need to really take them seriously.

If it leaves you nervous, you’re not the only one. If it doesn’t, then really check yourself. It should. Jesus is calling for a radical commitment. Would you be willing to forsake all others for Jesus?

Note of course that I am not telling you to not love your family. You should. However, if Jesus asked you to give them up for Him, would you be willing to do that? We can look in amazement at the story of Abraham, but Jesus is asking us for similar here. No. We aren’t being told to literally offer them up as a sacrifice, but we are told to perform an Abrahamic sacrifice in that we are willing to give them up for Jesus.

This is also looking at just two passages. There are many many more. Jesus calls us to not even hate our neighbor in our hearts because that is the first step to murdering them. That’s a hard one.

How about lust? Look at the way our society is today with sex selling everything and we are told to not look at that woman with the idea of wanting to use her for sex or else we are on the way to adultery. We have already had the willingness to do so in our hearts after all.

Do you like that commandment? I don’t. It’s a difficult one to follow. I can’t help but think about what Mark Twain is alleged to have said at this point. It’s not the statements in the Bible I don’t understand that bother me. It’s the ones that I do understand.

Jesus was the most radical figure who ever lived. We need to let ourselves be shocked by Him. Let’s not be so busy defending His words that we ignore them ourselves. Honestly to skeptics out there, I would encourage you to also really think about this figure. Mythicism is just ridiculous, but once you accept He lived, what do you do with Him? If you think someone made this all up, who was that amazing person or group of persons? Color me skeptical that such a thing could be done. If it wasn’t done, then we have to ask the question he asked.

“Who do you say that I am?”

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

Should Revelation Be Scary?

How do we approach this book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I wrote about my mother’s concerns with weather all over the world. I asked her then if she was basing this on Revelation and she told me she had only read it once when she was a child and it scared her greatly. I can understand a child being scared by the book of Revelation, much like how on the other end the rabbis wanted a Jewish boy to wait until he was old enough before he read the Song of Songs.

Yet as adults, should we be scared of the book? In all fairness, there are some surprising aspects of this book. Years ago I read a book that asked at one point what would we know about Jesus if the only thing we had about Him was the book of Revelation? We certainly wouldn’t know about any “Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild.”

Years ago, Weird Al had a movie called UHF where he took over a TV station and brought it back from the brink with some awesome shows. One show that he had was Gandhi II. In this one, Gandhi came back and was not Mr. passive-resistance. He was a rough and tough fighter with beautiful ladies by his side toting a machine gun. Aside from the ladies, we can see Jesus being presented in such a different way in Revelation. He opens seals that bring about destruction on Earth and He comes back riding on a horse to judge and make war.

We all say to some extent we want justice. That even applies to today’s social justice warriors. What is in their name but justice? While I think it is a perverted sense of justice, they still want what they see as justice. Justice is good, but justice can also be scary. Something worth pointing out also is we constantly want mercy for ourselves and justice for our enemies. We very rarely reverse those. Perhaps we should.

Now some people reading this believe in a rapture and that Revelation describes what happens when the church is gone. That I find puzzling since why spend so much time talking about an event we won’t see? Still, if you believe that, this shouldn’t scare you because you’re not going to experience it.

I take the Orthodox Preterist approach and see the book as describing events largely happening in the first century, though some is future and one event, Revelation 12, is even a Cosmic Christmas story. These events do show justice. God takes sin seriously. The reason everything happens in Revelation in judgment is because people sin. There is a way in which justice is scary.

If we stay there, Revelation will not help us. It is not meant to just scare us. It is meant to give us hope. When Christians go through sufferings and trials, even the worst of all, God is still in charge. No matter what the Beast does in the book, it’s clear throughout who is in charge.

Often in the church today we make too big an emphasis on the devil. When it comes to what’s going on in our lives that is suffering, we blame it on the devil over and over. Whenever we are tempted to sin, it is because of the devil. After all, it can’t be that that’s our natural tendency. I don’t know about you, but I don’t need the devil to tempt me into sin. I’m quite proficient at being tempted on my own.

This fear is understood since in Revelation sealing the devil takes an army of angels to…wait….what? What did you say? The text doesn’t say that? It says one angel does it?

Huh. Imagine that.

It takes one angel to deal with the devil. Don’t practically make him the counterpart of God.

Finally, I remember several years ago being on TheologyWeb when in our chat feature on the site called the Shoutbox, someone was posting “Saints Win! Saints Win! Saints Win!” I humorously remarked that he must have just finished reading the book of Revelation. It’s a joke, but we should all really shout with joy at times. After all, the saints really do win.

In the end then, Revelation should be a comfort. Whatever the judgment that comes, God does it for the people He loves and how does it end? It ends with a wedding. It is the ultimate marriage of Heaven and Earth. It is the consummation of what has been longed for. God is with His people as He intended and all those who want to sit at the table can do so.

Come.

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

Book Plunge: Investigating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ: A New Transdisciplinary Approach

What do I think of Andrew Loke’s book published by Routledge? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If I were to use one word to describe this book, it would be thorough. Loke leaves practically no stone unturned and he deals with numerous obscure objections to the resurrection in a logical format. He lists out the possibilities in each case at the start and in the end all the evidence points to Jesus being raised from the dead.

He starts with what the earliest Christians claimed. This is the natural place to start as all we have at the beginning as many skeptics will say is a claim. Meticulously, he goes through piece by piece answering most every possible step you could think of. That includes scholars well known and respected in the field, like Ehrman, to those on the fringe, like Richard Carrier. I was extremely pleased to see this as while most scholars don’t really bother with Carrier, someone does need to and Loke is the kind of guy to do it.

On and on Loke will go looking at each section of the chain and sometimes you will be left wondering how he can write any more on the topic and lo and behold, he does. Loke wants to make absolutely sure that he has left no stone unturned.

If you want to read a chapter on its own, you can go and read the chapter relevant to what you’re studying. Do you want to know if the disciples’ experience of seeing something was something extramental or purely in their heads, go to that chapter. Do you want to know the details surrounding the burial of Jesus? Go to that chapter.

While this is a historical book, there is philosophy covered as well. Loke has apparently written earlier on the existence of God so he doesn’t make that case, but it’s good to know that foundation is there. He does have a chapter here on the question of miracles for those who want to know about that. He is just as thorough in this area as he is in other areas.

There’s also a chapter on combination hypotheses. After all, maybe you say to yourself, “Okay. My case against the empty tomb isn’t that good, but it makes more sense when you combine it with these other arguments.” Don’t be so sure. Loke has this covered.

Now for the bad part. At the time of this publishing, to get a hardcover copy of this book is awfully expensive. It will cost you a little over $100. That’s the bad news.

Here’s the really good news. If you want to read this on your Kindle or computer, you can get a somewhat better price. How does free sound? Yep. Completely free. I checked just today to make sure and it has been free for years. That means you really have no excuse to engage with this book. You can get it here.

This is my challenge then to those who don’t believe in the resurrection. Give this free book a try. Don’t have a Kindle? You can either get one or you can read it on an Amazon app on your computer or even get the app on your phone. Try to even do something like fifteen minutes a day with the book. You could say you will lose time, but how many of us would spend that time watching Netflix or playing video games? We all have time for entertainment. Just give some of it to this.

It’s free. Face this book and see what you think and if you disagree, at least have an informed disagreement.

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

Thoughts On The Rich Man and Lazarus

What does this parable tell us? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I am sometimes engaged in debates on the final fate of people and particularly, the unbelievers. Do they go to a place of torment or are they annihilated? Sometimes, many people will go to Luke 16 with the parable of the rich man and Lazarus to get some answers. It’s understandable, but this parable is really not about the nature of heaven and hell.

Let’s start with the story. The rich man wears purple. The wording could indicate that this even goes down to his undergarments, the garments people wouldn’t normally see. Why does this matter? Because purple was the color of royalty and prestige. If you were wearing purple, you were a big deal.

This man lives in luxury every day. Outside his gate though is a man named Lazarus. Note that the rich man has a gate which means he has a good living place. After all, gates were means of protection. This guy can afford some security.

Let’s start with Lazarus being named. It would bring to mind Eleazar which means God has helped. Some people look at the parable having a man with a real name and say “No other parable has this so this isn’t a parable.” This is understandable, but it is mistaken. The reason Lazarus is named is to show him as a worthwhile and honorable individual. The rich man, who most people would look up to and admire becomes in the eyes of God a “What’s his name?”

Lazarus meanwhile is someone who is sick and has nothing and dogs lick his wounds. Some people think that the licking of a dog was seen as medicinal. Either way, the message is that dogs are doing more for Lazarus than this rich man, who could clearly afford to help him.

Lazarus dies and he gets a personal escort of angels. Note that what is said about his death is just that he died. Nothing. No one notices him. The rich man dies and is buried. Burial was important for one’s honor and it is also done by someone else. No one can bury themselves. The rich man is remembered when he dies.

However, in the afterdeath, Lazarus is in Abraham’s bosom and the rich man is in hell. The rich man now has to look up to see Abraham and Lazarus and in all of this, he still sees Lazarus as a tool. This also shows that the rich man was aware of Lazarus since he knew his name. His attitude remains unchanged and he still sees Lazarus as a servant and refuses to even address him.

He does call Abraham, father, which indicates this was a Jewish man. He also doesn’t want to go to be where Lazarus was, but he wants to bring Lazarus to where he is. Lazarus remains completely silent. This time, he has an advocate and one great one to have, Abraham.

Abraham also refers to the rich man as son, a familial name. It is showing a degree of care, but Abraham reminds the rich man that in the past, Lazarus had nothing and the rich man had everything. Now the roles are reversed. There is also a chasm fixed so that people cannot go back and forth. This should also be another indication the story isn’t literal. (What would happen if you fell down the chasm anyway? Would you “die” or would it be like a Mario game and you would just reappear where you started?)

The rich man then asks that Lazarus be sent to his family of five brothers. Again, Lazarus is the servant. However, why does the rich man have five brothers? Jesus didn’t need to be specific. He could have said family and it would have worked. Why five brothers?

Could it be because in the Old Testament, Judah had five brothers? Judah would be a picture of Jerusalem. Is this Jesus pointing out that Jerusalem itself is under judgment? Quite likely.

Abraham says they have Moses and the prophets. The rich man insists that is not enough. Many of us hear this today. It is a common argument today from skeptics that they need God to do something for them personally before they will believe. I have no reason to believe those people are really seeking. Most of them are not interested in diving into the best works they can defending a Christian worldview to see what they really have to say.

It’s a shame to have some people miss out on God because they are caught in emotional arguments. These same people will often chide Christians for believing for emotional reasons. This is understandable as if atheists shouldn’t make eternal judgments based on emotions, neither should Christians. Many Christians could bear to read some scholarship as well.

We all know skeptics who are like this. The problem they claim is that there is not enough evidence when normally, the evidence that is there has not really been considered. Sometimes God does give more, but why should He if someone isn’t considering what they already have? Abraham says the rich man’s brothers won’t believe even if someone rises from the dead.

This is true.

After all, I have also met a number of skeptics that have said that even if God is real and Jesus rose from the dead, they won’t worship Him. This is normally for an emotional reason. Odds are you have met someone like that too.

This is not a parable about the afterdeath. This is a parable about those who God honors as well. That’s humbling too. Many of you who look up to me as a Christian to admire, and I hope I am, know my name from my writings and debates. Who is the real hero in the Kingdom of God though? It could be an unknown person that when they die, the world will neither know nor care. Meanwhile, those great celebrities who walk the streets of Hollywood and are known by everyone? They could be the ones that find themselves in a position of shame forever.

If this is true, you should consider your choices carefully. Before rejecting it also, you should make sure that you have investigated it fairly and don’t just have an emotional reason. If you are a Christian, be living so that you will be honored like Lazarus was when your time comes.

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

Book Plunge: Not Afraid of the Antichrist

What do I think of Craig Keener and Michael Brown’s book published by Chosen books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I used to be a futurist pre-trib dispensationalist. I’m not proud of it. I grew up in the Bible Belt and I heard Southern Gospel music and I never heard any other view. Christians believe in the rapture. It wasn’t until I got the internet that I heard a contrary view.

And I went kicking and screaming into that contrary view. Who would want to disbelieve in the rapture? Who would want to go through a great tribulation and face the antichrist?

However, there were still questions I had. Eventually, I found my eschatological home. Today, I am an orthodox preterist. I realize Keener and Brown don’t come from this position, but I wanted to go through their book to see what they had to say about the dispensationalist position which is still extremely prominent in the church.

I describe them as firm and gentle. They start out telling their stories on how they came to believe in the rapture and then in how they came to disbelieve in the rapture. They have nothing but respect for their friends who are still dispensationalist and pre-tribulationists. They are just writing this to answer questions that they have often received.

Let’s also go with a positive. The application aspects of this book are excellent. Keener and Brown write about how Christians all over the world are already going through suffering. It can be comforting if you think you could be excluded from such suffering by a rapture, but no one is guaranteed this. Keener and Brown stress that even if Christians have to face the antichrist, they have nothing to be afraid of because Jesus is greater. With these, all Christians be they pre-tribulationists or orthodox preterists should say amen. I think all of us need to read this section of the book because many of us in the West don’t have any real idea of what persecution is like from experience.

When the pair look at the arguments, they are again firm, but gentle. Michael Brown specializes in Old Testament arguments. No. I’m not going to give his answers here, but he looks at questions like “Doesn’t God regularly deliver his people from suffering in the Old Testament such as in the case of the flood or Sodom and Gomorrah?” Keener deals with New Testament passages like 1 Thess. 4 and others.

They also stress that the Second Coming is a one-stage event. The idea of the rapture breaks the second coming into two different stages. It also has a problem with the idea of the resurrection being on the last day and then a resurrection happening before the last day.

That being said, I do have some criticisms. For one, preterism is nowhere mentioned in the book. Neither is futurism. I would like to know what reasons Keener and Brown have for not accepting this viewpoint.

Next, I think as a Preterist that while Keener and Brown rightly reject pre-tribulationism, they still have many of the ideas in it. For example, what about the antichrist. The term antichrist only shows up in the epistles of John, and yet the Beast in Revelation is thought to be the antichrist as is the Man of Lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians. That could be right, but it needs to be argued for.

I also think 2 Thessalonians presents a problem with this since we are told about this man entering the temple. There is no reason to think Paul has in mind a third temple that will supposedly be built sometime in the future. If that is the case, then that would mean the Man of Lawlessness has already come and if he has, then if he is the antichrist, then antichrist has already come.

Let’s also remember the Olivet Discourse. This begins with the destruction of the temple. It concludes with Jesus saying “Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass until some of these things have taken place.” Oh wait. That’s not what it says. He says “All of these things.” That means the generation that sees these things start will see them end and how did the questioning start? The destruction of the temple. The generation that sees that will see the coming of Jesus.

By the way, let’s note in the passage it is about the coming of Jesus, but not to Earth. Jesus refers to Daniel 7. That shows Jesus coming to His throne in Heaven. The disciples asked Him for the sign of His coming, not knowing He would die let alone die, rise again, and then ascend into Heaven and return in the future.

I also think the authors assume a great tribulation. This is still like taking part of the pre-tribulation paradigm and running with it. We have a great tribulation referred to in Rev.7 and in Matthew 24, but why not think that that is the destruction of Jerusalem. Why assume a future event?

The authors also state that satan always has his antichrist ready for each generation since he doesn’t know the hour. I found this a very weak point. For one, satan would always be thinking that he is going to overcome the plans of God, such as in the crucifixion. Here, he is acting like he has to play along. Next, how could you establish this? How can we go and look in each generation in history and find someone who would be the antichrist of that time? Keep in mind I think this is the weakest argument in the book and I even hate having to mention it because the rest is excellent.

Again, the best part of this book is the section on overcoming suffering and being willing to for Christ. Even if pre-tribulationists disagree up and down with the rest of the book, they need to read that part. Every Christian does. I would be thrilled if future editions of the book would include more about this.

Christians who are pre-tribulationists need to read this book to receive a kind criticism. People who are not can read this to realize why they abandoned it. Orthodox preterists like myself should read this to get the criticism and for the blessing at the end. In other words, read this book.

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

A New Resource

How do you best defend the virgin birth, which I do affirm? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If there’s any blog post that I have to put up and share the most on Facebook, it’s the one I wrote about how the whole thing got started with affirming the virgin birth, which I do affirm. From there, the virgin birth, which I do affirm, is something I have become known for with some interviews and requests to write on the topic. Eventually, it was suggested to me that I get a web site on the topic.

So I did.

I then decided beyond humor, take this site and turn it into a real resource. You can go there and find many resources on the virgin birth, which I do affirm. We have books you can buy, ebooks that are free that you can download, articles, videos, debates, podcasts, interviews, etc. I am still gathering more and more for those who are interested.

Also, I created a Facebook group. This does emphasize the virgin birth, which I do affirm, but it will also be a place I hope for discussing anything related to apologetics. If you want to have another great group to belong to, come and help us get started.

Where do we go from here? Right now, I am doing a lot of reading on the topic of the virgin birth, which I do affirm, because I will be writing an ebook called I Affirm The Virgin Birth. Not only that, but when I am done, I plan to keep on going and write other books in a kind of series. Here is what I have so far.

I Affirm The Life of Jesus which will be a response to mythicism.

I Affirm The Crucifixion of Jesus which will be a response to ideas like those of Muslims that Jesus was never crucified.

I Affirm The Burial of Jesus which will be a response to claims like those of Ehrman that Jesus was never buried.

I Affirm The Resurrection of Jesus which will be my case that Jesus rose again.

I Affirm The Rule of Jesus which will be my defense of Orthodox Preterism.

The good news also is that these are easy titles to keep going on with many other topics I could write about. Consider this just a start, but a start that can keep me busy. It has really been a lot of fun diving into these topics. Nowadays, aside from my just for fun going through the Peanuts collection and reading books for my personal well-being, including audio books while driving, I am really only reading about the virgin birth, which I do affirm.

I hope you want to help with this. If you do, there’s a Patreon link on this blog post and on the new web site. The more someone can give, the more it gives me time to do that reading and frees me up as I can then have enough to live on and continue this path. Going with that, I hope to someday then get back to doing the podcast as well. If that really interests you, please consider it. I do have some donors, but it would mean so much more to get enough to keep dong this. Every donor shows me how much you do believe in this work and want to see it come around. Please do make a regular donation again.

Starting tomorrow, we’ll return to more regular material including Kindle books that I listened to on my Tap (Not on the virgin birth, which I do affirm, since I couldn’t highlight passages while listening). and giving you my thoughts on them.

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

Book Plunge: What Is The Gospel?

What do I think of Greg Gilbert’s book published by Crossway? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’m in the process of joining a new church and in the membership class, this book is given to us as a requirement to read. As a side note, let me say I think that is awesome. Churches should be encouraging their members to read more books.

So what are my thoughts on the book? Let’s go with a straight list of positives and negatives and with the negatives, I plan to say how I would change them.

First positive, this is a short book. Not only does it have less than 150 pages, but it’s also small in size meaning you can carry it with you easily and a church member will not get intimidated by it. I would love to see church members read something like N.T. Wright’s The Resurrection of the Son of God, but let’s face it. Most people are not going to read a book with 800+ pages sadly.

Second, it is easy to understand. The author does not use high theological terms that a layman would understand. He also uses real life examples that most anyone can relate to.

Third, there is talk, including one chapter, on ideas not normally included in the gospel, such as the Kingdom of God. I wondered if this is the effect of Wright in some way. Too often in gospel presentations, it’s easy to skip the life of Jesus and go straight to the death and resurrection. I was concerned for some time going through that the kingdom would never be mentioned, but thankfully, it was.

That brings me to what I would like to change.

First, when the gospel is being defined, the writer immediately goes to Romans. Romans is a great place to go to, but I’m thinking “Why don’t we start with Jesus?” This can be a problem though because if you think the central theme of the gospel is something like “Justified by faith” then what do you do with Jesus preaching in Mark in the first chapter saying the Kingdom of God has come near and to repent and believe the gospel.

This not to deny the doctrine of justification, but saying we need to see what Jesus meant by the gospel first instead of jumping to what Paul means by the gospel. This is also not to deny Paul. Christians should be reading Paul, but we need to go to Paul to understand Jesus and not Jesus to understand Paul.

For those wondering what I say on this matter, Jesus is saying that God is going to be king over the world again through Jesus and is reconciling the world to Himself. All are called to show allegiance to the true king revealed in Christ. Those who do so are going to be justified by their faith (Loyalty) to the one true God.

Second, there was a part where the author got into the definition of faith and saying that it is not blind belief or anything like that. He is certainly right. However, nowhere in this was anything about apologetics even mentioned, which is a great need in the church. I understand this isn’t a book about that, but would it have been difficult to add in a paragraph like this?

“For those interested in why we believe, there is a branch of Christianity called apologetics that is dedicated to answering hard questions about Christianity. This book is not about that field, but for those interested, I have included an appendix in the back of the book. This appendix lists a few books on specific topics that can get you started.”

Third, I understand at the end what Gilbert was saying about how the cross is central, yet as I went through this section, I kept thinking that it’s great to speak about the cross, but what about the resurrection? Shouldn’t we include that? If all we have is the cross and no resurrection, we have nothing. We can say we are justified by the cross, but only if that cross is followed by a resurrection.

Finally, I would have liked to have seen something more on the nation of Israel. When we tell the story of the Old Testament, we start at the fall and then tend to jump straight to Jesus. We need to know the purpose of Israel and the purpose of the Law, especially in a day and age where many atheists also misunderstand the Law and like to pelt Christians with questions on it.

Overall though, this is a good introduction to the topic. The criticisms I have could be easily fixed after all and most readers won’t notice something like that. This is a great book for a layman to learn how to address this topic.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
Support my Patreon here.

Book Plunge: Decoding Nicea

What do I think of Paul Pavao’s self-published book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The Council of Nicea and Constantine. These are two subjects where we have a lot of heat and very little light. Look at a work such as The Da Vinci Code and you’ll find nonsense on there such as that the deity of Christ was decided at Nicea by a very close vote. One lady online told me that she abandoned Christianity when she found out the canon was decided at the Council and proceeded to send me a link that said that that was actually a great myth about the Council.

Paul Pavao has a book to help deal with this. A good benefit of his book is at the start, he’s not just trying to tell the facts about Nicea. He wants you to know how the facts are known. As he says:

You don’t have to wonder about what is being said in this book. You can look up every reference I give. There are not any other primary sources. Everything else said about the Council of Nicea that is not from these sources is speculation or wishful thinking.

He does just this. The book is heavily filled with endnotes. He does look at the debate at Nicea and points out it could be more accurately said that it was about what the Son of God was made of, what is His substance. Much was agreed on at the Council, but what was disagreed on was sure substantial.

This book also includes looking at several references in the church fathers to see what they had to say about the deity of Christ before Nicea. It’s easy to see that there were no innovations at the meeting. The appendices are filled with several historical documents as well.

As it goes into church history, there are looks at other questions as well. One such question I liked is the one on the Sabbath, though I wish there had been more on this. The SDA church lists several claims about the RCC supposedly admitting that they changed the date of the Sabbath. Perhaps that was out of the scope of the book though.

There is rather substantial pushback to RCC claims about the Pope. It would be interesting to see some members of the RCC respond to this. I as a Protestant agree with the claims and am skeptical of many of the claims my Catholic and Orthodox friends make about church history.

I also like the response to the idea that Constantine tried to destroy all the Gnostic writings. As Pavao says:

If Constantine was unable to succeed in extinguishing the memory and writings of Arius, just one man, do we really believe that he destroyed all the gnostic writings and there’s no record of his even trying?

What about the canon? Yep. Nothing to do with Nicea. There is an appendix with the canon lists from church history in the back. I do have some pushback here as I don’t think the Muratorian Canon really dates to the time it’s said to date to and is really a forgery.

Pavao also stresses that it’s a shame that Christians got so violent over the question of Nicea. We spent years working on our doctrine, which we should, but we didn’t spend so much time looking at our practice. Sadly, today we are still in the same boat. While we weren’t killing each other, remember the problems from the Inerrancy wars in the past decade? I am not opposed to Christian debate as we should have that, but too often we are ready to shoot our own instead of going after our own common enemies.

That is another great benefit of the book. The work is not only meant to help clear up myths about Nicea, which it does a great job of, but it also is meant to tell us how we should better live as Christians. Not enough study has been done on this topic and definitely not enough practice. What does it matter if we reached the orthodox position at Nicea if we go out instead and live like heathens?

The book is long, but it is worth it. It is also readily readable for the layman. Anyone can pick up this book and understand it. I encourage Christians and skeptics to do so. There are too many myths believed about Nicea.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth.)
Support my Patreon here.

Does Acts 2 Teach Communism?

Was the early church a Communist movement? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In Acts 2, we read about the early church.

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

There are a number of people that look at this and think that this sounds like something Communistic. Don’t they have everything in common? Don’t they sell all their possessions?

However, there are differences.

For one, if a group of people decide to come together and do this on their own without any force, that is not Communism. Communism is done with the government leading the way. Here, there is no central government that is leading the way for the people.

Second, they sold property and gave to those who had need. Not everyone was equal financially because some people had need and some didn’t. The text also says that they met in their homes. That means that some people had homes to meet in. We can also be sure that some things were not in common and understood not to be, such as they weren’t into wife sharing or something similar.

Third, as a Preterist, I contend there’s a reason these people were selling property in Jerusalem. They were sure Jesus was coming some time as He promised to judge the place and bring about destruction. Land values won’t really matter at that point.

Fourth, later on in the text, we see other people selling their land and giving it to the cause. As we see in Acts 4:

32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Here, we see the same thing going on. People still have land and people are still selling it and goods are being distributed to people who have need. This is also something the people are entering into willingly.

In Acts 5, we have the chilling case of Ananias and Sapphira.

Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”

When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”

“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”

Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

Now this seems like a harsh punishment? Lying about money? What’s the big deal. This was a fledgling church movement and nothing was really done privately. People would find out what happened and if these two got away with it, everyone else could as well. Greed quickly comes into a church and tears it down. Not only that, these people were grabbing honor as if they had given everything when they had not.

Yet note that this is said to be their property. They could do with it what they wanted. They weren’t forced. When they sold it, the money was theirs. If they wanted to, they could have kept some of the money for themselves and just been honest with the apostles about it. Sure, it would have likely been seen as shameful behavior, but it would have been honest.

Next, in Acts 6, Greek widows say they are being overlooked when it comes to the distribution of food as Hebrew widows are getting more. Again, you have people in need and who are they really? They are the people in that society most likely to be unable to provide for themselves. Again, this is not exactly a commune.

Finally, this is the only place we see this happening in the New Testament. It doesn’t show up in any of the churches outside of here. As I contend, there’s a reason that it only happens in Jerusalem.

Now I don’t think Communism is an effective way to care for the poor and capitalism is far better, but that is another post. I could be hypothetically wrong on that and still right on the point about the early church. For now, those wanting to say Communism works better are not going to be benefitted by looking at the early church.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
Support my Patreon here.