Ravi and Atheism

What does it mean for theism when we have the fall of Ravi? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As I mentioned yesterday, I was part of the Mentionables Podcast where we talked about the whole Ravi situation. I wrote yesterday about the victims of Ravi Zacharias. Today, I would like to turn my attention to the arguments atheists are now putting forward about Ravi.

Let’s state this clearly. Ravi has no bearing on if Christianity is true or not. That rests solely on Jesus Christ and if He rose from the dead or not. All we can gather from Ravi is that those who call themselves Christians, and whether they are or not is not my judgment call to make, can be just as fallen as those they are preaching to.

Yet as soon as this happened, many atheists were sharing this as if this was a grand victory. I understand the desire, but keep in mind one way this is not a victory for anyone. There were real victims of what happened. Real people were hurt by Ravi. Let us never lose sight of them.

Many atheists have acted as if all of Christianity is responsible for this. Most of this sadly falls on what happened at RZIM. Even here, we don’t really know about who knew what and what they could have done otherwise. Without knowing the ins and outs of the organization, it’s hard to know what was going on and thus make a judgment call.

Most of us then had no power to do anything whatsoever in this situation. Not to mention there are plenty of Christians in other countries that could have even less to do with the situation. They are not responsible at all.

Now do atheists demonstrate that some Christians are hypocrites. Yes, to which, they don’t go far enough. All Christians are hypocrites. Nay. That’s not going far enough still. All human beings are hypocrites. The only exception would be the human being who has no moral standards whatsoever, and let’s face it, we don’t want to be around him anyway.

Ironically, many atheists when pulling this demonstrate that we all know that Christianity should produce a higher character. It has been said that hypocrisy is the compliment that vice pays to virtue. When Christians fall short, that is supposed to demonstrate something about Christianity.

It doesn’t. It demonstrates something about Christians. It’s odd to imagine a philosophy where you judge the philosophy by how people don’t manage to live up to it. Consider it like abstinence. When people don’t live up to it, it’s considered a failed philosophy. What failed though is the unwillingness of the person to follow it and I know many people who practice abstinence and I definitely did up until marriage.

Now what about other positions? Are Christians and others inconsistent when we make statements about the violence in Islam or the destruction caused by atheists in atheistic societies? The difference here is what is being pointed out is the logical outworking of the position. In Islam, Muhammad himself engaged in the violent behavior and his followers immediately did that and there are passages in the Qur’an that lead to that interpretation.

As for atheism, it can be argued that if there is no God, all is permissible, as Dostoyevsky argued. Some atheists have acknowledged this as well. If this is the case, then why not go ahead and murder millions of your own people? Why not the Gulag? Why not the Killing Fields?

Keep in mind none of this is saying all atheists or Muslims are like this. It is not saying all of them are responsible for the evils in their belief system. Once 9/11 took place, that doesn’t mean every Muslim in America was responsible. One would need to show a certain Muslim knew about what was going on and then they would be responsible.

What Ravi did was horrible and honestly, if our critics are saying something about moral character, we all need to pay attention. However, this doesn’t demonstrate Christianity is false. Also in all of this, whatever our position, let us come together on the fact that the victims still need our support and we should seek to help them however we can.

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

To Ravi’s Victims

What do you say to those who have been abused? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It’s really hard to think about the idea of Ravi’s victims. Ravi was a man so many of us admired who seemed to have excellent character. Now we know it wasn’t so. There are some people who say Ravi has died twice. He died once on May 19, 2020, and he died again when we saw his reputation and who he was.

Last night, I took part in a discussion with the Mentionables on the Ravi situation. One message I made sure to give was one for the victims. I don’t recall exactly what I said, but I want to give a similar sentiment and maybe go further here. I don’t know if anyone reading this is a victim of Ravi, but if were, this is for you.

First, I want to stress that I said you were a victim of Ravi. However, this is your life. It is up to you, but you can choose to live your life from this point on and even enjoy it. In the past, you let a wicked man have power over you. Any time you move past that, you are breaking the hold of power over you.

Second, this is not your fault. Even if you felt coerced and even if you didn’t really want to do whatever you did, there are many factors that go into that choice and you regret that choice today. The person who does the crime is always the one who is responsible. It is not you.

However, you need to know from now on this is your life. You never need to do something you don’t really want to do like that. An abuser is not entitled to your body. No one should use threats to get you to perform for them in any way whatsoever.

Please understand I am not saying that this is easy. It is not simply that you get up and say “I’m going to choose joy in my life” and it’s easy from then on. This will likely be a long and difficult journey, but you are worth it. You will need a very good therapist to work with you on this and it will be a long process as I said, but it is worth it. It is worth it because this is your life and that life is worth it.

Third, what happened to you had nothing to do with Jesus. Ravi will stand before Jesus Christ now to give an answer for what he did and there will be no partiality given. At the same time, I fully understand your hesitancy to consider Jesus Christ in light of what happened to you.

However, if Christianity is true, Jesus Christ does have a great love for you and a great promise of deliverance. Isn’t that worth considering? If it is true, isn’t that offering what you want? It’s okay to be skeptical and I invite your questions about this matter.

Please consider that there are several good Christians who are willing to come alongside you and help you. The huge majority of us don’t work at RZIM and even of those who do, how many were in a position to know what was going on or do something about it? We have no power there, but all of us have power as the church to do what we can to help someone who is suffering, including the victims of Ravi. Yes. RZIM needs to do all they can to help the victims since Ravi was the perpetrator, but we as the church need to do all we can to help them since we are the church and those who are victims are human beings Jesus loves and died for.

What happened to you is over, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your story. It doesn’t have to define you. You can rise above this. You do not have to be a victim. Victimhood does not have to define your life. Victory can.

May we all continuously pray for you.

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

The Ravi Report

What do I think about the news? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, the report came out about Ravi Zacharias and can be read here. I did skim through it some last night to see the content mainly. I am thankful I did skim because going through it, I started feeling so nauseous over what I was reading that I thought I’d have to take something for it.

You see, Ravi had been a hero of mine for so many years. He was my first favorite apologist that I had. I remember the day I got to meet him and what an honor it was and I got to introduce Allie to him a few years before he died. Now I look back and wonder when did all of his trouble start?

Some people have compared him to King David. I mean, King David screwed up also. Right? Big difference. King David admitted he screwed up and this even when he was in good health. He publicly repented. Ravi knew he was dying and did no such repentance. When the 2017 charge came out, many of us thought it couldn’t be right because, well, Ravi wasn’t that kind of person. Now, it looks like he was that kind of person and the charge was right.

We saw the funeral service that was shared across the internet with people coming and praising Ravi about what a great person he was, not knowing that he took to his grave a huge lie. It is a betrayal of sorts that many of us feel about what Ravi did.

I read through the report feeling sick as I said and wondering when this man went wrong. This wasn’t just one isolated incident. This was a number of repeated incidents. This wasn’t just things done in a moment of weakness. We would condemn it, but it’s easy to understand falling into an affair in a moment of weakness, but when it’s done with premeditation and planning, such as Ravi having separate phones and emails not authorized by RZIM, it’s a different story.

So what judgment comes on Ravi? That’s not our department, and so I honestly don’t know. I wonder about it when I read passages like 1 Cor. 6. If this was his real lifestyle, can Ravi escape that judgment for it? I pray for mercy, but it is not my call. God owes none of us anything and if we know of his grace and flaunt it by living in a sin the Bible condemns, we have to realize there could be consequences.

So some takeaways.

First off, it made me even more sure to try to walk in sexual integrity. Don’t be alone in even an elevator with a woman you are not related to. Don’t go driving in a car with such a woman. Let someone else have access to your devices and know your passwords. Have accountability partners to help you in this.

Second, watch yourself to make sure you don’t fall into sin. I am very guarded in my private conversations with other women. I have women who are friends, but I will not ever consider them intimate friends in any way. My closest friends will always be guys. Getting super close to a member of the opposite sex except for in dating or marriage is dangerous.

Third, RZIM needs to change its name. Ravi’s behavior has unfortunately soiled the ministry and many of those connected to it who are personally innocent and had no clue will pay a price for it. Ministries do not need to be named after any one person save perhaps if you wanted to name a ministry after someone else well-known in ministry from the past.

Fourth, RZIM needs to do everything in its power to help these women who have been affected by the wicked behavior Ravi engaged in. Sexual abuse leaves a powerful scar on someone’s life and healing needs to take place. Any apologies need to be highly public.

Fifth, there will also need to be more financial accountability as Ravi used personal funds and perhaps some donated to RZIM to give gifts to these girls in exchange for gifts from them. People will not want to give to the ministry if they have no reason to trust where their resources are going to. It is fully understandable if many choose to not give again.

For those of us on the outside, there but for the grace of God go us. It is sad to me that I used to hold up Ravi as an example to emulate and now I hold him up as one to avoid. I have great pain especially for his grandchildren who will grow up hearing about the double life that their grandfather lived. These are the ones we should watch over the most.

As for me, I am working through this as well bit by bit. It’s been a very hurtful revelation to learn that someone you thought of as a friend was putting on a show. I do not think Ravi doubted the truth that Jesus rose from the dead, but I think he was trying to justify his actions and using ministry as an excuse.

I really know of no good way to end this kind of blog. I am just greatly disappointed in this man I once looked at. The best I can do is do my best to avoid being that kind of man as well.

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

Please Stop Buying Books On Prophecy

Are we hurting the church? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I was going to do a book plunge today, but other events showed up in my own personal life and I had to talk about those. Yesterday at church, I hear some of the ladies in the row behind me talking about a book with such an excitement. Would that it was N.T. Wright or Mike Licona or Edward Feser or William Lane Craig or someone like that. Nope. It was the Harbinger.

I’m a member of Nextdoor, an online chat site where you chat with others in your community. Someone posted Jeremiah 29:11 for a new year and as we know, posting something from the Bible never stirs up controversy. In the thread, someone else recommends the Harbinger saying it is very prophetic.

Now I have reviewed the book here and definitely recommend David James’s excellent response to it here. (For those interested, James comes from the dispensationalist perspective and still has a problem with the book.) It’s an awful book and not only is it bad theology, it’s bad writing period. The Da Vinci Code was a load of nonsense, but at least it had an interesting story to it. The reporter in The Harbinger makes the staff at the Daily Planet look like Einsteins.

I don’t know if someone has happened recently to get people talking about this book again, but they are.

So what I want to say again to people is PLEASE STOP BUYING BOOKS ON PROPHECY! I would really love to see a day come when doctrines like the resurrection or the Trinity or the virgin birth (Which I do affirm) are taken as seriously as prophecy. Would that one day churchgoers would have discussion before church about various theories of the atonement instead of trying to figure out who the antichrist is.

The reality is, we’ve all been through it before. How many people were taking people like Hal Lindsey and Edgar Whisenant super seriously? How many people gave up all they had for Harold Camping? How many people bought into the Four Blood Moons material? How much of that material has lasted?

We rightly would hold a pastor accountable if they had a major moral failing, such as having an affair. Should we not do the same thing if they have a failing such as trying to claim God says X in prophecy and it doesn’t happen? This is why James 3:1 tells us few will should be teachers because they will be held to a greater accountability.

Honestly, being a prophecy expert would be a great position to have in Christianity. You are an expert just because you say you are and you write books and hold seminars that everyone takes seriously. Within your own lifetime often, you are shown to be wrong, but you wait a few years and publish another book with another interpretation and you’re still held to be an expert.

How many books are gathering dust in the back of Christian bookshelves for claiming XYZ is the antichrist and that person is dead now? There have been people who have claimed Trump was the antichrist. Some people claimed Obama was. No doubt, some people will claim Biden is or that Kamala Harris is. As the hype spreads, the rest of the world looks on and thinks we’re nuts.

They already think that. We don’t need to give them more ammunition.

Not only that, but we miss the real messages of Scripture. We become focused on ourselves and think that Jesus is coming for us because, well, we’re just such a special generation. The fact that Jesus is going to return someday should give us joy, but it should also give us some degree of terror and urgency. What are we doing to spread the message? What kind of lives are we living?

I don’t know how many times I have to answer atheists who insist that Jesus said He would return soon and they use all the same texts to argue it. They insist, like everywhere else, on a hyper-fundamentalism that not even the most fundamentalist Christian I know of would accept. As I started Bart Ehrman’s book on Jesus as an apocalyptic prophet, I made a prediction that he would never once mention Orthodox Preterism in his book. I wish I had made a public bet beforehand because my prediction was entirely accurate.

Folks. There are other doctrines in Christianity besides prophecy and considering how many people with a dispensationalist hermeneutic have got the interpretations wrong, you first off have to wonder why you should take this next guy doing it seriously. I would like you to go a step further. Why should you take the hermeneutic and even the mindset behind it seriously?

I’m not saying you have to jump immediately into the Orthodox Preterist camp, but please at least consider abandoning a bad prophecy hermeneutic today.

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

I Beg Your Pardon. I Never Promised You A Hanging Garden.

Is Jeremiah 29:11 really about us? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I am a supporter of the ministry of Celebrate Recovery. When I meet people struggling with porn, alcoholism, co-dependency, or any other addiction, I always point them to Celebrate Recovery. While I love the program, I do have one problem. That problem is that so many people give a testimony and hardly a month goes by where I don’t hear someone quoting Jeremiah 29:11.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

That certainly sounds encouraging. God knows the plans He has for us. He has plans to give us a hope and a future. Wow. How assuring!

Or is it?

Let’s start with asking who the “You” is in the passage. Hint. It’s not us.

The you refers to the people of Israel. The people that figured since Israel was going into exile in Babylon, well then that means God is done with them. God’s message to them is no. The game is not over. He will bring them back, but it will be a time of about 70 years in captivity first. So much time that they are encouraged to marry and have families and get used to life in Babylon. Most of those people would die in Babylon, but the people themselves would have a hope and a future.

It’s quite odd that we take this one little part of this verse and say that it’s about us. Nothing else there is really about us, but this one is. On what grounds? How do we know that this passage in isolation is about us, but not everything else is? Let’s consider some other examples.

We could say that Scripture has God saying “Ask me for whatever you want and I will give it to you.” That sounds good. It does say that. The difference is that’s part of 1 Kings 3:5 and it is God appearing to Solomon personally in a dream saying that.

Or Exodus 33:14 with “My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.” That sounds good, except God is saying it to Moses and specifically talking about the wilderness wonderings.

Isaiah 45:3 says God will give us hidden treasures. Should I get a metal detector and go to the beach and expect to find a treasure? No. The message is what was said to Cyrus and likely referring to what people would hide in their own homes to keep safe from thieves.

Let’s not forget that there is a picture of a Christian daily Scripture calendar that says “All this I will give you if you will worship me.” Sounds good again, except, whoops! That was the devil that said that one and it was said to Jesus in the wilderness temptations.

Isn’t it interesting that we take the verse that gives a positive message to Israel that we like and say, “That’s about us!” but then ignore all the verses that give negative messages? There are several of those. Why aren’t they about us?

So what do we do with this passage in Jeremiah? Disavow it? It has nothing to say about us? Maybe it doesn’t, but it has something to say about God, which in turns says something about us. It says that God keeps His covenants. Even when Israel was disobedient and broke the covenant, God never fully abandoned them. If God loves faithless Israel like that, will He not love us the same way? We can also add in that a passage like Romans 8 is for us that says if we love the Lord, all things will work for our good. In gaming language, this is the ultimate cheat code if we could learn it. Whatever happens for us, God will work it for our good.

Jeremiah 29:11 is not about you, but it reveals something about God that can apply to you. Take the principle instead. Don’t make the passage about you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 8/18/2018: Holly Pivec and Doug Geivett

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

So your church has a new leader there. He seems like a good guy, but he’s extremely charismatic. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some people have that kind of personality. The pastor you’ve always had sure seems to listen to him a lot.

This guy also has a fascination with miracles. It looks like for him, we’re on the edge of a great precipice. We’re at an age where something great is going to happen and it’s going to depend on us. We need to be doing the work of the Spirit here displayed in miracles. This is a miracle age.

And his word seems to be taken extremely seriously. Everything that he says is taken as gospel. He doesn’t really like to be questioned. Not only that, he’s not just at your church. He’s at several churches around you. It’s like he has this power over all of them.

He tells people how to spend their finances and what to do with education and what to do about marriage. Maybe in that last area, there could even be hints of impropriety. Ever since this guy came to your church, it looks like your church is about something else instead of preaching the gospel of Christ.

What’s going on?

It could be that your church has fallen victim to the New Apostolic Reformation. (NAR) This is a group of people insisting that they are apostles and that apostles are for today and your church cannot be in the fullness of faith without an apostle. There will also likely be prophets coming along for the ride as well encouraging the people in what they ought to do and not do.

Unfortunately, this is not harmless. There are plenty of people that have had their lives wrecked because they sat under the guidance of these people and their voice was treated as the voice of God. Fortunately, two people have done the work of equipping us to deal with them. They are Holly Pivec and Douglas Geivett. I don’t have the information for Geivett yet, but I can tell you about Pivec.

According to her bio:

Holly Pivec is co-author with Doug Geivett of two books on the New Apostolic Reformation or NAR, for short. She operates a popular blog on NAR, called Spirit of Error (www.spiritoferror.org). She’s a sought-after expert on NAR and has been interviewed by many high-profile media sources, including Religion News Association and the Washington Post. She has a master’s degree in Christian apologetics from Biola University.

We’ll be talking about this movement that has affected so many churches in America and around the world and what can be done about it. How do you know if your church has been affected by it and if so, what can you do about it? I hope you’ll be listening to the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast on this topic. As always, please go on iTunes also and leave a positive review for the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

I Survived The End Of The World….Again

What are we to say about end of the world predictions? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Many of you know about predictions being made about Rosh Hashanah this year. September 23, 2017 was supposed to be a date of huge prophetic significance. Well, that is if you listened to the “prophecy experts.” For the rest of us, we preferred to call it “Saturday.” Okay. Some of us called it Batman Day and went to our local comic book store to get a free Batman comic.

As for me, I decided this time I’d be an exception and make some predictions as well. I made these three. The amazing thing is as far as I have seen, they have held out.

Prediction #1: Nothing of eschatological significance will happen.

Prediction #2. People making these predictions will not repent when shown they were wrong but will simply recalculate.

Prediction #3. At the next event that they deem to be unusual, these people will start the whole cycle all over again.

The sad thing is this is an easy set of predictions to make because it happens so often. Has John Hagee repented for the Blood Moons hysteria that led to absolutely nothing? Nope. How many people have repented after a book that claimed XYZ was the antichrist was written and now that person is long dead and gone? Sorry. Not happening.

As I have said, being a prophecy expert would be a great job to have. You can say whatever you want and claim it’s from the Bible, be a best seller, have a great following with people hanging on your every word, be entirely wrong and demonstrably so, and yet still be regarded as an expert. All that’s left is for these people to go into politics.

If there was anything else I was noticing regularly, it was people on YouTube making videos and what would they point to? Experiences and dreams over and over. Scripture could be turned to, but only as an afterthought to confirm what was in the dream. To those who are saying that there are no coincidences with Christ, sure, but sometimes things happen that aren’t all about you. That dream you had last night? Maybe it was from God. Maybe also it was your brain sorting things out because you had too much pizza the night before.

You see, you don’t know that everything in a dream or your experience is a direct message from God. You don’t. This is what is said about Scripture. Try interpreting Scripture. (You know, that book that says about what you say is the return that no one knows the day or the hour.)

Why is it that I get on this so much? It’s not just because I’m an orthodox Preterist in my eschatology. My wife sure isn’t and she has a huge problem with these people as well. It’s because these people and this mindset give people excuses to not believe the Gospel. If they can’t trust you on what the Bible says in this case, why should they trust you on the resurrection?

Keep in mind, the Bible nowhere tells us to be predicting when Jesus will return. It doesn’t. If you are doing the Great Commission, it won’t matter anyway. If He returns tomorrow and you’ve been doing it, great! You’re ready! If He returns 1,000 years from now and you were doing it in your lifetime, great! You’re ready!

There are too many Christians out there that are so obsessed with the future return of Christ that they’re not doing anything with Him in the present. Instead, it’s becoming an embarrassment as this is the picture the world gets. Fox News even had a story about “Biblical Numerologists” saying the end of the world was coming. How much egg does the church have on its face because of these kinds of actions?

That’s one reason I want to take a hard stand against this from now on. Please Christians. Do not buy books that are claiming to be expert guides to prophecy. Do not go to ministries that claim to have the inside scoop on what’s going to happen in the future through prophecy. Do not support and encourage Christians that are trying to date the time that Jesus will return.

If God says something will happen in prophecy, it will happen. He doesn’t need your help. You have your marching orders already. That’s the Great Commission. Too many people try to find out who the antichrist is and spend less time thinking about who Jesus is. Too many out there can “prove” in minute detail every single point about what’s going to happen in the Great Tribulation, but they can’t give you a case for why you should think Jesus rose from the dead. That’s a problem.

As long as the Christian community supports such people, it will be encouraging them and helping to further embarrass. It is understandable some people have a hard time believing in Christianity for reasons like miracles and the like. We don’t need to give them another reason or have them think the Bible can’t be trusted because we are saying it is clearly teaching X when it is not and that can be too easily demonstrated.

I get that some of this crowd are waiting for Yom Kippur which is at the end of the month, but if nothing happens, then what? Will there be any repentance? If not, then you have to ask who these people are doing what they’re doing for the most? Is it really the honor of Jesus they think most of or their own?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

A Response to Seth Dunn of Pulpit and Pen on Nabeel Qureshi

Is Nabeel Qureshi someone that we should avoid? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I found out yesterday that David Wood had made a video about Seth Dunn of Pulpit and Pen doing a hit piece on Christian apologist Nabeel Qureshi. I have had my interactions with Dunn in the past. For instance, when the Coptic Christians were murdered by ISIS and I shared that, Dunn considered it a good time to point out that (in his view) that the Coptic Christians weren’t really Christians due to their view on salvation. (Those who can see my Facebook can read it here.)

I have seen N.T. Wright described as an unsound theologian because he’s an egalitarian and he baptizes babies. I have seen it said that William Lane Craig made a point in a debate just because he was trying to win a debate. In fact, he has even gone after myself on my view of Heaven and Hell (Or at least one I am open to) is plainly heretical.

When my wife later (Much later since we didn’t want to make an issue out of it really as I can’t make an issue of everyone who says anything to me on Facebook) confronted him on this, he did back it.

I did say Nick is a heretic. This was on the comment section of his blog, not on FB if memory serves. He’s a universalist, if that’s not heresy then I don’t know what is

This would work if universalism was my view. It is not. Not everyone will be saved. Unfortunately, Dunn still sees Heaven and Hell as they have to be separate locations and pushes that on my what I say. No. My view there was that the same sun that melts wax hardens clay. Those who have lived lives of righteousness will be in the presence of God forever and think this is Heaven because they have loved God and being with the one they love is a delight. Those who have not and have rejected Jesus will live forever there as well and will consider it hell because they have hated God. I do not see any redemption either for them at that point. Heaven and Hell are not defined by a location (Since God is omnipresent) but are defined by relationship to God. Universalism is the view that all will be redeemed. That is not my view.

But hey, why make a big deal out of it? I had seen Dunn write many times on Facebook and every single time it was all about how some group isn’t really Christian or something along those lines. It reminds me of the Christians who want to say that every new game craze or fad that comes out is somehow satanic. After awhile, you just don’t listen any more. There are better usages of time.

Then I saw David Wood came out with that video. I was frankly surprised. Why is David Wood spending so much time on this? In fact, this is a nearly 40-minute video. I hadn’t seen a video that long from David Wood, at least in recent history, aside from something like a debate of course. Why do this?

For one thing, Pulpit and Pen is a prominent blog for some reason. Second, Dunn has actually been nominated for president of the SBC. It looks like this won’t happen at least this time around, but that shows me this is more serious than I thought.

I should also point out that I happen to know David Wood and Nabeel Qureshi personally. At this point, I don’t think I have got to meet David Wood in person yet, though I would be delighted to someday. The same can’t be said for Qureshi. We’ve had a number of interactions together and his character and commitment to Christ has always been an amazement to me. Both of these men have also been on my show.

According to Dunn, one of the first problems with Qureshi is that he spoke at Reset 2016. Of course, Pulpit and Pen did have something else to say. Someone else on the site said that the event was shut down due to intense heat. This was a judgment of God.

Do you think I’m exaggerating?

I wish I was, but I am not.

Of course, by these standards, when the Reason Rally is not shut down, does this mean that God is pleased with them? I figured we were supposed to be interpreting the work of God by Scripture.Who knew that we could do it by watching the Weather Channel?

So why is this event so problematic? Because Dunn thinks that there were too many people there who were enemies of the cross. Now do I approve of all the speakers there? No. At the same time, I’m nowhere near as extreme as Dunn is where everyone must have their theology right in every single area or we seriously call them into question. I disagree with Roman Catholics, but I do not think they are all lost. There are lost Roman Catholics just as much as there are lost Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, etc.

Still, Dunn thinks that by speaking here, Qureshi has made himself be seen as questionable. After all, it’s hard to imagine that because Qureshi goes out and speaks about Jesus to a million people that somehow he should be viewed with suspicion. Let’s remember that our Lord was seen as a friend of tax collectors and prostitute and the group of twelve men he surrounded himself with did not include theologians who had all their i’s dotted and their t’s crossed.

However, Dunn is not done yet. There is another suspicion brought to light by a Muslim apologist named Yahya Snow. I had not really heard of Snow. Still, I have known that in many cases, Muslim apologetics can be some of the worst apologetics that there is. I would even put it below the new atheists. I have seen some of the most bizarre arguments brought forward, such as the time a Muslim even accused me of thinking that Joseph was 90 when he married Mary. This was news to me since I had never once believed anything like that.

David Wood said that while there are respectable Muslim scholars, such as Shabir Ally, Snow is not one of those. In fact, Snow can be considered the worst of the worst. At least, that was the way it sounded to me when he described someone else as an example of someone who could not be beat for how bad his arguments were until Snow came along.

This guy then, is the one Dunn relies on for his claim. What is the claim? There is a great inconsistency in the story of Nabeel Qureshi of how he became a Christian. You see, Qureshi had dreams that played an instrumental view in his conversion.

Yet here’s the problem. In an interview, Qureshi said that David Wood was sitting at the other end of the doorway. In yet another case, he was standing. There you have it! It’s the smoking gun!

Unfortunately, Wood points out that Qureshi called him and told him about the dream and that Qureshi wrote it down in his dream journal. So did Qureshi slip up? Yes. This can happen. Wood even plays a clip of William Lane Craig saying that 2 + 2 = 5 is a necessary truth. Are we to say that Craig doesn’t know what basic math any more is? No. Sometimes, we can all slip up when we speak. More on this later.

The next point is that Qureshi has questionable credentials as a Muslim. Qureshi was an Ahmedi Muslim. They are often viewed by fellow Muslims as non-Muslims. As Wood points out, the Ahmedi do have some odd beliefs, but Qureshi held to everything you were supposed to believe as a Muslim. Since Dunn in his article refers to James White who he says is a Christian apologist and an expert in Islam agrees on that point, then perhaps he should hear what James White says from the 1:40:00 point on in this video.

White doesn’t deny that Qureshi was a Muslim and in fact he says that while he disagrees with Qureshi’s stances, including on Roman Catholicism, that Qureshi is a gift to the church. He just thinks that Qureshi should describe himself as a devout Ahmedi Muslim. There could be truth to that.

Wood’s video is worth watching in the whole, but it was said last night that Dunn had written a response. I have looked at this response. Now I think it would have been better to accept the correction and move on, but that is not what happened. The counter can be found here.

So what does Dunn say in response?

Wood defends Qureshi’s speaking engagement at Reset 2016, comparing the event to an atheist “reason rally” or a gathering of hostile Muslims. This is an inappropriate comparison. Reset was not the Areopagus. Reset 2016 was advertised by its promoters as a Christian event where “we are gathering as one—lifting a unified sound, asking Jesus to reset our generation.” Reset was not a gathering of hostile atheists or Muslims but (nominal) Christians who came for miles to be unified with one another and pray to Jesus. This was not a Billy Graham crusade designed to see people saved, it was a Christian “unity” event that included the Pope of Rome. It took no Christian boldness to show up to the event and draw applause from the crowd. It would have been bold of Qureshi to separate his Jesus from the indeterminate amount of false Jesuses parading around at this event, rebuking those who followed them, and calling them to repentance and faith.

This might make sense if you’re caught in the idea of discernment ministries where you’re supposed to know who is and isn’t a heretic, but I think Wood’s answer still stands. Qureshi was asked to come and share something about Jesus to a million people. He jumped at the chance. I also suspect, and Qureshi could tell me if I’m wrong, that he would do what any preacher does most every Sunday. A preacher always is aware that there could be non-Christians in his audience. He ends most of his sermons with a call to the Gospel. So again, let’s see. Is Nabeel to be viewed with suspicion because he went and talked to a million people about Jesus? That’s an odd basis for suspicion.

Wood’s video does not accurately represent my view of Qureshi’s Christian faith. I did not assert that Nabeel Qureshi was “apostate”. Nor did I assert the same about Ravi Zacharias, Josh McDowell, or Tim Tebow (who also participated in the Reset 2016 event). If one performed an exhaustive search of all my blogging at this site and my personal site, one would be hard-pressed to find examples of me using the term “apostate”. I intentionally avoid the use of this incendiary term to prevent overly emotional reactions to my writing. Other contributors to this website do frequently use the term. However, none of them have claimed that Qureshi, Zacharias, McDowell, or Tebow were “apostate.”

Maybe not specifically, but one could draw a valid inference. For instance, after Dunn gives a warning in his original article about speakers at a conference and how Christians should be careful, he points to Scripture. What Scripture? This one.

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:9-11)

Yes. This passage about those who will not inherit the Kingdom of God. What am I to believe based on that? Dunn goes on to say that

Christians should remember that every brother and sister converted from complete lostness and spiritual deadness.  Rather than judge Christian speakers by their backstories, Christians should judge them by the ongoing demonstration of their faith.  No one’s dream or vision is more trustworthy than gospel presented in Holy Scripture.

Of course, I don’t think Qureshi would disagree with this. He would definitely think the Gospel is more reliable, but that does not mean Qureshi is going to discount his dreams any more than I’m going to discount some of the best scholarship that defends the resurrection of Jesus. Does that mean the scholarship is more reliable than the Gospel? Not at all. Dunn may not use the words, but the idea is there. If you keep crying wolf over and over, people will not listen when real wolves show up.

Wood’s video does not accurately represent my view of Qureshi’s former faith. I did not assert that Nabeel Qureshi was not a Muslim. I asserted that his Islamic credentials were “in question” given that he was of the Ahmadi sect. This is simply a statement of fact, given that there are a number of Muslims who claim that Ahmadi’s are not true Muslims. Given that Islam, on the whole, is a false religion, it’s tough to say exactly what “true” Islam is. One must rely on various opinions. Since I am not an expert on the matter, I cited the opinions of Muslim apologist Yahya Snow and well-respected Christian Apologist James White. David Wood, who is knowledgeable on the subject does not agree with Snow or White. Wood’s assessment is very educational but not terribly relevant to my argument.  My modest assertion that Qureshi’s Islamic credentials are “in question” stands. That Qureshi was raised a devout Ahmadi is not in question, nor did my article indicate that it was.

And Wood accurately answers this. Qureshi held to all the essential beliefs it requires to be a Muslim. Dunn thinks that since Islam is a false religion, it’s difficult to know what a true Muslim is. Why? I think Mormonism is a false religion, but that does not mean that I don’t know that there are beliefs that Mormons see as non-negotiable. The same with Jehovah’s Witnesses. Dunn points to White, but again, White is the one who sees Qureshi as a gift to the church. Perhaps Dunn should send his article to White so that White can see the error of his ways and change his view on Qureshi.

Wood points out that even the best of speakers misspeak. This is true. I have done it numerous times on my own podcast in egregious ways. I’ve never done it on professionally produced and edited television program while telling about a seminal event in my life, however. I’ve also never done it with Pat Robertson on The 700 Club. Whatever the case, Wood provides testimony to corroborate Qureshi’s dream story and admits that Qureshi just made a mistake. This is fine and I’m glad the air has been cleared on this issue.

This is the kind of thing that just astounds me. Dunn admits that we all make mistakes, but then he says “I’ve never done it while talking about a seminal event in my life or on the 700 Club.” At this, I just want to say “Good for you.” Unfortunately, others do make mistakes in these arenas for a number of reasons. If Craig can be on stage saying 2 + 2 = 5, then I am much more open to this happening. It would have been better for Dunn to just let this slide instead of still pushing it forward.

Dunn goes on to talk about Ravi Zacharias, whose minsitry Qureshi works for, speaking to Joyce Meyer as a great Bible teacher. I’m not here to defend Zacharias in that. I do not think Meyer is a great Bible teacher at all. Dunn goes on to say that Qureshi had never heard of her. Good for him. Qureshi was able to enter into a dialogue with Seth on the matter. Is Qureshi right in his assessment? I don’t know, but I know this. Qureshi was willing to look.

Of course, things get worse. Qureshi actually said the Roman Catholic Church gets a bad rap from Christians. Dunn is sure many Calvinists would disagree. So am I. There are many of us who disagree with Calvinists as well. Why is it that the Calvinists should be seen as the ones that set the bar?

I certainly don’t want Pulpit & Pen to be an echo chamber but I understand the readership and the theological leanings of the readership of my own blog.  The Pulpit & Pen has a largely Reformed readership.  To our average reader, these statements about brotherhood with Roman Catholics are downright offensive.  As David Wood notes in his video, Qureshi has studied the Christian faith from California to Kentucky and beyond, at the postgraduate level.  How could any educated Protestant theologian not see Roman Catholicism as something to “cut ties” over?  Thank God Luther did. Luther put his life one the line to refute the Pope.  Qureshi speaks with him.  There are almost certainly regenerate Catholics (who have yet to leave the Roman Catholic Church) but official Catholic doctrine (see Galatians 1 and the Council of Trent) is anathema.  Qureshi seems to disagree.

Perhaps we don’t see it that way because we see that we agree on the resurrection of Jesus, the Trinity, the deity of Christ, etc. Do I think RCCs have some wrong views on salvation. Yes. I think in fact a lot of Christians do and God saves them regardless. Dunn says he finds Qureshi’s comments offensive. Well I find it offensive to take someone who White has said is a gift to the church and try to tear them down. Still, there is worse coming along these lines.

Much worse.

As you can see, some of the tweets above are months, even over a year, old.  I did not just happen across a video from a Muslim apologist (one David Wood has a history with) and try to discredit Nabeel Qureshi and write an ill-advised, critical blog based on his assertions.  I’ve observed Qureshi for over a year, as well as his employer RZIM.  To me, he seems more concerned with being a New York Times Bestseller (Roman Catholic buy Christian books, too) than consistently rightly dividing the word of God. The evidence is in print before you.

Now it’s my turn.

I know Qureshi as I said. His character has always struck me as exemplary. Wood pointed out that Qureshi lost his family as a result of his conversion. In Qureshi’s own book, he said he wished he could have died right after converting so his parents would never know about it. I have seen him be asked about how he can talk to Muslims when so many of us get so angry about them based on events like 9/11 and he said that he always tries to remember that anyone of them could be someone like Paul someday.

Every night before I go to bed, I read a verse of Scripture. I let that be something I think about as I go to sleep. Last night, I read Philippians 3:17 as I’m going through Philippians. I got to this verse.

Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.

I thought that was amazing. Paul could tell others “Live like I do. I am your model.” I honestly do not think I am ready to say that about myself yet. I also thought that if anyone was like that, it was Nabeel. This is someone who Wood points out was willing to go to jail with him for preaching the Gospel and continued to do so in prison.

Yet Dunn says Qureshi seems more concerned with writing bestsellers, since Roman Catholics buy those as well, than rightly dividing the Word of God. No. Qureshi is just a good writer and people like his books. For Dunn’s sake, should Qureshi try to make his books be not as good so they won’t sell as much?

I don’t blame David Wood for defending him. They are good friends and he has seen Nabeel witness to people. Good for him. I wouldn’t walk across the street to hear him speak. He’s a book-selling, speaking-tour ecumenist. I don’t know Nabeel Qureshi’s heart but I don’t write blogs or study Apologetics at the masters level to sell books or make money–I do it to edify the church. I think the church would be edified to avoid ecumenists like Nabeel Qureshi, no matter how interesting their backstories are.

It’s nice to know Dunn’s standards and I think in this passage he’s told us a lot more about himself than he does about Qureshi. Well Dunn can stay in his echochamber and refuse to listen to Qureshi and think that gives him bonus points or something, but I consider it a treat to get to hear Qureshi speak. He also says he doesn’t know Qureshi’s heart, which he doesn’t, but somehow he knows that Qureshi writes blogs and studies at the Master’s level to sell books or make money, instead of edifying the church, which is obviously what Dunn does.

Yes. Because back when Qureshi was wishing he was dead after his conversion, he hatched this master plan where he said “Forget my family! I can make a lot of money as a best-selling author! After all, Christian apologetics is where the money is!”

No it isn’t.

I am nowhere near wealthy. In fact, I am at the poverty level. I don’t do what I do to make money. Would I like to have more coming in? Yep. Would I like to have a best seller some day? Who wouldn’t? Still, the recognition I get will be based on the quality of my work and the apologetic material that I produce. If I was just wanting to make money, I would be in a different field altogether. I’m not because frankly, I have a passion for this field. I love the fruit that it produces and what I do gives me great joy.

You see, if you’re going to say you don’t know Qureshi’s heart, stop right there then. Don’t go on to say why he does what he does. You don’t know.

The writing ends with some points including that David Wood can have at it if he wants another round. I wouldn’t be surprised if he does. David Wood is a bulldog of sorts and he will definitely stick up for someone like Qureshi. I also plan to be right there as Qureshi is my friend and I think writings like those of Dunn in fact tear down Christians needlessly.

We’ll see what happens after this but Qureshi is a friend of mine and I choose to stand by him. I would uphold him as a fine example of what we should all strive to be. I do not agree with him on everything, but I think his character and commitment are examples to us all.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 7/16/2016: Craig Evans

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

What remains of the past? One of the fields we go to to study this is archaeology. What have past civilizations left behind so that we can learn about them? What has been left behind that can tell us about Jesus? As it turns out, quite a bit. If we’re talking about this, we need to talk to someone who is quite familiar with the archaeology and knows it incredibly well. Who better to talk about this than Dr. Craig Evans?

Who is he?

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Craig A. Evans earned his Ph.D. in biblical studies at Claremont Graduate University and received his decretum habilitationis from Budapest. He is the John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins at Houston Baptist University in Texas. He is author of hundreds of articles and reviews and has published more than seventy books, including Jesus and His Contemporaries, Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies, Mark in the Word Biblical Commentary, Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels, God Speaks, and Jesus and the Remains of His Days: Studies in Jesus and Archaeology. He also co-authored with N. T. Wright Jesus, the Final Days. Professor Evans has given lectures at Cambridge, Durham, Oxford, Yale, and other universities, colleges, seminaries, and museums, such as the Field Museum in Chicago and the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa. He also regularly lectures and gives talks at popular conferences and retreats on the Bible and Archaeology, and Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Evans has appeared many times in television programs on History Channel, BBC, Dateline NBC, and others. Dr. Evans served as consultant on the National Geographic Society’s Gospel of Judas project and for The Bible television miniseries produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. He also participates annually in archeological digs in the Middle East and volunteer-teaches at schools world-wide. Professor Evans and his wife Ginny live in Sugar Land, Texas, and have two grown daughters and a grandson.

We’ll be having an hour-long show talking about his book Jesus and the Remains of His Day. We’ll be asking about questions that come up such as if there were really synagogues around at the time of Jesus. What about Nazareth? People like Rene Salm have made the argument that Nazareth never existed. Is he right? What about the burial of Jesus? Bart Ehrman has recently come out saying that Jesus was not given a burial along the lines of those described in the New Testament. Is he right?

Dr. Evans is a brilliant speaker on these topics and you will benefit greatly from hearing of the fruits of his labor in this field. I’m excited to have him come back for the second time to our show. I hope you’ll be listening to this episode and please also do consider going on ITunes and leaving a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast. I always enjoy reading them. Thanks for being a fan!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 5/7/2016: Justin Peters

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

We live in a world full of hucksters. There are always people trying to trick someone and sadly, faith is one of the ways they do it. We also live in a world of experiences where if someone has an experience, they can use that to lord over others or get their fifteen minutes of fame. The stores are constantly full of stories about people who have had trips to Heaven. While I do not deny the validity of NDEs, I do get suspicious of the guided tours of the after-death. Others have got so suspicious that it has led to this hilarious Babylon Bee satire article and we all know about what children report seeing when they come back.

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Not only that, we have people who teach the Word of Faith doctrine and speak about miracles on demand. Again, I do not doubt that miracles are happening and miracles have happened, but there are sadly a lot of phonies out there. There are too many people that think it’s a virtue to believe something without evidence. There are elderly people sending in their social security checks to frauds expecting to receive a blessing back. Fortunately, there are some people who are giving a call to discernment. There are some who are warning about ideas like fake stories of people dying and going to Heaven. One of the more prominent ones is Justin Peters. (No relation yet as far as we know)

Who is he?

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Justin received a Master of Divinity with Biblical languages from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2000. He also received a Master of Theology with minor in New Testament from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2002.
Not only this, Justin has a specific interest in the Word of Faith movement due to his life with disability, something I can resonate with. I happen to be one who has a steel rod on my spine due to scoliosis surgery. I also have Aspergers as does my wife Allie. Disability awareness is something important to me and I do get angry about people who are known frauds trying to trick those who are disabled.
Of course, Justin and I both believe that miracles are happening today, but how can we develop discernment? Are we not calling into question God when we don’t “have faith” that he can heal? If we see a claim, are there any signs we can look for that could differentiate a true miracle from someone who is a fake? What can we do to help our brothers and sisters who are falling for the tricks of those in the Word of Faith movement?
I’m looking forward to this talk with someone else who shares not just my last name, but also my care for those who are disabled and a passion for truth. As a former worker at CRI, I have seen the damage of the Word of Faith community. I hope you will be listening in to this episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast.
In Christ,
Nick Peters