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)

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)

Book Plunge: Raised on the Third Day

What do I think of Mike Licona and David Beck’s work published by Lexham Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Gary Habermas has done more in defending the resurrection of Jesus in scholarly work than anyone I can think of save going back to the apostle Paul. Not only that, he keeps doing more. Also, he has the character of one who is meant to be an apologist. He not only deals with the resurrection, but especially deals with doubters and will invest plenty of time on them and answers all of his own emails and phone calls.

This is a work dedicated to Gary Habermas with a range of scholars coming together, all of whom have been impacted in some way by Gary and his work. The book has some of everything. Some chapters I didn’t understand at first, such as Francis Beckwith’s chapter on legal issues involving the redefinition of marriage, until I found out that Gary has an interest in that area as well.

Want to know about substance dualism? J.P. Moreland delivers. What to know about the Shroud of Turin? Barry Schwortz is here. You can discuss the moral argument and purity in the Gospel of John in relation to the empty tomb.

Veterans and novices alike will find something in this book that can greatly help them. Those with legal challenges will find Francis Beckwith’s work fascinating. Those interested in the Shroud again will enjoy the chapter by Schwortz that discusses the history. Mike Licona’s chapter will be of interest to those who hear the argument about the authorship of the texts being in question with what he says about ancient historians.

The book also has personal looks at Gary Habermas. The two that are in this field are Alex McFarland and Frank Turek. I want to take some time to personally expound on this issue from my own personal position.

Many of you know that I know Gary Habermas personally. If I send him an email, I can normally expect that within 24 hours, he will respond to that email. There have been times that I have called him on the phone and he said that he only had ten minutes he could give, but he ends up giving an hour.

Gary’s personal investment in taking the time to meet with people he doesn’t know and invest in them, even hardened skeptics, is a testament to his character. I was never a hardened skeptic, but he took the time to invest in me once and has helped me tremendously. With the trouble that is going on in my own marriage right now, Gary has been an invaluable help to me.

When I in the past had been caught in the throes of extreme depression over the situation, Gary was right there willing to help. I could call him feeling utterly miserable and hang up feeling good. As one can expect, I would not be filled with joy, but Gary is a good listener who knows the psychology of what he speaks and knows how to talk to people who are suffering. This is fitting for him since he himself went through that with the death of his first wife, Debbie.

That having been said then, that is about the only lack in this book is a chapter on dealing with doubt. This has been an emphasis of Gary Habermas for a long time and it is something that any great thinker will deal with. I know many skeptics reading this will say it as a smear that an apologist can have doubt, but if anyone who is a serious thinker doesn’t ever have doubts about their position, I consider them NOT taking that position seriously.

Thus, if I would have changed anything about the book, I would have included one chapter on the different kinds of doubt and how to deal with them. It would have included an emphasis on emotional doubt since that is the one most common on a personal level. Such a chapter would be a benefit to many apologists and to any seekers reading the book.

Still, this is a fine book to read. It is an excellent tribute to an excellent man. Gary Habermas is a gift to the Christian apologetics community and we can be thankful for what he has done.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
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9/11 and the Past

How do we deal with grief? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

9/11 has come upon us again. It’s hard to realize that next year it will be twenty years since that day. We need to ask why is it that that day surprised us so much?

We remember Pearl Harbor, but not the same way. Perhaps because that was an attack on a military area. That was thoroughly understandable. It also happened in a time when a lot of the world was at war. It makes sense that when war is going on, nations will be attacked.

9/11 was different. There wasn’t a major war going on. These weren’t military targets either. These were ordinary civilians living their lives everyday and this was a prominent attack on a major landmark in our country. The second Spider-Man movie was even going to show a scene with a giant spider web between the World Trade Center towers capturing the bad guys. That had to be scrapped.

Yet as I thought about it, there can be a danger here. We should acknowledge what happened every year on the anniversary, but we need to remember that we do not stay there. Israel was to commemorate the Passover every year and their escape from slavery, but they didn’t do it every day. They were to remember and live like they were a free people.

There is an interesting story in Lewis’s The Great Divorce about a grieving mother who longs to see her boy again on the other side. The one she talks to says she can see him when she is ready. She is willing to do anything, but that is the problem precisely. She has become so laser-focused on her son, Michael, that she is forgetting everyone else. Her husband and her daughter were both forgotten.

The one the mother, Pam, talks to tells her that she needs to show love of God first, but Pam is starting for the wrong reason. She is loving God as a means to get to Michael. If you love someone as a means for another reason, you do not really love that person. It doesn’t matter if it’s a relative, a spouse, a friend, or God. Love for the other is an end in itself.

That includes if you love that person as a means just for your own fulfillment and not theirs. If a husband loves his wife and does it solely for the purpose of getting sex, he doesn’t really love her. He loves what she does for him. If a parent loves their child so their child can succeed and the parent can live vicariously through them, they don’t really love the child. They love what the child does for them.

Pam is told that her husband and daughter loved and grieved the death of Michael, but she had held them hostage by refusing to ever move or by refusing to change his room at all. They were all continuous victims of Pam’s grief. They were neglected while Pam focused all her attention on Michael, the dead one, instead of celebrating the living ones she had there with her.

In the end, she screams to the messenger speaking to her that Michael is hers and not even God will keep him from her and to tell that to his face. In her own words,

“…Give me my boy. Do you hear? I don’t care about all your rules and regulations. I don’t believe in a God who keeps mother and son apart. I believe in a God of Love. No one has a right to come between me and my son. Not even God. Tell Him that to His face. I want my boy, and I mean to have him. He is mine, do you understand? Mine, mine, mine, for ever and ever.”

As can be seen, Pam’s focus is on herself. She’s not even thinking about the welfare of Michael. If she loved Michael, she would be asking about his happiness and well-being, but she is not. She is self-focused entirely.

This is not to say that families should not grieve loved ones today. They should. There is a proper grief though and we do not want to be held hostage by our grief. This is especially so if we are Christians. We mourn, but not like those who have no hope. We remember the promise of resurrection. We remember that we will see them, that specific person, again, provided we are all Christians.

And if that person is not a Christian and we thus do not know how God will judge them, we remember we have God. What does it say of us if we think we will be in the presence of God in Heaven and yet think we will mourn because one person is not there. Is the presence of God lesser than the presence of any other person?

Today, let us remember those we have lost, but let us not stay there in the past. Just as Israel had their Passover, so have we. We have resurrection to look forward to. We have the promise of God. Breaking free from foreign chains is a great accomplishment. Breaking free from the chains of sin and death is greater still.

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

Book Plunge: Too Good To Be False

What do I think of Tom Gilson’s book published by DeWard Publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Sometimes we hear some news and we think it would be wonderful, but then we conclude that it is too good to be true. Rarely do we ever consider the opposite. What if something was too good to be false? What if Jesus was just someone like that?

Tom Gilson has an interesting hypothesis that not much has been done with in history, but I think needs some serious looking at. In it, he points out that the character of Jesus is really one unlike anyone else in history either fictional or non-fictional. There are some people that could come close, but we realize many of their faults and failures and they themselves do.

Jesus is someone who shows up and never asks for advice, never claims to be learning something new from a dialogue, seems to know everything that is going on, never apologizes for anything, never relies on anyone else for any claim that He makes, etc. Now if you take anyone who is like that on paper you would consider them insufferable to be around and you would not want to be around them. However, Jesus is not like that. Many people who read the Gospels love the figure of Jesus. They think He’s incredible. Bart Ehrman in his latest book refers to Jesus as one of the three great figures He wants to meet.

Not only that, but Jesus is also claiming to be God incarnate in the Gospels and yet still, we don’t see Him acting in such a way that we might expect. We don’t see Him raining down judgment or acting aloof to the culture. We still see attributes that are remarkably human.

This is Gilson’s fascinating hypothesis. If Jesus did not exist as presented in the Gospels, we should be seeking to meet the people who created Him because they are the greatest geniuses of all time. How is it also that if the skeptics are right, all these stories changed drastically over time, but they came together to show this figure of remarkable insight and character that is unparalleled in all of fiction and history? Note the inclusion of fiction in there. No one has created a figure like Jesus. Possibly the closest is Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia, but perhaps he is also given limited time for just that figure. If Lewis had to write a whole story where Aslan is acting on most every page, I suspect it would be impossible for even him.

If we could not create this figure, then there is only one conclusion. We did not create Him. Jesus is real. Not only is He real, we need to hold Him in the proper awe He deserves. We have become so familiar with the figure of Jesus that we haven’t considered just how shocking He is.

Gilson’s thesis is an amazing one and I hope to see more engagement with it. It would be incredible to see what someone like Bart Ehrman would say to it. I hope it gets out in the world of academia all the more.

One thing I would like to see added for future editions of the book if they come is that the idea is fascinating, but I would like to see something on how to present it in a debate. Perhaps it could even be a mock written debate that has been set up. How would Gilson use this in evangelism and how would he suggest that I use it? If we use it, how should we use other arguments alongside it, such as arguments about the resurrection and the dating and veracity of the Gospels?

This is a book to be taken seriously by Christian and skeptic alike. I look forward to seeing more that comes out concerning it.

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

Deeper Waters Podcast 8/8/2020

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

It’s been said that the Shroud of Turin is the most studied artifact ever. This could be so and it would be a fascinating relationship. Jesus Christ is the most written about and talked about figure ever in history so what is claimed to be His burial shroud would be the most talked about item in history as well.

But is the Shroud the real deal? It’s certainly an impressive work, real or not, but hasn’t it already been shown to be a fake? Didn’t we do tests to demonstrate that the Shroud actually originates in medieval times? For many people, that’s a done deal. For some, perhaps there were some problems with the test.

My guest thinks so. He began his walk not really caring so much about religious questions until he came upon a book about the Shroud. From that point on, he was inherently fascinated with it and even joined a monastery where he became an authority on the Shroud and began lecturing on it and attending every conference he could on it.

His path actually got stranger still when he encountered a lady who was interested in the Shroud and thinking they had a destiny together, he ended up leaving the monastery life and marrying her. Together, they did research and spoke on the Shroud. I have even been told that they were instrumental in raising up concerns about the veracity of the Carbon-14 tests.

His name is Joseph Marino and he’s my guest this Saturday.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Joseph Marino has a B.A. in Theological Studies from St. Louis University
and is a long-time sindonologist (one who studies the Shroud of Turin). He has researched, written and lectured extensively on the Shroud since 1977. He currently works at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.


In 1977, he saw a book on the Shroud of Turin, which he had never heard
of before, even though he was raised as a Catholic. He read the book in one
sitting and became fascinated by the subject and proceeded to collect any
material on it that he could find. In January 1980 he started living at the
Benedictine monastery St. Louis Priory, which later became known as the St. Louis Abbey. In 1986, he attended his first Shroud conference and met for the first time, many of the top scientists and researchers involved. In the early 1990s he felt drawn to the priesthood and was subsequently ordained in 1994.


In 1997 Marino received a call from M. Sue Benford who informed him of
her spiritual insights about the Shroud. After many discussions via phone and emails about the Shroud and other spiritual matters, he began to experience God in a whole new way. Joseph felt powerfully drawn to leave the monastery to pursue Shroud research and other spiritual paths with Benford.

Marino believes the Shroud can be shown to be the burial cloth of Jesus,
then it would be an interesting archaeological object, however he believes that it’s more important for the spiritual message it can bring. As a former Benedictine monk, and Catholic priest Joseph believes that organized religion has often depicted Jesus as an unreachable deity, whose standards we can never reach. With his work he hopes to show that the Shroud represents a more human Jesus, who is someone we can not only approach, but, as indicated in the Gospel of John, a person we can even surpass in doing great things.


”It is my hope and desire that our work can get this message across, and,
it is my belief that this is the destiny to which I’ve been called, which is why I have been given the passion I possess for the Shroud.”

Again, we are catching up on past shows. I hope you’ll be watching your podcast feed. Please also keep supporting the Deeper Waters Podcast any way that you can.

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

Book Plunge: Wrapped Up In The Shroud

What do I think of Joe Marino’s book published by Cradle Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Joe is your normal teenager years ago who loves his music and really has no interest in religion. That all changes one day when he’s in a bookstore and gets a book on the Shroud of Turin out of curiosity. Before too long, he winds up in a monastery lecturing on the Shroud where he is said to be “wrapped up in the shroud.”

If that part seems strange, it’s not over yet. Sometime in his correspondence he comes across a lady named Sue Benford, who is also fascinated with the Shroud. Then, this monk winds up leaving the monastery life and marrying her and being a team with her talking about the Shroud. I have been told that their research is what really called into question the veracity of the C-14 dating that placed the Shroud in medieval times.

This book is mainly Marino’s journey into the Shroud of Turin. A lot of it can be really fascinating. Some stuff, I’m still skeptical of. That’s okay as well. You can be skeptical of some of the experiential stuff and the material about the Shroud can be entirely valid as it doesn’t rely on that. Marino doesn’t even fault you if you’re skeptical of that stuff.

There are also several appendices. This is a rare book in that the appendices altogether are almost as long as the book prior is. I read through them and found them interesting, but if you want just the story you only need to read through the first part.

Sometimes, the language gets technical, but it isn’t too technical, though the appendices can be an exception. You also get a look at the inner politics going on at Shroud meetings. While it is true that politics isn’t everything, everything is sadly politics.

There were times that something would seem to get picked up and I wondered what happened with it later. Marino mentions being a big brother to a kid named Greg at the start through the Big Brothers program. I found myself wondering at the end of the book if Marino ever spoke with Greg any more and knew how he was doing. I would have liked to have seen that covered.

I also would have liked something on the more theological perspective of the Shroud. Suppose we demonstrate the Shroud is authentic to someone. So what? What does that mean? What difference does it make? Why should we care if it is authentic? What does it matter today if Jesus rose from the dead? Marino is a former monk, but it would have been nice to get some of his theology on this topic, especially since he talks about how seeing the Shroud is life-changing for some people. Why? What hope does it give? I have my answer, of course, but maybe others need one.

If you care about the history of the modern period on the Shroud, this is likely the best book to go to. If you are skeptical of some of the experiences, that’s fine. They aren’t really essential to the research on the Shroud. You can still get a lot out of this. In the end, you might find yourself wrapped up in the Shroud as well.

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

Book Plunge: Atonement and the Death of Christ

What do I think of William Lane Craig’s book published by Baylor University Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

William Lane Craig is often said to be the #1 apologist alive today. I consider him a friend personally, and yet I honestly haven’t read many of his books at this point. It’s not because I am opposed to him in some way. It’s just that for whatever reason, I haven’t. When I got this book in the mail though, I figured I should see what it was like. Most of Craig’s works I know of have been apologetics works. While there is apologetics in this to a degree, this one is more theological.

I was also curious because I am a fan of N.T Wright and I couldn’t help but think of this being a response in part to his book on the atonement. Thus, I dove in. I will be giving a brief summary of what the book is about and then listing things I liked about it followed by areas that I had some questions about.

The book is divided into three parts. The first is the biblical data, which makes sense. When forming a doctrine from the Bible, the Bible is usually seen as a good place to go to. Craig actually begins in the Old Testament, which I also thought proper, and looks at topics like sacrifice and the suffering servant before proceeding to how this is fleshed out in the new.

From there, he goes to history. What do the Fathers of the church say about the atonement? What was said in the medieval period? What happened after the time of the Reformation?

Finally, we get into probably what is the most unusual part of the book, though interesting and helpful, and that is the philosophy of the atonement. In this, there is not only a look at the philosophy surrounding justice and mercy, but also around law courts. There are several instances of American law cited and questions of topics such as how do pardons work.

So for positives here, Craig is indeed very thorough. Most people would not think of including something like this last section in a book on the atonement, but Craig does. He also does include some words on the New Perspective on Paul. It’s food for thought, but at this point, I am not ready to say the NPP doesn’t work.

On page 206, there is a wonderful paragraph on the necessity of the crucifixion and the resurrection. This helps show the connection between God dealing out justice and God being merciful on us. There is too little of this in Christian thinking today in that we don’t see the difference the resurrection makes beyond “Christianity is true.”

As I said earlier, I appreciate Craig going to the Old Testament. The Old Testament is where our faith begins and too often we dispense of it. Most Christians I meet who are biblical scholars are New Testament scholars. Nothing wrong with being one, but we need specialists in the Old Testament as well.

I also did appreciate the final section. It was interesting looking at the atonement through the eyes of jurisprudence and seeing how modern notions of law can help us see the way the doctrine works. I also appreciate the philosophical objections being dealt with such as penal substitution being immoral.

However, there are some points I wish to raise that I would like to see addressed.

First, when we get to the New Testament data, I think there is an overemphasis on Paul. I am not opposed to Paul, but when you look in the references, you will find more references to Romans than you will to all the Gospels combined. While I do not consider it Pauline, at least exclusively, the same applies to Hebrews as well. On this point, I think Wright does come out ahead since he does spend more time in the Gospels with the direct words of Jesus.

On p. 167, Craig says it seems odd that someone can be forgiven for their sins and punished for their sins. It does, but I immediately remembered King David’s first son with Bathsheba. David was explicitly said he was forgiven, but he was also told immediately that the child born to him would die. It looks like then that David was forgiven and still punished. I would like to see this fleshed out.

I would have liked to have seen more interaction with N.T. Wright. Wright is the most prolific writer who has put out something on the doctrine and while he was cited at times, I would have liked to have seen an extensive interaction with him.

Finally, I thought the discussions of modern law were interesting, but I kept being struck by a concern in that. If we were in England, would we see English law? Would we see German law in Germany? American law is the category we think in, but does it follow that it’s applicable to the biblical doctrine?

I would have liked to have seen interaction with law in the world of Jesus, such as the law of Caesar or the law of the Sanhedrin. How did justice work in those courts? How did Caesar dole out justice and mercy both? Could Caesar give a pardon and how would that work? After all, these are the categories the biblical world was set in. I am not saying that there is no correspondence to modern law, but I can be skeptical. In a future work, I would prefer to see law in the ancient world look at.

That being said, Craig’s work is a great defense of penal substitution in particular, but I think also rightly recognizing there are some elements of other atonement theories. It is quite likely one will not cover everything. Those wanting a good resource on the doctrine of the atonement owe it to themselves to read Craig’s book.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 7/11/2020

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

The Trinity is one of those doctrines that Christians get out when they need to deal with Jehovah’s Witnesses, but they don’t pay much attention to elsewhere. It’s a shame because the Trinity is a birthright of Christians. It is a teaching that can change everything for us if we let it.

While Jehovah’s Witnesses will say it is a late development, it is all over the pages of the New Testament. One such place is in Romans. Paul moves back and forth from the Father to the Son to the Holy Spirit. Does a Trinitarian understanding help us in any way here? What difference does it make?

To discuss this, I have brought on a friend of mine who got in touch with me who recently wrote a book on this topic. He is a New Testament scholar and very well informed and also known as the Greek Geek. I can also assure listeners that if for some reason we cannot do the show, it will indeed be his fault. (Inside joke for those who understand it.) His name is Ron C. Fay.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Ron C. Fay did his undergraduate work at Calvin College (now Calvin University), where he majored in Physics/Math and Classical Greek. He earned his M Div and PhD from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS), where he was the New Testament Department Scholar. He has taught at both TEDS and Liberty University, at the School of Divinity, as part of the New Testament faculty. He has taught from Junior High to doctoral level courses. He spent 7 years in the pastorate as well. He currently teaches for both Liberty and the Stony Brook School. He has published on Paul, Greco-Roman Backgrounds, John, and Luke-Acts and is coediting the series Milstones in New Testament Scholarship with Stanley E. Porter. His book Father, Son, and Spirit in Romans 8: The Roman Reception of Paul’s Trinitarian Theology was just released. 

Romans is a great treasure for Christians and we will be diving into it. Prepare yourself to see the Trinity in the book through new eyes. We have also recently uploaded several episodes and are catching up on others so hopefully, we will be up to date soon.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Immortal

What do I think of Clay Jones’s book published by Harvest House? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Most of us growing up have some idea that somehow we are going to live forever. I sometimes wonder if that could be what is behind our big obsession with our generation has to be the one Jesus will return in. It’s natural to long for that, but could it also be that if He returns, we get to avoid that death thing?

In this book, Clay Jones shows us how the fear of death drives everything. As I write this, our country is experiencing a pandemic that has kept people in the grip of fear in a way I have never seen in my lifetime. People seem to be constantly afraid they will either get the disease or give it to someone else.

So Jones takes us through a number of sections in this book. He writes about how people are in a desperate bind to learn how to live forever. It could be through virtual uploading to a computer or freezing your body through cryogenics. Either way, so many people want to do all they can to avoid death. It’s irony that so many that come up with health systems to avoid death wind up dying at what can be considered a younger age than expected despite this.

Well, if those don’t work, what about symbolic immortality? One of the biggest ways we often try to do this is to have kids. Surely that will make us live forever symbolically? Not really. Most of us don’t know much about our great-great-great-grandparents. For mine, I couldn’t even tell you their names.

We can also try to do a great work like a book or art or get a building built in our name. In some way, we want our legacy to live on. Sadly, another way many people try to do this is through evil. Commit a great evil and all of a sudden people know who you are. This is one reason I don’t favor giving the names of mass shooters out when they happen. It just gives them more of something they want.

If the fear of death is driving us though, how do we cope with it? We often turn to pleasure and amusement or even just sad acceptance in depression. We can get addicted to sex and to drugs and alcohol. We can even go the route of suicide. Wait. How is it that suicide deals with our fear of death? Because if death is coming and it’s inevitable, might as well go ahead and get it done with. Right? (Please do not go this route. Call the suicide hotline if you or someone you know is considering this. 1-800-273-8255. Your life is worth living.)

Jones then follows this up by first giving a brief case for the resurrection of Jesus. From there, he goes on to talk about our future life in Heaven which is something Christians do not think about enough. It has been said some Christians are so Heavenly minded that they’re no Earthly good. It is just the opposite. Too many Christians are so Earthly minded that they’re no Heavenly good. If we focus on eternity and what it will be like, then we are more prone to take things seriously here.

I remember when I was engaged to Allie and I had the realization come in of what was going to happen to me soon in marrying and the Scripture of “As Christ loved the church.” That was what I was called to do. I was called to love my wife that way. That was scary. Someday when I stand before God, the first questions will not be about Deeper Waters or my ministry. I suspect one of the first questions will be “How did you treat your wife?”

I have said before to guys, and women can alter it for themselves, that I don’t care if you have a worldwide ministry. I don’t care if atheists are scared to confront you. I don’t care if you win every debate. I don’t care if your books are all best-sellers. If you are not a husband to your wife and a father to your children, I count you a failure in ministry. I stand by that.

If there’s anything I would alter in Jones’s book, it would be how we are to live life now exactly. Jones wants us to be focused on Heavenly things, but rightly says he takes time for joys of this world too like going to superhero movies, prime rib apparently, and indicates he wouldn’t mind recreating his honeymoon. (And who can blame him guys. Am I right?) I would like to know how this is done. Do I need to feel guilty if I start to play a game in my private time? I would like to see more on this.

At any rate, this book is an important one to read. Death drives us more than we realize and this will make you think more seriously about your mortality and what you are doing with your life. This is only the second book I have seen from Clay Jones, and yet both of them I consider important reads.

In Christ,
Nick Peters