Be Of Good Cheer

How do you help your brother in need? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I appreciate the concern for yesterday’s post. I am in a better place today. It had been a time of a lot heading at me the day before that it had just been overbearing and now things are doing much better after making some necessary changes.

Still, I am usually a moody and quiet individual. Last night while out in public, I encountered two ladies and one of them said that she hopes I’m in better mood tomorrow and to smile. After all, God loves you.

Now that stuck with me. It’s not because I was overcome with sudden joy. It’s not because I question the claim. It’s because as I heard it, that claim was extremely shallow. Let’s do this by putting in some other situations.

Imagine if this lady had met someone whose son had just died in a car accident or whose husband had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. How would that have come over? It would be true, naturally, but it wouldn’t really address what the person is going through.

As I thought about it, it got me thinking of James 2.

“15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?”

Charles Schulz once did this comic that shows what James has in mind.

So how is Snoopy better off after this? Not a bit. If anything, he has less care for those who came over to comfort him. He’s cold in the snow and has just been given a feel-good saying.

By contrast, I remember encountering someone who I could tell was going through a hard time yesterday and did something radical. I asked what was wrong. I then listened and gave a comment of support back. This is someone who knows me so I told them I would pray for their situation as I had to go and it was appreciated.

Notice that first part. What is wrong? That was actually asked. It wasn’t just “Cheer up, buttercup.” Scripture tells us to do this. Mourn with those who mourn. If James is concerned about physical needs, could he also be concerned about emotional, spiritual, mental, situational, etc. needs?

Sometimes, that could require a time investment. If you don’t have it, it could be best to not offer anything. Keep in mind also some of us with personalities are very different anyway. Normally, I do not smile a lot and I do not talk to people I don’t know a lot. That can be even if I am in a good mood.

Let’s also keep in mind that I am sure that Jesus in the Garden knew that God loved Him and knew that on the cross, but Jesus is not happy at those points. Jesus is a sad Jesus. He says His soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Knowing God loves you does not mean you will always be happy.

I cannot explain why that is, but we all know that it’s true. Now consider that I am a Christian hearing this saying. What happens if you are not a Christian? How do you see Christians then? Could you not be more like Gideon who is told “The Lord is with you?” and be wanting to say, “If that’s true, then why XYZ?”

Some non-Christians could be hardened against God.

So what do you do with the sufferers? You actually enter into their suffering. You try to understand where they’re coming from. That does require work and effort and you have to determine if you can do that at the time. If not, maybe don’t say anything and just pray on your own for the well-being of the person and help for what they are going through.

God loves you, but sometimes, you do need to just be heard and listened to. Sometimes it can help a person even if you don’t even say anything back. If they just know you’re listening, that can be enough. Platitudes though are looked down on for a reason, whether they’re true or not. The intent may be good, but it doesn’t come across well.

Try entering into the suffering instead. It’s definitely worth it.

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

New Video on Silent Protagonists

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

Folks. I’m going to be lazy tonight. Let’s just say I had one of the worst nights ever with a perfect storm of anxiety and depression. I didn’t get to sleep until 3:30 AM or so after talking with a 24-hour counselor late at night. Anyway, here’s a video that I did on silent protagonists and the Autism spectrum

Please be praying for me as I am moving on. Emotionally, I’m better than I was last night, but I am really tired.

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

Book Plunge: The Gospel Precisely

What do I think of Matthew Bates’s book published by Renew? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I want to thank Matthew Bates for his friendship as I was one of the people he contacted in order to promote his new book. It’s an honor to be in that circle. I find Matthew Bates to be a highly informed scholar, but I am super thankful that he is not just staying in an ivory tower, but is taking advanced New Testament studies and breaking them down for the layman to understand the gospel in a whole new way.

Too often, our idea of the gospel is way too shortsighted, which is a tragedy because what we have is really good already and yet we miss that there’s so much more. We are more content with making mudpies when a day at the beach awaits us. We are pleased with what we understand of the gospel, and we should be, but we miss that there is a lot more.

So let’s start with what is the gospel. Most of the time, we make the gospel about ourselves. This is what God is doing to forgive us. With that, we are ultimately the subjects of the gospel. It is about us. The gospel is not about us. It is about Jesus. We are the ones that are being used for the glory of God. God is not to be used for the glory of us.

One aspect that we miss is the gospel is Jesus becoming king. I remember hearing once that John Dominic Crossan said about Mark 1:1 that talked about the beginning of the good news of Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God. It’s a short little verse, but Crossan said it could be translated as “In your face, Caesar.”

If he said that, he’s not wrong.

Jesus is coming and declaring Himself to be the king who will rule on God’s behalf. This is part of the gospel. This is one of the reasons He was crucified. You don’t get crucified for just teaching good ethics and sharing parables. Jesus was a majorly political figure as well as a religious one.

Why does this matter? Because we were created to be the rulers of this world on God’s behalf. Unfortunately with sin, we all failed at that one. Jesus was meant to be fully human and fully God so that He could rule and reflect God perfectly but also be a man ruling like God intended. Part of the good news is also that not only are we forgiven, but we are to be rulers of the new creation with Jesus Christ. God saves us so we can serve.

This is however also good for non-Christians for the time being. The world is meant to be a better place with the coming of Christianity and where Christians aren’t being what they were supposed to be. Most people, Christians or not, do support the life and ethics of Jesus. I still remember a non-Christian friend saying on my Facebook wall that life would be a lot better if we all tried to live like Christ.

Oh. Let me explain something with that. When we speak of Christ, we shouldn’t treat Christ as just a name. Some people actually think that he was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Christ. I wish I was joking. I can still remember years ago someone asking “Why would a Jewish guy have a Greek last name?”

The closest idea we have to Messiah is King. In our country, that’s something that seems foreign to us, but we might not be too far from us. A friend of mine thinks we might naturally move as a society towards monarchy. Every four years, we are having “The most important election of our lifetime” which should show that we place way too much emphasis on the president, no matter who he is.

Of course, if we’re servants of God, we need to know who this God is. The Trinity is not just an add-on. If Jesus is not fully God and fully man, the Gospel is completely changed. Christians need to learn how to understand to some extent the Trinity and how to defend it.

I’m only giving snapshots here because honestly, i want you to read the book yourself. Some of you might be concerned with reading a whole book on this. Good news. The book is only about 100 pages. You could easily read it in a day or two, and it would be a day or two well-spent.

Finally, how do we share the gospel? This is where it might get difficult as Bates lists ten items that he thinks we need to remember and share. Those complaining about this might want to think about what they have memorized about sports teams, TV shows, music, or video games.

So final opinion? Get this book. It’s a great one to understand the gospel and will show you how much you are missing. It has five chapters and while I said you could read it in a day, if you wanted to read one chapter a day, you could do so easily and read it in a week and you would be blessed for doing so.

Matthew Bates is a gift to the church that keeps on giving and thanks to him for his work and being considered part of his team to help share his material. It’s material worth sharing and it’s an honor to be a part of it. And oh yes, there is one part where he does show that he does believe Jesus was born of a virgin so he does affirm the virgin birth, which I do affirm, the obvious important sign of anyone wanting to share the gospel.

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

 

More on the Sadness of Jesus

Why do we not talk about the sadness of Jesus? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Within the past month, I have written about the sadness of Christ. I was pleased to see that article linked to on a popular apologetics website. However, after seeing that, I started to ponder. I have written many blogs including on the historical Jesus. Why this one?

Could it be that this one resonated? This one did hit something and it at first doesn’t even seem to be something related to apologetics, but I think it is. Could it be that maybe we talk so much about the joy of Christ that we don’t know about His sorrow as well? Could it be that we ourselves don’t really know much about sorrow either?

Now that last one might be a surprising statement. After all, look at how many people in our country struggle with depression. Look at how many self-help books we have out there. Our people have experience with sorrow so surely they know a lot about it.

It’s not hard to figure out the error in this statement. Our people also debate politics and economics regularly, but most of us think that our fellow Americans are clueless about both of them. This is especially so since you can find quite sincere people and quite intelligent people on both sides of any debate. We have had the sexual revolution going on, but I contend that our culture is one that knows very little about sex.

One of our problems with sorrow and depression is we really don’t know how to handle it. We often act like we’re not supposed to have any depression or sadness at all. Sadly, the church is one of the worst at this. We often pay lip service to the idea of mourning with those who mourn and Jesus weeping in the garden,

For us, if you have depression or anxiety, then there is something wrong with you. Christians are supposed to be people of joy and so if you have depression or anxiety, there is something wrong with you. This can lead to being depressed about being depressed or anxious about being anxious.

Being a fully functional human being means experiencing the full gamut of human emotions and sometimes you will have anxiety or sadness. That is okay. If you start saying you shouldn’t, then what are we to mourn for?

This also leads to a false pollyanna world that skeptics don’t believe in. They don’t want us to act like life is always great. They want to see how we will handle it when life is hard. Will we be realistic or will we be living a life of total denial?

I also don’t believe in that world.

We also then treat suffering like it is something foreign to us. The suffering that we cannot bear often times would be nothing to our ancestors of the past. These were people who were willing to go to the death for their faith. They also didn’t only exist back then. They exist in the world today where real persecution is going on.

Why do we not talk about it with Jesus? Maybe because it doesn’t seem to give us something to aspire to. It’s easy to want to live like Jesus when He is being gracious to His enemies or outwitting them in debate or showing outstanding love. However, to aspire to be like Jesus in His sorrow will mean experiecing that sorrow as well, and we don’t want that.

But that is part of pollyanna thinking. The sorrow will come. We treat pain and suffering like they are something foreign to us. In reality, they have been promised to us.

The question is not then will suffering come, but how will we handle it? We are not to act like it is all good and wonderful. Sure, we are to count all things joy, but that does not mean that you always put on a happy face since Jesus didn’t do that. We can need help on the journey, and that’s okay. That’s why there are friends and therapists and yes, even medications.

Sorrow in Jesus I think resonates with us because deep down, many of us know that it is a reality and we want something in our lives. Yet still, the only book I found on a general search on Amazon on this topic was about 500 years old. Who is writing about this today? If any New Testament scholar is reading this, consider this a challenge to write a book on the sadness of Christ. To any pastor, consider preaching a sermon on Jesus being sad. It would be refreshing in some way. If anything, that could help many in your audience who do struggle with depression and anxiety. They could actually really resonate with Jesus.

I continue to think on this and learn about the topic. If we want to know Jesus as He is, we have to know all sides of Him. We have to have a Jesus who is not just fully God, but also fully human. That includes not just being hungry, thirsty, and tired, but also, sad.

Nothing short of a real Jesus will do.

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

Book Plunge: The Giver

What do I think of Lois Lowry’s book published by Laurel Leaf, Paperback? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I had an old neighbor post on Facebook about how she was concerned that her son is being told in school to read a book called The Giver. I talked with her a little bit, but I didn’t do anything beyond at that point. Then I saw one of her neighbors post something about the book asking if anyone remembered being asked to read it.

So at that point I decided I would see what I could find out. I went to Libby and managed to borrow the book for free on Kindle. I had been told that there was a lot of dark stuff in the book and I do know that there is a lot of garbage being shared and taught in schools. When a book is mandated, I don’t know what to expect so I started reading this one and I will try to avoid spoilers.

The story deals with a sort of dystopian society in the near future. The oddity is that this dystopian society on the surface looks like a place that you would want to live. People seem to get along well and everyone has their job. People are not rude to each other and do not live with great pain. Suffering is dealt with very easily.

The story centers around a boy named Jonas. He lives in a society where he and his friends have their names, but I noticed that adults are never named. Their parents are referred to as Father and Mother. That’s it. I cannot remember a single adult that was named in the book.

In the society, it is unclear how the children come to be. After all, as Jonas is coming of age, he starts to have what are known as the “stirrings” In this, he has a dream where he wants another girl in the community to take off all her clothes and get in a tub. The mother starts telling him to take a pill every day.

In this society, rudeness is rebuked at every chance and everyone has to be precise with their language. Children grow up with a discipline wand and get smacked if they do something out of line until they learn the rules. People apologize at the slightest possibility that they might have offended someone and every evening, they share their feelings time where they talk about their feelings.

Children are also divided by their ages. At the start, Jonas is an eleven and his sister Lily is a Seven. It is unclear to me if all these kids are said to be born at the same time so that they come of age at the same time. Children are not really born in the family but more assigned in the family. It’s unclear how this works, but it is a book for youth.

At each age, the way the children behave change. Lily at seven is still allowed to have a comfort object which is a stuffed animal and she looks forward to being a nine when she gets her own bike. The big age is twelve when each person gets their assignment and role in the community.

As you go through the book, you also learn that animals don’t really exist in this society, aside from apparently fish. Jonas starts noticing some items in his society changing and he can’t really explain it and the reader is unsure what is happening. As the story progresses, you learn what the society is missing.

Jonas is assigned a role to be the keeper of the memories of the community and works with the person called the Giver. I really don’t want to say much beyond that except Jonas starts seeing that what his life is is largely a facade. The people are living in a society where their major life choices like spouse and work are made for them by the leaders all because if the leaders don’t, the person could make the wrong choice and that could hurt.

That doesn’t mirror anything in our society at all does it?

We don’t live in a society where we try to do anything we can to avoid someone suffering. We don’t live in a society where everyone’s feelings are put in the place of utmost importance do we? Nope. Not us.

But the problem is, this society has to eliminate a lot of good to protect everyone from pain. Medication is there to make sure no one really experiences deep pain. Love is not a word that is used because that could lead to rejection. I suspect this is also why “the stirrings” are eliminated because sexual attraction and relationships can lead to a lot of pain. Again, how the kids come about is not entirely explained.

And there are even darker things underneath the surface of this society. That gets into a lot of spoilers so I don’t want to go into it. Still, learn that this society is one that has a lot of evil going on and it is treated as if it is normal.

So now, is this for kids, such as pre-teens or young teens?

I think it’s obviously not for kids in the single digits. These kids need to be old enough to understand the birds and the bees. Now it is true that this book has a lot of darkness in it, but the good reality is that this is presented as evil.

It’s another lesson that we really can’t create a perfect utopia society. This might be a society without pain and suffering, but it is not a society you should want to live in, especially when you see all that is missing in this world as everyone tries to achieve “sameness.” Any time people try to create a perfect society, it only ends in tears.

Suffering is a part of reality this side of eternity and doing everything to avoid it will in the end only lead to more suffering. A good society will not try to eliminate suffering ruthlessly, but will realize that you can learn through the suffering on the path of being good. A good society will also celebrate childhood. It will accept children playing and coming into adulthood on their own.

In the end, I did enjoy the book. I am considering if I want to read the rest of the series. It’s just that I have so many books that I am reading right now and I spent a lot of time recently because I had to go through all six books of the Hitchhiker’s Trilogy. (No. That is not a typo or ignorance. Fans of the series understand six books in a trilogy.)

So while children I think should read this, it would be good for their parents to be there to discuss evil and suffering. Frankly, most of us grow up not knowing how to explain evil and too often we just take an often easy answer. “There’s no God.” Okay. That doesn’t really deal with the problem. As I have said earlier, if you take this route, then you still have the problem and you eliminate the solution.

In the end, this is an interesting book and a good one to introduce children to the idea of a dystopian society. I also hope our society will learn from it. Trying to protect everyone from any suffering will not end well. Teaching people how to deal with it is a lot better.

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

Journey to Preterism — Isaiah 13

When will judgment take place? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When talking with these Preterists, another passage that came to my mind was Isaiah 13. We’ll go through the latter part of it bit by bit, though not exhaustively, of course.

See, the day of the Lord is coming
    —a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—
to make the land desolate
    and destroy the sinners within it.
10 The stars of heaven and their constellations
    will not show their light.
The rising sun will be darkened
    and the moon will not give its light.
11 I will punish the world for its evil,
    the wicked for their sins.
I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty
    and will humble the pride of the ruthless.
12 I will make people scarcer than pure gold,
    more rare than the gold of Ophir.
13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble;
    and the earth will shake from its place
at the wrath of the Lord Almighty,
    in the day of his burning anger.

Now if you read this normally, many of us will think that this is something far off in the future. The start of the chapter tells us that this is a prophecy against Babylon. Well, isn’t Babylon supposed to be brought back in the end? That’s it. This must be something in the future and it sounds really bad. The sun is dark, the moon doesn’t give light, and all the world is punished!

14 Like a hunted gazelle,
    like sheep without a shepherd,
they will all return to their own people,
    they will flee to their native land.
15 Whoever is captured will be thrust through;
    all who are caught will fall by the sword.
16 Their infants will be dashed to pieces before their eyes;
    their houses will be looted and their wives violated.

Okay. This doesn’t seem to fit in. If all this destruction has taken place, how are people fleeing to their native land? How are people being captured? Kind of hard to do that if everything is dark. Oh! This is the future! Right! Electric lighting or something of that kind!

17 See, I will stir up against them the Medes,
    who do not care for silver
    and have no delight in gold.
18 Their bows will strike down the young men;
    they will have no mercy on infants,
    nor will they look with compassion on children.
19 Babylon, the jewel of kingdoms,
    the pride and glory of the Babylonians,
will be overthrown by God
    like Sodom and Gomorrah.
20 She will never be inhabited
    or lived in through all generations;
there no nomads will pitch their tents,
    there no shepherds will rest their flocks.
21 But desert creatures will lie there,
    jackals will fill her houses;
there the owls will dwell,
    and there the wild goats will leap about.
22 Hyenas will inhabit her strongholds,
    jackals her luxurious palaces.
Her time is at hand,
    and her days will not be prolonged.

Okay. This will take a bit of time. The Medes? They’re not around anymore. Not only that, but these people don’t really seem to be bothered by universal destruction going on. Not only that, but the animals seem to get along just fine. This seems really difficult to put in the distant future.

But what if….

What if it was the future….

But not the distant future?

After all, all of this has happened before with Babylon being conquered and lo and behold, it was by the Medes. Okay. That did happen, but what about this language of great universal destruction? Oh wait. That’s the point of the 2 Samuel 22 post. That language there was not to be read in a literal sense either.

Now does that mean the text is false? No more than it means that a news report is false when it says a football game turned into a bloodbath for the loser team. No one hears that and expects that if they were to go to the stadium that they would see several dead bodies floating in blood. This is hyperbolic language, which Jews used a lot, to express a point of destruction. We could consider it in some ways to be akin to trash talking.

Isaiah was then giving a prophecy and it was of the future, but it was not of the far distant future. It was of the Babylon that existed in his own time. What does this mean for us?

It means we need to stop going to every prophecy in the Bible and thinking the only thing the prophets wanted to talk about was our own time in the future. They often spoke more of a fulfillment in their own time. However, there is still one possible objection remaining.

What about dual fulfillment? Could something like this happen in the future. That could be, but the problem is this is the burden of the futurist at this point. If I have a past fulfillment, why should I think there is another future one except to save the case for the futurist viewpoint? Even if this happened in the future for a specific prophecy, it does not follow that it will happen for all.

This opened up to me a new way of reading the texts. Preterism started to make a lot more sense and showed me ways I was misreading the texts. It is now also a point of mine to try to find out how the text was most likely immediately relevant to the audience of the time instead of reading our own questions into the text when the text could not even have our concerns in mind.

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

Journey to Preterism — 2 Samuel 22

What does an Old Testament passage not about eschatology have to do with eschatology? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When I had that talk with two Preterists, I remember distinctly hearing about 2 Samuel 22. This is not a prophecy or a passage about eschatology. This is about the life of David and what happened during his days. So what on Earth does this have to do with eschatology?

Let’s look at the passage. We’re not going to go through the whole thing. It’s just going to be the relevant parts.

David sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said:

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield and the horn of my salvation.
He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—
    from violent people you save me.

“I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
and have been saved from my enemies.
The waves of death swirled about me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.

Here, we can recognize a lot of poetic license going on. This is the ways of poetry and even the hardest internet atheist could understand that this is not to be taken literally. This is David talking about how he felt hopeless. Those Christians who say we should always take the Bible “literally” will recognize this as well.

But what happens when we get to the next part?

“In my distress I called to the Lord;
I called out to my God.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came to his ears.
The earth trembled and quaked,
the foundations of the heavens shook;
they trembled because he was angry.
Smoke rose from his nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it.
10 He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.
11 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
he soared on the wings of the wind.
12 He made darkness his canopy around him—
the dark rain clouds of the sky.
13 Out of the brightness of his presence
bolts of lightning blazed forth.
14 The Lord thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded.
15 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
16 The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at the rebuke of the Lord,
at the blast of breath from his nostrils.

17 “He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
18 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
19 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the Lord was my support.
20 He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Whoa. What happens with your interpretation here? This is quite an amazing  event in the life of David. David is surrounded by enemies and here comes YHWH flying out of Heaven on the backs of Gabriel and Michael. He is preceded by a massive earthquake and then YHWH starts shooting arrows at all of the bad guys.

This is a fascinating event and as we look back at the books of 1 and 2 Samuel, we find that this battle took place in…

Wait. I can’t find it….

It’s got to be here somewhere! An earthquake and then YHWH flying on angels shooting arrows at the enemies of David! Surely this would be worth mentioning! Where is it?!

Wait. Wait. You mean this whole chapter is poetic license? This is not a literal reading? This is David describing political events, such as ordinary battles and running from Saul, in cosmic language?

Who on Earth ever talks this way? Who uses over the top language to describe an event?

What? You mean a football team was described as destroying their opponents? That political announcement was said to be Earth-shattering? America’s story has a history of a shot heard around the world?

So you’re saying that if David is an Old Testament prophet, as is said in the New Testament such as in Acts 2, then maybe we should see this is how prophets spoke? Maybe prophets did use this kind of language regularly and it’s a mistake to take it “literally”?

It might be tempting to think this is an isolated incident, but it isn’t. There are several passages like this in the Old Testament. As we go through, we will find that this is the way that Jews spoke of events in their lives. Something literally happened, of course, but language used to describe it is often highly apocalyptic in nature. For us, a football team does get defeated, but the language we use is often very far from literal.

I had read this passage several times before and never considered it. This opened me up to a whole new way of reading the text. I had always understood it was poetic license, but I never had considered that this could be done in prophecy as well as the exact same language shows up there.

And as we’ll eventually see, the New Testament does the same, but that’s for the future.

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

Journey to Preterism — The Talk

What are the first steps in coming to Preterism? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

On my journey in eschatology, I had heard about Preterism before. The sad reality is, I did not know what it was. I thought I knew, but I didn’t know. I remained convinced that Preterists believed that everything had happened in the first century and that there was no resurrection and no return of Jesus. I’d see Christians I know who would have defenses of Preterism and I would just wonder about it. “Why would they do that?”

It’s not uncommon. I had someone leave a comment here recently asking if I knew any Preterists who held to the creedal statements of the church, especially on doctrines like the future resurrection of Christians and the bodily resurrection of Jesus. I replied with what I now know to be the truth. All orthodox Preterists hold to those doctrines. That doesn’t make us partial-futurists. That makes us Christians.

This is also why I don’t call myself a partial Preterist. The idea of so-called Full Preterism is that everything has happened and I consider that a heresy since it can lead logically to the denial of the bodily resurrection of Jesus. I think it has to even. It doesn’t work to change the rule and say Jesus is the exception. If we are raised like He was raised, then we are either both spiritual or both physical.

I am not a partial heretic. It’s my stance that so-called Full Preterism is denying the physical resurrection of Jesus at least implicitly and thus puts us in the area of heresy. That is also a term I do not use lightly. Not once in all of this have I referred to dispensationalists who I disagree with incredibly as heretics. They are my fellow Christians, all things being equal.

I am an orthodox Preterist instead, and what really led to me embracing that? It happened back in 2006, a year I can easily find out since I am wearing a t-shirt now for TheologyWeb convention 2006. TheologyWeb is a site I help moderate on and have my own section on.

You can come here if you want to join. You can find sections for debating every area of theology, other religions, atheism and agnosticism, politics and history, as well as areas just to have fun. There’s also a Deeper Waters section where you can interact with other people on the material that I write here. People of all faiths and no faiths are welcome. Also, after you’re done signing up, your breath will feel minty fresh.

Anyway, at this convention, I did something unusual really. I joined in a talk where I sat down with two people who hold to Orthodox Preterism that they were giving and I listened and asked questions. What they said that I can remember, I will try to explain in future posts, but I want to get to this part first off.

If you want to know about a position, one of the best ways to do so is to just talk to someone who is informed on the position and holds it and ask honest questions. It’s easy to think the worst of your intellectual opponents at times. Generally, there’s a rule that if you can make a position look absolutely ridiculous, you probably haven’t understood it.

Years ago, TheologyWeb had a section for remedial Christian teachings where I would answer questions. Now what if someone wanted to hear an answer from the dispensational position? This was an easy chance for me if I wanted to take it to come up with an answer to make dispensationalism look really stupid and thus get more people to Preterism.

Never took it. Instead, I would find a well-informed dispensationalist that while I disagreed with, I knew had studied the issue, and asked them to give the best answer from their position. I want people to have informed opinions.

This works politically too. I remember reading a story and I think it was about Matt Damon about how he went and interacted with several Trump voters somewhere. He walked away saying “Those people really aren’t the way that I thought they were.” Now that doesn’t mean he went and put on a MAGA hat, but he did at least understand their reasoning.

The sad reality for me is I could have cut off years of time in my search if I had just done this. I just always assumed I knew what was meant by Preterism and what a shock to find out that I didn’t. That is why I say when I entered that talk, I was doubtful, but when I left, I had enough questions answered and no remaining doubts strong enough to overcome the conclusion that the Preterist position had the best arguments.

So over the next few posts, we’ll be talking about those arguments. For this one, I just want to encourage you to really listen to someone about a viewpoint. Ask questions, but try not to be antagonistic. Consider this a fact-finding mission, like being a detective. Maybe you’ll change your mind. Even if you don’t, you’ll at least have a better idea of what you disagree with and a better idea of why the other person holds what they hold.

Give it a try.

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

Journey to Preterism — Where is the Church Pushback

Is there a distinction between tribulation saints and the church? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A friend of Deeper Waters left a message on our Facebook page about my post on where is the church? In this, I argued that the word church not being in Revelation does not indicate the absence of the church. This commenter left a reason why he thinks the tribulation saints aren’t the church.

For me the strongest argument for the church being a different group than the saints in Trib, is that Rev states that when Satan is cast out of heaven and sent down to earth to possess that false prophet/antiChrist it says “And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”
5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Re 13:4–8.
This seems to contradict Jesus’ statement that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the church, that all authority has been given to the church and Satan has NO authority over the church.
It seems to me that Satan cannot be on earth at the same time as the church if Satan is given authority on earth. So this likely is a different group of saints.
This argument depends a lot on timing. For one thing, the objection here seems to assume that all of Revelation is future. I come from an opposite approach. Look at Revelation 12 where the dragon does appear. What do you see going on? A dragon about to devout a child that will rule the nations with a rod of iron. Biblically, the only conclusion I can reach is that this is the birth of Jesus.
I don’t see any reason to think that this event will happen again, so I take this to be a description of the birth of Christ. When that takes place, the dragon tries to devour the child, namely through the slaughter of the infants. What about Satan being on Earth though?
In Luke, Jesus says He saw Satan cast down from Heaven. (Luke 10:18) This was during His ministry. Is Satan however active while the Kingdom of God is active?
The answer from Scripture has to be yes. In Matthew 12, Jesus casts out a demon and the Pharisees tell the crowd that it is by Beelzebul that Jesus does that. Jesus says that if He casts out demons by the finger of God then the Kingdom of God is among you.
Did you catch it?
Jesus is on Earth and yet He is fighting against the devil. Jesus declares the Kingdom is right there, but so is the Kingdom of the devil. In Matthew 13 next, we are told that the Kingdom grows like a mustard seed or like yeast through dough. This means that the Kingdom of God will keep growing and if it is doing that, it has to be breaking into another kingdom pushing it out.
Any guesses which that is?
By the way, there’s no indication that the Kingdom of God will be removed from Earth and then started over during a tribulation period somehow. God is building up His army and there’s no reason to think that He’s going to remove it en masse at any time. Also, for those who say the Holy Spirit can’t be on Earth during the tribulation, kind of difficult for an omnipresent being to not be, you know, present.
I contend then that if the Kingdom of God is removed, that would be God giving authority again to the devil which would really be a case of a violation of Matthew 16 and the gates of Hell passage.
From my viewpoint, it’s straight through historical. The dragon falls and then not too much later, here comes Nero, who I think is the Beast, on the scene. When we get to the harlot later on in Revelation, who is that? Some of you might be surprised when I say that that harlot is Israel.
Does that sound anti-semitic?
If so, then the Old Testament must be a very anti-semitic book since it regularly depicts Israel as a harlot. This again makes the historical sense of what happened. For a time, the Jews could work with Rome to persecute the Christians, but then the Romans turned on the Jews as well and sought to kill them. That culminated in the fall of Jerusalem which is compared to Babylon in the book.
I wanted to answer this objection because I do try to take objections to my view seriously. I did give a little bit of commentary on Revelation as well. I won’t do this for every objection I get, but I wanted to address this one as it seemed more well thought-out.
In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Ehrman vs Price

What are my thoughts on this debate? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have been recovering from a sickness and I’m still at home so yesterday after watching my church service, I decided to also watch the Ehrman/Price debate that was held before Mythicist Milwuakee. This is probably the first debate where I was ever on the side of Ehrman. While in many areas like politics and abortion I side with Price, in this area, being the existence of Jesus, I side with Ehrman.

However, this debate brought out to me the multitude of problems both sides have. Let’s start with mythicism. Mythicism is a ridiculous proposition from the get-go. There is a reason the scholarly academy has rejected it over and over and over again. I generally refer to mythicism as a conspiracy theory for atheists. When I meet someone who espouses it seriously, I know to not take them seriously. By that, I mean someone who argues it thinking it is true. I would have no problem with an atheist saying “I just don’t understand why no one would write about Jesus if He was such a miracle-working figure and I would like to know,” and assuming that is an honest question, I would be glad to answer it. (Such an answer can be found here.)

Most atheists are no like this. These are people who think they know better than the entire academy. Note that these same people will mock young-Earth creationists for doing the same thing with evolution. I am not a young-Earth creationism, but I can understand that at least they interpret a text that they regard as holy and think God has said in the text that the Earth is young.

However, I think Ehrman and Price both have a problem with who Jesus is. Ehrman will clearly say in the debate several times that he does not believe Jesus did anything miraculous whatsoever. He’s interested in defending the historical Jesus and surely the historical Jesus never did anything like that.

This leads me to ask the question of where these miracle accounts came from. Ehrman rightly says that we need to get past Albert Schweitzer who talked about an event like the feeding of the 5,000. The scholars of his day said one person brought out his lunch and then others did and Jesus encouraged everyone to share and it eventually became the miracle account. Schweitzer thought all of these accounts were ridiculous and strongly argued that.

I agree, but I still want to know where the miracles came from. Now the answer could be “Well, they needed to build up Jesus since He was their Messiah.” Okay. Well, that makes sense, except for one question. Why was Jesus chosen to be the Messiah?

It is absolutely certain that Jesus was crucified. Aside from the mythicists, you won’t find anyone denying that. What sense does it make to take a crucified man and say “He’s the Messiah!” The last time I asked this to someone, I was told it was because of prophecy. Okay. Can you show me who was interpreting Isaiah 53 this way? I know that rightly or wrongly, Christians today do that, but were Jews doing that and even if they were, why choose this man instead of anyone else?

We could go further and ask “What did Jesus do that got Him crucified?” I remember years ago reading Five Views on the Historical Jesus where John Dominic Crossan had a chapter and in his, Jesus saw His cousin John the Baptist get killed so Jesus went on a much kinder streak then and spoke about the love of God and the brotherhood of men. That might not be an exact quote, but it is the general idea.

I kept thinking the same thing reading it. “This Jesus does not get crucified. You do not get crucified for being Mr. Rogers. This Jesus is not a threat to anyone.”

This is why Jesus is really the most difficult figure in history to explain. The basic facts about Him are the biggest problems. Why was He crucified? Why did He have a reputation as a miracle-worker and exorcist? (Note. That is not saying He was those, though I think He was, but it is accepted He had that reputation.)

Most Biblical scholars I am sure agree that the ethic of Jesus is excellent. Why then crucify a teacher who had such a great ethic? What about the cleansing of the temple? That’s one that is generally accepted to have happened.

Now we have to ask the question. Why did He do that? Was that also alone sufficient? Could Jesus not have just been seen as a madman? You don’t crucify someone for being insane. Jesus had to have some kind of movement to get even that going, on especially since he had twelve disciples which is also accepted. Why?

The idea of this Jesus that someone like Ehrman has comes loaded with questions. Why was He proclaimed Messiah? Why was He declared to be risen from the dead? Why was He crucified? Where did these miracle stories come from and how did they overcome the “true” accounts so quickly?

I really have hopes that as things go along, New Testament scholarship of the secular sort will find itself pushed into a corner more and more. The ideas conceded today would not have been the ones done fifty years ago. The questions I am asking also I consider basic. Why? Jesus was crucified? Why? Jesus has a reputation of doing miracles? Why?

Of course, I think Jesus did the miracles, but I think historical Jesus research has a problem if we show up and say at the outset “Well we know Jesus didn’t do any miracles.” If that is from a position you have not argued for, why should I think that? If the historical Jesus did do miracles, you have a method that has ruled out the truth from the outset.

Now suppose you are a philosophically-minded historian who says “These are the problems I have with theism and why I think atheism is true.” Okay. You at least have a basis for your skepticism, Even then, you should still be able to say, “But if there is enough evidence for the miracles in the Gospels, I will be open to changing my opinion.”

Years ago Chesteron said that the believer in the miracle believes in the miracle, rightly or wrongly, because of the evidence. The skeptic disbelieves, rightly or wrongly, because he has a dogma against them. I find that still to be entirely accurate. As a theist, you could eliminate every miracle out there and God would still exist. (Christianity would be false, but atheism is not necessarily true.) It could be that God exists and just hasn’t done any miracles.

For the atheist, however, grant one miracle and something happening outside of the materialistic chain of events, and there is a problem. There is much more at stake. Take a book like Keener’s “Miracles” and every single miracle in there has to be shown to be false.

In the end then, Price’s position is completely untenable, but is Ehrman any better off. I have several questions about his Jesus as well. Now if Price wants to go with something like “Well one person shared his lunch and that’s how the miracle story of the feeding of the 5,000 came about”, I don’t find that plausible, but it’s at least an attempt to find an answer. Oddly enough, at least mythicism recognizes the problem there.

As someone who thinks about these issues, I do ask these questions. Every position of Jesus has questions to answer, but I really find the orthodox view of Jesus has the best explanatory power of the data. All others are wiling to try, but for now, I will stick with the Jesus I find the most likely to be the world changer that there is today.

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