Book Plunge: The First Conspiracy

What do I think of Brad Meltzer and John Mensch’s book published by Flatiron Books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I saw this book a few times at a grocery store. It sounded interesting, but I didn’t want to spend that much money. Then I saw that it was on sale on Kindle and figured “Why not?” I picked it up then. The account is about a secret plot to either assassinate or kidnap George Washington.

It’s always hard to find out something about such a conspiracy since people who are really doing conspiracies want to keep them secret. It’s not likely someone from that time period will write out in their journal, “Plan to assassinate the lead general in the American army is going well. I am actively recruiting XYZ to join us in the plot.”

There are clues there though. This isn’t something like trying to find the illuminati in hidden messages. This is something that actually happened and it makes sense that it happened. It’s not as if the British would not have any plans in mind to take care of Washington. Also, this was a politically divisive topic here as some people did think that they should remain loyal to England.

You also find out how important not only espionage was, but also counter-espionage. Washington was in a precarious situation also where he wanted to be able to trust someone, but he didn’t always know who he could trust. Not only that, but many of the American soldiers didn’t exactly have the kind of training in military tactics that the British did.

Most of us know nothing about the conspiracy. I sure didn’t. The thought experiment now is if we live in America, how different would our history be if this had actually worked. Of course, that will always be speculation, but it would be something drastic most likely.

We can also be thankful for the moral character of Washington. Washington made honor extremely important in his army and had to fight to keep soldiers from drinking, gambling, and houses of ill repute. He wanted nothing but the best from his troops.

Those who are interested in American history should read this book. You will find out about something little spoken of in our history and most of us know nothing about, but something that impacts us to this day. The story is also written in a form that it reads like a novel instead of just dry history. Give it a try.

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

Book Plunge: 100 Bible Verses That Made America

What do I think of Robert Morgan’s book published by Thomas Nelson? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you want to know about the history of America, it is imperative that you know about the Bible. You don’t have to be a Christian, of course, but a non-Christian should recognize the role that the Bible played in shaping our country. Our Founding Fathers were heavily influenced for the most part by the Bible.

This book follows that shaping from 1511 to 2019. Yes. Even before the country was founded, the seeds were being sown in Scripture that would make us who we are. Great figures in American history have used the Bible to inspire them and to inspire others. Great conversions led to intense ramifications for America.

My personal favorite stories largely took place in the 18th century. This is when our country was starting to establish itself and in war against the British. The way that pastors were targeted at that time is mind-blowing. Back then, the British put a bounty on the heads of certain pastors of churches. Today, most of our pastors are scared to say anything political because they could lose their 501c3.

These people relied on Scripture and based their lives on it. They believed Scripture called them to resist a government that was tyrannical and stand up for the freedom that they believed was found in Christ. Whether their interpretation was right or not, what matters is how seriously that they took the text.

Of course, one can’t avoid talking about American exceptionalism and if anything has made America exceptional, it has been the focus on Scripture. Christianity has shaped our country to be what it is and I have a great fear for what happens the further we move away from that. I keep coming back to a conversation I had a few years ago before even the 2016 election.

I made a statement to someone about the future of our nation that the gospel doesn’t need America, but America needs the gospel. That is still the case. If there is anything that our country needs today, it is still the gospel. We need 100 more instances of the Bible shaping America and even more.

That being said, sometimes in the book, I did question the connection between the verse and the historical incident. Was that incident specifically based on an understanding of the verse in question or did Morgan find a verse that he thought fit the context? I was unsure.

However, reading this will hopefully change your idea of American history. It really is a fascinating topic and with all going on in our country today, one I am definitely looking more into. For those of us who live in America, if we love our country, we need to know how we got to where we are and what we can do to keep America being what she’s meant to be.

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

A Way Forward

How do we keep going on? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

First off, I want everyone to know we officially have a Patreon. I hope you all will donate. I would rather have several of you donating small amounts honestly than to have a few donating big amounts to help our cause. Please consider a donation.

Now on to a blog.

On Wednesday, like many of you, I was watching the news when I could. I was busy and at times I would get updates on my phone telling me some of what was going on. Overall, I largely kept thinking back to April of 2016.

Mike Licona and I were picking up Craig Evans at the airport for a debate he had with Richard Carrier, the unemployed polyamorous prominent internet blogger who’s banned from SkeptiCon, if you’re wondering who I mean by that name. After we took him to his hotel, we had some time before the debate and so we went to Subway.

While there, Mike asked me my opinion of the political climate of our country. What does it take to change things? My answer was the one I have always given. The church has to be the church. You see, the gospel doesn’t need America to survive, but America needs the gospel to survive.

I remain thoroughly convinced of this. Part of what helped out our founding in this country is Christianity. I have been doing some reading on our history and it’s really fascinating how many preachers had bounties placed on their heads by the bishop.

Think about that. A preacher in a church doing a sermon is the most prominent target in the place and has nowhere else to really go, and yet these preachers got up there and preached. What would they think today knowing our country kills babies in the womb, is treating the idea that men and women are different as a joke, has said that the old definition of marriage is not accurate, has prolific pornography, etc.

Most of our preachers today don’t even touch those topics. Can’t risk someone touching the 501c3 or possibly offending someone and getting a lawsuit. Sure, it’s destroying our society and future generations, but at least we’ll have a nice potluck supper this year.

No. The church has to get up and be the church. It doesn’t matter who is in the White House or who controls Congress or who is on the Supreme Court. If we think the right candidates can heal our country, then we are treating a spiritual problem with a political band-aid. This isn’t to say who we vote for doesn’t matter, but it’s not the cure.

There’s a story that Billy Graham went to visit Konrad Adenauer who was the chancellor of West Germany shortly after World War II. Adenauer asked Billy Graham if he believed in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Graham was surprised and said that of course he did. (Rumors also have it that he added that he affirmed the virgin birth, which I do affirm.) Adenauer looked out the window at the ruins of Germany and said that apart from the resurrection, He knows of no other hope for mankind.

And that is the hope we need. It is to return to the fact that Jesus by His death and resurrection conquers evil. It is to say that the Kingdoms of this world are not the final say. In Psalm 2, the one enthroned in Heaven laughs at their attempts to undo the reign of His Son. This is not to say we establish a theocracy. I have no wish to see Christianity marry the government like that because men are by nature corrupt.

It is to return to the ethic of Jesus as well and that includes especially the area of sexuality in our culture. Many have said the abstinence movement has failed and in many cases, I agree, but too often we have only given the message of “don’t” and then said everything will be perfect once you marry. I realize most of us don’t really think that, but that is the message that has been heard. We do not have a worldview of sex in our culture today and the rampant chaos on the topic doesn’t show that everyone knows what they’re talking about. It shows the opposite. Hardly anyone does.

It also means love of our neighbor and of ourselves. It means practicing forgiveness. It means keeping our word. It means charity. Instead of waiting around for the government to provide food and medical care, strive to help others yourself. Stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves, which includes the unborn especially.

It has been said that all that is needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. If you’re a Christian, whatever political side you are on, you realize that our country has problems and we don’t want a future of constant rioting. I had the same thoughts back in the summer and I think I shared them then, but I have decided that one can either live in doom or gloom, which does nothing, or one can take their own stand.

I choose the latter. I hope you will take it with me.

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

Book Plunge: The God Virus Part 2

What does Ray think about religion in America? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This chapter spends a lot of time talking about American Civil Religion. The problem is, Ray never defines it. Now it could be that I am supposed to know what that is, but I honestly don’t. If anyone else doesn’t know, they will be at a loss to wonder what Ray is talking about and it is his job to define it.

He starts off talking some about the history of religions and mentions how Judaism was affected by Zoroastrianism. Unfortunately, we don’t have any writings from Zoroastrianism at the time. Also, even a skeptical scholar like Bart Ehrman is skeptical of this.

More recently scholars have questioned a Persian derivation for the Jewish doctrine because of certain problems of dating.1 Some experts have undercut the entire thesis by pointing out that we actually do not have any Zoroastrian texts that support the idea of resurrection prior to its appearance in early Jewish writings. It is not clear who influenced whom. Even more significant, the timing does not make sense: Judah emerged from Persian rule in the fourth century BCE, when Alexander the Great (356–323 BCE) swept through the eastern Mediterranean and defeated the Persian Empire. But the idea of bodily resurrection does not appear in Jewish texts for well over a century after that. (Heaven and Hell. P. 104-105.

In talking about America next, Ray goes on to quote John Adams. “The government of the United States is in no sense founded on the Christian religion.” Well, I guess that settles it. Adams was the second president so surely he would know. Wait. What’s that? There’s no source for the quote. Hmmm. I wonder what would happen if we looked it up….

Well, good luck to Ray if he can find it. The closest is in the Treaty of Tripoli. Even skeptical atheists recommend that this not be used as an argument. See more information on that here.

Thomas Essel says you could take one quote from Adams and ignore all the others and easily make a doctrine. Let’s suppose I made one from another Adams quote.

“[T]he safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and the blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him, but a duty whose natural influence is favorable to the promotion of that morality and piety without which social happiness can not [sic] exist nor the blessings of a free government be enjoyed.”

Also, little difference with me and Ray. I can tell you where that quote is from.

Okay, well what about James Madison?

“What have been Christianity’s fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.”

Again, this sounds really impressive, until you ask this person who goes on and on about evidence what his source is. It’s a good question, and sadly, Ray doesn’t give it. Some of us who actually do care about evidence looked it up.

As you can see here, Madison isn’t talking about Christianity. He’s talking about the marrying of Christianity to the state. He doesn’t want to see it, and rightly so. Both get damaged by that because both institutions use human beings who have a tendency to use both wrongly. Madison is not making an anti-Christian statement.

One has to ask how Ray got these quotes. Apparently, he got them and never bothered to look them up to make sure he was using them rightly or else they wouldn’t be in the book. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt that he did this without knowing the context. If he did it knowing the context doesn’t show it, then that is just plain immoral on his part.

Now for something incredible here. I’m actually doing to defend Mormonism from a misrepresentation. You all should know by now I care enough about truth that I don’t even want my opponents misrepresented. I am no fan of Mormonism. It is a false religion, though it is one that is fun to study. Ray though is shocked that Mormons and evangelicals can work closely together on social issues. He says even a cursory reading of the Book of Mormon will show you beliefs such as sacred underwear to people becoming gods of their own planets to Native Americans being from the diaspora to Joseph Smith as the last prophet.

Well, not exactly. The doctrine of eternal progression with people becoming gods wasn’t revealed until the 1844 King Follett Discourse of Joseph Smith. You’ll find beliefs like that more in the Doctrines and Covenants. The Book of Mormon is actually quite monotheistic. I also don’t think there’s any mention of sacred underwear in there. Mormons would also not say Joseph Smith is the last prophet since every Mormon president is said to be a prophet.

Finally, let’s look at verses which Ray says shows Christians shouldn’t be interested in ecomonic progress.

Luke 12:33 is about selling all that you have and giving to the poor for the Kingdom of Heaven. Ray still in his fundamentalist mindset reads this as if the apostles were to get naked and sell their clothes right there. (And then when the poor got everything, were they to do likewise?) Jewish teachers often spoke in hyperbole to make a point, this one about generosity.

In Mark 10:25, Jesus says it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. This is because many rich people at the time were tied to their money and didn’t want to part from it. Their wealth came first. The problem isn’t the wealth, but the person.

Finally, 1 Tim. 6:10 is the well-known verse about the love of money being the root of all evil, except it doesn’t say that. The verse really says the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Many great crimes are done even today and money is not a motive.

This chapter was thoroughly disappointing due to Ray’s lack of citing sources and doing fact-checking. It doesn’t help your case to say you’re evidence based and then don’t bother to do a basic search like that. Too many of Ray’s readers who think they are people of evidence will believe him as blindly as Christians often believe their pastors, and actually Ray blindly believed some source on this too. Let’s be better than that.

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

Happy Independence Day

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

Last year, I remember hearing something about this day that stuck with me. That was to not call it the 4th of July. Of course, the day after the 3rd and the day before the 5th is indeed the 4th, but what are we celebrating today? Does it just happen to be a random day we chose to celebrate?

When Christmas comes around, we don’t normally say happy 25th of December. When Halloween comes, it’s not happy 31st of October. We could go on with Saint Patrick’s Day or Saint Valentine’s Day. Even holidays where the date changes like Mother’s Day, Easter, or Labor Day, we still call by their names.

Why not do the same with Independence Day?

Today, we are really celebrating something. For those of us who live in America, we are celebrating the day that we proclaimed ourselves to be our own nation. We are celebrating that we can worship as we see fit or for non-theistic readers, not worship as we see fit. We don’t have taxation without representation or anything like that.

Of course, there are plenty of critics on this day who don’t like a lot of things that have happened in America. I don’t like everything either. I don’t like that we’ve become an abortion culture and a culture that doesn’t recognize what marriage is any more. Still, I realize we live in a country of freedom and I hope that we can use that freedom to bring about the greater change that needs to come.

For those of us who are Christians, we truly enjoy so much freedom and we take it for granted. Sure, we have sad cases where bakers and florists have been sued by homosexual couples and I fear this movement gaining more power and limiting our freedoms, but we can still worship as we see fit. We can go to the church that we choose. The government is not knocking on our doors demanding our Bibles. The early church would have loved to have had this kind of treatment.

Last night I thought about this going to bed. My wife goes before I do and I stay up doing some extra work on the computer so I can devote my waking hours to her all the more. As I was going to join her when the time came, I thought about what a privilege we have.

Many of my readers who follow a Christian ethic understand the idea of saving sex for marriage and think that when we talk about the joy of sharing a bed together, it means that. It does, but it means more than just that. It’s a privilege to not be sleeping alone but waking up and knowing there is someone there next to you.

Today, we’ll be going to see my in-laws for a cookout of sorts. I don’t care for cookouts, but the good thing is we don’t fear any persecution on the way. We are safe. At this point, to further protect our safety, we also have the right to bear arms to defend ourselves if need be.

All of this started because about 243 years ago, a few dozen men were courageous enough to make a unique stand in history and declare themselves a free people. Freedom itself wasn’t free. Many people died to protect that freedom. That’s why my wife and I always thank military people for their service when we see them.

Happy Independence Day. For my fellow Americans, enjoy the day and for that matter, enjoy every other day as well. They’re all gifts.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Happy Independence Day

How shall we celebrate this day? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Today, we who are Americans celebrate the day we declared ourselves a free people. It’s important to realize it was a declaration. The freedom was not guaranteed. There was no certainty that the mission would be successful. It was a great risk, but many of us today living in freedom in America are thankful for that risk.

I’m also making it a point to not say the 4th of July. Today is a day to really say something specific. We don’t say on Christmas, “Merry 25th of December!” or on Valentine’s Day “Happy 14th of February love of my life!” We refer to them as Christmas and Valentine’s Day. Why not refer to today as Independence Day?

Today, many of us will be celebrating with friends and loved ones. There’s nothing wrong with that. Here in Atlanta, we’ll be meeting with my wife’s family. (I also can’t help but think right now about a friend who said yesterday on Facebook that it’s so hot that he’s sweating like Steven Furtick listening to a Paul Washer sermon. I wish I had come up with that, but I didn’t.)

Yet as we gather together, let’s remember something. We can gather together. We can celebrate. We have that freedom. Many of us have taken too much for granted in our country. This is especially so when it comes to religious freedom. We can say we see some encroachments on that, and we could say so rightly, but many of us can still go to the church of our choice without fearing that the government is going to burst in on us and shut us down and/or kill us all.

The tragedy of all of this is we don’t really use our freedom well. Think back to how many people in the past wrote so much. You and I can read the New Testament easily enough. Have you ever considered what it would be like to write the New Testament? I don’t mean sit down and type it out. I mean write by hand a book of the New Testament. Luke is said to have contributed more than anyone. Have you ever thought about what it would be like to write Luke and Acts using ancient materials?

We have so much freedom to do so much good and we tend to not do it. Imagine what Paul would do with what we have today. How would Paul use the internet, podcasts, television, etc.? Dare I say it but I think much of what we do with what we have is paltry compared to what those who went before us did with what they had. They also often did so in the midst of real persecution.

That doesn’t mean we don’t give thanks for our freedom or despise it. It means we use it wisely. God has granted us a nation where we can worship freely. We can serve freely. It is a tragedy to get a great gift and to squander it. Let’s make sure we’re not doing it.

Happy Independence Day everyone!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Jesus In America

What happens to Jesus in America? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I love America. I live here and I think it’s the greatest nation on Earth. Unfortunately, we do have many flaws here. One of the big ones is how individualized everything has become. While I am a capitalist, I do think greed is often a problem and we have Christianized everything and not in the Biblical way. Jesus has been used to turn slogans around to different Jesus messages and you can go and buy Testamints at your Christian bookstore. (Because, you know, giving someone a mint like that is a great way to witness.) This has happened so often that we have what has been called Jesus Junk.

Our sermons aren’t much better. We go to a church service and it’s not about serving. It’s all about getting ahead. What can we do to be more moral people? How can we better handle the problems in our lives? Nothing against being moral people and handling the problems in our lives, but there’s more to Christianity than that. My favorite part is at the end hearing an altar call where you can hear absolutely nothing about the Kingdom of God and the resurrection of Jesus, but you sure hear how you can go to Heaven when you die.

In this kind of culture, Jesus becomes a sort of glorified Dr. Phil. Jesus is there to be a self-help guru for you and to help you feel better about yourself. Is it any wonder that the prosperity gospel does so well here? Again, there’s nothing wrong with advancing ahead and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having wealth, but what did Jesus really come for?

Go to most churches today in America and the idea that you get is that Jesus died for me. Well, yes. That’s true. He did die for you, but He died for a lot more than just you. He died for God. He died to bring about God’s Kingdom. He died to bring about God’s will on Earth. He died in service to the Father to reconcile God and man together. It’s not that God needs us, but that God wants to share His blessings on us. Thinking God needs us is just more of our self-centeredness.

This is why we don’t think much about service like we should in the churches. Most pastors would be thrilled if people would be able to give even just the 10%. There are many Christians who indeed are in need in our churches, and the churches are often the last place that they will go to to meet those needs. The churches don’t just give and support. Again, most of us are looking out for ourselves and Jesus is a convenient help to that.

We have lost sight of the idea that Jesus is the king. It could be because we have grown up in a country where our leaders are elected and we have a president and the idea of a monarchy seems like a quaint thing from olden times that we no longer need any more. Perhaps in a merely human sense, it is, but we are talking about the divine king. This is not an ordinary king who will make mistakes and raise our taxes and such, but make no mistake, this is a king who will call us to come and die.

Perhaps that’s the part we don’t want to hear. We want Jesus to give us more of what we want. Money, power, fame, sex, whatever it is. Jesus is a means to an end rather than the end in Himself. Most of us don’t really think about Jesus, unless we think about the things that He gives for us even if it’s just the feelings that we get with Him.

Today in America, for many of us, if we want food, we can go to a restaurant and get served quickly. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. If you want to, you can even get fast food. Today, we treat Jesus like that. If we’re hungry, we go to the restaurant. If we need to fill better about ourselves, we go to Jesus.

Of course, if this is all Jesus does, then there’s no need for unbelievers to really come to Jesus. If you need to feel good about yourself, there are several self-help books that can do that or you can go get Xanax or something like that. You sure don’t need Jesus for that. Now if you want something else, like divine forgiveness, or the Kingdom of God on Earth, you will need Jesus.

Jesus is not just a commodity on the market. He’s not just another self-help guru. He isn’t just giving us a message of peace and love, because messages like that don’t get people crucified. He is a real historical figure who walked and died among us and rose again. This isn’t a fairy tale or a story that takes place a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. This is real history. This has serious ramifications for us and things much more important than feeling good about ourselves.

It is my sincere hope that the American church will realize that while Jesus can make us good people and that can lead to good feelings, there is so much more. There is a real historical reality here. There are real ramifications for all of us. I’ve had enough of Jesus Junk. Let’s see how much better the real deal can do influencing our culture.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Happy Fourth of July

What are we going to celebrate today? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Today, many of us are going to go to celebrations and barbecues and watch fireworks go off. For us, we’ll be going to see my in-laws today. We could be watching a movie with them on Netflix or something like that as well. Normally, it’s a war movie. I don’t really care for those as much, so I usually have my DS with me.

Anyway, it’s easy to live and celebrate today and be unaware of how we got to this point. This is something I usually have a problem with many of my fellow Christians about. We go to church and talk about the suffering we face today often blissfully unaware of the suffering the early church went through and we think that it’s all about us.

Today, you have freedom in America, and that freedom does not come from the government as we so often think. Government does not give you rights. If you have anything that is yours by virtue of being a human being, then that is a right. No government can truly take it away, although they can surely try to get in its way.

Enjoying those rights is where freedom comes in. You came to be able to enjoy those rights because over 200 years ago, some people were willing to sacrifice themselves so that you could. They were willing to engage in an experiment never before tried in the history of the world. They took the ultimate risk standing against a powerful force of their day.

The sad reality for many of us today is that if it happened before our time, we don’t really see the point of it. There was a Facebook status I saw once, not on my feed but elsewhere, of a girl complaining about why we had to have the Civil War. It was just another thing to study. Absent to her apparently was that there was something worth fighting for in that war.

We have a great danger then that we will take freedom for granted today. Why shouldn’t we? We take so many other good things for granted. Right now in America, we have the freedom to worship together. How much longer? Look at the people in your life. Look at your spouse, your children, your family, and your friends. Take the time to appreciate them today. Many people risked and even gave their lives so you could get to do that today.

Of course, enjoy today. No one is saying to do otherwise. Others died so we could be free, but they wouldn’t want us to not enjoy that freedom. If you can shoot off fireworks and have a barbecue and be with loved ones, then that is a freedom that you have. Perhaps you might also want to even get out a copy of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and read through them some today. Take some time to remember what it is that makes this nation great.

Happy Fourth of July!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Bernie Sanders and Religious Exclusivity

Is it wrong that Christianity is an exclusivist religion? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In a hearing for Russell Vought recently for office, Senator Bernie Sanders expressed some hostility towards Vought for his position on Christianity. Apparently, Vought holds this really bizarre position. He thinks Christianity is actually true and not only is it true, it’s the only true religion and thus all other religions are wrong and will not get you into the grace of God.

Now to Sanders, this might be news. It’s not like this is a new development in Christianity. Christians have held to this belief since the very beginning, even when it led to them being outed by the Roman government and put under all manner of persecution and had them branded as atheists. We have to wonder if this is the first time Sanders had heard about this.

He’s right that while Christianity would be the majority religious belief in America (Or at least claimed) that there are numerous other believers in other religions and no religions here in America. Does this mean that Christians are automatically meant to treat them as lesser citizens. Sanders seems to think this, but on what grounds?

Let’s start with establishing something. Every religious belief is exclusive on some areas. Even a universalist would say that a person who thinks only one way to God is true will still make it to God, they are wrong in holding an exclusivist position. A pluralist will have to essentially change every other religion out there in order to make his pluralist religion true.

This includes Judaism and Islam as well. Try going to a regular synagogue and saying you’re a Jew who accepts Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. See if you’re treated as a Jew like everyone else. While there might be some exceptions, many Jews who embrace Jesus as the Messiah are excluded. Islam is often violently exclusive as is seen by many of the terrorist attacks we have going on today.

This is simply because of logic. All Christians give claims that are truth claims and those claims by nature exclude anything that contradicts them. This is no different from every other field out there. All truth claims do this. If Christianity has it essential that Jesus is the Messiah, then if the claim is true, all religions that disagree are wrong. If Islam were right in that God is a monad and only one in person, then all religions that disagree, like Christianity, are wrong.

One of the great freedoms we have in this country is the freedom to come together and worship as we see fit and to discuss our religious differences. In the practice of true tolerance, we have it that you can disagree very strongly ideologically, and yet still leave in a spirit of peace and even friendship. These are the discussions we should be having. I have no desire for us to try to establish a theocracy here because it would not be God ruling. It would be some men claiming to rule in the name of God.

The problem for Sanders is that he’s doing the exact thing he condemns. He is saying that if you hold X religious belief, you are not fit for public office. This is a rather exclusionary position and is saying that someone is wrong to hold the religious belief that they do, yet all the while complaining that it’s wrong to say another religious belief is wrong. It can’t be had both ways.

Naturally, a Christian who holds public office should care about the freedom and well-being of all of his constituents. This is part of our religion as well. We are not to show favoritism. If a Muslim and a Christian come to trial and the Muslim is in the right, the Christian should back the Muslim. He can disagree with his religion all day long and should, but in this area, the Muslim is in the right.

Sanders is, unfortunately, being an example of someone who doesn’t really understand religions and doesn’t see them as truth claims but more as personal preferences. Sadly, a lot of Christians might take the same attitude, but it’s not one Christianity has had historically. Part of this is also an example of the great problem we have of religious illiteracy here in the West where many people talk about religion and religions, but they don’t really understand them.

What are we as Christians to do then? We are to teach our people that Christianity is not just a flavor of ice cream that you happen to really like, but making really serious divine claims about everything in reality, and that we are to go and live out those claims. We are to uphold the Kingdom of God in all things, but also to uphold the great love of our neighbor that we are commanded as well. Who knows? Sanders might find that living in a society like that isn’t as bad as he thought.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Thoughts On Memorial Day

Is there anything to keep in mind with a cookout? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Today is Memorial Day as I write this. I will be going to spend it with my in-laws at their place for a cookout and my wife is bringing Into The Storm for us to watch together. I have seen the movie several times and I don’t care much for food so aside from fellowship, I’ll probably be spending more time with my Kindle and my books.

Okay. So I’m the odd one out here, but a lot of you are doing something special for Memorial Day, and I’m not knocking that. That’s something to celebrate. It’s a special day, but let’s not lose sight of what this day is all about. This day is not about cookouts. It’s not about time spent on the lake. It’s not about even reading books. (GASP!)

This day is about people who have died serving our country. These are people who paid the ultimate sacrifice. They are not here to celebrate today. They can’t spend the day kissing their wives or hugging their children. There are mothers and fathers who won’t see their children, children who won’t see their parents, and spouses who won’t see their significant others. In fact, for them, this day could be very depressing.

Let’s not forget them. In fact, if you know someone like that, try to go and see them if you can. Bring them a homecooked meal. Center the day around them. These people have also made a sacrifice. They live without the person or persons that they love. They want to know that someone appreciated the sacrifice that that person made. They need to know that the person who sacrificed was a hero.

How many of us today are willing to face death? The reality is we all are facing it every day. There’s a commercial that I see on TV now and I think it’s about heart disease. It says that for people with heart disease, tomorrow is not a guarantee and in the background you hear the song “Tomorrow” from “Little Orphan Annie.” You know who tomorrow is also not a guarantee for? You and I. It is not a guarantee. If we want to live, the time to live is not tomorrow. It is today.

Today, hug your children. Today, honor your parents. Today, make love to your spouse. Take the time to celebrate those people who are in your life. Do not wait to live life. People died so that today, you could live. Not just exist, but live. Are you living? Do you want their sacrifice to be in vain?

People did not die just so we could have fun. They died because they thought that what they were dying for was indeed worth dying for. The question we have to ask of ourselves is do we think what they died for is worth living for? Our freedom as Americans? Our ability to love those around us? Our ability to enjoy our lives? Our freedom to worship as we see fit? Are these all goods worth celebrating?

Let today be a day you start living. They died so you could live. Don’t let it be in vain. If you’re Christian especially, remember the original hero who died so you could live. Don’t let His sacrifice be in vain either.

In Christ,
Nick Peters