Removing God From Evil

Why does it not make sense to me to see people make the argument from evil? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Suppose you know the basic Christian claims, but you don’t know the reasons behind them. You don’t know the case for why Jesus rose from the dead and you don’t know the case for the existence of God. Suppose also that you don’t really know the arguments for atheism. You don’t see a strong case for something like evolution so you’re skeptical. Essentially, you’re a more neutral person in this debate. I realize this is highly unlikely, but this is a thought analogy.

Now you are presented with the problem of evil. Again, you don’t know a strong case against God or for God one way or the other. All you know is that if you go with this problem, then you have a case for not thinking God exists. It’s not a certain one, but it’s a probabilistic one. However, you also know something else about the problem of evil.

You know the problem of evil entails real suffering. You know a woman being raped involves real suffering. You know children starving in Africa involves real suffering. You know that there have been such evils in the past as 9/11 and the holocaust.

You also know that on atheism, at least what you are presented, those are still being seen as evil. You also know that on theism, especially Christian theism, there is a good God who is involved in some way you are told and will one day redeem the suffering people go through and bring about justice. You don’t know how this will happen or when, but you know on Christianity, it is claimed to be happening someday.

Then you start to think. “If I go with this argument, then I remove God from the picture and if I do, there is no basis for redemption of suffering or future justice.” That means that the rapist can still get away with it. That means the children dying just pass out of existence. That means that some people who were involved in the holocaust will never face ultimate justice.

You remove God from the picture, and yet the evil still exists. The person who has been raped has still been raped. The child who is dying in Africa is still dying. 9/11 and the holocaust still happened regardless.

What have you gained from this? You still have the problem and not a solution. It would seem that on a practical ground at least, you would want theism of some kind to be true. Note that I am not speaking on the argumentative level here. I am not saying at this point the arguments for Christian theism or atheism are better. I’m speaking about which one would you at least want to be true?

From my standpoint, at least on theism, you can have some level of hope regardless. If the rapist is never found, you can at least believe that there is a God who will judge him one day. If you go through suffering, you can at least believe that that suffering will be redeemed not just for good, but also for your good. You can believe that the innocents who die can be brought into the loving manifest presence of God and enjoy Him forever.

To be fair, I could also understand an atheist who would see this and say “It would be wonderful if that was true, and I honestly wish it was, but I don’t believe that it is.” That’s a fair position. I don’t understand anyone who would say, “I really don’t want that to be true. I don’t want justice to be brought to the evildoer and I don’t want suffering to be redeemed for good.” That doesn’t really make sense. You could go on and say it’s a fairy tale if you want to, but still say, “It would be nice though if that fairy tale was true.”

For me then, when I then look at the arguments for and against Christian theism, the arguments for have a lot more power to them. Evil is a very good argument to appeal to one’s emotions, but from a rational and a practical standpoint, I find it greatly lacking. This is not to say one cannot argue against God on other grounds, but evil is not the best one. It also is not to say that one should say Christian theism is true because they want it to be true. Not at all. None of this is an argument for Christian theism. It is just a way of looking at the problem as it is presented.

This is definitely nothing against making arguments for theism and definitely not saying we don’t need to answer the problem of evil. We do. This is just my saying from a practical standpoint, the argument doesn’t make sense. It might seem to gain an intellectual victory perhaps, but it doesn’t really change the suffering and removes the hope in the face of that suffering.

Also, none of this resolves us whatever our viewpoint of our responsibility. While those of us who are Christians do believe in prayer, if we just pray while there is something more we can do, then we have not done enough. If you have a loved one in a car accident and they are in the doctor’s care, then prayer is about all you can do, but you could possibly also visit the rest of the family and be support. You might not be able to go overseas and feed starving children in Africa, but you can support a missionary or special program to help provide food and water for them.

By the way, one such organization to go to is Jonathan’s Impact. They are friends of Deeper Waters. Jonathan was a young boy who I never got to meet, but looked up to me from a distance and I invested a lot of time in this fine young man. His death is certainly a tragedy, but his parents are fulfilling a deep desire that Jonathan had. If you want to help out the people in Africa, please consider this organization.

So in the end, I find from just a practical standpoint the argument from evil removes hope. From a philosophical standpoint on other grounds, I find it just fails. However, if I didn’t have the philosophy, I would at least want something like Christian theism to be true.

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

Evil And Responsibility

Why argue about evil? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I ultimately think the problem of evil is a failure. The logical problem has been solved as even most atheistic scholars in the field will admit, but that doesn’t stop the more emotional forms about certain kinds of evil being allowed. One of the big objections I have with this is that it doesn’t really deal with the theistic or historical arguments which still stand regardless. From a practical standpoint, it eliminates the cause of hope in the face of the evil while still allowing the evil to stand. Hardly a win.

That being said, I have noticed too often that evil is more of an excuse. This past weekend, I was engaged in a debate with someone where evil came up and the objection of children being molested by Catholic priests. I agree this is a real problem and needs to be addressed. However, I asked him that if that was a concern of his if he condemned the public school system as well. I was told that was a red herring, but how could it be? If we’re talking about suffering children, public schools have the same problem. In reality, public schools are more dangerous. Now if children suffering through sexual abuse is the issue, it should be easy to say, “I agree. We also have a problem in the public school and that needs to be taken care of.” Instead, as you can imagine, it isn’t.

Most of us have an idea that a man is not measured by his words. If you want to know where someone stands on an issue, you don’t look at just their words. You look at their actions. Consider the case of Charles Blondin. It’s a true story that he put a rope across Niagara and walked across with an audience watching. Crowds would gather and one time, he came with a wheelbarrow.

“Do you believe I can cross this pushing a wheelbarrow?”

“YES!”

“Do you think I could do it with a person in the wheelbarrow?”

“YES!”

“Who wants to climb in?”

No one did then, although later Blondin’s manager did.

That’s an extreme example, but you could apply it to several other cases. I have a phobia of water. If I tell you that I am now convinced that water is safe, yet I hesitate to get into a swimming pool, you have reason to disbelieve my words. You can say all you want to that flying is safe, but if you refuse to get on that plane, then we can question if you really believe your data.

We do this in philosophy too. If someone says morality is relative and then complains about evil, we see an inconsistency. I find it amazing that the people who are often the ones to complain the most about evil in the world of evil in the Bible, are also the ones who state that morality is relative. You can’t have it both ways.

So what do you do with someone who says that they don’t understand why God allows XYZ evil, but then they go and do nothing about that evil? I infer from that, that they don’t really care about that evil. They care about using that evil as an argument against God. Note, this is assuming an evil you can do something about no matter how small. A Jewish person can do nothing about the holocaust that happened decades ago.

You see, the problem of evil isn’t just a problem for Christians. It’s one for everyone. Everyone has to give an answer for evil. This is also the case with Christians on other issues. You want to complain about abortion? Do what you can to end it. You want to complain about redefining marriage? If you’re single, treat marriage as holy and don’t have sex with anyone until you’re married and if you are married, treat your own marriage seriously. Do you care about sex trafficking? Then at least avoid pornography which encourages that. Do you care about the poor? Then give of y our own resources. The government has a horrid record of helping the poor.

From now on then, I think one of my approaches with skeptics will be to ask them what they’re doing about evil. I should also be willing to accept it if they ask me the same question back. This doesn’t mean we don’t answer the problem of evil, but I want to see if the skeptic really cares about the evil, or if he just wants to use evil to attack Christianity not caring about the victims.

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

You Don’t Have To Know It All

Is it necessary to answer everything? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I saw a discussion going on based on a video from Cosmic Skeptic where he thinks the hardest question Christians have to answer is about animal suffering. We can debate that point if we want, but it’s secondary. I really don’t think it’s a defeater question, but that’s neither here nor there.

When I jumped in the thread some, I stated that my arguments for God are convincing enough for me as are my reasons for believing in the resurrection of Jesus. A worst-case scenario for me on this question would be “I don’t know.” That is not the case as I do have my own reasons, but the point to establish is that not knowing one answer doesn’t overrule knowing what you do know.

One mistake you can make if you get started in apologetics is to think that you have to know everything. You don’t. You can learn some about anything you want to, but don’t expect to be an expert on all issues. Why is that?

Let’s consider each topic you could want to go through. You could want to go the route of science. Which science? Are you specializing in evolutionary science or astronomical science or perhaps medical science dealing with sexual ethics questions?

Maybe you want to specialize in the Bible. Okay. Which testament? Which part of that testament? Do you want to specialize in a specific doctrine? Do you want to specialize in the history of the Bible or the textual criticism of the Bible?

Maybe you want to study other religions. Which one? Maybe a cult like Jehovah’s Witnesses or Mormonism. Do you want to study Islam and if so, all of Islam or a specific sect? Hinduism? Buddhism? Scientology?

Maybe you want to deal with philosophical issues. Which ones? The existence of God? Do you want to answer questions about epistemology? Do you want to answer about the relationship between science and theism? How about ethics?

If ethics, what kind? Do you want to go with sexual ethics? If so, abortion or the redefinition of marriage or transgender issues? Do you want to look at court cases in America’s history to see about right and wrong there? Do you want to go Divine Command or some other mode of ethics?

Keep in mind, all of this is off the top of my head. There is absolutely no way any one person can have an answer for everything out there. If you think that you will, you are just fooling yourself. In my own experience, I have no problem tagging someone else on Facebook who knows the subject better than I do or including someone in email better than I do.

For example, I don’t argue science as science. If someone asks me about evolution, I say that I don’t know and I don’t care. I have chosen to not specialize in that area. It’s fun to discuss and think about, but I am not going to treat myself or present myself as an authority.

To be fair, this also means our intellectual opponents don’t have to know everything, which is true. A Muslim, Mormon, atheist, etc. don’t have to know everything about their worldview and can’t. However, the moment they show up actually arguing for a position or presenting it as an argument in some way, they should certainly know something about the topic and be willing to engage on it.

Which means in that case, you’d better seriously study it. Just raising an objection isn’t enough. You need to know your objection and how to answer responses to it. This is true regardless of your worldview.

If anyone is a violator of that last one, it is Jesus mythicists. The overwhelming majority you encounter read no historical scholarship and hold to conspiracy theories about Jesus that the overwhelming majority of non-Christian New Testament scholars would look at with derision.

If you’re studying apologetics though, please rest assured that you don’t have to know it all. You should seek to know what you can, but the whole enterprise does not depend on you. This body has many parts. Learn what you can and leave the rest to others. They can handle it for you.

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

Lack of Education

Are we on the path to elimination? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My last blog post was about the culture wars. Someone in the comments on my Facebook pointed out that we should be concerned also about statistics about people not believing Christian doctrine even in the church. If anything, we should be more concerned. I heartily agree. If all we keep doing is responding to the world, then we are always going to be on the defensive.

It should be the opposite. Jesus said the gates of hell wouldn’t stand up against the church. Gates are defensive measures. If we were going to church accurately, we wouldn’t wear our Sunday best. We would wear battle gear and realize we are undergoing training for the mission of the Kingdom.

Many of us have seen the statistics such as people in the church who believe there are more ways to God than Jesus Christ, who question the deity of Christ, who believe in reincarnation, have no problem with sex outside of marriage, accept homosexual behavior, etc.

Is it any wonder that if this is what people within the church believe that we are losing the culture war? How can soldiers who don’t know basic training manage to handle conflict on the outside? How is it that we are losing this battle?

Part of it is that we unfortunately, took a stance of retreat. In the 19th century, you had higher criticism, the teaching of evolution, and situations like this that led to questioning of Scripture. Instead of engaging the culture, the church went into retreat. Soon, the church became a private sphere. The church dealt with the internal and the personal and the outside world, namely science, dealt with the external and the factual. Is it any wonder so many people, even Christians, believe there is a war between science and religion?

The church is always better off when it engages with the culture and faces challenges head on, but when the church withdraws from the academy, expect the academy to fall. Keep in mind, the Ivy League schools had been established for the good of Christianity. Now they are for the good of the hook-up culture. How far we have fallen!

Today, normally strong believers that we have in the church are not strong believers because of a deep study of theology or apologetics. It is because of a deep emotional commitment. How many of our churches are full of preachers who don’t have any higher education whatsoever?

Now some will counter and say “Well, the disciples of Jesus didn’t go to seminary did they?” Consider what the person is asking. The disciples of Jesus. What did that mean? They were His students. The apostles were constant students of Jesus Himself and I think all of us would happily change our seminary education to sit at the feet of the greatest rabbi ever like they did. Jesus personally taught and invested in these men.

As for Paul, who didn’t have that experience, who would question that he was greatly educated? He got invited to speak on Mars Hill, which is not a place where idiots went to. His epistles show someone who is extremely educated.

Also, ask many of the people in the church to explain the Trinity and likely, they will become Arians or Modalists. I have heard evangelists say the Trinity is like a man who is a husband, a father, and a son. Such a person should not be doing evangelism if they cannot give a proper illustration of the Trinity without falling into heresy.

We wonder with all of this why our young people are struggling in the area of sexuality. More of us get our sexual ethics from pop culture than we do from Scripture. As has been said before, if a young man and woman are on a couch together, it will take more than a few verses from Paul to stop them. They need a whole worldview of sex to know how it fits in. (Something most secular people don’t have either.)

Our people need to know not just what they believe, but why they should believe it. They should be having discussions of great books and know what the people around them believe. If you’re going to become a Christian in the Middle East, you need to know not only why you believe in Jesus, but why you don’t believe in Islam.

The problem with the culture starts with us. We watch the news and ask what has happened to the world. It is better to ask what has not happened to it. We have not happened to it. We have not been salt and light to the world.

What’s the solution? We have to learn what we believe and why we believe it and know how to interact with the world. That also means knowing more than just the Bible. We need the best education we can get in history, the sciences, economics, psychology, etc. Christians should be the most educated people of all, but in reality, we are usually the dumbest.

Many experts on marriage will tell you you change your marriage best by changing yourself first. If we want to change the world, we change ourselves first. If the culture is going insane, and it is, the best we can do is work on our own sanity.

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

Where Is Our Impact?

Why aren’t we making a difference? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I don’t remember where I heard it, but I heard someone over the weekend talking about how a small group like the transgenders have such a big impact. They’re right. 20 years ago I never would have thought that I would have to defend the idea that men are men and women are women. I never would have thought I would have to defend marriage as a union of a man and a woman. Yet today, these things that were believed for thousands of years by everyone have been called into question.

Let’s look at statistics. It’s my understand that transgenders or people who claim such I should say are actually about .3% of the population. I think homosexuals are really 2-3%. Some sources more leftist indicate a 10% of the population. Let’s suppose that that is true. That’s still definitely a minority.

And what have these people done? When I fill out surveys online, many times when I get to the question of sex or gender, I see categories put up there for transgender people or people who have been convinced that gender is something fluid that you can just change or is a social construct.

What about the homosexual movement? How many countries around the world are now redefining marriage? This is something we never would have thought possible to happen a few decades ago and yet now we seem to have a new normal going on.

What did these people do? They spoke out. They demanded. They used the media. They used the entertainment industry. They were vocal about what they believed and they shared it. There’s a joke that a transgender, a homosexual, and a vegan walk into a bar. I only know about this because they told everyone within five minutes of entering.

Now let’s compare this to Christians. We have so many churches all across our country. We make up a decent percentage of the population, but let’s go light. Let’s say Christians only make up 40% of the population. So what are we doing?

We are the ones who are often marginalized and cast down in society and seen as the backwards people. If anything, we’ve probably done something to earn that image. We’re usually known for what we stand against and not what we stand for. Christians are anti-gay, anti-transgender, anti-science, anti-sex, anti-progress, anti-whatever it is out there.

Instead, we fail to get out the message that we are really pro-things. Christians are not anti-sex. We should be the most pro-sex people out there. We have the Song of Songs after all! We just value sex so much that we think it should be used in the proper time and place. Like all people, we put barriers around the things that matter to us.

We need to use the media to the best of our advantage. Can Christians please make decent movies and video games and TV shows sometime? Believe it or not, you don’t have to explicitly state the Gospel in every single thing you do. C.S. Lewis never did that in his works and yet those works have stood the test of time. A number of atheists can even easily enjoy the Narnia series.

And you know, maybe sometimes we should make good content just because it’s good content. You don’t have to make everything into evangelism. Be good at what you do regardless and you will draw attention to yourself.

Definitely, we need a more informed populace. We need to know what Christianity is, why it’s true, and why it matters. If the average Christian cannot articulate a basic defense of Christianity and what difference it makes, then they are not prepared. I still remember to this day a lady in a small group I was in who said, “I’m saved and my children are saved so I’m just waiting for Jesus to come.” A lady like this is part of the problem. What about if your kids go to college and lose their faith? What about everybody else’s kids?

We Christians are way too focused on our own selves and looking out for ourselves instead of going out there and changing the world. We can say the homosexuals and transgenders and progressives have a false gospel, but it doesn’t help us to do that because at least they are out there sharing it. They are more true to a false gospel and we are false to the true gospel.

Most of the media we make when we make it anyway is for us. Christian movies are made for Christians. Other people aren’t going to see them so we’re just preaching to the choir. When Fifty Shades of Grey came out, right alongside it came Old-Fashioned where the guy wouldn’t even be in the same room with the girl in the trailers at least. Guess which one the world was more interested in. That’s not saying Christians should make movies like Fifty Shades, but we should make a movie that people would want to see and would show Christianity as something that they would not only want, but at least want to be true.

Definitely every church needs to teach some apologetics. Every church should have at least one go-to person in the congregation for apologetics. Larger churches will need more. Every church should have someone they can call when Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons come by. (Speaking of being true to a false gospel, they tend to do more evangelism than we do.) Definitely, youth need to be trained up long before they are ready to go off to college.

It’s bizarre to me that we can have events about how to divorce-proof your marriage or how to be a good parent or how to get out of financial debt, and we should, but we so rarely have them on why Christianity is true and what difference it makes. It’s as if the only reason to be a Christian is to have a good marriage, be a good parent, and live debt free. Do those things, but don’t forget the engine behind them.

While we disagree with those other groups, let’s admit that we can learn something from them. We should definitely not do anything immoral, but we can learn how to do evangelism better. We can learn how to use media and culture better. We have nothing less at stake than the lives of countless souls all over the world.

Think it’s worth it?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Deeper Waters Apologetics YouTube Channel

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

Since we’re all under quarantine and I finally figured out again how to use my webcam, I decided to do something I’ve wanted to do for awhile and had spent some time talking to David Wood about, and that’s making a new YouTube channel. I have one just for fun videos I make and I have one for the podcast, but now I have one for short apologetics videos.

So what kinds of things do I plan to put up there?

Naturally, I started with a video about affirming the virgin birth, which I do affirm, and last night I did a video book review. I could make some short vids responding to current events in the world of apologetics. However, I do have a few ideas in mind for projects.

Tonight, for example, I plan to start a series for Autism Awareness Month, which is this month, on life on the spectrum. I will be tying this in to Christian apologetics and my personal recommendations on reaching people on the spectrum. I hope a video series like this will be more personal than written works on the topic. I plan on working to see how to incorporate images and other such things into my videos instead of just watching me talking.

I also plan on doing series on video games and apologetics. What theological themes can I find in games? I’m not saying no one else is doing this, but I really have not found it being done. I have been told to put up videos of my own gameplay so I do plan on doing that.

I also plan on doing a series on orthodox preterism. In addition, I want to deal with some of what I call the rapture brigade. These are people that make videos on YouTube about all the signs that the rapture is about to take place. They are always proven wrong, but they never seem to learn and keep making predictions.

Ultimately, I expect a lot of trial and error at the start, but I do hope that this will become something more mainstream in my own work. Social media is being more and more the place to go to make statements and with cable TV about to fade out of existence, people will be watching YouTube more for their information. Sadly also, many people don’t read books so I hope that this will fill in the gap.

As of this posting, there are just two videos up, but we have to start somewhere. Why not go and subscribe and share? With quarantine going on, I definitely plan on doing more of this.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Who God Is

What do I think of Ben Witherington III’s book published by Lexham Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When I received this book from Lexham, I was a bit skeptical. After all, Ben Witherington is an excellent New Testament scholar, but I have not heard of him being a theologian. Still. I knew that since he wrote it, it would likely be brilliant. The book looked small as well so I thought it would be a quick read and so I decided to dive in.

First off, I was right on one point. This is a quick read. I started it in the late afternoon and I finished it before I went to bed that evening. If you want a quick read on the nature of God, a primer as you will, this is the one to go to. It’s a short read, but let’s get to the other parts.

Second, my skepticism proved to be wrong. This is really a great book. It’s not a dry read from a New Testament scholar. It’s really a passionate act of worship, something I don’t think I’ve seen like that from Witherington before, but it was an excellent work. It focuses on a select few attributes of God, and not always the ones we normally go to.

Normally, if you pick up something like the Summa Theologica for example, you will get the far more metaphysical concepts of God. I was just looking it up. Aquinas wrote a lot, but in the Prima Pars I don’t see love mentioned. What Witherington covers is five concepts. Love, light, life, spirit, and unique.

This isn’t an apologetics book per se. You won’t find arguments for the existence of God or the reliability of Scripture. All of this stuff is just assumed, and that’s fine. This book is more of a devotional book for those who believe.

At times, Witherington does touch on some secondary issues. Towards the end, some issues I didn’t care for being discussed, but if that distracts you from the overall point of the book, you have greatly missed out. Witherington’s book is a refreshing step out of the ivory tower as it were to a place where theology is meant to meet real life.

Far too long, I have said that a disconnect is there. Too many apologists I think have been doing what Lewis said, been so intent on proving God exists that you would think He has nothing to do but to exist. Witherington’s work reminds us that theology is meant to touch your life. It should change how you live.

Are you worried you won’t understand it because it’s deep talk about God? Don’t be. Witherington’s book is very readable. Like I said, it’s short enough that you can read it in a day, but it will be a day well spent. You will find at least one gem in here that will get you closer to worship of our great God.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 12/21/2019

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

I came across my guest in an unusual way. A Christian friend of mine shared an interesting article on a Christian defense of Dungeons and Dragons. Now I was intrigued since I played growing up and I know several Christians today who still do. I’m still heavily involved in role-playing games, though these are all video games.

The article was a good one and lo and behold, written by a professor at a Christian university. I was intrigued. I also realized that this was a person I had heard of before. He was interviewed by Mary Jo Sharp in her book Why I Still Believe to talk about beauty.

So I thought getting in touch with him would be a simple matter. We could talk about the interaction of Christianity and culture and about beauty as well. After all, could it be that those who are seeing the devil in everything and repelling from the culture are doing more harm than good in the long run?

I reached out to him then and he was delighted to come on the show. We set the date and as you can imagine, it will be this Saturday. We will be talking about the interaction of Christ and culture and straight from Houston Baptist University, my guest will be Philip Tallon.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Dr. Tallon is the assistant professor of theology at Houston Baptist University. He got his PhD in theology at the University of St. Andrews.

Dr. Tallon is a member of the Honors College faculty and Chair of the Apologetics Department. Both areas of service allow him to explore the intersection of theology, philosophy, and the arts: helping students to understand the Lordship of Jesus over “every square inch” of creation.

Dr. Tallon’s primary areas of research are in Christian theology and theological aesthetics. He is especially interested in doing ‘theology through the arts,’ which examines how the arts can reorient and enrich our understanding of Christian truth.

We’ll be talking about beauty, play, and culture. How do we find God in all of these things? What is the way that Christians are to interact with culture? Could there be danger in seeing a devil behind everything that seems contrary to us?

I hope you’ll be watching for the next episode. We are almost completely caught up with episodes after all. Please also go and leave a positive review on iTunes for the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 11/2/2019

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

Epistemology is a branch of philosophy that has in its own way always been around, but wasn’t its own individual branch until sometime after Descartes. Differences have gone all the way back before from Plato to Aristotle. Plato had the theory of the forms to explain how we know things. Aristotle didn’t disagree entirely with the forms, but said we know things through sense experience, or at least that’s where our knowledge begins.

Today, we can look at the material world and see that we have a lot of science and think that that is the path to knowledge. By contrast, what is religion? Religion is done by authority. The adage of “The Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it.” Some leave out the “I believe it” which would be redundant in a sense.

Is that the way religion is done? Do we just believe something because we read it in a book? How can we know God exists? How can we know what He’s like? Can we have a proper experience of God? How could we tell if that was a valid experience? Can one just intuit God exists even if they don’t know how to articulate the Kalam Cosmological Argument?

We’re going to be discussing religious epistemology today. How can someone know something that is a religious claim? Does one just have to take something by faith? What is faith anyway?

To discuss all of this, we’re bringing on a young scholar. Young is the word as just checking, my wife and I were surprised to see he’s just a few months older than she is, and yet he already has an Oxford published book called Religious Epistemology.. His name is Tyler McNabb.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Tyler Dalton McNabb (PhD, Glasgow) is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Macau. Before taking his current position, McNabb taught three years at Houston Baptist University. McNabb is the author of Religious Epistemology(CUP) and co-author of Plantingian Religious Epistemology and World Religions (Lexington). He has also authored/co-authored various articles published in journals such as Religious StudiesEuropean Journal for Philosophy of ReligionInternational Journal of Philosophy and TheologyThe Heythrop Journal, and Philosophia Christi.  

We are busy working on getting episodes up. I know we’re behind on schedule, but thanks for bearing with us. Please keep listening.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Gift Of Punishments

Is a punishment from God a gift? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Tolkien lived a rough life I understand. I heard a video yesterday my wife played talking about it and how someone wrote Tolkien about how he viewed death. Tolkien responded with “What punishments of God are not gifts?” Now, this is not to say that every time a death occurs, it is a direct punishment from God, or any suffering for that matter, but it is a good perspective on it.

If we are Christians who believe that everything passes through God’s hand and that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord, then every trial and temptation that comes our way is a gift to help shape us into Christlikeness. Perhaps someone might say, “I don’t see how God can use this.” That does not mean that he cannot. This is the true biblical definition of faith. It is trust in the sovereign Lord even when one does not know what He is doing because of who He is.

It doesn’t mean one enjoys the time of suffering. We normally do not. Few of us wake up and embrace suffering in the morning and give thanks for it. We are not good at doing what James says at counting it joy when trials come upon us at all times.

But that is what we are told to do.

I am a part of Celebrate Recovery here. Let’s suppose that I have a man I talk to who is addicted to porn. Is it good that he is? No. Can it be used for good? Absolutely. God has allowed him to see a weakness in his character that can be removed so that he can be more like Jesus. Through his current real lack of love for women, he can grow into a deep love for them and perhaps his own current or future wife. (Yes. Pornography is a lack of love of women. It is simply treating them as bodies.)

Not all suffering comes through moral failings on our part. I think I remember Tolkien’s parents dying at a young age and him being raised by a priest. We are not people who hold to the “Law of Attraction” that says what happens to you is what you attract. Sometimes it can be. Lie down with dogs and you can get fleas. Make foolish and prideful decisions and you can expect consequences.

Still, even with that suffering, one can grow into a deeper trust in Christ in those times. If we refuse to accept these times as good, then we are doing what Job said not to do. We are saying we want to accept good things when they come from God, but if it’s anything we don’t like, we don’t want to accept it. Isn’t it quite incredible that when God gives us goods that we don’t deserve, even as simple as rain and sunshine, we don’t complain, but when God allows any kind of suffering in our lives, and we all deserve that biblically, then we start to complain?

Hebrews also tells us that if we are disciplined, then that means we are sons. What this tells us is that if suffering isn’t part of our lives, we might be doing something wrong. God disciplines all of His sons and daughters. Our refusal to accept it only makes it harder. Imagine if the stone moved every time the sculptor came with the chisel and resisted it. The work would either not get done or come out horribly.

If something comes into our lives, it is something God can use for our good. Our problem is we don’t turn to Him when that happens. Instead, we often get angry with Him and act like He is in the wrong. I am not saying that all such anger is wrong. It happens. The Psalms are full of it. The good for them is that the Psalmist still trusts God with His anger. Be honest with your emotions with God, but trust Him anyway.

Again, as Job says, we ought to accept trouble from God and not just good. It does not mean that God is against us or He doesn’t love us. Maybe it’s just, and I know this is a bizarre thought but I will share it anyway, maybe an omniscient being actually knows some things that we don’t know. Maybe we should be humble and ask for the faith to submit to God in trust when things are rough knowing more of who He is. If we struggle there, maybe we need to change our theology.

Whatever happens to you today, if you love the Lord, it will be used for your good. How can you lose?

In Christ,
Nick Peters