On Those Who Never Heard

What about those who never heard the gospel through no fault of their own? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Going through my review of chapter 5 of God’s Gravediggers, I found out that if I wrote something on those who never heard, I was not able to find it. I needed to clear that up. Therefore, this will be my question about those who through no fault of their own never heard the gospel in their lifetime?

Obviously, many people fall in this category. Even before Jesus, we have several people and many of them devout Jews in the Old Testament who never heard the gospel. What about people living in places like Australia and Japan in 35 A.D. The gospel would not reach there by then and even if it hypothetically had, there is no way it reached everyone.

What about babies who die before any age of accountability? What about people who have a severe mental handicap and cannot understand the message? These are all important questions.

At the start, let’s be clear. The Bible never answers this question I think because God doesn’t want us to have the answer. I believe if we did, it might cause us to grow even lazier in the job of what we’re supposed to be doing. God gives us the Great Commission. There is no Plan-B. He never says “If you should fail, this is what I’m doing instead, just so you know.”

We are told in the Psalms that God will judge the world with equity and Genesis has Abraham saying “Will not the judge of all the Earth do right?” (It’s important to note that for the purposes of this article, I am treating this like an internal critique of Christianity and so any allegation of the Bible not being reliable or anything like that is not relevant to this.) At the start then, one major point is no one will be able to say “It wasn’t fair.”

We also know that God is all-good in Christianity. God will not do anything that is evil. At the same time, God will also treat sin seriously, but He is a God of mercy as well as justice. The cross also shows us that God is working His part to get people into the Kingdom. He is making the initiative. (I will not be getting into Calvinist-Arminian issues, although I am much more Arminian)

We also know the text says that there is no other name given under Heaven by which we must be saved. However, does this mean that everyone has to explicitly know the name of Jesus? If so, then you have a problem with Old Testament saints who would not know that name. So what does it mean by the name of Jesus?

In this case, name refers to authority. When the apostles say this to the ruling Jews, they are essentially saying, “Jesus determines who is in the Kingdom and not you.” We use the same kind of language when we speak of stopping in the name of the Law. So if I am right, then this means that one does not have to explicitly hear the message.

We also know that Jesus said that many would come from all directions to the great banquet in the end while many of the Jews would be cast out. Revelation 7 speaks of a great multitude from all over that no man could number. Some will say that the way is narrow and few will find it, but I really think Jesus is speaking to the audience right there and saying few of the Jews of the time would come to Jesus, and if so, that is correct. One has to have an interpretation of Scripture that balances all of them and I hold that mine does.

My thinking then is God will judge people by the light they have and how obedient they were to it. I also think that if they are seeking more, God will give it. Sometimes, it will be by missionaries who come. It’s amazing how many missionaries have stories of people they came to who had never heard the gospel and yet later tell the missionaries, “We had a tradition here that one day people with a book would show up and they would be the ones with the message of the one true God.” Such events have happened.

There are also cases where miraculous events happen. Many Muslims have stories of Jesus appearing to them in dreams and visions and leading them to come to Christianity. Nabeel Qureshi in his book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus even tells about his own experience with this. These stories are becoming more and more common in the Muslim world and it has happened in other religions as well.

What about babies and the mentally handicapped? I’m prone to think that God will welcome them all into the Kingdom seeing as they could do nothing good or bad ultimately to affect their destiny. Children are even often seen as a salvation picture in the Bible. Why not go ahead and abort children so they can go to Heaven? Because getting to Heaven is not the only goal of Christianity and we are not to do evil that good may result.

This is a brief run-down, but they are my thoughts on the matter.

Now you know.

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

DTF 2022

What did I think of Defend the Faith 2022? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I was pleased to be invited to attend this conference and though I didn’t give a talk, I still had a good time. Surprisingly, it wasn’t even awkward staying in a room by myself, especially since the last time I had been there I was with my now ex-wife. I somehow managed to sleep well most every night and enjoyed the independence that I had, though I would certainly prefer to be sharing the room with a lady again.

So let’s go over some highlights of the event fSamor me.

Tuesday night was the night that we had trivia night. This was one of my favorite nights of the event. I was on the team of Bob Stewart, the chair of the apologetics department who invited me. I really was glad to be able to contribute so much to our team, which did end up winning.

Naturally, seeing old friends and making new ones is always good. I got to see again Tawa Anderson, Rob Bowman, Tim McGrew, Bob Stewart, and of course, Gary Habermas. I also met Mike Strauss, a physicist who actually works at CERN. The people are always a great facet.

I briefly interacted with Sam Allberry. His talks were some of my favorite. Sam is a pastor who has same-sex attraction and writes and speaks on issues of sexuality and Christianity. His talks not only teach you about the issues of the day, but leave you with a greater appreciation of grace.

Thursday night, I went with Tawa and Mike and some others at the conference who were attendees to the French Quarter. This included going down Bourbon Street which eventually got us to the Mississippi River, which I had never seen in person. While on the Quarter, we saw the annual parade in honor of Joan of Arc. Also, being in this part of New Orleans is certainly a lesson in the depravity of man.

The talks were also great. There are several breakout sessions that take place and the speakers do hang around and answer questions. You can often find them just going about throughout the campus during the day. If you come next year, you are certain to find something that will pique your curiosity. This would also be the case if you’re a non-Christian, and non-Christians are definitely welcome at the conference.

The most important part for me out of all of this was the tour for potential new students. This is something I had been considering and I finally got one of my main questions answered when I went to the campus. There is student housing that is pet-friendly. I would never move somewhere where I could not take my Shiro with me.

My folks know now that this is what I want to do and I am making the plans. My mother’s not thrilled with it, but she knows this is what is best for me. I have been told I can get my Master’s faster if I live on campus and I look forward to living near guys that share my interest (And might want to have a gaming night some nights) and possibly meeting a new young lady I can marry.

If you want to donate to Deeper Waters, now is a great time to do that. Your donations will help make this more of a reality. Yes, there is a load of scholarships I will be applying for, but any donations from friends like you help. Please consider it. I’ll keep you all updated and you can check my Facebook page as well.

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

Divorce and Depression

Why is divorce so sad? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I hadn’t said a lot publicly, but Allie and I had been having problems for awhile. For me, Allie was regularly pulling away from me and there was little affection going on between us. I had been told a few times I could divorce based on things going on, but I didn’t want to. I still maintain that the covenant is meant to be for life.

Back in May of last year, I had got us a pizza at the grocery store and after the meal, I was taking out the trash. My stomach started to hurt so I thought I would just go to the bathroom when I got back. No big deal. Well, it was one. Allie heard me screaming in there and when I came out, if I had said I turned on the shower full throttle and stuck my head in, she would have believed it since my hair was so wet. She immediately told me to go to the ER and I didn’t complain.

After some tests there, I was told I had a polyp and it had to be removed. If it wasn’t removed within six months, it could be come cancerous. Why am I bringing this up? Because at this point, the matters between us were so bad there was a piece of me that was saying “Why bother?” My mother-in-law had to be the one to convince me when she pointed out she didn’t want to see anything happen to me.

By the way, I actually had the procedure, a colonoscopy, done in December which yes, was late, but still apparently close enough. A colonoscopy was one experience I never wanted to have and it was awful. When I woke up though after being under from the procedure, I immediately asked if they got the polyp.

Wouldn’t you know it? There never was one. It was a misdiagnosis. I still don’t know what caused the incident in May, but there is no cancer apparently. However, that is just a taste of what depression can do.

I was at work when Allie texted me saying we needed to talk in December and I knew what it was. I called her and insisted she just go on and say it. Yep. She was going to file for divorce. I had only an hour left, but I asked to please not do any work that put me around customers. I talked with the store manager briefly as well as I wanted to talk to a man. Was I in tears? Yep. Not ashamed of that.

When my friend William came over in January, it was my last day there and again, I am not ashamed to say it was a time of great tears. When my Dad and brother-in-law on my sister’s side and some people from the church were there the next day to help me pack, I was pretty much useless.

I got involved in DivorceCare when I got back here and I remember the leader once saying in a group meeting that everyone there had thought about suicide at least once. From my experience, he wasn’t wrong. Divorce is a sad event. It’s a  kind of death.

The only relief I have in the experience is that it is over and I can get on with my life, but it is still very sad for me. As someone said on my wall, divorce is a kind of death. If you are to become one flesh with someone, it is like mutilating yourself. Part of you has died in some way.

It’s hard also because it is something so constantly brought to mind. When I go to sleep here, I realize that I am sleeping in my bed alone, which is thoroughly depressing. When I see a beautiful woman out in public, I miss the female companionship that I had in the past. Yesterday while at work, I heard “Love Story” on the radio overhead which was saddening for me since that song was played at our wedding.

Being the one being divorced also leads to your own self-doubt. One belief I had was that I never wanted to reject Allie. She had made a major deal of how much it hurt her to be rejected and I knew that it did hurt. I knew that from my own experience. However, I did become the rejected. I still hold that it is better to be wronged than to do the wrong, but it doesn’t change that it hurts a lot.

I look back over myself and over the years and look at all the mistakes I made and wonder “What if I had done that differently?” I look at various traits of myself and wonder “Is this what made it so hard for her to love me?” I think that I gave everything of myself to her and it wasn’t good enough, so would the same sort of thing happen again?

Divorce is a time when someone says “You are not worth it.” Sometimes, I think that is justified, such as in adultery or divorce, but while I certainly have many thoughts and living with someone on the spectrum can be difficult, I don’t think anything justified my being divorced. Still, it happened.

The Aspergers also brings up a new difficulty. Will I find a woman out there who is caring enough and understanding enough to realize that I have some of my own difficulties because of that and can handle it? Am I capable of being the husband that I need to be?

You see, if you asked my mother especially, and mothers usually know this better, all my life I have wanted a lady in my life. When Allie came along it was a dream come true. Then when the divorce came, it was a shattered visage that took place. Everything gets called into question at that point.

By the way, I know some things that could be said to me at this point, and this includes statements about seeking a new wife sometime. I plan on doing a series on things to not say to someone who has been divorced. Many statements people make, no doubt meaning well and wanting to give good advice, are deeply painful.

For me now, the tiniest thing can make me remember some common activity Allie and I could engage in together. I can remember little things she said to me on one occasion. I know that such things are not coming back. Again, it is a kind of death.

Now there are also times of anger, though not so abundant. You see, if you asked me if I still loved Allie, I would tell you yes. I still want the very best for her no matter what. I still have my own concerns for her and I pray that God will help her on the path of holiness.

I do indeed plan on writing something on anger and I have been told there will likely be a time of great anger towards Allie and to let myself experience it. It will be cathartic. Still, there is some anger now.

When I am at work and wishing I was doing something more, I get depressed about that. When I realize I am living with my parents again, the same happens. I want to be out there on my own more. I want to be doing something in the world that makes a difference in apologetics. I want to enjoy my life.

This is also, as I have said, why I am advertising my Patreon and my YouTube more. It is me trying to reach my goals bit by bit, which include living on my own and then eventually dating again. The more I also gain that independence, we are getting closer to bringing the podcast back again.

Something that has been a help is so many of you messaging me and even saying something simple like you’re praying for me. I am also thankful that very few of you have given unsolicited advice. I appreciate you realize that this is a deep time of pain for me.

It has also been great how many of you have told me you have been in the same boat before. Of course, this is far easier with guys. Guys understand what guys go through. I have had phone calls with some of you and it is a relief to know that you are fellow travelers.

I also realize that my parents are giving me a blessing by taking care of me, but I don’t want to be here forever. I will soon be 41 after all. I want to be out there living my life. I want to make the world a better place than it was when I came into it. I don’t want to be a victim.

Part of that is a fighter spirit I think I possess. I have played games all my life and I have always strived as a result to excel and succeed at all that I do. As I have told someone in DivorceCare recently, the only way you can be steamrolled by someone is if you lie down before them. If things get hard, well that just means the challenge level has been upped and that makes it more fun.

So yes, there are times of joy, but there are still times where I want to be by myself. There are still times I’m out in public and wonder if anyone knows what’s going on in my life and really cares about me at all. I have friends on Facebook, but sometimes, I want more. I do have one really good one around here, but that’s one.

When I started DivorceCare, I was asked in the book what is it that you think you can’t live without. Naturally, I put the Jesus answer, but I also put something else. Friends. Even Jesus had friends when He walked this Earth. Friends are a unique class different from family. They are always there because they choose to be. You can say your family loves you because they’re family. Friends are very different.

That doesn’t mean that you all on here don’t matter a bit. You do. When I get messages or see people share my work or subscribe to my YouTube or donate to my Patreon, it always inspires me, giving me the knowledge that I do have supporters out there. Just in the past week, I was asked to come on an apologetics channel and talk about my story, and that’s awesome. I don’t want to stop doing stuff like that.

Still, every day is a battle. It is easy to fall back into depression and it can be tempting at times. Perhaps sometimes, it might sound odd, but it is actually needed. Sometimes you might need to be sad instead of burying the emotion. In Georgia when I worked at Kroger, I resonated with a song sometimes I heard playing with the main theme of “Sometimes I don’ t want to be happy.” A friend also sent me Dallas Holm singing “I Just Don’t Feel Like Dancing.” I think it’s a mistake to say we should always be happy. Some situations should make us sad and we need to experience that rather than deny it.

To my fellow travelers, thank you so much for the support on this journey. I have kept it silent for months as I didn’t want to risk people acting ill towards Allie and honestly, I still don’t want people to do that. It is in some ways a relief to be able to speak about this freely. It is a kind of death, but I am thankful you are there walking it with me.

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)

 

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