Yes. You Need To Study Before Arguing.

Do too many people argue without knowing what they’re talking about? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If there’s something I see on Facebook debates and any debates online for that matter, it’s a lack of real research into what people are talking about. No. It’s not just atheists who do this. Christians do it as well.

Yesterday, I saw a debate going on about Genesis 1 and evolution. It’s easy for an atheist to assume that the only interpretation of Genesis 1 that every Christian must hold to is young-earth creationism. This is not to say that that view is right or wrong, but it is to say the debate is not as easy as that.

Not only that, whichever view an informed Christian holds on the topic of Genesis 1, normally they have a defense of the position that they hold so a basic stumper objection that someone thinks is so powerful just won’t work. It’s not so easy to say “Well if there were plants on day three, how does that work if the sun wasn’t there until day four?”

On the other hand, a Christian will automatically jump to critiquing evolution. Now I know that some Christians do disbelieve in evolution and some of those are Christians who have really studied science and are informed on the topic. I have no problem with those. They could be right for all I know.

Unfortunately, too many Christians want to throw out an objection they read and they have never studied the science at all. Hint. If you can’t figure out how to work a Punnett Square, you probably shouldn’t be debating evolution. If you do debate it, also make sure it is science vs science and not the Bible vs science. If evolution falls, it will because it will be shown to be bad science.

The problem with all of this is that these are all complex topics. Science is a deep field that people spend years studying and do a PhD on one facet of the scientific kingdom and normally specialize in that area. Being a scientist does not mean that you know everything about science or study it thoroughly.

The same with the Bible. It’s not really a book, but rather a collection of books. When Mike Licona and I have talked about gaming together, he has said he doesn’t want to play Bible trivia against me. Why? He’s a New Testament scholar? It’s because he knows he’s not well-versed on the Old Testament and I would likely do better in that area.

Even in New Testament studies, someone can be specialized. Even a great scholar like N.T. Wright is not trained in the Gospel of John. He has said the Gospel is like his wife Maggie. He loves her, but he does not claim to understand her. Some will specialize in the Pauline epistles. Some Revelation. To do a commentary of one book can take years of study.

Most people who are making memes on the internet to argue against positions have very rarely done any study of them. If you are someone who uses memes as arguments in themselves, you’re probably doing a huge disservice. Memes can be fun illustrations of arguments, but they are not meant to be the arguments themselves.

Consider how this happens in philosophy. The problem of evil is probably the most potent argument against the existence of God. I don’t consider it logically persuasive, but I understand the emotional persuasion in it. However, if all you have is evil, odds are you need to do some more study. It’s too simplistic to just say “Evil is real, therefore God doesn’t exist.”

A lot of this comes down to a number of causes I think. The first is that we tend to have emotional commitments to positions that we hold. This can include a Christian who has ties to a doctrine such as Arminianism, the rapture, inerrancy, young-earth creationism, or any other position. (Each of those is also a position I have held to in the past or hold to today.) Emotional barriers make us incredibly resistant to rational persuasion.

I have no doubt a lot of atheists are atheists for primarily emotional reasons, such as dislike of God over the problem of evil, or a desire to live as they want, especially in the area of sexuality. I don’t doubt a lot of Christians base their Christianity on an emotional experience that they have had before as well. This is not to say that emotions should play no part in our thinking, but that they don’t need to be the main force.

There’s also that a lot of us think we shouldn’t really have to study something. There should be some silver bullet argument to take down any position. This is quite likely not going to happen for a complex worldview. They can exist for one particular argument, but not for the position as a whole.

So what’s the solution? There’s no easy way about it. A person needs to study and not just what they agree with, but what they disagree with. The great danger also is that simplistic thinkers will often think they are great thinkers. Too many Christians think they’re devastating evolution when those who study it are just rolling their eyes. Too many atheists think they’re Biblical scholars when those who have studied Scripture are just convinced the person is clueless. Anyone can have an opinion, but let’s not confuse an informed opinion with an uninformed one.

That also means study needs to be with books. Podcasts and YouTube videos are great, but the best material is to be found in books. Get the best and learn what you can. In debate, those who do not read will always be at the mercy of those who do.

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

Not Liking Scripture

Should you always enjoy Scripture? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Sometimes I meet people who tell me they just look forward to getting up and reading the Bible every day. They just find such great delight and get a new insight every time they read it. Personally, I don’t really believe such people. The more prone someone is to tell me how spiritual they are, the less I am likely to believe them. The more someone tells me what a struggle their Christian walk is, the more I believe them.

Last night, I talked to someone who told me they recently read the Bible for the first time and as a Christian, there was a lot of stuff they didn’t like. I think this is something very real. If anything, I admire it. I don’t think highly of people who read through the text and never have any questions about it or get troubled by it whatsoever.

This person was wondering why Abraham would decide to sleep with his concubine or why Moses wasn’t allowed to enter the promised land. I really think these are good questions. I don’t want to go into them here, but I think they are good questions.

The point I wish to establish with this is someone who is wrestling with these questions is someone who is taking the text more seriously. Sadly, by those standards, some atheists online take the text more seriously than some Christians. The problem is most of those atheists never bother looking for answers to the questions. It just becomes, “I don’t like this, therefore the Bible is wrong and Christianity is false.”

When we read the Bible, we see the blemishes and faults of the characters. It’s not a pretty picture. David, the man after God’s own heart, is a murderer who can’t keep it in his pants. Moses is a murderer with a temper. Solomon, well, we all know how much he loved the ladies. In the New Testament, the apostles many times seem to be bumbling idiots that even Jesus Himself is exasperated with.

But there are also other parts of the Bible I don’t like. I don’t like being told I need to love my enemies. I’d like to do many things to my enemies, but love isn’t one of them. I don’t like being told I have to put others before myself. Personally, I’d love to be at the center of my own universe. I don’t like being told I have to forgive those who wrong me. I think it would often be more fun to sit back and plan a nasty revenge.

These are all things I am told to do though, and when I do them, I find I grow to be a better person regardless. Are they easy? Of course not. If they were, everyone would do them.

And honestly, I think this is the real problem many skeptics have with the Bible, especially in the area of sex. So many times when questions begin to arise, it can be because a member of the opposite sex is involved. If Christianity did not have high standards such as sex only within marriage and marriage is to be for life, then I think it would be more popular to people, but God’s ways are indeed not our ways.

As you read your Bible, realize it’s okay if it’s difficult or boring sometimes or you find things you don’t like. Still, I encourage you to keep wrestling with the text and asking the hard questions. They have been asked for years. However, it is foolish to ask a question and not seek an answer. That’s where too many atheists stop. Go find the answers. You might find that in the end, though you still don’t like everything in there, you respect the text a lot more.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

A Response To David Cross

How did we not get the Bible? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Let me tell you the story about how we got the idea of evolution.

Once in history Charles Darwin was sailing around in the Beagle Boat and saw a bunch of birds who had different beaks and came up with an idea of animals mutating into different forms, kind of like Pokemon, and then decided to extrapolate all the way back to the past. Modern scientists today think that there was a pond somewhere on Earth and a lightning bolt struck it and some cells came together and a bunch of them turned into a fish that crawled out of the ocean and turned into every other animal that we see over time. Unfortunately for the theory, Darwin recanted of it on his deathbed.

Anyone who is an evolutionist be it an evolutionary creationist or a naturalistic creationist would think I am a total moron on the theory saying that. You know what? They would be right. That would be one of the worst presentations I could give of evolution. That doesn’t mean that evolution is true, but it does mean that I don’t know what I’m talking about with it.

Now imagine if someone said the same kind of thing about the Bible? What if someone made a statement presuming to be an authority on a subject and yet it was nonsense? Such is the case with a meme I saw recently. I went to my site here to see if I had said anything about it and I hadn’t. Therefore, I decided I should write about it.

This meme is attributed to David Cross. I do not know for sure if he said the quote or not, but people spread it around anyway. For the sake of argument, I am going to be assuming it was said but even if it was not, the thought expressed, or lack of thought I should say, is one that is commonly shared.

So let’s look at this meme in all of its infamy.

Where to begin?

First off, the Bible is a book that was written over a long period of time so to say when it was written doesn’t really make sense. It’s also unclear about what is meant by when it was editing. Some editing did take place in copying, but this would be to replace an unknown location with what it was known by to the current audience. This is not a change of content.

As for dead languages, not at all. Three languages are in there. Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. Today, there are scholars of all three languages so we can know what is said. it would also be false to say a translation was made of a translation of a translation of a translation. Go to the store and get any Bible you want. It has been translated one time. Each translation goes back to the manuscripts that we have to see what it says.

Then given to kings for their favorite parts? Which kings were these? Cross doesn’t say and for good reason. There aren’t any to say. For a king to make this kind of change, he would have to go and change every single manuscript out there that we do have of the Old Testament and the New Testament. With the New Testament, he would also have to change the quotations found in the early church fathers.

Then Cross goes back to the editing and re-editing and then talks about it being given to the Pope for him to approve. Which Pope? He doesn’t say. Again, this is for good reason. There wasn’t a Pope who did this.

We come back to the same refrain again to which he then says that all of this was based on stories told 30 to 90 years AFTER they happened.

Um. Mr. Cross. I don’t know how to break this to you, but most histories are written after the events happen. Some historians have tried writing about it before, but it really doesn’t work that well. It’s best to wait until the events take place and THEN write about them.

I would also think it would be awesome if we could get skeptics to say Genesis was written 30-90 years after the events took place. We could easily dispense of JEPD then. This again is another area where Cross doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Cross’s statement is also unclear. Did these stories just start getting told 30 to 90 years later? Doubtful. These were being told in the lifetime of Jesus even and these were oral societies that knew how to keep stories well. Don’t expect him to cite anyone like McIver or Dunn or Keener or anyone like that.

Also, 30 to 90 years in that time wasn’t a long time. Many of the lives of Plutarch were written over a century later. Many great historical works were written long after the events took place. This sounds like a problem to modern people. It’s not in the world of ancient history.

Finally, most people back then couldn’t read or write, but someone else could and that person would read a letter or Gospel. Normally, the person delivering the work would also know the author and be able to tell some of the details that weren’t written and answer questions. Again, no research is cited in this little meme but hey, lack of research has never stopped atheists from propagating statements of faith like this.

So no, you don’t have to wonder what it would be like for someone to get Biblical transmission as wrong as I got evolution.

David Cross has already done this for us and so have all the atheists who have shared this as if it was a convincing argument.

Steven Anderson on Mount Athos

What do I think of Steven Anderson’s views on Orthodoxy? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

For those who don’t know yet, I am a thoroughly convinced Protestant. I have a wife who is interested in Eastern Orthodoxy and that did get me looking into issues of Catholicism and Orthodoxy. It really was something I never wanted to get into since I am one who tries to be ecumenical. Now I do have a greater understanding of both positions and still disagree, but I don’t want people speaking wrongly against my brothers and sisters on the way.

For those who don’t know, Steven Anderson is this crazy pastor who thinks that we should kill all the homosexuals or that they should kill themselves. This is not to say that I think homosexuality is fine. I think Scripture is clear on the wrongness of homosexual practice. It’s also clear to me that we’re not in an Israelite theocracy based on the Old Testament Law.

I also find it interesting that the video we’ll be looking at has a description that says the real way to get to Heaven. It’s a shame that Pastor Anderson thinks that the whole point of Christianity is to get to Heaven. That is part of it, but the goal of the gospel is to bring honor to God and has an impact for this life and not just the next one.

In this video, Pastor Anderson says that he is told that he needs to look into Mount Athos. Some of you might not know that for Orthodox people, Mount Athos is one of the most holy sites out there. I don’t claim to fully understand that, but I know when I’m at the Orthodox Church and hear Mount Athos mentioned, it’s a really big deal.

The first thing he talks about is the idea of vain repetition. I understand the concern with saying the Jesus Prayer over and over and I do agree that some people could get into this being a rote thing that they do without any real motivation behind it, but the constant repetition does not equal vain repetition. Jesus condemns a certain kind of repetition, but He does not condemn all of it.

The Jesus Prayer in my understanding is meant to change the person praying more than be a constant plea for mercy. It’s meant to make them think about who Jesus is. It’s up to the person to determine if they’re being vain in their repetition or not.

Next he mentions praying to Mary. Now I do disagree with this practice, but at the same time, I’m not ready to say everyone who has done such is being thrown into hell or is outside of the body. I would find it hard to condemn Christians across the centuries who have been doing this since whenever it started, and any Orthodox person who wants to convince me it started early had better bring some really good historical evidence to the table.

The same will be said with praying to the saints. While I disagree with this, I am not one who thinks that there were no true Christians after the apostles died until Martin Luther showed up again. I actually think most Catholics while disagreeing with Luther would agree that the Catholic Church needed some reformation and change in it and there were corrupt practices going on. Any material about practices like this then I will not say further on but just point back to these sections.

He also says something about the drinking of alcohol. He is right that the Bible condemns drunkenness, but it does not follow that it condemns alcohol, any more than the Bible condemning gluttony means that it condemns eating. The Bible condemns extramarital sex, but it thoroughly commends it between husband and wife in marital union. Jesus did not turn the water into grape juice at Cana.

I want to say at this point also that I do not say this as one who drinks alcohol. My wife has come to accept that I am willing to change my diet in many areas, but I just never want to drink alcohol. If you can control it, I have no problem with you drinking it, but I will abstain.

He then goes on to a monk carving a crucifix and says it is the making of idols even though we are told to not make any graven images. To begin with, if images are the problem, then what is going on behind Pastor Anderson in his own church video with watching a service live? Would we really say the problem with the image is that it is graven instead of that it is an image?

The first person to be explicitly said to be filled with the Holy Spirit in the Bible is a man named Bezalel. Who was he? An artist. He made images that he was ordered by God to make. Now it could be that the Bible contradicts itself in such an obvious way, or else the prohibition is not against images, but rather against the use of images to worship.

This is a point the Iconophiles brought up against the iconoclasts in the debates about the use of icons. At the same time, I want to be aware that yes, some people could treat icons and relics as if they were magic charms which is just as bad. The misuse of an object does not point to a lack of a proper use.

He also says that the Bible says it’s a shame for a man to have long hair and every priest and monk on Mount Athos has that. Samson also had it as that was part of the Nazarite vow. What is going on in 1 Corinthians is Paul is addressing practices of the day. How men and women wore their hair said something to their culture then. Were I to visit Anderson’s church, would he want me to greet his wife with a holy kiss? That’s what Scripture tells me I am to do.

Pastor Anderson said that Jesus said to beware of the ones who go around in long clothing. Jesus was speaking more of the tassels on the garments and those were used to show a special kind of holiness. In other words, Jesus was against wearing clothes for the purpose of showing off your holiness. It’s not as if Jesus would have no problem with the scribes and Pharisees if they suddenly switched to shorts and T-shirts.

He also has a statement about the prohibition of calling people Father. Now at this time, I also do not call priests in the church by the name of Father. At the same time, I recognize there are some ridiculous extremes that can be taken, such as the video my wife and I saw once about the man who called his parents by their names instead of Mom and Dad even to avoid breaking the commandment of Christ.

He also looks at collections of skulls and femurs and other bones they have and says that the Bible says to bury the dead out of sight and to not touch dead bodies. It’s really a shame a pastor has such a poor understanding of Israelite Law and its relation to Gentiles today in light of the new covenant. My understanding is that these are gathered to remind the people of the resurrection that is coming.

There’s a part here where in what is apparently an aside he says that the monks are dressed like warlocks. I am sure in movies and TV shows and video games warlocks dress in these robes, but I am also sure that in real life, they could dress just like everyone else for the most part. As I say this, it is still morning and I am wearing my Legend of Zelda robe. I suppose Pastor Anderson is convinced I’m a heathen then.

He also says that the Bible says that all those who hate me love death. He doesn’t say who says this, but it is Wisdom in the book of Proverbs. This is said about the skull collecting, but does that equal a love of death? Does someone who grows up wanting to be a mortician then hate Jesus? This is not done to worship the dead but to honor the dead.

He then goes and says there is no monastery or monk in the Bible. True. There’s also no such thing as a pulpit or a pew in the Bible as well. I wonder if Pastor Anderson’s church has a parking lot and heating and air system in it since those aren’t in the Bible. His services are recorded, even though the Bible says nothing about that. If he wants to go the argument from silence route, I expect him to be consistent.

Finally, in criticism, he says that Orthodoxy is closer to Eastern practices and he gives Buddhism as an example. The thing is, he’s right and also wrong. I don’t think it’s like Buddhism, but it is closer to Eastern practices. What else is closer to that is the culture of the Bible itself. Pastor Anderson probably knows nothing about the eastern dynamics of honor and shame and agonistic societies. The Bible is itself not a Western book. It is a Middle Eastern one.

He encourages people to come to the real Jesus and the real gospel. I encourage that, but I have many friends who are Orthodox and Catholic. We disagree on many things, but there is something we don’t disagree on. We agree on who Jesus is.

I am sure Pastor Anderson’s motivations for this are noble, but his criticisms are way off the mark. I encourage healthy dialogue between Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox on our differences, but let’s make sure they are informed criticisms. I also encourage that we try to recognize that others are Christians as well. Not all Catholics and Orthodox and Protestants are Christians, of course, but for the most part, the doctrines all agree on the centrality of Christ and His work in salvation.

Let’s try to focus first on what we agree on. Alright?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Further Responding to Jim Hall

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

So do you remember Jim Hall? You don’t? Yeah. His work is pretty unforgettable, but he’s the guy who wrote a book which is not worth your time to read at all and I reviewed. I shared my review with him publicly on Facebook and he has yet to respond to it at all. Instead, he has told me I am intellectually dishonest. On what grounds? Well, none have been given. Recently on someone’s wall he made a list of claims that are common I figured I’d respond to here just because I can and I know again, he won’t respond.

Objection #1:There are over 60 gospels, only four were arbitrarily added to the Bible.

Yes. Arbitrarily added. Of course, Hall will never ever dare read a book like Charles Hill’s Who Chose The Gospels? Nope. That requires research. He won’t look and say “Hmmm. Who were the ones the earliest church fathers were pointing to?” We find extremely early on Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John being put out on display. Why is this? Because these were seen to be the most reliable by the church and connected to apostles.

As for arbitrarily chosen, by who? Perhaps Hall buys into the myth that these books were voted on at the Council of Nicea. Good luck finding evidence for that. It’s a common myth, but there is nothing that has been produced from the Council itself saying it. As Ehrman says:

http://ehrmanblog.org/widespread-misconceptions-council-nicea/

Ehrman on the NT Canon and the Council of Nicea. Widespread Misconceptions about the Council of Nicea (For Members)

One of the reasons I’m excited about doing my new course for the Teaching Company (a.k.a. The Great Courses) is that I’ll be able to devote three lectures to the Arian Controversy, the Conversion of the emperor Constantine, and the Council of Nicea (in 325 CE). It seems to me that a lot more people know about the Council of Nicea today than 20 years ago – i.e., they know that there *was* such a thing – and at the same time they know so little about it. Or rather, what they think they know about it is WRONG.

I suppose we have no one more to blame for this than Dan Brown and the Da Vinci Code, where, among other things, we are told that Constantine called the Council in order to “decide” on whether Jesus was divine or not, and that they took a vote on whether he was human or “the Son of God.” And, according to Dan Brown’s lead character (his expert on all things Christian), Lee Teabing, “it was a close vote at that.”

That is so wrong.

There are also a lot of people who think (I base this on the number of times I hear this or am asked about it) that it was at the Council of Nicea that the canon of the New Testament was decided. That is, this is when Christian leaders allegedly decided which books would be accepted into the New Testament and which ones would be left out.

That too is wrong.

So here’s the deal. First, the canon of the New Tesatment was not a topic of discussion at the Council of Nicea. It was not talked about. It was not debated. It was not decided. Period. The formation of the canon was a long drawn-out process, with different church leaders having different views about which books should be in and which should be out. I can devote some posts to the question if anyone is interested (I would need to look back to see if I’ve done that already!).

Short story: different church communities and Christian leaders preferred different books because they (the communities and leaders) had different understandings of what the faith was and should be – even within the orthodox community there were disagreements.

The *first* author ever to list *our* 27 books and claim that *these* (and no others) were “the” books of the New Testament was the bishop of Alexandria, Athanasius, in the year 367 (45 years *after* the council of Nicea!) in a letter that he wrote to the churches under his control to whom he was giving his annual episcopal advice. And even that did not decide the issue: different orthodox churches continued to think that some books should be in, for example, that didn’t make it in (e.g. 1 and 2 Clement; the Shepherd of Hermas; the Letter of Barnabas).

There never was a church council that decided the issue – until the (anti-Reformation, Roman Catholic) Council of Trent in the 16th century!



We can also point out that when we look at the earliest opponents of Christianity, such as Celsus, what do they respond to? Yep. The four Gospels.

Finally, let’s see what Bart Ehrman says about this:

If historians want to know what Jesus said and did they are more or less constrained to use the New Testament Gospels as their principal sources. Let me emphasize that this is not for religious or theological reasons–for instance, that these and these alone can be trusted. It is for historical reasons pure and simple. (Ehrman, The New Testament, page 215)

Objection #2: None of the Bible authors ever actually met Jesus face-to-face.

Again, no evidence is given of this. It’s an assertion. Could it be true? Perhaps. Does he respond to someone like, say, Richard Bauckham with his work Jesus and the Eyewitnesses? Nope. Not a bit. No historians are cited.

Atheists like Hall often make these statements of faith. How would they establish that? Again, Hall gives us no reason to believe that.

Objection #3: The gospels were written anonymously, at least 30 years after the crucifixion.

Let’s suppose they were anonymous, although Martin Hengel disagrees. So what? Many works from the ancient world were anonymous. That doesn’t mean we have no idea about who the author is. E.P. Sanders has a reason also why they were anonymous.

The authors probably wanted to eliminate interest in who wrote the story and to focus the reader on the subject. More important, the claim of an anonymous history was higher than that of a named work. In the ancient world an anonymous book, rather like an encyclopedia article today, implicitly claimed complete knowledge and reliability. It would have reduced the impact of the Gospel of Matthew had the author written ‘this is my version’ instead of ‘this is what Jesus said and did.’  – The Historical Figure of Jesus by E.P. Sanders page 66.

Furthermore, the Pastoral epistles are not anonymous and say they are by Paul. Does that mean that skeptics immediately jump on that and say “Hey! Paul wrote those!”? No. Why should I think a name on the Gospels would be any different?

Objection #4: Luke/Acts is widely agreed upon to have been written around 80CE.

Again, no evidence for this whatsoever. Hall gives no information to believe this claim. I also find it hard to believe that the author of Luke/Acts would say absolutely nothing about the death of Paul, Peter, or the destruction of Jerusalem. Now again, I could be mistaken in my belief, sure, but Hall doesn’t give me any evidence to go by.

Objection #5: If Harry Potter was the most-studied book in history, that still wouldn’t make it true.

I don’t know anyone who is saying the Bible is true because it is the most studied book in all of history. I have no idea what Hall is trying to establish with this claim. Let’s move on to the next.

Objection #6: There is no moral teaching in the Bible that cannot also be found in much older religions’ texts.

Reply: So what? The Bible is true because it contains some unique moral teaching? Morality is common knowledge that is meant for all men. You don’t need the Bible to know it.

Objection #7: “Positive impact on the world”? It has been cited for centuries to justify slavery and the subjugation of women.

Reply: Yes. The Bible has been misused. So what? Evil people misuse good things constantly. The Bible has also been used to end slavery repeatedly and to raise up women. That is never mentioned. Hall is free to find a nation untouched by the Bible at all where he would rather live if he thinks things are so awful in places the Bible has reached.

Again, I know Hall will not respond. He can claim I’m intellectually dishonest all he wants, but that will not work as well as just responding to the claims. Show I am wrong on something and I will accept it. We’ll see if that happens, but don’t hold your breath on it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Some Thoughts On Mormonism

What’s it like when Mormons come to your door? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently for a couple of months or so, Allie and I had Mormons who agreed to come see us. I was quite impressed in some ways with these Mormons as they actually came back after the first visit even. Most of the time, they don’t. We had some sisters first visiting us, but then after that, we had guys as they were switched out as one sister’s mission came to an end and sometimes, they had a Mormon who lives in our apartment complex come with them.

Let’s say at the start that for the most part, Mormons are very nice people. They’re people that are kind and courteous and tend to be very likable. Of course, that is also a danger as when Christians meet someone like that, they tend to think that they’re Christians just like them. Warning. Being a Christian is about more than just being a nice person.

In some ways, Mormons sadly seem to have a lot in common also with atheists I meet. Many times, the same arguments atheists make about Christianity are made by Mormons. These include things like the Bible being changed and all the denominations. They do come with some twists such as unique Mormon doctrines such as God having a body of flesh and bones and the importance of the Book of Mormon and the burning in the bosom.

I also noticed that the Mormons were often asking if I was reading the Book of Mormon to find out what’s wrong with it. I had been challenged to read it again since I have read it before and so I did accept the challenge. I gave them a contrast by saying if they wanted to read the New Testament to pick it apart, be my guest. Try it on every area. Go ahead.

The burning in the bosom I find to be a weak argument. I can understand it’s very emotionally appealing and I do know ex-Mormons have said that there is nothing like the experience of the burning in the bosom. If you pray and you get the burning in the bosom, well that confirms that the Book of Mormon is true. If you don’t get it, well, you just weren’t sincere or something of that sort. The test is in essence unfalsifiable.

It’s also important to really know your own church history and doctrine. We got into a debate some on the Council of Nicea and how it was there decided that God didn’t have a body of flesh and bones. I had to ask them where they got that from. No specifics were given. I went on to tell them the debate was really about the nature of Jesus as were the next three councils at least. No one was debating if God the Father had a body.

Remember also with Mormons, try to always build up the Bible, which is something I was making it a point to consistently do. If you just try to destroy the Book of Mormon, you could get a Mormon to throw out the baby with the bathwater. They could abandon not just Mormonism but Christianity and theism altogether.

Still, Allie and I enjoyed meeting with the elders and the sisters. They’re all people we could enjoy their company with regularly. We’re also still praying for them. I didn’t expect a deconversion and an embrace of the gospel, but I do hope I put a rock in their shoe. The goal was to build up Jesus and the Bible. That should be our goal whenever we encounter them.

Please be remembering the Mormons that come to your door need the true Jesus and the true gospel. Be willing to give it to them. Don’t slam the door in their faces. If the present time isn’t convenient, arrange another time when you can get together. They’re worth it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 3/16/2019: Harold Felder

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

I have grown up in the South and lived here all of my life. My community was largely a white community. I did not have black classmates until I went to Middle School. Church was the same way. That’s just saying a statement of fact.

When I read the Bible, I read it as a white person. Yet could my perspective be different if I had read it as a black person? For example, would I read passages about slavery differently? It’s understandable as a child to read the Bible and assume everyone looked and thought just like you, but when you do more study you know it’s not like that. Most of our movies depict Jesus walking around Jerusalem as someone white. I don’t think He was black, but I don’t think He was white either.

What if you do grow up in the black community. Will you be told sometimes that Christianity is the white man’s religion? Will it affect you when you hear about the way Christianity was sometimes sadly involved with the slave trade. What about the Southern Baptist Convention and slavery? It’s a mark of shame on Christianity today that we have been involved with that, but how can a man of color embrace such a religion?

Why not do what should be done? Talk to such a man. Talk to someone who knows what life is like in that community. Talk to someone who takes race seriously. Talk to someone who wants to reach his fellow African-American community with the truth of Christianity. Talk to Harold Felder.

Who is he?

According to bio:

Dr. H.C. Felder is a former atheist and NASA Software Engineer. After becoming a believer and being exposed to the truth of Christianity, he has dedicated his life to sharing that truth with others.  He has an undergraduate degree in Computer Science, and both a Master and Doctorate degree in Apologetics from Southern Evangelical Seminary.  Dr. Felder is the author of multiple articles in scholarly journals on race and the Bible.  He is also the author of the book “The African American Guide to the Bible.”  

 

Dr. Felder has been married to his wife Tina for eleven years. They have a blended family of four children & six grandchildren.

We will be talking about race and the Bible. What is race? What about slavery? Were there any people of color in the Bible or was it really that Jesus was walking around Jerusalem just as white as His clothes were in the Transfiguration. What about ideas that Christianity is the religion of the white man? Is someone like Dr. Felder a traitor for embracing Christianity?

I hope you’ll be listening to this episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast as this is the kind of topic that we haven’t covered before. Please also consider going on iTunes and leaving a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast. I look forward to getting to bring this next episode to you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Everyday Glory

What do I think of Gerald McDermott’s book published by Baker Academic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

What does the world tell us about God? Quite a lot actually. In this book, Gerald McDermott seeks to open our eyes up to the realities that are all around us. We have lived in a world long enough where we take the world around us for granted and don’t really consider the revelation of God that is there.

As much as I am Protestant, this is also our problem. We, and I think rightly, say that Scripture is the final authority, but too often we make it the only authority. Thus, why do we need to look at the rest of the world to learn something about God? Why study natural theology at all?

McDermott urges us to avoid this way of thinking. The world is not an accident. God made it the way that He did for a reason. If we want to truly learn about God, we can learn about Him from the things He has made and ask why He has made things the way that He has.

To be fair, He does have a chapter on the Bible itself, but He encourages us to look for Christ everywhere in the Bible. Reading a chapter like this can help you to approach the Bible with new eyes.

From there, McDermott takes us to many other areas of the world around us. What can we learn from science? In this chapter, you’ll probably find many of the things you find in books that talk about scientific apologetics. Still, those who like that will be helped.

Animals are another aspect that are covered in the book. In this chapter, McDermott focuses on two specific animals. Those would be birds and dogs. Both of these are talked about in Scripture, and it’s interesting that dogs are talked about in a negative light.

Sexuality is another aspect that is discussed. What is it about sex that has captured our wonder so much? As I said on a recent podcast I did, we live in a world where we have all manner of new technologies and such to keep us entertained. What still holds our fascination? What God made back in the very beginning. Nothing can still compete with sex.

Sports are also included. Sports are a non-necessary part of reality and they are creations by us, but yet they also come with a number of rules and teach us a number of values. I found myself wondering in this chapter if the same could apply to video games, which I think it could, or even movies and things like that.

There’s also a section on other religions. It would be a mistake to think they get everything wrong. What can we learn from other religions? How are they similar? How are they different?

This isn’t every chapter, but it is some of them. There’s also an appendix dealing with the views of Barth and Luther on natural theology. McDermott makes a fine defense for his position.

I think this is a very helpful book to read. Reading this can help you look at Scripture and the rest of the world differently. It’s a way of analyzing reality to see the fingerprints of the creator in everything.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Should The Word Of God Be Clear?

Should the Bible always be easy to understand? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There are two people that are exactly opposite in their outlooks. These will be your usual run of the mill atheist who thinks everything in the Bible is a bunch of nonsense. On the opposite side is your average fundamentalist Christian who thinks everything in the Bible is true. These two have something in common normally.

They both think that if the Bible is the Word of God, it will be clear.

And clear, what does that mean? Well, it means that they as a modern Western 21st century reader should understand the text. One difference might be the latter group thinks all you need is the Holy Spirit and you can understand the text.

Sadly, this idea is never really questioned. An interesting point about this is that this is not a historical objection to Christianity. It’s a theological objection. Yes. Even an atheist has a theology. If you have some ideas about what God should be like if He exists, you have a theology.

Why should this be true? Isn’t it rather arrogant of us to think that the God of the universe should write a book thousands of years ago that would be geared directly towards our time? Shouldn’t it be understandable more by the people of the very time reading it?

But isn’t God supposed to transcend cultures? Isn’t His truth for all people?

Yes. Of course. However, not all cultures are identical nor will they be. All cultures have a different idea of what clear is. What is clear to us might not be clear to a 16th century Japanese person.

If we look at the Bible, even Jesus speaking in His own time was not clear to His contemporaries. In 1 Peter, we’re told that angels longed to understand what was being prophesied in the Bible. The prophets themselves did not know for certain what it was that they were saying would happen. They were just the messengers.

Why would God do things this way? Why would He not make it easy?

Maybe because easy isn’t the goal. God doesn’t want us to treat Him like an answer to a trivia game. God wants us to treat Him as a person that is worth knowing. Consider you’re walking down the street as a single person and you think you see the most awesome person of the opposite sex. If you really want that person, you know what you will do? You will work to pursue them and win their heart and it might not be easy, but if you want the prize, you will do it.

Job speaks about wisdom and when it does, it starts with talking about a place where precious metals like silver are mined. If you want those metals, you have to work hard for them. Most anything we really want in life we have to work for. If you want to be physically fit, you have to work out at a gym. If you want to be a scholar, you have to work to get a Ph.D. If you want to be even good at a video game, you have to work really hard at it.

If something is easy to come by, it’s nothing really worthwhile for the most part. Even in marriage, if a man wants to have a “lucky” evening with his wife, he knows he has to put forward effort on his part, which might be washing the dishes or cleaning a toilet or anything else. If he values the prize, he will do the work.

Often, it’s as if atheists think God just wants to convince them of His existence, but that’s treating Him like a trivia game. If that’s not His goal, it’s not a surprise that He doesn’t just suddenly appear before people. I think He’s much more like many of us who want to be wanted. We want someone to want us because of who we are. No one likes to feel used.

If we want to understand Scripture then, we might just have to work on it. That’s not the case for everything in Scripture. Some messages I think are simple. Not all are. Many of them have several complexities to them that we don’t immediately grasp. If we care about truth, we will do the work.

If an atheist thinks that God should be clear, it’s up to them to back that. God never encourages laziness in Scripture. It’s up to them to show why He would outside of Scripture.

In Christ,
Nick Peters