A Little Change

What difference can one insignificant event make? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, I spoke on the phone with two old friends and all of us knew each other. We all worked at the same Wal-Mart, a different one than the one I am at now, and came from different and yet similar places in life. One of them was my friend Roger, who was involved in ministry and had a background of severe severe fundamentalism. It’s so much so that I would say it’s practically cultlike, and he would not disagree. He and I have discussed this before.

We all just happened to work together and then I went to seminary and we fell out and lost touch. Then lo and behold, Roger gets in touch with me one day and says he needs my help. He’s on the verge of losing his faith. I was absolutely shocked, but I told him I would work with him and for months, I did. I didn’t give pat answers and I demanded that he do his own work and study. Today, he is an extremely strong Christian and a devoted husband and father. If you want the whole story, you can find it here along with links to the story from his side.

As I thought about the way our friendships worked together, I thought about how my Dad and I are watching the Flash together and how parallel Earths are a reality in that. In those cases, there are various Earths and there could be minor differences from life here or there could be major differences, such as one Earth where the Nazis won World War II. I have sometimes wondered what life would be like on a parallel Earth where Roger and I never worked together.

Would someone else have been there to reach him? If not, would he have fallen away? What would have happened to his marriage? What would have happened to his kids? How could that affect matters years, decades, or centuries down the road?

There’s no way for us to tell, but it does show me that even small events in our lives can have a great impact. I was just a guy looking for a job and a way to pay my bills. Wal-Mart was definitely not a career and because of my interest in gaming, which Roger and I share, I just happened to be placed in electronics and worked alongside him as he worked in the cell phone area.

Right now, I hate working at a Wal-Mart again, but I try to remember that even here, I can be having an influence. Most of the kids I work are young enough that I could be their father, and so I try to be an older and wiser figure for them and advise them on their lives. The majority I think do know that I am a Christian. I am a respected individual, at least with them.

Who knows? Maybe sometime in the future I will encounter one of them and they will tell me something I did or said made a major difference for them. Now that doesn’t mean I stay there as God can use me anywhere, but it means like I said yesterday that this is His story and not mine and He does have a way of working it together.

So it could be for you. Wherever you are in life, God can use you somehow to have some influence on matters. Even the worst things in your life can be used.

There’s a story of how Corrie Ten Boom and her sister were thrown into a prison camp and they had a smuggled Bible with them somehow and were able to do a Bible study with the women. Hundreds came to Christ. Corrie’s sister was someone who wanted to give thanks for everything, even the fleas in their room. Corrie thought she was crazy in all of this. How can you appreciate things like this?

Thankfully though, the guards never entered their room so they were able to continue ministry to the women and have an impact. It was only later they found out why the guards never came in. No. It wasn’t a major miracle or anything like that.

The guards didn’t want to be around the fleas.

Thank God for those fleas.

I’m sure many times, Corrie and her sister were not happy they shared their room with fleas, but those fleas even served a good purpose. If simple fleas can be used like that, what else can be? It’s not easy to do this. I know this as I do work that really bores me to no end, but I do try to remember that I have my own goals I want to reach outside of that place.

Maybe someone will be reached like Roger.

Reached because of whatever fleas I have to deal with.

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


Does God change? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In Malachi 3:6, God says that He does not change. This has also been a position that the church has held historically. God is the same from ages to ages. Now I know at the start there are some objections people are going to have. Doesn’t the text say God changed His mind? Didn’t God become a man? Doesn’t that count as a change?

We will get to those.

Right now, I just want to establish immutability, which means that you cannot change. This means that any change whatsoever in the nature of God does not take place. God’s nature will always stay the same.

One reason we can say this is a change is from something else to something else. We are talking about changes that change one’s nature as well, but ultimately, I would say this means no chronological change in God. God is not moving along the timeline from not being a creator to being a creator, for example. God is doing all things eternally and not moving along the timeline.

After all, God does not age. I realize some people are open theists and would disagree with my position and I plan on speaking about God and the future. For now, this is just an articulation of my position as I have said and a defense in the face of criticism will come later.

Some who are theologically inclined are wondering probably if I will say anything about impassibility. That will be a later set of posts as well as I think there are some differences there, but at the same time it is something that I hold to.

If we do hold to simplicity, immutability will also follow. God does not have several parts that can change from one thing to another. Also, if God’s very nature is to be, then that being is not changed by something else. How can what it mean to be really change? Can a limitation be put on God that wasn’t there before?

The ultimate point of much of this is to show that God is not like anything else. He is not a creature. He is not the superhero God like the Greek gods and others who are pretty much really powerful humans with superpowers. It’s also hard to say how some of this is pagan thought since no pagan gods in a polytheistic sense would be immutable or simple.

This also means that God cannot be changed by anything else. That will be either good news or bad news depending on how you see Him. If you see Him as all-loving and all-compassionate, then that is a good thing since He will stay the same and not change. If you see Him as wicked and destructive as His immutability will mean that He will stay that way.

But what about prayer? Don’t we pray to God? What about God changing His mind? What about the incarnation? Again, questions about emotions and God will come along later.

Hopefully, next time we will be able to speak on this topic.

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

Autism Awareness: Change

How do you respond to change? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When I was a small child, I am told I had a large collection of matchbox cars. This I do remember. I would place them all on an end table during the day and leave them there at night. I also remember that. What I don’t remember is being told that if my mother needed to clean the table and moved one of my cars and I knew it, I would be upset until that car was put right back where it belonged.

On the spectrum, we are often highly resistant to change. Once I get locked into a pattern personally, I stick with it. That means that generally I get a shower at the same time and go to bed at the same time and have my meals at the same time.

If I am at a grocery store and I notice that they have changed the layout, I consider this to be bothersome. It’s supposed to be the way that it was before.

Change is a violation of order and I know in my world I tend to really like order. Some minor changes can be acceptable, but a major one is not that easy to accept. That requires work.

However, change is inevitable. If change is coming, sometimes it’s best to go to someone on the spectrum and give them advance warning that the change is coming. If it comes on them suddenly, it can be much harder to address. This doesn’t mean everything will go smoothly, but it does mean it can be easier to navigate.

Getting older, I find it easier to deal with, but there is still an idea in my mind that things must be a certain way. Some of those changes have been good and some of them have been not so good. I have often tried to have things stay at a relative status quo, but sometimes this just doesn’t always happen.

If you meet someone on the spectrum, be aware that sometimes change can be very difficult. You don’t want to do a sudden change, such as a parent changing their bedroom without permission or warning. If it must be done, talk to them first and be prepared to go through it together.

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

What can change in a couple of decades? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Today, Allie and I begin a trip back to Tennessee for my 20th high school reunion. Next week we will be moving to a new apartment complex in the area that’s cheaper and so since we won’t have internet access all week, I won’t be doing a blog next week. For now, let’s get into the thought of today.

It’s amazing to think back to what has changed in twenty years. Twenty years ago, I wasn’t sure where I would be going for college or if I would be going. I was wanting to do something in the world, but I didn’t know what it was.

Now here I am doing the Christian apologetics that I love so much. I didn’t even know about this when I was graduating from high school. Today, I have risen to some prominence in the field, especially with getting to debate Dan Barker not too long ago and having a podcast and a few ebooks on Amazon.

Let’s not forget one major change. I didn’t interact much with the ladies in high school. I had female friends, but I could have had a crush on someone and it would have never been known. I never even went to prom. At my 10th reunion, it saddened me that I was still single and had no real prospects. Little did I know that later in the year of my reunion that love would come along. Today, we are working on celebrating nine years.

I lived in Tennessee at the time of my graduation. Since then, I have lived in North Carolina as well and now I live in Georgia. Originally, I never would have seen myself leaving Tennessee at all. Now, it seems perfectly natural.

We also lived in a world where the internet was just starting out for us. Now everything is connected. Our reunion was pretty much put together in a kind of impromptu matter over Facebook. No one could have pictured something like that happening back in 1999.

Speaking of which, many of us will come with our phones and while when I was in high school I had a cell phone for my driving, now our phones do so much more. You can look and see an old flyer for a company like Radio Shack with equipment for sale that altogether costs a few thousand dollars. Now your phone can do all of it.

Yet it could be the personal growth that is most impressive. Allie has been doing a work in me getting to change many of my ways, something that my parents think indicate that she is a material worker. Much of my hesitancy to change is due to the Aspergers that I have, but it’s the love of my wife that motivates me so much to change.

I look forward to seeing all of my old friends again and to having Allie see them again. It’s also her chance to try to get any embarrassing stories about me in high school. (Although she had no problem believing I skipped lunch in high school to join my friends in the library and play Magic: The Gathering.) It will be good to see where everyone else has come from and while we all have differences in our stories, I hope we’re all twenty years wiser as well.

And who knows? Today might be a good chance for you readers to look back and see how things have changed in twenty years, some good and some bad changes to be sure. Think back on it and learn from the bad and appreciate the good.

In Christ,
Nick Peters


Has The Bible Been Changed A Lot?

Is the text vastly different than it was? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It was recently brought to my attention that Business Insider decided to celebrate Christmas with a video on why the Bible isn’t trustworthy. Normally, I prefer to celebrate with presents and time with friends and family, but to each his own I suppose. So do we really have anything new here?

Of course not.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be addressed. After all, a lot of people will never bother to study what it is they believe and why. (You know how it is, we live in a society where people will learn about their favorite sports team, TV show, video game, etc. but won’t dare to really consider maybe they should think about the belief that they base their entire life on.) Sadly, this will also apply to many skeptics who will take a faith that makes strong claims and decides ipso facto that since those claims involve miracles they must be nonsense and never examine the claims seriously.

So let’s dive into this video. The speaker starts with talking about the Bible being the most sold book of all and that many think it contains the actual words of God. What many people don’t realize according to him is that the Bible has been changed, A LOT. So what are these evidences?

To begin with, no first edition exists. All we have are copies of copies.

This sounds scary if you’re someone who doesn’t know about manuscripts in the ancient world, until you realize that we don’t have the first writing of ANY ancient work that I know of. If there is one, I will be quite surprised. We have copies in every case. How much we can trust the account depends on a number of factors.

How soon is the earliest copy to the date of the original writing?
How many copies do we have?
Can we check these copies back and forth?

So how does the New Testament measure up?

manuscript copies

As you can see, Homer comes closest and it’s not even a contest really. Now if the speaker wants to make a big deal out of this, we ask that he be consistent. Please be extremely skeptical of all the other books on the list as well.

The speaker then says that this all took place many years after the events supposedly took place. It would be good to know how much skepticism he has. Would he go all the way to being a mythicist? Inquiring minds want to know! He also points out that many of these copies weren’t made by professionals but were made by laymen.

Naturally, we can’t expect someone busy enough to make a video for Business Insider to go out and read some of the scholarship on this issue and actually inform himself. While he cites a couple of scholars, there’s no in-depth looking at what they say and providing context for the issue. He could do what I did and interview Charles Hill on the Early Text of the New Testament and issues of canonicity or interview Daniel Wallace. (And if he can’t interview at least listen to what they have to say.)

The speaker goes on to talk about how this lead to many errors and omissions.

No. It’s not a typo on my part. He’s the one who said “This lead to many,” Who knows? Maybe he differed from the original script at one point.

If he wants to talk about these kinds of omissions and errors, he’s free to examine the texts. We will have a little bit more on this, but we have so many texts in so many languages that it’s easy to cross-check. When we do, we find that in fact the Bible does hold up, but again, a little bit more on this later.

We go to the three biggest changes. The first is the woman caught in adultery. It’s a shame that this is news to so many Christians, but such it is. We live in a time of great Biblical ignorance.

The next is the Gospel of Mark. (It’s amazing how predictable these are.) This change is the ending of the Gospel and how it has no narrative of Jesus rising and appearing. The speaker then tells us that in original manuscripts, this story is nowhere to be found.

Wait a second.

What original manuscripts?

Our speaker has gone on and on about how there are no original manuscripts and now is saying this is not to be found in the original? In what way does he know? Could it be that we can tell because we can actually check the texts back and forth and see what they say and compare them? Has our speaker undermined his own case?

The third is that in Luke, Jesus makes a dying plea to forgive the executioners, but it was not intended to refer to the Romans but to the Jews. This was taken out and then added centuries later to appear to be about the Romans. This is one many haven’t heard of, but notice something.

Apparently, we don’t have a clue what the text said, but we can tell what the originals somehow said, that a change was made, and that said change was later corrected. We can discuss why it happened and how, but that doesn’t change what the original said. Even his source on this, Bart Ehrman, says it is likely to be found in the originals.

While we’re at it, what else does Bart Ehrman, this non-Christian New Testament scholar say about the New Testament?

If the primary purpose of this discipline is to get back to the original text, we may as well admit either defeat or victory, depending on how one chooses to look at it, because we’re not going to get much closer to the original text than we already are.… At this stage, our work on the original amounts to little more than tinkering. There’s something about historical scholarship that refuses to concede that a major task has been accomplished, but there it is. Novum Testamentum Graecum Editio Critica Maior: An Evaluation: TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism, 1998, a revision of a paper presented at the Textual Criticism section of the 1997 Society of Biblical Literature in San Francisco. http://rosetta.reltech.org/TC/vol03/Ehrman1998.html


In spite of these remarkable [textual] differences, scholars are convinced that we can reconstruct the original words of the New Testament with reasonable (although probably not 100 percent) accuracy. Bart Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 481.

Sadly, too many Christians won’t be prepared for something like this because, well, all those sermons on how to be a good person and how much God loves you won’t really matter when the text that all that is based on is called into question. Even worse, these kinds of objections are not the crisis that many people think that they are. With some serious study, instead of focusing only on one’s personal hobbies, it’s amazing what one can learn.

Hopefully Business Insider from now on will stick to business instead of going to Biblical studies.

In Christ,
Nick Peters