Book Plunge: Pulling Back The Green Curtain Part Two

What do I think of Jim Hall’s first arguments? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Jim Hall’s book begins with a list of facts that you’re not supposed to know about. Let’s start with the first one which showed me what I was getting into. The early church had female clergy.

Yeah. I get it. You all are about to apostasize right now.

Yes. The church did move much more against the direction of female leadership of any kind, but the leadership is right there in the New Testament. Nothing said here was a shock to me and I seriously doubt Hall has done any reading on the debate in Christian scholarship.

The next one is the tried and true trope of God approves slavery. God forbid that Hall ever read any sort of scholarship on the issue. He could do what I did and talk to a scholar on the issue, but that won’t happen. We eagerly await Hall’s brilliant solution on where Joe Israelite in the past was supposed to go to be able to provide for himself and/or his family, but Hall has never thought past that.

Sadly, as Mark Noll says, Hall reads the text of Scripture the exact same way the slaveowners he condemns does.

“On the other front, nuanced biblical attacks on American slavery faced rough going precisely because they were nuanced. This position could not simply be read out of any one biblical text; it could not be lifted directly from the page. Rather, it needed patient reflection on the entirety of the Scriptures; it required expert knowledge of the historical circumstances of ancient Near Eastern and Roman slave systems as well as of the actually existing conditions in the slave states; and it demanded that sophisticated interpretative practice replace a commonsensically literal approach to the sacred text. In short, this was an argument of elites requiring that the populace defer to its intellectual betters. As such, it contradicted democratic and republican intellectual instincts. In the culture of the United States, as that culture had been constructed by three generations of evangelical Bible believers, the nuanced biblical argument was doomed” – Mark Noll, The Civil War As A Theological Crisis.

The next thing to cover is Elisha and the two bears. Hall refers to this as just teasing and name-calling. Not at all. These boys were boys old enough to be wandering around on their own away from their families. They also weren’t just teasing Elisha, but they were teasing YHWH and mocking Elisha as a prophet of His and telling Him to go away just like Elijah. The text also says 42 were hurt by the bears. Bears can be fast, but they could not hurt that many unless some of them stayed around to fight. Again, this is not mere toddlers teasing someone. This has the makings of turning into assault and is outright rebellion against the covenant.

Another one to comment on is a howler about the Gospel of Andrew. Hall says there were some sixty Gospels that weren’t included and many of them were older than the ones we have. These include the Gospel of Thomas, Perfection, and Eve. Good luck finding any scholarship whatsoever that will back Hall on this. If he finds anything, it’s the fringe. We can be sure he will never pick up a work like Who Chose The Gospels? by Charles Hill either.

Naturally, we have something about believe in me or burn in hell is not an act of love but compulsion and somehow violates free-will. First off, the Christian claim is not to believe or burn in hell. Most evangelical scholars don’t even believe the flames are literal. It’s also not about demanding love. God rightly is owed our honor and if we don’t want to give it, God honors our free-will and sends us away from Him.

We also have Isaiah 45:7 with God creating evil. Hall apparently doesn’t realize that the word there refers better in this case to chaos and disaster in the lines of Hebrew parallelism. Nope. That would require Hall might have to pick up a book of scholarship he disagrees with and read it. Maybe Hall wants to avoid “cognitive dissonance.”

Hall also says that Jesus taught the end of the world was at hand in saying “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” 2,000 years and we’ll still waiting. Except Jesus never mentions the end of the world. He’s talking about the Kingdom of Heaven and Hall would need to demonstrate that is what is meant. As an orthodox Preterist, I am convinced Jesus was right on in this claim.

Hall also says Christians couldn’t decide for 300 years if Jesus was created or eternal and it required Nicea. Nonsense. All of the early church held that Jesus is fully God and fully man. Nicea was there because someone was saying otherwise and that was the unheard of part. Again, Hall just demonstrates his own ignorance in this kind of topic.

Let’s also look at a list of references he gives on how fathers should murder their sons.

The first is to eat them according to Ezekiel 5:10, but the Ezekiel passage is a judgment passage. It’s not YHWH prescribing this. It’s Him saying that these are the consequences that will happen if repentance doesn’t come in line with the treaty Israel accepted in Deuteronomy. God will withdraw His hand of protection and Israel will have to live under a siege. Cannibalism happened then.

The same is happening in Lamentations 4:4. YHWH is not telling parents to not feed their children. He’s saying in a siege there’s nothing to feed them with. This can be seen just by simply reading the passage within the chapter, something Hall doesn’t do.

The next is to strike them dead referring to the angel of death in Exodus 12. Of course, this was after nine judgments had been established and a way had been told to directly avoid this one. It’s also not fathers killing children in that passage anyway. It’s YHWH, who has a right to all life, taking back a life if He chooses.

Next is stoning in Deuteronomy which we have dealt with here.

The next one is from Joshua on the conquest saying to smite them with a sword. Naturally, Hall hasn’t bothered interacting with the work of people like Copan on this question. After all, Hall has to stay in that bubble to avoid contrary thought.

Nahum 3:10 is next with kids being smashed in the streets, but this is also a judgment motif. It’s not recommending this. It’s a shame Hall needs this spelled out so much.

Next he goes to Matthew 19:29 and says that this is about abandoning children. Keep in mind Peter was said to have left everything and followed Jesus and yet has a wife later on when Paul writes about him in Corinthians. All Jesus is saying is that Kingdom loyalty comes before family loyalty.

Next is Revelation 2:23. Hall says the text says kill them with death wondering what that means. Naturally, he’s going by the KJV still sticking with his fundamentalist roots. At any rate, the passage is a judgment passage on one particular person and the children mean here followers. Again, this is basic reading comprehension that Hall fails at.

No list would be complete without Psalm 137 and dashing them against the stones. In this passage, Israel is rebuking Babylon and saying “May someone do to you what you did to us!” It is not saying they will do it at all or prescribing it. It’s a common Middle Eastern motif of trash talking with your opponent and letting all the rage out at the start.

Deuteronomy 32:24 about poisoning is also the judgment motif again. Nothing more needs to be said.

Hall goes on to say Jesus never said anything about homosexuality. Let that sink in for a moment. Sure. He also never said anything about rape or pederasty or anything like that. That’s because no one was debating these issues in Israel. The Law was clear. If anything, Jesus’s silence would indicate agreement with the moral stance.

Hall then says there are two creation accounts in Genesis and they don’t agree. Hall will not dare interact with John Walton’s work on this topic nor any of the scholarship that has come out to address this supposed problem. We can guess it’s because the books don’t contain pictures.

Hall also says that six of the Pauline epistles are known forgeries. It is true that these are debated and some scholars do think that, but Hall provides no sources and gives no arguments. He also doesn’t interact with the scholarship on the other side at all.

Hall also shows his fundamentalism with a howler about Christmas trees being forbidden. His reference is Jeremiah 10, of course. This is one that has already been dealt with ad nauseum. For someone who says there is no such thing as too much information, Hall never seems to want to go out and get that information.

This has been a lot, and really, we’re only scratching the surface. Hall’s book thus far is filled with error after error and with very little if any research. I keep thinking there seems to be a competition among atheists to see who can write the worst book and do the least research. Hall is trying to be a strong contender.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: If My Husband Would Change, I’d Be Happy.

What do I think of Rhonda Stoppe’s book published by Harvest House Publishers? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I make it a point to read books on marriage regularly and though this one was meant for the wives, I found it on a Kindle sale and decided to pick it up. I want to understand matters from a woman’s perspective after all. Rhonda Stoppe is writing from the perspective of a pastor’s wife to women who are believing very foolish things about marriage.

I know very well that we men are just as guilty, but this book is for the women. Each chapter also ends with a note from her husband Steve. There are also references to their website so you can see a video of her and Steve talking about the issue under question.

She emphasizes at the start that the way to love your husband best, and anyone else for that matter, is to love God first. If you are in a marriage and you and your spouse are both loving God first, loving each other will come much more easily. It’s a sort of win-win. You have a good walk with God and you have a better marriage as a result.

She also rightly says that if you make it about your feelings, then you’re going to suffer for it. Feelings are something that change and are unstable. We all know this. Strangely enough, so many of us still like to base reality on our feelings. Your marriage is not about a promise to have good feelings towards one another. It’s about a promise to love one another and do good to one another.

She’s also correct that men tend to thrive on respect more than they do on love. A man does not want his wife to be another mother. He wants someone who relies on him, believes in him, and who celebrates his accomplishments. In essence, he wants someone who will look at him and say “You are my man.” (Yes women! We would love to hear that and even more to have it shown to us!)

She also notes that your husband isn’t perfect, and this mainly in a chapter about how women believe their marriage would be better if they were prettier. Your husband cannot do for you what only God can. I’d also like to say at this point that we already find you beautiful anyway. That’s one reason we married you. As much as you might think you’re not beautiful, we think about that body of yours that you don’t think is beautiful much more than you realize and we think it’s much more beautiful than you realize.

This is followed by the chapter on sex, a chapter I was certainly very eager to get to as a man. In this, she says

“So why are wives so resistant to minister to their husband’s need for sex? The most common reason is selfishness, plain and simple. Because of our sin nature, the basic problem all people have is a preoccupation with self. In short, every sin results from this preoccupation. (Yes, I just implied that not having sex with your husband is a sin that stems from selfishness.)”

At this, most every Christian man in the world wants Rhonda Stoppe to come and give a talk at his church. One of my favorite Family Feud clips is of Steve Harvey asking the question that was asked to 100 married men. I would blank for sex. Every guy who answers, except for the final one who listened to the women, nailed it. The women always missed. As Steve says in it, “You don’t know how deep this runs with us!”

This often shows a disconnect that Rhonda understands. Sex to a man is far more than getting his game on for a physical release. It is the way we feel desired and adored and wanted by our wives. It is the way that we know we are the man. Duty sex itself won’t do this. The more passion you give a man, the more you will empower that man. This is an honest need in a man’s life.

The problem I think is that too many women do think that a man is just wanting a physical joy with his wife instead of realizing that this is often how he connects emotionally as well. Dare I say it, but it’s a prideful attitude just like Rhonda says. Too often women expect their men to be more like them and thus more “refined” as it were and that their husband is a lowly and filthy creature for wanting sex. Not at all.

Rhonda also says that to remember your kids won’t always need you. Your husband will always need you in his life. Don’t replace the husband with the kids. Too many marriages have the marriage centered around the children. This should never be.

She is also right in saying that a husband wants a joyful wife. Be someone that your husband enjoys being around. Be a source of joy. That doesn’t mean never ever be sad and come to him in pain if you really are that way, but it does mean try to have joy around him.

For housework, most men don’t care about a house being spotless. They would much rather that the house just be livable. To go back to what was said above, many men would be far more happy if women who are so eager to make sure the house is perfect would spend more time working on the areas that they’re concerned about the most.

Rhonda will deal with many myths in the book. Most every wife would likely hold to a couple of them at least. There are many myths that men believe as well, but this is for the women. I appreciate Rhonda’s book here and it is one I can easily recommend to wives.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Your First Ministry

Where does your Christian service begin? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In this post, I’m mainly writing to my fellow apologists, but I think what I say applies to every field of ministry. Also, I will be using male pronouns throughout and such, but if you’re a woman, just find the counterpart. It will apply to you just as much.

In apologetics, it’s understandable that you have to be specially equipped. You have to spend that time in study and there are those debates that you have to attend to. That happens. I have the same situation. I read my books as much as I can. I want to be able to answer as much as I can.

We also know that what we do, well, we do for God. There should be no question about that. We are not in the ministry for ourselves. We are in it for the cause of a  greater good. God is not a means to the success of our kingdoms. We are a means to the success of His.

Despite all of this, many of could still be failures in ministry. I have something specific in mind for a failure in ministry. This is someone who no matter how good they do in the apologetics field, even if they’re someone like the next William Lane Craig, they have failed their first ministry.

That ministry is their family.

Now I know some of you might say “Well Jesus said if we do not hate our families, we cannot be His disciples.” We all know that means that the Kingdom has to come before our families, yes. If we rank our priorities, the Kingdom is our first priority. Still, that doesn’t mean we abandon our family responsibilities for the Kingdom. This is said in passages such as Jesus talking to the Pharisees about eating with unwashed hands or in Paul’s talking in 1 Tim. 3 about the requirements of a deacon and one being that they lead their own families.

You see, if you’re in apologetics, there are plenty of other people that can take the work for you if you need a break. I don’t debate on Sundays for instance. It’s just a day to recharge. On those days, I don’t worry. There are plenty of other people who can do apologetics meanwhile. I don’t have to jump into every debate I see. There are other people who can handle debates.

Despite all that I do, there is only one person who can be a husband to Allie, and that is me. So it is for all of you out there. Only one person can be a husband to your wife and only one person can be a father to your children. You don’t want to risk that role going to another man because you shirked your responsibilities.

I encourage men for instance when they get married, go on your honeymoon and take no book with you except your Bible for daily reading with your spouse, not for academic reading for yourself. Do not do Facebook or email while there. The world can wait. This time should be devoted to your spouse and the rest of the world can wait.

Now, of course, there will be valid exceptions. If you’re on your honeymoon and you meet someone who just wants to know how to be a Christian or you encounter someone who is suicidal, by all means, do your Christian duty, but don’t be seeking it out. These kinds of exceptions apply across the board, but don’t be looking for them.

Please never ever forget this. Your marriage should be your first priority and dare I say it, it is more important even than your children. One of the best gifts you can give your children is a good marriage. In fact, don’t hesitate to gross the kiddies out. Let them see you two kissing together.

Some of you who follow me on Facebook know that every day, except Sunday, I’m posting something about how much Allie means to me. Why do I do this? Because it’s my belief that a husband and wife should have Facebook pages that others can be clear about their love for their spouse. If you come to my page, I want you to know how much Jesus means to me and I want you to know how much Allie means to me.

So my friends, please do the work and study hard and learn all you can, but remember, if you have a family, do not neglect them. You have a work with them that no one else can do. Your family is your first ministry.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 10/8/2016: Mary Flo Ridley

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

I hope you all were fine with not having a week of podcasts. I’ve got someone else now who is helping with producing my podcasts and we’re getting into that groove so it’s taking a little while longer. We did release a new one yesterday. The one with Biologos is next in line. Having said that, let’s discuss this Saturday.

It’s often awkward to talk to your teenagers about sex, but that time doesn’t just come out of nowhere. It happens after years of raising your kids. How do you handle matters before that? You’re not going to tell your three year-old all about the birds and the bees, but you are going to notice them exploring their bodies. What are you to do?

You take the advice of Mary Flo Ridley. She’s my guest on the Deeper Waters Podcast this Saturday. Who is she?

maryfloridley

According to her bio:

In 1986 Mary Flo Ridley began presenting a popular parenting seminar in the Dallas area teaching parents how to talk to their children about sex. Armed with medical research, personal stories and humor, Mary Flo walks parents through very specific ways to answer their children’s early questions with confidence. She gives parents a simple strategy that allows them to share their values along with the basic biology and develop a positive plan for introducing this subject in the preschool and early elementary years.

Through her first book and DVD Series, Simple Truths with Mary Flo Ridley, and as an international speaker, Mary Flo gives parents the simple tools they need to begin these conversations. In her second book, God’s Very Good Design, parents can see this strategy unfold in a Biblical context. She is thrilled to partner with Megan Michelson to bring this message to a new generation.

Mary Flo grew up in El Paso, Texas and graduated from SMU. She has been joyfully married to her husband Dave for 36 years and they have three married children and six grandchildren.

Mary Flo is committed to passing on these important truths about raising children and being ready to talk to them about sex. Why does this matter? Because sexual issues are becoming more and more important. Even today you’ll have children being raised in the public school system to accept the idea that homosexuality and transgenderism are normal lifestyles. It’s much harder to unteach something from someone than it is to teach them. While many parents are abandoning the public school system, many people aren’t and some will need to know what to say in these situations in order to train their children properly in Biblical attitudes to the gift of sexuality.

I hope you’ll be looking forward to this new episode. We’ll be recording from 3-5 PM EST and I hope to have it released as soon as possible. I also want you all to know that before too long, we will be transferring everything over to deeperwatersapologetics.com. We’ve got the name registered now and there’s a technical guru I know doing the work. Please also consider with the podcast going on ITunes and leaving a positive review. It means a lot to see them!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Is This Apologetics Stuff Really Necessary?

Does it really matter if we do apologetics? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So we’ve been going over apologetics basics lately and some of you might think it sounds like a lot of work. Is this something we really need to do? Can’t we just take our children to church every Sunday and expect them to turn out okay? It’s good if you’re wondering that. Let’s talk about why it matters.

Would you really consider doing something like this in any other situation? Would you say that you take your child to the doctor so regularly health habits at home to take care of their body aren’t necessary? Would you say you have your child in school so their studying on their own isn’t really necessary? Would you say that you live with your spouse every day so working to maintain your marriage really isn’t necessary?

Why do you take care of all these things? You do so because you think they’re important and they require diligence to maintain. Why not treat faith the same way?

Next, let’s suppose you want people to believe in Christianity. Why? Do you want to believe in Jesus because that will make them into a good person? Do you want them to believe because you want them to go to Heaven? Do you want them to believe because they will avoid Hell? Those can be good reasons, but they are not the reasons. All those reasons depend on Christianity being true. The promise of Heaven and the warning of Hell only matter if Christianity is true. Being a good person is great, but would you want that goodness to be based on truth or not?

So let’s look at the main reason someone should believe in Christianity. In fact, it’s the reason that we should believe in anything. It’s true. What do we mean when we say it’s true? Do we mean it makes you a good person? No. Do we mean it’s a great moral system? No. Do we mean that it brings joy in life? No. Those could all be true, but none of those state what it means to say Christianity is true.

What it means is this. You believe that Jesus, a person who is fully man and fully God, came on Earth, proclaimed the Kingdom of God, worked miracles, was crucified, buried, and rose bodily again from the dead and that He calls for allegiance from everyone. You believe forgiveness is found only in Him. These are indeed amazing claims.

Let’s grant the new atheists something on this. When they say that if you were told your spouse was cheating on you, you’d want evidence, but when you’re told the above, you think it’s a virtue to blindly believe, they have a point. Unfortunately, that does describe many Christians. If you don’t have a reason that you should believe other than your personal feelings, then why should anyone else.

Would you want your marriage to be maintained on personal feelings? Would you want your employment to be based on personal feelings? Would you want your relationship with your children to be based on personal feelings? Of course not. These are good when they come, but one can’t make a steady diet out of them, because those feelings will fade from time to time for any number of reasons.

How about instead having another reason? How about having something historical? Now it could be you evangelize someone and your personal testimony is enough, but what if it isn’t? Do you want to be caught flat-footed? Do you want to tell people Jesus is the most important aspect of your life and not be prepared when people ask you for any evidence of the reality of this? Do you want to say you’ve never thought like this about the most important aspect of your life? Or what you say is the most important aspect?

This is especially so for parents. Often times, you’re sending your children to college with about a dozen years of Sunday School vs. a professor with twenty-five years of atheism. Do you really think this is a fair fight? Do you really think your children have a chance? Now sure, some who abandon the faith come back later, but look at all the time they spend away and some of their most important choices are made in that time, such as marriage and career choices. All this time they could be a testimony of Jesus. Instead, they’re a testimony against Christians as long as they’re apostate.

Not only that, but this will help you more to realize the importance of a holy life. This will be something you can say is a reality. This will give you confidence in your evangelism. There won’t be people you’re scared to evangelize because they might have questions. You can’t specialize in every worldview out there. You’re not going to be an expert on every religious group and non-religious group in the world. You can be someone who knows your own worldview at least so you can have something to talk about when you meet someone who doesn’t believe what you believe.

Of course, some of you could be wondering how you can fit this into your schedule. You don’t have time to be a scholar. What do you do?

That’s for another time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Death Of An Innocent Black Child

How many more innocent are we going to let die at the hands of those who are meant to take care of us? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Okay. We’re all talking about Missouri now. There are many of us who have a strong outrage. After all, we have to witness the shedding of blood that is innocent way too often. It is especially tragic when it happens to a child. Even more tragic is that death comes at the hands of those who we pay with our own tax dollars to provide their service for us. They’re in the field that is supposed to take care of us and fight for the preservation of life.

And yet, it looks like the tool that they wield is wielded not for the preservation of life but for the destruction of life and what is the result? There are a mother and father who have a child that does not get to live the life that we would all hope that a child would get to live. Why do we even defend this action that involves taking the life of a child from a mother and a father?

Of course, it doesn’t help that the victim is black and the killer is white. Surely this should show that in our country, we are in a position of intense racial division. No doubt, this is a story that is worthy of all the major news networks as it really shows how little attention we give to the goodness of life in this country, yet hardly anyone is talking about this important story really.

What? You mean everyone is talking about this story? You mean there are riots going on in Ferguson now over the death of Michael Brown?

Oh. Well I wasn’t talking about that.

You see, what I was talking about was the report that came out on 11/26/2014 that since that death, there have been 981 black babies killed in the state of Missouri. Now the death of anyone should give us sadness on some level, but if the death of Michael Brown will bring this level of sadness, where is the outrage that 981 other black children have died in Missouri?

I’m not here to comment on the rightness or wrongness of the Brown indictment. I save that for those who have spent more time following the events, but I am wanting to comment that we have got so used to the death of babies in our country that it goes on around us constantly and we don’t even bat an eye any more.

Exactly how cold have we become?

Of course, I’m not encouraging rioting. That is not the answer. Still, it would be nice if some Christians had the same passion about defending the life of the unborn as many people in Ferguson have about providing vengeance (rightly or wrongly) for the death of Michael Brown. It is a sad state of affairs when we in this country who call on the name of Christ have less passion for our Lord than the world does for its causes. If people deem Michael Brown worthy of a riot, then surely we can at least say Jesus Christ should be deemed worthy of getting yourself out of your pew and actually doing something about the subject of abortion.

We can condemn the actions going on in Ferguson, and to be clear, I think we should, but let us also condemn any passivity on our part. Why is it the way abortion and the rest of America is the way it is today? It’s because we who call Jesus our Lord and claim that He is the sovereign of all and we owe our very lives to Him tend to due next to nothing whatsoever for Him.

Christian. Jesus didn’t call you to just sit in a pew on Sunday and be a “good person.” He called you to go out and be salt and light in the world. He called you to shine in the darkness and to spread the Kingdom of God. Either you are doing that today or you’re not. If you are, God bless you and continue to do more. If you’re not, then maybe you should examine yourself and see what it means when you say Jesus is Lord. I’m not saying see your salvation in jeopardy, but perhaps you should see if you’re really doing with your actions what your mouth proclaims in church on Sunday.

If you want to see the silent holocaust in America end, it’s not an option to sit and wait for someone else to do something. Do today what you can do.

In Christ,
Nick Peters