Book Plunge For Fun: Mollie McQueen Is Not Getting Divorced

What do I think of Lacey London’s book published by SSO Publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’m looking through my emails with Kindle books on sale and I see this one with the book Mollie McQueen Is Not Getting Divorced and read the description about a lady who after another sexless night with her husband decides she’s 30 and wants to move on with her life so she’ll get a divorce and about how a journey starts from there. The price is free, so you can’t beat that, but I am a student at a seminary with books to read otherwise, even though I still do get in fun reading. Will I or won’t I?

Eventually, I decide I will and start to read a chapter a day. As I get into the book, I sometimes am tempted to break that rule. I want to go through more to find out what is going to happen in the story. I had bought the book originally to also see what a more secular perspective might have to say. There is nothing explicitly Christian in the book, but at the same time nothing explicitly non-Christian really, and the book is not filled with profanity and incessant dirty talk. Descriptions are rather tame.

Not only that, but I did wonder if there could be some secret Christianity in there due to one of the main good characters in the book who is a voice of wisdom being named Evangelina. That’s certainly not a common name to have. Something that makes me hesitant to say that is that the book is from a British author and I know that Christianity is a minority position there. Still, there are some devout Christians over there. (N.T. Wright anyone?)

Anyway, I don’t want to give spoilers since this is really a great book to read and part of a series. (Yes. I’ve already got the next one in the series.) However, as Mollie goes through her journey, she does start to learn a lot about marriage and much of the marriage advice in the book is incredibly solid.  This is a book that admits that marriage is hard and also that marriage is worth it. It also does what it can to dispel the idea that marriage can be absolutely perfect as all marriages have flaws.

What is most helpful is as Mollie goes through her journey, she had originally started complaining about her husband Max and all the things that he needed to change. As she goes through her life and her path to divorce, she comes to realize that she’s quite the guilty party as well. She starts actually learning to see things from Max’s perspective and how to better communicate with him.

I wound up actually telling my therapist that I’m reading this book and sent a link to him as he is helping me work through and process my own divorce. It’s the kind of book that if I was doing marriage counseling or even pre-marital counseling for a couple, I could have them read this book and see what they think about it. There’s good advice and Mollie is a very engaging character and not only that, it’s just fun.

If you want to get the book, you can do so here. On Kindle, it looks like at this moment, the first one is still free.

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

 

Book Plunge: Our Father, Abraham

What do I think of Marvin Wilson’s book published by Eerdmans? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It is always a temptation for some to look for Christianity outside of the Jewish heritage. It’s easy to jump straight to the Greeks. This was much more common before the holocaust took place and then we decided we needed to recover the Jewishness of Jesus. One such book looking at this is Wilson’s book which is not about just the Jewishness of Jesus, but the Jewishness of Christianity.

Wilson’s contention is that the early church did move away from the Jewishness of Christianity early on and to an extent, this would be true. After all, just a few centuries later you have a number of statements of hostility against the Jewish people being made by even church fathers. It is not long before we see the charge of Christ-killers being applied. I do consider it problematic that as far as I know, all the church fathers were non-Jews.

We do damage to ourselves when we do this and we fail to do evangelism to the Jewish people. Wilson’s goal in this book is to return us to how the Jews looked at life. This is not just about theology as theology, but it is also about how Jews looked at every area of life because all of life was about their walk with YHWH. This includes work, marriage, and education.

To begin with, Wilson gives us the history of the relationship between Christianity and Judaism. This involves the way the Jews saw the world and then what happened when the Christians came along. Naturally, this includes questions about who Jesus is and His deity and what it would mean for Him to be the Messiah.

From there, he goes on to look at where the church went wrong. This includes ideas coming up that he considers foreign to a Jewish mindset, such as the idea that someone who is a priest could never marry. In this area also, the way Jews and Christians have approached marriage is quite different. Even in a musical that Wilson recommends, Fiddler on the Roof, tradition is still at the heart of everything and the idea is that the daughters of the main character will have their husbands picked for them and they will be Jewish as well.

One other difference is we tend to think rationally about our faith while Jews think more experientially.  We will have hot debates in Christianity about the relationship between God’s sovereignty and man’s free will. Jews thought in block logic where both were to be embraced and somehow it all worked out in the end.

I particularly appreciated the section on learning. Learning is seen as an act of worship. Some Jews might be in situations where their stomachs are empty, but their minds are to be full of the heritage that they were raised in and what we call the Old Testament and the teaching of their rabbis.

Jewish and Christian relations are something that need some more attention in the apologetics and Christian community. I only know of two apologists right off that are doing work in the area of Jewish apologetics. We disagree with Jews on many matters, but we do share a common heritage and we need to be able to use that to reach out to them.

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

School Shootings And Evil

Is this proof there is no God? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night, I saw on Unbelievable? in Facebook a thread with a news story about the school shooting yesterday and showing it as proof that God does not exist. The problem with something like this is that proof is a strong word to use. I could understand skepticism, but most philosophers, even atheistic ones, agree that there would be no proof here. The logical problem of evil is not really used that much anymore.

Now I have some political thoughts on this event that I shared yesterday on Facebook and I plan on sharing here as an addendum to this post, but the theological ones are the ones worth talking about. I have said on another post that I do not understand the usage of the problem of evil in this way.

This is not about whether theism is true or not as this point cannot establish theism or atheism. This is on a more matter of living everyday and of practicality. We could consider it a sort of Pascal’s Wager point on how you would want the universe to be.

Let’s suppose we have two universes. In one, there is no God. Now right away, since I think God is necessary for the universe to exist in any way, I am granting a huge point, but this is just for the sake of argument. In this universe, matters are exactly the same for the most part and the school shooting has taken place.

Will the victims ever live again? Not a chance.

Will the parents ever see their children again? No way.

Will the teacher who was killed ever see their family again and vice-versa? Forget about it.

Will anyone who does such a crime and somehow gets away with it ever get justice? Not necessarily.

Is there any hope for healing? Perhaps, but it sure isn’t built in hope of resurrection.

In a Christian universe, all the answers are different. Now this does not show God exists, but it does show we should hope that God does exist. That an atheist wants to use this is practically a way to me of saying, “Let’s push some hopelessness!”

The pushback I received was mind-boggling. Unfortunately, that thread seems to have been eliminated so I will have to go by memory.

First I had said that good can come out of this, and so the reply was “So you’re saying what happened was good?”

Good grief. Do these people not read?

Let’s be clear. Evil is evil. That’s a tautology, but no one can make evil good. God doesn’t even make evil good. God makes evil people into good people and brings good things out of evil things. There is a difference.

But don’t I believe in Heaven in that this gunman could have repented right before death and received forgiveness and gone to Heaven?

He could have, though I think if someone is that bent on evil it is highly unlikely. However, would you honestly want it to be otherwise? If you would rather someone suffer for evil rather than realize the error of their ways and turn, then that reveals very little about the evildoer and much more about yourself. We should always hope someone will change their ways and repent. We should always hope someone would embrace the good.

Right now, I have an ex-wife. It would be easy to delight if something goes wrong with her and her desires and she has to suffer, but why should I want that at all? Note that this is even a woman who has accused me of being abusive to her and shattered my heart to pieces and I suffer everyday because of it. Why should I delight in her suffering? That will not help me at all in my life.

Instead, I pray for her constantly and that God will show her mercy and where I am in error, let justice and mercy come to me appropriately. If I were to pray that she suffer instead, then that reveals nothing about her and more about me.  Anyone can treat their friends well. It’s how you treat those who wrong you and your loved ones that shows who you are.

However, just because someone is in Heaven or in Hell doesn’t mean that it’s all equal. There are degrees of blessing and degrees of suffering. My ministry partner and I have talked about people who will be scrubbing toilets in the New Jerusalem.

There is also the claim that someone who is murdered if their murderer repents could be forced to spend eternity with the person who murdered them.

Yes? And?

That article is sufficient to deal with those claims.

I was also told that I said the murderer is good. Not at all. Scripture tells us none are good but God alone. The beauty of the Gospel is that it takes evil people and makes them good people, people like you and I.

To those who lost loved ones yesterday, Christianity offers hope of resurrection. It says that good can come out of the darkest places. It offers our Lord who Himself was in the darkest place and out of that came the greatest good. It also says that those who turn to Him can have hope.

From just a practical basis, I would hope Christianity was true and I would think any honest atheist would want to know that there could be a way that good could come out of evil and there will be hope. In an atheistic universe, I gain no practical benefit from this.

May we all pray for those involved yesterday and that includes the shooter’s family who has their own suffering as well.

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

Political addendum:

So after this shooting, I did watch and saw Biden make a speech where he pretty much immediately went after the gun lobby and called for the passing of stronger laws concerning guns.
I am old enough to remember where the politicizing of a tragedy was normally condemned right after it happened, but I guess that the rules change when the left has power.
But since it has already been done, here are some points to consider.
If someone is really willing to break a law against murder and even kill kids doing it, do you really think they are going to pay attention to a gun law? Does anyone think the only place to get guns is through a licensed dealer or a place that does background checks?
Here are some better ideas.
From now on, police investigate every claim about someone making any sort of threat whatsoever against a school. If it comes out sometime in this that the villain (And here’s a side point. Don’t mention their names. They don’t deserve credibility. Just call them the X shooter for whatever school it was) was reported many times and had a history of threats and the police never did anything, that’s on them then.
When we say a place is a gun-free zone, what we are really saying is “Come in here and start shooting because we can’t stop you!” Everyone should agree that most people who have guns in this country are good and law-abiding citizens. The overwhelming majority would never do what some idiot did today.
If gun laws won’t stop these people, and they won’t, what will stop them?
For one thing, enforce the laws we have. If someone commits a crime that results in the intentional taking of a human life, don’t dilly-dally on it. Get them in and get them in jail and keep them locked up. If we have to use the death penalty, we do. Let people see that crime has a price to it.
Second, there are countless veterans all over this country who would love to have a side job of some kind where they get to patrol our area schools and keep students safe. Let them take security positions in schools. Many of them would be glad to do it on even a volunteer position.
Third, any teacher who wants to should be allowed to have a gun with them. Don’t think you can trust them with it? Then why trust them with your kids? Teachers are adults who should have the right to arm themselves, especially to protect students that can often be like family to them.
A law will not stop a shooter, but what could stop them is the thought that there are several people in that school who could kill them just as quickly before they get to go on a mass shooting spree. The best defense is indeed a good offense. Let the criminals wonder who it is that has guns in a school or any other place for that matter and let them ask if they are willing to take that risk.
Gun laws do not work and gun-free zones do not work. If you want to murder someone, you will not be stopped by a law. Fear is what will work.

Book Plunge: Pagans and Christians in the City

What do I think of Steven Smith’s book published by Eerdman’s? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We all know what happened in history. The world was largely pagan and then Christianity showed up and within a few centuries, Christianity became the religion of the West and paganism was defeated. Today, there are people who follow Asatru and other similar belief systems and say they worship pagan deities, but pretty much, Thor has been reduced to a comic book character and superhero in the movies. Paganism is pretty much dead.

But what if it isn’t?

What if it never died?

No. I’m not saying anything about Christians copying the pagans in this like the pagan copycat thesis. Instead, we’re talking about worldviews, not in the sense that it’s a belief about gods, but rather a belief about where the sacred lies. Paganism largely placed the sacred in the world, especially in the area of sexuality.

Christians said there was sacredness in the world, but the source of that sacredness was outside of the world and lies in God Himself. Christians are to agree that there are good things in this world, but the things are not the end in themselves. The greatest joy is to be found in God alone.

Modern people might be puzzled at the way Rome reacted in the past to Christianity. Why were Christians persecuted? What about live and let live? What about freedom of religion? Couldn’t the Romans just accept that the Christians only worshipped their God?

And what about the Christians? Couldn’t they just go along and kind of pay lip service to the idea of the Roman deities? Unfortunately, for both sides, that would have been disloyal. The Christians were not to give any indication that these deities were real. The Romans saw the Christians as dishonoring the gods and thus a threat to the well-being of the state.

Today, we live in a world where it seems to be Christianity vs secularism and so it would strike people odd to hear talk about paganism, but what if secularists were actually modern-day pagans? Not in the sense that they worship other gods, but they place the sacred, or we could say the ultimate, in this world. In a sense, they must. If this world is all there is, then whatever is worth living for must be in this world.

An important part of all of this is the role that symbols play. While this was written before much of the Trump era, many of us were stunned to see the tearing down of statues and other such events. Why were these turned down? The same reason. Symbolism.

For those who wanted them torn down, these statues were symbols in some way of racism and the symbol could not be allowed to continue. It’s possible to debate if a statue really was a symbol, but it seems undeniable that the people wanting them removed saw in them vestiges of racism. Much of our political discourse is really about symbolism.

What about sexuality, which is where much of our fighting takes place? Consider the fact that a restaurant or baker or florist or photographer can say they don’t want to use their services to celebrate a ceremony that they do not encourage, such as two homosexuals wanting to declare themselves married. Most of us would think the thing to do then is to go down the street to the next business and hear them say “Sure. We’ll cover that for you!”

However, what happens is the original businesses are instead sued. Now why is this? Why would you want the services of someone who you know is opposed to your view like this and doesn’t celebrate what you celebrate? The answer is not that they want those services from them, but because these people are symbols of something they don’t like, disagreement with their position.

In our world, the culture wars are largely about sexuality. What I find ironic is that the Christians are the ones treating sex as sacred and the pagans are the ones that are not saying that, though they are treating it as an ultimate. If we admit that sex is for anything or about anything, then we have to set up some standards for sexuality and what is right and wrong, although some do still hold, as most people today definitely condemn rape.

The idea on the left has largely been privatization. You can have your religion and you can practice it, but it must be private. In public, you must go along with us. This is exactly the response of Rome in the beginning of the Christian era. We are still fighting the same battle.

There is so much more in Smith’s book that cannot be broken down easily, but it is an eye-opening one that is worthy of your time and attention. I recommend you go out and get it as soon as you can and read it. It has certainly shifted the way that I look at the culture wars.

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

Theology on the Spectrum talk

Ready to talk about Autism and the church? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Okay. This blog is going to be half-done in a sense so that my ministry partner can get it out, so come back later. Tomorrow at `10 AM EST, I will be doing an interview on David Popiden’s show again with my friend Erin Burnett, whose book I reviewed here, on Autism and the church.

The link can be found here.

Please do be watching!

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

Is Doing Science Good?

Is our science necessarily a blessing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I went to the doctor again having a sore throat and some lightheadedness. Turns out, I have strep. I am supposed to be able to go out into the world again on Thursday. For now, I am feeling a bit miserable.

Last night then, I was doing some gaming while listening to N.T. Wright. That’s something that usually always gets me thinking. Wright talked about Paul and the world he lived in and why he did what he did.

As I took my medication last night for Strep, I started considering it. What did people do in the time of Jesus when they had a sickness like this? There weren’t really medications that they could take that were as effective as what we have today. I really am thankful to live in this world where I can have medication available.

That got me considering about the nature of science. We have done this with medication and that is certainly a good use of the science that we have. However, why should we develop the science to work on this problem? We could just as easily poison everyone with a medication as we could cure them.

We have many things we could do with science, and sure, we do use science for weapons of war, but even when we do that, we don’t go out full throttle with them and unleash them on anyone else who disagrees with us. Had we wanted at one time, we could have taken over much of the world being militaristic.

Let’s imagine that we could go back to ancient Rome and give them the means to launch a nuclear weapon. Do we have any reason to think they would not have nuked Carthage in the Punic Wars? We could say that they would have made medication also and given it to all their people, but why think that? Rome wasn’t known for taking care of the poor. It would be better to take care of the elites and the military.

Today, we don’t really have this concern. It seems like a given to us that you care for the poor among you. It seems like a given that you try to use nonviolent means before going to violence. Why do we think differently?

It’s because before science became the force that it is on the scene, Christianity became a force as well. Our values were drastically changed by Christianity and most of us don’t realize that there is a background Christianity behind much of our moral thinking even if we don’t recognize it. Because of that, when we developed science, we thought of the ways that we could use it to help us and to explore the cosmos. We developed weapons of war so we could defend ourselves, but never with the intention of a militaristic takeover of the rest of the world. Again, ancient Rome would likely have done the opposite.

We are often told that we have a lot of blessings today because of our scientific enterprise, and I agree with that. However, if we didn’t have the moral categories we have, we could easily turn most any place we wanted to into Hiroshima or Nagasaki. We could easily infect the world in biological warfare and kill billions. It’s a blessing that we have this science today, but a better blessing that we have the moral teachings of Jesus that guide us.

Yet what will happen if we ever abandon that heritage and the morality that has been given to us?

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

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)

Is Christianity Bad For Aspergers?

Do Aspies get a major disadvantage? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I came across this post recently. I will grant it is an older post and one that a lot of people probably didn’t see, but it is raising concerns that I think need to be addressed. That’s on whether Christianity is bad for Aspergers.

The author, Corbin Croy, says that he is not formally diagnosed, but the diagnosis would make sense, and he is by no means an expert. From here, he goes on to list some problems with Christianity and Aspergers. It is clear he has some education in historical matters, but seems too caught up in modern phenomena of Christianity.

The first is that Christianity is too gesture oriented and not critically grounded. Croy points to events like altar calls and being slain in the Spirit. Part of the problem with the argument is that Croy never defines a gesture. Is a gesture any act on God’s part? If so, well it’s obvious God has to act at a certain point for Christianity to be true and it would be bizarre to think God has to keep doing that same event over and over again.

I have never found a problem with what Croy calls indirect communication with this. I can read the Gospels like most any other history and I can gather such information from the epistles as well. Croy makes much of how God speaks today, but I think this is largely a western problem that we have. We think we are so great that surely God must communicate with us directly today or God must speak in a clear way that modern 21st century Westerners can understand.

So on this first point, I am puzzled by what Croy means.

The second is a lack of freedom and again, I find it puzzling. Croy says Aspie memories are unreliable, but I find this odd. I consider my memory more reliable than that of many other people. Croy also says that Aspies can struggle to express themselves and that there is a lot of bickering and power plays going on in the church.

That’s not really an Aspie problem. That’s a human problem.

I hate to say it, but if any of us on the spectrum or off feel like we can’t speak or anything of that sort, that is a problem within us. We are responsible for our own feelings. No one else is. Despite what you think, no one can make you feel anything. If you have certain difficulties whether it be from Aspergers or anything else, it is up to you to deal with them. You can get help from others, naturally, but you own the responsibility.

At the same time, freedom is still not defined. Freedom doesn’t mean you can do anything you want. I can’t say, “I have Christian freedom, so I am going to sleep with every girl I can in my apartment complex.” Freedom means I am no longer under a penalty and I can behave the way that I ought without owing any debt.

Finally, Croy says Christianity has no fail-safe. Again, he doesn’t define this. If he means what to do if Christianity is false, of course we don’t have that because we do not think it is false. The only option we have is let us eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.

He also says Christianity has this idea called faith. He never defines it and it looks like he could mean more what Richard Dawkins means by it as just belief, and blind belief at that, instead of trust in what has been shown to be reliable. Croy’s whole argument here is confusing. He never really explains what he means by terms and acts like his experience is universal.

Christianity is hard for everyone, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad for everyone. The most worthwhile and good things we will ever do are hard. Being on the spectrum can be hard, but life itself can also be hard. Sadly, Croy has some challenges for himself, but I don’t think they’re because of Christianity per se. It could be more because of Western thinking instead of Christianity.

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

Book Plunge: Heaven and Hell

What do I think of Bart Ehrman’s latest published by Simon and Schuster? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Generally, I have enjoyed reading through Bart Ehrman books. I thoroughly disagree, but I like the books. However, when I read the one before this, The Triumph of Christianity, I found myself walking away disappointed. There just didn’t seem to be anything there like the last ones. I started reading Heaven and Hell when it came out, got caught up in other books, and it was just awhile before I came back. Perhaps it seems more like Ehrman is moving away from Jesus to an extent and going to other areas in history and philosophy and there just doesn’t seem to be as much there. I can’t say entirely.

This book is a look at the formation of the doctrine of the after-death, as I prefer to call it, in Christian thought. Ehrman starts with the way the pagans in the world viewed death. From there, he goes to the Old Testament and then to Jesus and on to Paul and looks as well at Revelation. From then on, he looks at the church throughout history and then gives some concluding remarks on how he views heaven and hell.

This also leads to questions of the nature of heaven and hell. Again, these are more theological and philosophical questions so it could be that this just isn’t Ehrman’s area and so it seems more like just personal opinion at that point. However, there are some interesting points worth noting in the book.

Ehrman does show that in the pagan world, generally speaking, resurrection was not a good thing. The body was a prison to be escaped. Thus, resurrection in the Jewish or Christian sense also did not fit in.

For many skeptics who think that resurrection was the Jews copying from Zoroastrianism, which shows up on the net at times, Ehrman cannot agree, which is refreshing. As he says:

More recently scholars have questioned a Persian derivation for the Jewish doctrine because of certain problems of dating.1 Some experts have undercut the entire thesis by pointing out that we actually do not have any Zoroastrian texts that support the idea of resurrection prior to its appearance in early Jewish writings. It is not clear who influenced whom. Even more significant, the timing does not make sense: Judah emerged from Persian rule in the fourth century BCE, when Alexander the Great (356–323 BCE) swept through the eastern Mediterranean and defeated the Persian Empire. But the idea of bodily resurrection does not appear in Jewish texts for well over a century after that.

Ehrman, Bart D.. Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife (pp. 104-105). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

Also, on a humorous note, he gives the story of how in an account Jesus said people would hang by their teeth in Hell over fires. Some disciples asked “What if someone has no teeth?” Jesus would then reply, “The teeth will be provided!” This was a joke done by a professor not to be taken seriously.

Also, for those discounting the Gospels as sources for Jesus, Ehrman has the following:

Even the most critical scholars of the New Testament agree that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are by far our best sources of information for knowing about the historical Jesus.

Ehrman, Bart D.. Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife (p. 150). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

Unfortunately though, at times he lapses back into his more fundamentalist days of reading the text. As commenting about Mark 9:1 where Jesus says some standing here would not taste death before they saw the Kingdom of God come in power:

Jesus is not saying that people will go to heaven. He is saying that some of his disciples will still be alive when the end comes and God’s utopian kingdom arrives on earth. Or, as he says elsewhere, when his disciples asked when the end of the world would come: “Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away before all these things take place” (Mark 13:30, emphasis added).

Ehrman, Bart D.. Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife (p. 154). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

As I have argued, Jesus nowhere says when the Kingdom comes, it will be a utopia immediately. Jesus does not speak of the end of the world either, but of the end of the age. As an Orthodox Preterist, I’m convinced Jesus’s prediction was stunningly accurate.

Interesting also is what Ehrman says about 1 Cor. 15.

And so, for Paul, there will indeed be a resurrection. It will be bodily. But the human body will be transformed into an immortal, incorruptible, perfect, glorious entity no longer made of coarse stuff that can become sick, get injured, suffer in any way, or die. It will be a spiritual body, a perfect dwelling for life everlasting. It is in that context that one of the most misunderstood verses of Paul’s entire corpus occurs, a verse completely bungled not just by many modern readers but throughout the history of Christianity. That is when Paul insists: “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 15:50). These words are often taken—precisely against Paul’s meaning—to suggest that eternal life will not be lived in the body. Wrong, wrong, wrong. For Paul it will be lived in a body—but in a body that has been glorified.

Ehrman, Bart D.. Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife (p. 182). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

Ehrman also thinks the beast in Revelation 17 is the same as the beast that came out of the sea in Revelation 13. I disagree with this. Looking at the passage, it talks about a great harlot and the beast himself actually attacks this harlot after a time. Who is the harlot? Look at your Old Testament. One nation is repeatedly referred to as a harlot and that’s Israel. Israel would work with the Beast for a time, (Being Nero) in killing Christians, but in turn, the Roman Empire would eventually turn on the harlot, as Israel was destroyed in 70 A.D.

Yet at the end of this look on Revelation, Ehrman gives a paragraph that aside from the opening remark could easily be said in any evangelical church. As many preachers I know would say, “That’ll preach!”

Even if parts of the vision are difficult to unpack and explain and others simply do not cohere, the author’s main points are clear. His overarching message is that God is ultimately sovereign over this world, even if it doesn’t seem like it. We may live in a cesspool of misery and suffering, and things may be getting progressively worse. But God is in charge, and it is all going according to plan. Before the end, all hell will indeed break loose, but then God will intervene to restore all that has become corrupt, to make right all that is wrong. Good will ultimately prevail.

Ehrman, Bart D.. Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife (p. 230). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

In the end, where does Ehrman fall? While he rightly tells us to try to avoid emotional reasoning, it’s hard to not see this in his response.

Even though I have an instinctual fear of torment after death—as the view drilled into me from the time I could think about such things—I simply don’t believe it. Is it truly rational to think, as in the age-old Christian doctrine, that there is a divine being who created this world, loves all who are in it, and wants the very best for them, yet who has designed reality in such a way that if people make mistakes in life or do not believe the right things, they will die and be subjected to indescribable torments, not for the length of the time they committed their “offenses,” but for trillions of years—and that only as the beginning? Are we really to think that God is some kind of transcendent sadist intent on torturing people (or at least willing to allow them to be tortured) for all eternity, a divine being infinitely more vengeful than the worst monster who has ever existed? I just don’t believe it. Even if I instinctually fear it, I don’t believe it.

Ehrman, Bart D.. Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife (pp. 293-294). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

Of course, this would all depend on how you view heaven and hell. I have written about my views elsewhere. Ehrman does say he doesn’t think this is what God is like. While I don’t think it’s accurate to say God is actively torturing people or even allowing it, seeing as I think torture and torment are two different things, I have to wonder that it’s incredible that Ehrman is willing to take the risk. Seriously, if Heaven is possibly there to gain and Hell is possibly there to avoid, I think it behooves anyone to seriously consider the question and when you decide, it needs to be more than “I just believe it” or “I just don’t believe it.” Some might think Christians should then read other religions as well. I have personally read the Mormon Scriptures and other of their books, the Koran, the Tao Te Ching, and the Analects of Confucius.

Overall, there is some good stuff in the book, but there seems to be something missing. I can’t help but see an Ehrman who I think after all these years is still searching. Perhaps a book on the afterdeath is coming as Ehrman is seeing himself getting older and thinking about these questions a lot more. I still hold out hope that one day he will return to the Christ he has since rejected. I am pleased when in the end he says three of his great heroes are Dickens, Shakespeare, and Jesus. He would love to get to meet them in an afterdeath.

I am sure Jesus would love to meet Ehrman also.

Hopefully, it will happen, and on good terms.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 12/7/2019

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

What are we to do with the disabled? Sometimes, churches don’t know how to handle people who are really different and have a disability. Some churches might not be accessible to people in a wheelchair. Some might not understand that greeting time could be horrible to someone who has a disability. While special education can be good for some, does it really help disabled kids to be set apart from all the other kids as if to say that they don’t belong?

And what about healing? What if churches treat disabled Christians as lesser Christians who need to have faith that they will be healed and don’t do anything else for them? What message does it send a disabled person if they are told the condition they have is a sign of their lack of trust in God or the judgment of God or something similar to that?

What about Jesus? Jesus regularly healed the disabled, but is that all? We can’t always do that, so what do we do to love like Jesus did? Did Jesus treat the disabled like second-class humans?

This Saturday, we will be discussing these kinds of questions. How do we follow the way of Jesus when dealing with people who have a disability? My guest is someone who does ministry with the disabled and has a keen interest in this question. She is the author of Disability and the Way of Jesus and her name is Bethany McKinney Fox.

So who is she?

According to her bio:

Bethany McKinney Fox is founding pastor of Beloved Everybody Church in Los Angeles and adjunct professor of Christian ethics at Fuller. She earned her PhD in Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological seminary, her MDiv at Columbia Theological Seminary, and her BA in Philosophy with a minor in Russian Literature from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Her new book Disability and the Way of Jesus: Holistic Healing in the Gospels and the Church (IVP Academic) examines how Jesus’ healing in the Gospels, too often used in ways that wound people with disabilities, might point a way toward real healing and mutual thriving. Dr. Fox is founding pastor of Beloved Everybody Church, a church startup where people with and without intellectual disabilities lead and participate together. She writes and speaks particularly on topics of disability, healing, and church practices to undergrad and graduate students, church leaders, and other people of faith around the country.

As readers of this blog know, disability is something near and dear to my heart. I hope you’ll be looking for this new episode too. We are working hard on getting all of them up for you as soon as we can.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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