Don’t Panic

How do you handle something frightening? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have a general rule about major “crises” in the world today. That’s to do my best to not panic. Fearmongering doesn’t do any good. Generally, I am anxiety prone. Having gone through a divorce now, I even take medication to help me with anxiety and it does a great deal of good, but I still have to apply the wisdom I have and my knowledge of Scripture. I don’t condemn medication, but medication without sound practice is not wise at all.

When the Coronavirus was first announced, I heard the news about it being on a cruise ship and how the majority of the people there recovered just fine. I knew then the simple principle I had through all other number of diseases and viruses that came our way. It’s a simple tip. As Douglas Adams said, “Don’t Panic.”

So as I saw the rest of the world me panicking over the Coronavirus, I was handling it just fine. Now note this part. I am not denying the virus is real. I am not denying that many people suffered and died from it. I am not saying that we shouldn’t take precautions in this. What I am saying is we shouldn’t lose our minds in fear. My contention is a lot of the measures we take to stop the virus in the long run actually did a lot more harm than they did good.

I think many people who did that fear lean towards the left politically also, so let’s look at the right as well. Yesterday, my mother came upstairs to my room, seeing as I have been living with my parents since the divorce, though I hope to be accepted at NOBTS and move down to New Orleans soon. She told me that soon toothpaste would be at $10 a tube. I generally buy the cheapest store brand stuff that I can so I rarely pay more than $1 or so. We’re talking about a major price increase.

So I looked it up. I found that there was an article about inflation that said that Colgate was coming out with a new toothpaste that would be $10 a tube. My guess is someone saw that and panicked and ran with it. In our society, it’s like we have an addiction to fear. We practically want to be afraid of something. That way, we can feel safe when we know someone can take care of it.

Now to go back to what my mother said, note that I am not at all denying inflation. I work in retail. I see it every day that I work. I am not at all denying high gas prices. I am halfway between 41 and 42 and I have never seen gas prices this high. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have any concern.

However, let’s consider this. Isn’t it when times are hardest that often people rise up and do the most good? I just finished listening to a biography of John Adams while driving. It’s amazing to hear about what these ordinary people did in the start of our nation’s history. Were they scared? Sure they were. If they weren’t, they were crazy. They were taking on the most powerful people at the time in the world, if not the most powerful ever.

We also know there were preachers who preached a sermon every Sunday and yet they had a bounty on their heads. They kept going. They weren’t letting their fear control them.

We could point to many other times in history. As Christians, we hold that the disciples were scared after the crucifixion of Jesus. Where would our world be if they had not lost that fear? Where would they be if they had stayed locked in that room even after the Holy Spirit came? I happen to also like the prayer in Acts 4 that they speak the Word of God with boldness. They still had fear and needed to overcome it.

Panicking about something really does us no good. With medication, matters are much easier for me and if that’s what it takes for you, that’s fine too. I also recommend the book by Pierce Taylor Hobbs called Struck Down But Not Destroyed. The book is the best book on anxiety I have ever read and if you want to know about the Facebook group he has for this, well, you need to read the book and then join it as he tells the name of the group in it.

I don’t know how many times in the past I knew i needed to get up early to do something and I would worry if i would get to sleep in time to get all the sleep I need. Want to know what happened? No, you don’t. You already know. Odds are you’ve been there. You don’t sleep nearly as well that night.

Panic doesn’t do any good. Concern is one thing, but if it drives you to do nothing, then it is useless. If you have any fear or anything of that sort, let it drive you to do something about it. After my separation from my ex, for example, I knew I could lie down and be the victim and let life walk all over me. That was a choice. However, I chose instead to not be a victim anymore, but to get up and live my life and make the most of it. As a lifelong gamer, I chose to play to win. Some people after a divorce want revenge on their ex.

Sue Grafton, for instance, is the mystery writer who wrote those books that were the alphabet mysteries like A Is For Alibi. How did she get started with this? Her divorce and custody battles left her so hurt she thought about ways to murder her ex and knew she was a law-abiding citizen and would never do it, so why not turn them into murder mysteries? It’s certainly a better outlet than committing actual murder.

Also, as a Christian, I have recently told two people who have come to me scared about something to consider a Babylon Bee headline. Lord God Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, Omnipotent and Omniscient is Totally Caught Off Guard by XYZ. Put whatever you want in that blank. It will work the same way. When you hear it that way, if you’re a Christian, you can say, “Yeah. That is ridiculous.

I also think of the Heidelberg Catechism. While this Catechism is Protestant and more specifically Calvinistic and used to teach Calvinist doctrines, the first part, every Christian Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox, should be able to affirm.

1. Q.
What is your only comfort
in life and death?
A.
That I am not my own,
but belong with body and soul,
both in life and in death,
to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ.
This is in gaming terms the ultimate cheat code. Whatever happens to you, you win. Now you may not like it as it is happening or when it happens, but you will still win in the end.

So folks, when the next craze comes along, take it seriously if need be and take proper precautions, but don’t panic. It never does you any good and only makes you less effective to handle it. Stand up and face the problem. It’s hard to solve it if you’re running from it.

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

 

Book Plunge: God and the Pandemic

What do I think of N.T. Wright’s book published by Zondervan? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I really like reading N.T. Wright and I try to read anything by him that I can get my hands on. I was a bit hesitant about this one, however. After all, as much as I think Wright is wonderful on theology and history, I sometimes question his political approaches. Would I see more of that in here? Would I see approaches to blame the right or even the left or would I see a drastic push that we must have universal health care now?

Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised. There was a bit on universal health care at the end, but not much. If anything, Wright said something I have been saying for some time. Too often, the church has done work in an area, but we have been happy to let the government take it off of our hands. When plague spread through Rome before, it was the Christians who cared for the sick the most. Even the apostate emperor Julian said that Christians were better at caring for the poor and sick than the Roman Empire.

Wright also has a problem with people who try to see the hand in God in all of this. “Ah. A pandemic has come. Now people are ready to hear the message of Christianity.” Yes, some might be. Some might be more resistant actually and be willing to blame God for allowing it to happen or think that He directly caused it to happen.

In all of this, Wright has the right emphasis. He points us back to Jesus every time. If we are saying that now is the right time, then we are saying that the words of Jesus before were insufficient. Jesus told us what we must do. We are to go out there and do it.

In Acts 11, the church hears about a plague coming and immediately, the cry goes up that this is the perfect time to tell people about Jesus. Wait. You didn’t read that in the Bible? That’s right. They instead said “Who is going to be the most affected and what can we do to help them?” It might sound like just something practical, but that is what they did and that is the example left for us in Scripture.

Wright’s words are meant to give hope to those who are suffering wondering when it will end, but are also calling everyone else to go out there and be Jesus to the populace. With regard to churches opening up, there are both sides, although he does deal with a silly idea one parishioner has that the devil doesn’t know how to get in a church. He just tells her that as a bishop, he can assure her that the devil certainly does know how.

This is really classic Wright throughout the book, but the good thing is hopefully with it being about a pandemic, more people will read it and take it seriously. The church would be far better if more people were familiar with N.T. Wright. I may not agree with him on the political and practical questions surrounding Corona, but I certainly agree with him on the topic of Jesus.

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

Coronavirus and vaccines.

Should you be scared of a vaccine? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There is a growing concern I see from some people on Facebook about the possibility of a vaccine for Coronavirus. Keep in mind nothing I say here is meant to be taken as medical advice. At this point, I am speaking only from the idea of Biblical interpretation and theology. If your concerns with the possibility of a vaccine are medical, I cannot speak to that.

Some people are posting concerns about a vaccine being related to the Mark of the Beast and government control. Now readers of this blog know that I think an eschatology that treats the Mark of the Beast as a real future event instead of being fulfilled in the time of Nero is highly incorrect. However, that is not the tact that I am taking here.

Some people think that if you get the vaccine then you are either taking the mark or at least preparing to take the mark. Even reading Revelation from a futuristic perspective, this is nonsense. People who take the mark do so willingly, yes, but they also do so knowing that they are doing it in service to the Beast. One does not accidentally get the mark.

The mark of the beast is also seen as something unforgivable. Does anyone really think that someone will take a vaccine and then God will never forgive them for that? Folks. It would be bad enough to have bad eschatology. That’s just bad theology. That’s saying God would rather condemn you than to forgive you even though you are repentant.

This is one of the big problems with bad eschatology. It eventually leads to bad theology. How you see God is influenced by your eschatology and if you see God as unforgiving to you because you took a mark that you didn’t really know was a mark and want to scare other people into thinking they could accidentally fall outside of the realm of God’s forgiveness, that is a huge problem.

Note that in all of this, I have not once said this is wrong because Preterism is true, although if Preterism is true, this is certainly wrong. I have strove to argue against this on the grounds of futurism. Some of you reading this I am sure are futurists and don’t go this route and I am thankful for that. Please keep an eye on your brethren who think otherwise.

If you have purely medical concerns, I cannot address those again. I am not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV. From a theological perspective though, don’t let fear of the Mark of the Beast keep you from getting yourself treated.

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

Thoughts on Coronavirus

What are we to make of this virus? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I first heard about this virus a few months ago listening to the radio and how it was mainly in China. Then we heard words about it being leaked out through places like cruise ships. I still had no major concerns about it. Then I heard about it being in Georgia with a confirmed case. Again, I wasn’t concerned.

Yet immediately it seemed all the world around me had gone mad.

I don’t even know for sure when it happened, but it was like one day I woke up and there was panic everywhere. Naturally, the Babylon Bee had some good articles with some Christians celebrating because greeting times at churches were canceled. (Hey. There’s some good at least!) Also, nerds woke up to a utopia where sports were canceled, social interaction limited, and everyone was being told to stay inside. Hey. We’ve been training our whole lives for this.

Now I’m not about to speak as a medical specialist here. For me, I’ve been doing much of the same things I always do. Do I tend to wash my hands? Yes. Do we always keep hand sanitizer around here? Yes. Do I prefer to not go out if I don’t have to? Yes. Other than that, I haven’t much changed my program.

There are apparently two major sides to this debate. One of them is that this virus is absolutely nothing and we need to treat it as such. The other side is the side that we’re all going to die and this is practically the apocalypse. If anything, it looks like the latter side is the one that has the most representation.

Now as you can imagine, I lean more towards the former. We’ve seen several virus scares in my time. We’ve seen Swine Flu, of which I actually knew someone personally who came down with that and was in a coma and yet I did not have hysteria over it. We’ve seen Ebola, Zika, MRSA, and others. We have survived all of them. Humanity is tough stuff and whether you are an evolutionary creationist or not, we all know that humans adapt and survive.

I have also seen numerous cases of people getting this and getting past it. We are even told some people might not even know they have it and it’s like a mild cold for them. Do some people die? Yes. I am not discounting that, but people also die of the regular flu every year and we don’t have this kind of panic over it.

Before you talk about the vaccine being different, I have got the vaccine every year and some years I still got the flu. My wife and I both had it one year and this one was so bad that I tell people I had two fears with it. The first was that I was so sick I was scared I was going to die. The second was that I was so sick I was scared I wasn’t going to die.

There is a proper fear to have that is the exercise of caution. It might not be wise to go down a dark alleyway at night by yourself if you’re unarmed and unprepared to defend yourself. You might not want to invest in that get-rich-quick plan your co-worker is talking about. Not all fear like this is wrong.

When fear becomes controlling and dominating though, we have a problem. My concern is not so much with the virus. It is more concern with how we are responding to this virus.

A few days ago we were running out of bread. I went to the store to get some. The first day, nothing. It was like being in Tennessee when a blizzard came or rather was reported to be coming. Many of us have been surprised to see toilet paper being gone from the stores as well.

This has unfortunately led to hoarding, and for the huge majority of us, this is very wrong. Some people are taking more than they will ever use and depriving those who are not as capable of getting basic staples. If you are a family of three or four, odds are you do not need six loaves of bread and 5 packages of toilet paper.

There was even a story of a man in Tennessee who was buying out hand sanitizer and selling it at exorbitant prices back. Thankfully, he was found and is donating those to charity. This is the kind of behavior that we are sadly seeing being done in our society.

Not only that, but I am concerned with the measures we will take particularly with government. Will we be sacrificing our personal freedom for the idea that the government can protect us from this virus? Right now, our national enemies can tell that if they want to send us into hysteria and shut down our economy, then just manufacture a virus and send it our way. The more we sacrifice freedom for the illusion of safety, the closer we get to losing our freedom altogether.

Odds are, you are not going to die from this virus. Unfortunately, the media has a great history of making things worse than they are. One such subject I have written about is the idea that violent video games lead to violence. For instance, when a new Grand Theft Auto game came out, which I don’t care for, the media told us there would be a surge in crime. Well, there was a change in crime when the game came out. It went down. Unfortunately, to this day, many people treat the idea that violent video games leads to violence as common knowledge.

We had the same thing with the Joker movie, yet I heard of no violence that took place in movie theaters because of the movie. I did hear about a violent event happening in connection with Frozen 2, but no one said anything about that one really. We know in our culture that in media, sex sells, but also fear sells. Fear keeps people glued to their TV screens watching the news wanting to know what they need to do next.

My personal thinking is that in a couple of months if not a few weeks, this whole thing will blow over. My concern is that people will say “It is because we took these precautions that we were all saved and we must do so next time.” In the meantime, much more damage is being done to our society. While big corporations are getting bailouts, what happens to the local Mom and Pop business in your area? The government doesn’t know about them and they’re not going to get the help.

In the meantime, please try not to panic. This is not the end of the world. If you are a Christian also, you should realize God is still watching over this world. It’s His world. We’re just living in it. Pray for the well-being of your neighbor and if you can, do something to help them out. If you have an elderly neighbor who can’t get out, go to the store and get them the staples they need. If you have been hoarding, go and give that to someone who really needs it.

For what I am sure is the overwhelming majority of you, you will be fine a year from now and if you die, most likely, it will not be from this virus. The world is not coming to an end because of this. (Despite what the prophecy experts will tell you.) We will make it. We will survive. Panic does us no favors whatsoever.

Take proper and healthy precautions all you want, but panicking about this will not help you. It will pass. We will survive.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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