Deeper Waters Podcast 11/7/2015: Slow To Judge

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

Wisdom. It’s a word many of us would love to use but we find it hard to come by. In fact, many of us are like Adam and Eve in the garden and want to get the fruit to make us wise, but we want to on our terms and to do it immediately. We don’t want to work for wisdom. Have we really learned the value of wisdom and how to live a wise life? Is there a way to help us on the path of wisdom and see how we can go about it? Fortunately, that there is, and that guide comes from Dr. David Capes with his book Slow To Judge. Even more fortunate, he’s going to be passing on the wisdom by being my guest on the show this Saturday.

So who is he?

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According to his bio:

David B. Capes is the Thomas Nelson Research Professor in the School of Theology at Houston Baptist University.

Before coming to academic life, David served churches in various roles in Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas. He graduated from Mercer University (BA 1978) and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv 1982; PhD 1990). He has done additional work at Baylor University and was twice named a Visiting Fellow at the University of Edinburgh (2000 and 2009). He has authored, co-authored, and edited a dozen books and numerous articles on early Christianity, culture, and Scripture.

For over 20 years he has been active in interfaith dialogue with Jews and Muslims around the world. In 1996 he began a radio show in Houston which addresses current events and cultural questions through the lens of faith. “A Show of Faith” airs weekly on 1070 KNTH.

In 2004 David became the lead scholar on The Voice, a dynamic translation of the Bible into English. He has served as one of the main writers, reviewers, and editors on the project. As an award-winning teacher and popular speaker, he has been delighted to team up with Ecclesia Bible Society and Thomas Nelson Publishers to help believers, young and old, step into the story of Scripture.

We’ll be talking then about this book and how he has lived it out, especially since he has been one of the main speakers on a radio show in Houston where he has had to spend time with other beliefs since he did it with a rabbi and a Catholic priest. (We have not yet received word as to if they ever walked into a bar after a show.) Capes hasn’t just written about wisdom but he has had to live it out and when he’s asked about the book, we can be sure that we’ll get to see how we can find that wisdom that we need and apply it to our own lives.

I hope you’ll be listening then to the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast as we seek to discuss a book that is not so much about getting apologetics answer but rather how one should do apologetics. How ought one to interact with those who don’t believe and how should one approach difficult questions and situations? Tune in and we’ll talk about it!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 8/29/2015: Rodney Reeves and Randy Richards

What’s coming up on the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Paul. Our world would be different without him, and yet there are a variety of opinions about him. Some people see him as the one who got the Gospel right and was the world’s greatest missionary. Some people see him as the one who took the wonderful Jesus movement and turned it into something it wasn’t. Some see him as a man with a guilt-stricken conscience who wrestled against the pain of what he had done to the church. Some see him as a lunatic who was caught up with having visionary experiences on the level of a mad man. So who exactly was this man that has produced such varying degrees of either admiration or hatred for him?

Awhile back, I reviewed the book Rediscovering Paul. I conclude it is one of the most thorough books that I have read on Paul and his impact in the world. I am also pleased to state that two of its authors will be on the show this Saturday. One is a returning guest, Dr. Randolph Richards. The other is making his first appearance and that is Dr. Rodney Reeves. So who are they? Let’s start with Dr. Reeves first as it will be his first time on the show.

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In his own words:

I’ve been married over thirty-six years to Sheri (Richardson) Reeves, who is a Speech and Language Pathologist for Citizens Memorial Hospital, Bolivar, MO.

We have three children: Andrew (28) lives in Kansas City, MO; Emma (24) lives in Chicago, IL; and Grace (19) who is a first-year student at Belhaven University, Jackson, MS. Sheri and I are members of the First Baptist Church, Bolivar, MO.

I’m in my sixteenth year at Southwest Baptist University, Bolivar, MO, as the Redford Professor of Biblical Studies, also serving as Dean of The Courts Redford College of Theology and Ministry. I teach courses in New Testament and Greek.

I’m an SBU alumnus (1979), and I graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, TX (MDiv, 1982; PhD, 1986). I did part of my doctoral study at Oxford University, UK (1985-86).

Prior to coming to SBU, I served as Senior Pastor, Central Baptist Church, Jonesboro, AR (1995-2000), and associate professor of New Testament at Williams Baptist College, Walnut Ridge, AR (1987-1995).

I have written several articles for scholarly journals, textbooks, dictionaries, handbooks, and magazines. I’ve written four books: A Genuine Faith: How to Follow Jesus Today (Baker Books, 2005); Rediscovering Paul: An Introduction to His World, Letters and Theology, co-authored by David B. Capes and E. Randolph Richards (InterVarsity Press, 2007); Spirituality according to Paul: Imitating the Apostle of Christ (InterVarsity Press, 2011). My newest book, Rediscovering Jesus: An Introduction to Biblical, Religious and Cultural Perspectives on Christ (once again co-authored by Capes and Richards, InterVarsity Press, 2015) was released this summer. And I’m currently working on a commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, Story of God Bible Commentary, ed. Scot McKnight (Zondervan Publishing, 2016?).

My hobbies are fishing, camping, golfing, and reading.

I made a vow to God many years ago to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to minister to the Body of Christ. I have tried to keep that promise as a member of a Baptist Church, as a minister, and as a college professor. I study Scripture because I want to be a committed disciple of Jesus. I teach biblical studies in an effort to serve the needs of the Church. I’m a part of the academic community here at SBU in hopes of advancing the Kingdom of God, trying to encourage each other to fulfill Jesus’ commandment: to love God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Therefore, I see my work here as part of the whole kingdom enterprise of teaching students to be servants of Christ for a world that needs him.

And moving on to Dr. Richards:

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Dr. Randy Richards loves training students for ministry, both domestically and internationally. He has been teaching since 1986, originally at a state university and then abroad at an Indonesian seminary. Upon returning to the States, Dr. Richards has served at two Christian universities before joining Palm Beach Atlantic University as the Dean of the School of Ministry in 2006.

His wife Stacia has joyfully accompanied him from jungles of Indonesia to rice fields in Arkansas to beautiful South Florida. They have two fine sons. Josh (Ph.D. 2012, University of St Andrews, Scotland) is a university professor in English. Jacob (Ph.D. 2014, College of Medicine, University of Florida) is a medical researcher.

Dr. Richards has authored or co-authored seven books and dozens of articles. Recently, he has published Rediscovering Jesus (InterVarsity, 2015; Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes, with Brandon O’Brien (InterVarsity, 2012), “Reading, Writing, and the Production and Transmission of Manuscripts” in The Background of the New Testament: An Examination of the Context of Early Christianity (Baker, 2013), “Will the Real Author Please Stand Up? The Author in Greco-Roman Letter Writing” in Come Let Us Reason: New Essays in Christian Apologetics (B&H, 2012), “Pauline Prescripts and Greco-Roman Epistolary Convention” in Christian Origins and Classical Culture: Social and Literary Contexts for the New Testament (Brill, 2012), and a dozen articles in The Baker Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Baker, 2013).

He has just finished another popular book, Paul Behaving Badly, and is finishing A Little Book for New Bible Scholars, both with InterVarsity Press and due out in 2016. He is also completing chapters in two other books and several dictionary articles.

Dr. Richards is a popular lecturer, speaker and preacher, recently in places as diverse as Wycliffe Hall (Oxford), Kathmandu, and Kenya. He was a Senior Scholar at the IRLBR Summer Summit at Tyndale House (Cambride) in 2013. He regularly conducts missionary training workshops, and currently serves as a Teaching Pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in West Palm Beach.

We’ll be talking about this fascinating book and the life of Paul. What kind of world did he live in? What was it like writing his letters? What can we learn from them? What about his relationship with Judaism? What difference does he make today?

Please be listening to the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast and go to the ITunes store and leave a review.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Rediscovering Jesus

What do I think about the new book from Rodney Reeves, Randy Richards, and David Capes published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Rediscovering Jesus by Capes, Reeves, and Richards is a surprising read. Now I had read this book shortly after reading Rediscovering Paul so I was expecting something like that, but that isn’t exactly what I got. At the start, I was kind of disappointed hoping to find more about the culture of Jesus and especially looking at Jesus from an honor and shame perspective. That disappointment was only initial. As I got further into the book, I found myself quite intrigued and fascinated by what I was reading in the book and I found the idea for consideration a fascinating one.

This idea is to look at Jesus in isolation from the major sources that we have, such as the Gospel writers individually, the Pauline epistles, Hebrews, the general epistles, and Revelation. What would it be like if each source was the only source we had on Jesus? We usually take a composite of all we have on Jesus and then put that together and say this is the real Jesus. There is no fault in this, but looking at each case in isolation can be an interesting case study. Imagine how different our worldview would be if the only source we had on Jesus was the book of Revelation?

While these are fascinating, there is also a second section where we look at Jesus from other sources. What about the Gnostic Jesus such as popularized in works like The Da Vinci Code? What about the Jesus of Muslims who never died on the cross? What about the historical Jesus of modern historians who do not hold to the reality of miracles? What about the Mormon Jesus that looks like a Jesus made just for America? Speaking of that, what about the American Jesus as here in America, Jesus is used to promote and sell just about anything. Every side in every debate usually wants to try to claim Jesus. Finally, what about the Cinematic Jesus? Many of us have seen Hollywood movies about Jesus. Some are good. Some are not. How would we view Jesus if all we had were those movies to watch? (And since so few people read any more, this could become an increasingly common occurrence.)

For me, honestly the most fascinating section was the one on the American Jesus. This dealt with so much I see in my culture. It’s interesting we don’t talk about the French Jesus or the Japanese Jesus or the Italian Jesus. It’s more the American one. This one changes so much to being the super manly Jesus who takes the world like a man or the Prince Charming Jesus that every girl sings about as her boyfriend. This can be the pragmatic Jesus who is there to help us promote our culture, or it can be the Superman Jesus who rescues us when we’re in need, but then disappears. I do have to admit I am a Superman fan so I could see the parallels very easily and while I do think there are valid parallels, we do not want to see Jesus as identical with Superman. If there’s any chapter in the book I keep coming back to mentally, it’s this one. I will certainly be watching my culture much more.

I find this book to be one of the most eye-opening ones I have read in that sense. I do not think I ever paused to consider what it would mean if all I had to tell me about Jesus was just one particular source or one kind of source. How much richer off we are for having all these other sources! We can also be thankful for the non-Christian sources as well because these can highlight aspects of the Biblical Jesus that we might have lost sight of or they could show that the Jesus of the Bible is so much greater by contrast. If an outside source says something true about Jesus, we are the better for it. If it says something false, this can contrast with the true and we are the better.

I recommend the work wholeheartedly. It fortunately also comes with questions at the end that make it ideal for small group discussion.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Slow To Judge

What do I think about David Capes’s book published by Thomas Nelson? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Slow To Judge is not your typical book on Christian apologetics. If you’re wanting to get an answer on a question like if Jesus rose from the dead or dealing with the problem of evil, this is not the book for you. If you’re wanting a book on how to approach the debates on those kinds of topics, then this is the book for you. This is a book more akin to Greg Koukl’s Tactics. Capes throughout the book is encouraging you to not be too quick to judge. At the same time, he doesn’t want you to back down for a moment on your convictions, but make sure you’re doing something to promote honest debate.

You might be wondering why someone who is a New Testament scholar would be qualified to write a work like this. Capes has an advantage that he has been a regular host of a radio show where he appeared alongside a Jew and a priest to discuss various issues and take phone calls. (We have received no word if they ever went to a bar after the show.) Because of this, Capes learned how to have interfaith dialogues. He disagrees strongly with his co-hosts, but he also considers them good friends. As much as people know me to be firm in my debates with unbelievers many times, I much more prefer the ones I can have an honest discussion with rather than the ones that come with a strong chip on their shoulder.

And throughout the book, Capes takes a look at a number of ways real discussion is being hampered today. One such way is by the use of terms that end in phobia, something I’ve been surprised to see even Peter Boghossian agrees with. Too often in our culture, someone can be labeled a name like a homophobe or accused of homophobia and the person is immediately on the defensive for anything they have to say. It’s a good rhetorical play to make, but it’s not one that really adds any substance and most of us on the other side immediately realize what kind of mindset we’re dealing with.

Also, when it comes to judging too quickly, there’s one group that often gets left out that is judged too quickly and I speak as a member of that group, the disabled. My wife and I both have Aspergers and it’s amazing how because you don’t immediately understand and follow social protocol that people will often assume the worst of you. I can actually very well understand the world of someone like Sheldon Cooper even if I do find it humorous at times. There are many times I have to send an email to the people I know who are neurotypicals about a situation and ask if I am missing something. Too often when people see me, they can think that I’m rude or something of that sort when it really isn’t my intention to be.

The discussion on tolerance is also extremely helpful. Tolerance has been used as a weapon by those who claim to hold to it the most. For all the time they have spent preaching this Gospel of tolerance, you think they’d be willing to practice it. In fact, I have often said that the best way to spot an intolerant person is to find someone who is a champion of tolerance and then disagree with them on one of their chief virtues.

I also think the discussion on recognizing differences in other religions is quite helpful, although some in the Christian community will be shocked to learn that the early church didn’t really have a problem adopting certain literary and artistic forms from the pagans around them. Indeed, why should everything be invented wholesale? Too often the idea is the Christians could have nothing to gain from the pagans who were around them or else the Christians had everything to gain. The simple reality is that the Christians wrote their New Testament in the Greek language and last I checked, that wasn’t some heavenly language.

The book ends with a look at two figures. Fethullah Gulen is the first and C.S. Lewis is the second. Most of us have heard of the second, but I’d never heard of the former, which is a shame. He’s apparently a Muslim leader who is quite moderate and very condemning of acts of terrorism and sees Islam in more spiritual terms. Would I disagree with some stances on this? Yep. I would. I have my own opinions of Islam, but I do wish this guy was more well-known and more Muslims were listening to him. C.S. Lewis meanwhile definitely knew about the pagan world around him and interacted with it and is a model we can all learn from.

Again, I do not agree with everything in Capes book, but he’s absolutely right on the importance of wisdom. Ultimately, that’s what the book is all about. Wisdom. There are too many people with a lot of knowledge, but they don’t have any wisdom and do great harm to the body of Christ because of that. There are two extremes I think can be made. If you only have a hammer, everything will look like a nail. If you only have a hug, everything will look like a kitten. We need wisdom to know which is which. Reading this book is a good start for the quest for wisdom.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Rediscovering Paul

What do I think of the book by Rodney Reeves, E. Randolph Richards, and David Capes published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Paul. He’s a fascinating figure. Who is the man and what shaped him? What can we learn from him today? There are many fine books out there about Paul and many fine ones from a Christian perspective, but now we have an extremely thorough one that seems to hit Paul from all angles and the church owes Reeves, Richards, and Capes a debt of gratitude for this excellent gift. It is a book that is highly readable and with solid content. While it could be seen as a primer of sorts with further reading at the end of each chapter to encourage the reader to study further, it could easily be seen as a reliable guide in itself and one who reads this will have an excellent understanding of the world of Paul.

The book also includes several sidebar statements where the authors ask about a claim “So what?” Students often want to know what difference that something that can be often thought to be a tangential point. Isn’t this just something that nerdy scholars would care about? What difference will it make in my own life. The authors want you to know what difference it does make. There also are “What’s More” sections. In these, the authors add in additional details and sometimes even post ideas that would be challenging to our modernistic ways of thinking and say “Maybe we should take Paul a little bit more seriously here.”

It is incredible how thorough this book is. I particularly enjoyed the first part with reading about the honor-shame culture. This is a favorite area of mine to study and I wish more people spoke about it and I’m encouraged to know that NT students who are beginning their studies will be learning about this fascinating area. In fact, there are a number of times in the book I was thinking an area had been left out. For instance, when it comes to the section on the writing of letters I knew I was getting to the end and was thinking “What would be really nice is if they had included something on how much it cost to write one of these letters.” What do you know? Right towards the end there’s a section on the cost of writing the letters.

The authors also spend time going through each book of Paul’s. Some of these are handled in sections, such as the Pastorals. Some of them have their own chapters, which is fitting due to the influence of these books. The student who comes to the text will have a greater knowledge of all of the epistles of Paul as a result. It rounds off with a look at Paul’s theology as well as an excellent look at how it is that Paul’s letters came to be collected and made into a canon. The final section is on Paul’s legacy. What difference has Paul made? How has he been seen in history? What does he have to say to our world today?

It’s hard to think that a book could be so thorough on the life of Paul and his work and impact, but indeed, it is. I absolutely stand behind this book and hope that it is put into the hands of students going into ministry. The student who reads this book will be better equipped to understand Paul the man, the works of Paul, and be able to even make a defense for the works of Paul today. Even better, he will be able to take his own personal holiness much more seriously and consider how Paul is to have an impact on his life today. Hopefully he’ll have the same focus that Paul had, that God is in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.

This is a must read book for all interested in Paul.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 8/9/2014: David Capes

What’s coming up this Saturday on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

In America, we do have many Bibles and they are often aimed at getting the message of Scripture to people who might be unfamiliar with it. Is there a translation that is designed to get the voice of Scripture to those who are not familiar with it?

One man thinks so. That man is David Capes from Houston Baptist University.

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Dr. David B. Capes is the Thomas Nelson Research Professor in the Department of Theology at Houston Baptist University. He is a graduate of Mercer University (BA, 1978) and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv, 1982; PhD, 1990). He is the author, co-author, and co-editor of a number of books including Old Testament Yahweh Texts in Paul’s Christology (J. C. B. Mohr, 1992), Rediscovering Paul: An Introduction to His World, Letters, and Theology (InterVarsity Press, 2007); Israel’s God and Rebecca’s Children (Baylor, 2007); The Voice of Hebrews: The Mystery of Melchizedek (Thomas Nelson, 2009); and The Story of The Voice (Thomas Nelson, 2013). For seven years he served as the lead scholar on The Voice Bible translation, a joint venture of Ecclesia Bible Society and Thomas Nelson Publishers. Since 1997 he has co-hosted a popular radio show in Houston called “A Show of Faith” (currently on 1070 AM KNTH, The Answer). He and his wife, Cathy, live in Richmond, TX, and they have three sons. In their spare time they work with dog rescue.

In fact, Dr. Capes is so sure that this translation can get the voice of Scripture across that as the above bio indicates, he has chosen to call it “The Voice.”

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I have been reading through and it is an interesting translation. Naturally, as it is the Bible and I want to take my time, I am not finished with it yet, but so far I do consider it an engaging and orthodox look at Scripture.

So on the show this Saturday, we are going to be talking about the Voice. Why would Dr. Capes want to make a new translation when there are so many translations on the market? What is it that makes the Voice unique so that someone should go out and pick up a copy of it?

Why does the Voice do so many things differently from other translations? For instance, God is often described as “The Eternal” or “Eternal One” and Gentiles are referred to as Outsiders. At times, a scene of Scripture will open up with “Imagine this:” or “Picture this:” The text can also often take place in dialogue format. In this regard, it can read like a play.

And how exactly does a group like Dr. Capes’s go about making a Bible translation? What is the methodology that is followed and how does that relate to the way that other Bibles are made? What are the steps taken to make sure that the project is followed through with the highest standards? After all, this is Scripture we are translating and not just any other book.

These questions and more will be discussed on my show this Saturday. Please be looking for the latest broadcast of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters