Book Plunge: Spiritual Friendship

What do I think of Aelred of Rievalux’s book on friendship? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I know someone here who has also gone through divorce and he knowing my struggle with it let me borrow this book from him and recommended that I read it. I don’t remember entirely if Aelred ever mentions marriage in it or not specifically, but even if he does, it is not the focus. This is about friendship and is men discussing with themselves what friendship is. Aelred lived in the 12th century, one before my favorite of Aquinas, but his words still speak deeply to us today.

The book can easily be seen as a guide for relationships and what kind of relationships you can enter in to, what kind you should seek out, and how they end. It is also about how you are to be a friend to someone and ways to tell if someone is being a true friend to you. One such example of the latter is normally if you are friends with a poor person, it is genuine. I have friends who have money and some have told me to reach out to them if I am in a bind, but I am hesitant to do so. I love the gifts and generosity when they come, but I don’t want to risk being one of those people who is seeking that out.

Aelred argues that we should love everyone, but we should not seek to be friends with everyone and not everyone is suitable for a friendship. (p. 89) After all, a friend is someone you can trust and bare your heart to. You shouldn’t do that with everyone. This is one reason to not speak out everything on social media.

On the next page, he says that nothing is more detestable than one who harms a friendship and nothing tortures the spirit more than abandonment or attack by a friend. How true! If a random jerk I don’t know mistreats me, that hurts, but if someone is a friend and they do that, that really stings. It happens from time to time and I am sure I have done it sometimes to my friends. I do try to mend the relationships where I can.

He also calls us to a higher standard. If a friend doesn’t love you, love him still. If he withdraws his friendship, do not withdraw yours. (98) It is easy to love someone when they love you and be kind when they are kind to you. It is not so much when they do not love you and are unkind to you.

All of these come from the third book as this book is divided into three books. I found this one to be the most beneficial as did the person who let me borrow it as he has multiple lines underlined and many notes written on the side. Aelred writes with practicality as I don’t know a single person who doesn’t value friendship. It is strange that we value friendship so much, but really, there does not seem to be much being written on friendship from a scholarly perspective.

When I was allowed to borrow this, it was also with the hope that as I enter into other relationships here, dating and friendships, I would be mindful of who I would let into my world. We all should be. Perhaps we could refer to Aelred as the Boundaries writer of the 12th century.

Aside from the language that is used often, I recommend you get this book. Much of it could be read as if it was written today. I hope someday to get my own copy.

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

Autism Awareness Month: Friends

What do they mean to us? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

On the spectrum, I do tend to be anti-social. If anything, I usually find people more annoying than anything else. I can relate a lot to the great theologian Linus Van Pelt. I love mankind. It’s people I can’t stand.

I realize that’s not necessarily the Christian way, but I think it’s something we all struggle with. How many of us are bustling with love of people when we’re behind someone going very slowly in traffic or the grocery store? Fortunately, in this world, there are still bright spots.


I have said before that in a support group I am a part of, I was asked what I can’t live without. This is a Christian support group so naturally, I gave the Jesus answer. However, I also added in something else. Friends. If I didn’t have friends, I think life would be unbearable.

I also think this is biblical. Even Jesus in His earthly ministry had His friends with Him. Friendship is a virtue Aristotle wrote a lot on. It is one of the ones that it’s not necessary for happiness really, but it’s sure a sign of an empty life without it.

Plato’s dialogue Lysis was all about what friends are. Normally, Socrates ends the dialogue with no one knowing what the item in question is and that’s that. In this one, it’s a different ending. No one knows what friendship is, but Socrates says he hopes that we will all leave as friends still.

For me, my life is greatly enriched by them and I tend to stay loyal to my friends. I hope to always be there to help them, but as my pastor told me recently, I am in a time where I need to really lean on them for now.

It has been an invaluable help for me when I can call a friend and talk to them about what’s going on and get the blessing of having them in my life. For me, I view life much like a game still and one great line I have is from Final Fantasy IV. In this, one villain tells the heroes after he beats them that weak people can join forces. Seemingly by doing this, even the weak can overcome great circumstances.

At the same time also, friends make fun a whole lot better. I can enjoy going through a dungeon in the MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV, but what makes it even better is if I have even one friend going through it with me. If I have even more, that makes it all the better. A multiplicity of friends makes life better.

In the age of Facebook, friendship seems to have been sadly downgraded. I do have true friends I have never met through Facebook, but I have over 3,500 Facebook friends. It’s ridiculous to think that I really know all of them. Many of our friends in this case are acquaintances.

To all my friends then, thank you. You make the journey a lot easier when it’s hard, and a lot more fun when it’s not. I am happy to fight alongside you.

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

Friendship And Pleasure

Do friends make everything better? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I still remember reading about Double Dragon II coming out on the Nintendo. It had this new innovation in it in that two players could play simultaneously. In the past, when you played a game, you each had to take your turn. Now you could both go at the same time. How incredible was that?

After all, playing a game can be a lot of fun, but it’s even better when someone does it with you. If I play a game by myself at home, that can be fun, but it’s really more enjoyable if Allie is right there with me even if she’s just watching. Many of us know this about our friendships. Things are just more fun if you do them with friends.

It’s okay to watch your favorite show. It’s even better when you watch it with friends or at least discuss it with them, like when my friend Chris and I used to get together every week to watch the new episode of Smallville. Going to a sporting event or a concert isn’t my cup of tea, but some people enjoy it, and I suspect they enjoy it even more with friends.

With friendship, you not only get the enjoyment of what you’re doing, but the enjoyment of doing it with someone else and seeing how they respond to it. Get more people together and it can be even more enjoyable. My bachelor party back in 2010 had to be one of the most tame bachelor parties of all by comparison. I got together with several of my friends at a place with a big screen and we just played Super Smash Brothers Brawl all night long.

Many friends also have inside jokes. There are things that they share that they share with no one else. A simple word or phrase or gesture can bring out uproarious laughter from the group.

These times can also lead to other connections. This can lead to sharing of things as you build a bond of trust with the friend and the friendship can move beyond just one of pleasure together, but it can also be one of a sort of intimacy together. In our culture, we often refer to intimacy and think it just refers to the sexual act. There are plenty of other ways of being intimate.

It’s odd how it works. When suffering enters, pain is divided. You don’t have to carry it as much because someone else is sharing it with you. Yet when it comes to pleasure, pleasure is not divided but rather it is multiplied. Your having pleasure at the same activity as me does not diminish my pleasure. Instead, it increases it.

So why not go and see a friend today? Take their pain for them and let them have less. Give them some pleasure and let them have more. Be a friend.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Friends In Suffering

How do friends help in suffering? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

One of the interesting phenomena that takes place is that a place to commit a crime and get away with it is in public. There are stories of a woman being raped in an apartment complex and is in the outdoors and is screaming, but no one does anything. Why? Because everyone assumes that someone else is doing something.

Consider our hearing of car horns. When car alarms started with horns going off, people might have noticed. Now, we hear the horn go off and no one really does anything. It’s become mundane. My personal thought is since everyone has smartphones now, what we should do is when someone starts to break into the car, it sends a silent message to the person who owns the car so the thief doesn’t know and the police can arrive and catch the person in the act.

So it is sometimes with friendship. Friends can be a great help in suffering, but one of the great sadnesses is that usually, we assume someone else will do it. Because of that, those people who need the help of their friends are not getting it.

A few months ago, I was on Facebook and saw in a group someone posting about being in the darkest spot of their life and wanting to end it all. I knew this person some and immediately messaged them and started talking them through it. For a few days, I was getting in touch with them everyday just to check on them. Eventually, they said they had someone around them who was helping them and I moved on, but I did take the step to reach out and help.

Just now, my wife and I were heading home and she was in a depressed state. She could be still, but she’s sounding a bit upbeat right now. Why? Because a friend called her she wasn’t expecting and they’re just talking. They’re not really talking about their problems so much from what I overhear, but just talking.

We can have this tendency where we all meet together and then go home and we forget about one another. I’ll confess, I’m not good at this either. However, what could it mean to a person to just get a message or a text or a phone call saying “I’m thinking about you.”? As I said, when I was in Middle School, the highlight of my week was my Sunday School teacher calling and seeing how I was doing.

If we send the out of sight, out of mind, message enough, people will start to think they don’t really matter. They just have fair-weather friends. I know it’s made my wife tremendously happy to get a call from someone who knows our financial situation and will still say something like, “I want to take you out for lunch or dinner” or “I want to see a movie with you.” I love being with Allie, but some healthy time apart is good for us too.

Suffering is always easier when you have other people coming alongside you and walking with you. It tells you you are not alone in the journey. “But I don’t know how to help my friend with their problems!” So what? Maybe your help isn’t needed. Maybe just listening is needed. Maybe just a distraction is needed.

This also comes back to being a friend. A friend who is only there when times are good is not much of a friend. Be a friend who is there when times are bad.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

How Do We Get Friends?

What does it take to get a friend? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In the comedy series The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon Cooper wants to befriend one of his antagonists in order to get to use the computer at the lab. Sheldon decides to go to the library, get a book on friendship, though written for kids, and extrapolate the principles to a higher level. Most of us kind of laugh at that because to quote the commercial, “That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.”

And yet, in some ways, it is. There is a sort of art to making friends. Years ago I read Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People. One simple rule I remembered from the book was to remember the names of people you meet. Many of us may not realize it, but we do love to hear the sound of our own names.

So when we moved into our new apartment complex, I tried to make it a point to learn the names of the people around me. It’s a small thing, but it does help. I also try to talk to them about the topics that they bring up. I remember a lively discussion outside the pool here once with a lady who was describing how she took a philosophy class once.

Yet overall, there is one simple way to get friends. It’s to be one. Note that this won’t always work. You cannot force someone to do something like that. Friendship has to be a real and genuine choice.

Do you want people to talk to you? Try to talk to them more. I remember growing up in middle school and the highlight of the week was always the same. I was surprised the first time it happened, but grateful after awhile. It’s a shock when you’re that age and the phone rings at the house and someone asks for you. Who wants to call you? (At least if you’re the nerd in school)

It was the Sunday School teacher that I had asking me how my week was. This would happen every week on Friday or Saturday. It became something I looked forward to. When this teacher died unexpectedly one day, it was my first real encounter with death. My grandfather had died when I was two years old so I couldn’t remember that.

There are plenty of people that if you care about this would love it if you would just reach out to them and see how they’re doing from time to time. If someone doesn’t reach out, odds are no one will reach back. Well suppose you reach out and no one reaches back. Oh well. Do you do the right thing to get a reward?

But if they do reach out, that is excellent for both of you. It’s always good to reach out and do something kind to your fellow man just for the sake of doing something kind. However, if you remain standoffish and don’t reach out to people, most people will likely assume you’re not interested in any sort of relationship and act accordingly.

Keep in mind based on my last entry in this, you don’t really need this to work with a lot of people. You just need a few. This is why accountability partners work so well with programs with Celebrate Recovery and others. One of the best ways to succeed in something is get an accountability partner and a mentor. I have a mentor I email every night.

Bottom line again, if you want to get a friend be one. Make the first move.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

How Many Friends Do We Need?

What’s a good number to have? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you look on my Facebook as of the time of writing this post, you will see that I have 3,083 friends. Don’t for a moment think that I really know all of them. In the past when games let you do this more, when I played a Final Fantasy game and got to rename the characters, I went with the names of my friends. It would be difficult to do that often with Facebook friends.

Sometimes my wife will get a friend request from someone and say “Do you know them?”


“You’re friends with them.”

“Doesn’t mean that I know them.”

Which is true. Many of you don’t know many of your own Facebook friends well if you have them. Some you might have some good knowledge about, but you wouldn’t really call it an intimate friendship. There are a few Facebook friends I’ve never met in person that I would consider to be true friends that I can count on. It’s often quite enjoyable when I get to meet these friends.

But how many friends do you really need?

Well, if we looked at the life of Jesus, you could consider that he had 12 apostles. Within that group, there was a privileged group, the three, that he invited on very special moments to join him. Even outside of the twelve, there were other people like Lazarus and his family and numerous women. Still, Jesus did not open up with just everyone.

I really think this is a good principle to follow. Have a circle of friends. Let it be a circle with several rings. On the outermost circle are friends you know a couple sparse details about. You could say hi if you saw them in public, but they probably won’t be over to your house for dinner.

The next circle is friends you are closer to. These people might come over for a movie or for dinner. At the same time, you’re not willing to open up the closet door so they can see your skeletons yet. They could often be friends just because you enjoy their company.

The innermost ring though is your faithful circle and I really prefer to keep this ring small. Not only can they be true friends to you then, but you can also be true friends to them. In this lifetime, there is only so much of you that can go around.

People can move in and out of the circles as well. Sometimes it could depend on location. People we were super close to in Knoxville we don’t talk to as much now that we live in Atlanta. That just happens. Some people you can be close to because of work or attending a church with them or anything like that. Again, no one has to be a friend to you always.

Try to make everyone a best friend and you’re in for a world of hurt I think. Have some good friends and then keep a close circle of the people you really trust. Be friends to them and let them be your friends.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What Is A Friend?

What do we mean when we say someone is a friend? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I am continuing the look at friendship that was requested by asking what a friend is. Some people come into our lives and we count them friends, but only for a time. These are people you meet when you go to a common group that you share or a job, but they never contact you outside of that place.

For some people, that’s fine for the most part. I can go to a social meeting and generally, I still like to stick by myself. Sometimes friendships can come from these meetings, but it isn’t common. My wife, meanwhile, is much more social than I am and wants to be included in events and things of that nature.

These are also the friendships that you have with people that you work with and then when one of you leaves the establishment, you lose touch and you don’t speak again. While I am friends on Facebook with people I went to high school with, it’s not like I really know them that well. I did enjoy getting to go to my 20th reunion with them, but we don’t really speak afterward.

C.S. Lewis spoke of something different. He said many friendships begin with “You too? I thought I was the only one.” These are friendships of pleasure at least at first that are built on a shared interest. If people connect over nothing else, then when the shared interest is gone, the friendship is gone as well.

The shared interest could be sports, movies, video games, comic books, anything in the world. It could be sadly an interest in something sinful that leads to the tearing down of people. On the other hand, a group of friends could hold themselves accountable for holiness reasons.

Some of these could bond however into deeper friendships where you value the other person for the sake of the other person, though it doesn’t rule out the other interests. When I worked in Wal-Mart in Knoxville, I had a friend there who was in ministry as I was except I would say really hyper-fundamentalist. We also shared a common interest in video games. Years later he contacts me suddenly needing my apologetics ability that he had dismissed for his own self. He was in a storm of doubt. Fortunately, I was able to help him. Today, he’s a strong Christian learning apologetics well and the friendship has continued.

When I lived in Charlotte, I also had a pair of friends I met at work who are identical twins. We used to get together every Sunday night. We would play Super Smash Brothers for awhile and then we’d go out with their Dad to play bowling. When I visited, I never knocked on the door. I just walked in. They were like a second home to me. They were also groomsmen in my wedding.

My closest male friend, however, seeing as my wife is my best friend, is my former roommate. Today, we mainly talk politics, apologetics, and Final Fantasy. When it came time to choose a best man for my wedding, he was the only choice that I would have considered and he thankfully agreed. When Allie even found out she was low on her medications on our honeymoon, he sent us priority mail some of the medications that were in the apartment so we could continue our honeymoon together.

I have to talk about my examples here because those are the ones I know about the most. You know about your own examples. In all of this, it’s still difficult to define what a friend is, but I think it would be something like someone who’s company you enjoy for the sake of that person and who inspires you to be a better person and you do the same for them.

Do I think this is a perfect definition? No. Like Socrates in the Lysis, I doubt I can define it entirely. I suspect it’s one of those things like time. We all know what it is until we have to say what it is. Despite not knowing, I am still thankful for the friends that I do have, including ones mentioned in this blog. There are many others who were also in my wedding and some who could have been. This is not to slight anyone. If I went over all of my friends, this would be too long a blog post.

So why not think about those friends that you have? I can write later about how many friends I recommend having and things like that, but for now, just be thankful. Your friends would probably like to know you appreciate them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Opening Thoughts On Friendship

What does it mean to be a friend? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Someone recently wrote to me and said they would like me to write on the topic of friendship. This is just an opening to get my initial thoughts out. As it stands, friendship has always been a big part of my life even to this day. Friends are fellow travelers on the journey. They are often something different from family, although they can be family. I consider my wife my best friend, for example.

Yet friendship is often difficult to define. This is even more so in our day and age of Facebook. Sometimes Allie will get a friend request from someone and ask if I know them. I say I don’t and she says “Well you’re friends on Facebook.” I tell her that (As of this time) I have over 3,000 friends on Facebook. I don’t know all of them.

That brings a new dynamic also. I am sure I am friends with people I have never met, but how is that possible? It’s interesting when I think about it that some people I know I met for the very first time and only time at my wedding.

Why are we friends with someone? What do we really want with them? How do we view the relationship? Can friends drift apart and then come back together again? At our wedding shower, my wife and I were greeted by a friend I had had during my childhood that was a best friend then and yet we fell apart, but it was great to reconnect again.

Are there some friends that are only friendships of convenience of a sort? Think of people you work with at times and then when you leave the job, the relationship goes away as well. You can enjoy working with them, but you don’t have them come over to your house normally.

Do you really have to have friends? Everyone by nature has family, even if it is not a good family. Someone gave birth to you. Someone is your mother and father regardless of how they treat you. What about friends? Are friends something different?

Plato wrote many dialogues and in the Lysis he talked about friendship. In the end, Socrates does something odd. He tells the boys he is talking with that they are not sure what friendship is. It’s again left undefined as happens in a lot of dialogues. However, Socrates surprised me at the end when he said anyway, “I hope we depart this conversation as friends.”

Aristotle likewise wrote a lot about friendship. This could be the virtue that he wrote about more than any other. Isn’t it interesting to consider friendship as a virtue? We usually think of behaviors we should do to be virtuous. How is it that having friends counts as being virtuous?

I really don’t know where this series will go and I could get distracted from time to time. Friendship is something that it’s really hard to think about because it’s so hard to define. I hope this will be a good journey to open us up to what friendship means and how we are to treat friends here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Thoughts On The Greatest Showman

What did I get out of The Greatest Showman? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My wife and I had a Fandango gift card and so we went with another couple from our church to see this movie yesterday. There are no doubt some readers who are more familiar with the history of P.T. Barnum than I am. I cannot comment on if the history in the movie is accurate, so what I’m going to do is to just take the story as is. If we granted the story presented was accurate, what can we get from it? Also, as should be obvious, there are spoilers here. I will tell where spoilers end.

The story starts with Barnum growing up in a poor society and trying to impress a girl who has the rich snobby parents. He writes to her regularly while she’s at finishing school and then shows up at her door to marry her. Her father is sure that she’ll be back where there is money.

Barnum loves his wife, Charity, and their two little girls, but wants to be able to do more for them. He goes with the idea of starting a show where he has wax figures of dead and gruesome figures from the past, but his daughters suggest that he needs something living. Barnum starts by going to find a midget he had seen earlier in the film and from there, gets the oddest and most talented group he can, such as trapeze artists, a dog boy, a man covered in tattoos, the world’s tallest man, the world’s heaviest man, and the bearded lady.

Barnum’s show is a hit with many of the masses, but the critics of society do not like it. Also, there regularly show up people in the community who are angry about the glamorization of the freaks. Barnum’s whole point throughout is encouraging those who society has shamed to rise above. Let themselves be themselves and let people love them not because they are like everyone else, but because they are different.

Barnum gets himself a partner in Phillip Carlyle. After that, he’s invited with his troupe to go see the Queen of England. There, he runs into the star singer Jenny Lind. He offers to take her on tour in America with him, leaving his family and his entourage behind there. On the trip, Lind and he start getting close. Nothing happens until her last performance where she kisses him live on stage where the cameras see it.

Barnum returns where his troupe he gathered around him feels rejected by him and his wife is leaving him because she’s seen the pictures and says he doesn’t love her. He loves himself. There is a fight also between the protesters and Barnum’s troupe and the building where the shows are at burns down. Barnum has hit rock bottom.

It’s at this point he is reminded by that band of misfits that he found that they are why he started this and he remembers what is important. He is able to reunite to his wife and he and Carlyle agree to be partners. They don’t need a building. A tent will do. The show does indeed go on!


As my wife and I left, I told her I figured I would blog on this to which she replied there wasn’t anything religious in the film. I told her that that was quite mistaken. Everything is to some extent religious. Christianity has something to say about everything and despite what many skeptics might think, our world has been greatly shaped by Christianity. So what are some things I gleaned from this film?

We could ask what is a human first off. The characters Barnum had were all considered freaks by the protesters and shouldn’t be put on display. But why? We could all understand not wanting to put bad behavior on display, but that’s not what was going on. The people were being rejected because of who they were. They were different. They didn’t fit in.

As someone on the spectrum married to someone on the spectrum, this is something I definitely resonated with. Yet here, Christianity has something else to see. All human beings are valuable because they are in the image of God even if they’re a dog boy or a bearded lady. Everyone is someone who bears the image of God and was made to be loved by Him and by us.

Second, what does it mean to be successful? Barnum wanted more and more, and to an extent that’s understandable, but at times, he lost sight of his family. It as if he got so caught up in providing for his kids that he forgot about his kids. He wanted to provide what would make his wife happy forgetting that she loved him when he had nothing and he is what made her happy. There are many people that can be successes in ministry, but sadly their families are left damaged due to them neglecting their family. Ministry to God does not mean that you neglect your ministry to your family.

Third, we could then ask what is a family and what is friendship. Many of us know about friends that we have that we would consider them family. When I lived with a roommate for awhile, we went to a bookstore and I knew he wanted the apologetics study Bible. I went up to the counter asking if they had it in thinking I would surprise him if I found it for him and got told, “Oh. Your brother was up here already asking for it.”

Biological brother? Not at all, but there is a way that a friend can be closer than a brother. Many have also had families that were less than stellar and they turn to friends to be a surrogate family of sorts. Barnum’s friends managed to come together to form a unity based on their being the rejected misfits of the world. The acceptance they missed with others they found with each other.

This isn’t to say that a family is just any relationship you want. Still, we can have such great friendships that friends will seem like family. If you have a bad family, you can find comfort and support in the good people that you do allow in your life.

Also, I think this movie would not be possible without a Christian worldview that says that each person matters and that something should not be despised for being different. Chesterton said the same about Christianity making childhood something special and so we have Peter Pan. If Christianity is true, everyone has something they can give to the Kingdom.

If you’re wanting to know about how the acting was and such in this, I’m not the one to comment on that. It is a musical and I think the music is great. My wife and I are planning on getting the soundtrack soon. Definitely, this is a film I am glad I went to see and is quite memorable.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Reaching Roger

What’s it like reaching someone with questions? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My friend Roger Maxson has written about his experiences of almost losing his faith and then coming back to it. Part one is here and part two is here. You can also hear the story in my interview with him here and watch it on YouTube here. I figure prominently in the story so I figured, and he liked the idea, that I would write about what it was like on the other end. It might be interesting to some of you to see what this process is like from the end of the apologist.

When I was in Bible College, I found out about apologetics and it quickly became a passion of mine. Most people who knew me knew about it. It’s not a shock that when I go to a workplace I’m told one of my co-workers is also a ministry student and goes to another Bible college. I won’t mention it’s name, but this college was fundamentalist to the core. This ministry student was Roger Maxson.

Roger and I had our share of disagreements and kidding, but we had a good friendship. With our third friend Jeremy, we would often go out into town and visit bookstores or things of that sort. Roger would have probably considered me quite a liberal back then. I mean, I read Harry Potter books! How much more liberal can you get?

Roger and I did have other similar interests. We talked about video games quite often, particularly the Legend of Zelda. We also played Smash Brothers regularly together. (REMATCH AVAILABLE FOR YOU ANYTIME!) Our differences didn’t change our friendship and we would talk about faith matters, but he just wasn’t interested in apologetics like I was (And am).

Eventually, I moved to Charlotte to study at Seminary. We kind of lost touch. I don’t know how. I figured wherever Roger was, he was doing fine. He was a strong Christian after all.

So my shock was strong when I got an email from him and he had a lot of questions and was doubting his faith big time. Many of his questions to me looked like they came straight out of Richard Dawkins. Now on my end, these were simple questions, but I knew Roger well and I knew he wasn’t trying to poke holes in Christianity. He was asking honest questions and no doubt, was hurting.

So I answered them. As he says, I didn’t give one-liners, but I also didn’t give complete answers always. Why would I do that? Because I want to see Roger doing some of the work too. I want to guide him in the right direction. I want him to learn what it means to study. People who really want answers will study. People who don’t, won’t. It’s a simple principle.

Sometimes also, it can be tiring. You open up your email in the morning and see that email from someone and think “Here we go again.” Sometimes you can see that message show up on Facebook and think “Okay. Guess I gotta answer a question again.” Still, it’s what you do and you do it because it’s the right thing to do and if you’re going to work on restoring someone, it requires a serious time investment.

I spent my time then pointing Roger to the great scholars that I had read and he could learn from. I chose to avoid pop apologetics books. I pointed him to the writings of Thomas Aquinas. Like many, Roger did not understand the arguments well and had misconceptions. I was gentle with him on that end. I also never condemned the questions. We should never condemn someone for questioning Christianity. We can condemn how they do it and their motives if we know them to be bad ones, but questions should be welcomed.

This was not a week long effort or something either. I don’t remember how long, but I am sure it was a few months. Sometimes we’d even talk on the phone. Roger could call me if he needed help and I’d answer. If there ever was something I had to take care of, I’d tell him that I’d get back to him or another time he could call.

I still remember one day very well that I went to my email and I opened it up and I saw an email from him with the subject line “Jesus of Nazareth.” I was getting set to answer a bunch of questions. I opened it up and I only found one that wasn’t a question so much as a statement.

He really did walk out of that grave didn’t He?

When you see something like that, it is one of the happiest moments you can ever have. It was also a good reminder for me. Yes. Yes He did walk right out of that grave.

Today, Roger is highly involved in the apologetics community. He is a strong Christian and he is raising his children to be a strong Christian. We communicate regularly still to this day. There are times I’m struggling with something and I turn to Roger and we just talk together. Like Paul with Onesimus, I was separated for awhile but now we have each other in our lives together better than ever before.

Roger ends his post with some matters of application. I’d like to do the same.

First off, I think it’s important to note that Roger and I lived in different states and yet he chose to contact me. Why? Could it be no one in his area could help him? He had to reach into his distant past to find someone? Surely Roger was surrounded by churches everywhere. Why was it so hard to find help? Could it be because the church has neglected this?

Second, we all can rejoice that this story has a happy ending, but what if someone like me hadn’t been in Roger’s life? The thing is, I can’t be everywhere. No apologist can. All Christians should know someone like this that they can turn to. What happens if someone like me isn’t around when a Christian is in need? Would Roger be a fundamentalist atheist today leading your children away from the faith?

Third, don’t give pat answers please. Don’t give one liners. Don’t post a meme as if that’s an answer to an argument. Really work through. At the same time, help the other person think through it. If you want to teach a child math, you don’t tell them the answers. You help them work through the answers so they can get them on their own. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how and you feed him for a lifetime. Give a man an answer and you save his faith today. Teach him how to find them and you save them for a lifetime.

Fourth, it will require personal investment. If you have the time to address crowds and speak to them, but you don’t have the time for one-on-one questions, then you need to rearrange your time. That one person is immensely important. Sometimes it will wear you out, but it needs to be done.

Fifth, keep in mind Roger was in a Bible College and Seminary program and he had his doubts. If someone like this can have their doubts, how much more your children growing up in Sunday School? Apologetics is not optional today. It is essential. Don’t think good moral teaching and knowing how to exegete Scripture will be enough (Never mind most people after years of Sunday School won’t even know what exegesis is). Young people will need to know why. It’s far better to reach them before they have objections than reach them after they get them.

Sixth, you have to be doing the work beforehand. Roger was able to benefit because I’d been reading all this material for years. Roger knowing that I knew this material well and could answer would show him confidence that I had faced the questions he’d asked and in fact was able to question his doubts a lot more.

Seventh, be patient. Sometimes like I said it is exhausting. We all know times we’ve been talking to people and they can’t seem to see something and we wish we could just grab a sledgehammer or something and beat it into them somehow. It’s not going to happen. Give them time to get there.

Eighth, focus on the essentials. So many of us spend time wanting to defend inerrancy or a young Earth or a global flood or something like that. No. Just start with what is essential. The resurrection. Let anything else be secondary. I worked to keep Roger on topic and not going off on these side issues. They are important, but not essential.

Finally, friendship is a wonderful thing. If you have it, use it. I am sure Roger and I would be friends regardless, but it’s even better being friends in Christ. Do we still have our disagreements and such? Yes. Absolutely, but they don’t matter in the end.

You have Roger Maxson’s all around you. Are you going to be the apologist to reach them?

In Christ,
Nick Peters