Book Plunge: God’s Gravediggers Part 5

Is there a moral argument for atheism? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In this chapter, Raymond Bradley tells us that there is a moral argument for atheism. Now I did find this intriguing. After all, it usually works the other way. Unfortunately, any such argument is nothing new. It’s all about the atrocities that God allegedly committed and this should show there is no God.

Those who know me know I don’t use the moral argument so much as I do the argument from goodness. I contend that God is not a moral being, but rather that He is a good being. Morality is doing what one is required to do and what one ought to do, but God has no set of laws He has to obey. Morality would have to be something above Him. Instead, God, whose nature is goodness, does the good that is His nature.

At the start, Bradley makes a statement off the cuff saying “Knowing the Bible as I do.”

It’s still a laugh every time I read it.

He also says that God is the creator of evil, no doubt with Isaiah 45:7 in mind. This is just more of Bradley keeping up his fundamentalist reading. Hint. Don’t talk about knowing the Bible if it is clear that you do not.

He also has a statement about it being morally wrong to provide one’s troops with women to use as sex-slaves. Again, no doubt Numbers 31 is in mind. I have responded to that here.

He also says that God allowed the people to indulge in cannibalism when they abandoned the covenant. What’s the problem here? God was very clear and said that if they abandoned Him then they would not get the benefit of His protection. Does God owe them protection in some way?

Finally, there is the sacrifice of Jephthah. I will refer to my ministry partner for that here. Thus far, it’s pretty much Bradley has a PhD and yet is bringing out the same old tropes that any internet atheist would bring out.

Of course, Bradley talks about Hell and the endless torture in Hell. He never seems to have considered that most evangelical scholars today do not believe in a fiery hell but believe that the flames are a way of describing judgment and not to be read in a wooden and literal sense. After all, Hell is also described as a place of darkness. I have my own view on the topic.

He also says Jesus invented the doctrine of Hell. For this, I want to thank my friend Chris Date who I asked if he had any resources on this as I knew Hell came from the intertestamental literature, but since he spends so much time on this doctrine, I figured he had the resources. He was kind enough to supply several passages. Consider Psalms of Solomon 2:31-34.

 the One raising me up to glory, but putting to sleep the arrogant for eternal destruction in dishonor, because they did not know Him.

2:32 And now, magnate of the earth, see the judgment of the Lord, that He is a great and righteous king, judging what is under heaven.

2:33 Praise God, you who fear the Lord with understanding, for the Lord’s mercy is upon those who fear Him along with the judgment

2:34 in order to separate between the righteous and the sinner and to repay sinners forever according to their actions,

Or consider 12:4-5?

12:4 May God remove far from the innocent the lips of the lawless persons in confusion, and may the bones of the slanderers be scattered far from those who fear the Lord. May the slanderous tongue be destroyed in flaming fire far from the saints.

12:5 May the Lord protect the quiet soul who hates injustice; may the Lord guide aright the men who makes peace at home.

Or 1 Enoch 46:4

He shall hurl kings from their thrones and their dominions; because they will not exalt and praise him, nor humble themselves before him, by whom their kingdoms were granted to them. The countenance likewise of the mighty shall He cast down, filling them with confusion. Darkness shall be their habitation, and worms shall be their bed; nor from that their bed shall they hope to be again raised, because they exalted not the name of the Lord of spirits.

There are just a few. I was not sure to use some of them because some do come shortly after Christ and I did not want to risk skeptics crying foul. All references are found in Edward Fudge’s The Fire That Consumes. We can disagree on the nature of Hell, but we can be assured Jesus did not invent the doctrine.

Bradley also raises the problem of those who never heard. Again, there is no interaction with any different thought on this. Bradley speaks about how it is under the name of Jesus everyone is saved, thinking that means the phonetic name instead of the authority of the name. One is judged by the light they have and Jesus is the authority who determines if they are allowed into the Kingdom or not. Again, there are plenty of resources that could have been read on this topic by Bradley, but apparently, he chose to not interact with them.

Finally, in all of this, Bradley has throughout the chapter assumed good or evil. I agree he is right on their reality, but he gives no basis for them. This is just a chapter of indignation ultimately. It does not surprise me that emotional outrage is the fountain of many an internet atheist.

We will continue later.

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

 

 

The Problem of Pleasure

Why is there so much good in the world? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We have all seen the problem of evil trotted out. Why would there be evil in the world if God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good? This is a good question and I have addressed it many other times before, but let us consider something else.

If evil counts as evidence of the existing of God, shouldn’t it also go the other way? If all the evil counts as evidence against God, then could we not say “If the world is a random accident with no intentional cause whatsoever, why is there so much good in the world?” This isn’t a question original with me. It’s one that was asked by G.K. Chesterton.

Chesterton said that we all know that we have to eat in order to survive, but that doesn’t mean food had to be tasty. We have to drink to survive, but that doesn’t mean that water had to be refreshing. We have to reproduce in order to survive, but the intense pleasure that comes from sexual reproduction didn’t have to be there.

The world could also exist in black and white and odds are it would have worked just fine. However, there is a huge multiplicity of colors. As a gamer, I remember when the Super Nintendo was being advertised that it was said to have 32,000 colors. It was impressive for many of us when we got a Crayola box of crayons that had 64 colors. This is 500 times that.

What we have to ask is if the world is mostly evil with some bits of good popping up every now and then, or is it mostly good, with evil being the interruption to it. There is suffering in every life and I know this firsthand with a lot that I have gone through, major surgery, intense depression, and divorce, but overall, I am convinced the world is mostly good. This is my Father’s world.

Ah, but I live in America and I have food and shelter and technology and so many other blessings. What about the rest of the world? However, what is said about the rest of the world often is those people often take their faith far more seriously and have a lot more joy than we do. There’s a reason there’s such a joke about first-world problems.

There are Christians in Iran who are getting baptized and doing so knowing that that can lead to their execution. When I read Craig Keener’s Impossible Love, I remember reading about the attitude of Keener’s father-in-law and thinking that I wish I had the courage that he had. He was definitely facing realities that I had never faced, such as being on medication and having to escape from a civil war and being forced to eat rats when there was nothing else.

So again, what’s the point in all of this? If evil counts as evidence against God, shouldn’t the opposite be true? Shouldn’t good count as evidence for God? After all, if you are looking at data, you have to look at all data. If the universe has no intent behind it and no purpose, why should I think good would just happen? Why should food taste good or sex be incredible?

As a Christian also, I should give thanks for the good in the world more often and not take it for granted. I should enjoy time with good family and friends and appreciate the little things as well. Actually, that would be good advice for all of us, and if Lewis is correct, the more we enjoy true pleasure for the sake of that pleasure alone, we are more prone to come to God anyway. Perhaps if you focus on evil, you will be further drawn away.

So if you’re an atheist now, here’s something to think about. How do you address the problem of pleasure? Is there more good or evil in the world?

I leave that to you.

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

Jesus Drowned Babies?

Did Jesus drown babies? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’ve seen a meme making the rounds on Facebook that says “btw, Jesus drowned babies.” Well, this is interesting since the second person of the Trinity always existed, but He wasn’t known as Jesus until the incarnation, but I digress. We get the point. Jesus is God and God drowned babies so Jesus drowned babies.

What are we to say? I mean, we are against abortion which is the taking of the life of an innocent baby. Therefore, shouldn’t we look at an event like the flood and think that it is awful?

To begin with, it’s interesting how many atheists who post this are actually pro-abortion. Apparently, if you’re God, it’s wrong for you to take a life. However, if you’re a human being who is far less knowledgeable and good, then taking that own life within your body or the body of the woman you love is your moral right and must be defended.

Some atheists are against abortion thankfully and so they are being consistent at least. For those who aren’t, this is a problem. I asked one atheist multiple times in a group I’m in on Facebook why it is that killing babies is wrong. I mainly got some stunned response that I was questioning that premise. My reply was not at all, but I accept it on theistic grounds and he can’t so what’s his reason?

Still waiting.

One of the mistakes with this kind of thinking is that it assumes that God is a moral agent just like we are. We know this is not the case though. Even among ourselves, there are different degrees of authority. A parent can punish their own children. That doesn’t mean that someone else has the right to do so. A first-responder can do things that I cannot by their own authority. If the president wants to pardon a criminal, he can. If my friend is a criminal and I want to pardon them, I can’t.

What about God? God is the source of all life and the one who provides it. As said in Job, if He withdrew His breath, all life would perish immediately. Every single one of our lives is in His hands and every single one of them will die someday by accident, illness, or murder. As Clay Jones says, everyone you know will die that way and the only way you will avoid seeing that is your own death the same way.

So God will do what is moral. Right? Wrong. God does what is good. Goodness and morality are not the same thing. Goodness can go beyond acts that are demanded by morality. Morality is doing what you ought to do and there is no ought for God. There is nothing that He is bound to do.

This means that God doesn’t owe you anything whatsoever. The only obligations He has are those He has obligated Himself to, mainly to keep His word since He is truth. If God promises you something, He will do it. Other than that, He is in no debt to you whatsoever.

That means also He owes no one a single moment of life. Not a one. Upon what grounds can it be said that God took a life too early, as if He owed that person some more life? None.

Also, a big difference between us and God is God can restore life again, even eternally. We can’t do that. Once we kill that baby in the womb, we are done. There is nothing more we can do. God could do a miracle if He wanted, but there is nothing we can do on our end.

If we picture God as a moral agent like we are, then we do have a problem, and that’s what many atheists do. They think that God is in the same boat we are and plays by the same rules. It won’t work. God has no moral obligation to anyone and can give and take away as He wants.

Some might ask why He does. Many people out there have lost babies and not through any evil act of their own. It could be through any of the reasons I mentioned above when speaking about Clay Jones. For each circumstance, I cannot say that I know. That would be ridiculous on my part. What are you to do in that boat?

It’s okay actually to get angry with God about this. Go to Him with your hurts. At least you’re trying then. Peter Kreeft has said that’s faith trying to reconcile itself with reasons. If God was dead to you truly, you wouldn’t care. Frankly, there’s no apologetic answer I could give that would soothe a breaking heart, and there shouldn’t be. Intellectualism won’t answer that dilemma.

This is where the church needs to step up and be the church and love like Jesus did. Odds are I don’t know you personally and I can’t do that. I can tell you that if you love God, this will work for your good. I can also tell you that any child you have lost like that is in the arms of Jesus now. God does not neglect any little one that dies in such a way.

Feel free to hurt and you should. Be angry and grieve and ask the why questions. If you know someone going through this, please be there for them. I have a saying that I give to would-be apologists and that’s that if you’re ever in a position such as the pastor of a church and a mother comes to you crying because her teenage son died in a car accident, if you put on your apologetics or theologian or philosopher hat at that point, I will come over and smack you. At that moment, she needs a minister, a counselor, a friend. Perhaps after some time she can have a rational discussion about the problem of evil, but that is not the time and answering that question won’t soothe her heart.

So in the end, I find this meme highly ineffective and just trying to pull emotional strings. Not only that, if God exists and we have arguments for that and Jesus rose from the dead and we have arguments for it, then Christianity is true. We could simply say we don’t understand everything, but we will go by what we do understand. We have to do that in many other areas.

And yes, if your atheist friend is pro-abortion, press on that point.

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

Opening Thoughts On The Final Fantasy VII Remake

What are my thoughts on Square-Enix’s latest release? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Normally, I would have had to put getting this one on hold, but fortunately, someone was very kind and decided to surprise me with a copy of it. I spent a few hours going through it yesterday becoming immersed in the story and enjoying the new additions to it.

While the play style is different and there are no new enemies to fight, I really don’t want to focus on that part. There are enough reviewers of games who comment on that. I want to comment more on the questions of good and evil that are raised.

To begin with, I always think it’s important to consider a work of fiction from the world it’s set in. When we hear talk about killing the planet, those of us who are more conservative might think of the environmental movement and think this is the same thing. That could be true from our world, but in this fantasy world, if what a character like Barrett says is true that the planet has a lifestream and Shinra’s plants are draining that to line their own pockets, then the organization is indeed killing the planet.

Today, we might consider a group like Earth Liberation Front and consider them terrorists. However, if their claims were true about what we are doing to our own planet, then one could say even if they disagreed with their methods, their goal is the right one. While I disagree with Islam, if Islam turned out to be true, then if Allah says killing the infidels is right, well, it would be right.

If you know the story of Final Fantasy VII, you know that the first part of the game involves the group blowing up one of the reactor plants. The difference in this game is that after that, Cloud has to wander through the streets of Midgar and you hear all the side chatter. Listening to what townspeople are saying, you can imagine what it was like on 9/11 if you were in New York City at the time.

Not only do you hear the chatter of the people, but you hear first responders. You hear talk about needing stretchers and someone being injured. The townspeople talk about what they were doing and who they were going to meet and about their families at the time. This is a very real aspect that you don’t hear about in the first game.

This does raise the questions of good and evil. Some might think that one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. It could be tempting to say we do not know what is good and what is evil, but we do. We know somehow in the game that Cloud and his friends are the ones we are meant to cheer for. Now in reality, that doesn’t mean they’re right. Movies and games and TV shows can have us cheering for guys who aren’t doing what is right. You can watch a heist movie, for example, and be eager to see how the main characters are going to outsmart the police and the rest of security and commit the crime.

But ultimately, this is what I like about the remake. It’s the realism. In the original, you blow up a reactor, no big deal to you, and you go on with the game. In this one, you see traffic stopping as people watching and the whole area around falling apart. It definitely brings out that there is a real battle going on.

This game thus far only consists of the parts that take place in the city. We eagerly anticipate what is coming next from Square-Enix in this regard. I am considering doing a video if I can figure out all the things of how to show images of games on FFVII and good and evil and those kinds of questions. Be watching to see what I decide.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Final Fantasy IV and Fighting Together

Are we battling alone? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last Saturday, I was at my men’s group and the leader started talking about finding our own ministry. What can we bring to the cause of Christ that is ours? What are our skills? Immediately, I thought of Final Fantasy IV.

I have played the Final Fantasy games for years. IV is as far as I’m concerned the best one of them all. The story is absolutely gripping and it has tremendous replay value to me. Today when I play Brave Exvius on my phone, I get super excited when I see something coming up from Final Fantasy IV.

So for now, put the men’s group meeting on hold and let’s go with another thought. In this one, my wife has a friend who was going through a hard time and she was wanting to know how to fight alongside him. Prayer is the best way in this case, but it occurred to me that the whole theme was once again fighting together.

Now in most Final Fantasy games, there is a whole party that travels together and so one very rarely fights alone, but I thought that in IV, there is an emphasis on fighting together. I really want to try to do this without spoilers. After all, if someone hasn’t played this awesome game, I want them to play it for themselves and be as amazed by it as I was and am. I honestly sometimes wish I could have a mindwipe of sorts so I could play through the story again and be surprised.

So where are some places where this theme shows up?

One is where the best friend of the main character gets hypnotized. In this, he kidnaps the love interest of the main character for the villain and she’s held hostage. When she’s rescued, he’s broken free of the mind control at that time. He has shame for what he’s done, but the girl has forgiveness and grace and asks that they all fight together, which does happen. When the final battle comes, the best friend is one of the people there.

It happens when one of the party members who vanishes for awhile shows up again out of nowhere and rejoins. Their plea is that they have learned the greater power of evil is at work. It must be confronted together. Once again, the concept of joining forces is there.

It happens even when one of the villains who is what we call an honorable villain, in that he wants the fight to be fair, and this isn’t a trick move. He even heals the party entirely immediately before the fight. After being beaten, he says he now sees that weak people can join forces and be strong.

It happens when at the end, two characters are asked to leave the party for their own safety. Indignant, they walk off the vessel only to show up when the party arrives. Each of them points out their unique contribution to the team and states that they have to fight for their common cause, to which the leader agrees.

I notice the same thing in Christian apologetics. It is a foolish person who thinks he can answer everything. Sometimes people send me questions about science as science, for example, and I always point them to someone else. Yes, people. Just because someone is an apologist doesn’t mean they have an exhaustive knowledge of everything and can answer anything.

Instead, I just join forces with others. I try to know a specialist in most every area that I can refer someone to. Likewise, when someone needs a specialty from me in some area I am skilled in, I am able to give it.

An atheist in a debate group yesterday posted about how his life is and said Christians seem to think they live in some Marvel type universe with events going on all around them. I actually agree with that. In the universe I live in, there is a battle going on between good and evil and I am happy to take my side in the battle. I am also thankful that I am not alone. I am with my friends.

We fight together.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The World Turned Upside Down. Finding The Gospel In Stranger Things.

What do I think about Michael Heiser’s book published by Lexham Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My wife and I are fans of Stranger Things, the hit show on Netflix. (It’s one reason we want to get back someday our subscription to Netflix.) We’re not the only ones. Stranger Things has become the hit sensation that has got a huge fan following. The Duffer Brothers, the minds behind it, have hit upon something in our culture.

If you haven’t seen it, the show is set in the 80’s in a small county. Some pre-teen boys regularly play Dungeons and Dragons together and one night, things get real as in conjunction with some work in a science lab in the town, a monster takes one of the boys hostage when he’s alone and takes him to a parallel dimension known as the Upside Down to the people who know about it.

The boys also encounter a girl with psychic powers who was also being experimented on known only as Eleven. The series then involves the adventures of this party and others involved in their own families and anyone else in the town they involve trying to make sense of what’s happening. I really don’t want to say much more than that, but if you watch it, there’s a reason why it’s such an engrossing series.

Dr. Michael Heiser also agrees. He describes it as the series of his childhood, because it fits the time that he lived when he was growing up. He does not think for a moment that the Duffer brothers have in mind telling a Christian story, but in many of our stories there are things that do jive well with a Christian worldview. In this case, one of the big lessons in the series is that there are other powers in this world and we are not alone.

While much of Stranger Things involves science, a lot doesn’t fit with a scientific worldview. There are powers that the creatures and Eleven have that go beyond what we see science often showing. In the same way, we live in a world where there is much that is not known by science and cannot be known. This is not to mock science, but to say science has its limits.

There’s also the concept of a party. The boys form a small group of adventurers that do all that they can together to fight against an oppressive government agency and a monster from another world. They have divisions among themselves, but they ultimately stick together. Other people wind up joining in the adventure and so far in the seasons, what you see is, in the end, several differing quests come together and reach a conclusion.

Many of these center around family. When the young boy goes missing, his mother never gives up hope, even when his body is presented. That body is not her son’s. She’s right. Mothers somehow know. The bonds of family often run deep in Stranger Things.

Love is also a constant reality. Naturally, you have stories of teenage love and as the boys are coming of age, they are forming their own love relationships. Sometimes, these relationships hurt. Some people are scared to open up. Sadly, sometimes, some of the people die in the relationships due to the interactions of the monsters. There’s no guarantee that the story will have rainbows and puppies all throughout.

This book features on the first two seasons. I do hope a sequel will come out of the book when the series is done to give overall thoughts. Stranger Things I think hits on our culture because we all know there is something more. We don’t have to believe in an Upside Down, but we can believe there is another world beyond ours. We can believe there are greater powers. We can believe in good vs evil. We can believe in love and family.

Whatever you think of the series, you probably know someone who likes it. Why not give them this book if they are a non-Christian? Actually, why not if they are a Christian since they can think about it all the more? I highly endorse this book.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Gift Of Punishments

Is a punishment from God a gift? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Tolkien lived a rough life I understand. I heard a video yesterday my wife played talking about it and how someone wrote Tolkien about how he viewed death. Tolkien responded with “What punishments of God are not gifts?” Now, this is not to say that every time a death occurs, it is a direct punishment from God, or any suffering for that matter, but it is a good perspective on it.

If we are Christians who believe that everything passes through God’s hand and that all things work together for good to those who love the Lord, then every trial and temptation that comes our way is a gift to help shape us into Christlikeness. Perhaps someone might say, “I don’t see how God can use this.” That does not mean that he cannot. This is the true biblical definition of faith. It is trust in the sovereign Lord even when one does not know what He is doing because of who He is.

It doesn’t mean one enjoys the time of suffering. We normally do not. Few of us wake up and embrace suffering in the morning and give thanks for it. We are not good at doing what James says at counting it joy when trials come upon us at all times.

But that is what we are told to do.

I am a part of Celebrate Recovery here. Let’s suppose that I have a man I talk to who is addicted to porn. Is it good that he is? No. Can it be used for good? Absolutely. God has allowed him to see a weakness in his character that can be removed so that he can be more like Jesus. Through his current real lack of love for women, he can grow into a deep love for them and perhaps his own current or future wife. (Yes. Pornography is a lack of love of women. It is simply treating them as bodies.)

Not all suffering comes through moral failings on our part. I think I remember Tolkien’s parents dying at a young age and him being raised by a priest. We are not people who hold to the “Law of Attraction” that says what happens to you is what you attract. Sometimes it can be. Lie down with dogs and you can get fleas. Make foolish and prideful decisions and you can expect consequences.

Still, even with that suffering, one can grow into a deeper trust in Christ in those times. If we refuse to accept these times as good, then we are doing what Job said not to do. We are saying we want to accept good things when they come from God, but if it’s anything we don’t like, we don’t want to accept it. Isn’t it quite incredible that when God gives us goods that we don’t deserve, even as simple as rain and sunshine, we don’t complain, but when God allows any kind of suffering in our lives, and we all deserve that biblically, then we start to complain?

Hebrews also tells us that if we are disciplined, then that means we are sons. What this tells us is that if suffering isn’t part of our lives, we might be doing something wrong. God disciplines all of His sons and daughters. Our refusal to accept it only makes it harder. Imagine if the stone moved every time the sculptor came with the chisel and resisted it. The work would either not get done or come out horribly.

If something comes into our lives, it is something God can use for our good. Our problem is we don’t turn to Him when that happens. Instead, we often get angry with Him and act like He is in the wrong. I am not saying that all such anger is wrong. It happens. The Psalms are full of it. The good for them is that the Psalmist still trusts God with His anger. Be honest with your emotions with God, but trust Him anyway.

Again, as Job says, we ought to accept trouble from God and not just good. It does not mean that God is against us or He doesn’t love us. Maybe it’s just, and I know this is a bizarre thought but I will share it anyway, maybe an omniscient being actually knows some things that we don’t know. Maybe we should be humble and ask for the faith to submit to God in trust when things are rough knowing more of who He is. If we struggle there, maybe we need to change our theology.

Whatever happens to you today, if you love the Lord, it will be used for your good. How can you lose?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Self-Contradictory Moral Relativists

How do moral relativists contradict themselves? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This is not a blog against moral relativism so much as against moral relativists. I will in this blog accept that hypothetically moral relativism could be true. It could be true that there is nothing good or evil but thinking makes it so. It could be that good and evil are just subejctive ideas we have with no real grounding in reality.

I think that’s all nonsense, but I’m not arguing against that here.

What I am arguing against is the position of many people who espouse moral relativism. What I’m discussing happens on a regular basis and they never seem to see the contradiction. The people I know that espouse moral relativism the most often turn and post about all the evil things they think God does or God allows.

What will happen is you’ll have a thread on Facebook or some place like that and you will see someone say that the God of the Old Testament is an evil villain for putting people to death. Okay. They’re allowed to have that opinion. That’s a separate piece to argue against, but that is not the point here. Then in the replies to their claim, they will go and espouse moral relativism and say that there is no good or evil.

So let’s make this clear.

If you are a moral relativist, it is inconsistent to speak about something being good or evil and at the same time say that there is no good or evil. What you’re really saying ultimately is that God doesn’t exist because He does things you don’t like. In other words, the only God you’ll agree exists is one that agrees entirely with you. I would hope most of us would realize that if God exists, odds are we have a lot of claims wrong about reality and He knows better.

Now you could hypothetically say that if moral realism is true, then Christianity has a problem with the problem of evil. I don’t think we do, but at least you’re being consistent then and saying “On your view of moral realism, this is a problem.” Despite that, I wonder how it is that you can recognize the evil that you complain about anyway.

Let’s also be clear on something else. When we say that God is needed to know what the good is, that does not mean you need explicit knowledge of God in some way to know what goodness is. Goodness is part of general revelation and is there for everyone to know about. You need God to ground the good, but you do not need God to know the good.

If you want to be a moral relativist, that is your choice, but please do not be inconsistent and talk about the problem of evil or the evil things God does or anything like that. At the same time, be consistent and say that there is nothing truly good either. Good luck also living that worldview consistently. I don’t think it’s possible and every time I see a moral relativist complain about evil, I take it as further confirmation that it’s not tenable.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Does It Matter If The Resurrection Is A Metaphor?

Does it matter if the resurrection was literal? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Wednesday night, I was at the debate between my father-in-law, Mike Licona, and John Dominic Crossan about who the historical Jesus was and how he saw himself. I hate to say it, but it really wasn’t much of a debate because I don’t think anyone really understood what Crossan was arguing. Crossan was putting practically everything into the world of metaphor and saying that the message was a metaphor and that he would die for a metaphor and if the resurrection is literal, what difference would it make? The real question is are we living resurrected lives.

When I got up to ask a question, I said my wife and I enjoy being married. Still, we wonder what will happen when our time comes. Will we be together forever? I replied that a literal resurrection can assure us that we will be. What hope can a metaphor give us?

The reply was something along the lines of how the message was not the resurrection of individuals but that the human race would overcome. The violence of Rome would be overthrown by non-violence. This is supposedly the good news of Jesus.

There are a number of things I wonder about this, such as how this Jesus got crucified. Despite that, there is one thing I want to focus on. The resurrection. Does it make a difference if it’s a metaphor or literal?

I’m not going to go into making a whole case for the resurrection. That has been done plenty of times elsewhere. I am going to be emphasizing the difference it makes and to be fair, it is easy to miss this many times.

One big difference is that we live in a world where death is a reality. We see it all around us. We know that when the game over comes for someone, it really is game over barring a miracle. It’s a sad reality. When we bury a loved one, they are dead, and the relationship is not the same.

Will it ever be? Is that it?

We live in a world of injustice. Recently here in Atlanta, we had a police officer shot who died from that and his killer was found within 48 hours and also died when he pulled out a weapon on police officers. There are many crimes that take place and sadly, the culprit is never found. Some people seem to go free.

Will there ever be justice?

Sometimes people die from disease. Our friend, Nabeel Qureshi, died from stomach cancer at an extremely young age. Just today in my Facebook memories I saw something about a friend who passed away last year. She was an older lady, but it’s still hard to see.

Will this ever be righted?

What about our universe itself? Some of you out there I am sure believe we are responsible for some climate change. We live in a world there does seem to be a lot of destruction. We want to colonize other planets, but even if we do, the universe is destined to die a cold death and take us with it.

Is there any point?

What about our bodies themselves? Do they matter? Are human beings just objects. Does it matter what I do with my body? Does it matter how I behave sexually or how my diet is?

What difference does it make?

This is why the resurrection matters? Will we live again and see each other again? Yes. Will evil be judged and good rewarded? Yes. Will lives be redeemed that died from tragic disease? Yes. Will the Earth and the universe be renewed and made eternal paradises? Yes. Do our bodies matter and how we treat them? Yes.

The resurrection matters.

It matters that it’s literal.

I think I’ll stick with the literal resurrection. That’s the good news that overcame the Earth. Christianity isn’t just a nice story. It’s a reality about the world and everything in it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Those interested in the debate can listen to it here.

Christianity As An Adventure

What is really going on in the Christian life? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We have a modded Wii now that comes with thousands of retro games. This has allowed me to play several games from my childhood that I haven’t played for years. RPGs are generally my favorite. I often think about how the hero or heroes grow from this small force that eventually goes and conquers the greatest evil out there.

When we watch movies, many men like to watch superhero movies or James Bond movies or some action flicks like that. Why is that? Most likely for the same reason many women watch romance movies and chick flicks. They want their lives to be like that. Now many men realize the adventures in some of their movies are impossible, but they like the concept anyway.

Take a look at the word adventure. How does it start? Advent. Advent marked the coming of the Christ into the world, a marvel that none could have expected. Adventure includes that with an element of risk and danger. When Christ came into this world, He really came into enemy territory. He marched straight into the place where the evil one was in charge and took him on.

And guys, let’s not forget one common aspect of the adventure films we watch. There is usually a damsel in distress, a woman that the main man wishes to save. We could just as easily say that Jesus came for His bride, the church. Jesus came to fight for the one that He loves.

What happened after that? We were given the responsibility. We were told to go through with the Great Commission. We were to march into the world into places we are not wanted and present the Good News. We are to put ourselves at risk. The marching orders will not be identical for every Christian in how they’re lived out, but they are the same.

When Final Fantasy XV came out, I wrote about how I was getting a view of how the world is from playing it. Here you have an empire that is taking over a land, and yet most of the people are going about their lives oblivious to what is going on. The only resistance one really sees is the main heroes that the player controls.

Such it is today. So many of us are just living our lives and not doing anything for the Kingdom. Believe it or not, just going to church and singing a few songs every Sunday and listening to a sermon is not the same as making an impact for the Kingdom. To do that, one will have to enter the territory of risk to some degree. One will have to be willing to sacrifice for the Gospel, and that sacrifice could be safety and/or personal reputation.

Yet for men like myself especially, this should be something exciting. We have been called to embark on the greatest mission we could ever be called to for the honor of God Himself. We are called to advance the Kingdom of God. We are called in the greatest battle of good vs. evil that could ever be.

As I said, when a man plays a game that has adventure or watches a movie like that, he is most often enjoying it because that is a concept he wants to enjoy more in his own life. If he wants to enjoy it, then go and enjoy it. The world is waiting and it is waiting for heroes to rise up for the Kingdom of God. We are to walk in the footsteps of Christ entering enemy territory for the church that Christ loves.

In gaming terms, this is the most dangerous one of all. There is no reset button. There are no cheat codes. Still, while that is a challenge, I hear the bonus level at the end and the reward for finishing the game are awesome.

In Christ,
Nick Peters