Want to laugh? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This might surprise some of you, but I tend to have a reputation as somewhat of a jokester.

No. Seriously.

As someone in therapy, something my therapist and I concluded is that humor is my version of small talk. Humor is how I tend to break the ice with people. When people come to the Post Office, one of my goals is to make them laugh. A lot of this is done by taking them literally.

“Can you check my mail?”


*Just sit there doing what I was doing*

“Will you check my mail?”


There are a number of professors and students who come in and leave laughing and I hope in a better mood. A professor I go out and do evangelism with has got used to it and says he knows he has to watch his words with me. There are several moments of outright laughter.

Also, once something enters into the joke vocabulary, expect it to stay there. The humor never dies. Some people have asked if I do the virgin birth thing, which I do affirm, in person. Yes. Most everyone on campus knows about affirming the virgin birth.

For me, this is also much easier to do than small talk because I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like to laugh, though I am sure there are some. Jokes are easy to do and some people have told me I should consider going into Christian comedy as well.

As someone working on a philosophy degree as well, it really makes me think about language a lot more. Why do we say what we say and do we really watch the meaning of our words? A serious problem I have spoken of is how we treat the words think and feel as if they are synonyms.

In the Plato dialogue Parmenides, Parmenides tells a young Socrates to watch the common people and what they say. This is a great way of learning philosophy as you pay attention to words more and what they mean. Not only this, but learning philosophy has a side benefit of helping you know how to be more annoying at times.

The problem is this is a playful annoying and it can be hard to tell when people don’t want to do such anymore. In my mind, if something is funny, it stays funny. Unfortunately, not everyone sees it this way. The way humor can be off-putting for some is the very way that small talk is off-putting for me. If you want me to tune you out quickly, then a good way to do it is to come up to me and engage in this small talk.

Keep this in mind also when dealing with people on the spectrum. We also like to laugh and laughter is a great way to break through defenses and put people more at ease. Just make sure that you don’t make any humor too offensive as many on the spectrum have been used to being treated derisively.

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

Book Plunge: Theologygrams

What do I think of Rich Wyld’s book published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you’ve ever seen something from graphjam, you know how much fun pie charts and graphs can be. You go through and you look for that last piece of the chart that makes up the whole and it’s something humorous. Rich Wyld has done that kind of thing with theology. Not all of the images are pie charts, but many are graphs of some kind.

The book is a quick look at various topics. You can read it in less than an hour, but that’s because so much of it is illustrated. Many of them can be quite humorous and as I went through, I would pause from time to time and show my wife one of the charts that I would come across.

I honestly wish there had been more. As it stands, I think this is a great idea for people to use. Humor is often seen as something that we need not mix with the sacred, but if anything, we need more humor. If you want to know if God has a sense of humor, look in the mirror. You could also look at a duck-billed platypus, but many of us don’t have access to those.

This is one of the reasons I enjoy reading Michael Bird’s books so much. If I’m reading your average theology or apologetics book, it can often be dry. I enjoy the learning, but it would be good to have some spice in there. When I read Bird, I will normally come across something that will make the point in such a powerful way with Australian humor that I just can’t help but laugh at it.

Many of us know also that this helps us be more at ease with the topic and clear any tension that is in the room. It’s also good for those of us in the Christian community to be creative. Too many times when we do something, we’re really just copying what everyone else is doing in the sense of taking a slogan and Christianizing it. This has been called before the production of “Jesus Junk.” (No. Giving someone a Testamint does not count as evangelism.)

For this, Wyld has done us a favor. I really hope that more will do this kind of thing. We need Christian media that is both entertaining, informative, and not preachy. Too many of us have seen the Christian movies that think that they have to explicitly spell out the Gospel because, well, the audience is just too dense to know what it is and they have to hear it or else the point will be lost. Strange that Tolkien and Lewis never needed to do that.

If you want a quick little laugh or illustrations you can use for a talk you are giving, this can be a good one. There are many topics that are discussed here and the humor can be quite good. I do want to see more of this kind of work coming out as we Christians need to show that we like to enjoy ourselves too.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Nintendo, Sega, and the Gospel

What do the console wars of the 80’s and 90’s have to tell us about Christianity? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A friend recently gave me a Kindle gift of the book Console Wars and I have started reading it. It’s all about the war between Nintendo and Sega in the 80’s and 90’s. Now I had always been a Nintendo guy. What made me get into Playstation also was just one thing. Final Fantasy. Reading through this book, I think back to my own growing up time and all the events going on behind the scenes that I had no idea of and the connections Nintendo and Sega had with other events that I was unaware of.

I also am thinking about the Gospel. Sega did take on a giant in Nintendo. Ultimately, we know that they eventually lost to the point that now they make games for Nintendo. Still, there is something we can learn here. If we’re in apologetics, how do we take on the giant of unbelief today? If your objection is that Sega lost the war still, then I remind you that there is no silver bullet in evangelism. Perhaps we can learn from where they succeeded and from where they failed both.

The usual reply I get to something like this is that using some sort of marketing technique will mean watering down the Gospel. Not at all. We do not need to change one thing about the Gospel. We need to say sin is sin and Jesus is Lord and everything else still. What we can do is change our presentation to better reach the people.

Part of this is finding out what drives the desires of the people. For instance, we can consider that we think a series that has a great actor or actress in it could sell well, but this doesn’t follow. The Crazy Ones had Robin Williams in it and yet it only lasted one season. The Big Bang Theory did not have an all-star cast at the start and yet it is just now finishing its tenth season. What did the latter have that the former didn’t?

We’re seeing a lot of superhero movies coming out nowadays. Why? What is it about superheroes that drives us so much? This also includes retro heroes. I went to see the Power Rangers movie as soon as it came out as an example. That is a series that has been going on for over twenty years despite the basic theme never changing. What is it about all of these that is the draw?

Music. This is one area I do lack a lot in. My taste in music is pretty much restricted to Weird Al Yankovic (the greatest musical genius of all time) and video game music. If I had to choose a decade, I would go back to the 50’s and 60’s. I consider too much of modern Christian music to just be light and fluffy. Still, why do people like the songs that they like?

As we come to understand people and what they like, we can come to learn how to approach them. If you go to an honor-shame culture and you give the Gospel in a Western way, you will not reach a lot of people with it. Describing God as a judge to them means He’s someone who can be bought off easily with a bribe. Talk about sin and they’re confused. Talk about broken relationship and dishonoring God and they will understand. In the same way, we have to work with our culture.

We often go on to the truth question immediately, but that might not be where they’re at. If it was truth that was the driving force, everyone would be going to the library regularly trying to study and learn. Perhaps we need to find out what drives the culture and how we can use that.

C.S. Lewis did this with the Chronicles of Narnia. Few little children would really go to a library and get a book about Jesus and study it, but in learning about Aslan, they found they learned about Jesus. Lewis managed to sneak past the watchful dragons of his day. If we present just an argument and have no reason for people to really care about the argument, then the fact is they will not care about the argument.

If you think I’m changing the Gospel, again, I am not. Christians have adapted themselves to the internet, social media, and any other new forum that has come along. My own ministry partner makes apologetics-themed cartoons on YouTube. The material he presents does come from scholarly sources. Again, few people will go out and read those scholarly sources, but having it in an entertaining format brings it to the people. The entertainment factor also makes a point of it. Several years ago Boss Tweed’s biggest problem was a cartoonist named Thomas Nast. Why? Because he knew people would not read articles against him, but they will read cartoons.

As we go into these other areas, we need to make sure we’re producing high quality material. If we make Christian movies and only Christians see them, we really haven’t done much. The Case For Christ movie recently has been a great exception to this. Even Richard Carrier said that it’s a good movie. There was no scene in it that you had the Gospel rammed down your throat. Too often in Christian films, we have thought we had to spell everything out because otherwise, the audience is just too stupid to catch on. It’s worth pointing out that Lee Strobel’s original book The Case for Christ caught on so well because he made it not just a book of facts, but a story with real discussions going on. We could argue that the Da Vinci Code did the same thing. Sure, the information was bogus, but the concept was the same. People started thinking about the claims of the book more and if we wanted academic discussions, that was a gateway to those discussions.

At this point, I’m still pondering how all of this will work out. The main point I have is to find the people where they’re at and start with what matters to them, why it does, and see how the Gospel meets that need. For instance, we can talk about the truth question all we want, but it’s not likely to faze a guy who is not becoming a Christian because he wants to keep having sex with his girlfriend. If you think that scenario doesn’t exist out there, you’re incredibly naive. What we can point out is that the Gospel has an extremely high view of sex (I find it amazing that so many non-Christians treat it as if just a biological function and physical activity alone and we’re the ones saying it’s so much more) and that if we go the path of Christianity and its rules on sex and marry with those, we can have a far better sex life than we would without. We are not opposed to his desire for sex as there’s nothing wrong with that, but we think that the Gospel has a much better way to appreciate it. Note that in all of this, I did not say that sex outside of marriage is okay. It isn’t. It’s just going to be convincing someone that they can hold off on something now so that they can appreciate it in a greater way later on if they marry.

Like I said, I’m still pondering. I’m only about a fourth of the way through the book and I’m sure there’s a lot more to learn. I’m taking Kindle notes regularly to try to see what steps were done that I think correct and what steps were incorrect. How did Nintendo successfully share their product? How did Sega not?

I appreciate any suggestions anyone else has on this. Consider this blog some thinking out loud as you will. This is not the final word on a conversation, but I hope it will not be the only one either. I prefer it to be the first of many here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Studying Logic

How do you go about studying the topic of logic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’ve been discussing lately with some fellow Christians the study of logic. We’ve often discussed the main ways that people study logic, such as reading the books on logic and listening to great teachers on logic. This is essential to the study and you should do this, but at the same time, I want to point out some fun ways you can put into practice what you are studying.

One place to go to is advertising. Someone is selling you a product. Why should you buy it? What claims do they make? Do they really convince you that this is a worthwhile exchange for your money, or do they do something else, say have a bikini wearing model advertise a burger for you? (And let’s face it, we all know that model never ever eats anything like that.)

Sometimes, businesses are less forward than that and try to sneak in an attitude. When we lived in Tennessee, a local bank would have commercials with a touching country setting emphasizing the goodness of home. Nothing was said about the bank itself, but the feeling you got thinking about the homey atmosphere was meant to carry over to the bank. Car insurance companies have been doing this as well using humor. How many of us laugh at the “Jake from State Farm” commercials or the GEICO commercials about cats, mothers, and the band Europe? You know what? They work, because we talk about these commercials, but many times you don’t really wind up knowing much about the product.

I have also been a stickler for pointing out to my wife Allie what it means when someone is referred to as a liar. Because someone gets a claim wrong does not mean that they are a liar. If that is so, every student who gets a false answer on a math test is a liar. A liar is someone who knows the truth about what they are saying and says the opposite fully intending what they say to be believed as the truth. We have to be clear because someone could say the exact opposite in sarcasm not intending to be believed at all. This kind of thing happens often in politics. It’s too easy to say someone is a liar for providing information that is false. Maybe they are, but it takes more than false information to show that someone is lying.

Speaking of politics, let’s look at the presidential debates we have going on now. This is a great place to go to to study logic because you can look at a question a candidate is asked and then look at the answer and ask “Did they really answer the question?” You can also ask how they did that with a question or challenge they receive from an opponent.

By the way, when you do this, it’s important to try to be as impartial as you can. Let’s say you’re a Ted Cruz supporter in the Republican primary. You might be looking to see what Donald Trump says that is an example of bad logic or an answer that does not follow or dodges the question. That’s fine. Do the same for Cruz also. If you’re a Trump supporter, you will do the opposite. You should also be willing to admit when your opponent does answer the question satisfactorily. You can debate how good the answer is how effective a strategy would be, but does he answer the question?

Humor is also a good place to go to. Comedians don’t try to be logicians, but they do try to point out the humor in our thinking. If you like puns, puns rely on ambiguity largely. That’s what makes them so funny. Much of our humor relies on taking people literally. My wife and I were just seeing someone and getting set to make another appointment and they said we can make it for whenever we want. I replied midnight would work just fine for us. Of course, that wouldn’t work for them, but that was the humor of it. On The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon Cooper regularly does this sort of thing.

Finally, if you’re doing this from an apologetics perspective, consider watching to and listening to debates. One of my favorite programs for debates is Unbelievable? with Justin Brierley. Try to be impartial. Ask and see what side really makes the better case. I have heard debates where I had to say the non-Christian made a better case and some where sadly, the Christian case was just embarrassing in its defense. It does not mean that I think the non-Christian was right, but it does mean that I think they did a better job presenting their case. One mistake it’s easy to make is to think that if an argument agrees with your conclusion, it must be a good one. Christians and atheists both sadly have a habit of going to Google, finding the first thing that they think agrees with them, and sharing it because they think it agrees with what they already believe and so it must be a good argument.

Studying logic in this can be fun and eye-opening and prepare you for a world where people are going to be consistently trying to snow you. Many will do this unintentionally. Some will do it intentionally. If you can learn to think through what people say better, you will be a step ahead of the game. Even if you don’t know a topic well, you can at least see how well conclusions follow.

In Christ,
Nick Peters