Deeper Waters Podcast 10/26/2019

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

Truth is said to be stranger than fiction, but fiction sure can be pretty strange. If you interact with a lot of fiction, it can contain some stranger things. Let’s consider for example, Stranger Things, the hit series on Netflix. This series has been a mega-hit for Netflix and has a huge fan following. My wife and I are hoping we have enough to get Netflix again before the new season comes out next year.

Right after watching Season three this year, I went on Amazon to see if anyone had written anything about Christianity and Stranger Things. Sure enough, I found what I was looking for. Not only did I find it, I found it was by someone who had been on the show before.

So I send out a few emails and before too long, things are in the works. I’m really pleased to get to do a show on such a popular series. While it is doubtful the authors want to spread anything Christian in the series, that doesn’t mean we can’t see Christian themes in there. After all, it’s been said wherever you have a hero and a villain, you have the gospel.

We are almost to the day. It’s possible that Allie could be joining me on this show. While she hasn’t read the book, that could be to her advantage in this case so she could ask questions that anyone wondering about Christianity and Stranger Things could answer. We’re still waiting to see what she’ll do.

So Allie may or may not be present, but I can tell you who will be present besides myself. It will be our guest who is an Old Testament scholar who does a lot of work with Logos. He’s written a lot on the unseen realm and is now bringing that knowledge to Stranger Things. His name is Michael Heiser.

Who is he?

“A scholar in the fields of Biblical Studies and the Ancient Near East, Dr. MichaelS. Heiser is a Scholar-in-Residence at Faithlife Corporation, the makers of Logos Bible Software. Heiser studied at Dallas Theological Seminary, has a master’s degree in Ancient History from the University of Pennsylvania, a master’s in Hebrew Studies and a PhD in Hebrew Bible and Semitic Languages from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has published hundreds of essays and peer-reviewed papers in scholarly journals and popular periodicals such as Bible Study Magazine. He has taught at the collegiate level for well over a decade, specializing in the Hebrew Bible, Northwest Semitic languages (biblical Hebrew, biblical Greek, Syriac, Aramaic, Ugaritic, Egyptian, Akkadian, Sumerian, Phoenician, and Moabite), biblical theology, the history and religions of the ancient Near East and Second Temple Jewish literature.”

What hath Stranger Things to do with Christianity? What are the themes in the show that point to Christian ideas? What about moral problems in the show like pre-marital sex and other such issues? How should Christians approach a work like Stranger Things?

I hope you’ll be watching for this episode and that you’ll be watching your podcast feed. We are working on putting up new episodes more and more. Please also leave a positive review on iTunes for us.

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

Stranger Things And Christianity

Does Stranger Things have anything to teach us about the world we live in?

(Possible spoilers in the post and comments)

My wife is a major fan of the Netflix series Stranger Things. We had to use a free trial this time around to watch the season that came out on Independence Day, but we did watch it and we weren’t disappointed. Season 2 had honestly been a let down to us. Season 3 made up for it.

Old Testament scholar Michael Heiser has a book coming out in October about Christianity and Stranger Things. One of the things I think that will be in that book based on the description is the openness of the world of the show to what we would call the paranormal. In this world, you have a number of science nerds who come together and fight a being from another side of reality.

If you don’t know, the series takes place in the 80’s and involves a group of boys that somehow have one of their members get trapped in a world called the Upside-Down where strange creatures live that are starting to make a move onto our world. The boys have to work together normally with their siblings and select adults in the community. They also work with one character who essentially has super powers such as telekinesis and a sort of projection of themselves into other places.

I do like the show being set in the 80’s since I was born in 1980 and grew up in that time. It’s also good to know the heroes at the start are a bunch of Dungeons and Dragons nerds who find themselves going on a real adventure against a real monster. There are also other aspects that I think are interesting.

A few years ago, I wrote a post on Final Fantasy XV here. In it, I talked about how some heroes go about saving the world they live in while many people are living their lives oblivious to what is going on. The same happens in Stranger Things. There is one difference in the people who do come together to confront the evil.

In the seasons, normally, you see different story arcs taking place. They seem unrelated at first, but in the end, everything comes together. There is normally one final confrontation with the evil and of course, the good guys win. Keep in mind also that in many ways, most of these are ordinary people. They don’t dream of doing anything super heroic, but when the time comes, they fight and win.

It’s also people from all walks and ages. You have at first the younger children who are now just really entering puberty. Their older siblings also eventually get involved. The parents also play a part in what happens, and then various people in the community. About the only one who might expect to do something heroic in the party is the police chief.

Aside from the one superpowered character who goes by the name Eleven, there is nothing specifically amazing about these characters. Despite that, they are not stopped whether it be facing Russian spies or Upside Down monsters. They all do what they have to do because evil has to be stopped.

There is certainly a reason this is a hit series and I look forward to Heiser’s book coming out. Until then, perhaps like was discussed with Final Fantasy XV, we should consider we have been put on this Earth also to help deal with evil here as well and we don’t have to have super powers to do it. Everyone of us has a role we can play.

Play yours.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 8/11/2018: Michael Heiser

What’s coming up? Let’s dive into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The divine council is a theme that occurs from time to time in the Old Testament. When we go to Genesis early on, we can see a few times it takes place in Genesis 1-11. These passages can sometimes be read in the sense of a royal we, but maybe they mean something else. When King Ahab is considering going off to battle and God has in mind to entice him to do it so he will die there, we see a divine council taking place. When we read Psalm 82, we get told about God sitting among the gods and saying to certain people, “I have said that you are gods.” Jesus even quotes this passage in John 10.

What is going on in these passages? Is there an Ancient Near Eastern motif that we’re missing? Is the Bible teaching polytheism? Could these passages somehow influence how we witness to Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons? After all, Mormons seem to enjoy going to these passages to show a plurality of gods. Are they right? If there is a plurality of gods, how will that help with Jehovah’s Witnesses who are adamant monotheists? Besides, aren’t Christians supposed to be monotheists also?

To discuss these passages and how they interact with these groups, I am having a guest come on that many people have requested over the years and he was very willing to come on. We wanted him back in December, but a blizzard came through in his area unfortunately and shut down the power. Hopefully, all will go well this time. My guest will be Michael Heiser. So who is he?

According to his bio:

Michael S. Heiser (M.A., Ancient History, University of Pennsylvania; M.A., Ph.D., Hebrew Bible and Semitic Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison) taught at the college level for twelve years before accepting a position at Logos Bible Software with a focus on producing ancient text databases and other digital resources for study of the ancient world and biblical studies. He is now the Scholar-in-Residence at Logos Bible Software (Faithlife Corp.) and a regular contributor to Faithlife’s Bible Study Magazine. He has also published widely in scholarly journals and is a best-selling author. His books include: The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible (Lexham, 2015)Supernatural: What The Bible Teaches About The Unseen World and Why It Matters (Lexham, 2015); Reversing Hermon: Enoch, The Watchers, and the Forgotten Mission of Jesus Christ (Defender, 2017); Angels: What The Bible Really Says About the Heavenly Host (Lexham, 2018); and the 60-Second Scholar series: Brief Insights on Mastering Bible Study (Zondervan, 2018);  Brief Insights on Mastering the Bible (Zondervan, 2018);  Brief Insights on Mastering Bible Doctrine (Zondervan, 2018). 

Heiser advocates that interpreting the Bible in context means reading it in light of the context that produced it instead of Christian tradition or modern thinking. Readers discover a radical new relevance and coherence when they read the Bible through the eyes of its writer. Years ago, this passion for convincing readers of the importance of an ancient worldview prompted Dr. Heiser to create The Naked Bible blog and the popular Naked Bible Podcast. Dr. Heiser’s non-profit ministry (MIQLAT.org) provides translations of his work free of charge in over a dozen languages and has partnered with AllAboutGod.com to create the new YouTube Channel FringePop321, which seeks to engage people attracted to new age and popular fringe beliefs. To that end Dr. Heiser has also written two science fiction novels (The FacadeThe Portent) and hosts a podcast dedicated to discussing peer-reviewed research on these subjects (PEERANORMAL).

I hope you’ll be joining us for this episode as we talk about these topics. Please also go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast. It’s really inspiring to see how many people like the show.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 12/30/2017: Michael Heiser

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

The year coming up is a new year, but sometimes, it’s good to look back on that which is old. How about the Old Testament for instance? Many times in the church we can get really focused on the New Testament and that is important, but sometimes, we have to be reminded that there is that other collection called the Old Testament.

Could it also possibly be that that Old Testament might have something to say to even new situations today? We have a lot of situations today that are new to us as we have seen a changing world around us. Some situations today are the new cults that we have. Even if they have old doctrines many times, there is a new twist to them. Two such groups are Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

There is an Old Testament scholar who has been doing some work on an argument to answer them. Not too long ago a friend recommended that I get in touch with him and have him come on the show. That opportunity came and he has agreed to come on and we are going to be talking about his argument concerning Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. His name is Dr. Michael Heiser.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Michael S. Heiser is a scholar of the Bible and its ancient context. Mike is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (M.A., Ancient History) and the University of Wisconsin- Madison (M.A., Ph.D., Hebrew Bible and Semitic Studies). He has taught biblical studies, theology, and ancient languages for over twenty years in the classroom and online distance education. He is currently a Scholar-in-Residence at Logos Bible Software, a company that produces ancient text databases and other digital resources for study of the ancient world and biblical studies. Dr. Heiser maintains three blogs that focus on biblical studies (The Naked Bible), fringe beliefs about the ancient world (PaleoBabble), and modern conspiratorial belief systems (UFO Religions). He is host of the popular Naked Bible Podcast and writes science fiction that draw on all these areas of interest. His homepage is drmsh.com.

Dr. Heiser has published over one hundred articles in trade magazines and peer-reviewed academic journals. He is author of the best-selling book The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible (Lexham Press, 2015) and its shorter, distilled companion work, Supernatural: What the Bible Teaches about the Unseen World and Why it Matters (Lexham Press, 2015). Dr. Heiser’s other books include I Dare You Not to Bore Me with the Bible, The Bible Unfiltered: Approaching Scripture On Its Own Terms, and Reversing Hermon: Enoch, the Watchers, and the Forgotten Mission of Jesus Christ, and the three volumes of the 60-Second Scholar series, due out in May, 2018: Brief Insights on Mastering Bible Study, Brief Insights on Mastering the Bible, and Brief Insights on Mastering Bible Doctrine. His supernatural fiction thrillers are The Façade and its sequel, The Portent.

I hope you’ll be tuning in. This should be an interesting episode to hear as we discuss what the Old Testament has to say about Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Please also go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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