Book Plunge: Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught Part 7

Can we pull a rabbit out of a hat? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

And for his next trick, Madison is going to try to convince us that Jesus taught we can do magic. Well, of course we can! I mean, it takes years of practice and learning how to trick people but get a wand and a hat and a book of tricks and….wait…you mean it’s not that kind of magic? Oh! You mean he thinks miracles and things like that are automatically magic!

Sorry. I forget evangelistic atheists are just ignorant and like to use the word magic as if that discredits everything.

Now you’re not going to find anything here like a reasoned case against miracles. I mean, at least throw out David Hume or something like that. But hey, when you’re arguing from his position, who needs to make a case for his worldview? It’s just those nutty Christians that have to defend theirs.

So let’s get to something he says about the Lord’s Supper.

The familiar words we know from Mark’s gospel, “this is my body…this is my blood of the new covenant,” are missing from John’s account of the Last Supper. Instead, much earlier in the story, in the 6th chapter of John, after Jesus had fed the 5,000, we find these words—and no matter how familiar you may be with communion—how can they not be disturbing?


Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. (John 6:53-57, NRSV)

Madison, David. Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught: And Other Reasons to Question His Words (pp. 51-52). Insighting Growth Publications. Kindle Edition.

Let’s agree on one point. These words should be very disturbing indeed! They were so disturbing that a majority of the people who had just witnessed a miracle and were ready to proclaim Jesus to be king turned and walked away. Jesus went straight from hero to zero in their eyes. They were at one moment ready to trust Him as king and the next they gave up any trust in Him.

So for a point, let’s consider Madison is right. We need to really take these words seriously.

Do I think Jesus is talking about the Eucharist here? No. I think instead that Jesus is pointing to the Wilderness wanderings and saying “Just as the manna was their sustenance in the wilderness, so it is that I must be your sustenance in all things.” Now you could say “And that takes place in the Eucharist” if you’re of that persuasion, but it is not a necessity.

Now moving on, we get this little gem:

I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it. (John 14:13-14, NRSV) Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. (John 16:23-24, NRSV)

I suspect many Christians know these texts are falsified by their own prayer experiences. I urge you to think long and hard about prayer. How can it not be classified as a form of magical thinking? In many cases, even an attempt at conjuring?

Madison, David. Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught: And Other Reasons to Question His Words (p. 53). Insighting Growth Publications. Kindle Edition.

There’s a rule of interpretation that is to try to avoid making what your opponent say look as stupid as possible. If you think your opponent is saying something that is manifestly false, you need to check to see if you have misunderstood Him. Unfortunately, Madison has not done that.

For one thing, it should be blatantly obvious Jesus is not offering a blank check because any prayer that would come back unanswered would immediately disprove that. What is He offering then? He is offering that if you are fully in line with the will of God, you will get what you want, and very few people will be in such a place and if they are, they are not going to be asking for selfish things.

Not only that, but ancient Jews spoke in terms of hyperbole. When Salome dances for Herod, he offers her half of his kingdom. She could have just asked for the one that gave her authority to execute John the Baptist and got him executed and a kingdom then. Everyone knew he couldn’t give that literally. He himself knew it. They also knew what the gesture meant.

Madison doesn’t because he doesn’t understand any culture but his own.

But Madison isn’t done with prayer.

But how do the thoughts inside our heads—trapped there by our skulls—escape to be perceived by God? There are no known mechanisms by which that would work, just as there are no known ways by which the popular spells in the Harry Potter stories would work. Nobody even tries to explain how the Fairy God Mother in Cinderella, waving a wand, changes a pumpkin into a carriage—because that’s fantasy. Does prayer amount to waving a wand in our minds? The efficacy of prayer should not be off-limits for legitimate inquiry. Indeed, scientific studies of prayer have not yielded hoped-for results.

Madison, David. Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught: And Other Reasons to Question His Words (pp. 53-54). Insighting Growth Publications. Kindle Edition.

I am sitting here and typing out a response and I am telling my hands through my brain to type. How does that work? I have no idea. Do I conclude then that I am not doing it because I do not know the mechanism by which this works? Not at all. How does God know what I am praying? As a Thomist, I contend He knows all things by knowing Himself, but even if I don’t understand that, a God who is all-powerful and all-knowing I am sure knows what I am thinking.

Madison dismisses prayer studies. I am skeptical of them as well, but then there are researchers like Candy Gunther-Brown and others who have observed miracles after prayer in certain settings. Of course, if Madison were being fair, he would research those, but we all know he won’t.

The last thing I plan to cover is he says there are two things that are troubling about prayer.

The concept of prayer brings us face-to-face, again, with the grim specter of totalitarian monotheism, that is to say, God monitors our very thoughts—the ultimate invasion of privacy for every person on earth. Doesn’t that make God a nosy busybody? Aside from the fact that there is no verifiable evidence to back up this idea—our feelings about prayer instilled since childhood are not the kind of hard evidence required—it’s simply a terrible idea.

Madison, David. Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught: And Other Reasons to Question His Words (p. 54). Insighting Growth Publications. Kindle Edition.

A terrible idea, therefore wrong. Got it. Besides that nonsense, why should I think I have a right to privacy from God? I owe everything to Him, including my very being. Also, if there is evidence that God exists, and there is, and that He’s all-knowing, and there is, then Madison’s claim is false. God knows what I am thinking. Yes, that should concern me, but knowing He is forgiving should also relieve me and I should seek to get my own thought life under control. Does Madison seriously have a problem with me wanting to have a good thought life?

It is incredibly implausible that a God who manages the cosmos, that is, who has hundreds of billions of galaxies, and trillions of planets under management, would be interested in monitoring the thoughts of more than seven billion human beings—as a way of keeping track of their sinful inclinations, their need for a parking space, or recovery from an ailment. Such an attentive God might have made sense long ago when the earth was regarded as the center of his attention, and when God was thought to reside in the realm above the clouds.

Madison, David. Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught: And Other Reasons to Question His Words (pp. 54-55). Insighting Growth Publications. Kindle Edition.

This is just an appeal to incredulity. First off, the Christians never made the Earth the center of everything. God has always been. Second, God does not have limited resources or strength such that He has to use energy monitoring trillions of planets and everything else.

So alas, Madison again really gives us nothing.

We’ll continue next time.

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



Book Plunge: Still Unbelievable Part 10

Can we expect miracles today? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

David Johnson begins this chapter telling you about a miracle he wants to tell you about. This miracle is mind-blowing. Not only that, but it specifically confirms the existing of the God of the Bible. He would love to tell you, but unfortunately, that miracle doesn’t exist.

I would also like to tell you about a mind-blowing chapter I read. In this chapter, Johnson takes on the best cases of Craig Keener and Candy Gunther Brown. He looks at the best evidence of Near Death Experiences. He takes on the best philosophers defending miracles today. He deals with all of them in a breathtaking display.

Unfortunately, like the miracle Johnson wants to speak of, this chapter does not exist. At least, it doesn’t exist in this book.

Instead, consider the way how Johnson thinks Christians argue:

That is how the Christian treats his god. They know that if their god could be disconfirmed, he would be. So they try to talk about god and his actions in ways that can never be challenged.

Johnson, David; Knight, Andrew; Atkinson, Ed; Skydivephil; Taylor, Matthew; Brady, Michael; Dumas, Sophie. Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics . Reason Press. Kindle Edition.

This is from Johnson’s background in a cessationist movement. It’s not the way Christians have always argued. If anything, the early Christians violated this rule right from the start. It would be nigh impossible to disconfirm a spiritual resurrection. “Yes. Jesus is dead, but His spirit has been ascended to the right side of YHWH.” How would you argue against that? Instead, they went the hard route, that of bodily resurrection.

Then, suppose you wanted to argue that. Well, it would make sense that if you were telling a falsehood, that you got away from the area where it would not be as easy to confirm. Maybe go to Rome or Athens or Alexandria. Nope. They stayed right in Jerusalem. Not only that, they stayed where their enemies could easily find them.

But hey, Johnson has to go by his personal experience which, since it’s his, is normative for everyone. He could have cracked open a book describing miracles with documentation that take place today. He could have looked at philosophical writings on the topic. Nope. Atheists never seem to tire of talking about their personal experiences. (By the way, those are always normative, but when a Christian experiences something, that’s just a delusion.)

So here are some of the problems Johnson sees with miracles:

Free will is violated. On the one hand, Christians claim that bad people have to be free to do bad things despite the harm done to good people. So if god ever intervenes, he is thwarting free will. Violating the laws of nature implies a problem with the laws of nature. If god could have set things in motion to achieve a certain outcome, why didn’t he? The fact that god ever intervened suggests that the world is exactly as he wants it to be. If god intervenes to make sure his will is done, then we have to believe that everything is going according to his will. Otherwise, he would intervene some more.

Johnson, David; Knight, Andrew; Atkinson, Ed; Skydivephil; Taylor, Matthew; Brady, Michael; Dumas, Sophie. Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics . Reason Press. Kindle Edition.

Having free-will only means you get to make your own choices. It doesn’t mean someone can never step in and interfere with your choices. That only takes a little bit of thinking on the topic, but alas, people like Johnson stop at the objection and don’t bother thinking about it.

The second is asking for a  non-miraculous miracle. God should have worked the laws of nature in such a way that they would always confirm to what He wanted. Why? It is saying miracles should have been built into the system. Also, the world is not the way He wants anyway.

The third doesn’t even make sense. God intervenes because the world is going the way He wants to? How many times do you intervene in something when it’s going the way you want it to?

He goes on to talk about why Jesus didn’t do mass healings like remove all leprosy from the world or have it that a hospital would never be needed.

This would be a powerful confirmation that simply does not exist. I am left cold by the healing miracles of Jesus. He did no more to improve health in his time than televangelists do today. Even if his healing was real, it was useless.

Johnson, David; Knight, Andrew; Atkinson, Ed; Skydivephil; Taylor, Matthew; Brady, Michael; Dumas, Sophie. Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics . Reason Press. Kindle Edition.

So if Jesus did really heal someone, then that means what? In some cases, some miracles could be psychosomatic, but when you have people recovering from paralysis, blindness, and coming back from the dead, guess what that means. A miracle has taken place. Johnson’s argument is “Well that doesn’t count because it’s not the miracle I want!”

Nothing like moving the goalposts is there?

Why did Jesus never grow back an arm, or a leg, or a missing eye?

Johnson, David; Knight, Andrew; Atkinson, Ed; Skydivephil; Taylor, Matthew; Brady, Michael; Dumas, Sophie. Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics . Reason Press. Kindle Edition.

Well, He did grow back a missing ear. Could it be maybe He didn’t meet anyone with those conditions? After all, it could be if you lost an arm or a leg, you would have bled out and died awfully quickly in Judea.

He then talks about two cases of resurrection in Acts, that of Dorcas and Eutychus:

There is no explanation why she was singled out for the gift of resurrection. But she was because some people pestered Peter into doing it.

Johnson, David; Knight, Andrew; Atkinson, Ed; Skydivephil; Taylor, Matthew; Brady, Michael; Dumas, Sophie. Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics . Reason Press. Kindle Edition.


I guess Paul felt guilty, and healed the man back to life. There was nothing special about this man or this occasion.

Johnson, David; Knight, Andrew; Atkinson, Ed; Skydivephil; Taylor, Matthew; Brady, Michael; Dumas, Sophie. Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics . Reason Press. Kindle Edition.

Which again is “God didn’t do a miracle the way I’d want him to!” We shall alert the Almighty that He doesn’t measure up to the standards of the Great and Powerful David Johnson. I’m sure He’ll get right on that!

Johnson also asks why Christians don’t talk about these miracle claims as much and others like Matthew 27. As he says:

When examined a little more closely, Christians don’t care about resurrection at all per se. They only care about one resurrection event.

Johnson, David; Knight, Andrew; Atkinson, Ed; Skydivephil; Taylor, Matthew; Brady, Michael; Dumas, Sophie. Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics . Reason Press. Kindle Edition.

Well, yes, because this resurrection is different in kind and degree. Why should I take Johnson seriously as an ex-Christian when he doesn’t even understand this basic theology? If our people are this little trained to know the importance of the resurrection of Jesus, then is it any wonder they fall away? Hint. It’s not just “Now you can go to Heaven when you die!”

He goes on to talk about 1 Cor. 15:12-20 and says:

First, Paul only seems to care about the resurrection of Jesus because that is the mechanism by which sins are forgiven, not because resurrection is such a great and convincing miracle.

Johnson, David; Knight, Andrew; Atkinson, Ed; Skydivephil; Taylor, Matthew; Brady, Michael; Dumas, Sophie. Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics . Reason Press. Kindle Edition.

That’s certainly part of it, but yes, Paul was not trying to convince people that God exists or that miracles are possible per se. He was trying to convince them resurrections were and that Jesus isn’t just an exception to the rule. Jesus’s resurrection is the basis for any other resurrection.

The second thing of note is that Paul failed to mention any other resurrections. This passage focuses only on one resurrection. There is plenty of space to speak of other resurrections such as the one he supposedly performed, or Lazarus, or any of the others, especially the mass resurrection.

Johnson, David; Knight, Andrew; Atkinson, Ed; Skydivephil; Taylor, Matthew; Brady, Michael; Dumas, Sophie. Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics . Reason Press. Kindle Edition.

Because if they don’t believe in resurrections, other stories won’t matter. If they do already accept Jesus’s resurrection though, he will begin with the one they accept. They could also just as well say “Well, those resurrections are exceptions because Jesus did them directly.”

This may explain why they are unimpressed with contemporary stories of resurrection, as in the resurrections performed by Sathya Sai Baba. He purportedly raised at least two people from the dead in our lifetimes. Christians don’t even care enough to bother denying it. Because for them, there is only one resurrection and one empty tomb that matter. The rest don’t really register at all.

Johnson, David; Knight, Andrew; Atkinson, Ed; Skydivephil; Taylor, Matthew; Brady, Michael; Dumas, Sophie. Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics . Reason Press. Kindle Edition.


So Mr. Johnson, why do you not believe the accounts of Sai Baba?

Oh, wait. I know why! Because the evidence doesn’t matter for them. You have a dogma that says they aren’t allowed to happen. As Chesterton said:

Somehow or other an extraordinary idea has arisen that the disbelievers in miracles consider them coldly and fairly, while believers in miracles accept them only in connection with some dogma. The fact is quite the other way. The believers in miracles accept them (rightly or wrongly) because they have evidence for them. The disbelievers in miracles deny them (rightly or wrongly) because they have a doctrine against them.

For my part, Johnson is free to present the evidence for Sai Baba’s claim. If somehow he raised them from the dead, great. That just gives more evidence that a God exists who can perform miracles. If not, oh well. Unfortunately, Johnson doesn’t understand the concept of “looking at the evidence.”

There were 9 resurrection events in the Bible. Take away the mass resurrection of Matthew 27, and you have 8. This includes the resurrection of Jesus. Here’s a shocker: 3 of them were in the Old Testament performed by two different prophets, one, while he was dead. The most impressive resurrection story is of a man whose body was tossed in with the bones of Elisha. After making contact with Elisha’s bones, the man came back to life. Now that’s a resurrection. I suspect 90% of Christians don’t even know about this supposed event.

Johnson, David; Knight, Andrew; Atkinson, Ed; Skydivephil; Taylor, Matthew; Brady, Michael; Dumas, Sophie. Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics . Reason Press. Kindle Edition.

I know about it, which is why this wasn’t a shocker to me, but it does tell me that Johnson hopes his readers are just as ignorant as he is.

This is why Stevie Wonder is still blind. No one is going to try to heal a known blind person. They know they can’t do it any more than they can raise the dead. No one is going to try and publicly pray some famous person out of their wheelchair. No one is going to try to pray back a missing limb. These are the types of miracles that expose miracles as frauds.

Johnson, David; Knight, Andrew; Atkinson, Ed; Skydivephil; Taylor, Matthew; Brady, Michael; Dumas, Sophie. Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics . Reason Press. Kindle Edition.

Here are some of the miracle claims Keener documents:

  1. “a sudden disappearance of a child’s massive brain tumor after prayer, before any medical treatment could begin.” The tumor covered almost one-fourth of the girl’s brain, with MRI confirmation from both before and after (vol. 1, 428).


  1. An eight-year-old boy had two holes in his heart, a condition that also impaired his lungs. After prayer he was taken to surgery.  But before and after tests showed that the holes that were there the previous day had now been healed.  He did not need surgery and was cleared to play baseball just two days later (vol. 1, 431-432)!
  2. A physician related that a patient was “immediately cured from metastasized breast cancer after prayer” including before and after medical evidence (vol. 1, 435).


  1. Another physician confirmed that a woman with tuberculosis was healed after prayer. The physician could confirm that her cure was permanent, because they were later married and spent the rest of their lives together (vol. 1, 435)!


  1. While away from home at a Christian retreat, a man broke his ankle badly, and went to a hospital, where an orthopedist set the ankle in a cast. Upon arriving home the next day, several states away, he was sent by another physician to another hospital for X-rays.  After studying them, the physician informed the man that his ankle was never broken, as indicated by the lack of a break or even tissue damage where the break had been.  But the earlier X-rays were ordered and clearly confirmed the break.  A set of the radiology reports were also sent to the author, Craig Keener (vol. 1, 440).


  1. A hospital physician reported watching as a ten-year-old girl’s club foot “straightened before my very eyes” while the girl was being prayed for (vol. 1, 463).


  1. A woman’s spleen was removed by surgery but when she was later examined, she had another spleen in its place (vol. 1, 491)!


  1. A baby was born without hip sockets or a ball at the end of her bone. It was determined that she would need a cast throughout her life.  But the church prayed and, when she was examined again before being placed in the cast, contrary to the earlier X-rays, she now had both hip sockets and the ball at the end of the bone (vol. 1, 503).


  1. Forty physicians confirmed the specific case of a cure from Lourdes, France “of a medically incurable, quadriplegic postencephalitic idiot—a child who went from complete insensibility and lack of control to intelligent normalcy” (vol. 2, 680)!


  1. In another case, cancer had spread and the patient was given up by physicians, but was cured instantly with damaged organs reforming (vol. 2, 682, note 206).

We can be sure Johnson will not look up any of these. His dogma won’t allow it.

By the way, as an aside, here is one last part of this chapter I want to share.

The whole point of all these milk toast prayers is to keep prayer, itself, from being falsified. It is to keep non believers like myself from being able to say that prayer does not work.

Johnson, David; Knight, Andrew; Atkinson, Ed; Skydivephil; Taylor, Matthew; Brady, Michael; Dumas, Sophie. Still Unbelievable: Why after listening to Christian arguments we are still skeptics . Reason Press. Kindle Edition.

Yes. He says Milk Toast prayers. Not only did he not realize this, but whoever edited this book did not realize the term is milquetoast. I suspect Johnson wanted to say something to look really sophisticated and failed miserably.

Unfortunately, next time, he’s back to talk about spiritual warfare.

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






A Prayer For Our Country

What is part of my prayers every night? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I pray every night before signing off of my computer and going to bed, and part of that prayer every day is a prayer for my country. I love America. I just don’t love what has happened to her. I still think that this nation can be a city on a hill once again.

When Israel was in the promised land, they were meant to be a kingdom of priests for those on the outside. They were meant to intercede for their pagan neighbors. When the nation was in exile, we see in Daniel 9 that it is Daniel who repents on behalf of the nation of Israel. There is a precedent of the righteous interceding on behalf of the wicked, especially shown in the cases of Jesus and Stephen.

Because of this, I pray every night for our country and it includes the following, which is centered on our children.

First, we have killed our children.

Wednesday while listening to the radio, and I only listen to talk radio, I heard someone talking about the massacre of the people at a concert in Israel and how that was the greatest act of evil he could think of in our times. I get what he was saying. It was a hideous act of evil, but I could easily think of a worse one.

Every day in abortion clinics across our country where hundreds if not thousands more are murdered every day in the name of freedom and reproductive rights. I have often said that we’re worse than the pagans were in the past. When they sacrificed their children, they did it for the good of the harvest or for the welfare of the nation. We sacrifice our children at the altar of convenience.

Pray for our repentance and forgiveness.

Second, we have mutilated our children.

More and more children are claiming that they are transgender and at a young age are being told they have such authority to say who they are. We have people having their bodies destroyed and letting themselves be sterilized for this purpose. it is an irreversible decision in many cases and don’t be surprised if within a few years, there are major lawsuits against “health-providers” for this. Even more amazing, we call it “gender-affirming care” when it’s exactly the opposite.

Pray for our repentance and forgiveness.

Third, we have groomed our children.

We have Drag Queen Story hours where we are normalizing children to sexual behavior they shouldn’t be normalized to. We have children celebrating Pride events at schools. Florida was blasted for a bill called by the media the “Don’t Say Gay” bill when all it said was sexual matters should not be talked about with children who are third grade or less.

Pray for our repentance and forgiveness.

Finally, we have indoctrinated our children.

We have a generation of people growing up who know next to nothing about the history of our country. They sit on laptops with their smartphones drinking at Starbucks and complaining about how evil capitalism is. They repeat cliches so much so that now in light of events in the Middle East, you have them saying “From the river to the sea” and talking about “There is only one solution” not even realizing where these terms come from. They are growing up to be more and more narcissistic and basing their lives on social media.

Pray for our repentance and forgiveness.

Then after this, I pray for something else.

I pray that the church rise up and be the church and change our society once more.

No. This is not a Catholic prayer in the sense of the Roman Catholic Church, but it is a catholic prayer in the sense of the church universal. It is the prayer that we who are Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox, will rise up and unite together in this cause. I have areas where I disagree with Catholics and Orthodox, but I have plenty more where I agree with them on and that’s where I choose to focus. I am blessed to meet regularly with some Catholics to study Aquinas and when I am asked what I believe about certain passages of Scripture, I speak freely. I doubt that I am agreed with, but I think they know I try to be as fair as possible. I am not antagonized. If anything, the joke I make is I am there to make sure everyone has their doctrine correct since I’m one of the ones asked about hard questions on Aristotelian thought.

It’s not about my being recognized as an authority in something. That’s nice, but the primary thing is I am recognized as a fellow Christian regardless of differences. Our country is at war fighting for the soul of our country and I want that to be our main emphasis.

I recommend that you join me in this nightly prayer for our country, but at the same time, don’t just make it a prayer and do nothing. Act. Do something to be the salt and light you need to be.

We can change this country. More accurately, Christ can change this country through us.

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

What Do Real Christians Do?

Are you doing what is sufficient? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in one side of Christianity and think that’s where the real Christians are. I recently had to read a book on missions for a class and I remember at one point, one contributor (Each chapter written by another person) was talking about the people who go on missions and saying “These are the people who are really living out the gospel!”

So, everyone who has not been on a mission at all, you are not living out the gospel apparently.

Now I am going through one on evangelism and when talking about evangelism, well this is what real Christians have been doing for centuries.

So if you struggle with doing evangelism, are you not a real Christian?

I could easily list other examples. Why, if you’re a real Christian, you will be speaking in tongues! If you are a real Christian, you’re fasting! If you’re a real Christian, you pay that tithe! If you’re a real Christian, this is how much you study the Bible every day! If you’re a real Christian, you can pray for this long every day!

Also, yes, this includes my own field. It can be tempting for someone like me to say “Real Christians devote themselves to studying apologetics.” I’m sure at some points in my life I have thought that, but the thing is, I know plenty of real Christians who don’t. Am I about to say my own mother isn’t a real Christian, for example? What about my Dad or my sister or her husband?

Speaking for me, for missions, I wouldn’t mind doing one someday, but when I was staying with a friend in Florida for a wedding once, I had to make arrangements based on my diet beforehand. Being on the spectrum, I’m awfully finicky. Before I go somewhere, I want to make sure I can handle it on the spectrum.


Look. I’m an exception in that I will happily stand before a crowd to do public speaking. I thrive on that. One of the great joys of the internet is that I can better communicate with people this way and share Christian truth with them. I have met more and more people I have been able to help on the internet. Get me out talking to total strangers though and I am completely quiet for the most part.

The problem with when we say that this is what real Christians do or serious Christians do, we marginalize those who don’t and can lead them to question if they are a real Christian. I am not saying that these things are necessarily bad things. I don’t agree with everything I have listed on the claims, but the mindset is pretty much always the same.

So what do real Christians do?

Well, John said we must walk as Jesus walked. That seems sufficient enough. I think I could say it this way also. We should at least be striving to do that. None of us will be perfect, but we will try.

So if you want to know if you’re a real Christian, what I would encourage you to ask yourself is this question. Am I living more like Jesus every day? Am I showing love to God and to my neighbor more? This doesn’t mean an emotional response, but how you live. Is your life lining up?

If so, then yes, you are being a real Christian. Now could you want to go on a mission? Fine. Go ahead. Do you want to go out and do evangelism with people? Fine. Go ahead. Can you pray for an hour? Can you study the Bible this much? Can you give away this much to the church? Fine. Do what you can.

But make all of those secondary to walking like Jesus.

As Augustine said, “Love God, and live as you please.”

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

Steps of Healing: Bible Study and Prayer

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

Some of you might be wondering why I didn’t bring this up first? One reason is most of us already know this. Many of us get tired of hearing just to read your Bible and pray when we have a hard time.

I will also say sometimes I find these to be difficult. I have read the Bible all my life and it’s hard to sit down and look at a text and try to find something you haven’t before. I really question people when they say “I get something new out of the Bible everyday.”

This also relates to prayer. Many of when we’re Christians around other Christians want to present our best spiritual sides. Greg Koukl has talked about these people such as they say something like “I was thinking about you while I was memorizing Jeremiah” or “You came to my heart during my third prayer time today.”

Most people don’t want to present spiritual struggles. They just want to present spiritual successes. Color me skeptical if I meet someone who only has successes to talk about and no failures.

So with Bible study, for me it’s reading a chapter of both testaments in the morning before I get up. I pray beforehand and I pray after. Those can be good times to learn something, but there’s also one other interesting way I read the Scripture.

Before I go to bed, I read just one verse of a book and go through it and just think about that while I go to sleep. Sometimes, I don’t get a lot, but sometimes I do. Right now, I’m going through the book of Revelation and reading it slowly is a great way to approach the text differently.

Now as for prayer, prayer can be difficult for me since it can be hard to know how to talk to ordinary people and so much more so, a divine person. I’m also super-skeptical of many people who talk about listening in prayer, which I never hear being spoken of as a regular practice in the Bible.

For prayer then, I do so in the morning and in the evening and in the evening, I email a mentor every night after that and tell him how my day went as well. I really encourage everyone else to get such a mentor. It really helps keep you accountable and helps to know that someone cares about you enough to hear you talk about every day.

I also regularly do what I call minute prayers. When I meet someone at work who is struggling with something, I offer up a quick prayer. When I am driving, if I hear sirens coming from somewhere, I also offer up a quick prayer. (Rest assured, no closing my eyes then.) If anything, I think minute prayers reflexively can be one of the best items because it really does show your constant dependence on God.

However, I also think in prayer, you have to be real. If I want to complain, I complain. Jeremiah did. Job did. The Psalmists did. It’s okay. It’s not like God doesn’t know in my heart that I’m upset and hurting over something. I might as well tell Him.

For instance, when I get in a state where I really want to have another woman in my life, which is incredibly often, I tell Him so. At earlier times when I was in the even worst pains of agony, I let Him know. God is said to be a counselor, but if you can’t share your deepest troubles with Him, you must not think He’s a real counselor.

Ultimately, I just think you should be real. This also includes with fellow Christians that you trust. Something I have been told about my writings on divorce either here are on Facebook is that people appreciate that I am candid about what is going on. I have no wish to present myself as a spiritual giant to you. I don’t see myself as one anyway.

All of us have problems and struggles in life. If someone acts like they don’t, they’re not fooling me and I suspect they’re not fooling you either. Let’s just be real.

And if talking to someone means you need to get a therapist, go for it. I have one and he’s a great guy and we talk weekly. I’m also working on my health insurance and going to see a psychiatrist at least for the time being. No shame in that either. It’s actually okay to be a Christian and need help.

I hope these basic tips help you. After all, if you are on this walk, you need all the help you can get. Stay strong, fellow travelers.

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

Autism Awareness Month: Prayer

How do you talk to God? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

One of the difficult things for a Christian on the spectrum like myself in Christianity is prayer. I can understand evangelism. I can grasp hard doctrines like the Trinity and other such ideas. I can understand Bible study and giving to those in need.

Prayer is something that I find much more of a struggle.

Now why would that be? Picture that if you’re on the spectrum, when you’re talking to someone right in front of you, that can be difficult enough. This is someone in front of you who is actively sending social cues to you and actively responding at times. Your mind is trying to study everything and know what they are telling you and trying to understand any cues that you may be missing.

Now carry this over to prayer. When you pray, you are talking to someone who you cannot see and you’re not talking to just another person, but you’re talking to a divine person. You don’t want to treat them casually just like any other person, but you don’t want to go in acting all high and holy entirely because that can just seem fake and like you’re putting on a show.

How long do you pray? People can often talk about prayer for a long time being a struggle, but then we read about saints in the past who spend hours praying. I think of Martin Luther who said tomorrow, he would be extra busy and he would have to spend an extra hour in prayer. For someone like myself, I don’t understand being able to spend hours in prayer let alone one hour.

I understand all the formulas for prayer which are often problematic for me because they make it, well, formulaic. It can seem like you’re just going through the motions. Again, I struggle here.

Going to length, minute prayers as I call them I can sometimes understand. When I am driving and I hear sirens from a first responder going by, I say a minute prayer as I drive that all will work out well. Naturally, I don’t close my eyes or kneel down for that. I can see that as making sense, but I don’t understand the long time spent in prayer. What are the rules? How long do you go? How short is too short? How long is too long?

It’s interesting that when we look at the Lord’s Prayer, it is actually a short prayer. You can say it in under a minute. This we see in Scripture, but we also look at Scripture and see again, hours of prayer.

So keep this in mind when talking to someone on the spectrum. If normal persons are hard to relate to, divine persons can be so much harder. Give some guidance on this to your friend on the spectrum and help them out. It will be something difficult for them.

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

What Does God Want?

What does God want of us? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’m not a prayer warrior. Some of you might think with my being in Christian ministry, I spend a lot of time in prayer and it comes naturally for me. No. It doesn’t. I do have an attitude of it throughout the day asking God about events in my life, but to go somewhere and focus for a long time in prayer is difficult.

After one such time recently, I found myself thinking that so many times, I come to God and I have the list of all the things that I want. What does God want from me when I pray? I don’t know if I had ever thought about that before, but I decided to ponder it.

I have really only come to one conclusion. God wants us to love Him. It might sound simplistic, but there’s a profundity to it I think. It’s easy to come to God when you think about what you want instead of just coming to Him for who He is.

Sometimes skeptics often ask “If God wants me, why doesn’t He just appear to me immediately? Why doesn’t He make Himself known?” He could do that if He wanted to, but maybe that doesn’t give the true results desired. That treats God like He’s just a trivia question instead of the person saying “No. If God exists, I really want to know it. I really want to know Him.”

There are some skeptics who have said that even if they were shown that God existed, they wouldn’t worship Him. With such people, there’s definitely no reason for God to reveal Himself. God does promise though that if someone is genuinely seeking, they will genuinely find.

Sometimes with this kind of thing I think about the Little Mermaid. Remember in that movie Ariel has to without her voice get the man to kiss her? Now in reality, the best way she could do that is to have removed that wrapping she had around herself immediately when she saw him and odds are she would have got a kiss immediately, but it would not have been a kiss of love. It would have been one of lust. Instead, she had to work and spend the time with him to really try to get that kiss.

In the same way, if God shows up in all His glory, you’re really not going to have much of a say in the matter. The ones who will get to see the glory of God are the ones who have put forward the work to relate to Him first and find Him first. Those who are coming to Him only wanting just the benefits, which does include Heaven, are the ones who don’t really want Him. This is one reason I find that when we talk about life in Heaven, God is usually treated like an afterthought.

“Oh yeah! You get to live in a mansion! The streets are gold! You live forever! There’s no pain or sickness or death! All your dead loved ones are there waiting for you! Oh, one more thing. There’s this guy called God there if you care about that.”

We wouldn’t come out and say that, and I’m not saying I believe in a literalistic description of Heaven, but that is the way it usually is treated. Most of us don’t think about God when we think about Heaven. We think about what benefits us. The purpose of getting someone to be a Christian is usually, “Well you want to go to Heaven, don’t you?”

It’s really using God.

So now, when I have come in prayer, I have tried to make statements of love and sometimes, I may not feel them or think I mean them, but I try to say them anyway. What if God wants to be loved for Himself, which is really what we all want?

The Jews have a song sang at Passover called Dayenu where it lists step by step the blessings God brought to His people at the Exodus and for each step it is said “And if you had just done XYZ, dayenu, it would have been enough.” Then they go one step further everytime adding in dayenu.

What God has already done for us, well dayenu. He has done more than enough for us. Everything else is a gift. If we do not come to Him as He is appreciating what we have already, we are guilty of ingratitude to God and using Him. We all have many gifts in life and none of us are debts owed to us. It is all a gift.

Maybe it’s time to express some love back.

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

Book Plunge: Time and Despondency

What do I think of Nicole Roccas’s book published by Ancient Faith Publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Sometimes when I have been struggling with something, I will talk to my wife’s priest. While I am not Orthodox, that is not a problem with us as he’s more than happy to help me with things. I also think wisdom can be found outside of one’s own tradition (And even religion) and if we as Christians ever think it’s only people of our theological heritage that have true wisdom worth gaining, that is a very sad state.

Right now with some present circumstances, I have been in normally a state of seasonal depression. When I mentioned the word depression to him, he turned it into despondency. At that moment, I remembered I ordered for my wife who is a catechumen in the Orthodox Church the book Time and Despondency. I decided to get it out and give it a try.

Let’s start with one excellent thing about this book. The author does not come out as someone high and holy and thus you read the book and think “I will never reach this level.” Nope. Roccas is a fellow traveler on the journey and she too would prefer at times to do something like binge watch Netflix.

She definitely writes from an Orthodox perspective, but that does not overwhelm the book so much that others won’t benefit. As a Protestant, I found much of the advice helpful. The advice of great saints is found as there is wisdom to be found in many places.

She also writes of goals that are doable. She never tells you to go and pray for an hour or so. Instead, just work on matters bit by bit and learn and grow in them. There’s even a place advocating quick prayers. Those are fine many times. When I am out in public and I hear sirens and see a first responder going by, I always pray for that situation. (Definitely not with eyes closed if driving.)

Her advice to deal with despondency is also not just purely spiritual matters. She talks about St. Antony who was scolded by someone for playing with his fellow monks when surely he should have been praying and how Antony responded to justify his actions. She talks about the use of humor, which at this point, I couldn’t help but think of Harry Potter and the spell to deal with boggarts.

For those who don’t know, boggarts are creatures that take on the image of your worst fear. The way to deal with them is to use a spell with the word “Ridiculous!” and turn them into something you can laugh at. I think Rowling at this point hit on something with the nature of fear.

Roccas also shows that this is a problem that is not just modern in nature. Monks from well over a thousand years ago dealt with this. They had times they didn’t want to pray either or work on the Scriptures. Apparently, some could have even committed suicide from sorrow. It was even called the noonday demon. The condition is the same, but today we probably have more means to encounter it.

There is also definitely good theology in here. Roccas brings out the reality of the resurrection and what it means. God being the God of all time is there to redeem every moment of time, including the moment that we are in. Again, just like before, none of this though is spoken in terminology that is over the layman’s head.

If you’re struggling with depression, or despondency if you prefer, this is a really good book to read. The advice is practical and doable and not over your head. Most of the chapters are short enough to read in one sitting and even the longest one can be broken down into manageable pieces. Give it a try. It beats living in despondency after all.

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

Your Will Be Done

What does it mean to do God’s will? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So many Christians today want to find God’s will for their lives.

Should I get married? Who should I marry? What job should I take? Should I go to college and if so, what should I major in? So many decisions are about finding the will of God.

Is this what the Bible means when it speaks about the will of God?

No. This is a highly personalized idea. Let’s consider the first one about marriage. Assuming marriage is even for you, the Bible in a book like Proverbs lays out criteria. Since one should marry in the Lord, a Christian should marry a Christian. When speaking of a wife, the book mentions the kinds of qualities to look for. Don’t marry a nagging wife is one example. Marry a woman who fears the Lord. (Or a man if you are a woman)

Somehow, we got this strange idea that when we got to the New Testament, God decided to jettison wisdom and was going to tell us all what to do and we needed to find a way to get these secret messages from God. We are to look for clues, often ones that reside in our feelings and emotions, and from there try to determine what God is telling us. Scripture may be used, but apparently, it’s not as reliable as those feelings and emotions.

As you can imagine, I think this is a bunch of bunk. I see nothing in Scripture about it and it only showed up in our time of individualism. This kind of thinking really makes us very self-centered Christians.

Not only that, if God has a specific will for our lives like that, we’ve already screwed it up definitely. Also, if any one other person has screwed up their lives, they’ve ultimately done it for everyone. If you are to marry one specific person, then that means that if you marry the wrong one, both of your intended spouses have to marry the wrong one and then all their intended spouses have to marry the wrong one and on and on it goes.

It also causes the wrong focus. What we should be looking at the most is what kind of spouse we are going to be. What kind of employee are we going to be? What kind of student are we going to be?

“But how will I know what God wants for my life?”

It’s very easy. I can tell you definitely what God’s will is for your life and I have no hesitation in doing so. God’s will is to conform you to the likeness of Christ. The best thing to do when examining an action and if you should do it is to ask if it will conform you to the likeness of Christ.

When we pray for God’s will to be done, we are not praying that we will find some specific individualized will, or at least we shouldn’t pray that. We are praying that God will make the universe the way He wants it to be. How He wants us to be is to be conformed to the image of Christ. He wants us to be like Jesus.

You have plenty on that in Scripture.

Go try following that instead.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Who Are In Heaven

What difference does it make where God is? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When we pray, we pray to our Father in Heaven. What difference does that make? What is Jesus wanting us to think about when we say that we pray to our Father who is in Heaven?

Let’s start with the dangerous extreme. That would be Islam. Most sects of Islam have a version of deity that is so extreme that God is totally transcendent. The thought of Him interacting in a way such as in the incarnation is repugnant.

This is something we experience when God seems distant in our lives. Consider the idea of the saying that, “If you feel far from God, who moved?” It sure wasn’t God after all. That message could have been brought by one of Job’s friends to “counsel” him.

Of course, in suffering there is nothing wrong with examining our lives and seeing if there is anything we need to repent of. That’s something that we should be doing regardless. The point here is that our emotional experiences are not indicators of where we are in our Christian walk and too often, we make them just that.

So if that’s not what is meant, what is meant? Why not think that Jesus is trying to remind us who is in charge of this story? Heaven is the base of operations. It is where God reigns from. To pray to God is to remind yourself that He is in charge and He rules.

This is something we easily forget. Too many people think that if God is ruling right now, why is there so much evil and suffering? As we go through Matthew and look more at eschatology, we will see that that is issued directly. This is also a mistake Jewish readers often go with thinking that if the Messiah came, then shouldn’t there be love and world peace throughout the Earth as a result?

No. If anything, in Scripture we see just the opposite promised. YHWH says in Psalms 110:1 that the Messiah is to sit at His right hand while His enemies are made a footstool for His feet. The Messiah will have enemies during His reign and it will take time for them to be made a footstool.

Today, saying our Father in Heaven is meant to be a source of comfort. Whatever is going on, God is in charge. That He asks us to pray to Him tells us that He is not distant. He really cares about us. Not only that, we have the incarnation where the Son dwelt among us. God in human flesh walked around us and one day we will be with Him forever.

When you pray, pray to your Father who is in Heaven. He does hear. He does care. He will respond.

In Christ,
Nick Peters