Book Plunge: Letter To A Racist Nation

What do I think of David Marshall’s self-published book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When Elijah went to heaven, Elisha was watching and got a double portion of his spirit. I can’t help but wonder if David Marshall has been in the presence of some Hebrew prophets as their spirit seems to have fallen on him in this one. I easily think of Amos and Micah crying out for justice and Jesus in Matthew 23 and Luke 11 castigating the leaders of his day.

Marshall does the same in this one. Some people might be skeptical wondering what a New Testament scholar will have to say about the issue of racism today. Reality is quite a lot. Marshall does so with detailed accounts, references to pop culture and history, and a lot of fun at the same time.

This is all largely in response to the riots that erupted last year over the George Floyd incident. Marshall looks at the good that the police do and why it’s a foolish move to defund them. He eyes numerous cases of alleged racism and brings up incidents that many of us have never heard of to show the police strive to be as color-blind as possible.

The best parts though come when he talks about the claim of racism. Right now, racism is practically the worst sin you can be accused of. Marshall asks us to consider why it is that we hate racism so much and what makes it so wrong. To be sure, this is not a denial of the evil of racism, but it is saying it’s good to ask why it is evil because virtue consists in not just avoiding a sin, but in seeking to do a greater good.

After all, we may be walking around in pride saying “We are not racists!”, but we could be guilty of far greater sins. It could also be in an irony that those who are saying they are not racist are actually engaging in racist activity without realizing it. After all, if you mistreat someone because they are of another race, that is wrong (And that could be happening to whites today), but if you give someone a special privilege because of their race, that is also wrong.

Marshall also takes his sights on those who he thinks are undoing America. Robin DiAngelo is on the list with her work on “White Privilege.” There is also Howard Zinn who did good in considering history from the view of the oppressed, but then ignored other forms of oppression on the world and couldn’t seem to think of enough bad to say about America. There is also a textbook called History Alive! where Marshall sees a work that has nothing but praise to say about Muhammad, but Christianity and Jesus are presented in minimalist or negative terms.

Of course, Marshall also has a few things to say about Black Lives Matter. He stresses that the idea is something no one should complain about. However, the movement itself is something different. He has several several questions for the movement.

Marshall also looks at claims such as racial disparities and inequalities. This is all in response to a liberal Christian he knows. Anyone who is espousing positions that we are inherently racist needs to really look at this book.

My only concern honestly is that already, the idea could be somewhat outdated. More and more, racism is being transitioned out I think and the new term to use over and over is white supremacist. (I think there are seven still left in America.) Now, anyone who supports Trump at all is to be considered a white supremacist.

In the end, America needs to grow up and come to herself and the best way to do that is to return to another man who was condemned by the political powers of His day. This same man also taught us the parable of the Good Samaritan and the Unmerciful Servant. His way transformed society before and it can do so again.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
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Book Plunge: Paul Behaving Badly

What do I think of Randy Richards’s and Brandon O’Brien’s book published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Paul can be a very polarizing figure today. Some Christians have the idea that Jesus is really awesome (And they’re right), but we don’t know about that Paul guy. He wasn’t even one of the original twelve. He didn’t meet Jesus in person. Why should we listen to him? Some skeptics will claim that it was Paul who really invented Christianity and took the good message of Jesus and turned Him into a deity and lost sight of His message.

For those of us who do like Paul, we do have to admit there can be difficulties. As the authors ask “Was Paul a jerk?” Sometimes, it looks like he was. They bring this up in a number of areas. First, the general question of if he was a jerk. Then they ask if he was a killjoy, a racist, a supporter of slavery, a chauvinist, a homophobe, a hypocrite, and finally a twister of Scripture.

Each chapter starts with the charges against Paul and they do bring forward an excellent case. You can look at the claims and if you are not familiar with the debates it is easy to ask “How is Paul going to get out of this one?” The authors also grant that Paul is not one behaving according to 21st century Western standards, but he was still just as much behaving badly to his own culture as he was just as radical to them. Paul is kind of in an in-between spot sometimes. Many times he’ll push the envelope further and leave it to us to keep pushing it. The question is are we going to do that.

Many of these questions need to be addressed for the sake of many people you will encounter who raise these objections. (Why didn’t Paul just demand the¬†immediate release of slaves?) I enjoyed particularly the chapter on Paul being a killjoy. O’Brien gives his story in this one on how anything wasn’t to be done because we are to abstain from the appearance of evil so let’s make sure we all go see only G-rated movies and are teetotallers. (While I personally abstain from alcoholic beverages, I don’t condemn those who drink and control their alcohol.)

Some insights I thought were interesting and added perspective. Why did Paul seem to take contradictory stances on meat offered to idols? Why did he have Timothy circumcised when Timothy was from the area of Galatia and Paul had made it clear that if you let yourself be circumcised, then you are denying the Gospel. (If you want the answers to those questions, you know what you need to do.)

I would have liked to have seen a little bit more on the honor and shame aspect of the culture of the time. There is some touching on this, such as talk also about the client/patron system, but a quick refresher would have been good for those who don’t know it. Of course, I definitely recommend that anyone pick up their excellent book¬†Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes.

This book is a great blessing that we need today. Paul, like I said, is one of the most controversial figures even among Christians. To deal with his critics and to help those who would like to support him, you need to read this book.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Of Clorox And Wimps

Have we created a society of wimps? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, a news story came out involving Clorox Bleach. Apple had come out with a long list of Emojis. For those who don’t know, these are little icons that you can use when messaging someone. Clorox had a bottle of Clorox with all the Emojis on it with the following quote in a tweet:

“New emojis are alright but where’s the bleach.”

Now if you happen to be a normal rational person on planet Earth, you see that Clorox has just looked at a list of emojis which includes one of several household items and asked where bleach was. Unfortunately, Earth is filled with many people who aren’t normal and rational.

That is because this tweet was said to be racist.

Yes. You heard that right. Racist.

Why was it racist? Because there were emojis also of people with skin of different colors. The assumption being that surely, the PR person at Clorox was secretly a racist and sent out a message saying that the list of emojis needed to be bleached to get rid of all of that and return us to white skin. Clorox explained further they were speaking about objects in there that are usually messy or cause messes, like a bathtub or red wine.

Leave it to the offended crowd to not see that.

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Unfortunately, Clorox caved with an apology. What would have been better in the adult world, is to simply ignore people who are whiners. Give them more attention and they keep going this route. Our world is unfortunately getting more and more full of people who think the worst possible thing that you can do is to offend someone and that if you have offended someone, then you must make up for it in spades.

This is an ideology that as Christians we must fight.

Now let’s state something at the start. I am not at all suggesting that we should seek to be offensive in everything. While I do believe often in hard-hitting apologetics, I do not believe in offending for the sake of offending. I consider it more like if stepping on your toes is the only way to get you to move, then I will step as hard as I can. I am more concerned about getting you to the Gospel or protecting those who already believe the Gospel than I am about your feelings. We are getting closer and closer to a time where if we keep this up, the government will be increasingly used to protect peoples’ feelings.

If this is you, then just grow up.

You might not being able to help being offended. In fact, many times, you should feel offended about things, and if you are, there can be appropriate responses to that, but you do not police the world looking for things that offend you and in fact reading meaning into statements and deciding that if you think it is offensive, then the other person surely intended to be offensive. Try to practice some charitable interpretation. Do not assume the worst possible thing about what someone says. Of course, the worst possible thing could possibly be true, but there is no reason to assume it.

Why is this our enemy? Because the Gospel is guaranteed to be offensive. You really like being told you’re a sinner? I’m a Christian as it is, and I don’t like being told that message a lot of times. It is painful to be told that you are doing something wrong. It is painful to be told that something you are doing is sinful. It is painful to have to repent for something. These are meant for our joy in the long-term and to lead us to be happy and holy people, but they sting at the time. As the writer of Hebrews says, no discipline seems pleasant when we are going through it.

If we are to be ministers of the Gospel, we must build up our resolve and ignore passive-aggressive behavior like that. People are often going to try to guilt us into things. This is why I try to tell people, and even I slip up at this from time to time, is that no one can make you feel anything. You cannot make yourself feel happy. If you were feeling miserable, you’re not just going to say “I will feel happy now” and then feel happy. It will take work on your part. I do think you can get yourself to that point, but it will take work. It is a mistake then when you go to people, and this can often happen in marriage and again I am often guilty, and say “You made me feel angry when you did this” or something similar. It makes more sense to say “When you do X, I feel angry.” Now it could be that the other person did indeed do something wrong and has an issue to work on. It could also be you are way too sensitive and then you have an issue you need to work on. In some cases, it could be both.

And could that partially be what is behind this? We are living in an era where people do not want to take responsibility for their actions? We think that if you have sex, you should not be responsible for some outcomes, such as pregnancy. We do not encourage overcoming. This is also seen in the message of the problem of bullying. Bullies are not going to go away. Sorry. As long as there are people, some of those people will be jerks. Now should we try to stop that behavior? Sure. The number one thing we should be doing is making sure the behavior is irrelevant so people don’t even bother doing that. Bullies do what they do because they get the response that they want. When people are scared of them, they thrive.

How about building up victims instead? Instead of painting them as victims, let them see themselves as overcomers. They can overcome the bullies, but it will take work. Some cases could take a lot of work and they could take therapy in some cases. That’s okay. We need to be kind and encouraging at these times and let people work out any emotional issues that they have, but in doing this, we are empowering them to be stronger. If we are Christians, this is imperative, because we have to do that which shows that we are truly conquerors in Christ. We bear the image of God. We are to rule for Him. How dare we think we are going to be nothing. How can we possibly lower ourselves when God does so much to raise us up?

When you see the victim culture, do not give in and do not accept responsibility for their feelings. You can accept responsibility if you do wrong, and indeed you should. If someone misunderstands you, you can say you are sorry they thought such a thing and if you need to be clearer, you can do that, but a person who is truly someone worth it will also be interested in that relationship with you. People who are just trying to guilt you are not people you need to waste time on. To offend someone is not the end of the world. Offenses will come and sometimes they will be necessary. It is our choice how we respond to them.

We should be adults. Let’s stop being children.

In Christ,
Nick Peters