On Christianity And Guns

What are my thoughts on the shooting in Texas? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So Sunday there was a shooting in a church. You might not have heard much debate about gun control because this one was stopped early on. There were at least seven people in the church who were concealed carry and I understand one of them was an elderly lady.

It’s kind of interesting to me that when a shooting takes place and no one is there to stop it, we ask how we can stop it. When it takes place and there is someone there to stop it, the message never gets out of “This is how you stop it.” Why not go with the method that works when it’s used? (Kind of like when abstinence is practiced, it works 100% of the time)

It’s also interesting that we also had this right after a rabbi was attacked and I saw people talking about anti-semitism immediately, and they should. However, when a church has a near mass shooting, did you hear anyone talk about the concerns of anti-Christianity? Yeah. I didn’t either.

So Monday I’m browsing on Facebook and see people talk about this and the question is asking how Christians should handle this. The shooter in the church was shot by a Christian. Is this the right response for those who follow the Prince of Peace?

To begin with, let’s talk about who is really destroying peace in these situations. In this church, Christians were going forward to take Communion which should be an especially sacred time in a church service. The peace was interrupted by a man who was bent on evil and he was not open to listening to reason.

Some people might say that Jesus turned the other cheek, but Jesus is talking about receiving a personal insult there in a private setting. He is not talking about anything that is life-threatening. Do we think Jesus could say today, “If anyone shoots your son, give him your daughter to shoot as well. If anyone kills your wife, give him your mother to kill as well.”

Where I have been debating this, I have had someone quoting all of Matthew 5:38-42 to me. In wanting to find out how much they take this seriously, I have brought up that Jesus says to give to anyone whatever they request of you. I then say I request you give all of your money to my ministry. I have yet to see any major deposits yet.

But doesn’t Romans 12 tell us to live in peace? Yes, if it is possible. Sometimes it isn’t. We all know people, sometimes sadly family members, that we just have to avoid. Romans 12 also says to not seek revenge. How does this apply? Let’s consider the movie Joker for an example.

The character who becomes the Joker, Arthur, is on a subway at one point getting beat up by these three Wall Street prep people. Suddenly, he pulls out a gun he has and shoots and kills two of them. The third one is wounded. At this point, Arthur chases after him as the man is trying to flee. He then shoots him again to finish him off.

I contend that the first two deaths in that scene were self-defense. The third one, was not. This was a man trying to get away and it was a kill that was done just for revenge. Sure, he had been doing evil earlier, but at this point he was no longer a threat.

But doesn’t 1 Peter 2 tell us to bear up under unjust suffering? Yes, if we are slaves who cannot do anything against our masters. That doesn’t say anything about real harm being done to innocents that puts them in a life-threatening situation.

But aren’t we told also repeatedly not to cling to our lives? Depends on the situation. If you take it in this hard and fast way, then if you have a terminal disease, it is wrong to seek treatment. If so, then shouldn’t Jesus have condemned all those people who came to Him for healing?

Some people might be concerned about the idea of good guys with guns. Keep in mind that apparently this church had several regular members who had concealed carries. This was the first instance we have heard of violence taking place in that church.

It’s also interesting that so many secularists keep telling me about how good man is and how far we have progressed, and yet at the same time don’t think your average man can carry a gun without wanting to shoot everyone. Now I fully believe that man is a fallen creature, but I also think, as well as I understand Aquinas did, that most of what we do in our lives is not sinful. Most of us do not live in fear of our fellow man constantly. Maybe some fellow men, but not all.

In the end, I contend that Christians ought to be able to defend the innocent from those who want to hurt them. I have often said that if someone wanted to physically assault my wife in any way, the only way they would be able to do so is literally over my dead body. I have a sworn vow to protect her from harm and intend to follow it through.

And if you are concerned about the evil within, well do something about it. I hear Christianity has a great system of repentance set up to deal with evil. Maybe give it a try?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Moral Combat: Why The War On Violent Video Games Is Wrong

What do I think of Patrick Markey and Christopher Ferguson’s book published by BenBella books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Gaming has always been a pastime of mine that I have highly invested in. I have heard for years the panic about video games leading to violence. This has often been assumed and taken for granted. If you let your children play violent video games, they will be desensitized to violence and be more prone to be violent. Besides, look at all these school shooters who played violent video games. What more do you need?

People who think that way need to read this book. It is an excellent look at how these claims are blown out of the water. What is going on is often bad science. People are often tested to see if they’re more aggressive after playing a video game. Question. How do you measure aggression?

You don’t let people walk the streets with a crowbar in their hand seeing if they’ll bludgeon someone. Instead, questions are often asked like would you put hot sauce in someone’s food if they didn’t want it? You could be asked if you would be prone to hurt someone’s feelings. Some people will want to do this anyway. Some people might want to do the hot sauce thing not because they’re aggressive, but because they like to pull pranks on people.

When some games have come out, such as some in the Grand Theft Auto series, it has been speculated that there would be a rise in crime. It was even compared to the Polio scare. Well, the game under question came out and yes, crime was affected.

Crime dropped.

What about school shootings? How about someone like Adam Lanza? He’s the guy who shot up the Sandy Hook school. It was said that he was a player of video games and this without the hard evidence and people ran with it. Well, it is true. Lanza was spending significant time playing video games.

He had a reputation of spending hours at the arcade playing Dance Dance Revolution.

What’s interesting is that sometimes, these killers had a history of NOT playing violent video games. This actually could have made them more prone to violent shootings. Why? Because games are nowadays a way that people come together and bond together socially. People who are not doing that can be social outcasts and feel rejected by their peers and be more prone to shootings.

What about Columbine? Contrary to what is thought, the killers had not made a level of DOOM modeled after their high school. Also, the skills needed in a video game to shoot the enemies do not transfer to real life. My father-in-law is quite good at sharpshooting I have been told. Let’s go back to when I used to play Goldeneye. I could play that all day and still go to a shooting range with him and do horrible even if I was the best player of Goldeneye there was.

Many games nowadays also contain moral judgments. Some people will go through a game again and try to be as ruthless as possible just to see what happens, but most will actually start to think about these moral issues. Final Fantasy X can get one thinking about the relationship between religion and technology and what it requires to atone for one’s sin.

What about video game addiction? This can vary. When Breath of the Wild first came out, many of my friends were spending hours playing this. Does this constitute addiction? No. This is just guys getting a new toy and playing with it. Sadly, there are cases where intense horror has taken place, such as the daughter who starved to death while her mother played World of Warcraft.

A child could play 3-4 hours of video games a day and still function well with their peers and make good grades. If they are able to do this, that does not constitute addiction. By contrast, someone could play 1-2 hours and have their grades suffer and that could constitute addiction.

What about obesity and video games? This sounds like a no-brainer, but again, it isn’t. Take away a child’s video games and it doesn’t mean they’ll jump outside and start running and jumping. They can just as easily find something else to do. If anything, now we have games that require movement which are being good exercise. My wife once decided she really wanted to lose weight and did it with the DDR exercise plan. What’s that? It’s playing the aforementioned Dance Dance Revolution. It worked. She lost 30 pounds.

More and more games are coming out like this. It can also be better than going to a gym because with video games, you can get instantaneous rewards that motivate you, such as a high score or trophies or achievements unlocked or reaching new levels.

Now many of you know that this is an apologetics page. What does this have to do with apologetics? First, we need to be people of truth in every field. I don’t care for football at all, but that doesn’t mean I want to spread a claim that playing football makes someone more violent if it isn’t true.

Second, a work like this can show us how misinformation can spread easily. Many people who complained about certain games revealed by their words that they had never played or seen those games and were going on secondhand information. This never does our cause any good.

Third, if we attack false causes of violence, we never get at the real cause. No one doubts the nobility of the desire of people to want to reduce violence by eliminating violent video games, but if that is not the cause, then you could eliminate all such games and violence would still take place.

Fourth, paranoia should never be our friend as Christians. It’s easier to go after something else rather than saying that maybe we should do a better job of raising our children and teaching them good from evil. How about a parent instead of banning some games, maybe try something like renting through Gamefly first and, I know this is bizarre, playing it with your kid and talking about it. If you fear some of the content, go on YouTube and watch the videos of the game and discuss why or why not the child should be allowed to play it.

Also as Christians, we don’t want to unnecessarily alienate video game players. The overwhelming majority of us, including me, grew up playing games and we are not violent people at all. As someone with Aspergers, I was also pleased to hear about how games have helped people on the spectrum socialize and I can attest that that is true.

So my fellow gamers, game on. Enjoy and have fun. We all want to end unnecessary violence in our world today. Maybe now we can go and find the real culprit.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Some Thoughts On Gun Violence

What is the real cause of the violence we see in our society? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

At the start, I will tell you my political persuasion on the issues involving mass shootings. I am the type that is so conservative that I would only fly on planes that have two right wings. I am very much for the second amendment and the right to bear arms. However, when I listen to the gun debate there is something that is missed. I understand it being missed by the secularist mindset, but I don’t expect it to be missed by Christians.

Many times, we hear talk about needing help for mental illness. It’s true I am sure that many people who do the wicked acts of mass shootings could have mental illness. The problem with this is it creates a stigma on mental illness that keeps people with mental illness who would never do something like this from getting help. Imagine what it would be like if whenever the news talked about something like ALS, we also heard it in connection with mass shootings.

Here’s one of the main problems with this. I am not at all opposed to good therapy and psychiatric medicine. I think such tools are extremely helpful. My wife’s own therapist has said that she thinks everyone should see a therapist and even many therapists see therapists.

If we paint the problem as mental illness, then the solution would be that if we could eliminate this mental illness, we would eliminate these mass shootings. This overlooks one of the most important Christian doctrines. It assumes that man as he is will not do evil and that if we can just fix that defective part in his brain, we can prevent that.

But the real problem is not really mental illness, though it can compound that.

The real problem is sin.

And we all have it.

Earlier I said that some people with mental illness would never do something like a mass shooting. I am not recanting that, but I don’t think it’s entirely accurate. In actuality, I think every single one of us, you and me both, are capable of greater evil than we can imagine.

Maybe you wouldn’t now, but if you were in a position of power, would you take the opportunity? Most of us don’t wake up in the morning thinking of some great wrong we want to do. Consider having an affair. Most husbands and wives don’t wake up in the morning and say “I think I’ll ruin my marriage today and have an affair.”

Instead, it starts with the opportunity to have lunch with a co-worker or just talk to someone casually. Before too long, one is looking for more and more opportunities to be with that person. Then suddenly they find themselves meeting one another in a hotel room. The evil just came gradually.

It’s hard to avoid looking back to Nazi Germany when thinking about this. Look at the evil that they did. We know now it is very easy to lead people to do great evil. Milgram established this with his experiments.

We don’t need to look that far. Consider the abortion industry. We have killed numerous babies in our culture and many people have done so with a clean conscience. This is defended as a moral right. (Ironically, these same people complain about God in the Old Testament putting children to death. Go figure.) This evil has become so normalized many people no longer see it as evil.

Chesterton once said we don’t differ on what we will call evils so much. We differ on what we will call excusable. I really think a lot of gun violence goes back to the sexual revolution and the breakdown of the family. What a shock that many of the evils we tolerate, sex outside of marriage, pornography, abortion, homosexual practice, etc. are all connected to sex. Even now society is trying to make pedophilia more acceptable. Many Christians I know have no problem with the concept of living together before marriage, something Christians for hundreds of years would have condemned immediately.

It’s easy to blame the problem on many other factors. If we remove violent video games, this will help deal with it! I don’t care for many overly violent video games, but at the same time, I am a gamer and one of the most peaceful people I think there is. The overwhelming majority of gamers are not like this.

Maybe it’s guns? Guns can give people a means to do something, but the evil is still there in their heart. Oklahoma City took place with everyday products. 9/11 was done with planes. People have used cars to go on mass rampages. I really don’t think gun control laws will work. Such laws will take guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens while criminals who don’t care about the law will use them. If you really don’t care about the law against murder, you’re not gonna care about the one against having a gun.

At the heart, the real issue is sin and we need to return to that. The reality is you and I are both capable of being the next mass shooter. The huge overwhelming majority of us won’t do something like this, but if we dare deny our capability, then we are denying the great evil we have within us. If any of us had the opportunity, we need to be vigilant. One of the surest ways you can fall for an evil is to say it is one you will never commit.

If the issue is sin, there is only one solution. Christianity. It alone is the means to deal with sin in one’s life. Politics has its purpose, but it cannot save society. Only Jesus can do that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 9/23/2017: Kevin Schut

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

People who know me know that while I am certainly big into apologetics, I’ve also had a love of video games all my life. A few months ago, someone gifted me Console WarsThis is a book about the war between Sega and Nintendo, which was a major war in my generation growing up. As I was reading it, I read about Emil Heidkamp who was a devout Christian in the field and helping to produce video games, including such classics as Castlevania. I wondered why it was with my love of games that I had never had someone come on my show to talk about that.

I took to Amazon then to see what I could find. Perhaps you could find some people writing on this, but are there really any professionals in the field? Is there any really scholarly work? Fortunately, I found what I was looking for. I found someone with a Ph.D. in a related field who had written a book on video games and Christianity. He took a very positive approach as he is still a gamer himself and still a devout Christian. I got in touch with him and he was very interested in coming on and now the date has come. The book is Of Games and God and the author is Kevin Schut. So who is he?

According to his bio:

Kevin Schut is the Associate Dean of the School of the Arts, Media, and Culture and Professor of Media and Communication at Trinity Western University in Langley, BC, Canada.  He’s the author of the book Of Games and God: A Christian Exploration of Video Games, and he spends his spare time playing Mario Kart, King’s Quest, and Overcooked with his 3 daughters.

We’ll be talking about various connections between Christianity and video games. How can Christians partake in a field where there is violence as there is in many video games? Does this go against the teachings of Christ? Schut has three daughters, and yet we know that there are many games out there that do in fact highly sexualize women. What are we to say about that?

What about video game addictions? Don’t people spend way too much time playing video games? Some people have even suffered health problems and death due to video game addiction. Are we enabling people to get addicted? Why should we even be playing video games when we have to spread the message of the Gospel?

Also, what about Christians who want to go into the gaming industry and produce games? What do they need to be doing? Are we just going to wind up like we have in other media fields where we will produce media that will be great at reaching other Christians, but not so great at reaching everyone else? Haven’t Christian video games, like Christian movies for the most part, been just awful?

I hope you’ll be listening next time as I combine two great interests of mine for an interview and we talk with someone who has looked in-depth at these kinds of issues. Please be looking for the next episode of the show. If you haven’t yet, also go on ITunes and leave a positive review for the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Of Games and God

What do I think of Kevin Schut’s book published by Brazos Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Dr. Schut’s book is an excellent one that I can easily say that when I got to the end, I was rather surprised. I hadn’t been keeping that much track. This is the kind of book I wish I had had when I was in high school and dealing with issues of doubt and such. I have seen enough damage done by people who are critical of the medium of video games but have not engaged with it.

For my part, I am going to turn 37 later this year and yet I still consider myself a gamer. My favorite kinds of games are RPGs. I am still bothered that I have not got to play Breath of the WildFinal Fantasy is another favorite series of mine and it’s my wife’s hope that somehow we can save up enough money or find someone generous so that we can get a Nintendo Switch so she can play the new Pokemon games.

Like me, Schut is also a gamer. He has seriously wrestled with the arguments on both sides. His favorite games seem to be ones like Red Dead Redemption and Civilization. He also does not deny at all that he is thoroughly committed to Jesus. So what does he say about the games?

Schut does say we need to listen to criticisms. Take time to pay attention to what is being said. At the same time, we should be hoping for critical evaluation and not self-righteous evaluation.

Also, we are living in an age where games are more and more common, including games on our IPhones and Kindles and such. Many people who would likely never play a video game have no problem playing something like Words With Friends for instance. There’s also games that are popular such as Candy Crush which has now become a gameshow, and Angry Birds, which has had its own movie.

He also speaks out against our attempts to Christianize everything. Something is not automatically Christian because it mentions Jesus. Many of us would say the Chronicles of Narnia are Christian, which indeed they are, but you will not find Jesus explicitly mentioned anywhere in them. Our Christian material is usually preachy and we’re very good at reaching ourselves, but not everyone else.

We also have to pay attention to what kind of medium a video game is. One noted difference is that it is interactive. No matter how many times you read The Lord of the Rings nothing new will happen. The story will be the same. No matter how many times you watch the movie, nothing new will happen. Every time you play the game, something different will happen. Of course, there can often be some overriding parameters set for you by the designers of the game, but you have great freedom and influence on the story. No two playings will be the same.

He also does get into the topic of a demonic scare. I was pleased to hear like me, he had a great interest in Dungeons and Dragons as well as Magic: The Gathering. For me, in high school, my friends and I didn’t care for the school lunch at all, so rather than have lunch, we’d go to the library and play Magic all afternoon together.

Unfortunately, too many people have brought into scare stories about such things. Consider the Pulling Report for instance. People who latch onto this do a disservice to those who play the games. Most people who are playing these games are for the most part the same as any other interest. It’s sadly the few that no doubt have other issues going on beforehand that are emphasized.

This naturally gets us into the question of violence in video games. Schut doesn’t shy away from this one, though he does say each person needs to evaluate this for themselves as well. It could be that part of our world is we live in a fallen world and sometimes violence could be what needs to be done. One aspect of this I was considering is that if I’m playing a game like Final Fantasy, one could consider reasoning with a human being, but if a hungry carnivorous creature is coming after me, reason will not work.

Another issue is game addiction. Games do have a tendency to draw us in, reward our achievements, and make us want to do more. There will be a little bit more on this later, but let’s discuss how it relates to addiction. Can some people get addicted? Yes. Still, there is no proven condition like this. Many people do learn to manage their time well. The question is not what do you do, but what do you not do? He also says a temporary obsession is okay. When Breath of the Wild came out, many of my friends were indeed engrossed in that for awhile. (And I hate them for it in a loving Christian way.)

What about sexuality in video games? It is only in the world of video games that a woman can go into battle wearing pretty much a bikini and count that as armor. Video games are usually a world dominated by men, but there are plenty of female gamers. (My wife is playing Pokemon as I write.) The representation on the other hand can be quite different. Women are usually eye candy. There are some exceptions, such as Samus Aran, but we only need think of Lara Croft in Tomb Raider and the obsession with some people on finding a nude code for her.

Now to what I said there would be more on later when talking about addiction. What about education? Video games could be a great source of education. For instance, when I studied Greek in Bible College, we used a program called Parson’s Greek Tutor. I would like very much to get my hands on this again as the interactive format made it much easier for me to learn the material and at the time, I was moving ahead of the class even. Every round was a game and I wanted to get perfect and would settle for nothing less which made sure I learned the material very well. As one working on learning the language now, I look back and wish I still had that.

Video games can be used in such a way for us today. There is something real in the concept of edutainment. Ask a gamer about the information they need in a game and many times they will know it because they have to know it to play well. It is practical knowledge for them.

But what about concerns about the digital age killing our minds? To some extent, this is true. To another extent, the digital age is here to stay and we have to do the most with it that we can. Every new medium brings with it changes. The print medium brought changes as does the internet medium and the video game medium. It’s easy to strike at the medium instead of the human sinful tendency.

Schut also has a section on Christians in the video game industry. Many of these are dedicated people and want to do the best they can. They see their work as an act of service to God in trying to make the best game possible. There are few explicitly Christian video games, and this could be a good thing as sadly, many of those are just awful and only reach those of us who are already Christians. Abandoning the industry will only do for that what it does for Hollywood. We need Christians in every field being salt and light.

No discussion would be complete without the social aspects. I remember years ago getting together with my brother-in-law and some of his friends. No doubt, I was the youngest one there, but we spent all of one afternoon playing Goldeneye together. In Charlotte, I would get together with some friends every Sunday night. After some time playing Super Smash Brothers Brawl we would go bowling. When it came time for my bachelor party, all we did was bring the Wii over to a guy’s apartment complex who had a big screen and played Smash Brothers all night long together.

Games have had a way of bringing people together and uniting them. Gaming conventions are places where people can very often be themselves and form friendships easily. It could be that the gamer today is no longer the single guy sitting in his mother’s basement.

If you’re a gamer, you owe it to yourself to read Schut’s book. It is a gripping looking at a neglected medium and one that we need more of. I appreciate that he sent me a copy for review purposes and I look very much forward to interviewing him on my podcast about this.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

ISIS. We Don’t Hate You

What do we say to our enemies? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Sometime in our day and age, it’s hard to be able to show love to your enemies. Many of us remember well 9/11. We remember the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil. We see in our minds the image of people on the upper stories leaping out of the windows. We remember watching those towers come down.

We remember also people coming on the news afterwards trying to tell us that Islam is a religion of peace, and so they have told us. They have told us after every single terrorist attack that has happened. It’s really hard to think that it is and we wonder how we as individuals, not as the political entity of a nation, are to respond to ISIS.

ISIS in their magazine recently put out and article called “Why We Hate You And Why We Fight You.” It’s a real article and you can see it here. A commenter on Mike Licona’s Facebook page said when shared that it would be awesome if someone wrote from a Christian perspective to counter about why we don’t hate them.

Well why not?

First, “We hate you first and foremost, because you are disbelievers, you reject the oneness of Allah.”

Naturally, this is about the Trinity. Of course, we could respond and say that Muslims deny the full deity of the Son of God which would also be blasphemous. Many of them have an idea that Jesus was conceived of some sexual union between God and Mary. Not at all. Still, it’s important to note we wish to honor God properly and to honor the Son as we honor the Father per John 5:23. This will get us into apologetics arguments for why we believe the NT is reliable and why we believe in the highest Christology that we can.

The main difference between us is we think God is best to give out the final judgment rather than us. We like you would rather see you converted than see you dead. That is so much for us that as individuals, we are willing to wait it out and pray for our enemies and bless those who persecute us, per Jesus’s instructions in the Sermon on the Mount.

Second, “We hate you because your secular, liberal societies permit the very things that Allah has prohibited while banning many of the things He has permitted”

Some of these things we’ll agree on actually. We don’t care for the way the homosexual lobby has transformed America. Still, the difference is we don’t want to win over our enemy with the sword. It ultimately won’t convince him. It’s also not allowed in the way of Jesus.

As for separation of church and state, we seek to give a place where everyone can worship freely. That may seem risky to you, but to us, ideally it’s supposed to allow everyone to live in freedom. Here for instance, I disagree thoroughly with your religion of Islam, but I would surely defend the rights of Muslims to build a mosque and worship as they see fit.

Next, we also remember that according to Romans, we were all once enemies of God and living our own lives putting ourselves at the center. Okay. Some of us still struggle with that. We also remember that while we were His enemies, God sent His Son to save us. Our fellow Americans and such who disagree with us are in the same boat. Anyone of them could also follow in the footsteps of Paul for all we know.

Third, “In the case of the atheist fringe, we hate you and wage are against you because you disbelieve in the existence of your Lord and Creator.”

And again, we agree. We don’t care for atheism. The difference is we don’t hate atheists. It’s atheism that is the problem. We also think it’s foolish to deny the reality of a creator and yes, we could all bear to think about our final judgment a lot more. Still, as with the second, we prefer to use the methods of Christ and besides, we’d rather show the idea is just wrong instead of killing those who hold it.

Fourth, “We hate you for your crimes against Islam and wage war against you to punish you for your transgressions against our religion.”

We have seen plenty of this towards us as well. In fact, our own military has burnt Bibles sent to our soldiers. Yet still, this all falls under the second theme. We would rather show that the religion is wrong instead of going the path of warfare.

Fifth, “We hate you for your crimes against Muslims; your drones and fighter jets bombs, kill, and maim our people around the world.”

Based on what came first, I’m quite sure that even if this stopped immediately, you’d still have the same attitude. This goes to what we do as a nation. If we look at nations that have been attacked by Muslims, we take that seriously. If an innocent nation was being attacked, we would also take that seriously. Many of us were living in peace when 9/11 took place. That kind of matter is taken by our government as an act of war and like you, we want to defend our women and children as well.

Sixth, “We hate you for invading our lands and fight you to repel you and drive you out.”

In the West, there is no real desire to build an empire. With our nuclear capabilities, we could have done so easily if we wanted to. We have no desire to wipe you off of the map. We would prefer to see people living in freedom. Still, once again, we are not to hate our enemies. We are to love them.

“What’s important to understand here is that although some might argue that your foreign policies are the extent of what drives our hatred, this particular reason for hating you is secondary, hence the reason we addressed it at the end of the above list. The fact is, even if you were to stop bombing us, imprisoning us, torturing us, vilifying us, and usurping our lands, we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam…As much as some liberal journalist would like you to believe that we do what we do because we’re simply monsters with no logic behind our course of action, the fact is that we continue to wage—and escalate—a calculated war that the west thought it had ended several years ago. So you can continue to believe that those ‘despicable terrorists’ hate you because of your lattes and your Timberlands, or you can accept reality and recognize that we will never stop hating you until you embrace Islam.”

And here is where we are different. Your reason for hating us is we don’t embrace Islam. Our reason for loving you is God. God loves you and He loved us even while we were enemies. In fact, His love for us never changed. We didn’t earn it at all. We don’t become Christians so He will love us. We become Christians because He loves us.

And what is that love? It is not sentimental warm fuzzies. It is not what you would see in some Disney movie. It is the active sacrificing of your good for the good of the other. For instance, many of us who are husbands frequently put our own desires on the line for the other. You also know this in saying that you want to protect your women and children. You would be willing to die for your women and children. So are we.

What our nation does as a nation we cannot say. What happens if we are attacked directly could lead into that self-defense, especially with our wives and children at stake. It is nothing we take delight over. It has been said that all good soldiers should hate war but sometimes it is a necessity.

An ultimate difference between us is Jesus is our supreme example whereas yours is Muhammad. Jesus has been our greatest incentive to holiness and a life of true love and sacrifice for one another. No doubt, we fail miserably at times, but we all still seek to try.

Of course, if you want to keep going after us, you’re going to do so and that will just perpetuate the cycle. We would prefer you take the way of Christ. Perhaps you should look into the case for Christianity. What have you to lose? If Islam is true, there is no reason to fear. Start by reading the New Testament. At this, you might ask me if I’ve read the Koran. Indeed I have. I hope to someday soon read some of the hadiths as well. I think it’s part of being informed.

Unfortunately, we suspect you will likely keep going down the same path, but we Christians in America should make it a point to pray for you. Our opponents are not flesh and blood but principalities. It is the ideologies that are our ultimate enemy, not the people who hold them. We hope you’ll see things the same way.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Sex And Violence In The Bible

What do I think of Joseph W. Smith’s book from P & R Publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

sexandviolenceintheBible

When you see a book called Sex and Violence in the Bible: A Survey of Explicit Content In The Holy Book, it’s tempting to think the worse. Ah Yes. Here we go. Another book from an atheist meant to show us just how incredibly dirty that our Bible really is. Here we go. It’s another claim about how there are so many passages in the Bible that you will never hear talked about in a church service. Once again, we are seeing that the Bible can be a book that has passages that are highly disturbing to read about.

If you thought that, you would be partially right.

Except this book isn’t by an atheist but by an evangelical Christian.

The Bible in fact does contain many passages that would be considered dirty. It does contain passages we don’t talk about in church services. It does have passages that are highly disturbing to read about. Finally, we should be thankful it has those because the world we live in contains a lot of filth and a lot of realities that we don’t want to talk about and yet we have to face them.

The book starts with the story about Smith showing a movie at a church and because the movie had some questionable material in it, it was later said that it was not the kind of movie that should have been shown. Smith thought about this and how the Bible contains such material as well and what would happen if we turned the whole Bible into a movie where we showed everything it talked about. What rating would that movie get? Would we show it in church?

Good questions.

Smith starts with sex. Let’s face it. We think about sex constantly. I know we men do and I’m sure women do far more than I realize. It is on our televisions and it is in our films. We can see this especially since Fifty Shades of Grey is supposed to be hitting the movie screens soon after being a best-selling book. Sex is extremely popular and since we think about it all of the time, doesn’t it make sense that the Bible would mention it?

Sometimes, the Bible does use euphemisms to describe sex. There are very few words that describe the action itself in the good book, whereas in our world, you can find an abundance of claims. (Getting laid, doing it, making love, coitus, etc. Some terms are technical, some are positive and romantic, and some are just dirty) The details of what happens in sex are never really described, though the longings can be quite detailed at times. Just consider what is said about Song of Songs! For some thinking on that, remember with euphemisms that a hand is not always a hand.

One place the Bible is normally quite positive in describing sexuality is in describing the female, and why should this be a surprise? Some might say this is because the Bible was written by men and what are men thinking about but the female body? Perhaps, but it could also be because woman is created as the representation of beauty in creation. Women have a great interest in their beauty and it is celebrated in the Scriptures. Her beauty is seen as a prize and a gift, though certainly a man is to respect that gift. The female body is spoken of quite clearly in many places although some parts of her do indeed have euphemisms.

But there is a dark side. You will find times where sex is seen in a negative light. The sections on violence for instance contain accounts of rape. Other than that, you will also find cases of incest that actually take place in the Bible. You will find stories of adulterous affairs that take place. What has happened? It is because just as in our world, man has taken a good gift of God, sex, and used it for evil.

Violence? Yep. Violence is in there. There are cases of murder and torment and burning and things of that sort. Smith devotes chapters to many forms of violence and where they take place and sees what commentators say about them. Is this graphic? Yes. Is it often matters we do not want to think about? Yes. So why bring them up? Because they are matters we should think about.

That’s the point. If we are to take Scripture seriously, we have to take all of it seriously, including the parts that can be difficult. Maybe we should hear a sermon on Ezekiel 16 or 23. Maybe we should discuss regularly the kinds of violence that show up in the Bible. Could it be the reason so many Christians become atheists is because of what they are stunned to read about in the Bible that their church never prepared them for? Could it be we have a problem with sexual ethics in the church today because we never really discuss what the Bible has to say about sex?

Smith’s work is quite thorough and one worth looking into. These are the kinds of things we need to talk about also to show us how serious the problem of sin is that it distorts sex and that it leads to violence. It is then that we can also truly appreciate the work of the cross and how much we need to embrace sanctification. Those interested in these matters will be benefited by having this book in their library.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Why I Am A Gamer

Why enjoy a hobby that has so much violence? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

The following blog entry is also a guest blog entry at NearEmmaus. Brian LePort who runs it started asking questions about football of all things and whether there are any theological questions. Now to be honest, I don’t care a bit about football. I watch the Super Bowl for the same reason several of you probably do. I want to see the commercials! The only sport I could ever get into any at all is Braves baseball. Yet I saw the question about football being violent and thought from a different perspective that I could handle that.

Why? Not because I like football, but because from as far back as I can remember, I’ve had a great interest in video games. For me, it started with realizing my parents had something called a ColecoVision (Some of you remember those I’m sure). My favorite game on it was not a fighting game but a puzzle game called Ladybug. (I would love to be able to download this game on the Wii today!) I could often reach level 100 on the game. I had it mastered from an early age. (It’s not as easy to do on the computer)

Being in Elementary School, I realized I needed to get a Nintendo soon and so like many others, I grew up playing games like Super Mario Brothers and the Legend of Zelda. Link of the Zelda series was a hero of mine growing up. I still remember taking a Nintendo Power magazine to the place I’d get my hair cut. In it, I showed a picture of Link from Zelda II and said that I wanted my hair to look like that.

And before too long, people at my school knew who was the main expert on video games. While there are puzzle games and some adventure games I still enjoy, far and long the games I enjoy the most are RPGs. I prefer Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Kingdom Hearts, etc. A notable exception could be multi-player games such as how in Charlotte I got together with friends every Sunday night to play Super Smash Brothers Brawl. When I visit my in-laws, we can play the Wii Sports or Mario Kart Wii. I also like to play the old classic games.

Now with puzzle games we don’t really have much problem of course. That my Dad and I can still play Dr. Mario today is not really a problem to anyone. What about a game where you get a sword and cut through monsters? Isn’t that violent?

Why yes. Yes it is.

Now note in this that for me, I don’t play games that have gratuitous violence. There are limits for me. I do not really like to see the sight of blood that much. I could take something such as playing Goldeneye on the 64 and seeing the blood come down when my character died, but to see someone get shot at regularly and have blood come gushing out would not be something that I want to see. Just yesterday my wife and I watched “Flags of our Fathers” and I had to cover my eyes a number of times because I can’t stand the blood. Watching “House M.D.” can be difficult and I have no idea how I got through the first season of Dexter. This could also be a question of conscience, which many of this is. Note that if someone reads this and still has hesitations and really doesn’t think they should play the games I play, that is just fine with me. I have no problem there. Let us follow a Romans 14 perspective and see this as a matter of conscience. Of course, if you have a real objection, then bring it.

Yet if we are to say that something is to be rejected because it contains violence, then frankly we Christians will have to reject the Bible as well which has much violence in it, something that we need to accept. God is a holy God and those who go against Him are dealt with in accordance with what they do wrong, and sometimes His instrument for doing that is human beings. This still goes on today. Romans 13 speaks about government being such a force that bears the sword. Yes. There are times violence is necessary.

Why?

It would be nice if we all lived in a world where everyone would sit down to peace conferences and be willing to do all that was necessary, but because we are still in the flesh, such is not going on. There are people who will want to get whatever they want and who cares about anyone else? There will be people who do not follow the rules of others and go forward on their own authority seeking to stomp on anyone who gets in their way.

But are we not told that blessed are the peacemakers?

Those familiar with Westerns know that Wyatt Earp referred to his gun as the peacemaker. Let’s suppose I had been out somewhere and came home and heard my wife screaming inside. I go in and find some man attacking her and getting a weapon, I manage to kill her assailant. In doing this, I have become a peacemaker the way Earp said his gun was. The person who I dealt with was someone who was violating the peace. By eliminating him, I have restored the peace that he shattered.

“But Jesus told us to love our enemies! Should we kill them?”

Most of us would not consider it loving to lock someone behind bars in a destitute situation for years or to charge a really hefty fine for something. This is what we do however! Why? Because love does not mean everyone gets to do what they want without any consequences whatsoever. Now some have argued that Jesus would forgive people. Yes he would. So should we. However, there is a difference between private and public forgiveness. Someone can privately receive forgiveness for what they’ve done, but they still owe a debt to society and that debt is to be repaid. For an example, David in the sin of Bathsheba was privately forgiven, but his son still died. Forgiveness does not automatically mean there are no consequences. In fact, the Christian narrative should remind us that all actions we do have consequences.

If someone is out there actively doing evil, you can be sure that they are NOT seeking forgiveness. They are not in a state of repentance. I hold that Christians should always be willing to forgive, but they are not to offer forgiveness until the person comes to them and asks for forgiveness. Some might think that is not a good attitude to have, but why think that when that is the exact position God Himself holds?

Yet are we not to turn the other cheek?

Jesus’s statement was about an event in the private setting that constituted a simple insult. The idea was to end the cycle of retaliation before it starts. It says absolutely nothing about physical danger. It is not being like Christ to do nothing while someone inflicts serious injury on innocent people. If you are insulted, it can be a mark of character to simply not choose to retaliate in private. In public, matters are different. While it can be questioned whether Edmund Burke said it, I can easily agree with the idea that “All that is needed for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing.” If we sit back and do nothing in the face of evil, let us not be surprised that evil flourishes.

So what about the gaming area since you are the one doing the activity?

And I have no qualms about it. Note for instance that in many games today, one is fighting monsters who are not rational human beings and seek only destruction. (Never mind in these worlds for some reason they all breed like rabbits and are all deadset on destroying you and your party) There are times you fight people, but again, this is in a public forum with fighting those who wish to do evil and are not repentance. There are times in RPGs where you can be given the choice to let a character go who seems repentant.

We also should realize that a game must be considered in the world that it is in. We can look and say that on Earth it would not be like this, but then on Earth we don’t have dragons flying around us and imps breeding everywhere. In this world, if one does not fight evil villains, then the good of the whole world will suffer and we must seek to bring about the good of the world and not just that of an individual.

Of course, we must be sure we are fighting for the good of the world. Are we doing that? If someone is going on a quest and slaying monsters but they’re only doing that so they can get to the hapless village and destroy it, then it would be apparent that while they could be doing good on the way, their overall approach is not good and is therefore something that should be condemned.

Now what about football with all of this? It’s also important to consider that men by nature do tend to enjoy violent activities. That’s the way we are. We’re warriors at heart. Men like something to fight for. One of the reasons I believe marriage can domesticate a man for instance is that it gives him something he can fight for. Many of us men would hopefully be ready for action immediately if someone were to do something that would endanger our wives. We have this instinct to protect and fight born into us. We grow up with toy guns and swords and all manner of activity like this.

What we need to ask is what are we going to do with all this aggression and energy that we can have? Football could be a fine outlet for some people, though I would advise them to be extremely careful. Several older people today suffer greatly because of injuries they got when playing football while young. Of course, on a field, one should only use enough force to take down an opponent. (Don’t expect technical terms from me on football. I couldn’t tell you) I do understand that there are such things as unnecessary roughness in a sport like football. It can be necessary to knock down your opponent. It does not mean it is necessary to pummel him on the ground to keep him down.

Of course, every Christian will have to examine themselves. My great concern for us gamers is not that we will become violent people, but that we will spend too much time with our hobby. I make it a point for instance that when game time comes here, I usually listen to an MP3 at the same time so I can at least be educating myself as well. (Somehow, I don’t think this would work in a football game) Of course, that doesn’t hold if I’m playing a multi-player game with friends in which it’s just fun fellowship. Now if you really have serious qualms about this and you’re not even sure why, you can examine those, but you do not have to partake of something. This is the freedom of the Christian.

As we observe our freedom, let us be careful about how we approach another person’s freedom. What you might find questionable they could have no problem for and let each be fully convinced in his own mind.

In Christ,
Nick Peters