Book Plunge Part 2: Decision Making and the Will of God

What do I think of Garry Friesen’s contribution to this book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As I said at the start, Friesen is the one I know of who’s opinion on this topic I am most inclined to go with. Friesen did what his dissertation work was on, decision making and the will of God. He used to hold to the more traditional specific-view will and found it just didn’t work. He then went back to the Bible and found that the traditional view just really wasn’t there. While some Christians were pleased with this work, including myself, many were scornful of Friesen and at least one Christian speaker declared him a heretic.

Friesen’s view is the wisdom view. In his view, all moral commands of God that apply to us today are to be obeyed without question. However, there are times that we don’t have a moral command and there are two or more options that can be chosen from and none of them violate a moral command of God. Which one do you go with? Friesen has the incredible idea of actually looking at the options and weighing the pros and cons and making a wise decision.

What strikes me is that this view is at all controversial. In any other position in life, we go with the wisdom model. However, when it comes to being a Christian, somehow it’s a more holy model to think that you’re supposed to hear the voice of God just like everyone in the Bible supposedly did, although we only talk about the exceptional people.

Friesen in looking at the text notices, especially in Acts, that this happens many times. There’s even a passage where there is an open door, and yet Paul chooses to not go through it. The first missionary journey was indeed called out by God, but when it comes to the second, Paul and Barnabas just decide to revisit the towns and before that they get into an argument and end up choosing separate partners.

Having said that, there are some mild criticisms I have of the chapter.

First off, Friesen says the prophets had no doubt that God had spoken to them. I would like to have seen this fleshed out a bit. Gideon seems to be doubtful of God in Judges and Abraham is called by God and yet lies about his identity. John the Baptist saw miracles around Jesus and while in prison asks if He was the one to come still.

Second, while Friesen does go to Acts, I wonder what he would say about Acts 1 where lots were used to determine the replacement of Judas. Also, I would think it would be great to go to Acts 15, the first church council where you would think a word from God would be determinative, but none is given, except one possibility. The text does it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us. I would have liked some interpretation from him on this passage.

Third, while Friesen points to prayer, I would like to know how he thinks prayer is supposed to work for us here. How does God interact? Does He clear the head of the believer to make a wise decision? Can God indeed recall to mind a Scripture or something similar? Overall, how does God interact with our lives?

Finally, as a respondent says, what about the Holy Spirit? Friesen says little about Him in this chapter if anything. What roles does the Spirit play in our lives?

It has been several years since I read his main book on this topic so it could be there, but I would like something to go on in this chapter still. I agree with Friesen on the Wisdom view. I just want to see it fleshed out some more.

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

Book Plunge: Dating With Discernment

What do I think of Sam Andreades’s book published by Cruciform Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

How many pastor/scholars do you know that write books on dating that are practical and have deep theology? Odds are, that number is zero. Change that number to one now. Sam Andreades has written such a book that is practical and yet founded on great theology.

So how does one date wisely? You might be surprised, but the first chapter is on how to break up with someone. What? That’s like writing a book on how to be good at a sport and then a chapter on how to lose or how to win at video games with discussing all the ways to lose a life. Does it really make sense to have a book on dating start with a chapter on how to break up?

Andreades asks this question at the beginning and yes, yes it does. He says you need to be willing to go for the best in this area and that can mean ending relationships that are not good. You do not need to be in a relationship to be in a relationship. If you can learn to say no to a bad one, you are upholding your view on how much you are worth.

This section already got me considering about the rest of the book. Yes. I am worth a good woman in my life who does want to be loved and treasured. Yes. Whoever she is, she is worthy of a man who will love and treasure her. This gets into the other way this book works.

Andreades regularly writes to both persons in the relationship. He tells women how they can best please a man and tells men how they can best please a woman. He points out our differences based on gender, his main specialty area, and shows how these are the design of God.

This also includes saving sex for marriage. Andreades refers to this as guarding the gold. By saying no to sex until marriage, you are saying you are worth a lifetime commitment. Words and a ring are really good, but without the covenant, they are just, well, words and a ring. It is when you make a promise before God and man and any other spiritual beings watching, that you are in the covenant and then, have at it.

To this end, Andreades says that men will often show interest in a girl thinking “I’d like to have sex with her.” Refreshingly, Andreades does not condemn this thinking as he knows that sex is God’s idea, but he also tells men that sex is about more than sex. What happens physically is meant to mirror deep spiritual and emotional connections. If you view sex as purely physical, you are missing out. This is also one great reason why it is contained in marriage. Andreades does not condemn the drive in us men, but instead encourages us to use that drive to go further.

All of this is also rooted in good Trinitarian theology. Andreades regularly points to the interactions in the Trinity and then tells us that this is how we are to relate to one another. Why would you discuss the Trinity in a book on dating? Because dating is all about establishing relationships and the Trinity is all about how God is relational and all relationships are founded on that relationality.

Andreades encourages men to be leaders and sacrificers. The man should be the one to ask someone out and be willing to put his heart on the line. The man should be willing to protect his wife and help her feel secure from all the threats, be that external or internal.

A good wife is one who is willing to submit to her husband’s leadership even when she disagrees, excepting that he does not call her to do anything wrong. If he makes the wrong decision, it’s still his decision and the wife can still esteem him without constant “I told you so’s.” A man deeply wants to be respected by the woman in his life.

Also, meet the family as soon as possible. No, it doesn’t mean you’re walking down the aisle. It just means the family knows you. I know in my marriage, this happened quickly as seeing as she lived in Atlanta and I in Charlotte then, I had to drive over and meet her parents before I could take her out. (And her parents and I are on good terms to this day.)

This book is written for people dating or hoping to date, but I think it would be good for married couples. They could look at this and ask “Are we doing this for each other?” This is also a book that uses good theology and all of us could use that. I contend many of the personal struggles we can have in life are rooted in having poor theology in some area, and all of us do.

If you are dating, get this book and read it. If you are wanting to date, get this book and read it. If you know a couple who are dating, get each of them this book and have them read it.

Pretty much, just get this book and read it.

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

 

The Knock At Your Door

What do you do when the other side comes knocking at your door?

Wednesday as my wife and I were heading out, we saw some women standing near our car. Now I’m not normally an outgoing type, but I push myself at times and I did this time because I could recognize by the way they were dressed and that they were carrying books that they were Jehovah’s Witnesses. I asked them about their books so they could confirm my suspicions. They told me that they were Bible Students and waiting for some others. Bible Students is often another way of saying Jehovah’s Witnesses so I had my findings confirmed. I invited them to stop by.

This morning, they did just that.

This is also why you study your Bible and why the church needs to have people studying their Bibles. If these people knock on your door and you are not prepared, they will turn you inside out. These people know several several verses that you probably do not know. These are verses that are not taught in your average church service.

When was the last time you heard a sermon in church on the Kingdom of God? Yeah. That’s what I thought. That’s especially sad since this was one of the greatest emphases of the historical Jesus. When was the last time you heard a message about the Trinity? How about the nature of the resurrection?

Well guess what. Jehovah’s Witnesses have a lot to say about all of those and if all you have is what you usually hear in churches on Sunday, unless your church is the rare exception, you are not prepared. Think you’ve got those pet verses you like to use to show the Trinity? Well guess what. Jehovah’s Witnesses have an answer to those. Now I think the answer is wrong and is based on poor hermeneutics, but it is still an answer and if you don’t have a reply ready for them, it will not go well for you.

And you know what? You can’t get that answer right when they knock on your door. You have to have it ready then.

I had my answer ready then. Many passages they brought out such as Psalms 37 with the meek inheriting the Earth and such, I agreed with. When they asked about miracles and that we don’t have them going on, I was ready to point them to Craig Keener. My favorite was to talk about the Kingdom of God that Jesus taught and tie it in to Matthew 24 with my understanding of orthodox Preterism. They didn’t really care for that and it was quite a problem for them.

Now you might think some of my responses are wrong, but I want to point something out. These people are going around doing evangelism, like we’re supposed to be doing. These people are studying in their evangelism, like we should be doing. These people are confronting those who disagree with them, like we should be doing. These people are being more serious about a false gospel than we are often being about the true gospel and you know who they want to reach? You and your family and your neighbors.

Some of you might want to study when they show up, but that’s like preparing for combat when the enemy shows up at your house. You have to be ready then. You have to be prepared at all times. If you are not being prepared, start. If you do not have a well-grounded theology that can handle the objections that are presented, start.

One point I did stress is that I read books that disagree with me. They wanted to avoid saying that they did this and just pay some lip service to the idea. This is a great weakness of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They are very selective in what they’re allowed to read. Don’t be like that. Read what you can. That’s just good humility.

Jehovah’s Witnesses and others should be a lesson to us all. We need to prepare. Imagine how the church would be if we were as true to the true Gospel as Jehovah’s Witnesses are to a false one.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 11/7/2015: Slow To Judge

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

Wisdom. It’s a word many of us would love to use but we find it hard to come by. In fact, many of us are like Adam and Eve in the garden and want to get the fruit to make us wise, but we want to on our terms and to do it immediately. We don’t want to work for wisdom. Have we really learned the value of wisdom and how to live a wise life? Is there a way to help us on the path of wisdom and see how we can go about it? Fortunately, that there is, and that guide comes from Dr. David Capes with his book Slow To Judge. Even more fortunate, he’s going to be passing on the wisdom by being my guest on the show this Saturday.

So who is he?

capes,david

According to his bio:

David B. Capes is the Thomas Nelson Research Professor in the School of Theology at Houston Baptist University.

Before coming to academic life, David served churches in various roles in Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas. He graduated from Mercer University (BA 1978) and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv 1982; PhD 1990). He has done additional work at Baylor University and was twice named a Visiting Fellow at the University of Edinburgh (2000 and 2009). He has authored, co-authored, and edited a dozen books and numerous articles on early Christianity, culture, and Scripture.

For over 20 years he has been active in interfaith dialogue with Jews and Muslims around the world. In 1996 he began a radio show in Houston which addresses current events and cultural questions through the lens of faith. “A Show of Faith” airs weekly on 1070 KNTH.

In 2004 David became the lead scholar on The Voice, a dynamic translation of the Bible into English. He has served as one of the main writers, reviewers, and editors on the project. As an award-winning teacher and popular speaker, he has been delighted to team up with Ecclesia Bible Society and Thomas Nelson Publishers to help believers, young and old, step into the story of Scripture.

We’ll be talking then about this book and how he has lived it out, especially since he has been one of the main speakers on a radio show in Houston where he has had to spend time with other beliefs since he did it with a rabbi and a Catholic priest. (We have not yet received word as to if they ever walked into a bar after a show.) Capes hasn’t just written about wisdom but he has had to live it out and when he’s asked about the book, we can be sure that we’ll get to see how we can find that wisdom that we need and apply it to our own lives.

I hope you’ll be listening then to the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast as we seek to discuss a book that is not so much about getting apologetics answer but rather how one should do apologetics. How ought one to interact with those who don’t believe and how should one approach difficult questions and situations? Tune in and we’ll talk about it!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Slow To Judge

What do I think about David Capes’s book published by Thomas Nelson? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Slow To Judge is not your typical book on Christian apologetics. If you’re wanting to get an answer on a question like if Jesus rose from the dead or dealing with the problem of evil, this is not the book for you. If you’re wanting a book on how to approach the debates on those kinds of topics, then this is the book for you. This is a book more akin to Greg Koukl’s Tactics. Capes throughout the book is encouraging you to not be too quick to judge. At the same time, he doesn’t want you to back down for a moment on your convictions, but make sure you’re doing something to promote honest debate.

You might be wondering why someone who is a New Testament scholar would be qualified to write a work like this. Capes has an advantage that he has been a regular host of a radio show where he appeared alongside a Jew and a priest to discuss various issues and take phone calls. (We have received no word if they ever went to a bar after the show.) Because of this, Capes learned how to have interfaith dialogues. He disagrees strongly with his co-hosts, but he also considers them good friends. As much as people know me to be firm in my debates with unbelievers many times, I much more prefer the ones I can have an honest discussion with rather than the ones that come with a strong chip on their shoulder.

And throughout the book, Capes takes a look at a number of ways real discussion is being hampered today. One such way is by the use of terms that end in phobia, something I’ve been surprised to see even Peter Boghossian agrees with. Too often in our culture, someone can be labeled a name like a homophobe or accused of homophobia and the person is immediately on the defensive for anything they have to say. It’s a good rhetorical play to make, but it’s not one that really adds any substance and most of us on the other side immediately realize what kind of mindset we’re dealing with.

Also, when it comes to judging too quickly, there’s one group that often gets left out that is judged too quickly and I speak as a member of that group, the disabled. My wife and I both have Aspergers and it’s amazing how because you don’t immediately understand and follow social protocol that people will often assume the worst of you. I can actually very well understand the world of someone like Sheldon Cooper even if I do find it humorous at times. There are many times I have to send an email to the people I know who are neurotypicals about a situation and ask if I am missing something. Too often when people see me, they can think that I’m rude or something of that sort when it really isn’t my intention to be.

The discussion on tolerance is also extremely helpful. Tolerance has been used as a weapon by those who claim to hold to it the most. For all the time they have spent preaching this Gospel of tolerance, you think they’d be willing to practice it. In fact, I have often said that the best way to spot an intolerant person is to find someone who is a champion of tolerance and then disagree with them on one of their chief virtues.

I also think the discussion on recognizing differences in other religions is quite helpful, although some in the Christian community will be shocked to learn that the early church didn’t really have a problem adopting certain literary and artistic forms from the pagans around them. Indeed, why should everything be invented wholesale? Too often the idea is the Christians could have nothing to gain from the pagans who were around them or else the Christians had everything to gain. The simple reality is that the Christians wrote their New Testament in the Greek language and last I checked, that wasn’t some heavenly language.

The book ends with a look at two figures. Fethullah Gulen is the first and C.S. Lewis is the second. Most of us have heard of the second, but I’d never heard of the former, which is a shame. He’s apparently a Muslim leader who is quite moderate and very condemning of acts of terrorism and sees Islam in more spiritual terms. Would I disagree with some stances on this? Yep. I would. I have my own opinions of Islam, but I do wish this guy was more well-known and more Muslims were listening to him. C.S. Lewis meanwhile definitely knew about the pagan world around him and interacted with it and is a model we can all learn from.

Again, I do not agree with everything in Capes book, but he’s absolutely right on the importance of wisdom. Ultimately, that’s what the book is all about. Wisdom. There are too many people with a lot of knowledge, but they don’t have any wisdom and do great harm to the body of Christ because of that. There are two extremes I think can be made. If you only have a hammer, everything will look like a nail. If you only have a hug, everything will look like a kitten. We need wisdom to know which is which. Reading this book is a good start for the quest for wisdom.

In Christ,
Nick Peters