Richard Dawkins: A Gift From God.

August 22, 2014

Are all human lives valuable for what they are? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Richard Dawkins is well-known today as a leading contemporary spokesman for atheism. If you asked most people today to name a famous living atheist, Dawkins would likely be on top of the list. In fact, according to this site, he’s the #1 leading atheist in the world. Perhaps in some ways we could describe Richard Dawkins as the Pope of atheism.

PopeDawkins

This is actually more fitting than most realize. The idea is that in the so-called Dark Ages, you went to the priests who were the bearers of all knowledge. The correct view on that is that the religious leaders likely were some of the most knowledgeable people around. The false view is that it’s because the only knowledge they had was knowledge of the Bible. No. Active learning was going on in many areas. Not all would have a specific interest in “natural philosophy” as science was called, but all would know something about it.

Today, science has become the new priesthood with a scientism that says science is the only way you know anything and that all knowledge must be scientific and if you can’t establish something scientifically, it can’t be true. Never mind that this criteria has never once met its own standards. It is an undercurrent in our society. Whenever an opinion comes on an issue, if it is said that “a scientist says” that is automatically the most valid opinion, never mind that it could be something the scientist has never really studied. His opinion matters because he is a scientist.

None of this is to knock science. No one should want to. Science is our friend. Scientism is our enemy. The putting of science in the supreme place as the supreme guide to knowledge is also our enemy. It is no desire to belittle scientific knowledge, or any knowledge for that matter. It is a desire instead to deal with the practical worship of science.

Many of us know about Dawkins’s recent outrage that has been sparked due to twitter remarks. It would be bad enough if that was the only embarrassing story of the week, but it is not. Consider this story from just last Saturday. In it, Dawkins is compared to an evangelist who develops a following if you donate to his circle. Reality is Dawkins is even more expensive than the evangelists that he would criticize. Let’s look at some highlights. A lengthy quote will suffice.

the Richard Dawkins website offers followers the chance to join the ‘Reason Circle’, which, like Dante’s Hell, is arranged in concentric circles. For $85 a month, you get discounts on his merchandise, and the chance to meet ‘Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science personalities’. Obviously that’s not enough to meet the man himself. For that you pay $210 a month — or $5,000 a year — for the chance to attend an event where he will speak.

When you compare this to the going rate for other charismatic preachers, it does seem on the high side. The Pentecostal evangelist Morris Cerullo, for example, charges only $30 a month to become a member of ‘God’s Victorious Army’, which is bringing ‘healing and deliverance to the world’. And from Cerullo you get free DVDs, not just discounts.

But the $85 a month just touches the hem of rationality. After the neophyte passes through the successively more expensive ‘Darwin Circle’ and then the ‘Evolution Circle’, he attains the innermost circle, where for $100,000 a year or more he gets to have a private breakfast or lunch with Richard Dawkins, and a reserved table at an invitation-only circle event with ‘Richard’ as well as ‘all the benefits listed above’, so he still gets a discount on his Richard Dawkins T-shirt saying ‘Religion — together we can find a cure.’

The website suggests that donations of up to $500,000 a year will be accepted for the privilege of eating with him once a year: at this level of contribution you become a member of something called ‘The Magic of Reality Circle’. I don’t think any irony is intended.

I can suspect that this will be met with zealous opposition where this is shared by internet atheists and their followers, which will really demonstrate the case. Those who are followers of Dawkins really study the issues just as little as he does, if not less, which might be surprising seeing as it’s hard to imagine studying religious issues less than Dawkins. Thankfully, there are some atheists who are thoughtful and seek to understand the issues that realize Dawkins is an embarrassment to their cause and want him to just go away. The more atheists keep upholding Dawkins however and referring to works like “The God Delusion” as if it was a philosophical masterpiece, the more Christians who know what they’re talking about will see no reason to take them seriously. In fact, if I meet anyone who considers “The God Delusion” to be recommended reading to show why Christianity or theism should not be taken seriously, I know that this is a person uninformed on the issues. Actually, that applies to anyone who recommends any of the new atheists.

Many of you might not have noticed that story about Dawkins because frankly, he’s done something even more embarrassing than that. In fact, this is something I would even say is downright wicked. What Dawkins has done is sparked a controversy based on what he said in his twitter feed. You see, Dawkins heard from someone that they don’t know what they would do if they were pregnant with a child with Down’s Syndrome. It was described as an ethical dilemma.

Before we focus on what Dawkins had to say in response, isn’t it a shame we live in a world where even knowing your baby will have Down’s Syndrome leaves you with a dilemma of if you should kill it or not? You see, the reality is that as soon as that child is conceived and they have Down’s Syndrome, you are already the parent of a child with Down’s. The question you have to ask is if you’re going to be the parent of a dead one or a living one. Not only that, are you going to be the parent of a living child that you and your spouse brought into the world together, or are you going to be the parent of a dead child that died at your own hands.

In fact, I know and have known a number of people with Down’s Syndrome children. Are the children hard to care for? Yes. Can it be frustrating? Yes. Does it cost a lot of money? Yes.

You know, like all children do.

Of course, Down’s children come with extra hurdles, but you know what? They also come with extra joys. They tend to be far more honest and genuine in their love and the parents who take the time to love them see them as the gift that they are and how much they should be appreciated. One friend of ours in fact when she found out the child she was carrying had Down’s was told “There are other options” to which she immediately responded that there were not. That was her baby and she was going to love her baby and Down’s was not going to be an obstacle.

Well done.

So right at the start, we have a problem. We are being told that we really need to consider if people with Down’s Syndrome have lives that are really worth living. Exactly how far will this go? Are we not participating in a eugenics program at this point where we decide only those with desirable traits will live?

Well hopefully Pope Richard was able to give some advice to point out to this person that lives are valuable by the nature of what they are and that yes, things could be difficult, but you know, with the wonders of science we can do so much to ease the burdens that really are there and maybe even find a cure for Down’s someday! Surely this was said!

Or maybe not.

What was said?

“Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.”

Dawkins is in an even worse position than the questioner. He sees no ethical dilemma. It is said so easily. Abort it and try again. In fact, it would be immoral. Why?  Well Dawkins later said in his response to the outrage that:

“If your morality is based, as mine is, on a desire to increase the sum of happiness and reduce suffering, the decision to deliberately give birth to a Down’s baby, when you have the choice to abort it early in the pregnancy, might actually be immoral from the point of view of the child’s own welfare.”

Now none of us would object to increasing happiness and reducing suffering, but what we ask is if the ends justify the means. Is it ever justifiable to do an evil act because you think there is a good result? That is in fact something that I wish to keep pressing when it comes to the abortion debate. The question we need to ask is “Is the act of willfully terminating your own pregnancy wrong?”

You see, in reality, we can agree with many of the reasons that someone would want an abortion. We can agree they should be financially stable. We can agree many are not ready to raise a child yet. We can agree that many need emotional security. We can agree that it is fine for a woman to have a career. No one is saying any of these things are evil in and of themselves.

What we are saying is that none of those justifies the murder of an innocent child.

Dawkins has decided in advance that these children cannot be happy and that they can only be suffering and they cannot bring happiness to their parents but only bring suffering.

Interestingly, this same person who wondered about a child with Down’s also admitted to being on the autism spectrum (like my wife and I) and asked about that. Dawkins’s response?

People on that spectrum have a great deal to contribute, Maybe even an enhanced ability in some respects. DS not enhanced.

Well thank you Dawkins for saying I have a great deal to contribute. Apparently, the reason you think I’m valuable to the human race is that I can contribute something worthwhile. In other words, I am valuable for what I do. Too bad those babies with Down’s Syndrome don’t have enough value in being, you know, human beings.

The response to all of this was as expected and even included this satirical piece. (Warning: It does have language, but it was the greatest laugh I had all day yesterday.) The sad part is too many internet atheists were defending Dawkins as if his point was obvious. Sure. Why not abort a baby with Down’s Syndrome?

Now Dawkins did apparently issue an apology, though it was quite a backhanded one. It would be like a man saying to his wife “I’m sorry I had an affair, but you have just been so frigid lately, and this woman was just so hot, and I have these needs that I have to have met, and it was meant to be a private thing between her and I and you were never meant to find out.” We could go on and on with it. 

Dawkins has no apologies for the comment. In fact, his clarifying comment said he would still recommend abortion for the same reason. What he is sorry for is that it started a twitter war. In the above analogy, it would be like the husband issuing an apology not because he cheated on his wife, but rather because he got caught doing so. From this point on Dawkins, went to make statements about the people who were complaining about what he had to say.

It never occurs to Dawkins that what he said was utterly reprehensible. Dawkins has before said

It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).

Let it be said in response that if you meet someone who seeks to justify the murder of an innocent child in the womb, wicked should in fact be one of the first things in your mind. It looks like in the world of Dawkins, denying evolution would be a worse crime against humanity than aborting a baby with Down’s Syndrome.

It will be a wonder to see what happens if Dawkins or those like him were truly ever in charge. He has already made a statement about what children he thinks bring suffering into the world. Perhaps he’d also team up with his friend Peter Boghossian. This is the same Peter Boghossian who has a chapter in his Manual for Creating Atheists (A book that I reviewed here and keep in mind that Tim McGrew massacred Boghossian’s chickens here) that lists containment protocols.

That’s right. What can we do to “contain” people of faith? This included such steps as treating faith (A term Boghossian does not know the meaning of) as a public health crisis and to remove the religious exemption for delusion from the DSM, which is the diagnostic rule book for psychological disorders.

Dawkins might say he would not want to impose his beliefs on others, but would his followers have that same belief? Boghossian seems fine with treating those of us who are Christians or believers in any deity as if we have a disease. 

The sad part is technically, Dawkins is not contradicting his atheism in any way. For a Christian, to think it okay to abort a baby with Down’s Syndrome would be a contradiction of their view of life, but for Dawkins, it does not have to be. Of course, there are many individual atheists who are pro-life and thank God for them, but the only requirement for being an atheist is “Don’t believe in God.” You can not believe in God and be a psychopath or be a philanthropist and both of them are consistent with the statement “God does not exist.” You cannot be living a life of sin in Christianity and have that be consistent with “I am a follower of Christ.”

Well Professor Dawkins, the sad reality is that you don’t see children with Down’s Syndrome as a gift to the world, which indeed they are as many parents with Down’s Syndrome children would tell you, but we can certainly say that you, Professor Dawkins, are a gift to the church. You are a great example of what will happen the more and more we move away from God and let people like you have the most say in what goes on in our culture.

Let’s just hope most people have enough moral sense to know not to like it.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 8/23/2014: How To Form Your Canon with Lee McDonald

August 21, 2014

What’s coming up on the Deeper Waters Podcast this Saturday? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Canon. It’s something a lot of Christians don’t think about. You open up your Bible and those books are there. They’re just there. Yet how did they get there? Why do you have the Gospel of Matthew and not The Gospel According To The Simpsons in your Bible? Why do you have the story of Genesis but you don’t have the Gilgamesh Epic?

Some of us have thought about this. We have to face the common objections that we see. We hear that the choosing of the books of the Bible was just arbitrary. We hear for the NT that many Gospels were excluded like the Gospel of Thomas. We see series on the History Channel like “Banned From The Bible.” We also hear today commonly on the internet that all the books of the Bible were chosen at the Council of Nicea in 325.

This indicates some have thought about this, but some haven’t thought as much as others. One person who has thought a lot about these issues is Lee McDonald.

Lee McDonald

According to his bio:

 

Dr. Lee Martin McDonald (Ph.D., University of Edinburgh, Scotland) has studied at many institutions including Cambridge University (England), Heidelberg University (Germany), and Harvard University. He is a professor of New Testament studies and president emeritus at Acadia Divinity College and former dean of the Faculty of Theology at Acadia Univeristy in Nova Scotia, Canada. He has taught New Testament Studies at Acadia, Sioux Falls Seminary, Fuller Theological Seminary, was a visiting scholar and professor at Princeton Theological Seminary in 2007 – 2008, and lectured in a variety of graduate institutions in Canada, the USA, Athens in Greece, Budapest, Prague, and elsewhere. He also served for six years as president of the international Institute for Biblical Research (a community of hundreds of Old and New Testament scholars), was a chaplain in the U.S. Army, a pastor for more than twenty years, and has served on boards of directors for three graduate schools of theology. Lee McDonald has written and/or edited more than 31 books and authored more than 100 articles and essays on biblical subjects, as well as on practical issues for the church.

 

Dr. McDonald is a member of the prestigious Studiorum Novi Testamentum Societas, the Society of Biblical Literature and the Institute for Biblical Resarch. He is an American Baptist ordianed minister and has served as a pastor and in leadership positions within the denomination. He regularly focuses on how the Bible came to be and also what biblical scholars are saying about Jesus in various churches as well as academic settings. He also addresses the question of the relevance of the Dead Sea Scrolls and other ancient non-biblical resources for understanding Jesus in his context and various pasages in the New Testment as well as their relevance for canon formation. He is a specialist in the context of early Christianity and the origin of the Bible.

 

 

Dr. McDonald is quite the authority on the canon and not just the New Testament canon! It would be a treat to discuss just that even, but no, you’re going to get two canons for the price of one! We’re going to be talking about the formation of the Old Testament canon as well. Why is it that in both canons we have the books that we have and not the other ones? Is there any controlling conspiracy going on? Are Christians just trying to hide ideas about Jesus that they just don’t like?

In the end, it could realize that the truth is something far greater. It could actually be that we have the very books that God intended us to have and we do have a reliable source of information on the history of the people of God and the life of Jesus the Christ.

So please be watching your ITunes feed soon for the latest episode of Deeper Waters discussing the formation of the canon of Scripture with Dr. Lee McDonald.

 

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Inventing The Flat Earth

August 20, 2014

What do I think of Jeffrey Russell’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

inventingtheflatearth

Recently, I had a conversation at a store with a salesman who was telling me that people in the past believed the Earth was flat, which I raised disagreement with. Online, one can hear this as a common objection. Often it is treated as an axiom and with the idea that the church was teaching otherwise. Consider this quote from Ingersoll in his essay Individuality

 

It is a blessed thing that in every age some one has had individuality enough and courage enough to stand by his own convictions,—some one who had the grandeur to say his say. I believe it was Magellan who said, “The church says the earth is flat; but I have seen its shadow on the moon, and I have more confidence even in a shadow than in the church.” On the prow of his ship were disobedience, defiance, scorn, and success.

 

A flat-earther is used to refer to someone today who is a fool and is going against the progress of science. It’s certainly easy to write off people as believing this. I know in Elementary school and beyond I was taught that Columbus sailed around to demonstrate that the Earth was round and not flat. (Which even if that had been the case, considering he didn’t circumnavigate the globe, he did not prove that anyway. 

If only I had know about Russell’s book back then.

Russell’s book is incredibly short. You can easily read it in a couple of hours like I did. In doing so, you will have invested those hours well. Russell points out that after the time of Christ, there were only two people who really brought out the idea that the Earth was flat. How many followers did they get on that count? None. They were certainly the minority. Alas, these two are thought to be representative of the time as a whole, ignoring all the other evidence that indicates people knew it was round.

Now of course, it could be that this did not extend to the masses, but frankly, we have no real way of knowing that. I would wager that for most people who were working hard to put food on the table and care for their families, they did not really think about the shape of the Earth. In fact, if they had, well you just go and ask the local priest and the local priest will tell you what the fathers of the church have said and you’ll hear that it’s round.

Russell also shows how this fed into a false idea of a warfare between science and religion, started mainly by people like John Draper and Andrew Dickson White. In many cases, this because a round of a group of people quoting each other as their own authorities and thereby seeking to establish their case as if it was heavily documented. (Read new atheist literature today and not much has changed.)

While Russell’s thesis is certainly correct and he goes into great detail to show a meeting Columbus had with officials never brought up the shape of the Earth and while his work is filled with scholarly notes, I would like to see future editions contain quotes within the text itself. What would most complete this book is to have a series of quotations from people in this time period on how the Earth was indeed spherical, such as Thomas Aquinas’s in his Summa Theologica in the very first question.

Still, this is a valuable book to read on the controversy. I wish I’d had it in the past instead of just buying into what my teachers taught me.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Echoes of a Voice

August 19, 2014

What do I think of James Sire’s latest book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

echoesofavoice

This is James Sire’s latest book where he looks back over the years and tells why he still believes. James Sire’s main area of focus is the English language and so by studying the literature he has read from all over the world, Sire seeks to draw out a transcendent reality that he sees throughout the literature. It does not matter if it is Christian literature at all. All that matters is that it is literature.

Naturally, there is some truth to this. If the Heavens declare the glory of God, we should not be surprised if some of that comes down to the Earth as well. Augustine has said that God has made us for ourselves and our hearts are restless until they find their peace in Him. If this is the case, then will we not find what James Sire refers to as “echoes” of this here?

I certainly agree with a point made early on in the book that everything here is a pointer to God. Sire is not alone in this. For instance, Peter Kreeft in his book “Heaven: The Heart’s Deepest Longing” reminds us that everything that is here is either a pointer to Heaven or to Hell. If we follow the path even when we see something that we think is evil, we will eventually find God. (In fact, this is one reason I find the problem of evil so unconvincing. It starts off with evil and then you have to ask how you know good from evil and then that gets you to an objective moral standard and then you get to God. That’s a highly abbreviated form of course, but the general bit of it is still there.)

Sire has a great favor for the transcendental argument. His is found mainly in literature. That’s fine for him and I understand it. I can’t say I connected the same way, or it could just be I’m unfamiliar with the literature that he cites. It does not mean that I do not see God in any literature, but at the same time, I am not one who really finds the time to read much fiction.

Still, I think for those of us who do not, we can look and see how transcendence shows up in other places. Something that you learn about analyzing worldviews is that after you do that, you don’t watch a movie the same way again for instance. You’re always looking at that movie and trying to figure out where the author is coming from. That also includes TV shows, video games, songs, and other forms of media.

I also would have liked to have seen more on transcendence on every day experiences. When it comes to transcendence, these are the areas that I find it most. Some times of depression for me have been ended just by seeing the joy of my cat playing with a toy for instance and seeing him as a reality pointing to something beyond himself. 

Of course, we have other transcendent moments in this life. One that I think we need to think on more as Christians for instance is the joy found in the sexual union of husband and wife. Chesterton said years ago that the man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God. The reason so many people get addicted to sex or even to other things like alcohol, gambling, shopping, food, etc. is that everyone is looking for something transcendent.

Maybe you’re like me and you don’t really go through fiction that much. If not, then Sire’s book could be a reminder to you to try to view what you are interested in through the same lens that Sire views fiction through.

Now if you are a great lover of fiction or poetry or other works like that, this is the book for you. You will probably find a much greater connection and hopefully, and I know Sire will agree with me on this one, find the one that is really being pointed to, the one who transcends all.

This book was also given to me for review purposes by James Sire and I wish to thank him for that here.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Faith and Reason, Three Views

August 18, 2014

What is to be the relationship between faith and reason in Christianity? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

What has Jerusalem to do with Athens? So was the question of Tertullian around 1800 years ago. Today, we are still asking that same question. What does Jerusalem have to do with Athens? How is it that faith and reason work together? Should we live in suspicion of reason? Should we welcome reason when it is used as tool for our faith, or are reason and faith remarkably similar both before and after conversion?

This is the question asked in this book edited by Steve Wilkens. 

Faithandreason

The book has there different views on it. One view is that faith and reason are in tension with one another. The other is that faith comes and then it seeks understanding. The next is that faith and reason are working together. Those who are familiar with me will know I naturally fall into the last camp where I see faith and reason as allies.

An aspect that made it all difficult however was the lack of a rigorous definition of faith. Too many times we talk about faith and we don’t define what the term means. Some writers did attempt to define it, but I wish there had been some set definition right at the start that all the writers would have agreed on prior to the writing.

The faith against reason approach I find the most problematic. It is more of a camp that I would think leans heavily on a presuppositional approach with what fallen man can and can’t do. It is a dichotomy that I really do not see in Scripture in that for all the talk about fallen man, it looks like Jesus appealed to these fallen men often in their reasoning capacity and asked them to believe the message that He brought.

In fact, the first sentence struck me as problematic when Carl A. Raschke in this section said “Christian faith and philosophy have for the most part been in tension for most of the last two thousand years.”

This is quite a difficult view to accept. Are we to say that truths discovered through reason have been in tension with Christianity for so long? I immediately found myself stunned at this sentence. In fact, it seemed quite dangerously close to the double-theory of truth. I am sure Raschke does not hold to that, but that is where my mind went immediately. If Christianity is the true faith and philosophy is seeking to give us true knowledge, won’t they work together?

Raschke when he gets to Aquinas just says that Aquinas accepted Aristotle carte blanche in order to argue vigorously for Christianity over the Muslims. This really ignores much of the impact of what was going on with Aristotle and gives the impression Aquinas just went along for the ride. Aquinas showed how it was compatible with Christianity, but even he jettisoned a number of aspects of Aristotle’s system.

So overall, I found this idea unimpressive and in fact problematic. If philosophy presents something true and Christianity does, there can be no tension.

The next essay was by Alan Padgett and it’s on Faith Seeking Understanding. There was much more of this to agree with and in fact, I was wondering what was so different about it and the last view that I do accept. The main difference is that in this view, reason really takes over once the faith has already done its work.

So let’s go to Craig Boyd’s view on a synthesis between faith and reason and why it is that I accept this.

My reasoning is simple. All truth is God’s truth. If something is true in the sphere of philosophy, or any other sphere for that matter, it will be true in the area of Christianity. Boyd points out that Christ and the apostles regularly point to the reasoning of their audience and why it is that they should accept the claims given.

Boyd also offers I think the most rigorous arguments going step by step about what faith is and what reason is and how different people view reason. He deals with misconceptions of reason and I think quite well points out that for the proponents of the first view who say that there is tension between the two, that essentially, the only thing people of that view can say to those who are outside is simply “Believe!”

For those interested in the faith and reason debate, this will be a valuable read and one that will benefit your study of it. It comes with my recommendation. My thanks to IVP for their generous gift to me of a copy for review purposes.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Brush With Death

August 15, 2014

What’s it like to come close to death and can you find hope afterwards? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

 

Many of you liked what I said about the death of Robin Williams. Today, I’m letting my wife Allie share some of her thoughts from a personal perspective.

 

I’m not sure if this is appropriate timing, but I feel like it might be a good time to share this.  This is my story of my brush with death.

 

Five years ago, I was dealing with some heavy depression.  I’ve always delt with heavy depression, but it reached a peak after a failed relationship with a guy I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore.  I felt like the greatest thing I could do for the world…was for me to not be in it anymore.  Besides…who would care?  Who would miss me?  I mean sure, my family would be upset, but surely they’d move on eventually right?  Everyone dies after all…just not by their own hands.  Of course, this is just how I thought.  I thought if I left no one would care or miss me except for my family and they’d only be sad for a little while, but would eventually get over it.  But the thing with suicide that is different from any other kind of death is that the family and friends will wonder, “How could I have missed the signs?  Could I have prevented them from doing this?  Could I have even been the cause of them doing this?”

So I grabbed whatever medicine I could.  I couldn’t grab them all because some of them were with my parents in their bathroom in the bedroom.  I remember chugging all those pills.  It was midnight.  After I took all the medicine, I called the guy and told him what I had done…he hung up on me.  I started writing out a note.  As I was writing it, my vision started become a little blurred and I became dizzy.  Suddenly my dad opens my bedroom door.  He asks me “What are you doing still up?”  It must’ve been between 1:30-2:30am at this point.  I told him I was just up writing something then I’d go to sleep.  I gave him one last look and told him I loved him and gave him a hug…thinking, “This is the last time I’m ever going to see my dad…he doesn’t even suspect a thing.”  He said he loved me too and left my room.  Even as I type this I’m getting teary-eyed.  When I looked in the mirror, I saw that I had four arms.  I knew this was going to be a long night.  At around 3am, it started getting really bad.  I couldn’t write anymore.  The room was moving.  The floor was moving, the walls were moving.  There were different colors.  I started getting a headache and there was a ringing in my ears.  I had to crawl to my bed.  Finally, I reached my bed.  As I layed flat on my bed, as still as I could, my feet felt like they were being lifted up, yet I could see they were still on my bed.  I turned off the light next to my bed.  My heart was racing faster than it’s ever raced before.  It literally felt like it was going to come right out of my chest!  I started having mild seizures.  My body would suddenly start seizing on its own every now and then, but then it would stop.  I was in a constant sweat, yet I had the chills.  I was cold…yet hot.  I was scared…I had heard that people who end their lives by their own hands go to hell because they didn’t trust God.  I don’t believe this theory today, but at the time, it was a scary thought.  I was praying and asking God to forgive me and asking God to please let me be with Him instead of being in hell.  I also asked God to be with my family and let them know they weren’t to blame for my death.  I had talked to a friend for a few hours until she absolutely had to go.  That’s when I started praying and prayed all night.  Then 8am comes.  I never fell asleep and I had still been praying.  My mom opens the door.  She says, “Allie, where is your brother’s medication?”  My vision wasn’t blurry anymore but I had a hard time focusing on her when I looked at her.  The first thought that came to mind was, “Why am I not dead yet?”  Then the next thought was, “I’ve been caught.”  I told her, “Look in my bathroom.”  She goes in my bathroom and I hear her yell my dad’s name, “Allie tried to kill herself!”  As I type this I feel nauseated, I can still taste the poison I put in my body.  I couldn’t really get out of bed.  My dad had to help me walk.  I couldn’t walk on my own.  The seizing had stopped.  My dad drove me to the hospital.  My mom told me she fainted in the bathroom.  We get to the hospital, and I feel terrible for the poor lady working at the front desk.  As we were talking with her, I just started vomitting.  I vomitted all over her and her nice suit.  My dad just barely missed my vomit.  I’ve been told my eyes were darting all over the place.  I was admitted into the hospital in-patient.  I was poked with needles seemed like every 10-15 minutes day and night for three days straight.  My heart was still racing rapidly.  Every now and then parts of my body would start shaking on their own, like my arm or my hand, or even a single finger, but then it would stop.  My parents would visit often.  They’d bring me Wendy’s since I hated hospital food.  I couldn’t sleep, partially because of the IV that was in my wrist.  Every time I started to doze off the darn thing would start beeping!  I had to drink this weird cranberry juice that had some medicine in it that would make me go to the bathroom and man did it make me go!  Even while I was in the hospital though, I had some crazy hallucinations.  The screen that monitored my heart I thought had games on it.  I thought the bed was moving and I even thought there were camera’s on the bed!  I thought I heard drs whispering about me behind my back.  I thought I had memories of the hospital, even though I had never been there before.  I thought I heard a flute being played.  Then the craziest one was I thought the room I was in was infested with red ants!  Red ants crawling everywhere!  The walls, ceiling, furniture, everywhere!  They’d bunch up in certain places and if I looked up at the ceiling, they’d fall on me!  But if they fell in my mouth, they tasted like paper.  I got so scared, it all seemed so real!  I had to talk to a neurologist and they had to reasure me what I was seeing, hearing, feeling, and even tasting weren’t real.  I heard my dad even cancelled a debate or speaking engagement he had because he wanted to stay with me during that time.  I had to have help going to the bathroom since I was hooked up to an IV and so many other stuff.  I was absolutely miserable.  I was really mad at God too.  I mean, I had no intention on surviving.  I had no intention on ending up in a hospital.  I also knew after doing a stunt like this, I’d end up going to another hospital I feared even more than going to hell – a mental hospital.  I had to go to one years prior for self-mutilation and it was one of the worst experiences I ever had.  Sure enough, a lady came in and spoke with my mom and me and said, “We have a nice hospital your daughter can be transferred at from here.”  I ended up going there afterwards.  As they were getting me off the hospital bed, I still had to have help because I was so weak.  They loaded me into the ambulance and transferred me to what I thought was going to be my worst nightmare – the mental hospital.  I was so exhausted…after having not slept for four days/nights straight.  When I got to the mental hospital, I barely stayed awake until finally I asked, “Can I go to bed?”  They thought it was odd of me asking, but when I told them, they were okay with it.  I finally got my first night of sleep that night.  They came in first thing in the morning and took some blood only one time the whole time I was there.  It actually wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be.  It wasn’t like the first mental hospital I had been to prior.  The staff was nice and it was kind of comfortable there.  I was in-patient there for four days.  I was then treated out-patient for a couple of weeks.  While I was there, I was still angry with God for allowing me to live, but I tried to make the best of it.  I was so hung over the guy I tried to end my life over, I thought, “If I get better, maybe he’ll take me back!”  I didn’t realize at the time I had only been a guinea pig to him the whole time – he had never given a care about me.  While I was being treated out-patient, I got an e-mail from someone saying, “I heard about you from (family friend) and heard you needed a friend.  I’m Nick Peters.  If you want to talk I’m here.”  I was intrigued to say the least.  So we corresponded back and forth.  I’ll be the first to admit, I wasn’t the nicest to him.  There were times I was pretty mean to him.  But there were times where he could’ve been really mean back at me, but he wasn’t.  There were times he showed he actually cared about me as a friend.  At one point while we were talking online, I was really quiet about something and got upset (I don’t remember what it was about).  All of a sudden I get this phone call from an unknown number.  I answer it and they’re like, “Are you okay?”  I ask, “Who is this?”

“Nick.”

“How did you get my number?”

“Facebook.”

He was actually worried about me because I got quiet.  I started seeing other things in Nick other than him just being nice to me.  I saw a joy in him about God I wanted to have.  I had drifted a bit away from God and I missed having a close relationship with him.  Instead of being angry with God, I tried to be thankful to him for rescuing me from death and tried to get closer to him again.  I also started developing feelings for Nick.  Eventually those feelings grew into something more and now we’ve been married for 4 years!  

 

God didn’t just save my life from death that day though.  My story is truly a miraculous one.  What I have failed to mention and will mention now is that the doctors thought I was going to need a new liver.  My liver and my vital organs should’ve failed.  All those drugs I took (and I haven’t said which ones I took on purpose – but they were some pretty hefty meds) were in my system for eight hours before anyone found me that morning.  I should’ve had organ failure.  My liver should’ve died…I should’ve died.  God not only saved my life, he protected my liver and my vital organs.  The only damage that was done to me was emotional and I have some brain damage that has a 50% chance of healing.  My story is one of hope, and I hope it gives you hope.  That day God showed me a portion of his power.  God said, “Live!” and I lived!  Today I am thankful to be alive!  God continues to show me his love and grace.  He had compassion on me through this difficult time in my life.  He has blessed me so much.  He is a God filled with compassion.  He is passionate for you!  Give him your burdens, for his burden is light.  He will give you rest.

Deeper Waters Podcast 8/16/2014: Joe Mulvihill

August 14, 2014

What’s coming up on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Imagine being a Christian and being told this by a stranger. “Have you ever heard of this man who lived around 2,000 years ago? He was born of a virgin, did miracles, had 12 disciples, was a good shepherd, had a final meal with his disciples, died, rose again, and was proclaimed as savior of the world?”

“Why yes I have! That’s Jesus Christ!”

“Nope. That’s Mithras.”

Many Christians are caught flat-footed at such a response as few have ever even heard of Mithras. What’s worse, it’s not just Mithras. There’s also Horus, Osiris, Dionysus, Attis, Krishna, Buddha, Zalmoxis, and others.

What’s a Christian to do?

How about talk to an authority on the subject? That’s why I’ve asked Joe Mulvihill to be my guest. Who is he? According to his bio:

JoeMulvihill

JOE MULVIHILL

Christian Philosopher/Professor Dr. William Lane Craig (Ph.D., University of Birmingham, & Ph.D., University of Munich) on his assistant, Joe Mulvihill – “I hope those in authority understand what a blessing Joe Mulvihill is to any institution to which he renders his services, a great scholar and friend…” (Focus on the Family “True U” Atlanta filming/production)

“I asked Joe to assist me based on an number of factors including but not limited to; his professional vocation as a teacher of theology, logic and  history at a local Christian academy, his thorough familiarity with my published work and thought, and his wide grasp of apologetical and theological issues and figures. I also had the pleasure of attending a few of Joe’s teaching sessions and was duly impressed with his evident preparation, clear articulation of the issues, enthusiasm, and ability to connect with an audience of mature Christians given to critical inquiry. I have been more than pleased with Joe’s performance to date and wholeheartedly trust him with my class. People in the class have been consistently satisfied with Joe’s theological and apologetical acumen and have requested repeatedly for him to teach on various occasions.” (Official Higher Ed. Recommendation from Talbot School of Theology)

Terry Cross, Dean, School of Religion, Lee University (Ph.D., Princeton) – “Joseph possesses a keen mind. He is quick to assess a reading and even quicker to note flaws in argumentation. He has read extensively in philosophy of religion, contemporary theology, biblical studies and patristic literature. Using his background, he is able to make connections between writers and ideas he has previously to those he is reading presently. His analysis and evaluation of other students work was also well informed and constructive in its critique. Over my years of teaching graduate seminars, I cannot think of a more engaging student than Joe Mulvihill…Joe possess a character and personality that is winsome…he has a personality that readily connects with people…I consider Joe to be one of our great successes…Joe is one of the top two or three students that have graduated from our M.A. program in Theology.” (Official Higher Ed. Recommendation from Lee University)

David Tilley, Headmaster, Mount Paran Christian School (Ph.D., University of Tennessee) – “Find one of the most articulate and brightest guys you know with a graduate degree in theology who has a tremendous amount of passion for his calling, and you have Joe Mulvihill.  Add to that a guy who doesn’t have formal training in pedagogical methodology and ask him to teach Bible to high school students.  Is it a fit?  I wasn’t quite sure the answer to that question when I hired Joe last year to teach Bible at Mount Paran Christian School. It only took about two weeks after visiting his classroom and listening to students that I realized that Joe’s passion and intellectual acumen were serving his students well.  He was the talk of the high school.  Joe was connecting with his students in a way that could never have been taught him.  He challenged them at their uninformed core and motivated them to find the reason for their calling and the true defense of the gospel they loved but did not understand. The students can not intellectually nor spiritually fall asleep in his class – his style and energy will not permit it. A truly gifted teacher . . . a high school/college teacher . . . a teacher of God’s truth was born in room 3106 at Mount Paran Christian School.” (Recommendation for Graduate Student Award at Alma Mater)

 

Masters of Arts in Theological Studies (Magna Cum Laude) Lee University – invited back to give address at 200th Centennial Celebration     

Currently in Ph.D. program in New Testament Studies at Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands (scholarship winner)

Spoken on various topics at Ga. Tech (2), Kennesaw State University, Lee University, GA State University.

Spoken on various topics at dozens of churches over the last decade

Ten years teaching experience – two at Lee University, and eight with Juniors and seniors at Mount Paran Christian School – Eagle Award Winner / Excellence in Teaching Award – Interim Department Chair of Bible and Theology

Extensive travel, world experience (10 years)

Wife: Jill Mulvihill

Children: Ethan, Ella, Anna, Magnus

 

With Joe as my guests, we’ll be going through the pagan copycat theory and discussing the people on the internet who share it the most, such as Acharya S and others. Is there really any credibility to these claims? Listen in and find out!

In Christ,

Nick Peters

On the Death of Robin Williams

August 13, 2014

What are my thoughts on the death of Robin Williams? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

When I heard the news of Robin Williams’s death, it was in an email and I thought “That can’t be right. Surely it must be another actor with that name. Robin Williams committing suicide?” I went to IMDB and saw the age given matched perfectly. It was quite a shock to hear and it was indeed tragic.

Let’s go ahead and say it right at the start. Suicide is always tragic. 

None of us really like death, but in some cases, we can accept it to an extent. If our loved one is old and it’s “their time” we’re sorry to see them go, but we understand. If a soldier or a police officer or firefighter dies in the line of duty, we are sad to see that happen and we don’t really think it was their time, but we understand it. 

Suicide though?

That leaves us with question after question.

I put something about this on my Facebook yesterday and someone told me about someone whose Dad had committed suicide when they were five years old and how they kept asking “Did my Dad not want to see me grow up?”

This person was in their 60’s and still asking.

Suicide will leave a mark on every family when it takes place. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas will be different. Wedding anniversaries and birthdays won’t be the same. Whenever the date of the suicide comes around, the people involved will remember it. Every time they think they will ask themselves “Was there anything I could have done differently? Could I have stopped this?”

And they will never find a satisfying answer to those questions.

For our family, Robin Williams was a treasure. When my wife and I were dating, we lived in different states about 250 miles apart so I’d often bring over movies when I came to see her. At that time, she struggled with depression and one movie I bought was Patch Adams, which is about a doctor who used humor to treat his patients. 

If you’ve never seen the movie, Robin Williams’s character, Patch Adams, has set up his clinic and a girl, Carin, he has an interest in is one of his doctors that helps treat the patients. One time, she is alone and a man with mental illness of a severe nature comes to see her.

The next thing we hear is that he has murdered her.

Patch blames himself and in the following scene, we see him having a dialogue with God wondering if he can even go on.

As you see in the video, what stops him is a butterfly on his medical bag that flies on to his shirt and then he has on his finger. Why? Because Carin had said earlier how she wishes she could be a caterpillar so she could transform and fly away. Patch has his spirits renewed by this and continues his work.

Since marriage, we’ve watched a number of other films of his such as Jumanji and Mrs. Doubtfire and we did watch the only season of the Crazy Ones together. Allie also was happy to share with me about how his daughter was named Zelda, after the Legend of Zelda, a series Allie knows I thoroughly enjoy.

Since hearing the story of Williams’s death, I have also been given some hope in hearing that he had attended Redeemer Church where Tim Keller serves as pastor and that he has attended at least one other church in San Francisco on a regular basis and had been asking questions. Did he find the right answers? We can hope.

I do want to say a few other thoughts that come to me about this.

First, if you are a Christian who is making comments about someone being in Hell right now and doing so gleefully, shame on you. I have unfriended one person on Facebook who did this. It is not our call to make if someone is in Hell or not. Yet even if we were absolutely certain that they were, we should not be rejoicing in that fact.

Years ago when Saddam Hussein was still alive, someone messaged me on a forum I was in when the news came that Saddam’s sons had been found and killed and said “Isn’t this good news?” Now I was absolutely certain they were Muslims and outside the fold and I replied that it was good that the evil they would do on Earth had been stopped and they would never harm someone again, but it’s tragic that someone enters eternity without the grace of God. 

Yes. Even our enemies.

I do believe in Hell, and if you agree with me, you should defend it similar to the way that you would defend the reality of the holocaust (Since there are holocaust deniers). Both should be seen as realities and both should be seen as things that you would prefer could be otherwise. 

Christian. You may think someone didn’t do the best with their life, but the reality is, well, neither do you. We all screw up and make mistakes. On this point, I don’t care if you’re a Calvinist or an Arminian. We all know the only way we get to Heaven is by the grace of God. We do not deserve to be in the loving presence of God and walking with Jesus at all. We all need grace.

If you think Robin Williams didn’t make it, then just remember that if it wasn’t for the grace of God, neither would you. I, meanwhile, hold out hope. This is also so since I found that one of the books he read often to his children and one of his favorites was the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and I hope he came to know who Aslan is in this world. 

The next point is that suicide is a tragedy. This has been said, but some people have been sharing the meme of saying “Genie. You’re free.”

What does that mean really?

Do you really want to affirm the view of the suicide and the person contemplating suicide that this world is just awful and that we should all be seeking to escape it? Let us consider what G.K. Chesterton said about those who are suicides in contrast to those who are martyrs.

“A martyr is a man who cares so much for something outside of him, that he forgets his own personal life. A suicide is a man who cares so little for anything outside of him, that he wants to see the last of everything. One wants something to begin: the other wants everything to end.”

 

If you are a Christian, you should know that this is your Father’s world. This world is not all that it was meant to be. That’s true, but it is not Hell. There are plenty of good things here and one just needs to take the time to see them. Many times when I have been depressed, it has been the simple things that have brought me out, such as seeing my cat play with a toy. It can also be the love of other people, such as the touch of my wife. 

You see, it’s okay to not always be in a happy mood. You’re not meant to always be happy. It’s okay to have a down day. You can’t force yourself to feel happy. If you could make yourself feel something, we’d all make ourselves feel joy. You’re not always responsible for your feelings, but you are responsible for what you do with them.

You might think Robin Williams is free today, but you know who isn’t?

If you’re reading this blog with sadness thinking about it, you’re one of the people who isn’t.

Neither are the immediate friends and family. The rest of the world is at a loss right now because of this tragedy. Suicide takes the pain that one person goes through and thrusts it instead on everyone else. It is a wound that will never be healed this side of eternity. It will be a constant reminder on the lives of everyone involved from then on.

I say this as someone familiar with it. Some of you know that when I was introduced to my now wife, it was when she was recovering from a suicide attempt.

How different things would be if she had succeeded.

And keep in mind for her, at one point, she thought it was all over. In fact, what she was doing was because of a bad relationship with a boy. 

Would she have even dreamed that within about a year’s time, she’d be walking down the aisle to marry a totally different man who saw her at her worst and still loved her? 

In fact, I wrote earlier this year about how she even won a beauty pageant earlier this year put on by Joni and Friends called the Miss Shining Star pageant for girls with disabilities. 

MissShiningStar2014

I still remember it well. All the girls I had seen won had won the talent competition also. Allie had lost it in her division. There it was at the end and I was thinking “She’s not going to win it.” It just looked like she would lose this title.

And then they announced her name as Miss Shining Star.

She’ll also tell you I cried more than she did that day. It was just such a delight to see how far she had gone and how she had been so hesitant to enter this pageant and yet, she won it. Next year, she will pass her crown on to someone else so they can enjoy that privilege, but now, she is an inspiration that there is always hope.

And all of those might not have been.

In fact, each one of us is a “might not have been.”

None of us was required to exist. The world could have gone on just fine without our being here. None of us are essential to the story. Each of us has been given life and each of us is to decide what to do with it. I pray you’ll treat it as a gift.

Please remember this. Suicide is never the answer. Your pain might end at that point, but the pain you leave for others will never end.

Third point is one that seems odd coming from me, but it is true. My wife and I are Aspies and introverts. We don’t thrive on relationships like other people do, but we also know that relationships are important. I am incredibly thankful for the friendships that I have earned over the years. There is nothing like it. I am thankful for a family that raised me up in a Christian home and showed me love always, and I am thankful for the family that has become mine as well in my in-laws. They are honored to have me as a son-in-law and I am grateful.

I am also thankful for our church family. Just last Sunday, we celebrated Allie’s 24th birthday and some friends took us out to eat. Allie talked about how her family couldn’t do that since they were far away and my family can’t really afford it. This couple that took us out is in their 70’s and lead a group called Marriage Moments at our church. They know something about marriage. They’ve been married for 50+ years. Since our church is “The Point” they said to just think of them as their Point Parents.

That is something that I am sure will never leave me.

That evening, Allie and I watched Into The Storm with a gift card we’d been given by my parents. Allie really liked Twister and likes this one even more now. Still, as I saw it I was left in a somber state. I can assure you the movie is an awesome one that will have you on the edge of the seat, but I also think about the times that people were near-death and focusing on the relationships that they had formed over the years and wanting to tell people how much they loved them.

Allie would be the first to tell you how quiet and somber I was that evening.

Why? I’m a go-getter type of guy who wants to make the most of what I have and was thinking “Are we making the most of our time here now?”

Those relationships are important and of course, none of them will be perfect. You will not be a perfect spouse. You will not have a perfect spouse. You will not be a perfect parent. You will not have perfect children. You will not have perfect friends or be a perfect friend or have perfect siblings or be a perfect sibling. 

And that’s okay.

Things won’t be perfect, but they can be great. 

For we Christians, we should know this first and foremost. Our own God is eternally relational Himself in the Trinity.

Too often, we take these relationships for granted. We act like that person will always be here, and then a car accident takes place and they’re gone, or they get the news that they have cancer and their time is limited. We can often ask ourselves what we will do with the future, which is fine, but we need to ask ourselves what we’re going to do with this moment.

Of course, I am not saying be reckless with other people. As an introvert, I will not relate to everyone and there will be times that people like myself need to be away from the crowd and recharging, but even then, introverts need people too. Let us remember what C.S. Lewis said in The Weight of Glory.

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which,if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilites, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – These are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”

 

These are the people. These are the ones you will take with you into eternity. I am an avid lover of books and reading and the quest of knowledge. I hope my wife would agree however that I am a greater lover of her and I would hope ultimately also that I am a greater lover of God. The knowledge of God is subservient to God Himself after all.

Today, the world just doesn’t seem as funny because of a tragic event that has happened and made us all stop and think about what our lives really mean and what they’re all about. What we all would give right now to have had a butterfly come and land on Robin Williams at this time.

And if you are in this boat right now of considering taking your own life, please please please do not do it. Reach out and talk to someone. You can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. (1-800-273-8255) Please also find a good local church and talk to a good minister or counselor there. Just reach out and get some help. The Christian message is that every human life is valuable and precious by nature of what it is. 

My own wife wrote about what she was dealing with in her journal last night and shared it on Facebook. (So yes, I am not sharing something private here and she knows I’m sharing this and is fine with it.)

As I was journaling tonight, I journaled a bit about the death of Robin Williams and it got me thinking about my own suicide attempt five years ago.  Stories of suicide is very heart-breaking, and for me, they resonate very deeply because I was almost one of them.  Here’s what I wrote, you may like it, you may not like it, but it’s the truth and is what’s on my heart:

Why…why did God rescue me from my suicide attempt…but he allows others to die?  Why did he rescue me from my death but not other people?  It almost makes me angry to have survived.  I’m no more special than anyone else, I still haven’t figured out what I’m really good at, yet God decided to rescue me?  Why?  I was still a follower of Christ, if I had died, I would’ve gone to heaven and been with the Lord.  But there are some who don’t follow him who kill themselves, and their despair is even worse in the afterlife instead of having peace.  Why God…why did you rescue me from death…but you don’t rescue others from the grips of suicide?  Their lives are just as precious as mine!  Robin Williams was doing good in the world – he made people smile when they thought they couldn’t.  But I don’t do any good in the world.  I don’t make any contribution to the world.  So why did you rescue me?  My soul aches…people are hurting so much…and there is so much death around me…people killing each other…people killing themselves…this is not what you created us for!  All this death and violence…this isn’t what you wanted for us!  What are we to do in world that is killing itself and breaking down?  Will we all eventually kill each other to the brink of extinction?  No, that won’t happen.  You promised you’ll come back for us.  You promised you’d come back and reign over us on earth, just as you do in heaven.  We still have hope!  You won’t abandon us, you always keep your promises.  I know you’ll come for us, and you’ll be our King.  The world will finally know you are there!  The world will finally bow down to you as LORD.  You will rescue your servants.  You will come for your children.  You won’t leave us like this.  We are waiting for you…come soon my LORD!

 

As you can see, she still has problems and attitudes she’s working with, but I like at the end what she’s doing. She’s seeking to find hope in God and frankly, where else will you find it? If Christ is not risen, then death will indeed have the last laugh. It will have it on the suicide or the murder victim or the martyr or anyone else. No one will escape it.

If Christ is risen, those of us in Him have the last laugh on death.

And speaking of laughs, let’s look back on the life of Robin Williams and remember he left us with several. We will miss him, but let’s not lose sight of them.

Please be in prayer for those who have been left behind from this tragedy.

R.I.P. Robin Williams.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Book Plunge: A Rooster Once Crowed

August 12, 2014

What do I think of Bryant Cornett’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

roosterbook

I wish to think Bryant for sending me a copy of this book and wanting my opinion on it. While I was sent it some time ago, I don’t often sit down with my Kindle as much as I should as I have several other books on the list at times, so in reality, this book could be read a lot faster than I had done it.

In this book, Bryant wants to go through the Gospels and introduce you to the person of Jesus. Bryant is more of a layman, but he does take a serious approach, one that seeks to grapple with a number of big ideas and is what I would call mildly apologetic.

There were some areas that I did disagree with. I disagree with his view on prophecy and I thought there were some problems with the section on the works of the Law seeing as I lean more towards the New Perspective on Paul. I also found some apologetic claims to be dubious. One that comes to mind is the idea that Matthew might have been written in 37 A.D. I have never read that in any work of NT scholarship.

That having been said, I don’t think the target audience is really unbelievers too much. It might be for someone who is sitting on the fence and interested in a Pascal’s Wager kind of approach, but for the hardened atheist, there probably won’t be something they’ll find persuasive, but then again, when I meet people like that, they don’t even find the scholarly authorities persuasive. (But oh those crazies on the internet! They’re persuasive!)

Yet there is one excellent feature about this book. This is the one that gives it the edge that makes me think it could be motivational to a number of people.

Bryant has a lot of passion.

Seriously, the passion that he has comes through on a consistent basis and even when I disagreed with some points, the writing has a way of drawing you into the situation that he is describing. An excellent example I think of this immediately is his telling of the story of Cain and Abel. I think when I went to bed at night I was thinking about what that story meant for about a week.

I also think with that passion that Bryant rightly points us in the direction of Heaven. Now with my different take on prophecy, I disagree with much of his description of Heaven, but he is certainly right that Christians need to be thinking about Heaven and with that, they need to be thinking about the final judgment and what they will do with the time that they have left.

Which gets us to the title. As Bryant says, a rooster crowed one time. There could have been hope for repentance at the first crow of the rooster. Once the rooster crows a second time, then it is done. Right now, we have heard the crow once. Will we be ready if it comes again?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Debunking 9 Truly Evil Things Right Wing Christians Do Part 6

August 11, 2014

What is a good response to the question of war? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Once again, I hand the blog over to Allie to share one of her notes that she has written. Please enjoy and let me know what you think of her writing.

“We are now at Part 6. Promoting holy war is evil. I’ll go ahead and quote what they say in the article (http://www.alternet.org/belief/9-truly-evil-things-right-wing-christians-do?page=0%2C1):
“What first flipped my bit, what transformed me from an agnostic into an outspoken full-time antagonist of Bible worship was a conversation with my Evangelical relatives about the Iraq war. From the vantage of my relatives and my childhood church “family,” George Bush needed no diplomatic or cultural expertise; he was Born Again. He didn’t need to seek input from his earthly father about the invasion, because he asked his Heavenly Father. Besides, Jesus is coming soon and war in the Middle East is predicted in the Bible. That makes it not only inevitable, but—in a manner of speaking—desirable. Evangelical Christians have spent tens of millions of dollars funding the “return” of Jews to Israel and settlements in the West Bank “as it is written in the scripture”—with the perverse expectation that their presence will one day cause blood to flow in the streets as high as a horse’s bridle.”
So it seems the main thing they’re complaining about is President Bush Jr. and the Iraq war. I don’t think the writer of this article did very much research on this topic honestly and is just complaining on personal issues rather than factual issues. I do agree with the writer that if people are wanting to go to war for the sole purpose of the return of Christ, that is a mistake. First of all, Christ doesn’t need us to fulfill prophecies about himself. A prophecy is going to be fulfilled without us even trying to fulfill it. A prophecy is going to be fulfilled even if we try to prevent it from being fulfilled, especially if it’s about Christ! If you are going to go to war, it needs to be for reasons other than the for the hope of Jesus returning. Think of all the people who are going to be slaughtered because you are trying to bring Jesus back! You can’t bring Jesus back, only God chooses when he returns! Personally, I do believe we should be involved in the Iraqi War, but my reasons are not because I’m trying to bring Christ back, but because Israel is our ally and the terrorists attacked us on 9/11! Terrorists are bullies in a severe way, and I cannot stand bullies. These bullies will not give up until they are either dead or have killed us. Writer (author of the article), you may be willing to give up your freedom if it came down to it, but I’ll fight for my freedom – even if I have to die for it! The same thing applies to the return of the Jews to the West Bank. If you are only returning them for the sole purpose of the return of Jesus, your reasoning is wrong. Personally, I believe they should go there because Jews have the right to Israel as much as Americans have the right to the US and Indians have the right to India and Iranians have the right to Iran. Jews are being persecuted around the globe like Christians and Israel is one of the safest places, believe it or not, for them to be. I just saw something today even that Jews were having to flee from places in France because there were mobs yelling “Gas the Jews!” (http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/07/22/france-jewish-shops-riot_n_5608612.html) Nazism is still around today it seems. So the writer complains we’re spending so much money helping protect the Jewish people. Let me ask you, writer, where do you want the money to go towards? Abortions? Sure, let’s spend more money on more killing! Sounds like a great idea! It’s interesting how so many people are opposed to wars because of all the money that goes into it and all the killing, yet so many people are for abortions. How much money goes into abortions/abortifications and the killing of innocent lives?
Next part will be 7. Abusing and killing queers is evil.”

In Christ,
Nick Peters


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