Debunking 9 Truly Evil Things Right-Wing Christians Part 3

July 22, 2014

Is the church demeaning and subjugating women? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

We have part 3 from Allie here. Tomorrow I do plan on a book review and then Thursday will be something different. For now, here’s Allie:

We are moving into a third part of the series from the article: http://www.alternet.org/belief/9-truly-evil-things-right-wing-christians-do?page=0%2C0 Our next section is: 3. Demeaning and subjugating women is evil. Like the second part of the series, this should be pretty short as well. I’ll go ahead and copy what they said first:

“When it comes to dignity and equality for women, instead of acting as moral torchbearers, Bible believers have been at the back of the pack for generations, along with conservative factions from other Abrahamic traditions ranging from Islam to Mormonism. The American Quiverfull movement, “ complementarianism,” the expulsion of Southern Baptist women who were making inroads into the clergy, the Mormon Patriarchy’s threats to excommunicate women who seek equality, the Vatican’s decision to crush nuns who thought poverty was a bigger problem than abortion . . . Need I say more?”

First of all, one of the sources they used (for the explusion of Southern Baptist women) was an Atheist website. If you are going to to complain about something about a religion or a politician or anything for that matter, don’t use a source that agrees with you, use the source that it actually comes from! If you’re going to complain about the Southern Baptists, use a source directly coming from the Southern Baptists. If you’re going to complain about Islam, use a source that directly comes from Muslims. If you’re going to complain about the Bible, use the Bible as a source. This irritates me to no end. But, I will let this slide because I will assume this person doesn’t properly know how to do their research. Of course, if you’re defending a position, it’s fine. For an example, in the first part when the author of the article was accusing the Bible to support child sacrifices, I used the Bible itself as a source to show that it in fact did not support child sacrifices. This is fine, but it’s also good when defending your case to use sources that support your case that may not believe the same things you do. For an example, if you are arguing whether or not Jesus actually existed, there are many people who aren’t Christians who believe Jesus did in fact exist. They may not believe he was a holy deity, but they believe he was in fact a man who was a good teacher who was crucified and did actually exist. Anyway, let’s move on from there.
So the first thing they bring up is the term “Quiverfull.” I’m pretty young and honestly not too bright, so I was like, “What in the world is Quiverfull?” Luckily, they were kind enough to provide a link to it! Basically, they don’t believe in any kind of artificial insemination, birth control, etc. Everything is natural and they have as many babies as God gives them. Their view is basically, “As arrows in the hand of the mighty man, so are the children of ones youth, happy is the man who hath his quiver full of them.”(Psalm 127:4) I guess that’s where you get the term “Quiverfull.” So, here’s my question to the author and to you, why does it matter? If they don’t want to use birth control, what difference does it make to you? If they want to have a lot of kids, what difference does that make to you? People who are for same-sex marriage say, “Why do you not want people to get married to the same gender? It’s not going to bother you!” That discussion is for another time, but I bring that up because you say something like that won’t affect us. Well, a family who chooses to not use birth control and do everything naturally and have however many kids God gives them won’t affect you either! As long as they can provide for the children and are not foolish to take on more than they should. But even then, God will help even the most foolish of people and he won’t abandon his children.
The next point they bring up is “Complementarians.” Basically, the belief that men play a more dominent role in the church than women. I know for some women this could be a little bit of a touchy subject, and I understand why too. It used to bother me how so many men were in ministry and it seemed like few women were in ministry; and if women were in ministry, it seemed like they were only in ministry because their husbands were in ministry. Even when I would read my Bible, it would upset me sometimes that it was always men preaching. All the famous prophets – men. The apostles – men. There were a few famous women in the Bible, but they weren’t famous like the men except for maybe Jesus’ mother, Mary. Most women in the Bible to me seemed more like they were in the background, and in my life I always felt like I was in the background. As someone with high anxiety problems, I didn’t mind being in the background, but at the same time, I wanted to do more than just be in the background: I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives! I wanted to show people the love and mercy Christ has for everyone, as he has shown me! So I really do understand where women come from when they want to make a difference in people’s lives for God’s kingdom. Men and women’s roles are different. But women can be involved in ministry. Like a couple, a man and a woman have to work together. The man is head of the family, but at the same time, they both submit to each other. I think in a way it’s the same way in a church. A man is the head of the church, but men aren’t the only ones in ministry, they need women to help in ministry too! They help each other out! Women can be in charge of children’s ministry for example! God gave us women a more nurturing spirit than men tend to have, and children really need that! Women’s ministry! It’d be pretty awkward for a man to lead a women’s ministry. I can just imagine my husband (we both have Asperger’s Syndrome) who’s a minister, if he had to lead a women’s ministry. All the drama us women have to face daily, men cannot handle that kind of drama! I’m sorry but men are not going to understand your periods or your menopause! He just knows that time of the month you get really cranky and he knows he’s going to be in the tenth circle of hell for a few days. Only another woman is going to understand the drama other women face. There are so many other ministries women can do: music ministry, missionary work, counceling, and so much more! You can’t just have one pastor do all the work! You need a team! Who’s going to help with the children? Who’s going to help with the youth? Who’s going to help with the music? Who’s going to help with getting the church setup? Who’s going to help with organizing the funds? Who’s going to organize the events? So much more goes into a church that one person can’t do all the work!
The author brings up the excommunication of women wanting to join the all-male priesthood of the LDS temple. As sad as it is for them to be excommunicated, the temple is still an all-male priesthood. I don’t agree with the LDS church, but if they don’t believe women should be priests for moral reasons, why should they be forced to allow women to be priests? As an Atheist (author of the article I’m responding to), how does this affect you? Isn’t it your personal mission to bring others to Atheism? To bring people to what you believe is “Reason?”
The last thing the author brings up for this part is how the Vatican is “destroying” nuns who are saying the issue of poverty is more important than other issues such as homosexuality and abortion. These are all important issues for sure. Abortion is a type of child sacrificing. Homosexuality is a type of sexual sin. We (The Church) are also commanded to take care of the poor! But we have dropped the ball and instead the government is taking over that job and I’ve gotta tell you, they do a really bad job at it. You know why they do a really bad job at it? Because it’s originally supposed to be our job! We are not perfect. I’ll be the first to admit I’m not perfect! Name any commandment in the Bible and I’ve broken it more than a million times! The Apostle Paul calls himself the “worst of sinners” and I completely relate to him with that; I often call myself the same thing! But, poverty is not the most important issue either. It’s very important, but it’s not the most important issue. Homosexuality is not the most important issue. It’s very important, but it’s not the most important issue. I’ll even go as far as to say abortion is not the most important issue. It’s very important, but not the most important issue. We get so passionate about all these political issues going on around us, even I get really passionate about some of them. But they are not the most important. They are important, but not the most important. Here’s the most important issue, are you ready? Jesus Christ is Lord and there are people who either don’t know this or refuse it. There are people who are alone and suffering in the world who think nobody cares about them and are literally killing themselves because they have no hope. People are screaming out for help and us Christians are sitting on our butts in front of the computer or the tv all day complaining about Obama or complaining if our favorite tv stars get kicked off a show. People are going to the pits of Hell because we’re sitting here waiting for Jesus to come back! Get off your butts and go out there and do something! Bring people to the truth! Set people free with the truth of Christ’s freedom and redemption! If people reject you, remember they rejected Christ first and dust the dirt off your feet and go somewhere else where they will listen to you! We are dropping the ball! Get up and do something! Turn the tv off, get off the computer or smart phone! Change a person’s life by allowing Christ to use you!
The next part will be: 4. Obstructing humanity’s transition to more thoughtful, intentional childbearing is evil.

Debunking 9 Truly Evil Things Right-Wing Christians Part 2

July 21, 2014

What else does my wife have to say about the claims of right-wing Christians? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

For today, I am going to continue the series that my own wife has written. Enjoy:

I am continuing with debunking the arguments from the article from this page: http://www.alternet.org/belief/9-truly-evil-things-right-wing-christians-do?page=0%2C0 This is a pretty short section, so I’ll just go ahead a post what they said:

“The U.S. government just spent a decade and a billion dollars on failed abstinence-only education programs concocted by Bible believers who live in some delusional world where prohibition works and virginity is next to godliness. Thanks to their influence, straight-faced educators tell teens that a girl who has had sex is a licked lollipop. Instead of medically accurate information and thoughtful conversation about intimacy and childbearing, teens get promise rings and slut shame. The result? Here in the U.S., more than one in four girls gets pregnant before she turns 20, often with heartbreaking multigenerational consequences for women, children and whole communities. More than half of girls who give birth during high school drop out, permanently. Only two percent ever graduate college.”

In high school, I actually did a project once where my partner and I did a sort of debate on whether teaching “safe sex” was a better choice than teacher abstinence. I defended the side of abstinence, but I did do research on the side of “safe sex as well. If you want to see the video (it’s an old video) here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rr6aZF7R3ts The reason I put quotations around “safe sex” is because to me, there is no such thing as safe sex. Even if you use contraceptives, it doesn’t always prevent unwanted pregnancies, nor does it prevent STD’s. You also deal with the emotional pain of when you break up. Sex is truly something sacred. Today we treat it so casually. We treat it as if it were the same thing as a hug or a kiss – like it were as casual as a greeting. If it’s something so casual, why do we want it so much? I’ve heard sitcoms say things like “We’ll just have meaningless sex!” We’ll laugh about it but we treat it like it is meaningless, and if it’s so meaningless, why do we want it so much? Why is the sex industry one of the top money making industries in the world? Sex is important. Now, why should we wait until we’re married? Don’t we deal with some of the same issues? People get divorced, so you still deal with the heartache of a break-up. You can still get unwanted pregnancies. It’s still possible to get some STD’s. After all, some STD’s you can get just by touching another person’s skin! I’m sure you took health class, the most common ways to get an STD are unprotected sex, multiple sex partners, and sexual activity at a young age. But if you can have these problems even if you wait until you get married, why wait? What’s the point when you can just go out and have fun now? Honestly, as much as I wanted to wait, sometimes I asked myself the same question. There were many times I came close to losing my virginity before getting married to multiple guys, and when I think back, I’m so glad I didn’t – they all turned out to be real losers! It was really hard to wait, really, I know. I made some mistakes I still regret to this day. But then when I got married, I was so glad I waited until the wedding night because I got to share that moment with the man who truly did love me and I knew he wasn’t going to leave me no matter my flaws were. It didn’t matter how heavy I was. It didn’t matter how many rolls I had or my zits or scars (physically and emotionally), it didn’t matter about my past, he was going to stick with me and still love me. Sex is sacred. God created sex to be sacred. He created it to be enjoyed, but he also created it to be very special. Read the book in the Bible “Song of Songs,” also known as “Song of Solomon.” It’s got some pretty raunchy stuff in there! It’s the king at the time, Solomon, and his lover. But, it’s also a metaphor. See, Jesus describes himself as a bridegroom, and we are his bride. He loves us so passionately and so deeply, that while sex connects a man and a woman, it also represents how we are connected with Christ. We are supposed to love our spouses as Christ loves the Church! Sex is sacred, and when we use it for any other use, it loses its sacredness. It becomes trash. It becomes an idol. Sex is meant to please the other person, not necessarily ourselves. We are to please the other person and the other person is to please us. It’s an act of giving. But we use sex as a means of getting what we want often. That’s why we look at pornography. That’s why children are sold as sex slaves. That’s why there’s prostitution. Because we are looking for our own benefits instead of the other persons. You’re only looking for receiving pleasure. Or if you’re producing/selling the product, your only interest is making money off it. You don’t care who it hurts. It’s what you get out of it. So many marriages end today because a spouse gets involved with pornography. The article talks about high percentages of teen pregnancies and an even higher percentage of them dropping out of school. If they knew how sacred sex was and that it’s worth saving until marriage, there would be less teen pregnancies. If they were encouraged to wait, they would wait. The article talks about heartbreaking consequences for teeage girls who get pregnant. There are consequences for every action we make. Some are good, some are bad. That’s how life is. Teenagers are not ready to deal with pregnancies. I’ve always wanted to be a mother, but there’s no way as a teenager I would’ve ever been ready to be a mother! Teenagers are too dramatic, too emotional, and too lazy. Now some teenagers do actually work hard, but even they are not ready to be parents. How can they be ready for parenthood if they haven’t even reached adulthood yet? Of course there’s always the option of putting the baby up for adoption. But even that is difficult. I’ve heard many stories of even teenagers regretting putting their babies up for adoption. I know if I ever had a baby, I couldn’t put it up for adoption. I would NEVER recommend abortions! In the last note I discussed the issue on child sacrifices. The article accuses the Bible of promoting child sacrifices (which if you read my previous note, it doesn’t), but if anything promotes child sacrifices it’s today with abortions! We get abortions because of convenience. “We don’t want a baby” or “We’re not ready for a baby” or “We have enough kids, we don’t want another one!” It’s all convenience. People yell “Women’s Rights! It’s the woman’s right to her body!” Doesn’t the baby have any rights to their body? You are sacrificing an infant to the god of convenience! We are having more child sacrifices than any other time in history! It’s sickening! The Bible records child sacrifices that went on, but God never wanted it to happen! But I’ve already talked on that subject. Anyway, I hope this has been helpful. The next note will be on:

3. Demeaning and subjugating women is evil.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Debunking 9 Truly Evil Things Right-Wing Christians Do Part 1

July 18, 2014

Are right-wing Christians the problem? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Today we have a guest post on Deeper Waters. I was quite surprised to find last night that my wife took to doing a few hours of online research and such to deal with an article she found online. Now I don’t agree with everything she has here. There are parts I don’t agree with and there are parts I do agree with, but I’m pleased of how she did for a first major endeavor into the field. I wanted to share it. So without further ado, here’s Allie:

I just finished reading this article and being that I have a lot of Atheist friends, I thought I’d try to address some of the issues this article addresses and clear up the misconceptions. I’ll be doing more than one note on this because there are so many misconceptions I’m doing each note on each section to get into enough details to explain it all. For a link to the article, here is the article: http://www.alternet.org/belief/9-truly-evil-things-right-wing-christians-do?page=0%2C0

1. Opposing protections and rights for children is evil.

There’s a link you can click on from this section on what they considered were wrong in the Bible for opposing protections and rights for children. (http://awaypoint.wordpress.com/2013/10/21/why-bible-believers-have-such-a-hard-time-getting-child-protection-right/) Let’s go through those first:

Abraham, the verse they quote is Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you. (Genesis 22:1-12 nasv) This is very deceptive of the author of the article to just use this verse without using it in its full context. Isaac was the child God promised to give to Abraham. Then the LORD said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” Then the LORD took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” (Genesis 15:2-5 NLT) If Isaac was the promised son to Abraham, and through Isaac, Abraham would have as many descendants as there are stars, why in the world would God ask Abraham to kill Isaac? This was a test. This was a test to see how much faith Abraham had in God and how obedient he would be to God. Abraham knew God had promised him Isaac and many descendants through Isaac, so as much as this may have confused him that God would make such a request of him, he must’ve had so much trust in God that he believed, “God is going to keep his promise to me. Either he will stop me, or he’s going to bring my kid back from the dead.” So Abraham and Isaac go up the Mountain for the sacrifice and Isaac asks his father, “Where’s the ram?” Abraham tells him, “Son, you’re the sacrifice.” Isaac must be terrified at this point. His name means “he laughs,” he probably wasn’t doing much laughing at that point. So Isaac is tied up to the altar they’ve made and he’s laying there, probably scared out of his wits. Abraham pulls out his knife and is probably thinking, “God, I’m trusting you here, don’t fail me now.” Then we come to this part: At that moment the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Yes,” Abraham replied, “Here I am!” “Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.” (Genesis 22:11-12 NLT) Basically, Abraham was willing to give God everything, even his own son. This does not mean God wants us to sacrifice children. In fact, there are many passages in the Bible where people are sacrificing children and this angers God. They have committed both adultery and murder—adultery by worshiping idols and murder by burning as sacrifices the children they bore to me. (Ezekiel 23:37 NLT) Is an example. Another example: “The people of Judah have sinned before my very eyes,” says the LORD. “They have set up their abominable idols right in the TEMPLE that bears my name, defiling it. They have built pagan shrines at Tpheth, the garbage dump in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and there they burn their sons and daughters in the fire. I have never commanded such a horrible deedl it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing!” (Jeremiah 7:30-31 NLT)

The story of Lot giving up his daughters to be raped. They quote the verse “Look, I have two daughters who have not known a man; let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please; only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” (Gen 19:8 nrsv) Again, this has been taken out of context. You need to read the whole story. The angels came to Lot’s house to warn Lot and his family that they were going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah (the city Lot and his family lived in). Then a bunch of men came to Lot’s door, They shouted to Lot, “Where are the men who came to spend the night with you? Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!” (Genesis 19:5 NLT) Yea, it literally says that, those guys wanted to rape the angels! Lot goes outside and is probably so scared he’s about to pee his robe or whatever he’s wearing because there’s an over-sexed mob wanting to rape these angels in his house! So Lot’s like, “Please guys, you really don’t want to do that! That could end REALLY bad for you! But I’ll tell you what, if it’ll get you out of here, I’ll give you my daughters – they’re virgins and if they can satisfy your lustful hunger please leave my guests alone.” Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not good he was offering his daughters up like this. It’s true women back then were not usually thought of very highly. But the mob outside his door are getting even more upset, “Dude you need to get out of here and give us those guys that are in your pad! You’re just as much of an outsider as they are so if you don’t get out of the way, we’ll treat you far worse than what we’re going to do to them!” Then they lung at Lot and try to break the door! But the two angels reached out, pulled Lot into the house, and bolted the door. Then they blinded all the men, young and old, who were at the door of the house, so they gave up trying to get inside. (Geneses 19:10-11 NLT) So what does this mean? God didn’t let Lot give up his daughters. God kept his daughters safe. But it doesn’t end there. After the angels warned Lot about the destruction that was about to happen in his city and that he and his family needed to flee, Lot tried to tell his daughter’s fiance’s, but they laughed and thought Lot was joking! So Lot, his wife, and his two daughters leave the city as it’s being destroyed. Lot’s wife dies in the process by turning into a pillar of salt because they were warned to not look back at the city, but she looked back. So it was just Lot and his two daughters. So you really think Lot’s daughters were so innocent? Well get this, Lot and his daughters went to live in a cave up in the mountains. One day the older daughter said to her sister, “There are no men left anywhere in this entire area, so we can’t get married like everyone else. And our father will soon be too old to have children. Come, let’s get him drunk with wine, and then we will have sex with him. That way we will preserve our family line through our father.” So that night they got him drunk with wine, and the older daughter went in and had intercourse with her father. He was unaware of her lying down or getting up again. The next morning the older daughter said to her younger sister, “I had sex with our father last night. Let’s get him drunk with wine again tonight, and you go in and have sex with him. That way we will preserve our family line through our father.” So that night they got him drunk with wine again, and the younger daughter went in and had intercourse with him. As before, he was unaware of her lying down or getting up again. As a result, both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their own father. (Genesis 19:30-36 NLT) So essentially, the two daughters rape their father. Who’s the wicked one now?

The Love triangle between Jacob, Leah, and Rachel: the verses they use are: After Jacob had stayed with Laban for about a month, Laban said to him, “You shouldn’t work for me without pay just because we are relatives. Tell me how much your wages should be.” Now Laban had two daughters. The older daughter was named Leah, and the younger one was Rachel. There was no sparkle in Leah’s eyes, but Rachel had a beautiful figure and a lovely face. Since Jacob was in love with Rachel, he told her father, “I’ll work for you for seven years if you’ll give me Rachel, your younger daughter, as my wife.” “Agreed!” Laban replied. “I’d rather give her to you than anyone else. Stay and work with me.” So Jacob worked seven years to pay for Rachel. But his love for her was so strong, that it seemed to him but a few days. Finally, the time came for him to marry her. “I have fulfilled my agreement,” Jacob said to Laban. “Now give me my wife so I can sleep with her.” So Laban invited everyone in the neighborhood and prepared a wedding feast. But that night it was dark, Laban took Leah to Jacob, and he slept with her. (Laban had Leah a servant, Zilpah, to be her maid.) But when Jacob woke up in the morning – it was Leah! “What have you done to me?” Jacob raged at Laban. “I worked seven years for Rachel! Why have you tricked me?” “It’s not our custom here to marry off a younger daughter ahead of the firstborn,” Laban replied. “But wait until the bridal week is over, then we’ll give you Rachel too – provided you promise to work another seven years for me.” So Jacob agreed to work seven more years. A week after Jacob had married Leah, Laban gave him Rachel, too. (Laban gave Rachel a servant, Bilhah, to be her maid.) So Jacob slept with Rachel too, and he loved her much more than Leah. He then stayed and worked for Laban the additional seven years. (Genesis 29:14-30 NLT) At least they haven’t forgotten any verses around it this time, but it’s partly taken out of context still. The article states this is just a deal between men, “You can have one if you do such and such for me.” Jacob and Rachel loved each other. Jacob was willing to work for her. It’s not that Leah was unattractive, but he didn’t see that same “sparkle” in her eye as he saw Rachel have. Leah didn’t make his heart race so fast that it felt like it was going to jump out of his throat! Rachel though, Rachel was the most beautiful person he had ever seen before. He loved her so much, that when he worked for her father for seven years, it only felt like a few days to him! So after seven years are up, Jacob says to Laban, “I’ve done what I promised, now I’m here to marry Rachel.” Laban’s like, “Sure, you kept your promise, I’ll keep my promise. Besides, I wouldn’t want her to be with anyone except for you!” So Jacob goes to bed after the wedding that night and sleeps with his bride. It’s dark, so he can’t see. He wakes up the next morning, and it’s not the love of his life he sees, but it’s his lovers sister! Now, think about if you were in his shoes. You worked seven years so you could marry the love of your life, and when you wake-up the next morning you find out the person you actually married and had sex with is not the person you love, but their sister/brother! You’d be pretty ticked off wouldn’t you? Well he was too! He goes up to his now father-in-law and is like, “Pops, why have you cheated me? You gave me the wrong daughter!” Laban is like, “Oh, sorry, I forgot to tell ya, here we marry off our older daughters first before the younger ones. But I’ll tell you what kid, if you still want her, work for me for another seven years and I’ll give her to you too!” Jacob says, “Fine, I’ll work another seven years, but you have to give me Rachel first.” So he gets Rachel a week after the bridal week and works for another seven years. But he doesn’t get rid of Leah. Even though he doesn’t love Leah and only loves Rachel, he still took care of Leah.

The foolish vow: verse quoted is a long one – At that time the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephithah, and he went throughout the land of Gilead and Manasseh, including Mizpah in Gilead, and from there he led an army against the Ammonites. And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD. He said, “If you give me victory over the Ammonites, I will give to the LORD whatever comes out of my house to meet me when I return in triumph. I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.” So Jephthah led his army against the Ammonites, and the LORD gave him victory, He crushed the Ammonites, devastating about twenty towns from Aroer to an area near Minnith and as far away as Abel-keramim. In this way Israel defeated the Ammonites. When Jephthah returned home to Mizpah, his daughter came out to meet him, playing on a tamborine and dancing for joy. She was his one and only child; he had no other sons or daughters. When he saw her, he tore his clothes in anguish. “Oh, my daughter!” he cried out. “You have completely destroyed me! You’ve brought disaster on me! For I have made a vow to the LORD, and I cannot take it back.” And she said, “Father, if you have made a vow to the LORD, you must do to me what you have vowed, for the LORD has given you a great victory over your enemies, the Ammonites. But first let me do this one thing: Let me go up and roam in the hills and weep with my friends for two months, because I will die a virgin.” “You may go,” Jephthah said. And he sent her away for two months. She and her friends went into the hills and wept because she would never have children. When she returned home, her father kept the vow he had made, and she died a virgin. So it has become a custom in Israel for young Israelite women to go away for four days each year to lament the fate of Jephthah’s daughter. (Judges 11:29-40 NLT) I’ll admit, I struggled a little bit with this one. I mean, if God isn’t for child sacrifices, why wouldn’t he have stopped this from happening? I looked at the notes for this passage in my Bible for a little help and here’s what it says “Jephthah’s recovery and leadership were guided by the Holy Spirit, but he still made a foolish mistake. His vow, which was an attempt to “cut a deal” with God to ensure military victory, is a classic example of what it means to “stifle the Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Jephthah lived to regret the vow he made in the heat of the crisis. Often we do the same thing. We beg for God to fulfill some shortsighted goal, and in obtaining it, we miss God’s best. (This note comes from The Life Recovery Bible NLT) 1 Thessalonians 5:19 says Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. (NLT) I looked at this and thought, “What does stifle even mean?” So I looked it up:
1) make (someone) unable to breathe properly; suffocate.
2) restrain (a reaction) or stop oneself acting on (an emotion).

The prize to the victor, verse quoted – Caleb said, “I will give my daughter Acsah in marriage to the one who attacks and captures Kiriathsepher. Othniel, the son of Caleb’s younger brother, Kenaz, was the one who conquered it, so Acsah became Othniel’s wife. (Judges 1:12-13 NLT) To understand this verse, you have to understand the culture. I had to ask my husband about this one because he does more study about this than me, and he said it was an honor thing. It was also security for the daughter. I mean think about it, if the guy can bring victory for an army, you think he can protect a woman? Our culture today thinks very negatively on the idea of arranged marriages. But back then, arranged marriages weren’t as bad as we imagine them to be. They were common, but their way was in a way better than our way. Today, our culture has so much divorce. There are so many different statistics on the percentages of divorce, I never know which one is right, but to me, all the percentages are too high. We fall in love and get married, then a lot of times, we later fall out of love and get divorced. But back then, they didn’t get married necessarily because they were in love (though that’s not to say there were times where they were in love), but after they married, they loved each other. I would say this is a better system than the one we have now if you think of it that way! There were very few divorces because divorce was frowned upon, while today divorce is a casual thing. The whole thing with giving a daughter as a wife as a prize has gone on for a very long time, not just during Biblical times. I mean think about today, when a guy wants to marry a girl, he often times wants to impress her parents right? Why? Because they are the ones who are giving their daughter away in marriage. It’s of course different today than it was back then, but essentially, some things haven’t changed so much either.

Death sentence for the firstborn, they quoted Exodus 11 (NLT) – Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will strike Pharaoh and the land of Egypt with one more blow. After that, Pharaoh will let you leave this country. In fact, he will be so eager to get rid of you that he will force you all to leave. Tell all the Israelite men and women to ask their Egyptian neighbors for articles of silver and gold.” (Now the LORD had caused the Egyptians to look favorably on the people of Israel. And Moses was considered a very great man in the land of Egypt, respected by Pharaoh’s officials and the Egyptian people alike.) Moses had announced to Pharaoh, “This is what the LORD says: At midnight tonight I will pass through the heart of Egypt. All the firstborn sons will die in every family in Egypt, from the oldest son of Pharaoh, who sits on his throne, to the oldest son of his lowliest servant girl who grinds the flour. Even the firstborn of all the livestock will die. Then a loud wail will rise throughout the land of Egypt, a wail like no one has heard before or will ever hear again. But among the Israelites it will be peaceful that not even a dog will bark. Then you will know that the LORD makes a distinction between the Egyptians and the Israelites. All the officials of Egypt will run to me and fall to the ground before me ‘Please leave!’ they will beg ‘Hurry! And take all your followers with you.’ Only then will I go!” Then, burning with anger, Moses left Pharaoh. Now the LORD had told Moses earlier, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, but then I will do even mightier miracles in the land of Egypt.” Moses and Aaron performed these miracles in Pharaoh’s presence, but the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he wouldn’t let the Israelites leave the country. Okay, so God gave Pharaoh many warnings. He caused plagues such as swarms of locusts, the Nile River turning into blood, invasion of frogs, boils, darkness, and even more plagues. He even caused Moses’ staff to turn into a snake and it ate the other snakes Pharaoh’s magicians called out! But Pharaoh still would not listen! So God gave him one final warning. If Pharaoh wouldn’t let God’s people be free from their slavery, the angel of death would kill every firstborn son in Pharaoh’s kingdom. The angel of death knew which houses were the Israelites because they celebrated Passover by using the blood of a lamb and putting it on their doors so the angel of death would pass over them. But the homes that didn’t have the blood of the lamb on the doors, they were the Egyptians who didn’t take God’s warning seriously. For a while, this got Pharaoh’s attention when he found his son dead. He realized the Israelites God was serious business and things are just going to get worse if he doesn’t let them go. So he lets them go. But when he realizes he let them ALL go and has no more slaves, he practically forgets what happened! He’s like, “Soldiers, get the chariots ready, we’re going after them! We’re getting them back!” So the Israelites see the Egyptians coming after them and they’re blocked off by the Red Sea. The Israelites turn on Moses and are like, “Dude! We were better off in Egypt! Now they’re going to kill us! Look what you’ve done to us! We should’ve stayed back there!” Moses isn’t going to have any of it! So he tells the people to stay calm because God is going to rescue them. God tells Moses to pick up his staff and raise his right hand over the sea. God divides the water and the people walk across to the other side. When they get to the other side and the Egyptians are rushing after them, God closes the waters the Egyptian army is wiped away in the ocean.

The faithful servant, verses they quote are Job 1 and Job 42:12-13. This is pretty long, but the reason I’m typing out all of the verses is because some of you may not actually look up the verses, so I thought I might as well provide them for you. So let’s start with Job 1 (NLT) – There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz. He was blameless – a man of complete integrity. He feared God and stayed away from evil. He had seven sons and three daughters. He owned 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 teams of oxen, and 500 female donkeys. He also had many servants. He was, in fact, the richest person in that entire area. Job’s sons would take turns preparing feasts in their homes, and they would also invite their three sisters to celebrate with them. When these celebrations ended – sometimes after several days – Job would purify his children. He would get up early in the morning and offer a burnt offering for each of them. For Job said to himself, “Perhaps my children have sinned and have cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular practice. One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the LORD, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them. “Where have you come from?” the LORD asked Satan. Satan answered the LORD, “I have been patrolling the earth, patrolling everything that’s going on.” Then the LORD asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless – a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.” Satan replied to the LORD, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!” “All right, you may test him,” the LORD said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the LORD’s presence. One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger arrived at Job’s home with this news: “Your oxen were plowing, with the donkeys feeding beside them, when the Sabeans raided us. They stole all the animals and killed all the farmhands. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.” While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “The fire of God has fallen from heaven and burned up your sheep and all the shepherds. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.” While he was still speaking, a third messenger arrived with this news: “Three bands of Chaldean raiders have stolen your camels and killed your servants. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.” While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “Your sons and daughters were feasting in their oldest brother’s home. Suddenly, a powerful wind swept in from the wilderness and hit the house on all sides. The house collapsed, and all your children are dead. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.” Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. He said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!” In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God. Next verse is Job 42:12-13 (NLT) – So the LORD blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning. For now he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 teams of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He also gave Job seven more sons and three more daughters. So Job is a really good guy right? He stays away from evil, and he’s even really faithful to God; so God wouldn’t ever let anything bad happen to Job right? That was Satan’s case too. God’s braggin’ on Job, “Have you seen this awesome guy on earth named Job? He’s a pretty cool dude, he stays away from evil and is faithful to me.” Satan’s like, “Yea I’ve seen him, but you know WHY he’s so faithful to you? It’s because you spoil him! You give him more than he needs! Have you seen his house for instance? Anyone with a house like his would be worshiping you without hesitating! He might as well have a jet ski! If you took everything he had away from him though, there’s no way he’d serve you. In fact, I bet he’d even curse you and spit in your face!” God knows if he does this, this is going to be really difficult on Job. But God also believes in Job. God believes Job will remain faithful to him. So God says, “Fine, you can take away what he has, BUT, you can’t hurt him physically.” So Satan does that. He takes away Job’s cattle, servants, and children. Job is so distraught that he tears his clothes and is completely naked. He shaves his head and what does he do? Does he curse God? No. Does he spit in God’s face? No. He WORSHIPS God! How many people would actually do that? We usually worship God only when the times are good or when it’s convenient. But we should worship God even when times are tough, even when it seems unbearable. It certainly seemed unbearable for Job, and throughout the story of Job, things kept getting worse, but he continued to be faithful to God. Because of his faithfulness to God, God blessed him even more than before!

10th Commandment blues, the quote is – You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me. (Exodus 20:5) I’ll keep this short with two verses in response to this. First, Deuteronomy 24:16 (NLT) – Parents must not be put to death for the sins of their children, nor children for the sins of their parents. Those deserving to die must be put to death for their own crimes. Next verse is Ezekiel 18:20 – The person who sins is the one who will die. The child will not be punished for the parent’s sins, and the parent will not be punished for the child’s sins. Righteous people will be rewarded for their own righteous behavior, and wicked people will be punished for their own wickedness. In summary, whoever makes the sin will be punished for their own sin. The kids are not going to be punished for their parents sin, nor are the parents going to be punished for the kids sin. I hope that clears things up.

Another misinterpretation, quoted verse – O daughter Babylon, you devastator! Happy shall they be who pay you back what you have done to us! Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock! (Psalm 137:9) When you listen/read to song lyrics or poems, there’s a lot of emotion in them aren’t there? Well that’s what the book of Psalms consists of. Songs and poems (mainly songs). If you’re battling a country that’s bashing your babies into rocks and other awful stuff, you may be thinking, “I hope the same thing happens to you!” You’re thinking of revenge! Babylon had been oppressing the Israelites severely and doing awful stuff to them. They wanted revenge and were just saying, “What you’re doing to us, it’s coming right back at you!”

The truth about Jesus, quoted verse John 3:16 (NLT) – “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” They forgot to add verses 17-21: “God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. But anyone who does not believe in him already has been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgement is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” So here’s the deal, people/humans are evil. They’re filled with darkness. Look around you, there is evil all around the world. Who causes the evil? People. Do you see evil animals? No. Do you see evil plants? No. Now, you may say natural disasters are evil. Natural disasters themselves are not evil, but the devastations they cause are evil. But in general, where do we see evil come from? We see evil come from people! You might say “There are a lot of good people too!” Yes, there are good people, but in what sense are they good? To your standard? To the standard of the law of the government? To your neighbor’s standard? To my standard? You’ve got people in the middle east yelling Jihad (holy war) strapping bombs onto themselves to blow up as many infidels as they can. According to their standards, they’re good people. Adolf Hitler when trying to make a superior race of people and getting rid of the Jewish people according to his standards was a good person. But according to our standards, these are all evil people! So when evaluating who are good people, by whose standards are you evaluating them? According to the Bible, we were originally created “good” (Genesis 1:31 NLT – Then God looked over all he had made, and saw that it was very good!) But then Adam and Eve sinned by listening to Satan’s lies and we inherited their curse. We kept becoming more and more evil. We were separated from God. We originally were created to be with God, but our sin became a barrier between us and God. So we offered sacrifices to God. But we kept on sinning, and the sacrifices just weren’t enough. Animal blood wasn’t enough to pay the price for the evil we didn’t just commit, but the darkness in our hearts as well. God didn’t want us to be separated from him, he longed for us, and while many turned away from him, there were those who longed for him too. A price had to be paid. Here’s the thing about God and his Son, as confusing as this sounds, they are ONE. Even Jesus said they are one. John 10:30 (NLT) – “The Father and I are one.” It wasn’t just God saying, “Okay kid, you’ve gotta go die to save the world!” God himself was going to sacrifice himself, because the Father is God, and the Son is God (not Gods, but singular – the Trinity is three persons in one: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, I know it’s confusing but that’s for another discussion)! So the Son comes to earth as a baby, not like Hercules baby falling from the sky, but from a miracle! God made a virgin woman get pregnant! This virgin woman (Mary) gave birth to God (the Son) and his name was Jesus (or Yeshua which means “Salvation”). Jesus was fully God, but also fully human. He had to eat like a person. He had to sleep like a person. I’m sure if he didn’t bathe he probably smelled bad like a person. It’s funny actually, sometimes I ask my husband the most random questions like, “Do you think Jesus ever went swimming? Do you think Jesus was hairy? Do you think Jesus had long hair or short hair? Do you think Jesus ever had to go to the bathroom?” Answers for those my husband gave me were probably, yes, most likely short because long hair was dishonorable at that time for men, and yes. Anyway, before I get way off track, he was God and human. He taught people about the Kingdom of Heaven, he healed people from illnesses and injuries, he raised people from the dead, he fed people, of all people to consider good by anyone standards, look at his life and I think most of us would say, “He was a pretty good guy.” But he was tough. He was honest, and I mean brutally honest. He said things the way they were. He was gentle, but when the hard truth needed to be said, he said it. He didn’t hold back. He called people hypocrites. There were instances where he grabbed ropes and held them like whips and started pushing over tables because people were cheating other people in the Temple by selling flawed animals for sacrifices for high amounts of money! People tend to imagine Jesus as this guy who was always meek and mild, happy-go-lucky, always laughing kind of guy. No doubt, he had a lot of joy, but he was a man of great sorrow too, and he had anger. But he never sinned. He never did anything wrong. You may say “Well, he was God!” Yea, but he was as human as you and I too. He was as much flesh as you and I are. He was tempted in every way we are, yet he never gave in. As he waited in the garden and prayed, he knew one of his best friends was betraying him to the people who were going to put him to death. When Jesus prayed, he asked his Father to let this cup pass from him if possible. Now, this is just my speculation, I’ll admit, I could be wrong here, but here’s what I personally think here. I think Jesus might’ve been a little afraid of what was going to happen – hear me out before totally counting me wrong! He knew he was going to have to endure excruciating physical pain, and no one likes that, but I don’t even think that was what he was scared of. He was going to die a painful and humiliating way of death, but even that I don’t think was what he was afraid of. He was going to take on the sins of the world and be separated from his Father – that, I think was what he was afraid of. He was in so much distress he sweat blood! This is a rare occurrence, but it does actually happen (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2810702/) But Jesus said “If it’s possible” which means “If it’s possible for a different way to save the people, can we do that way instead?” But then Jesus said, “But let your will be done, not mine.” This is really powerful and I think we need to learn this for our own lives as well. If we let God’s will control our lives more instead of our own will, I think we’d be in less trouble than we get ourselves in. So Jesus is arrested, tried, tortured, and put to death. I saw this picture once on DeviantArt someone did with Jesus carrying his cross and angels are ready to come in and save him, but he holds his hand out to stop them. Can’t you imagine it? The angels must’ve been ready to go down from Heaven and save Jesus if he even so much as gave them a look. They must’ve been anxiously waiting, ready to slaughter all the people who were doing awful things to him. But he never gave the angels any look. He continued going. He gets nailed to the cross and he’s hanging there, naked, and people walk by hurling insults at him. I mean he’s soaked in blood. He’s all sliced up, he’s probably got some bones sticking out. Roman flogging was extremely severe, and it says that he even got that severely, which means it had to have been REALLY bad. Splinters in the cross was probably the least of the worries. It would’ve been really hard to breathe because in order to be able to get breathes of air, they’d have to push up on their feet, which were nailed to the cross. And as soon as they’d fall back down after pushing themselves up, they’d feel it in their feet and probably their hands too, which were also nailed. If you’re crucified on a roman cross, my guess is you’re hoping you die quickly because it’s so horrible. So while people are hurling insults at him, I can imagine Satan in that last moment curling up to his ear whispering, “This isn’t worth it! Look! They don’t feel a bit sorry for what they’ve done to you! These pathetic humans aren’t worth you dieing! If you come down the cross now, surely they’ll believe you’re their Messiah! After all, who’s going to worship a dead God?” People are pretty much repeating the same thing, “If you are the Savior, come down from cross and we’ll believe you!” Even if he did come down, they wouldn’t believe him. They accused him before of being a demon when he was casting out demons! Who’s to say they wouldn’t just accuse him of that again? As soon as he’d get down, they’d just nail him right back on there. Even if they did believe, a price still needed to be paid that only God could pay. As the people cursed Jesus, he never said a bad thing back to them, instead, he said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” Even at that moment, he still loved them! He still wanted to redeem them! Some time passes, and he feels really alone. He’s separated from his Father. He’s never been away from his Father before, and this is devastating to him. He cries out, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Don’t you ever feel like God has abandoned you? Well, Jesus felt that way too. Then he said, “It’s finished” and bowed his head and died. What was finished? The power evil had was finished! The barrier between us and God was finished! Three days later Jesus came out of the grave alive! He defeated death itself! Now when we truly believe Jesus is Lord and that he sacrificed his life for you and me to set us free from our bondage, our chains of our addictions, our pain, our anxieties, our problems, our mistakes, our sins, and he came back to life and rescued us, then that barrier between God and us is gone! We can finally be with God!

Next note will be: 2. Denying young people accurate information about their bodies is evil.

Deeper Waters Podcast 7/19/2014: Is God A Moral Monster?

July 17, 2014

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

One of the most common charges today leveled against Christianity is the God of the Old Testament. One of the most memorable lines against Him comes from Richard Dawkins in “The God Delusion.”

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

Is this really the case?

In order to investigate this question, I’ve decided to invite on the show a Biblical scholar who has written a response directly to such a claim and shown how the battles in the OT do not show that God is in fact a moral monster. He should know since he wrote the book “Is God A Moral Monster?” I of course mean none other than Dr. Paul Copan.

PaulCopan

According to his bio:

“Paul Copan (Ph.D. Philosophy, Marquette University) is Professor and Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University, and he has served as president of the Evangelical Philosophical Society. He is author and editor of thirty books including The Rationality of Theism, The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Religion: Classic and Contemporary Issues, The Gospel in the Marketplace of Ideas, An Introduction to Biblical Ethics, Is God a Moral Monster? and “True for You, But Not for Me.” He has contributed essays to over thirty books, both scholarly and popular. Paul and his wife, Jacqueline, have six children, and they reside in West Palm Beach, Florida. His website is http://www.paulcopan.com.”;

Paul Copan has been writing several excellent books aimed at a general audience to deal with popular objections, a much-needed niche if there ever was one. This started largely with his book “True For You But Not For Me” and has progressed all the way to his book “When God Goes To Starbucks.” I have never been disappointed by a Copan book and “Is God A Moral Monster?” is no exception.

So we’ll be spending our time talking about the charges that God does in fact inflict genocide in the Old Testament as well as getting into other issues that seem to paint the God of the Old Testament in a highly negative light. We could also be discussing the critiques that Thom Stark has brought towards Copan based on the book and see what he thinks about them.

Also, this will include a lesson on how we are to read the Old Testament. Is it really a straight forward narrative every time or does it use terminology that would have been recognizable to an ancient reader but is not so recognizable to us today?

And of course, is it really justified for God to take life in this way? Surely there could have been something else to be done besides using the Israelites as a force of war. Right?

I really look forward to having Dr. Copan come on to discuss this important topic and I hope you’ll be listening. Remember, we’ll have the link up on ITunes as soon as possible for you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Apostles’ Creed: To Judge

July 16, 2014

Is it proper to say that God will judge? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Judging is a funny thing in America today. People constantly say “I’m not trying to judge” and every time I hear that I want to say “But that’s exactly what you’re doing and that’s not necessarily wrong.” Of course, some judging is wrong, and this is the judging that is hypocritical judging, which is what Jesus is talking about in Matthew 7.

It’s a shame that John 3:16 used to be the most quoted Bible verse and today, it’s Matthew 7:1 and even then, just the first part. Jesus is not telling you to never judge. In fact, the very passage talks about throwing pearls to swine and giving what is sacred to dogs. Those actions involve making judgments.

When I lived in Charlotte shortly before the wedding, my best man who was my roommate knew he needed to find a new place to live shortly after Allie and I met. He got a job living in a luxury apartment with a boy in a wheelchair who had had a stroke. (Yes. Luxury apartment all paid for. Just suffering for Jesus I suppose.)

Once in a trip over to visit him, a nurse was there to help out who was saying that we shouldn’t judge. I asked her if her car was parked in the garage downstairs. She said it was. I then asked “Did you lock the doors?” At that point, the light bulb clicked.

Judging is inevitable. You have to do it. If you lock your doors at all, you judge. If you’re cautious about who you choose to babysit your children, you judge. If there are places that you avoid while driving or walking, you judge. When you decide who it is that you are going to marry, you judge.

It’s strange also that judging is being seen as a negative when we have more and more shows of the American Idol variety that rely on the judgment of the man on the street more and more. Why is it that judging is seen as so problematic?

A large part of it is our pseudo-tolerance society. I say pseudo because we do not know what real tolerance is. Tolerance is not being accepting of what everyone does. Tolerance is thinking that what someone is doing is wrong but being able to accept the person regardless.

Let’s consider what has to be there for tolerance. First off, there has to be an area of disagreement for tolerance to exist. A husband for the most part will not tolerate it if his wife wants to make love to him in the evening. Of course not. He’ll openly celebrate it. That’s not something that a guy just puts up with. He wants that. A husband will tolerate it if his wife burns dinner one evening.

Tolerance also when seen as a virtue is normally about something someone has a serious disagreement with on someone. You could tolerate going to a fast food restaurant whose food you don’t particularly like because everyone else in the car is going there. If you make a big issue out of it, then that is more of a problem with you. You don’t call yourself a champion of tolerance just for putting up with food you don’t like.

Third, tolerance has it that what is being done is seen as wrong. Again, you don’t tolerate something that you approve of. Husbands don’t tolerate a wife who wants to make love. Parents don’t tolerate children who clean their rooms.

The obvious example today in America is the debate over homosexuality. For a Christian, if they show tolerance, that means they show love to someone in the homosexual lifestyle without approving of the lifestyle. You can love someone without approving of everything that they do. Case in point, we all do it to ourselves.

Someone can think that the Christian is wrong in not agreeing with the homosexual lifestyle. It does not follow that the Christian is however intolerant. Of course, they could be, and if we think of people with the mindset of Westboro Baptist, they indeed are. Some people do genuinely think homosexuality is wrong but have a great love of homosexuals as people and seek to share the love of Christ with them.

Putting a stigma on judging allows possible evils to go unchecked. It should be for any of us that if a viewpoint or practice we engage in is wrong, we would want to know about it. We would want to be open to evidence and correction that will show that. Too often we are not. Too often also, we blame everyone else for how our lives are turning out instead of taking responsibility.

In a situation like this, people are allowed to use their feelings to hold others in tyranny. Having your feelings hurt is not the worst thing in the world. Sometimes, in fact, it is absolutely necessary. Sometimes you need to be told a hard truth and the only way to do that is by stepping on those toes a little bit. Some people also are not genuinely interested in debate but only in tearing others down. A firm hand can be needed for those.

So what about God? Can God judge? After all, the creed says that He is coming to judge.

It amuses me when I see atheists who complain about the problem of evil. Then you point to a society filled with evil like the Canaanite culture of the past and the atheist complains when God judges that culture as well. No matter what, God is seen as guilty. If God lets evil keep going, then He is wrong. If God judges, then He is also wrong.

God is in fact the only one who can judge perfectly since He alone is wholly good and wholly just. In fact, He is goodness and justice. When God judges also, He will be a good and fair judge with the people who He judges.

“Well how can that be? Christians get a free pass!”

God’s standard is perfection. When God judges a Christian, He will see the Christian in covenant with Christ and will judge the Christian based on the work of Christ. What happens when He comes to the non-Christian? He’s a fair judge and He uses the same standard. The standard is perfection. If someone falls short, they don’t make it. God judges them by their works.

Kind of ironic isn’t it since so many people think God should do just that and judge us by if we did more good than bad in this life.

Now you might say your works are not that bad. You never do anything really really evil. You’ve never murdered anyone for instance.

The reason something like that is thought is because people don’t really know what sin is. Consider what happens when you do what the Bible refers to as sin. You are making these claims.

You are saying your way is better than God’s.
You are saying you know better than God.
You are saying you will not be judged by God so you can get away with it.
You are saying that you will be unholy while knowing that God is holy.
You are saying you are the ultimate authority of how this world should be and how you should live in it.

In essence, you are wanting to be on the throne of God yourself. You are in fact guilty of divine treason.

If that sounds extreme to you, it’s because you just don’t realize the gravity of the situation.

I would also contend that if you are sentenced to live apart from God forever, you will continue to live in rebellion. In other words, you will be building up a debt that you could never pay off.

Saying you are guilty of divine treason could make God sound like a harsh judge, but that’s only getting one side of the picture. That’s what makes forgiveness so beautiful. It’s God saying that He knows you wanted Him to not exist and you wanted to be God yourself, and yet He is going to drop all charges against you. He will not just wipe the slate clean. He will break the slate into a million pieces. You will be seen as innocent based on your trust in Christ.

Keep in mind God could have not sent Christ and been entirely in the right. He could judge us all right now and who could say He was wrong? From a Biblical position, we all deserve death and in fact, we all deserve it right now, so every moment we are allowed to live is in fact a gift of grace.

Also, if you find yourself getting offended at the thought that you deserve death right now for being in rebellion against God, then I can just easily say you are demonstrating pride. If God is the king of this universe, upon what grounds does He owe you anything? You are to bow to Him. He is not to bow to you.

God does have the right to judge and while our judging is imperfect, passages like John 7:24 tell us we need to make right judgments, especially as people of truth who should be constantly seeking out truth. If we live in fear of judging, then we will not be able to fulfill the Great Commission our Lord has given us, for that requires we tell a world that they are sinners in need of a savior and that the King is on the throne and they need to honor Him.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Some Tips On Research

July 15, 2014

Is there a proper way to go sifting through claims and separate the wheat from the chaff? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

As Christians, we are to be people of the truth, and therefore we need to check as much as we can and find out if it is true or not. If we say something that is false on a major issue at one point or something that is easily disproven, then it damages our testimony when we proclaim Christ as the risen Lord.

Of course, this also applies to too many atheists who don’t bother to do proper research either. There can easily be confirmation bias going on on both sides. Christians can too often readily believe anything if it meshes with their view of reality, such as an interpretation of Scripture. Atheists can believe many claims just because they happen to go against Christianity despite being seen as jokes in scholarship of the day.

So let’s give some tips.

First off, when you’re doing internet research, be extremely careful. Anyone can set up a blog or a web site today and look authoritative.

“Well don’t you have a blog here? Shouldn’t I be suspicious of what you say?”

Please do.

Seriously. Please do.

If you don’t think I’m a trusted authority, by all means look up what I say. If I’m wrong about something, I want to know about it and if you make a persuasive enough case with good evidence and scholarship, then I will be able to change my mind.

The source is something that must always be considered. No. This is not the same as a genetic fallacy. The claim can be right or wrong regardless of the source, but the source tells you the degree of credibility you need to give it at the start.

Want an example? Sure. Unfortunately, this is a real one. A Muslim actually posted in a Muslim debate group I used to frequent that modern scholars knew the stories about there being ancient Greek civilization were mythical. I’m not talking about Atlantis or believing in Greek gods or anything like that. I’m talking about the civilization period. This lady posted a video to show the professors talking about it.

Source?

The Onion.

For those who don’t know, the Onion is a satire. The articles are entirely jokes not meant to be taken seriously. I’d like to say this only fools crazies on the internet. I’d like to, but I’d be wrong. Huffington Post lists several examples here.

There are several sources out there like that that are satirical. Be on the lookout for them. If you read on a web site something that seems bizarre, there is no harm of just doing a simple Google search to see if the site you are reading this on is satirical.

A place Christians can often make this mistake at is end-times hysteria.

Too many things have been reported to be the Mark of the Beast and every time that they’ve been shown to be false, another one just rises up. There is a new sensation going on constantly in many dispensational circles. If you’re one of those dispensationalists who is not jumping at everything called prophecy fulfillment, I have no problem with you. In fact, I’m quite pleased that one of the best criticisms of The Harbinger is actually by a dispensationalist.

Definitely shame on you if you buy into these people that are certain they can tell you when Jesus is coming back. They can’t. They won’t. Guess what it does to the cause of Christ when people sell all they have and travel across the country proclaiming the end because of what someone like Harold Camping said?

This gets us into moving past considering the source and then really looking at the claim. A claim can seem plausible and from a source that could be reliable, but it could also be false. This kind of event happens on Facebook constantly. Someone will put up a news story and then everyone will share it and talk about it except for that one problem.

The story isn’t true.

A famous occurrence of this happening is when an email was going around several years ago about NASA finding Joshua’s last day. NASA had to respond to calls from people wanting to know more about it and unfortunately being told that the claim wasn’t true.

In politics, this can happen often. I’ve had someone in the past who would regularly email me something about Obama that was a highly negative story that would be such a great exposing of who he really was.

Except for that same problem. It wasn’t true.

And keep this in mind. Politically, I am no supporter of Obama. I am so conservative in my politics I prefer to fly on planes that have two right wings. Obama politically to me is an opponent, but if I want to expose my opponent, I want it to be on true grounds, and not false grounds. We should not want those who we are in opposition to to be spoken of falsely.

This is also why when someone says “Dr. X says such and such” you should ask some questions.

Who is this person?

What is their doctorate in?

Do they teach at an accredited university?

Are they respected in the field by those who agree with them and those who disagree with them?

Is their doctorate in a relevant field?

If those questions are answered in a way that gives credibility to the person then you need to look at the claim more. Unfortunately, too many videos that present these claims do not include proper citation. For instance, I just got done watching a video by some Christ-mythers who would say “X said this.” Where? Who knows! Rarely was anything ever said.

Christ-mythers, by the way, are excellent examples of people who do not do research. The Christ-mythers will fail in the field of NT and history at the questions above as none of them will be respected in the field by people they disagree with.

Consider Richard Carrier for instance. Carrier is highly respected and admired among internet atheists. Take that crowd away and there’s nothing. Most people in Europe have never even heard of him. Compare that to someone like N.T. Wright who teaches at an accredited university and is recognized as a top-notch biblical scholar by even his opponents.

I am interested in seeing what’s going to happen in the future for all the internet atheists who have put all their eggs in the Carrier basket.

This brings us to the next point. See what the opposition has to say. Read the best scholarship that you can on the other side. A question I often ask internet atheists nowadays is “When was the last time you read a work of scholarship that disagreed with you?”

Let’s return to the Christ-myth theory as my favorite example. How many times do I meet internet atheists who say “We don’t even know that Jesus existed.” Yeah we do. Scholarship across the board has held he does for years and theories that he did not exist have been found to be extremely lacking.

The reply will often be that these are a bunch of Christers trying to save their faith. The answer is that this is simply false. A large segment of the Society of Biblical Literature is non-Christian for instance. Bart Ehrman is a member of the SBL as are others who would say they’re atheist, agnostic, or liberal. (Some could say they’re Christian, but only in the sense that they follow the ethics of Christ without believing in anything miraculous about him.)

Also, even Christian scholars have to have their work pass peer-review. It won’t necessarily mean that their reviewers agree with their conclusion, but it will mean that they’ve shown they’ve done their research and are able to defend their view.

When you read this opposition, try to read scholarly opposition as much as you can and read it when published by an academic publisher. Of course, not everything is like that, and I say that as the co-author of two ebooks. A claim being in a non-scholarly source does not make it false, but it does mean you should always be willing to check the source of the claim and make sure that the person is interacting with the best in scholarship on the issue.

For an example of interacting with the best scholarship on the issue, consider the new atheists. The new atheists regularly have a habit of NOT interacting with the best of their opposition. I believe I have demonstrated that in this post.

By and large also, I do prefer books to videos and blog posts and such. Don’t discount those entirely, as I am a blogger after all, but try to see them as stepping stones. That’s why on my podcast I try to bring the best in scholarship and hope that it will be a stepping stone getting you to want to go look at the works of the scholars that I interview.

This also applies across the board. Don’t think I don’t practice what I teach either. Of course, I will make mistakes, but I spend plenty of time reading and studying. You can follow me on Goodreads if you want to see what it is that I’m reading. There is no such thing as being knowledgeable in the field without doing the research. There is no shortcut to learning. There are many ways to learn, but all of them require work.

Do good research. I don’t care what position you have. Just research it. In fact, I would rather talk about theology with an informed atheist more than an uninformed Christian. My standards are the same on both ends. I respect people who do the research about what they argue and know the other side well. I don’t respect those who are dogmatic on their side without doing any background research.

Be a part of the former. Study.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Story of Jesus In History and Faith

July 14, 2014

What do I think of Lee McDonald’s book on the historical Jesus? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Lee McDonald has written a book on the historical Jesus and one aspect of this book is that it’s quite unique from other books I have read on the historical Jesus. McDonald places great stock in history, but he also says we must go beyond history at times. History can produce the data but at times, there is an element of faith involved with what we do with the data.

I am pleased that McDonald does state his own personal bias upfront. I have no problem with an author doing that and I in fact have no problem with an author having a personal bias. We all do. We cannot avoid that. We should seek to limit our bias as much as we can, but at the end of the day, we must all realize we’re humans capable of bias.

For instance, in the debate about the Historical Jesus, data is not really the problem. Seriously. It isn’t. Most everyone out there seriously involved in the debate will agree to the same data. There are disagreements over some minor issues of course, but except for those on the fringe, such as the Christ-myth camp or the ultra-conservative hyper-inerrancy camp of the new fundamentalists, the data is not the problem.

And for data, McDonald is very thorough and presents plenty of data about the historical Jesus. He goes into each of the Gospels arguing about authorship and date of writing and purpose of writing and looks at the non-Christian sources to see what they say about Jesus. He interacts with scholarship everywhere on the spectrum.

But to get back to the issue, I really don’t like saying that faith is what is involved. Oh there is an element of faith in Christianity of course, but it’s not the case that faith becomes some kind of belief in regard to the evidence. Faith is rather an action in relation to the evidence. Faith is the act of loyally following through the evidence. I would in fact conclude that a historian can make a knowledge claim that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead. One can use history I think and demonstrate this.

While that is a criticism I have of McDonald’s book, it should not count against the overall excellent depth of information that is in the book and even if you’re highly familiar with Jesus studies, you’re sure to get something out of this one.

While McDonald agrees with the resurrection, I also think he’s fair about how far he thinks the evidence goes. He’s not going to defend a hard line inerrancy either. He does admit that there are some passages of Scripture that he sees as difficult to reconcile. Does that mean that they cannot be? Of course not, but it does mean that many of our explanations can often be so-so and just little bandages trying to sustain a view of inerrancy that cannot survive scrutiny.

In conclusion, I don’t agree with everything, and again, how many authors will we agree with entirely, I do think McDonald’s book is a welcome edition and that it would be a great help at a Seminary for students wanting to learn about the historical Jesus.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Apostles Creed: From There He Will Come

July 11, 2014

What does it mean to say that Jesus will come? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I hold to an eschatology that is preterist. That means that I believe a lot of fulfillment of prophecy is in the past. In fact, if you’re a Christian, so do you. You believe the Messianic prophecies have been for the most part fulfilled in Christ. I also hold that much of Revelation and the Olivet Discourse is also past.

So when it comes to the coming of Christ as it is stated in the Olivet Discourse, I don’t think this means coming to Earth, but rather coming to the throne of God and sitting at the right hand. Yet when it talks about coming from the throne, then I believe we are talking about a coming to Earth.

There is a viewpoint out there that is known often as full preterism or hyper-preterism. I prefer to call it Neohymenaeanism. Some people have asked me why I don’t call myself a partial preterist. The reason is because I believe the teaching of Neohymenaeanism is actually a heresy and if that’s what you call full preterism, I will not be considered a partial heretic.

I think the ultimate problem with the Neohymenaean position is not what it says about eschatology so much as what it says about Christ. Much of your study of the end times will revolve around the question of who you think Jesus is. We are told that our resurrection body will be like that of Jesus. If the resurrection is something spiritual, then that would mean that Jesus’s resurrection is just a spiritual resurrection as well. We’re into the territory of the Jehovah’s Witnesses with this one.

We can be told that Jesus is the exception, but that is not what I see in Scripture. I see instead that we shall be like Him and we shall be like Him when He comes. Since I hold to the bodily resurrection of Jesus, I hold also to the bodily transformation of those who are His when He returns.

Some of you might think that my holding an event to happen in the future makes me a partial-futurist. It does not. It makes me a Christian. The return of Christ has been a part of the Christian creeds, such as the one that we see here in the Apostles’ Creed. It is part of orthodoxy to believe in the return of Christ to put an ultimate end to the problem of evil.

Let’s also all be wary of one really foolish tendency that seems to exist among Christians. Do not attempt to date when the return of Christ will happen and if you believe in the rapture, don’t attempt to date that either. If you do so, you run the risk of embarrassing not just yourself, but the Christian faith.

Too many Christians have tried to find loopholes in what Jesus said. “Oh we won’t know the day or hour, but we can know the year!” This is just trying to do what Christ would not want us to do and this kind of energy could be better spent in other ways, such as fulfilling the Great Commission.

To which, if you ask me, that is how we speed the return of Christ. I find this based on the end of 2 Peter 3 that we live godly lives so we may speed His coming. Besides that, even if I’m wrong, we have our marching orders to do the Great Commission anyway so there’s no reason not to. Sounds like a good deal. We do what we’re supposed to do and if I’m right, well then we have the ultimate end of evil all the sooner.

Go out and be looking for the return of Christ, but don’t just look. Work also. You have your marching orders regardless of your eschatology. Do them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 7/12/2014: Talking About Plutarch

July 10, 2014

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

First off, for all interested, the podcast is now up on ITunes! All interested can find a link to the podcast here. Please be sure to leave a good review of the podcast so that others will be encouraged to listen to it as well. So now, let’s get to what we’re going to be talking about.

We’re going to be bringing back one of our favorite guests to the show, at least considering that so many people wanted to call in and ask him a question last time he was on! In fact, this is a guest that I can call family and mean it. My guest is going to be my father-in-law, Mike Licona, and we’re going to be talking about the works of Plutarch and how they relate to the study of the Gospels.

Some of you might not know who Mike is, so let’s get some introductions in.

Mike

According to his bio:

Mike Licona (Ph.D.) is associate professor of theology at Houston Baptist University and president of Risen Jesus, Inc. He has a Ph.D. in New Testament Studies from the University of Pretoria, which he earned with distinction and the highest mark. Mike was interviewed by Lee Strobel in his book The Case for the Real Jesus and appeared in Strobel’s video The Case for Christ. He is the author of numerous books including The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (IVP Academic, 2010), Paul Meets Muhammad (Baker, 2006), co-author with Gary Habermas of the award-winning book The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (Kregel, 2004) and co-editor with William Dembski of Evidence for God: 50 Arguments for Faith from the Bible, History, Philosophy, and Science (Baker, 2010). Mike is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the Institute for Biblical Research, and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. He has spoken on more than 60 university campuses and has appeared on dozens of radio and television programs. For more on Mike’s ministry, visit http://www.risenjesus.com.

Mike’s latest studies have been of Plutarch to see how Greco-Roman Biographies were written at the time and how that can help us understand the Gospels better, especially when dealing with the idea of “contradictions.” This of course will spark some inevitable questions.

Are the Gospels really in the genre of Greco-Roman biography? Why should we study something like Greco-Roman Biographies? Why think the Gospel writers would use a form of literature that could be considered pagan to get the message of Jesus across? Can studying something from the culture really help us to understand what is going on in the Gospels themselves?

Then of course, we’ll be looking at some favorite “contradictions” and seeing how it is that studying the Gospels as Greco-Roman Biographies can in fact help us to figure out what the solutions to these contradictions are. Mike is a thorough scholar and one who you will appreciate getting to listen to so I hope that you’ll be looking for this podcast to show up in your ITunes feed as we talk about the study of Plutarch.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Apostles’ Creed: Almighty

July 9, 2014

What does it mean when we say God is Almighty? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Almighty is one of those terms that is really misunderstood. There is this idea that if God is all-powerful, then that means that He can do anything. This is not the case. Scripture explicitly tells us that God cannot lie, for instance. There are a number of other things He cannot do. He cannot change. He cannot cease to exist. He cannot do evil. This is because those violate His nature.

He also cannot do nonsense. C.S. Lewis said years ago that nonsense does not cease to be nonsense simply because you add the words “God can” before it. God cannot make a square circle. God cannot make 2 + 2 = 5. God also cannot make a rock so heavy that He cannot lift it.

When it comes to something like the problem of evil also, God cannot make someone who is free and then have them be forced to choose Him either. Forced freedom is a contradiction in terms. If God is going to make creatures that are going to be free, then He is going to make them so that they are just as free to rebel as they are free to make the choice to love Him.

Here’s something else to consider. Just because God has all power it does not mean that He will always use it. God will allow some things to happen in order to bring about a good that could be unreachable through any other means. Like it or not, many times pain is the only way God has to reach us. We don’t really respond to pleasure. We like pleasure and we enjoy it and we want more of it, but we don’t really learn much of the good that we learn in life through pleasure.

It is in suffering that we learn the most. How many of us look back on a hard time in our life and say “That was horrible and I would never want to go through it again and I would not wish it on another, but in the long run, I am thankful that I went through it. It turned out to be a time in my life when I learned the most.”

Pain has a way of reminding us that we are not in charge and that we need to rely on someone greater than ourselves. It breaks into our world where we all attempt to be the god of our own universe and shows us that there are realities that are beyond our control and we need to rely on something greater than ourselves.

God is all-powerful, but He is also all-knowing and we must trust that if He does not do what we think He should be doing, that He has a greater good in mind beyond the pain. Note also that I am not saying either that all of this is directly caused by God. One of the last claims to make is that any natural disaster, for instance, is the wrath of God inflicted on a people. It could be, but we don’t have the right to make such a claim.

What we do have the right to do is to trust in God and in His power in the midst of our suffering. Let us also remember that by the resurrection, we know that He has conquered the ultimate enemy of death. God has the power to raise us all from the dead and bless us abundantly despite any suffering we endure in this lifetime. Let us make sure to rest easily. Our God is omnipotent.

In Christ,
Nick Peters


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