Archive for the ‘Popular Media’ Category

On Exodus, Gods and Kings

December 29, 2014

What are my thoughts on this movie? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

While visiting my in-laws for Christmas, there was a desire to go see the new movie that henceforth I will just be referring to as Exodus. Now I’ve been skeptical, but we had heard some good things and I thought that surely it couldn’t be as bad as the travesty of Noah. After all, when I saw Noah, it was while we were with friends and my wife suggested it be a red box rental so we could just see how it was. I told her I’d keep watching until it got too stupid.

Which took about a minute.

Exodus is not as bad as Noah thankfully. Let’s start with some positives. If you like special effects, the special effects in this movie are excellent. Still, there were so many more scenes that could have been so much more. For instance, I, like many of you would be, was disappointed that there was no parting of the Red Sea. Now there was a great body of water gathered through a tornado or something similar that did take care of the Egyptian army, but the Israelites mainly crossed through where the waters were much lower. Even if you don’t believe the Bible is true, you’d still I think want to see the Red Sea part if you saw a story about the Exodus. That’s largely a defining moment in the account.

Moses and Zipporah’s relationship is displayed wonderfully. This is an area the Bible does not speak on much but the two characters made a marvelous couple in the film. Moses was seen as a very loving and dutiful husband and Zipporah was a strong woman who was a bit of a flirt as well, and there is no sex scene in the movie, which would have even more turned off a Christian audience, but you could tell that they did wait until their wedding night.

Now the negatives.

Too much license was taken in this film that I could not say it was true to the text. God is portrayed as a small child. Now I don’t doubt God could appear in this form, but there’s no kind of relationship with Moses and God as one sees in Scripture, where Moses is described as one who speaks with God face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When God sends Moses to set Israel free, there’s no instruction and no preparation. Even the burning bush scene is treated as if it was a hallucination at the start. The way the two interact most often is treated as my father-in-law said, like Gazoo on the Flintstones. No one else can see God when Moses talks to Him so that if another character sees Moses talking, they think he’s crazy.

Moses meanwhile is portrayed more as a general than a shepherd figure. There is no scene of him carrying his staff. Rather throughout, he carries a sword given to him by the Pharaoh before the one in the movie. When he comes to set the Hebrews free, he starts by in fact training them for combat to fight the Egyptians. Moses and God can in some ways be seen as incidental to the movie at times.

When the plagues start, the special effects really kick in, but much is still not faithful to the text. While I have no problem with naturalistic explanations being given, these seemed to be stretching it. When I say naturalistic, I mean it’s quite possible God could use a natural occurrence but the miracle is that it happened when it happened. For instance, having a wind naturally split the sea from time to time would not undo the account of it as a miracle. What makes it a miracle also is that it happened when it happened.

In the Biblical account, you have magicians of Pharaoh repeating many of the effects of the plagues and it’s clear all throughout that this is negotiations and a battle of the gods. Moses is representing YHWH and demonstrating that the power of YHWH is greater than the power of the Egyptian gods. The magicians are trying to show that such is not the case. This does not go on in the movie. In the movie, it’s not until about midway through the plagues that Pharaoh gets a message and even then it’s not directly from Moses.

As I’ve said, the lack of a parting of the Red Sea scene is incredibly disappointing. When they came to the sea, I was tensing up and thinking “This is it. This is going to be the moment of redemption. This is going to be where everything changes.” Unfortunately, I was wrong. As my wife and I left the theater we were both speaking about how disappointed that we were.

I appreciate my in-laws taking us of course and it was good to spend that time together, but if you’re wanting to see a good account that’ faithful to the text, don’t really bother with this one.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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Be Your Own Media

May 17, 2014

What’s the best way to go about getting hits in social media for your ministry? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

My friend Mike “Moondog” Burnette asked me if I’d be open to hosting a guest post on my blog. Now I haven’t done that before, but I had a need to put in something else and I figured why not, especially since so many other people are kind enough to link to my work.

Details about Burnette can be found at the end of this post. I also will not hesitate to say I need to practice much more of what he says in this post. That’s one reason I plan in staying in communication with him.

True Truth: Be Your Own Media

I’ve done media consulting with a couple Christian ministries lately who are not cutting through all the communication noise very well — in some ways they’re hiding from the noise with their fingers in their ears. The noise I speak of is LOUD and coming from our over-communicated, hyper-speed social media culture — so much so that if you’re not hustling, planning, fully present, extremely valuable, and engaged — you’re done. Many of these well intentioned people were great at media marketing in 2004 — the problem is it’s now 2014 and they haven’t adjusted. I believe their messages are important, but since they have no media plans, strategies, or budget — they’re destined for failure; barring divine intervention. Some groups have wonderful Christian men and women on their boards, but they have no practical knowledge of media programming or understanding of how powerful current media platforms are to success. They think Vimeo, SnapChat, Twitter, SoundCloud, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, etc– are all very quaint entertainment fads — they may not even realize the car has replaced the buggy.

In their marketing ignorance they pay to advertise on “little used country roads” instead of along “major highways” — paying for things no one see, uses or pays attention to. I’m not a part of that type of thinking. My personal and professional corps values stem from questioning meaning and purpose and include a code of serving others by doing the right things, for the right reasons, and taking care of people in the same ways that I want to be treated. I could lead them astray and take their money, but that’s definitely not what God called me to do. I started MoonDog Radio to consult and produce commercials for Christian ministries. I want to honor God with the best results possible — highly successful ministries and first rate media. So, I’m passionate about using my consulting and creative DNA to help strengthen believers, evangelize, and shape culture — it’s not about making money for me.

The biggest piece of advice I could give you is to BE YOUR OWN MEDIA and program your content like a DJ — by programming your content, using your personality to give it context, and cross-promote your organizations benefits and features. Why pay for billboards, YouTube ads, Pandora, and radio when EVERYONE is listening on their time (on demand) — on their smartphone or iPad. Few people still look to billboards or watch ads on TV for information — if it’s not in their RSS feed it probably doesn’t exist. Maybe I’m the only one–but, I record all my TV programs and run through the commercials. I also call up multiple pages on YouTube and let the commercials play so I don’t have to watch them.

Remember to target your media to those people, places, and platforms that use what you provide. You are serving them — they are just borrowing you.
Blessings In Christ,
Mike “MoonDog” Burnette
Founder, MoonDog Radio
https://www.moondogradio.com/

Liberty University alum 79-83
American Forces Radio & Television Veteran
Chief, Army Broadcasting, DOD
Cell:907-280-9646

Thanks to Mike “Moondog” Burnette for writing this!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Tragedy of Christian Bookstores

April 9, 2014

Why do Christian Bookstores make me thoroughly depressed every time I go in them? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Yesterday, while doing some driving to pick up some groceries, I went to a little shopping center that has a Christian bookstore in it that I shall leave unnamed. I thought maybe there was some opportunity I could find to serve in a place like that or something on a bulletin board in there that would indicate something I could do.

Unfortunately, what I saw when I went in was absolutely tragic.

To begin with, I see a salesperson from there talking to a retired pastor as I find out in conversation and what are they talking about? Blood moons. The pastor is wanting to buy a book about blood moons and from the conversation I heard, it sounds like he buys into it entirely. Of course, I have pointed to an excellent resource on this already.

The great irony here is that in the midst of the conversation between the pastor and the salesperson, the salesperson also being in ministry, it was said that there were too many people in churches who were growing fat off of the flock and fleecing them for all they were worth.

Kind of like blood moons.

When I got to talk to the salesperson there, I offered my help in Christian apologetics if ever the need arose. I was told I’d be contacted to which I said “Won’t you need my contact information if you’re going to contact me?” I’m quite sure that while I wrote it out for him, it was either ignored or promptly thrown out. Who needs this stuff? We have blood moons!

I am quite confident of a number of things with this.

#1-John Hagee will be shown to be wrong again.

#2-John Hagee provided he is still alive will write another book on prophecy.

#3-John Hagee will not confess any wrong in the past on misleading the people with past theories.

#4-The church will still eat it up and refer to him as an expert.

What else do we find? A big display on Heaven is for Real. That is another book that I have written about elsewhere. I have a greater concern with this book now that a movie has come out. Colton Burpo, the kid in the book, has entered his teen years from what I understand.

What happens if he stumbles?

There are two ways I can see this happening.

Let’s suppose that he abandons his faith first off. Let’s suppose that peer pressure or sexual temptation or some combination of those two or any other events lead him to apostasize and if asked about this says that it was all the imagination of a small child and he never really believed it. What will happen to all those people who put their hope in Christ based on his testimony? What about all those people who claimed knowledge of what Heaven is like based on his testimony?

Or suppose this scenario. Suppose he ends up doing something like sleeping with a girlfriend. Now he doesn’t abandon his faith per se, but he tells us something like “God said that it was okay if I really love her.”

Keep in mind I don’t want any of this to happen. It’s a tragedy when anyone apostasizes or gives in to sexual sin. I am warning about the danger. However much we put our eggs of trust in the Colton Burpo basket, the more danger we are in if something goes wrong with that.

Unfortunately, you can be sure that when William Lane Craig, Mike Licona, Gary Habermas, etc. has a new book coming out, these will not be put on front display and everyone encouraged to buy them. No. The apologetics books and serious theology books are going to be buried on some back shelf away from plain sight.

In fact, I was sent a web site with a list of Christian booksellers on it. Now there are some good things from time to time. The Five Love Languages for instance, or Boundaries. Not everything in the bookstore has to be apologetics and I’m not opposed to all Christian fiction, but what else do I see on the list? Heaven is for Real. Blood Moons. Joel Osteen. Not one work by a serious Christian scholar in theology or apologetics is on the list.

Is it any wonder the intellectual growth in the Christian church is stunted. We’ve been feeding them junk food for so long their diets aren’t equipped to handle real meat. At least the church the Hebrews writer wrote to was drinking milk. We’re not even at that level. It would be interesting to see what he would have to say about our churches today if he saw them.

Of course, there’s also the constant witnessing tools and each time it’s some other gimmick whether it be mints in the shapes of crosses or just witness wear. Now if someone wants to buy a T-shirt with a Christian message on it, fine. That at the same time does not constitute evangelism if you wear one. To do evangelism, you have to directly share the Gospel somehow or at least prepare people for the Gospel. Too many of us can think we wear a T-shirt in public and we have done our evangelism.

So I go into these places and I come out depressed. It is apparent why it is that the Christian church is failing. They receive no meat in their diet whatsoever. Some stores might want to sell other books, but to stay in business, they have to give people what they want.

Yet how many of you with children would say “Well if my child wants junk food, that’s the way it is.”

No. You’d seek to change their desires.

How’s it going to happen?

First off, pastors have to start really preaching the Scriptures. A pastor who gets more of their sermon from blood moons than they do from Scripture is a pastor who is a disgrace to the pulpit. You are meant to exegete the text. You are not meant to exegete the newspaper. Of course, a good pastor can be a futurist or a dispensationalist and if you want to touch on current events, fine, but remember the meat of the message MUST come from Scripture.

These pastors will need to be teaching their church serious theology and discernment. They need to be able to let their congregations ask questions. Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer are not going to prepare our youth for Bart Ehrman in college and neither will they prepare our adults for Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. In fact, for the latter, they’ll feed a mindset that will make them more prone to the message of these groups.

Now some of you pastors might think “Well I’ll lose a lot of members.” You might. But ask yourself this. Would you rather have twenty people in your church who were thoroughly committed and knew their Bibles well and could make the Christian case, or would you rather have two hundred who just hear what they want to hear and do nothing with it?

Next on the list is parents. Parents should seek to get their children in a church that does really teach Scripture seriously, but even then, you can’t expect the church to do all the work. You need to be teaching your children at home proper tools of thinking. Get them engaged with other worldviews. Don’t isolate them. Don’t just hide them from threats. Teach them how to face those threats. Equip them.

If your children were just eating junk food, you wouldn’t put up with that. You’d do everything you could to make them eat healthy. If you will take care of their physical condition, how much more should you take care of their spiritual condition?!

Unfortunately, Christian bookstores won’t change until Christians say enough is enough. That won’t happen until we get serious about real Christian growth in the church.

Until then, I suspect I’ll be spending more time on Amazon or even secular bookstores. At least secular bookstores don’t know better when they put the holy next to the heretical. Christian bookstores have no such excuse.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

God’s Not Dead

March 22, 2014

What did I think of “God’s Not Dead?” Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

So tonight, my wife and I went with my folks to see “God’s Not Dead.” This is the kind of movie that I was eager to see. Maybe it’s just me, but movies that are often made to be “Biblical” don’t really do much for me. I need something that hits my mind as well as hits the heart. Most Biblical movies seem to just want to appeal to the feelings of the audience. But then, I think that Aristotle did say to reach someone with the mind first and then go for the heart.

So now we have a movie that does engage the questions of the mind. Now of course, it’s not perfect. There are a lot of things I’d change and one point I wish would have been different is that apologetics should have been mentioned at least once. There were apologists referred to, but no mention of the field itself.

Most of you already know the premise of the story. A philosophy professor tells his class to say “God is dead” and then move on, but one student refuses and then has to defend the claim that God is not dead before the classroom. Now to be sure, most philosophy professors are not like this one. I’ll guarantee you this, the good ones aren’t. Good philosophy professors can be Christians or atheists. Their goal is to get their students to wrestle with the questions themselves. Sure, they’d like their students to agree with them, but it’s more important that their students know how to think than it is what they think exactly.

Of course, in our day and age, that’s not the case. Just take a look at what someone like Peter Boghossian is doing in his classroom. There are many professors who want to teach atheism and assume that it’s critical thinking or the result of philosophy.

So this young student in the class has a Boghossian type professor. What happens then is the student interacting and speaking before the class and answering questions and one will find reference to people like Dawkins, Lennox, Strobel, and Hawking. The arguments largely are scientific aside from the question of the problem of evil, which I agree is the main reason most people walk away from God.

The movie does contain much emotional appeal and I don’t think the apologetics is the best necessarily, but that’s okay. Why? Because a movie like this gets the conversation started. Unfortunately, I’m afraid Christians are going to do too often what they do when they get tossed the ball like this. Drop it and act like nothing happened.

If we could see a resurgence in our churches to learn that indeed God is not dead and to be able to learn why that is the case, then yes, we could change things in the world today. Some people think I am too hard on the church a lot of times. I don’t think so. We are to be salt and light and we had the advantage in our culture for a long time. We lost it because we did nothing with it. We retreated to a place of safety and isolated ourselves. I get furious with Christians who say “Well as long as I’m saved and my children are saved that’s all that matters and let’s wait for Jesus to come.” That is direct disobedience to the Great Commission.

So my recommendation? Go see this movie. Yes my apologist friends, realize it’s not perfect, but you know what? This is a speaking opportunity that you’ve been given. This is a chance to use this as a conversation. This is a demonstration piece that can be used for the spread of the Gospel. We dare not disregard a movie because not all of our requirements are met. I have no intention of doing so. In fact, Allie and I are both in agreement. We want this movie when it comes out on DVD and I’m hopeful area churches might now suddenly wake up to the need for apologetics.

And yes, one more thing.

God’s not dead.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Thoughts on Joseph Atwill

October 14, 2013

Did the Romans invent the Christians? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

There has been much talk lately about Joseph Atwill and his claim that Jesus was invented by the Romans. It’s still bizarre to think the Romans would create a religion that they would go out and persecute. Still, many are claiming that Atwill is a biblical scholar as even the press release about the announcement said.

Reality? He’s not.

Is that the opinion of someone like me, a Christian who believes strongly in the reliability of the NT? No. That’s even the opinion of a Christ myther himself like Richard Carrier. Unfortunately as Carrier points out, news of this has not reached Richard Dawkins. Carrier also adds that Robert Price and Acharya S. disagree with this idea. As Carrier says about these people like Atwill:

They make mythicism look ridiculous. So I have to waste time (oh by the gods, so much time) explaining how I am not arguing anything like their theories or using anything like their terrible methods, and unlike them I actually know what I am talking about, and have an actual Ph.D. in a relevant subject from a real university.

If those three, some of the biggest names in Christ-mythicism, say that your theory is bunk, it’s quite likely that it is.

Now it’s rare to find scholarly talk about an idea such as this. Why? Because by and large scholarship ignores crank theories like this. In fact, most people if they really thought they had something would want to take their idea to the scholars first. Larry Hurtado has said that

I haven’t heard of the guy before either (Joseph Atwill), largely because, well, he’s a nobody in the field of biblical studies. No PhD in the subject (or related subject), never held an academic post, never (so far as I can tell) published anything in any reputable journal that’s peer-reviewed, or in any reputable monograph series, or presented at any academic conference where competent people could assess his claims. Instead, per the flimflam drill, he directs his claims to the general public, knowing that they are unable to assess them, and so, by sheer novelty of the claim he hopes to attract a crowd, sales, and publicity. It’s a living, I guess (of sorts).

In saying why he doesn’t bother with it that much, Hurtado says that

It’s not necesssary to engage something so self-evidently unfounded and incompetent. If his press releases at all reflect his stance, it’s not worth the time. We scholars have enough to do engaging work that is by people with some competence. There isn’t time or value in dealing with nonsense. And Atwill and his ilk don’t really want scholarly engagement anyway. Again, let it go.

And when told Atwill would want scholarly engagement Hurtado says

No. He wouldn’t. Otherwise, he wouldn’t avoid the normal scholarly venues to test theories. These people know that they would be shredded by competent scholars.

And yet, it’s making a buzz. Fortunately, even some atheists like P.Z. Myers are condemning it. Myers does not hold back.

I think a few too many atheists are seeing “Scholar Says Jesus Was Fake” and are not thinking any more deeply than that. The whole idea is ridiculous.

If you’re one of the many atheists who gleefully forwarded this to me or credulously mentioned it on twitter…hello, there. I see you’ve already met the good friend of so many half-baked wackos in the world, Confirmation Bias.

That many atheists did in fact spread this immediately and treated it seriously shows that there is indeed a great deal of ignorance in the atheistic community. “Well what about your Christian community?!” I’ve been saying for years the church has failed to educate its members and their fear at something like this is a prime example of it. Our tendency to want to protect ourselves more than anything else keeps us from really isolating with these issues going on in the real world. As I told one skeptic recently, I condemn ignorance on all sides.

Here are some of my problems with the whole theory.

First off, it will HAVE to deal with all the counter-evidence. Can he deal with Tacitus? Can he deal with Josephus? (I know his theory claims to rely on Josephus, but will scholars of Josephus support it?) Can he deal with Mara Bar-Serapion? How about a question of the reliability of the NT? Can he deal with claims for that?

Second, what about the Pauline epistles. The earliest epistles come before Josephus wrote. These epistles also include a creed such as in 1 Cor. 15 that comes to within a few years at most of the resurrection event. Can Atwill’s theory deal with this?

Third, can he demonstrate that the gospels in the genre of Greco-Roman biographies would be able to be read in this way? This theory has been tried over and over by so many people and it has never ended well. Why give Atwill any credit?

Fourth, does he have any evidence from the Roman perspective? Does he have some ancient mention of Jesus that we have never found even though scholars have been looking through works of ancient society? What would this say for Christ mythers who say that there is no mention of Jesus? Why mention Jesus if Jesus was not being talked about?

Fifth, can his theory account for the dating of the NT? Would this not presuppose that the gospels were written after the writings of Josephus? Has he made a case for that? If Josephus based his account on the gospels, which he didn’t, then Atwill’s theory is in trouble. Atwill will require a late date. It would also require the writings of Josephus to also be in Jerusalem at the time already and being read, which will be problematic enough even if just Mark dates to before 70 A.D.

Now by all means, let Atwill present his evidence, but keep in mind he’s trying to bypass the scholarly community and go straight to the sensationalist route. That might be a more popular approach, but it’s not the proper approach to academic work of this nature. The reason one seeks to bypass the scholarly community is most likely because one cannot survive scrutiny under that community.

Check the sources always on claims like this. That so many atheists have passed this on shows that there is just as much blind faith and lack of biblical scholarship in the atheistic community as in the Christian community they rail against. That so many Christians get scared of something like this is an important demonstration of why the church needs a good education in basic apologetics.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What Don’t You Like?

January 3, 2013

Is morality just a set of personal preferences? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

There’s an image going around Facebook again with a message like this:

Don’t like abortion? Don’t have one. Don’t like gay marriage? Don’t have one. Don’t like porn? Don’t watch it. You can see from here how it is going. I also see there are some variations of it online. However, the last part of each one is “Don’t like having your rights taken away. Don’t take away someone else’s.”

It is sad that our society today considers this sound reasoning.

At the start, let’s consider that it is saying that if you don’t like something, don’t do it. Okay. Let’s suppose it was the opposite. Let’s suppose I do like those things. Does that mean that if I did like taking away someone else’s rights, then I should be free to do that? Does this come down to what we like?

Second, images like this ignore the main question. Why aren’t these things liked? (And furthermore, why are we even using the term “like.” It makes me think I’m not discussing what moral practice I want to uphold or condemn but what movie I want to watch at the theater.) Could it be there are actual objections that say that “I don’t support X because X is wrong.”

Take abortion as an example. Could it be that some people oppose abortion because they believe the following statements are true?

Human life is in the image of God.
Human life begins at conception.
When conception take place, a new human life has entered the world.
Innocent human life should be protected.
All innocent humans have a right to live.

If we believe those things, then it follows that we should conclude abortion is immoral. For the sake of argument, our position could be wrong. It could be one of those statements or more is false. The aspect we cannot be wrong on is that we know that we believe those statements to be true. Again, you can say we’re wrong, but we condemn abortion because we believe it to be immoral.

Porn is an example of this. I know men who are addicted to porn. You know what? Some of them would say they like porn! They want more of it! They want to see it! They just know that it’s wrong. You can like something and know it’s wrong. In fact, the reason we all return to our sinful habits some is because we like them. If sin was not something we liked, sin would not be such a problem.

When we get to the end, what we note immediately is that this switched from personal preferences to moral absolutes. The others were things you did that generally involved your own private life. (though not entirely) This last one involves your interaction with others directly.

However, if the other statements are not based on moral truths, why should I think this one is? If all others are just personal preferences, could we not say that this is a personal preference as well? In fact, why should I care about someone else’s personal preference, which is a moral claim. Suppose it’s just that I don’t like abortion. Okay. I condemn it. Someone else does like it. Why should I care? By what moral standard will I be told that I should not go against what someone likes if there is no moral truth?

Someone could say I’m being a hypocrite. This is interesting since for all the stances people have on morality, most of us condemn being a hypocrite. Last month, I debated an atheist on the Razor Swift podcast who had said that God was not consistent with his moral principles. I found this interesting since he had espoused a moral relativism and so I just started asking that if morality is relative, what is wrong with being a hypocrite? It’s saying “There are no moral standards, but it’s immoral to not follow your own personal standard.” That becomes a moral standard that is put on everyone else.

Cliches like the ones used in the image lead to the lack of thinking among the masses and shut down good discussion. It is those who do not think who will be persuaded of this.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Secondhand Information

January 2, 2013

Would you let someone chew your food for you? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

On Facebook, I’m part of a discussion group between Muslims and Christians. It is not because I am an expert in Islam. I’m not. It’s because I was asked to come and defend the NT, and that is what I do. Hence, I do not make comments about the Quran generally (Other than that it denies the crucifixion) or about specific Muslim doctrines. I don’t because I don’t know them. There are people who do. Let them do that.

Unfortunately, that is not a two way street.

One of the great benefits in the internet age is that there is a world of information at your fingertips just waiting to be discovered.

Unfortunately, one of the great curses in the internet age is that there is a world of information at your fingertips just waiting to be discovered.

How does this work? Let’s give an example. My ministry partner makes YouTube videos. Now I know the reasons in the videos he makes quite well, but I think the videos are an entertaining and informative way of expressing the ideas. Therefore, I can sometimes link someone to a video and if we want to discuss it, then it is discussed.

On the other hand, I can be talking to a Muslim who tells me that the Bible has been changed. I start asking him about textual criticism. At one point I can say something like “Do you know what a gloss is?” only to receive the question “Gloss?” In other words, the idea has never been thought of before.

What happens? Instead, a video is put up with a Muslim authority talking about how the Bible has been “changed.” For the sake of argument, let’s suppose it has been changed. Here’s the problem. I would be wrong then in my defense of it, but my opponent not knowing the subject matter is really unable to talk about it. If I am wrong, he has no way of demonstrating it. If I am right, he has no way of refuting it. Instead, there is just blind reliance on the authority. Most shown in this is the remark I got of “I can’t read the whole book on textual criticism.” (Yes. I recommended a book. How dare me recommend books.)

A topic like this requires a quote from Dr. Tim McGrew, head of the Christian Apologetics Alliance.

“One of the most disastrous illusions of the internet age is that an amateur plus Google is equivalent to a scholar. A search engine offers information, more or less relevant according to the skill of the searcher. But it does not sift that information; it does not sort fact from fancy, wheat from chaff. It does not explain which facts are relevant and which are beside the point. It does not weigh the merits of competing arguments and tell the user where the balance of evidence lies. A bright amateur armed with the internet may at best be better informed than he would otherwise have been, and he may occasionally catch a real scholar in a factual error. But it will not turn him into a scholar himself. There is no such thing as effortless erudition.”

He’s right entirely. This is why in our day and age discarded theories have come back with a vengeance as people treat old ideas that were thrown out as if they were new. It is as if we were rummaging through someone’s garbage and found an old black and white television and treated this as if it was the latest invention.

The internet is the place of zombies as dead ideas constantly arise to receive new life.

Now of course, most of our information comes from other sources, but if we want to learn it, we must do the necessary research. There are excellent sources online, but you need to know how to sift through those sources and find what is true. Who does that podcast you listen to? Who runs that web site? Who produced that YouTube video? This is much easier with books.

Also, most scholars will not put their work out there for free. They will make you pay for it, and who can blame them? They worked hard to get it to you. Why should they receive nothing for their work? This will require time on your part as well. I find it incredible how many people just can’t be bothered to read books these days.

If you do link to a source, make sure you know something about the source. If you don’t, you lower yourself as you will be embarrassed even if you don’t realize it. You will also be insulting your own opponents as if telling them that your doing a web search is equivalent to their reading of books for years.

Besides, if you are sure your position is true, what do you have to fear from reading the opposition? If it is not, you have the blessing of getting to change a view that is no longer true. It is a win-win situation either way. You will either be more informed in what you hold to be a true view for now, or you will abandon a view that is false.

Either way, you must make sacrifices. As McGrew has told me, you cannot exercise by watching someone else do push-ups. If you want to argue like an authority, study to become one.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Movie Review: The Green Hornet

January 30, 2011

Welcome everyone to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth. I’m putting a pause for the time being on the look at the Watchtower pamphlet of “Should You Believe In The Trinity?” due to my wife and I going to see “Green Hornet” last night. Since we got back so late, I decided to forgo the blog and write on it today instead. Be warned of spoilers if you haven’t seen this and plan to.

I’ve been a fan of hero flicks for some time now. Green Hornet is one not as well known to the generation most familiar with Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, and the X-Men. In that light, it’s good to see that they’re bringing back older heroes for a generation that might not know them as well.

Britt Reid is a young boy who in our first view of him is brought to his father’s office for misbehaving at school. Based on Reid’s description, he wasn’t misbehaving. He was trying to rescue someone from some bullies and got seen as the bad guy. His father will not put up with this, seeing as he’s busy running a major newspaper, so he takes Britt’s superhero toy and rips the head off.

Fast forward and Britt is living the life of a playboy going nowhere. He wakes up one day in his house next to a girl whose name he can’t even pronounce right when his father comes in and asks him if that’s what he wants his life to amount to. Britt doesn’t really listen however, but it was refreshing to see a statement like this in light of the hedonism often seen in our culture today.

Britt is driving in a car later and sees on the news that his father has died. While several come and offer their sympathies, Britt has no tears. He didn’t like his Dad at all. The next time we see him getting emotional in fact is when he wakes up to find out his coffee is terrible and goes to complain to the staff who tell him that Kato is the one who makes the coffee and that he had been fired by Britt. Britt demands that Kato return.

When Kato shows up, Britt soon finds out he’s a genius who’s been adding nifty gadgets to the cars in the garage and has built a machine that makes the coffee. Britt and Kato start talking about Britt’s Dad and how it would be nice to see justice since none of them liked Britt’s Dad. Thus, they decide to go take the head off of the statue that has been put up in honor of him.

While that’s being done, a mugging takes place. Britt tries to stop it only to find himself the next target, at which point Kato comes in and using some martial arts wipes the floor with all of the thieves. Britt is quite excited about the whole event and tells Kato that they’re both meant for more, especially Kato. Wouldn’t it be great to be doing this regularly? Britt tells Kato in great line that it’s not dying Kato’s afraid of, but never having lived.

What will set them apart? Britt suggests that they be seen as characters that the police don’t know what to do with? If they’re known to be the good guys, then the bad guys can use that to their advantage. If they’re not however, the bad guys won’t know what to do with them and that will give them leverage. Being the head of a newspaper since his Dad died, Britt brings up a picture of someone running from the statue of his Dad carrying the head and saying he wants that man and the name is given to him of “The Green Hornet.” Thus, the newspaper provides the publicity needed and Britt and Kato start hitting areas of crime making it seem like a gang war is going on. The main villain of the movie is the crime lord of the city in charge of all crime and what will happen in his interactions with the Green Hornet and Kato.

Themes to see? I think about the idea of the noble lie, whereas a community is told a lie that is known to be a lie for their greater good. The Green Hornet seeks to do the same, not wanting to be seen as a hero entirely for the sake of truly being a hero. We see a similar theme when Batman and Spider-Man are seen as villains, but when the real villains know they’re dealing with heroes, then they know there are some boundaries that the heroes can’t cross. What if the villains themselves don’t know however?

Friendship is a major topic in the movie as the Green Hornet and Kato have numerous ups and downs in their relationship and it comes to the question of forgiveness. When all the cards are on the table, where will your loyalties lie? Are you willing to set aside that which angers you about your partner for the greater good? A question the viewer will be asking is how some actions will affect the relationship between the Green Hornet and Kato.

No doubt, both have good intentions in wanting to rid crime, but the intentions are not enough. For instance, Kato is everything in the team. He builds the gadgets, does the driving, and does the fighting. How does that affect things when the Green Hornet is seen as the main character, especially in light of how egotistical the Green Hornet is in the film?

Because of his inability to fight and lack of foresight, the Green Hornet can get in over his head and rely on Kato to save him. Is that the way of the hero? Should the Green Hornet be out there? Or, could it be the Green Hornet gets his wings as it were by being willing to take a risk? Does that mean some who are unskilled in an area should take risks? When? Do you really want to fight evil when evil will not treat it like a game?

Thus, it’s really hard to describe this one. The heroes are not always the heroes we’d think, and that could be a good thing. It could be encouragement for the rest of us who sometimes just want to do a little bit of good and wonder if we can do it. Do we simply want to be like Britt in the beginning and be leading hedonistic lifestyles for only the moment? Is our worst fear dying or never living in the first place?

Parents will want to provide some caution. There are some sexual references throughout the film and there is profanity. However, it is a movie my wife and I both enjoyed and I look forward to a possible sequel in the future.

Movie Review: Tron Legacy

January 6, 2011

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! Sorry about missing last night. My wife and I went out for dinner and a movie and I just didn’t find the time. Seeing as I saw a movie, I do plan to write on it tonight as you can tell by the title. Be warned. I do have spoilers in here so if you plan on seeing the movie, just wait.

The movie takes place several years after Tron. Kevin Flynn disappeared leaving his son, Sam, behind, who has become somewhat of a renegade. One day however, Kevin’s business partner says he got a page from the arcade where Kevin worked. The arcade had been abandoned for years.

Sam puts a quarter in the Tron machine and finds a hidden passage behind it. (Interestingly, the music played at this point is “Separate Ways” (Worlds Apart) by Journey. Sam goes back to his Dad’s computer and by typing in some codes, finds that he has entered an alternate reality. He has entered the world of Tron.

Early on, after some combat, Sam meets his father who looks exactly the same only to be told that that he is not his father. Sam is then sent to a grid to enter a racing battle. Before the battle ends, he is rescued by a traveler that shows up on the track and brought to a place far away where he meets his real father. The traveler is a female named Quorra.

As it turns out, Kevin had created someone in his image named Clue to help build the perfect world. Recently, creatures had arisen out of the data in the world that were part human and part data and called “Isomorphs.” Kevin was fascinated with these and thought they would unlock secrets for humanity. There is an implication of an evolutionary process, and while Kevin is in many ways “God” in the world, he is not parallel to the God in Scripture as he is banished by his creation. Still there are parallels, with Sam being a Christ-figure and Clue being a devil.

Religious references abound. At one point in a battle with Sam, someone overseeing it tells the soldiers to meet the son of their maker. Clue refers to Kevin as a false deity that has kept them imprisoned. As said, the parallels are not perfect, nor should we expect such, but we should take what we can.

In the movie, Clue gets his hands on Kevin’s disk that contains his information. He plans to use it to open the portal to the real world and take his army there with them to eliminate the imperfections and as Kevin points out to Sam, our world has a number of imperfections.

Such dialogue can get one thinking about the problem of evil. Would it be right to be like Clue and eliminate all imperfections immediately? Kevin could be speaking in good Thomist language when he says that perfection was right before him and he never saw it. All of us have some perfection in us. We are not pure perfection, as God is, but we all have some perfections.

One other scene I must comment on is at the end so here are big spoilers. Quorra and Sam do escape and Quorra has asked what the sun is like in our world. Sam had said he’s never been asked to describe it. Sam, like us, could be taking it for granted. When Quorra rides with Sam on his bike, she looks in wonder at the sun.

I wonder how the director did that scene. Olivia Wilde played Quorra so did he have to say to her “You need to act like you’re amazed. Picture the sun as something amazing.” I thought about that thinking what a shame it would be if we had to be told that. Perhaps some of us need to be reminded how awesome it is.

Overall, this movie gives good food for thought. I do not recall any profanity and parents will be pleased that there is no sex in the movie as well. I think some of the action scenes were hard to follow, but overall, this is a good one you can take the kids to go see.

Movie Review: Voyage of the Dawn Treader

December 29, 2010

Hello everyone and welcome back to Deeper Waters where we are diving into the ocean of truth! Last night, we did a review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. As it is, over the Christmas break, my in-laws took my wife and I to see The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Unfortunately, it’s been awhile since I’ve read the books, but this one made me think “Perhaps I should get those down again soon and go through them once more.” Be warned of spoilers in advance.

I did recall some references, such as Eustace having a name that he almost deserved. In my understanding of the film, Eustace is a reductionist through and through. He doesn’t want to bother reading serious fairy tales. He only wants to read about facts. Of course, it’s questionable how many facts he knows. There is even a work that has made Richard Dawkins out to be Eustace, which I found interesting since I was thinking of a Dawkins type when seeing Eustace.

Whatever Eustace sees for awhile, he is tempted to think there has to be some explanation other than what is most obvious. It cannot be he is really in another world even though he was in a bedroom and then it filled up with water and he came out in open sky. Everyone must be in on a hallucination or conspiracy of some sort.

I believe it is only when Eustace comes face to face with a reality that he cannot deny does he change his tune. That is the reality of when his greed turns him into a dragon. At that point, he cannot deny both his greed, which is the evil inside of him, nor can he deny that he is a dragon. It is then of course that Aslan is able to help Eustace.

Interestingly, seeing the talk of Eustace reading makes me think that Lewis in this work is telling us much about knowledge. Consider the gnomish creatures who kidnap Lucy saying “This one reads!” They want her to go and break an invisibility charm that has been put on them by the one that they call “The Oppressor.” Not remembering this part of the story, I was preparing for Lucy to find a powerful enemy, when in reality, she found an old scholarly man who was not really an oppressor, but was one seeking to help the creatures.

Why? They could not protect themselves and part of the reason was that they could not read. They had no real access to knowledge in society then. Those who are not aware of the great ideas will be at the mercy of those who are. We need to read non-fiction so others will not do our thinking for us. We need to read fiction so that others will not do our imagining for us. Of course, we can benefit from the knowledge and imagination of others, but we should hone these skills that exist in us as well.

The biblical references I find quite strong such as Aslan’s table and I was pleased that the movie put these in. Aslan’s table was a place that could not be approached in violence and so a charm was put on the lords who sought to use it as such. We could also keep in mind that at Aslan’s table, there is truly only one Lord.

We should also appreciate the numerous references to temptation. We can all seek to be someone else, such as Lucy sought to be Susan, but we should all seek to be ourselves. That does not mean we cannot admire others or seek to emulate them in some ways. We should however not seek to be them. It does us no good to be jealous of another, something I still have to learn in many ways.

For Edmund, it was power. He wanted to be free. He didn’t want to be seen as “younger king under Peter.” He wanted to be king in his own right. It is however in realizing who he is in himself that enables him to be able to defeat the serpent. He does not need the power of the White Queen. He does not need to defeat the serpent to prove he is a man. His defeat of the serpent demonstrates that he is a man. He is a man in his own right, though not Peter.

Reepacheep was of course a favorite character again. It was a truly moving scene at the end to see him cross over the water and enter into Aslan’s country, a country which is made for hearts of those like him. Why are we sad at that? It is not for Reepacheep. He didn’t even experience the pain of death. He simply passed over. It is because of our loss. We have an attachment to this character and until we pass over, we will not see him again.

Special thanks to the producers also for including Lucy asking if they’d ever see Aslan in their world. Aslan tells them that in their world, he is known by another name. The purpose of bringing them to the world of Narnia and knowing him there was so that they would know him better in their own world. My wife and in-laws and I were quite pleased to see that.

I also found that the 3-D effects of the movie were just spectacular as it looked like objects were really coming at me. Every now and then, I’d lower the glasses to see if things looked different and indeed they did. The movie was incredible overall and had me spellbound the whole time. I found it to be the best one yet.

I also do think it’s family-friendly. Don’t hesitate to bring the little ones to see this one. It’ll give great openings for more conversation.