Posts Tagged ‘suffering’

Book Plunge: True Paradox

October 7, 2014

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

TrueParadox

David Skeel’s True Paradox is a difficult book to place really. Now this could be because of the way that I think and like things to be nice and organized. Skeel is trying to get us to look at complex issues that seem to be paradoxical in their nature and ask how it is that Christianity makes sense of them. I do not see this as a book to show that Christianity is true, you need to argue for the resurrection specifically I think to do that, but a book to get you to consider that perhaps there’s more to the world than you realize.

Throughout, Skeel deals with various areas in our lives that are often ones we don’t think about. For instance, an early chapter is on the question of beauty. Why is it that we even think some things are beautiful? What role does beauty play? Of course, Skeel points out evolutionary explanations of this, but he often finds them lacking. In many cases, there would be no immediate benefit and the ideas of what is beautiful doesn’t really lead to the benefits supposedly given. When many of us see a beautiful painting, we don’t immediately want to go and be a contestant on Survivor. Instead, we often get transfixed. If anything, we are more prone to an attack from an enemy.

There is also the paradox of suffering and evil. Why do we act as if something unusual is happening to us when we suffer? Skeel compares his Christian friend Bill Stuntz to the atheist Christopher Hitchens. Both died from cancer. Stuntz and Hitchens both saw it in different ways and Skeel pictures how it is that they would respond to different questions about suffering. The question to ask is which worldview best explains not only suffering but why we think of suffering the way that we do.

The best chapter in this book without a doubt for me was the chapter on Heaven. There are times in this chapter where one finds oneself emotionally moved and gripped by thinking about what the reality of Heaven is. By all means, I do not mean the silly Sunday School images that we have of sitting on clouds being angels and playing harps. None of that has any Biblical justification whatsoever. In fact, if such was the nature of Heaven, most of us would quite likely think we’d gone to the other place when we wound up there. Instead, I am thinking more of a rich view of Heaven found in the writings of people like Peter Kreeft, C.S. Lewis, and N.T. Wright. In fact, if you could only read one chapter in this book, I would definitely recommend that you read the chapter on Heaven and the afterdeath (As I prefer to call it).

In the end, my thoughts on this are mixed. The last chapter is highly recommended. The others do present something that an aspiring apologist can look at and for people who live on a more existential level, I suspect that they will find something in this work that they really really like. If you enjoy thinking about paradoxes, it is one that is worth a look.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 8/2/2014: Clay Jones

July 31, 2014

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

EEEEEEEEEEEEEVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVIIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLLLLLL! Evil is a favorite playing card of many an atheist on the internet as well as prominent atheists in public debate. If there is a God, why is there so much evil in the world? In fact, many times, isn’t God the cause of all this evil in the world?

Of course, this is a serious objection for many to theism and in order to help address it, why not talk to a serious authority on the issue? That’s why I’m having Dr. Clay Jones of BIOLA come on my show this Saturday to talk about the problem of evil.

So who is Clay Jones?

cbj

According to his bio:

Clay Jones holds a doctor of ministry degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and is an associate professor in the Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics Program at Biola University. Formerly, Clay hosted Contend for Truth, a nationally syndicated call-in, talk-radio program where he debated professors, radio talk show hosts, cultists, religious leaders, and representatives from animal rights, abortion rights, gay rights, and atheist organizations. Clay was the CEO of Simon Greenleaf University (now Trinity Law and Graduate Schools) and was on the pastoral staff of two large churches. Clay is a contributing writer to the Christian Research Journal and specializes in issues related to why God allows evil. You can read his blog at clayjones.net and find him on Facebook.

So what are we going to be talking about when it comes to the problem of evil?

There will be four parts to this. The first one is why is it that we suffer for the sin of Adam. Why is it that because one man and woman ate a piece of fruit so long long ago that the rest of us have to suffer for it today? How can it be that a good God would allow this? Why put us in a situation where already we’re in a deficit?

Second, what about the nature of humankind. What does it mean to be a human and what difference does this make to the problem of evil? Why is it that we see human beings as moral agents but we don’t tend to view animals in the same light?

Third, free-will. This often comes up in these debates but what about the nature of free-will. Does it make a difference? Why should God even allow free-will if it will lead to all this evil? Could God not have created a world where we would be free but there will not be all this evil?

Finally, what about the after-death? Does Heaven play any role whatsoever in what we are experiencing in this life? What about the fact that some people will not make it to Heaven in fact?

All of these are important aspects of dealing with the problem of evil so if this is a question that interests you, be listening to the Deeper Waters Podcast this Saturday, and please leave a positive review of the show on ITunes! I would greatly appreciate it!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Jesus Wept

May 29, 2014

What do I think about Bruce Marchiano’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

My wife’s an artistic person and likes images much more than I do. In our marriage, I like to tell people that I am the head and she is the heart. I’m a largely rationally driven person. She’s an emotionally driven person. We both have Asperger’s which makes it an interesting combination. We’re also both Christians and when she watched The Gospel According To Saint Matthew, she started looking up Bruce Marchiano who played Jesus in it, also known as “Smiling Jesus.”

When she found out that he had some books out, I was immediately going to the library web site and saw only one listed, Jesus Wept, which I decided to order to surprise her. I’m always encouraging her to read after all.

And she did. Only took a day.

She also wanted me to read it.

So I did.

First off, I’m thankful that someone like Marchiano is in the acting business who actually cares about serving Christ. If only we had more like that. I’m also thankful that Marchiano is out there wanting to make films for a Christian audience and in fact engaging tough issues, such as one coming out called Alison’s Choice about trying to counsel a young woman out of getting an abortion. One other movie, The Encounter, I was pleased to see even referred to the slaughter of the Canaanites as an issue for Christians to deal with.

Now to get to the review, I will say that being the rational-based person, I found myself not being affected the way my wife was, which was something that had me wondering for awhile. Marchiano writes with a lot of passion and writes with a lot of word pictures and such to get one to feel the situation that he is talking about. His book is meant to help us work through the problem of evil and find solace in times of suffering. Now personally, I’m terrible with empathy. If someone comes for counseling, I prefer to let them talk to my Mrs. as she is the much better listener.

Marchiano places an emphasis on September 11, which has become equated with evil in our culture, and who can blame him? If anyone wants an example of evil in our time that really grips us, it’s September 11. Most of us can remember that day. While I am not a person known for empathy, I do remember that day as well. I could tell you where I was when I first heard the news and remember being in Bible College watching on TV when the second tower fell.

The situation for me as I read a book that has anything to do with theology in any way is to go through and check and make sure the theology is right and make sure the historical claims are accurate and all the ducks are in a line. There is a place for that and it is needed. For the most part, I think it is for Marchiano. There are of course a few places that I would have liked to have seen something different said and something made more clear, but that’s okay.

The light didn’t really click until I got to the last chapter and something in there got me to think about how it would be to picture my own wife reading this book, thinking about what she has gone through recently in her life and the change that Christ has brought. Then I realized “Why yes, if someone is hurting and they are someone who accepts the Christian worldview, or if they want to have a greater appreciation for Jesus while already being a Christian, then this would be a good book for them.” As someone who emotionally connects in that way, I then realized why it is that she cared so much for this.

Same effect on me? No. That doesn’t say anything about Marchiano as a writer necessarily however. I think it says more about me. I get much more excited about the things of God if I read a good book on Christian apologetics or the historical Jesus or something of that sort instead. My spouse would not have her eyes light up to get an insight into the culture of Jesus through historical studies that I would. That’s okay.

Yet at the same time, it is important to not eliminate either side from the picture. Yes. I am the more logical thinker of the two of us with a stronger rational side, but it is important to realize that there are people from a more emotional bent and recognize that some works are written for them as well. I as the one with the rational bent can appreciate then on my wife’s level something she’d like and she in turns does recognize the importance of my emphasis on the life of the mind and learning about that as well.

So in the end, I think that a lot of people could be comforted by Marchiano’s book. For those who are just struggling with some suffering and want to know how Jesus can relate, I can recommend it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 1/3/2014: Life Is Beautiful

January 2, 2014

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

Well first off, the bad news. The bad news is we’re having to bump back the show with David DeSilva. My wife has a beauty pageant she’s due to be in with Joni and Friends to see if she can be Miss Shining Star. This is an important event for her and it’s on Saturday. DeSilva has said he will be back. As I’ve stressed many times to other apologists, family comes first and do you really think I’m going to miss a chance to see Allie in a beauty contest?

Fortunately, my good friend Gretchen Passantino Coburn has agreed to come in and talk about an issue near and dear to her heart. To work with the time, the show will actually air on Friday, January 3rd from 3-5 PM EST.

What’s that? Why it’s the beauty of life. She’s had to go through much with her husband having recovered from being in critical condition and has seen how these end of life issues affect Christians. Yet since January is the month of Roe V. Wade, it’s important to realize that these issues don’t just affect end of life issues, but also beginning of life issues.

Coburn already had much preparation to do such thinking. She has been one of the minds behind the apologetics ministry of Answers in Action for years. Her perspective will come with sound reasoning and with the devout Christian character that we should all seek to provide.

This is also an issue important to me knowing much about the sufferings of others. What about those who have considered suicide and even attempted suicide? Does the message of Jesus have anything to say to them about their own lives?

What about people who are diagnosed in the womb with disabilities. We have a couple at our church who told us that their baby was diagnosed as having Down’s Syndrome in the womb and the doctor tried to hint at the possibility of getting an abortion. It was totally out of the question. Was that the right response to have? Coburn will tell us what she thinks.

What Coburn will be discussing in answer is that all of our lives from the womb to the tomb belong in the hands of God and that He is the one in charge of when we go. Every life has value and purpose because it in its own way is a reflection of the image of God. Finally, suffering is not a waste. God can take the suffering that you undergo and redeem it for a far greater good.

I am highly looking forward to this show. Coburn has been a good friend of mine for some time and we’ve got to enjoy commenting on one another’s posts a number of times, plus she’s a very real and humorous lady to work with. I think you’ll find her presentation to be engaging and entertaining both.

The show will air Friday from 3-5 PM EST. The call in number if you want to ask Coburn a question is 714-242-5180. The link to the show can be found here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters