“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)
If you want suggestions about how to keep your devotional life fresh, try apologetics. Specifically, try attending an apologetics conference. I just returned from the 2013 National Conference on Christian Apologetics in Charlotte, North Carolina, and thoroughly enjoyed thinking and dialoguing at high levels of reasoning for two days. As an active blogger, I really don’t have issues with my spiritual life becoming stale, but I have to admit it was a truly uplifting experience.
I was travelling with some wonderful people, including a rocket scientist (no kidding), a physicist, a lawyer, and a librarian (who is also an interpretive dancer). We had some conversations; wish you could have been there with us.
For whatever reasons there was a doubling of registrations (to 2,000) from the prior year, so we stopped by Thursday evening to see if we could register before the crowd on Friday morning. We ran into Dr. Norman Geisler roaming the halls, and he graciously agreed to pose for a photo. After we parted I thought of all the things I should have said to him. You know, like: thanks for architecting the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, and thanks for several books that have shaped my thinking (like Making Sense of Bible Difficulties and From God to Us, How We Got our Bible).
Dr. Geisler’s credentials include founding two seminaries—Veritas Evangelical Seminary and Southern Evangelical Seminary, which helped host the conference. Several of his students were in attendance, and had wonderful things to say about him. I heard two of his presentations: one on pluralism and the other on theistic evolution. Both were impressive—well organized and packed with strong apologetics, with plenty of humor thrown in for good measure.
Marion and I met a man who had scored an invitation to dinner with Dr. Geisler the night before the conference. He was a 50-year-old Navy retiree who got to be an empty nester and sold his home in Ohio to enroll fulltime at Southern Evangelical Seminary. Dr. Geisler and his wife invited this man into their home and made him feel very welcomed. He had a lot of nice things to say about the genuine warmth of the Geislers, who worked hard at their exhibitor’s table throughout the conference to meet people and accommodate requests for autographs and pictures.
Hugh Ross vs. Jason Lisle Debate
The first session on Friday morning was a debate between Dr. Jason Lisle (a young-earth creationist) and Dr. Hugh Ross (an old-earth creationist). Regular Veracity readers are no doubt aware of the high esteem I hold for Dr. Ross, having read and studied much of his material, and having taken an online course entitled Creation and the Bible from Reasons To Believe. As I later told Dr. Ross when I finally met him, I expected to be disappointed (because after all who could live up to such high expectations)—but I wasn’t. He is just as brilliant, articulate, well studied, and friendly in person as he appears on his many videos.
I won’t go into who won the debate, you can decide for yourself by ordering session Apolo13-17 from this site. (I hope the video makes it to the Internet at some point.)
I worship at a church where our constitution encourages people to think for themselves and allows us to hold differing opinions on items that are not essential to the Christian faith. It specifically prescribes that “attitudes of Christian love and tolerance be expressed toward those within the Body of Christ holding different points of view.” My co-author on this blog (Clarke Morledge) is much better at understanding and appreciating multiple points of view on all kinds of issues than I am. I will therefore temper my remarks, but will state that the credibility of our witness as Christians is impacted by our views on this topic. If you don’t know what the old-earth versus young-earth debate is about, please start studying and form your own opinion (beginning with the two prior hyperlinks). It’s important.
Dr. Stephen Meyer gave a really strong presentation on The Return of the God Hypothesis to a packed house, after his earlier talk on Darwin’s Doubt (the title and topic of his new book). He is an engaging, disarming speaker whose explanations of complex subjects were remarkably clear. If you’re not familiar with Dr. Meyer, check out his website.
Veracity Hits the Big Time!
Well…not quite. I wandered down an exhibit hall and happened upon Dr. Bobby Conway setting up for another One Minute Apologist interview. Bobby kindly invited me onto his set for a photo. I told him it was indeed a great pleasure to finally be ‘on’ the One Minute Apologist, and thanked him for all the hard work he puts in providing “credible answers to curious questions.” I enjoyed sending the adjacent photo to some friends with a carefully worded, but misleading, text message (for which I am mostly sorry) implying that I had been interviewed. Bobby Conway is a really nice guy who is doing a great job with his One Minute Apologist ministry, his church, and his writing.
Conference Wrap Up
There were lots of other sessions, large and small, and we did purchase several videos for personal study (all sessions were recorded for audio, and the larger sessions were recorded on video DVDs). There were several small sessions we tried to attend, but the rooms simply could not hold any more people.
The lunches were great, because we found ourselves sitting at picnic tables with total strangers having remarkably profound discussions. Iron sharpens iron.
The apostle Paul encourages us to work out our own salvation in Philippians 2:12. That work involves engaging other people, some of whom agree with us and some who don’t. The dialog and engagement should be a sharpening process that brings us closer to God. It takes work, but the juice is well worth the squeeze. Think about attending an apologetics conference and check out the possibilities yourself.
HT: Marion Paine, Iris Rudy, Dave Rudy, Ken Petzinger, Hugh Ross, Norman Geisler, Stephen Meyer, Southern Evangelical Seminary, First Baptist Church Indian Trail
Facts & Faith Symposium
Clarke and I will be participating in a Facts & Faith symposium (along with Ken Petzinger, Dave Rudy, Dick Terman, and David Thompson) at the Williamsburg Community Chapel, Sunday evenings November 10, 17, and 24, 2013 at 6:30 pm. Please see our post on the symposium for details, and please bring a friend if you’re in the Williamsburg, Virginia area. Click here to register (it’s free).