Defend The Faith 2015 Afterthoughts

So what do I conclude after a week in New Orleans? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

At the start, one word that comes to mind to describe the conference is “intense.” As I was telling a friend on the phone about it just now, we pretty much got up at around 7 A.M. every morning and stayed at the conference and got back around 9 P.M. and then just wanted to go to bed. I have no idea how I managed to get a blog in. I did not get in as much reading this week, but I think that’s acceptable.

I think it’s wonderful that this is going on and I thank Rhyne Putman and Bob Stewart, who are largely the two that I understand are arranging everything, but I do want to say something about a week long conference of intense learning in New Orleans for a week that I am sure they’d be some of the first to agree with.

It’s not enough.

In fact, Dr. Stewart and I talked about this on the air some. What would make this so excellent is if other people saw the model taking place in New Orleans and said “Let’s take this elsewhere.” Perhaps other seminaries might want to hold similar conferences as well. It would be wonderful if every Christian seminary out there was dedicated to helping our church defend the faith once and for all delivered to the saints.

Let me suggest an even better idea, and I know this could be a pipe dream.

It would be better to see area churches doing it.

Here in Knoxville, we do have a chapter of Reasonable Faith and if a local church wants us to have a “God’s Not Dead” meeting, we do it. We might not have a lot of people show up, but we are thankful for those who do. The sad reality is that too often churches are some of the most opposed to this kind of thing. It would be like saying we want you to feel safe while you walk down the street in a dangerous part of town, but we’re not going to bother teaching you martial arts or give you a gun and show you how to use it or anything like that.

In the past, we heard about Christians being thrown to the lions to be devoured.

Today, Christians are throwing one another to the lions.

New Orleans should not be an isolated event, but it should be a model to follow. So you might be thinking “Our church is small! We can’t get William Lane Craig or Mike Licona or Paul Copan or Gary Habermas to come!”

So what?

When we hold a “God’s Not Dead” conference, we don’t have any big names. We just have us. We just have some local guys who have studied apologetics and know how to make a case for what we believe. In fact, that can be something better since it shows the person in the pew that it’s not beyond them. I honestly suspect most people if given the chance to learn this would want to do so and would benefit greatly from it.

I’m thankful for Defend The Faith 2015 and the work of Stewart and Putman. My prayer is that it doesn’t stay there. If you were at this conference and liked it, try to do likewise in your area. It starts out small, but working together, we can all make a difference.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Defend The Faith Day Four

What’s been going on at the Defend The Faith Conference? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Well readers, I have some egg on my face. There had been some misunderstanding on our itinerary on my part and our flight back to Knoxville isn’t until tomorrow. Oh well. That meant we missed a talk so I can’t comment on that, but we did really appreciate what all else that we did get to hear.

So the first talk we heard today was from Gary Habermas dealing with doubt, this time being intellectual doubt. Of course, there was still some overlap with the emotional doubt and it mainly covered ways of thinking. He also encouraged us that when we talk we make sure that we focus on the essentials. Believe it or not, a lot of times Christians can get incredibly side-tracked by non-essential doctrines and start thinking that those belong in the center along with the resurrection.

After a lunch, we next went to hear a Tim McGrew session, naturally, where he talked about treasures new and old. This time, he was talking to us about the value of reading old books. There are many works of apologetics written in the past that are still relevant to us today. These include writers other than G.K. Chesterton, one of my favorites, as well.

After that, we went to part two of a mock debate as it were on the resurrection between Tawa Anderson who was playing the role of Bart Ehrman and Gary Habermas. I had been telling Tawa that he did a great job in his discussion on worldviews, but that I had no doubt that he was going to get his tail kicked in a debate with Gary Habermas. I was right. What makes Habermas such a formidable opponent is he also knew Ehrman’s material backwards and forwards.

We went out to a nice lunch after that with Tim McGrew, Tom Gilson, and some others at a local burger and fries joint which naturally became a time of great discussion. Tim also started teaching Allie how to do Sudokus seeing as she’s wanting to learn how to improve her thinking and showing them that they have nothing whatsoever to do with adding. It’s just logic.

The evening ended with a lecture by Paul Copan, co-author of Did God Really Command Genocide who was speaking on just that topic. This was a great talk to hear and it was interesting how many questions had to do with the interpretation of Scripture. It makes me think that this is an area that we’re going to have to work on because it seems too often that many evangelicals are letting their conclusions, such as inerrancy, sometimes drive interpretation, without realizing that if Scripture is inerrant, sound interpretation will not be a problem.

Now tomorrow is definitely the day that we are flying back, but we have had a great time at the conference and we’re so thankful to have been invited. I plan on making one final post on the importance of a conference like this tomorrow.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Defend The Faith Day Three

What happened at the third day at Defend The Faith? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Today was the last day of the conference for us. Not because it’s a bad conference or we just want to go home. Not at all. Allie just has a women’s retreat that she had booked months ago before we ever heard about the conference and she has to be home so we can take her to that. Still, I will make tomorrow’s post and Friday’s about the conference. Unfortunately, my guest for Saturday on the show had to cancel and I figure it’s both my Mom’s birthday and I have to pick up Allie from the retreat, so why not just have some time of rest?

The day started with David Calhoun giving a version of Lewis’s argument from reason. This one has some points that are not exactly found in Plantinga. It also doesn’t depend on your stance on if evolution is true or not. The only one it says is not likely true is purely naturalistic evolution. If you have a theistic evolution of sorts, then your position is still safe.

The next session was one of Tom Gilson speaking on a new twist on the quadrilemma he has come up with, according to Dan Wallace. His approach is to look at Jesus as the person of impeccable moral character and also all-powerful and asks how hard it would be to imagine the typical illiterate fishermen created such a character. My description cannot do the argument justice so I recommend you click the link and check it out for yourself.

After a lunch, Allie and I went to a breakout session of Tom’s again. Let me mention at this point to please be praying for Tom with a foot injury he has. In this talk, he talked about missions and apologetics. This was one of the best sessions I attended as we talked so much about what the average college student believes today. They have misconceptions about love, sex, they’re relativists, they’re naturalists, they are experiencing freedom for the first time, they lack a sense often of obligation or responsibility, and usually they rely on Google scholarship.

Of course, this is a generality, but much of it applies in various degrees to American college students. This is our mission field. We are no longer living in the 1950’s. It was the discussion in the classroom that made this one so great. Tim McGrew and Tom were usually together and Tim was sitting in the audience for this one and he had a lot of good things to say.

Next we went to a talk by Sarah Ankemann on morality and making a case for absolute morality. Might I say at this point also that it’s great to see more women getting involved in apologetics? It’s usually a man’s field, but we need both sexes to be involved. A lot of interesting discussion came about in this one as well and we do plan on having Sarah come on the show in April to discuss autism since she has a son on the spectrum.

Then came my time to speak. I spoke on Gentlemen, We Are At War. I had a full classroom so much so that some people came in and left. The audience was entirely receptive and I pointed out the dangers that are usually faced on the internet. More people need to learn how to deal with popular internet skeptics and various theories like Christ mythicism and the pagan copycat idea. Many people in the audience thanked me for the talk which was incredibly warming to hear and humbling at the same time.

After a dinner, Tim McGrew and I again spent some more time working on Bayes’ Theorem together. I’ve said before what a great figure Tim is and I mean it. In fact, when I saw him last tonight, I had to give him a hug again, and I think it was a sad moment for both of us. I think we’ve both enjoyed getting to connect with each other and it will always be a special memory. We’re both hoping we can do it again next year.

But you need to know the final talk was Gary Habermas. He spoke on emotional doubt and while it’s a talk I’ve heard several times before, I always hear something new in it. If you struggle with doubt, I really urge you to go to this web site and listen to his talks on the topic and also download two books he has for free on the web site. They will be a great help if you apply them.

That’s all for now. Tomorrow Allie and I head back, but it’s been a great time here in New Orleans. We really hope we can come back again next year!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Defend The Faith 2015 Day Two

What has been happening at Defend The Faith? Let’s Plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Today has been an active day at the Defend The Faith conference hosted by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. We started with a talk from Tim McGrew on the evidential value of the Book of Acts, which was certainly an eye opening talk. Next we followed with a talk from Rob Bowman on the travesty of an article from Newsweek. Let’s just say that it was like using a tank to squash a slug. Again, these talks will all be online for a limited time after the conference for free so please take advantage of that time!

After a lunch, we went to hear a talk first from David Calhoun about the role that films can play in apologetics. I did realize exactly how out of the loop I am about so many great movies, excepting when the topic of Harry Potter came up seeing as I know the series very well as a fan and was able to make my own contributions at that point. There are definitely some movies I wouldn’t mind watching now.

We followed that up by going to hear Keith Loftin give a case for mind/body substance dualism. I found this one to be quite technical but quite good as well. I was surprised to see NDEs not covered well and I did ask about them which got us to discussing the research of Gary Habermas, who I must highlight because he will in fact be speaking tomorrow.

After that, many of us who are speakers got to go out to dinner together at a nice seafood restaurant. I did order a shrimp platter but there was no way I could go through all of it. Allie got herself some pasta. Meanwhile, I just got to enjoy great conversation with Rob Bowman, Rhyne Putman, Tom Gilson, Fred Smith, Tim McGrew, Bob Stewart, and so many others who were there. I considered it a real privilege. The people running this conference are so kind and generous. Allie and I have felt like honored guests.

After that, Tim and Allie and I went back to his apartment. Why? Because Tim is wanting to teach me Bayes Theorem, especially because it seems to be so misused, especially by a certain prominent blogger that is popular amongst atheists. I’ve got a lot of work cut out for me, but Tim is a really encouraging guy and takes the time to explain and says to not worry about mistakes. They will happen.

We went back to the seminary then to hear James Walker of Watchman Fellowship give a great talk on worldviews and different perspectives people hold on religion. Watchman Fellowship also has available all their profiles that they’ve written on various topics of religion available for purchase as a file you can carry on your mobile device, which could be quite helpful to get.

After that, Allie and I went back to Tim’s apartment for a little while where he had a few people there just discussing apologetics and how important it was. If only we could get more youth ministers especially to see the need imagine what a difference we could make in the world and it was wonderful to see young people really eager to know how to defend their faith.

Well that’s all it’s going to be for tonight. Allie was starting to fall asleep while we visited Tim and not because he’s boring. He’s not. It’s just because she was so tired and frankly, I am too. Tomorrow is my day to speak so I hope you all will pray for me that I will give an effective talk that will bolster up the Gospel.

In Christ,
Nick Peters