Why can’t we be friends? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Many of you know years ago I was a student at Southern Evangelical Seminary. It had been a dream of mine to graduate from there one day. Then while there, I heard about a girl, specifically, Allie Licona, the daughter of Mike and Debbie Licona. That was her name then at least. Today, it’s Allie Peters.
Shortly after we got married, Mike published his big book on the resurrection of Jesus. Mike was also at the time a visiting professor at SES. However, not too long after that book came out, Norman Geisler accused Mike of denying inerrancy for his position on the resurrection of the saints in Matthew 27.
At that point, I made the decision that I had to step in and I did. Geisler had been a mentor of mine, but this was a ridiculous charge I thought and it was going after family. I decided to step into the ring and take on Geisler, which I hadn’t done before. My ministry partner, J.P. Holding, also joined in.
That meant for me leaving behind SES as well, which was very hard. Academically, I think everyone would agree I was an excellent student. However, since I took on Geisler, I was sure I would not be allowed to graduate anyway.
The inerrancy wars went on for some time but fortunately, I haven’t heard anything from them in awhile. Not too long ago, Geisler passed away also. I was not sure how this would affect the wars, but I knew something would be different. I do know SES still does the apologetics conference, but I haven’t been since the whole thing started.
So what a shock when Gary Habermas sends Mike and Debbie and I an email with announcements from SES. Gary told us to look at the sixth item listed. What do I see?
“Many of you know that Dr. Mike Licona and Dr. Geisler had their rather public disagreements over the nature of the inerrancy of Scripture. Dr. Licona has even debated our own Dr. Richard Howe about this important issue at our National Conference. Regardless of our differences, Dr. Licona is a dear brother in Christ whom we love. His lovely daughter is married to an SES alum, and they could really use our help to cover some very serious medical bills for some very serious and essential treatment. You can learn more about the need and how to give at the link below. Thank you.”
That link is also still up if you want to donate.
I messaged the person behind putting it up there since Mike told me who it was and I offered my thanks. I made a public post on Facebook and I want to make a more public one here. In our conversation, we both agreed that inerrancy is an important issue, something J.P. Holding and I both hold to, but that we should be willing to better discuss our disagreements.
I really hope that this will be the beginning of many conversations on how we can unite as Christians. I was pleased to see the above not only good words about Mike, but good words about me as an SES alum. Nothing was said about the disputes that we had. Not a thing. After all, if any event was worth putting aside our differences, something like this is.
As I was thinking about writing this, I thought about Peter and Paul in Galatians. Odds are, Peter wasn’t really too happy with Paul when Paul called him out to his face because he was sure Peter was in the wrong. Some scholars posit a major rift taking place between the two.
But if you read other epistles in the New Testament, like 2 Peter, it looks like things were worked out. Peter refers to Paul as a brother at that point. We may not know how they worked out the issue, and apparently that was a major issue, but they worked it out.
I am very grateful to SES for what I consider not just an act of charity, but a kind olive branch as well. This is the way that Christians are to interact with one another really. The inerrancy wars were not good for us, but hopefully the inerrancy peace that could come will be much better. Maybe in the end we still won’t agree, but we can still unite together and as Geisler once said in paraphrase, go after an anti-theist instead of a fellow Christian theist.
Thanks to SES for including us and getting the word out about Allie’s treatment.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)