Recently I wrote a letter to our supporters detailing a recent public event where I had a dialogue with a seminary professor, but which turned into more of a debate. Dr. Richard Howe is associated with Southern Evangelical Seminary in North Carolina, and you can read my report on our dialogue/debate in “Taking Back the Bible’s Clarity—and Implementing Operation Upgrade.”
As you read the article and watch the video of this “debate”—which I strongly encourage you to do—you’ll notice that much of our discussion revealed the position SES takes on the age of the earth/universe. Watch the video below:
I challenged this professor (more than once) that the age issue was an authority one, whether one stands uncompromisingly on the authority of the Word of God or allows man’s fallible ideas to be used in authority over God’s Word. And I still stand by everything I stated about this authority issue during the dialogue/debate!
The president of the seminary, Dr. Richard Land, was not happy with the letter I wrote our supporters, and he responded publicly. You can read his response here.
In his response, Dr. Land stated:
At no time was Mr. Ham’s dialogue with Dr. Howe publicly promoted as a “debate,” informal or otherwise. Both men were aware of and agreed prior to the event to the interview-style format and general questions they would be asked. None of this should have been a surprise to Mr. Ham.
Well, with all due respect to Dr. Land, a man I have met with here in Northern Kentucky and shared a meal with, the reasons I used the words “dialogue” and “debate” in my report were because, well, his school used them:
SES’s social media department promoted this event and used the same terms “dialogue” and “debate”—I have included a screen shot to prove this (notice the title on the video):
The “dialogue” did turn into an informal debate (as anyone watching the video will clearly see); besides which, I put the term “debate” in quotes in my letter.
Dr. Land continued:
In both Mr. Ham’s fundraising letter and during the dialogue, he accused SES (and Dr. Howe specifically) of taking him out of context and misunderstanding AIG’s “approach to apologetics.” The title of the dialogue, “God’s Word or Man’s Word,” was derived from the way Mr. Ham characterizes the apologetic task, namely, that one must start with God’s Word rather than man’s word when discussing the truth claims of Christianity with unbelievers. As an institution that promotes and teaches classical apologetics (i.e., starting with sensible reality and meeting people where they are), we disagree with Mr. Ham’s approach to apologetics, which is why we invited him to discuss the issue in the first place.
In the very letter in question, Mr. Ham makes it evident that we have accurately understood his position when he states, yet again, “I kept hammering away that it was an authority issue—that the battle over the age of the earth came down to God’s infallible Word versus man’s fallible word.”
Actually, my “hammering away that it was an authority issue” was in regard to the age of the earth. I stated clearly in the discussion/debate that the characterization by the professor (and the question to be debated) regarding AiG’s apologetic method was clearly misrepresenting our position. I said I don’t like putting labels on how we practice apologetics, since it all depends on the person you are witnessing/talking to, what questions they have, and what starting point they hold for their worldview. But you can see that for yourself as you watch the video.
The discussion/debate that the characterization by the professor (and the question to be debated) regarding AiG’s apologetic method was clearly misrepresenting our position.
I note that both Dr. Land and the professor have not yet dealt with my challenge as to how they have no problem with SES professors believing in millions of years, therefore allowing for millions of years of death, bloodshed, and diseases like cancer before sin—and then somehow believing that God called everything “very good,” including the supposed millions of years of death and disease.
Dr. Land states, “I invite each of you to watch the video of the full conference discussion between Mr. Ham and Dr. Howe discussion and engage with the issue for yourself.” I totally agree and encourage you to do just that.
Dr. Land also encouraged people to check out some resources, including a blog Dr. Howe wrote about me and my supposed approach to apologetics. I have read through his entire blog, and I can say it is filled with misrepresentations of our apologetics positions. It would take several pages to respond to the blog and point out all the necessary corrections. But I see no need to write this article because you can watch our recent discussion/debate at the video link I supplied above and see how I dealt with the same basic discussions regarding apologetics, as was the topic of the blog. Please note that because of the nature of this informal “debate” and the time restrictions, I couldn’t respond to a number of the professor’s claims, but would have addressed those other issues in a more formal situation.
For further teaching on our actual beliefs, I encourage you to read “Millions of Years—Are Souls at Stake?” an article I wrote on the age of the earth as an authority issue.
A very positive thing resulted from my dialogue/debate at SES: it prompted us to create our ministry’s annual theme for 2018, which is “Taking back the Bible’s clarity . . . from the very first verse.” One of the verses associated with our new theme is “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (1 Corinthians 14:8, KJV). Yes, God’s Word is clear and needs to be proclaimed to all!
It is important that parents who are looking for schools of higher education for their sons or daughters (often stretching their limited financial resources) find a Bible college or seminary that will teach students to stand uncompromisingly on God’s Word from the very first verse. Check out our list of academic institutions on our Creation Colleges page.
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.