AiG has a multi-pronged strategy for calling the church back to the truth of Genesis. While most of our lectures are in local churches, we also have opportunity from time to time to speak in Christian colleges and seminaries. For the past five years, I have been attending the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) seeking opportunities to influence people in this important body of Bible scholars, theologians and other scholars.
This year’s meeting in Atlanta (Georgia, USA) 18–20 November, was the third year in a row that I have presented one of the 370 papers, and the second year that AiG has had a booth in the exhibiter’s hall at the conference.
At the booth
Responses at our booth were mixed. No one was openly hostile, but a few exhibited a rather disdainful sneer as they walked by. On the other hand, others were eager to say how much they really appreciate our ministry, and encouraged us to keep up the good work.
Still other visitors seemed genuinely surprised by the implications of our position. These tended to be younger people, such as Bible college or seminary students. We appeared to be busier than the booths near us, and we know some good seeds were planted.
I had a conversation with one Bible college student who believed that the days of creation were literal days but wasn’t sure about the millions of years. I pointed out that the belief in millions of years would involve millions of years of death, violence, disease and extinction in the world before man sinned and God cursed the creation. This belief not only contradicts the Bible’s teaching about sin and death, but also assaults the character of God. As many atheists have pointed out, what kind of God would create a world with the ugly process envisioned in the evolutionary view of history? This student obviously hadn’t thought about these issues. So I gave him our Creation CD-ROM and encouraged him to think about it more.
At my paper
I was encouraged by the attendance of about 45 people (filling the room) at my ETS paper presentation on Jesus’ view of the age of the earth (he was clearly a young-earth creationist). No one raised any substantial objections to my arguments, and many expressed appreciation and encouraged me to publish the paper in a theological journal, which I will attempt to do. In the Q&A time, one young man noted that I was passionate about my topic and asked why. It gave me a chance to emphasize how the church’s 200-year compromise with the idea of the earth being millions of years old has undermined the gospel and the authority of Scripture, thereby significantly weakening the church and her witness.
In addition to this presentation at ETS, I was invited to give a similar lecture at a church in the Atlanta suburbs. The pastor emailed a few days later to say that it had been well received.
Helping to mobilize others
Probably the highlight of ETS for me was a private gathering of 15 ETS members who are convinced young-earth creationists. We discussed a proposal for a scholarly multi-author book presenting biblical and theological arguments in favor of young-earth creation, and a second proposal for a DVD project presenting both biblical and scientific arguments. Both would be aimed particularly at influencing our Christian brethren in the ETS, and then other Christian leaders as well. In the months ahead we will be working with each other to transform these ideas into reality.
At the debate
Besides our activities at ETS, I had the opportunity to participate in a formal creation/evolution debate with a Christian genetics professor at a secular university in Atlanta. This was arranged by an eager freshman student at this college who had been “turned on” to the importance of Genesis by attending (with his family) AiG’s major Creation Conference in May 2001.
At the request of my “opponent,” our topic was whether Genesis 1–2 gave us a literally true account of the creation (I had preferred debating the scientific validity of neo-Darwinian evolution, but he didn’t feel qualified to do so). A few professors were in attendance.
The first hour was devoted to each of us speaking three times. Then the next two hours we both answered questions from the audience dealing with both the scientific and biblical sides of the questions of evolution and the age of the earth. It was a civil debate, and my debate opponent—and a couple of the staunch evolutionists in the audience—expressed appreciation for my contribution to making it a thought-provoking evening. Many indicated that they previously had not heard the arguments I presented and some of them bought literature from our book div to explore the issues further.
Many Christians at the debate expressed their appreciation, and we trust that it helped embolden them to speak to others on this critical topic. I was apparently also an encouragement to a Ph.D. science student, who asked if he could get some of my PowerPoint slides so he could speak on this subject, too.
Whether we are speaking in churches or colleges, talking one-on-one at a book booth or debating evolutionists or fellow Christian scholars, AiG will continue to defend and proclaim the authority of the Bible from the very first verse of Genesis and help to equip others to do the same.