(updated - sections)
Clint Eastwood, in his famous “Dirty Harry” detective series, makes this profound statement: ”a man’s got to know his limitations.” Such wisdom would also apply in the field of apologetics when actor Kirk Cameron and evangelist Ray Comfort said they could prove the existence of God (100% scientifically guaranteed) as fact, without using the Bible or appealing to faith. It went downhill from there.
One writer expressed their views this way: "We do not prove the existence of the God of Christianity by first giving up Christianity. For Comfort and Cameron to declare that they intended to employ this type of apologetic method is irreverent, dishonoring to Christ and is downright sinful."
Another blogger voiced their disappointment this way: "With all due respect to these Christian brothers, Cameron and Comfort would have done well to defer their assumed debate responsibilities to another who has the philosophical and academic ability/awareness to interact with hardened infidels who spend their entire time ranting and raving about the non-existence of the Triune God. As much as I appreciate these brothers, it is time for them to step up the study time so as to be ready to give an account for the hope that is within them with gentleness and reverence (1 Peter 3:15)."
I do appreciate and thank the Lord for both Kirk and Ray (though I have never met them in person) and what they are trying to accomplish through their Way of the Master program. They have brought back a right emphasis on the Law of God in presenting the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Though their approach and methods come off as a bit prepackaged and pedestrian, they do garner some vigorous responses and have had opportunities to proclaim Christ (it is obvious they are dear brothers in the Lord with a burden for lost people.)
But personal feelings aside, one must take the time to know the Word of God and the subject being addressed if one is going to step out on national TV and try and debate two atheists on "the existence of God." Contrary to what was expressed during the debate, we must remember beloved that the gospel is not an offer to unsaved people, it is a call to follow Jesus Christ, a command to repent of your sins, and a compelling to be reconciled to God (Matt. 16:24; Acts 17:16ff; 2 Cor. 5:16-21).
In case you didn’t see this debate on "ABCNews Face Off" this past Thursday evening—the premise was this: Ray comfort contacted ABC and said that he wanted to debate two atheists on the existence of God that he had seen on an ABC Nightline show some months before that featured a “Blasphemy Challenge.” He went on to say that he could 100% scientifically prove God’s existence without appealing to faith or Scripture - that is was a matter of fact and didn't require faith to be convinced of its truthfulness.
This was a recipe for disaster from the get go:
First of all, no biblical text ever asserts or affirms this kind of tactic. It might play well on ABC for a bit of evening controversy, but little if anything profitable for the kingdom came of this disappointing display of inept, unprepared, and unbiblical apologetics. Secondly, to add insult to injury, neither Kirk nor Ray proved "100% scientifically the existence of God" by using science; they never presented one shred of scientific evidence to support their dogmatic claim. Thirdly, I didn’t think it was possible for a Christian to lose a debate on "the existence of God" to two atheists—but that is exactly what happened.
BTW, these two atheists were not intellectual elites or gifted apologists for their views. They were two uptight, ticked off academic lightweights with an obvious agenda who came off as if they took a trip to the National Museum of Science and Industry to "study" fossils in order to bone-up on their views before that evening's debate using very stunted, sophmoric, and handicaped logic. Any prepared Christian apologist should have swept the floor with them... (in a loving Christian way of course calling them to repentance.) FYI, both of them claimed to be Christians before becoming atheists.
This debate took place at Calvary Baptist Church in downtown New York. I have ministered there before in word and song; and it was pastored for several years by my dear late friend, Dr. Stephen Olford. I can only imagine what he would be saying today if he was here to witness this weak and ill-prepared exchange from two men representing the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel? He would be ashamed.
actually persuaded the atheists
on live TV that God does exist.
What would that have proven?
It would not have proven the
Biblical triune God who has
revealed Himself in Holy Scripture.
In other words, the atheists would have been
as much unregenerate as they were before.
[as James White has said]
'What you win them with is what you win them to.'"
This debate proved a few things though: 1. "religious talking points" in the real world of unbridled ideas and seasoned news professionals is an effort in futility and doesn’t serve well the cause of the gospel. 2. the gospel, beloved, IS the power of God unto salvation--not some foolish, silly around the barn approach to proving God's existence scientifically to "lure in the audience." And 3. that the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is not an offer of salvation, but a call and command to follow Jesus and be reconciled unto God (2 Cor. 5:16-21; Acts 17:19-31).
On a personal note: my brothers in the Lord - Kirk and Ray:please, I beg you, stay out of mainstream media until you know your subject; stop running your Way Of The Master infomercials on TBN - it is unwise to be aligned with a network that promotes (most of the time) an unbiblical view of God, the gospel and the person of the Lord Jesus Christ; receive more training biblically in the essentials of the faith and apologetics; don’t do any more public televised debates until you are really prepared; invite some others to carry the lionshare of a debate like this for you (i.e., Dr. James White, Ravi Zacharias, etc.); learn how to communicate the gospel of sola fide, sola gratia, solus Christus to nonbelievers when real questions are being asked; listen carefully to what people are actually asking you and saying to you (1 Peter 3:15); and finally, if you ever have the courage to enter an exchange of ideas like this again on national TV representing the gospel, the Lord, and His people, please be prepared and really know the subject you are talking about.
Your motives seem well intentioned, but your lack of knowledge (both biblically and scientifically) on this issue and your failure to communicate clearly to those you were debating, IMHO, has lost you real credibility not only among nonbelievers, but also among believers in the Lord Jesus Christ as well.
Be prepared... it is painful and heartbreaking to watch.
a "Mulligan" has been given to Ray and Kirk