Special Report: The Multitude of Counsellors and The Great Debate
Vol: 35 Issue: 22 Sunday, August 22, 2004
I recently received a rather belligerent challenge from one Farell Till, who challenged me to debate the inerrancy of the Bible. Till operates a website called theskepticalreview.com which exists for the express purpose of trying to prove the Bible is a collection of myths.
Evidently, the Omega Letter came to his attention after someone sent him a copy of the Tuesday, August 17 briefing in which we discussed another website specializing in Bible denial run by one Joseph Allard.
What I didn’t know until Till informed me, was that I had picked a “notoriously weak skeptic to attack”, and that he thinks I will find that he has “far better credentials in Biblical errancy that Joseph Alward. I hereby challenge you to debate me on the issue of errancy.”
He ended his message with a schoolyard taunt: “If you decline this challenge that will tell me that you talk a good game but don’t have the courage to walk onto the field when it is time to play.”
Like a fish, I took the bait, firing off a reply, saying at the end, “Come up with a proposal for a level playing field with an impartial moderator and we’ll talk.” To his credit, Till even offered to conduct the debate in one of our forums. It seemed fair enough, and I accepted.
It didn’t start getting nasty until Till sent me a list of proposed topics.
The first five called on me to prove five specific Old Testament prophecies had been fulfilled ‘in all their details.’ The next two demanded I prove the Virigin Birth and Resurrection as ‘verifiable historical fact’.
“I have many other suggestions for propositions, but these are sufficient for me to determine if you are willing to defend the Bible against an informed opposition. I personally don’t think you are. In fact, I am sure that I can already hear chickens clucking.”
That’s when I wrote him off in my mind as a nut. First, it would be impossible to argue that any prophecy of the Old Testament has been ‘fulfilled’ in all its details before the 2nd Coming of Christ. Even the Old Testament prophecies of the birth of the Messiah are tied to His ultimate purpose at the 2nd Advent.
Secondly, the Resurrection is attested to by eyewitness testimony; “After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:6)
Remove the Bible’s eyewitness testimony, and one can only prove that Jesus was an historical figure who lived and died in Jerusalem in the first part of the first century.
The same applies to the Virgin Birth. All seven debate propositions were front-loaded, so I declined. Till raised the ante a notch from schoolyard taunting and fired off a shot that hit me where I live:
“I will be waiting to hear from you, and so will the lady who made me aware of your article about Ezekiel 4. She thought that it was a brilliant presentation of a biblical prophecy fulfillment. You aren’t going to disappoint her by refusing to defend your position against informed opposition, are you?”
Reluctantly, I accepted the challenge to debate, provided the topic was not front-loaded like his first seven submissions. As the negotiations over terms progessed, I began to regret accepting his challenge. There wasn’t much about it that gave me incentive to discuss anything with this guy.
In reply to one such exchange, I asked, “But by your comments, you suggest I am either a liar or a fool who takes a stand based on, what? Ignorance? Or dishonesty?” In reply, he told me:
“I really wish I knew the answer to that question. Why is it that I was able to see 40 years ago that the Bible is a mass of silly myths, legends, and superstitions, whereas some people like you apparently spend years reading it and are unable to see the obvious? I really do wish I knew.”
In another exchange, I told him, “Truth to tell, I couldn’t care less what you believe. You’ve made an informed decision concerning what you choose to believe and have heard the Gospel message and rejected it.”
He replied, “I doubt that you ever made an informed decision. You simply accepted uncritically what you were taught to believe as you were growing up. . . Don’t talk to me about informed decisions, Jack. I am pretty sure that I can best you in that area.”
(I will post the entire exchange in the member’s forum shortly so you can read it in context for fairness)
So you see, I am not exactly looking forward to any form of exchange with this guy. And I certainly don’t want to bring any attention to his website. As he told me in another exchange, “Out of curiosity, I went to Google and typed our names into the window. Your name gave me 3,570 hits, and mine gave me 3,430 hits, so I am almost as famous as you.”
Now we get to the point of today’s OL. The Scriptures say, “Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.” (Proverbs 15:22)
I seek your counsel because this is YOUR Omega Letter, and it is on Omega Letter turf that I agreed to this debate. But here is the problem. I despise this guy and everything he stands for. I can’t help myself.
(But then there is that lady who was so encouraged by the Omega Letter that she sent it to Till: “You aren’t going to disappoint her by refusing to defend your position against informed opposition, are you?”)
To a believer, the worst possible thing that could happen in this life would be to ‘discover’ their faith is in vain. Just imagine how it would affect you.
Dwell on it for a second. Everybody you ever loved who died in the Lord, not in Heaven. Just ceased to exist.
That still, small Voice, that constant Companionship, gone. Hope, gone. Faith, gone. Sense of spiritual direction, gone. Indescribable, aching, agonizing emptiness in place of the assurance of an indwelling Holy Spirit.
Forget, for a moment, that it couldn’t happen to you. (I know it couldn’t. Me either) But just allow yourself to imagine that it COULD, and think of what it would mean to your life, your family, your very existence.
But the baby Christian, the skeptical Christian, somebody seeking Christ? That is what this guy, and guys like him, try to do, just for the FUN of it.
As Till told me:
“I have had too many former Christians and even ex-preachers write to me and tell me that my debates and articles were helpful to them in coming to see that they had been falsely indoctrinated about the Bible. I seriously doubt, however, that you have had any biblical skeptics and atheists contact you to say that they didn’t believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant “word of God” until they read your articles.”
I have to admit THAT one made me laugh out loud — he’s clearly never read our forums.
In any case, I need your counsel, and your permission to host this debate on the Omega Letter. Post your comments in the member’s forum, so that I can get some sense of direction from you. Remember that the debate, if we have one, will also end up on the skepticsreview pages, which will draw readers and additional attention to his website.
It is a conundrum. I need your counsel.