Answers for Pastors—Thursday Afternoon

Dr. Jason Lisle: Nuclear Strength Apologetics

The afternoon session of the Answers for Pastors began with a presentation by Dr. Jason Lisle on presuppositional apologetics. Dr. Lisle holds a PhD in astrophysics and is a popular author, speaker, and researcher with Answers in Genesis (and I had the privilege of co-authoring Old-Earth Creationism on Trial with him).

So what is presuppositional apologetics? Dr. Lisle explained the folly of Christians who refuse to use the Bible in their efforts to defend the faith. Since our worldview is rooted in Scripture, those who do not start with Scripture are neglecting their own foundation and have likely lost the “battle” before it even begins. Presuppositional apologists use what is known as the Transcendental Argument for God’s existence. They show that the opponent’s worldview reduces to irrationality, and then they explain how biblical Christianity provides the basis for knowledge.

For example, atheists often attack creationists as being unscientific, and some even claim we are immoral. However, the atheist’s worldview does not provide any foundation for doing science nor does it give any rationale for morality. To “do science” one depends on logic, uniformity of nature, morality, and much more. However, atheism is based on philosophical naturalism, so the immaterial cannot exist. That means laws of logic cannot exist since they are immaterial. The same is true for our thoughts.

Also, science depends on uniformity in nature, but if evolution is true, then we have no reason to believe that today will be like yesterday or that tomorrow will be like today (since evolution requires that are constantly changing). Yet this is necessary to perform scientific experiments. Finally, atheism cannot provide a basis for morality since moral laws are based on an absolute standard (God). Yet if there is no absolute standard, then there is no basis to claim that something is right or wrong, better or worse, or good or bad.

Biblical Christianity provides a basis for each of these things, and it gives us all of the preconditions for intelligibility. As such, a Christian should never abandon Scripture when defending the faith.

Pastor Don Landis

Don Landis serves as a pastor and as the president at Jackson Hole Bible College in Wyoming. He is also the chairman of the board at Answers in Genesis.

He reminded pastors of the importance of humility and remaining content with what God has given. So often there is a temptation for pastors to think they can only be successful if they have a large congregation and a fancy building. But we need to remember that God does not measure success in the same way as man. He has commanded believers to be faithful and to leave the results up to Him.

Dr. Michael Haykin: The Inerrancy of Scripture

Dr. Haykin is a professor of church history and biblical spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Before discussing the inerrancy of Scripture, Dr. Haykin explained that the inspiration of Scripture provides the basis for inerrancy. That is, since God inspired Scripture, then it must be inerrant. He focused on two main passages to support the inspiration of Scripture.

And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:19–21)

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16–17)

Building on these truths, Dr. Haykin refuted the notion that the doctrine is a recent invention. Many liberal and neo-orthodox theologians have claimed that inerrancy was developed by Charles and Augustus Hodge and B.B. Warfield at Princeton in the nineteenth century. However, Dr. Haykin used the example of three men in church history to demonstrate the falseness of this notion.

In his debates with the Gnostics, Irenaeus (second century) viewed the Scriptures as perfect. He claimed that the various authors were given perfect knowledge by God when they were writing, and thus they were incapable of writing error in Scripture. He based inerrancy on the absolute truthfulness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

John Calvin also viewed the Bible as an inerrant book and he even described the process by which God guided Baruch (Jeremiah’s scribe) to rewrite Jeremiah after the initial scroll had been burned. Just as God guided Baruch, He led the other writers of Scripture to pen an inerrant work.

Less well-known than these men is Benjamin Beddome. He was a hymn-writer and pastor of a church in England in the 1700s. He faced the challenge of the Enlightenment and stood firm on the inerrancy of Scripture. He said that we cannot base our authority on men, angels, a voice from heaven, etc. Instead, we need Scripture because it is the inspired and inerrant Word of God.

Dr. Haykin mentioned that there are many “sticky issues” with inerrancy, such as the alleged contradictions. He added that there are solid answers for these (see our Contradictions series and Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions). He criticized the many critics who act as though they are the ones who have discovered these difficulties. Christians have been studying the Bible for nearly 2000 years and have dealt with these issues time and again.

Surprise!

The afternoon session ended on a very special note. Steve Ham led a moving tribute to his brother, Ken Ham, in celebration of Ken’s sixtieth birthday. Ken’s wife, Mally, told the crowd how Ken had proposed to her and she remained on the stage with her husband for the remainder of the surprise party. Those in attendance watched video messages prepared by some of Ken’s family members and closest associates. His mother and sisters, who still live in Australia, wished him a happy birthday and shared some funny moments with the audience.

Dr. John Whitcomb, Dr. John Morris, and some of Ken’s associates from his first creation ministry also added their appreciation for Ken. Mark Looy and Mike Zovath, co-founders of Answers in Genesis with Ken, shared their appreciation and discussed the early days of the ministry. Tim Dudley (president of Master Books) and Brad Benbow (president of Joseph David Advertising) also discussed some light-hearted moments from their travels with Ken. Buddy Davis also shared memories of his first meeting with Ken. All five of Ken’s children and their families were also brought to the stage. Ken’s oldest son, Nathan, offered thanks on behalf of the kids for their godly heritage.

Steve Ham (Ken’s “much younger” brother) shared with the audience his deep appreciation for his “much older” brother’s influence in his own life. He thinks of himself as a first-generation recipient of Ken’s teachings, since he was still growing up while Ken was already in full-time ministry and many of the resources were being taught to him.

Steve saved the biggest surprise of all for last. Their brother David, who also lives in Australia, had earlier appeared via a recorded message wishing Ken a happy birthday and expressing how much he wished he could have been in attendance to share this moment with Ken. As Steve was discussing the close relationship the three brothers shared, David and his wife appeared on the stage and presented Ken with a cane. He flew all the way from Australia for the celebration, and it would not be exaggerating to say that Ken was overwhelmed by the surprise.

In a fitting ending to the surprise party, Ken was given a standing ovation by the entire group of pastors and the staff at Answers in Genesis. For Ken’s perspective on the proceedings and pictures, please see his blog post from today.

As I watched the proceedings, I was reminded about how much of an impact a person can have on the world if they are obedient to God’s call on their lives. He may not be calling you to influence hundreds of thousands of people around the world. He might use you to reach a small group of people, but you don’t know how much impact those people can have. Like Pastor Landis mentioned, God does not measure success in the same way man does. Don’t focus on numbers, but pay attention to whether or not you are being obedient to the Lord.

Based on the responses I heard from the pastors I talked to, the Answers for Pastors conference was a tremendous blessing. It is vital that church leaders understand the importance of standing on the authority of the Word of God from the very first verse.

Thanks for reading!