Story and photos by Michelle Stevens
Patrick Henry College
Approximately 30 students and adults filled the seats in Nash Auditorium this past Saturday, Oct. 27 to provide a studio audience during the filming of an apologetics documentary hosted by Dr. John Warwick Montgomery. Conducting the interview with Dr. Montgomery was Craig Parton, a Christian apologist and lawyer. The documentary was filmed in four hour-long sessions between 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Silence filled the room as the camera-man signaled that filming was about to begin. In the second session, Parton and Montgomery debated historical evidence in the Bible, miracles, and evidence of the resurrection.
“In the case of the resurrection, you have a reversal of the ordinary sequence. But we can certainly determine death and life the same way we do in ordinary situations. And we accept it because it is factually correct,” Montgomery said.
When Parton stated that the God of the Old Testament seems completely arbitrary, Dr. Montgomery responded that “The purpose of the Bible is to present salvation.” He continued that the Israelites had to be taken from the idolatry and hideousness around them in the same way that a cancer surgery removes a tumor. God could not allow people to pick up the hideousness around them, and “the God of the Old Testament was rigorous in dealing with this.”
Students fill in as studio audience
In the fourth and final film session, the first half of the discussion centered on how one must deal with biblical contradictions. According to Montgomery, in matters of biblical contradiction, “the burden of proof is on someone who raises the alleged contradiction.” Montgomery pointed to various translation differences to account for many of the seeming contradictions in Scripture, but reminded Parton that these differences are subtle and do not impact its message.
Parton raised one contradiction in Scripture that is not a subtle one – two possible dates for the crucifixion. Montgomery responded by turning to another great apologist: “Calvin says there’s no way to resolve this, but it’s God’s word so we have to believe it can be resolved.”
The next topic dealt with what Parton called the “homophobic Bible.” According to Parton, the Old Testament calls for stoning of homosexuals, and the New Testament doesn’t mention the issue – treating it as it does adultery. Montgomery responded that “Jesus does not send the woman at the well back to prostitution; he says to ‘go and sin no more.’” He later added that “The New Testament is dead set against homosexual practice, but it does not say we should restrict civil liberties or isolate them, which is what the homophobic movement states.”
Montgomery then turned to the argument from contingency. “Everything that we encounter is not self-explanatory – it’s dependent. Everything in the universe must also be contingent, and that takes us outside itself to the transcendent – or God. But the burden of proof is on the person who says it is self-explanatory,” he said.
Dr. John Warwick Montgomery
Parton’s final question to Montgomery was, “Why should I even bother with Christianity?”
Montgomery responded, “If you’re just a speck of dust, what do you have to lose if you do this? You’ve got a lot more to lose if you don’t.”
Each discussion session also featured a question and answer section at the end, where students were able to ask Montgomery questions related to the sessions. Some of the questions included “How does fear play into the Gospel?”, “What happens to those who have never heard the Gospel?”, and “Why is Joshua’s long day not recorded by more historians?”
The event was sponsored by Montgomery’s denomination, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Topics ranged from a discussion of moral relativism to the theological challenges posed by the theory of evolution, and its primary purpose will be to evangelize secular colleges.
“All over the country, on secular campuses, our church body has what amounts to chaplaincies,” Montgomery said. “One of the main purposes of this filming on Saturday is to provide copies of this thing to go to all of these campus ministers.”
The film would not only be distributed to Lutheran ministries, Montgomery added.
“Nothing in this stuff is specifically Lutheran; it’s all directed to non–Christian objections to the faith,” he said.