The Debate Summit series exists as a forum designed to explain, test and defend various aspects of the Christian worldview by interacting with qualified representatives of non-Christian worldviews in moderated public debates. Our goal is to create and maintain an atmosphere of civility, mutual respect and the open exchange of ideas.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Word From Jay Lucas


Why would a church host the Debate Summit and allow non-Christian beliefs to be explained and defended within the walls of the church building? That’s a fair question and it deserves an answer, and I hope my answer will encourage more churches to host similar events.

American culture (whatever that is) has changed dramatically in the last two centuries and certainly over the last several decades. Back in 1810 America resembled Jerusalem of the New Testament in this important regard: The vast majority of the population shared a common worldview which reflected a scriptural foundation. There were several varieties of beliefs when it came to secondary matters, but there was a general consensus of core beliefs.

Christianity began in Jerusalem with a controversial claim that Jesus of Nazareth was the eternal Son of God, that He was Israel’s Messiah, and that Jesus had been bodily resurrected three days after having been crucified. Many Jews in Jerusalem rejected these truth claims being made by the early Christians (who were fellow Jews). However, both sides shared a common belief in Jehovah and in the authority of the Scriptures (our Old Testament). In this sense we can say that America of 1810 was similar to the Jerusalem where Christianity was born.

The New Testament Book of Acts is a record of the spread of Christianity. What began in Jerusalem (Acts 2) where there existed a common worldview, eventually spread to parts of the Roman Empire where the biblical worldview existed as a very small minority or was completely unknown. A prime example of this was Paul’s visit to Athens which is recorded in Acts 17:15-34. Paul engaged the Athenians and sought to proclaim and explain Christianity to them. Paul’s beliefs sounded extremely foreign and strange to most Athenians. His beliefs struck them as being foolish. Paul had anticipated this, but he was still willing to engage the Athenian culture. He did not retreat from its non-Christian mindset, and he was not about to be assimilated into it. But he was willing to engage it. In many ways, American culture today resembles Athens of Paul’s day, just as America of 1810 resembled Jerusalem. The Debate Summit is intended to imitate Paul’s willingness to respectfully engage the Athenians by explaining and defending key aspects of the Christian worldview. We live in Athens, not Jerusalem.

But to use a church building and allow men with non-Christian beliefs to use it as a platform to promote those beliefs … doesn’t that violate something sacred? No. The true church is not a building, it is a community of believers. That which unites the community (a common faith in Jesus Christ) is sacred, but the building is simply a place where we gather. Besides, if what we believe is true (it is!), then there is nothing to fear in examining those beliefs.

Finally, a few words about my non-Christian friends Dr. Ed Buckner and Dr. Will Provine. I have thoroughly enjoyed exchanging dozens (hundreds?) of emails with them in recent months. The tone has been pleasant and mutually respectful. I know that during the Debate Summit they will not be pulling their punches, for they are passionate about what they believe and they intend to present the strongest case possible. Much of what they say will make Christians uncomfortable. But if what Ed and Will say is offensive to Christians, I don’t think it will be because they seek to offend. Besides, if Will and Ed listen carefully to what I say they will surely find some of it to be offensive. However, I think they know I have no desire to offend them. Offend them? I want to convert them! I think Ed Buckner would do a great job as the first Christian President of American Atheists! (Ed, you know I say that with a smile, right?).

As far as the other Christian debaters, my friends Andy McIntosh and Dennis Sullivan, they have been a delight to work with and I think they have enjoyed their interaction with Will Provine as much as I have enjoyed mine with both Will and Ed. But make no mistake: During the debates, the debaters will be there as opponents. Nevertheless, I believe the debates will be conducted honestly and with appropriate decorum.

I hope to see you there. -Jay Lucas


  1. Pastor Jay,
    Agreed 100% We have nothing to fear from hearing opposing view points.

    I for one am planning to attend and am looking forward to the debate.


  2. Wish I could be there. I feel sorry for anyone that has to debate Pastor Jay! [They'll go home crying!]