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SBC DIGEST: Priscilla Shirer recovering; MLK Day of Service; NOBTS apologetics conference

Priscilla Shirer recovering after lung surgery
By Staff

NASHVILLE (BP) — Priscilla Shirer, Christian speaker, actress and author, is recovering from surgery to remove a node from her left lung Jan. 13.

Her husband Jerry posted a brief update on the Facebook page of Shirer’s ministry Going Beyond with Priscilla Shirer.

“Surgery went well. Doctors are pleased. We are so grateful for your prayers,” the post said.

Shirer’s initial announcement about the surgery said the issue was one her doctors had been monitoring.

“Three years ago, my doctors discovered a small nodule in my left lung. Several pulmonary specialists and I have watched it meticulously since then. This past summer, it was clear that something surgical needed to be done as the nodule had begun to grow and show signs of dangerous irregularities.

“As you know, the past few months has been filled with alot of difficulty for my entire family. For those reasons, the surgery was delayed but I cannot put it off any longer without jeopardizing my own health.”

The difficulty to which she referred included the illness and death of her mother, Lois Evans, wife of well-known pastor Tony Evans. Lois Evans died of cancer Dec. 30, 2019. Shirer is one of the Evans’ four children.

“Through it all, we still believe God,” Shirer’s statement continued. “We are trusting Him for a favorable outcome and that I will return to full health personally and full function in ministry.”


Send Relief ministry centers to host MLK Day of Service
By Staff

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) — The North American Mission Board’s Send Relief compassion ministry will host an MLK Day of Service Jan. 20 at its ministry centers in Ashland, Ky., Clarkston, Ga. and Pittsburgh and at five locations around Puerto Rico.

The Send Relief webpage announcing the effort lists the day’s primary task as collecting gently used children’s clothing for children placed in foster care “with only the items on their back.” The Puerto Rico locations will collect food and clothing for residents still reeling from recent earthquakes and from 2017’s Hurricane Maria.

“Everything we do through Send Relief is about mobilizing people to meet tangible needs,” Send Relief vice president Ray Clark told Baptist Press. “We expect this event to be a great opportunity for people and churches to do just that. They will be a great witness to their community.

“When the people of God are mobilized, they go with the Holy Spirit and with eyes wide open to finding those who are open to spiritual conversations and hearing the Gospel. We believe many will hear about Christ through the MLK Day is Service.”

A Send Relief announcement about the events said, “Martin Luther King Jr. Day has become a time to not only celebrate [King’s] legacy, but to use it as an opportunity to help people in need. We invite you to join Send Relief for this national day of service as we meet needs and change lives at one of the Send Relief ministry centers or in your own community.”


NOBTS apologetics conference addresses tough questions
By Marilyn Stewart

NEW ORLEANS — Top apologists from around the world, including John Lennox and Alister McGrath, addressed a crowd of 400 gathered at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary for the annual Defend the Faith event Jan. 6-10.

“Because we’re living in a post-Christian culture that is rapidly becoming an anti-Christian culture, anybody engaged in Christian ministry needs training in Christian apologetics,” said Robert Stewart, director of the NOBTS apologetics program. “More than ever, believers must be able not only to explain their faith to a lost world but also defend the Christian worldview.”

The week-long conference featured resurrection scholar Gary Habermas and noted speakers and apologists Douglas Groothuis, Tim McGrew, Craig Hazen, Lisa Fields, Frank Turek and others. More than 120 breakout sessions focused on questions asked by today’s culture.

Jamie Dew, president of NOBTS and Leavell College, welcomed participants and urged them to conduct every apologetic encounter with virtue and common sense. An effective apologist must first abide in Christ as taught in John 15:5, Dew said, and approach people with love, humility and civility. Common sense guidelines in conversation include listening more than talking, discern the openness of the person to the Gospel, and finding “as much common ground as possible” when engaging another worldview.

The work of an apologist takes time, Dew said.

“Apologetics is hard work,” Dew said, adding that there is no “silver bullet” or statement that answers objections. “Ultimately, what people need from us is an investment, not a quick, one-off conversation.”

Topics covered in the breakouts ranged from world religions, science and faith issues, engaging the college campus and philosophical topics.

Science and Faith

Speaking via live video, Oxford University professor John Lennox told listeners that there is no conflict between science and faith.

Lennox, who teaches mathematics and authored “Can Science Explain Everything?”, explained that people reject caricatures and human inventions of God, rather than the true God, and that science and faith complement each other rather than conflict.

“True scientific understanding of the universe no more competes with God as an explanation than the law of internal combustion competes with Henry Ford as an explanation of the motor car,” Lennox said.

Lennox has debated famed atheists Richard Dawkins, the late Christopher Hitchens, Victor Stenger and others in public forums. Lennox explained that the real conflict is between worldviews, rather than between faith and science noting that there are “brilliant scientists” on both sides.

Naturalism, the idea that reality is the result of only natural forces, undermines human rationality, Lennox explained, adding that if thoughts are the product of mere physical interactions then human thinking cannot be trusted to discern what is true.

“I have to reject atheism [and naturalism] because I am a scientist,” Lennox said. “I have to reject atheism because I believe in truth and rationality.”

The ‘best evidence’ for the New Testament

Gary Habermas, NOBTS visiting professor of Christian apologetics and author or editor of more than 40 books, said the New Testament creeds offer the best evidence for Christian belief.

Habermas explained that the creeds, typically brief sayings used by the early church that are embedded within the New Testament text, show what the earliest believers preached and believed about Christ between about 30 and 50 A.D., the time between the crucifixion and the first New Testament book, considered by many to be 1 Thessalonians.

The evidence and significance of the creeds is “deep, it’s historical, and it’s strong,” Habermas said.

The creeds show that the earliest Christians saw Jesus as God the Son — a high Christology — and stressed his death, deity and resurrection. Some examples are Romans 1:3-4, Romans 4:25, Romans 10:9, and 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.

Habermas noted that even agnostic Bart Ehrman dates the creeds, such as 1 Corinthians 15: 3-4, as being no later than one to two years after the crucifixion.

“Why is this important?” Habermas asked, adding that the doctrine of Jesus as God the Son wasn’t embellished hearsay, wasn’t added later, and wasn’t the result of the people passing on inaccuracies as in the child’s game of “telephone.”

“Because it’s as early as you can imagine, as ‘high’ as you can imagine from the outset,” Habermas said, adding that most importantly, “The source is, critics allow, the apostles.”

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