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Wright, Crossan to debate resurrection at New Orleans Seminary

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Did the resurrection of Jesus really happen? For the students and faculty members at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, the answer is a resounding “Yes!” But skeptics in American and European culture continue to keep the debate over this crucial event as intense as ever.

N.T. Wright and John Dominic Crossan will address this issue as the first participants in the Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum: Exploring the Tension of Faith and Culture, set for March 11-12 on the NOBTS campus, featuring the topic, “The Resurrection: Historical Fact or Theological Invention?” The annual southwest regional meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society is being held in conjunction with the forum.

The debate between Wright and Crossan promises to be lively.

Wright, a prominent evangelical scholar and Bishop of Durham, England, has been a refreshing voice in the debate about the resurrection. A prolific author, Wright passionately argues for the historicity of the biblical accounts of Jesus’ resurrection.

Crossan, on the other hand, is a member of the controversial Jesus Seminar, a group that considers less than 20 percent of the New Testament as historically reliable. Crossan’s belief is that the biblical account of the resurrection is a theological interpretation of the events surrounding Jesus’ death rather that a factual one.

New Orleans Seminary’s Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum is designed to help students and ministers learn to think critically and to be prepared to engage secular society. This pilot program is designed to attract well-known speakers to discuss critical issues in philosophy, science, religion and/or culture from an evangelical and from a secular perspective.

“Churches are encountering more and more people who did not grow up in the church and, in fact, who have no Christian training at all,” said NOBTS Provost Steve Lemke. “If we are going to reach these people for Christ, we need ministers who can articulate an effective answer to secular challenges to the Christian faith. The Greer-Heard Forum will help ministers think through these issues.”

Bob Stewart, assistant professor of philosophy and theology, occupying the seminary’s Greer-Heard Chair, noted, “Far too often evangelical Christians in general and Baptists in particular are stereotyped as being either unaware, unconcerned or behind the times when significant issues in our culture are considered.

“While this view is largely inaccurate, it is true that we can be more involved in current discussions as to what kind of culture we should seek to foster,” Stewart said. “Additionally, far too often we are seen as mean-spirited by those with whom we disagree. Scripture commands us to be able to ‘offer a reason for the hope within’ but we are also to do so ‘with gentleness and reverence.’

“Indeed, we must engage in this task in order to be faithful to Jesus’ command to be salt and light in this world,” Stewart said. “Engaging our culture is one way in which we can be in the world but not of it, and thus seek to transform a society that has been in many respects disfigured by sin.”

Cost for the event, which includes a reception with the speakers following the Friday night dialogue on the resurrection, as well as responses on the resurrection the following day (March 12) from such scholars as William Lane Craig, Gary Habermas, R. Douglas Geivett, Craig Evans, Charles Quarles and Ted Peters, is $20 per person, with a student rate of $10 per person and a Southern Baptist ministerial rate of $10.
For more information about the Greer-Heard Point Counterpoint Forum, visit www.greer-heard.com.