Reasonable Faith with William Lane Craig
Dear Friends of Reasonable Faith,

Wow, what a way to kick off the new year! January featured two huge, widely publicized events in which I participated.

The first of these came right on the heels of my class in Philosophy of Religion at Talbot School of Theology. Representatives from the Claremont Center for Reason, Religion, and Public Affairs picked me up at my hotel and drove me up into the foothills to Claremont, where a dialogue with Robert Barron, one of the auxiliary Catholic Bishops of Los Angeles, was scheduled for the next day. Bishop Barron’s Word on Fire ministry is extremely popular among Catholics, both here and abroad. Both the Bishop and members of his staff whom I met have been very appreciative of Reasonable Faith. The goal of our dialogue was to find common causes behind which evangelicals and Catholics can unite.

Dr. Craig & Bishop Robert Barron in a special session with academics.
Dr. Craig & Bishop Robert Barron in a special session with academics.
During the afternoon we met for a closed session of invited academics to discuss papers presented by Bishop Barron and me. The Bishop chose to give a paper defending divine simplicity from the perspective of the medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas. The Bishop was well-aware that I have been in the past critical of Aquinas’ view, so I was thrust unwillingly into an adversarial role. So I explained why I think that the Bishop’s attempts to answer the typical objections to divine simplicity fail and attempted to diagnose the problem to show where he had gone wrong. Finally, I suggested a way to think of divine simplicity that would not succumb to the objections to Thomas’ view. I think the Catholic theologians in the group were somewhat shocked that someone should disagree so fundamentally with Aquinas, and they sought to defend his view vigorously. If you're interested in a lively exchange, you can listen to the audio recording.
I then presented my paper on "Why Catholics and Protestants Should Unite behind Penal Substitution." After laying out the biblical and Patristic basis for the doctrine that Christ died in our place to pay the penalty for our sin, I argued that there are no grounds in Catholic doctrine for rejecting the penal substitutionary view. I was very pleased how open the Bishop and the seminar participants were to my case, even if the Bishop expressed some slight preference for a Christus Victor view of the atonement. This session was also audio recorded.
Craig and Barron during the premiere Saturday night event.
Craig and Barron during the premiere Saturday night event.
That evening was our much- anticipated dialogue, which had been sold out for over a month.  About 1,200 people attended in person, while another 23,000 joined via livestream. The dialogue was moderated by the Protestant philosopher Stephen Davis and the Catholic philosopher Edward Feser (whom I was glad to meet for the first time). Steve and Ed guided our discussion of three broad topics: (1) effective evangelization, (2) science and religion, and (3) standing for Christ in our secular culture. Realizing that our audience would be overwhelmingly Catholic, I tried to use the evening to reach out to Catholics and encourage them in their walk with Christ.
It was an uplifting and instructive evening, one that will reach many Catholics around the world through Word on Fire. Within a week it had received 90,000 views on YouTube. Perhaps the most striking impression I took away from the evening was how impoverished American Catholicism is with respect to apologetics. When we were asked who else is doing the sort of apologetics and evangelism that we are, the Bishop replied, “No one!”, which to my surprise drew applause from the audience. He had difficulty thinking of any other Catholics who are so engaged. By contrast, I rattled off a string of evangelical apologetical evangelists: Lee Strobel, Greg Koukl, Ravi Zacharias, Hugh Ross, Frank Turek, Tim Keller, Mike Licona, Gary Habermas, etc., etc. We evangelicals are so used to beating ourselves up because of our anti-intellectualism, but from what the Bishop said, we are light years ahead of the Catholic church.  He said that apologetics is neither taught in the seminaries nor practiced in the churches, and that the church is suffering terribly as a result, losing six members for every one it gains.  It’s no wonder, I thought, that the ministry of Reasonable Faith is so deeply appreciated among American Catholics today.
Jordan Peterson, Rebecca Goldstein, William Lane Craig at the Universtiy of Toronto
(L-R): Jordan Peterson, Rebecca Goldstein, WLC | Universtiy of Toronto

Toronto Events

After a week at home, I flew to Toronto, Canada, for several days of outreach organized by Wycliffe College, an evangelical graduate school of theology which is part of the University of Toronto.  In contrast to southern California, it was bitterly cold, but that did not seem to deter attendance by the hardy Canadians. The headline event of this trip was the Friday night dialogue with Jordan Peterson and Rebecca Goldstein. Peterson, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto, has exploded on the world scene due to his continued opposition to Canadian forces of political correctness that would dictate speech reforms for referring to transgender people. In the name of free speech, Peterson has set his face in opposition to such requirements. The New York Times called him the most sought-after speaker in the Western world.

When I walked into the convocation hall that evening I had a strange feeling of déja vu. Then it hit me that more than 20 years ago I had debated the Canadian abortionist Henry Morgenthaler in that very hall! As at that time, the hall was soon packed with some 1,500 people. I trusted once again that the Lord would be with me in our dialogue. Our topic was “Is There Meaning to Life?”, and I was chosen to go first. I gave an impassioned speech arguing that God is the key to the meaning of life, since without God life is without ultimate purpose, value, and significance. Goldstein, a self-confessed naturalist philosopher, followed with basically an enunciation of humanism. Finally, Peterson took the stage and spoke off the cuff about suffering as key to meaning in life.
Dr. Jordan Peterson
Dr. Jordan Peterson
Peterson has recently issued a number of tantalizing statements indicating his sympathies with theism and even Christ.  My hope in the dialogue, therefore, was to align myself with him rather than to focus on any disagreements. So I picked up on his affirmation of objective moral values and suggested that these ought to lead him to affirm a transcendent ground for moral values beyond the natural world. Well, Goldstein did not like that and so went on the offense against me.  She trotted out the old Euthyphro Dilemma and appealed to the progress secular ethicists have helped to make. I was all the more willing to place myself in opposition to her, rather than Peterson, and so much of fireworks took place between us. Peterson, meanwhile, continued to share thoughts sympathetic to Christianity, including a dream he had about Christ’s subduing the tyrannical kings of the Earth. It was in many ways a strange dialogue, and tens of thousands have already watched it online. Given Peterson’s notoriety, it’s guaranteed to draw many, many more.

The dialogue was but one of a wide range of interesting events in Toronto. The morning after I arrived, I sat for an interview with the Canadian Christian television program Crossroads, which airs all across Canada. Following the television interview, I spoke to a group of about 30 grad students in theology at Wycliffe, many of whom are in Prof. Joseph Magina’s class on the atonement. The professor and I had a wonderful, informed conversation about issues of the atonement, and I fielded questions from the audience. Since I almost never have the opportunity to engage theological students in this way, this session was just a thrill to me, one of the most enjoyable events on my itinerary. And of 
course, it was tremendously encouraging for the students to hear an articulate, reasoned defense of the atonement. 
"...it was tremendously encouraging for the students to hear an articulate, reasoned defense of the atonement."
Then that evening I took part in a Q & A event along with Profs. Bart Netterfield, a world-famous experimental cosmologist, and Marion Taylor, an Old Testament scholar. Toronto is famous for its multi-ethnicity, and after this event I was approached by young men of seemingly every ethnicity and color. One introduced himself as a former Muslim who had recently come to Christ partly through my work, another was a former pantheistic Hindu who just two years ago made a decision for Christ, another was a fellow from Russia who had come to Toronto for Christian studies, another was a doctoral student who described how my work had led him to pursue his degree in philosophy, etc. I must say how taken aback I was by their testimonies. These were not just Christian students encouraged in their faith but actual converts to Christianity out of non-Christian religions! I was overwhelmed at how God is using Reasonable Faith to change lives.

The following day I spoke to a Christian faculty/student luncheon on “Does Penal Substitution Satisfy Divine Justice?” Once more we had a vibrant discussion of the issues, very enlightening for all. The remainder of the day I rested up for my dialogue that evening with Peterson and Goldstein.

On Saturday we 
off to Richmond Hill Community Church near Toronto. This is the largest Chinese congregation in North America, I was told. We first enjoyed a fabulous Chinese dinner with its endless courses and then went to the church for my evening seminar. I spoke to a large crowd on “Is There Meaning in Suffering and Evil?” To illustrate my talk, I was able to show our two new Zangmeister videos on the problem of evil. I was so pleased at the feedback I received about how these videos helped people to really understand the issues and the solutions I proposed.
Suffering & Evil | The Logical Problem | The Probability Version
The next morning I was up bright and early (well, dark and early) to check out of the hotel and drive north to the town of Barrie, Ontario, where I preached the two morning services and took questions from the audience. The church was full and the people so warm and enthusiastic. I spoke on “The Evidence for Christianity” and was glad to finish my tour on such an uplifting note before rushing off to the airport.
This month I’ll be teaching for a week at Houston Baptist University. Then from Feb 22-24 I’ll be involved in several events at North Carolina State, highlighted by a very big debate with Erik Wielenberg on “God and Morality.” Wielenberg has emerged as the foremost critic of theistic ethics today, including my work, and so this debate is an important exchange. It will be live-streamed at http://ncstate.symposiachristi.net/. I’ll close out the month by lecturing at Harding University in Arkansas.

Finally, I’m thrilled to report that we more than met our goal for our fall Matching Grant Campaign! That helps to put us on a solid financial footing to begin 2018.  Thank you to all who gave!

We’re grateful to God for all the extraordinary opportunities He’s given us to proclaim and defend His truth. Thank you for your ongoing prayers!

For Christ and His Kingdom,

Bill and Jan
Hello Dr. Craig!

I have been involved in the apologetic world for over 18 years now and that includes the last 8 years running my apologetic ministry here in Alabama.  There are times where I get frustrated with the apologetic community and I have a hard time seeing the pastoral heart in our mission.  But in that Jordan Peterson-Goldstein 
discussion you showed such clarity of thought and coupled it with a gracious character and delivery.  I was reminded why we are so blessed to have God work through you and what an honor to showcase your work here in Alabama.   Thanks so much for the time and effort you put in your craft.  It shows not only in your presentations and debates but in the calm listening demeanor you show to others.  

brought a bunch of men together (some unbelievers) to watch the discussion last Friday night.  And I was almost giddy how much the gospel message showed through your work! 


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