Someone asked me a question yesterday that basically said, “Don’t you think Bahnsen would have done better than you against Craig?” I actually smile at such questions, though there is a tinge of sadness, too. We all miss Greg, and most of us wonder what he could have accomplished had God given him a much longer life. And I am sure he would, in a formal debate, tear through Dr. Craig’s positions with just as much precision and power as he did Dr. Stein’s. No question about it.
But, as to whether that would have worked in a shortened dialogue format like Unbelievable, that is hard to say. A formal debate differs in a number of aspects from a give-and-take, media style encounter. Great scholars can command the class room’s attention and provide sweeping narratives of their chosen field, and yet, when placed into a different context, struggle to engage in give-and-take. I am confident Bahnsen would have done very well, but I think of others who would struggle greatly with a fast-paced, “chess-game” type encounter that one has in such contexts as Unbelievable.
Surely there are many writers and teachers today who, on any given subject, are my betters. Guillaume Bignon, for example, who wrote Excusing Sinners and Blaming God: A Calvinist Assessment of Determinism, Moral Responsibility, and Divine Involvement in Evil would do a wonderful job on the issues of libertarian freedom, etc., but I have not heard him in a “compressed debate” context. Most really important subjects require background and context to be made understandable, and that is especially the case when the topics are outside the normal vocabulary of the audience. Some speakers struggle to skip all that and to just dive in, as we had to on Unbelievable. I would assume, personally, a Craig/Bignon encounter would be lively and very useful, and would love to see that myself!
Likewise Scott Christenson, author of What About Free Will? and What About Evil? is a great resource of information, but I have never heard him in the same context of immediate give and take dispute and debate. I am sure Dr. James Anderson of RTS Charlotte would likewise vindicate himself very well in that context.
As I have pointed out, there are bookshelves full of Reformed defenses of compatibilism and God’s sovereignty and the like. I was not going to allow this one chance to ask the leading proponent of Molinism to step up and actually give something more than a philosophical assertion of the key claims of his system to pass by. I think there are many fatal problems with Molinism, and others might wish to approach the topic from a different angle or with a different emphasis. But I had never heard any meaningful pressing of the grounding objection in terms that the listening audience would be able to understand and appreciate before. I felt that was important to provide, and, we provided it.
So I am more than happy to say clearly: there are many who are my betters in all sorts of areas and who might have done better in this aspect or that in the discussion of just less than a week ago now. But I also know that many of those who are my better in writing or teaching etc. would themselves hesitate to take on just such an encounter, knowing full well the challenges that fast-moving context presents. In God’s providence (not because He was limited in His decree by ungrounded, unsourced subjunctive conditionals!) He chose to allow me the pleasure of engaging in the discussion, and for that I am thankful.