ALL ABOUT GOD - A 40TH ANNIVERSARY - A 40TH PRESIDENT
September 20, 2016, will mark the 40th anniversary of a monumental event that serves as one of the foundational underpinnings of the apologetics legacy and approach of the Warren Center. The Warren-Flew debate on the existence of God held on the campus of North Texas State University (now The University of North Texas) attracted audiences ranging from five to seven thousand nightly September 20-23, 1976. Some estimates of the size of the audience go as high as nine thousand. It was an amazing event. I am deeply grateful to God for allowing me to experience that “once in a lifetime” event forty years ago.
We believe the Warren-Flew debate to be the most significant debate on the most crucial question (i.e. Does God exist?), which has occurred during the last 100 years and likely even longer. This year Warren Apologetics Center is planning the production of what we believe will be great events and publications in conjunction with the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Warren-Flew debate. These events and publications will exemplify the WCAC motto—“Honoring the Legacy, Securing the Future.” We are grateful for the doors of opportunity that Providence has set before us “for such a time as this” special anniversary year. God willing, it will be a year of commemoration, but also a year of examination, interrogation, and investigation by way of the exciting apologetics events and publications being planned.
Roy Abraham Varghese, author of The Wonder of the World (2003), as well as contributor to The Case for the Christ of the New Testament—An Adversarial Dialogue Concerning the Existence of Jesus Christ, published in 2013 by the Warren Center, knew both Dr. Thomas B. Warren and Dr. Antony G. N. Flew. Concerning Dr. Warren, Varghese has said he (Warren) “changed the whole climate of thought as it pertained to public perceptions of theism. Today theism and Christianity are under renewed assault from numerous quarters and there is an obvious need for the kind of work pioneered by Dr. Warren. It is precisely this that is addressed by Warren Christian Apologetics Center.” It was also Varghese who with Dr. Flew co-authored the 2007 book There Is A God—How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. This is the book from which professor Flew, arguably the best known atheist in the English speaking world when he debated Dr. Warren in 1976, shocked his former fellow atheists when he announced he had rejected atheism because he had been led to the conclusion that God exists. Antony Flew’s change from atheism to theism is no small matter. That this change occurred is just one of many reasons why the Warren-Flew debate 40 years ago remains “top shelf” in the history of classical apologetics.
Having spoken of the 40th anniversary of the Warren-Flew debate and Roy Abraham Varghese’s connection with the two debate disputants, I now turn attention to another unique and influential apologetics connection of Mr. Varghese. Though in a different way, it also involves the number 40. In 1984 Varghese edited an apologetics text, The Intellectuals Speak Out About God. It is a defense of the Christian faith by 25 of the world’s greatest philosophers and scientists who were living during that time in history. The book is a powerful statement on the existence of God. I purchased my copy several years ago at a used bookstore in Pittsburgh. I had known of Roy Varghese by reputation, but it was not until sometime after purchasing this book that Roy and I met and became friends. The list of theistic scholars whom he engaged to contribute to this 1984 book is impressive. However, as impressive as this list of scholars is, it is not as impressive as who Roy Varghese influenced to write the Foreword to this book. The Foreword to this apologetics volume was written by Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States. In his Foreword, dated June 23, 1982, President Reagan says, “. . . [O]ur Nation is in the grip of [a] crisis . . . of moral decline. . . . [O]ur young people are bombarded daily with assaults on the fundamental values which shaped and sustained this Nation. It is difficult to turn on a radio or television, read a newspaper, magazine or popular book, or see a movie in a neighborhood theater and not find an attack on the ethics and moral values we have been taught to cherish. . . . Great courage is needed to live a Christian life in today’s society. We know that only God can give us the courage and the guidance we so badly need. . . . The struggle to maintain the faith is arduous, but life’s storms are over at the last and faith finds the strong ship at anchor in a calm sea. We must always remember that we are created in God’s image, that we will never be abandoned if we seek our solace and optimism in trust and in prayer. . . . Sincerely, s/ Ronald Reagan.”
Many are unaware that Ronald Reagan had a passion for Christian apologetics. He knew the value of faith in God, the Bible, and Jesus Christ, and “he wasn’t shy about Christian apologetics, frequently making the case for Christ. . . . Reagan’s faith was not shallow as his evident appetite for apologetics and for theological debate demonstrates” (Kengor, God and Ronald Reagan 127-28).
The 40th anniversary of the Warren-Flew debate is also a good time to remember the words of the 40th President of the United States who said, “We have to keep in mind that we are a Nation under God, and if we ever forget that we’ll be just a Nation under.” Warren Apologetics Center is determined to do its very best to not let our nation forget that. This year as we continue challenging the growing global influence of atheism while affirming and defending the Christian worldview we need and welcome your moral and financial support to help accomplish the task before us. Our best wishes to you and yours in 2016.
Charles C. Pugh III