Honoring the Legacy of Dr. Warren
Dr. Thomas B. Warren touched an untold number of lives through his knowledge of God's word and his ability to logically reason in its truth. It was my good fortune to sit at his feet on different occasions while I was a student at the former East Tennessee School of Preaching and Missions which is now Southeast Institute of Biblical Studies in Knoxville, TN.
At the time, Dr. Warren was preparing for a debate concerning the existence of God with Dr. Antony Flew, a renowned atheist. Warren had a team consisting of, but not limited to, Roy Deaver and Thomas Eaves who were assisting with the research, developing questions for the debate, and constructing the charts to be used. We students would sit for hours listening to bits and pieces concerning the upcoming discussion. Although the tone of these discussions was extremely serious, we were entertained by the humor of these godly men.
We sat with anticipation as Thomas Eaves would display the charts as requested by the other two men. This was a big deal for us because Eaves was Dean of the School of Preaching. Professor Warren’s words, either in person or in print, remain in my heart even though many years have passed. I want to convey an episode in my life that brings to mind Hebrews 11:4 that speaks of Abel, but reminds all of us of the lasting effect of the great words of men like Dr. Warren who “being dead still speaks.”
Years after graduating from East Tennessee School of Preaching and Missions, I decided to take classes through Kent State University to further my education. One class was Sociology. The professor was discussing the various thoughts that society has concerning politics, economics, and religion. While the topics considered are all good for discussion, the professor’s conclusion was that one should not put any significant dependence on religion because of the difficulties of the Scriptures, how judgmental religious people can be, or even wondering how people could believe the Bible or follow the Scriptures. The question was presented to the class: “Who believes the Bible to be true, when the existence of God is even questioned?” Our class was in a rather large theater style room, lots of people there, and no hands were going up in answer to the question. As I sat there, palms sweating, heart rate going up by the second, I began to stand up because I believe in the existence of God. When I stood a few others did as well. To those of us who were standing, the professor then asked, “Why do you believe in a God that you can't prove?” I replied, “There is proof that God exists, although it is an individual choice to reject or accept that proof.” The professor’s response: “Well then, show me your proof!” My suggestion was wait until the next class when we would have sufficient time to do justice to the question.
I remembered the chart Dr. Warren shared with the students during his debate preparations. I had written it in the front of my Bible. The chart was titled: TBW’s Proposition: “I know that God does Exist.” There were 10 points of great logical reasoning concerning creation or evolution on the chart, but I had not considered it for a long time. I had forgotten what the symbols used by Warren even meant, but was sure my professor could help me out.
Entering the classroom, I was shown a clean board to write on and a smiling professor standing and watching. I placed this chart on the board as it was written in my Bible. Once this was on the board, I asked the professor if he could read it to the class and explain the symbols used. After looking at the board for a moment, he read it to the class. Upon reviewing it a few more times he replied, “This is the most logical argument I have ever seen.” This caused a nice round of applause from the class. At this point I was very thankful for having met Dr. Warren.
So often, we overlook great men and women of the past who have left us a wealth of information and knowledge. Through Warren Christian Apologetics Center, at our fingertips are volumes of sound, time-tested, and trustworthy information. Please, take advantage of this effort. I applaud the efforts of the Warren Center in sharing the apologetics works of Dr. Warren and other servants of God. For all of your efforts, I am sincerely grateful.
Thomas C. Derby
2 March 2017