Recently I was able to attend part of the Desiring God Conference in Minneapolis Minnesota. The conference, hosted by John Piper and Desiring God Ministries, is what led to my first hearing about the documentary Collision which I wrote about last week. The film was screened there, and following the film, Doug Wilson sat down with John Piper and had a short discussion about the film, the debate, the purpose of apologetics, and about becoming friends with a world-renown atheist Author. The film, (read synopsis here,) was amazing and the discussion following was very engaging. Watch their discussion below.
I found Wilson’s answers to Piper’s questions about apologetics to be especially interesting. In his mind, the first purpose of apologetics is the building up of the church; he debates atheists first of all to encourage believers. He made the point that often Christians often feel that they have no response to intellectual atheists like Dawkins or Hitchens, who are more than willing to mock Christianity and back it up with a lifetime of study, books and very intellectual arguments. Wilson is willing to face off with Hitchens to show Christians who are shaky and susceptible to his arguments that there really are responses to the arguments that young people are confronted with in university philosophy, biology and ethics classrooms. He actually sees the evangelistic, persuasive part of it as secondary.
The overall theme of the Desiring God Conference was the life and teaching of John Calvin, in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of his birth; most specifically the speakers focused on Calvin’s vision of God and the fact that he saw the whole world as a “Theatre of God” where all aspects of the drama that unfold on earth exist as a theatre to demonstrate the glory of God.All of life on earth is for the display of His glory.
Although I was only able to attend the first night of the Conference, I’ve since listened to some of the talks online. Much of the emphasis of the talks I’ve listened to has been the impact that Calvin had on public life of his time and the continual impact of his writings on the culture, democracy, values and religious life of Americans today. Calvin recovered the Christian belief that all of life is sacred, and has potential to be an act of worship; the displaying of and enjoyment of God’s awesomeness. In Calvin’s worldview, that translated to an active public life, not just a life penned up in a church office somewhere.
Calvin is a controversial figure, no doubt, and I’ve learned since the conference that Doug Wilson is also quite controversial in his own right. Many may debate Calvin’s teachings on election, and disagree with Wilson on some of his views, but we can all agree however that by following Calvin’s example of engaging with the culture, Wilson is setting a great example for the Church. Wilson’s courageous, loving, relevant, intellectual engagement with one of world’s most intimidating figures glorifies God in the public sphere, and we need more believers who follow that difficult road. The DVD Collision shows him doing that and it’s totally fascinating.
If you’d like to see Collision, you can buy the DVD here at FamilyChristianMovies.com.