2024 is shaping up to be very busy. We are working on four - yes, four! - debates with Dr. James White. Here is the line up and links.
February 16, 2024, 7:00 pm: Is the Doctrine of Sola Scripture True?
Calvinist James White and Roman Catholic Trent Horn will debate the "formal principle" of the Reformation, sola scriptura, or Scripture Alone. From Luther on, Protestants have argued that the Bible is the only "God-breathed" revelation that can provide sufficient knowledge of God and His salvation. Roman Catholics argue that the Tradition is equally valid and important as a source. The disagreement on sources has led to a host of other disagreements. Who is right? Both speakers are the top apologists in their fields, so this debate promises to be both interesting and important.
February 17, 2024, 7:00 pm: Is the Doctrine of Purgatory True?
Calvinist James White and Roman Catholic Trent Horn will debate the doctrine of Purgatory. At the start of the Reformation, the question of Purgatory was front and center. After all, it was an indulgence that helped one escape Purgatory to which Martin Luther objected in the 95 Theses. Protestants argue that the finished work of Christ on the cross is sufficient for salvation. Roman Catholics argue that without a purging of sin, one cannot enter into the presence of God. Who is right?
March 7, 2024, 7:00 pm: Does John 6:44 Teach Unconditional Election? James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries and Leighton Flowers of Soteriology 101 will take a hyper-focused look at John's Gospel and exactly what it means when Jesus says, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them." This will be a formal, moderated debate.
March 9, 2024, 7:00 pm: Is Jesus Yahweh?
Dr. James White and Dr. Dale Tuggy will be debating whether Jesus is Yahweh. That is, is the doctrine of the Trinity true? Is Jesus God's Son and also the same being as the Father? Are both Father and Son rightly understood as Yahweh, God's self-given name? This debate is sponsored by the Unitarian Christian Alliance.
About Our Debates
Our debates to date have had audiences of about half believers and half skeptics, so all are welcome to hear what the speakers have to say. To be informed about future events, please fill out the form below.
All First Word debates seek to be scholarly and fair. The speakers will have equal time to present their arguments and to offer rebuttals. There is always time for guided conversation and/or Q&A from the audience. Most in-house debates are about two hours in length to allow for as full a case as possible to be made.
What is Marriage? A Debate Featuring James White and Keith Giles
On February 8, 2023 at 7:00 pm, we hosted a debate on marriage featuring James White and Keith Giles. Watch it here.
February, 2022: The Molinism Debate
On February 11, James White and Tim Stratton debated Molinism. You may not know what Molinism is or why it matters. Well, the old-fashioned debates within Christianity around free will (say, Reformed vs. Arminianism) are at the heart of this debate. Do all things come to pass because God has decreed them? Or does God possess counterfactual (middle) knowledge of what would happen in a variety of possible worlds? This question gets to the heart of God's sovereignty, how it is applied, and whether God, for example, ends up being the "author of evil." You can find that debate on YouTube here.
On Thursday, March 21, 7:00, we hosted a debate between two philosophers on a very basic question: "What is Man's Purpose?" Depending on one's presuppositions, there are many different ways to answer that question, both within Christianity and between a believer and a nonbeliever. Houston Community College Professor Evan Friske engaged with Dr. Stephen Pena of San Jacinto Community College. The audio for that debate is available here. Video is here.
On Saturday, April 26, we hosted a debate on contemporary and traditional worship practices. The question was: "Should worship change with the times?" This debate featured the pastor of First Lutheran, Evan McClanahan of First Lutheran, and Clinton Wilcox, a contemporary worship leader at Trinity Lutheran Church in Fresno, California. The audio for the debate can be found on the Sin Boldly Podcast and the video is on YouTube here.
On Saturday, November 10, 2018, we held a fascinating debate featuring two scholars with diametrically opposed worldviews. Both believe, of course, the worldview they hold benefits society while the other harms it. Dr. McDurmon defends a biblical worldview while Dr. Carrier defends secular humanism. This debate is different from past debates in that it is decidedly not a merely philosophical debate, but a debate that seeks to "cash out" theological convictions and assumptions. It also places an equal burden of proof on each speaker. You can view the debate here.
On November 7, 2018, we held a debate that featured Houston philosophers Evan Friske and Travis Ross on the origin of morality. Professor Friske defends an Aristotelean view that the "telos" of a thing or person helps to define the good. Professor Ross defends intersubjectivity. The format is as follows: 15 minute opening remarks, 2 8-minute cross examination sections each, 20 minute open conversation and 20 minutes for Q and A. View it here on YouTube.
On Thursday, April 19 at 7:00 pm, First Word presented a debate on "God and the Problem of Evil". Local philosophers Evan Friske, a Christian believer, and Brian Deer, an agnostic, answered this age-old question from a philosophical point-of-view. Watch it here on YouTube.
In November of 2017, we hosted debate on the Biblical View of Free Will. That debate featured Dr. Sonny Hernandez and Dr. Theodore Zacharides from the Reformed camp and Dr. Leighton Flowers and Dr. Johnathan Pritchett from the Traditional Southern Baptist camp. The debate has gained attention as it has been reviewed by Dr. James White, Pr. Jordan Hall, the Bible Thumping Wingnut Podcast and more. You can view it online here.
On Saturday, June 3, 2017 we hosted a debate between apologist Dr. Sonny Hernandez and one of America's best-known atheists Dan Barker on God's existence. This was a bit of deja vu as the very first debate we held was between Dan Barker and John Mark Reynolds on the question, "Does God Exist?" As Dr. Hernandez is Reformed and holds to a presuppositional apologetic method, this debate lived up to its promise to offer a different way of answer the question than some other debates. You can view this debate on YouTube here.
January 16, 2016. Dr. Sam Waldron, Ph.D, dean of Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary and professor of Systematic Theology argued against the continuation of the gifts. Mr. Matt Slick of Christian Apologetic Resource Ministries argued that they have continued. This was a debate between two Christians who agree on much theologically and both seek to bring Christ to the world. But on the issue of the continuation of the gifts of the Spirit, they differ. Why? And what are the consequences of this belief? You can view it on YouTube here.
November 14, 2015. The 2015-2016 season kicked off with a spirited debate on whether or not the soul exists. This debate featured Eric Hernandez and Matt Dillahunty and asked if there is anything beyond the material world, and if we are anything more than our bodies. Held on Saturday, November 14, this unique debate will surely be of interest to those who are looking for debates that are rarely hosted. The topic provided for fascinating fodder and a lot of passion on both sides. You can view it on YouTube here.
April 18, 2015. First Lutheran presented a debate on the resurrection of Jesus. The two debaters addressed the statement, “Jesus did not rise from the dead”. Christian apologist Tom Peeler and trial attorney Geoffrey Berg were on the dais. Tom is the president of the local chapter of a different apologetics group, Reasons to Believe. Geoff is a well-known attorney and activist in Houston and host of Partisan Gridlock on KPFT, 90.1 FM Friday afternoons. If you are a subscriber to the Houston Chronicle, you can read a great preview of the arguments here. You can watch the debate on Youtube here.
March 21, 2015: Scott Swiggard of Reasonable Faith Houston presented a lecture on the Shroud of Turin.
September 20, 2014: An Evening with Dr. James Tour. Dr. Tour of Rice University presented a lecture called "Science, Faith, Chemical Mechanisms and Reflections on Darwinian Evolution." It is on YouTube here.
April 26, 2014: Our second debate was between Christian apologist Eric Hernandez and HCC Philosophy Professor Dan Flores on the question, "Is God Necessary?" You can view this debate here.
November 8, 2013: Our first debate was held at HBU in November, 2013. That debate was between John Mark Reynolds and Dan Barker on "Does God Exist?" There is no digital copy of this debate.
A Debate: What is Man's Purpose?