Last night my city got 35 cm of snow on top of the large amount that we already had. That’s part of living in the Canadian prairies I guess. The bad part is that you have to spend hours shoveling snow. Luckily I had the audio of the Matthew Vines vs Sean McDowell debate on my iPod. I had always wanted James White to dialogue with Vines since he made a 5 hour podcast rebuttal when Matthew Vines put his initial video out but sadly White seams to have lost his debating savvy which is shown by his recent Muslim debates. However, Sean McDowell was perfect for this debate. I initially thought that he was too soft but then I realized that it was all part of his tactic. If he had been rock hard, Vines would have become rigid and not much dialogue would have gone on, only cheap point scoring tactics.
The topic was: What Does the Bible Say About Homosexuality? The format was simple. Both speakers got 20 minutes for opening statements, followed by 40 minutes of dialogue, followed by audience questions, then closing statements. It was a good format since much of it was interaction. It’s hard to dodge when you’re being put on the spot and Vines has been known to dodge arguments since he usually just monologues in front of friendly crowds.
If you’re short on time, feel free to skip the opening presentations. Everything interesting from them comes up in the 40 minute dialogue. The 40 minute dialogue is the best part of this debate. McDowell immediately went after Matthew 7 and the argument about a good tree bearing good fruit. Vines was on the ropes so he went over to Galatians 5 and tried to argue from the “fruit of the Spirit” passage. McDowell explained that when doing exegesis, you use the book itself, then similar books, then other books in the Bible so he showed Vines how it was a stretch to do this. Still, McDowell went with him over to Galatians 5 and refuted him there! I was very impressed with McDowell on this.
The dialogue continued with Matthew 19 occupying center stage. Vines had nothing. It was obvious that he was in damage control mode since he tried to bring up red herrings such as sexual orientation, geocentrism, slavery and other issues. McDowell wasn’t buying it. He just kept steering him back to the text. Basically the argument that Vines was presenting was that since the Church was faced with new information – the presence of “Gay Christians”, they have to re-evaluate the teachings of marriage or celibacy. McDowell simply kept referring him back to what the text says. Vines didn’t seem comfortable at all. He probably wanted to debate the six “clobber” passages.
The audience questions were okay. McDowell easily had the better answers. The three minute closing statements told a lot. Matthew Vines went first. He sounded nervous and jittery and encouraged Christians to make relationships with homosexuals and particularly homosexual “Christians”. When I was done shoveling snow, I went inside and watched the three minute closing statement by Vines. He looked just as nervous as he sounded. He obviously knew that he should not have done this debate.
It was a great dialogue. The one downside of the debate is that Ephesians 5 was not discussed. In my opinion that was unfortunate since I think it’s even clearer than Matthew 19 as it describes the different and complimentary roles of the man and the woman. I suppose that not every verse can be discussed.
Matthew Vines went down in flames. He didn’t exegete, dodged valid points, and tried to bring up red herrings all evening. It was a fantastic performance by Sean McDowell.
Where does Vines go from here? I see two possibilities. The first is that he immediately tries to schedule a dialogue with a weaker opponent and do better to give some morale to his flock. The other and more likely possibility is that he doesn’t schedule any debates for a long time and just goes back to doing conferences and repeating his arguments against the six “clobber” passages.