Eyewitness feedback matches CMI’s report
CMI received the following unsolicited letter from an elder of the church that hosted the event held in a rented university lecture theatre that we described in our article: Getting behind the evolution facade. (The letter was received after our article had been written, but before it was published.) Full names and identifiers of the elder, church and university were of course provided, but withheld from publication here.
XXXX Christian Church recently hosted a Creation Ministries event with Dr David Catchpoole which was held at [name deleted] University. We would like to provide some feedback around the event to encourage CMI in their ministry.
After deciding to hold the event at [the] University, we booked a room with [them] clearly stating what the content of the evening was going to be. We set up a Facebook event linked to our church Facebook page and distributed it out to friends on Facebook. Obviously it spread rapidly from there. In the first few days we got hundreds of posts, mostly attacking the event, many from current or former students [from that university]. A few threatened to get the university to cancel the event and some threatened to try to disrupt it.
We also put up posters at the university, carried out a letter box drop of about 450 homes in our area and sent info to many other churches.
Just one week from the event we got a call from [the university] wanting us to move venue. They offered to pay for the hire of a hall off campus but they didn’t want us on campus any more. They said that the Science faculty objected and felt it was not appropriate for the university to host this event. When pressed, they did reluctantly say that if we insisted on staying that they would honour the booking but they were not happy about it. So we told them we wanted to go ahead as planned. Thankfully the university seem to be reluctant to actually cancel our booking once made.
The church called for a day to fast and pray for the event, and we got other churches and friends to join us in praying for the event.
The Facebook comments heated up, with someone saying “We should just gas all the creationists”. We also had someone encourage all evolutionists coming to not save questions to the end, but interrupt with questions at any point in the talk they disagree and ask the question over and over again if they didn’t get an acceptable answer.
However, the actual evening went well. We had roughly 30 atheists there (and probably 50-60 Christians). Dr Catchpoole presented the night very well. Some of the atheists interrupted Dr Catchpoole during his talk. But it was never out of control. On the whole it was reasonably respectful.
We had a 1/2 hr question time at the end of the presentation which was very vigorous. Dr Catchpoole answered very well. For one question he said he didn’t have an answer but promised if the person submitted the question on the CMI website, they would answer it and place the question and answer on the front page of the website.
Dr Catchpoole wisely showed his personal side during his answers and showed his love for people, that he wasn’t just there to win an argument. I think that reached a few people and broke down some of their hostility.
Interestingly the questions moved towards personal experience of God (e.g. one girl who said she used to be a Christian but suffered from depression and self-harm. One night she contemplated suicide and prayed that God would help her, but nothing happened. She felt God didn’t answer. Then she said the only thing that stopped her committing suicide was her roommate who came home. The whole place erupted when Dr Catchpoole replied that maybe the roommate was God’s answer to her prayer!). Interesting that a reasonable proportion of those that were the most vehement in their objection (and therefore actually turned up to defend evolution), were people who had some form of ‘Christian’ background but had become disillusioned with God and become atheists. It seemed that the strongest objections came from those who had felt let down by God in the past and had decided He didn’t exist!
Amazingly most of those that attended stayed back afterwards while we served tea and coffee and talked. A few asked more questions and some seemed genuinely open minded to hear the Christians’ view point.
We just wanted to encourage Dr Catchpoole and others in their ministry. We feel that Dr Catchpoole handled the evening very well and showed wisdom and care for people in his answers.
We would like to say a very big thank you to Dr Catchpoole, the local CMI support group [Editor’s note July 2014: now called Friends of CMI group] and CMI as a whole. We think the Lord was honoured, people were challenged and Christians were emboldened.
As a follow up, two atheist friends wanted to meet again with some of the Christians they talked to. Last week one of them accepted an invitation to a Christian couple’s home for a meal and had some very interesting discussion. He and his friend have agreed to come back next week to talk some more.
Thank you so much, and God bless you greatly for your faithfulness in a very tough ministry.
On behalf of the Elders
XXXX Christian Church
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