The Deaver – Till Debate
A Review by Nathan Battey
Did God command genocide and ethnic cleansing in the book of Joshua?
Is there any difference between the conquests and modern day Jihad?
As I began my research I discovered very few books that were helpful in answering these questions in light of the Scriptures. Many books tried to explain away the accounts of the conquests found in the book of Joshua by arguing that the events described therein didn’t really take place.
I eventually discovered that Mac Deaver had debated Farrell Till in 1991 regarding the “alleged” atrocities of the Bible. Most of the debate centered around the conquests of Canaan and the questions I was asked to deal with in particular in my assigned topic.
Farrel Till used to be a preacher for the Church of Christ. He graduated from Harding University and worked as an evangelist for over twenty years before giving up his faith and becoming a skeptic. He had several debates with Church of Christ preachers before he died, however the record of most of these debates are no longer available. I am not sure how well Till’s other opponents did in combating his skepticism, but Mac Deaver did an outstanding job.
Both debaters were at the top of their game and pressed their points as well as I suppose any could (at least that is how it appeared to me as I read it). The debate lasted for four nights and each debater had to take both the affirmative position and the negative position for two nights each. The result of four nights worth of discussion was a thorough examination of the issues and as much support for each position as could be mustered.
Sometimes when you read a debate one of the debaters will take a weird position that no one else holds and as a result the debate becomes impractical. Such was not the case with the Deaver-Till debate. Mac Deaver contended that the Bible accounts of the conquest in the Old Testament were to be taken literally, that the Bible is fully inspired and without error, and that it was within the realm of God’s nature to command the conquests of the land of Canaan. Farrell Till argued that the accounts, if true, represented God as a moral monster who was underserving of human worship. Mr. Till would raise one argument after another, and Mr. Deaver would step up to the plate and answer each one.
Neither debater attempted to speak over the heads of the audience, nor did they try to skirt the issues. The result was a very useful and practical critique of the issue that I found to be more helpful than any other work I read.
I highly recommend this debate for those interested in the topic, for young people who have to face skepticism, and for all who are willing to stand up for the truth of God’s Word. Mr. Deaver did an excellent job of not only answering the objections, but also of showing how the Bible should be approached, interpreted, and harmonized in the face of alleged contradictions.
The Deaver – Till debate was originally typed and printed on copy paper, and sold in a three ring binder. Once I read the debate I gained permission from Mr. Deaver to reprint it in an actual book format; the result was a 375 page paperback that is now available to anyone wishing to purchase a copy.