SPRINGFIELD – Dave Van Bebber, pastor of FBC Buffalo, is scheduled to engage atheists in a moderated theological debate March 1 on the campus of Missouri State University in Springfield.
Van Bebber is partnering with the Rev. Sean McCormack, pastor of Winchester (Kan.) Christian Church, against debaters from Springfield Freethinkers. The non-profit organization Be Civil, Be Heard is co-sponsoring the debate with Missouri State University Talks. This is the first in a series of planned debates.
The debaters have agreed to engage the proposition: “Resolved: A commitment to faith is required for the pursuit of happiness.”
Van Bebber is a member of the Missouri Baptist Apologetics Network, and he serves as vice-president of the Buffalo Ministerial Alliance. Van Bebber and McCormack were members of the Southwest Baptist University Speech and Debate Team. The two also work together in ministry through an apologetics organization Shield of Faith Apologetics.
The debate is an “audience debate forum” event. This format allows members of the audience to engage in the discussion and even participate in the debate. Dr. Elizabeth Dudsash-Buskirk and Dr. Eric Morris, both professors at Missouri State University, will moderate the debate and guide the discussion through debate. The event is free to all.
Dudash-Buskirk commented, “We have been asked by the [Springfield] community to talk about religion and civility and democracy. The March 1 event is a fantastic opportunity for all of us to work together in a civil discourse about our complex America.”
She also notes, “Having debaters from the community present positions and having the community respond, we learn. It isn’t a Socratic method but it is dialogue. And we get to learn together and share and learning about each other.”
Those interested in attending the debate should register on the Be Civil, Be Heard Facebook page, but registration is not required for the event. Van Bebber states, “Because of the format, it will be very important for those with a Christian worldview to attend as this will give them a chance to share openly about their faith on a State University Campus. This is a location often closed to the church.”
Van Bebber is a graduate of Missouri State University, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Southwest Baptist University. He currently is a Doctoral student at Columbia Evangelical Seminary, where he is working towards his Th. D. in Apologetics.
Van Bebber has pastored in Missouri since 2012. He taught communications at MSU, State Fair Community College, and Ozark Technical Community College before moving to full-time ministry. This is Van Bebber’s first moderated apologetic debate.