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“What we have are sound bites and we put you in the
middle and we shout at you figuratively and literally from
the right and the left,” says Taunton. “Then at the end of
the day, we say that we’ve had a dialogue, when we really
haven’t. There hasn’t been any opportunity for you or for
me to develop what it is that we’re about or to really get
to the heart of the issue.”
In one sense, it’s amazing that Taunton has proved able
to get such guests to agree to come to the Birmingham
campus in the first place. Yet it shows that true dialogue
can actually take place, despite the loud voices that
often dominate the airwaves or television screens. When
people can let down their guard and converse respectfully
with one another, that’s the place that Taunton believes
Christianity will be heard for what it really is.
“Let’s go at it for more than 30 seconds and let’s actually
talk for an hour or two,” he says. “Let’s hope that it makes
a difference. Let’s hope that people who are watching this
on DVD or TV are thinking through these issues. That’s
when people will listen to what we have to say.”
Larry Taunton is trying to speak. Or rather, he’s trying to
let others speak. Unfortunately, the voices he works so
hard to set up are often drowned out.
In our highly polarizing media climate, it’s hard to find
a good place to debate. As founder and Executive Director
of the Fixed Point Foundation, Taunton has worked hard
to establish a credible place where a proper Christian
perspective can be given on subjects like atheism or
science featuring some of the world’s most famous
scholars—and some of Christianity’s biggest critics. It’s all
in an effort to amiably discuss the differences and truly
engage with the topic at hand.
“Fixed Point Foundation is a Christian organization
dedicated to the public defense of Christianity,” explains
Taunton. “There are all kinds of organizations out there
that are ‘apologetics’ ministries, but we felt so much of
what counts as apologetics amounts to throwing red meat
to the crowd that already agrees with you. It sometimes
has the feel of a Republican or Democratic national
convention. Are we really accomplishing anything here or
are we just stirring our team into a frenzy? Are we really
engaging with people who don’t agree with us?”
To that end, Taunton has worked through Fixed Point
to set up televised debates. One such debate this fall
featured best-selling author Christopher Hitchens,
perhaps the most well-known atheist in popular culture.
Other speakers include Dinesh D’Souza, Richard Dawkins
and Alister McGrath.
Taunton lists current news shows on both sides of the
political spectrum, such as Crossfire or The O’Reilly Factor,
to illustrate his point about our current extreme set-up.
The answer, he believes, is to ignore the media climate
and find some middle ground, which is exactly what Fixed
Point aims to accomplish. The results have been covered
by 60 Minutes and the debates are also shown on C-Span
and other stations.
defending the faith,
conversation at a time
By Matt Conner
You can purchase the debates and find
out more information on Fixed Point
Foundation at www.fixed-point.org.