Recently, a friend of mine struck up a conversation with a local philosophy professor while exercising at the gym. Before long, the conversation turned to the most important subject of our time (and of all time): the character of God. Specifically, if God is as good as Christians claim, then why is there so much suffering in the world? This conversation went in fits and spurts every time they would bump into one another. Eventually, my friend told him that he should speak to his pastor (me) about these things, and the professor agreed.

We met and a new friendship was soon forged over stimulating conversation and non-stimulating (for me at least) hot drinks at Starbucks. The conversations were so engaging we thought we should let the local community in on it. On April 7 we formally debated each other on the campus of Columbia College. The room was completely packed and some, unfortunately, had to be turned away at the door. Before the debate began, the professor and I had special prayer together that God’s truth would emerge as a result of our public conversation. You can judge for yourself if God answered our prayer after listening to the debate.

Nathan Renner
Pastor at Central California Conference

Nathan Renner is the co-founder of ARISE and the senior pastor of the Sonora Seventh-day Adventist Church located in Sonora, California. He was called to ministry shortly after his conversion to Christ in January of 1997, first as a Bible worker and evangelist, and eventually as a pastor. Nathan teaches several classes at ARISE including Romans and Revelation. His passion is seeing the church become all God intended it to be. He is married to Becky Renner and they have two wonderful children, Levi and Laurel.