Mars Hill Pastor to Debate Existence of Satan on ABC
Two controversial preachers, a former Las Vegas escort and an author on spirituality have been recruited by ABC to debate the existence of Satan on Friday.
The unexpected line-up will tackle the issue at Mars Hill Church in Seattle for ABC's "Nightline Face-Off" series, which will air on March 26.
Arguing that the devil does exist will be Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church and Annie Lobert, founder of Hookers for Jesus. On the other side of the debate are Deepak Chopra, author of Jesus: A Story of Enlightenment, and Bishop Carlton Pearson who is often labeled as a heretic for his Gospel of Inclusion preaching.
Considering the line-up, the debate is not likely to get into any complex theology and history, according to T.J. Wray, associate professor of religious studies at Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I., as reported by the Seattle Times.
"Why don't they call professionals – the people who write this stuff?" Wray asked, according to the Seattle Times.
Similar questions were raised by Christians two years ago when ABC launched its "Face-Off" series with two evangelists and two atheists debating "Does God Exist."
Some Christians expressed disappointment in the lack of preparation by New Zealand evangelist Ray Comfort and 90s television star Kirk Cameron in the May 2007 public debate. They were faced off with Brian Sapient and Kelly (no surname), two atheists behind the controversial "Blasphemy Challenge" – a campaign on YouTube that encourages youth to denounce the Holy Spirit and "damn themselves to hell."
But perhaps they were more frustrated that ABC did not bring on Christian apologists or those who hold theological degrees to represent the theists.
This time around proves no different.
According to James Goldston, executive producer of "Nightline," they went for "the most interesting voices" they could find, as reported by the Seattle Times.
And interesting voices could translate to great ratings.
The response was "pretty dramatic," as Goldston said, when they televised the 2007 debate. More than 15,000 comments were posted on the program's website, according to ABC.
But not all disagree with ABC's approach.
Pastor Driscoll of Mars Hill, who believes Satan is at work in the world for evil, believes the lineup of debaters helps ensure a "practical discourse" rather than "just an academic debate," according to the local Times.
The debate will be moderated by Dan Harris, who covers faith issues for ABC News, and representatives from both sides of the "Does Satan Exist" question will be at Friday's taping to watch and also ask questions.