Friday, November 16, 2012

Cliffe at UT - last day - day 5

Cliffe Knechtle, UT Austin, November 2010
For those out on the UT West Mall this week, did you see what Cliffe and camera crew were chowing down on? If it was what they ate each day when they were there in 2010, it was Chick-fil-A. I don't blame them - it's probably the best fast-food fare. Although I wouldn't want it 5 days in a row!

Cliffe must be finishing up now at UT Austin. Soon he'll be on a plane back to Connecticut. If anyone recorded any of this week's Q&A, or remembers some of the questions, please send them to me at Thanks.

I found an online copy of Cliffe's 2010 debate against Jeremy Beahan at Michigan State University.  I'm still listening to it.  My initial reaction is that Cliffe seems to be reiterating the same canned answers he uses when doing open-air evangelism on college campuses.  From what I've heard so far, I think Cliffe is losing.  One interesting point that Jeremy raised is about free will.  Cliffe and others argue that the world must have evil and sin because he made man with free will.  Jeremy's response is that God made angels with free will, and yet they don't sin (sans Lucifer and his minions).  Also, all those who will spend eternity with God in heaven will continue to have free will, but won't sin.  So Jeremy claims that we could all be still living in Eden (a paradise) and still maintain our free will, and that the fact that there is so much suffering (which is therefore needless) shows that there is no good God.  Interesting point - I need to study this.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cliffe at UT Austin - Day 4

Cliffe Knechtle, UT Austin, November 2010
I first saw Cliffe at my alma mater, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in late 1991.  I was enthralled with the discussions.  I skipped classes to sit out on U of I's beautiful quad each day that week to hear Cliffe for several hours.  He would return each fall for a week, just like he does at UT Austin.
One year, a man showed up lugging around a heavy 7-foot wooden cross.  He came over to the group of us surrounding Cliffe and shouted that Cliffe was sending us all to hell, that Cliffe was proclaiming a weak, false gospel that did nothing to save us sinners.  I remember it was a tense moment.  I thought "how could Cliffe not be Christian enough?"  I believe Cliffe just ignored him and waited until he moved to another part of the expansive quad.

I also saw Cliffe at the University of Florida in Gainesville in October 2002.  At the same time, pastor Tom Short was speaking in close proximity to Cliffe.  Pastor Tom is also a long-time national college campus open-air evangelist.  He is more fundamentalist than Cliffe, and uses more provocative methods to gather a crowd, such as showing pictures of Hitler and Darwin and asking passersby if they felt that these men were good or not.  Pastor Tom doesn't usually draw as big a crowd as Cliffe, but his theology is mostly orthodox.  I had my concerns when I saw him back in 2002, but when I saw him in early 2011(?) at UT Austin, I wasn't too concerned by his beliefs, and felt that they were fundamentally the same as Cliffe's.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cliffe at UT Austin - Day 3

Cliffe Knechtle, UT Austin, November 2010
I hope Cliffe's afternoons at UT Austin this week are interesting and drawing a large crowd.  I'm sure they are.  I wish I could be there and report back to you what was discussed.

You may have noticed that Cliffe's YouTube videos for his Give Me an Answer TV show are numbered.  The number is the episode ID.  The first two digits are the episode number for that year, with the last two digits being the year.  So #0812, for example, means the 8th episode of 2012.

Over the years, Cliffe has done some public debates against known atheists or other nonbelievers.  One was against Michael Newdow in 2003.  Newdow is the atheist best known for trying to remove the saying of the Pledge of Allegiance from public schools because it contains the phrase "under God".  It's an enjoyable debate and can be downloaded online from a number of sites.

I also heard that Cliffe, just earlier this month, debated Matt Dillahunty, president of the Atheist Community of Austin.  But I haven't been able to confirm this yet.  I'll let you all know what I find out.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cliffe is at UT Austin again today - day 2

Cliffe Knechtle, UT Austin, November 2010
I assume yesterday was a good day for Christianity Q&A with Cliffe at UT Austin.

There are several good questions that are asked by students where Cliffe responds "Ultimately, ..." and then points successively to each of 4 fingers on one hand while he says "I ... do ... not ... know".  Then he provides his thoughts on the particular issue nonetheless. It is refreshing to see an evangelist admit when he doesn't have an answer for something.

At the end of many of his videos on YouTube, you'll see Cliffe speaking to the camera with an attractive blue house behind him, with house number 2104 on it. This is the Hill House in Austin, a Christian study center that is an easy walking distance to where Cliffe speaks on campus.  Run by Greg and Mary Jane Grooms, the Hill House is a nice casual place with a sizable Christian library offering weekly bible studies and theological discussions for both undergraduates and graduate students.

Cliffe has written 3 books.  The first one came out way back in 1986 and is called 'Give Me an Answer ... That Satisfies My Heart & My Mind'.  That is also the name of his Connecticut TV show - 'Give Me an Answer'.  It is an enjoyable book.  He followed it up with the book 'Help Me Believe: Direct Answers to Real Questions' in 2000.  Then in 2005 came 'Heaven Can't Wait', a very enjoyable book comprised of edited versions of some of Cliffe's sermons as lead pastor of Grace Community Church in New Canaan, Connecticut.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

It begins! Cliffe at UT Austin all this week

Cliffe Knechtle, UT Austin, November 2010
Don't miss Cliffe Knechtle all this week (November 12-16, 2012) at the University of Texas at Austin!  He begins his open-air preaching at noon, usually near the steps underneath the UT Tower on the West Mall, and stays out often until 4 or 5pm.

It's fascinating to watch Cliffe interact with the small crowd that gathers, mostly undergraduates.  Cliffe has a booming voice that makes it seem like he's using a microphone, but it's just his natural voice.

I'm sort of a Cliffe groupie.  I've seen Cliffe speak on various campuses sporadically over the past 20 years.  I used to live in Austin.  I enjoy the apologetics discussions so much that I would fly back to Austin this week if it were feasible.

Cliffe has a weekly apologetics show on Connecticut television called Give Me An Answer.  Much of the material for this half-hour show comes from his annual visit to UT Austin.  You can see these shows on YouTube.  Search for 'Cliffe Knechtle' and all the Give Me An Answer videos come up.  They're very interesting to watch.

Cliffe and his camera crew have a favorite restaurant at UT Austin for lunch.  If you're on campus, find him on the West Mall and see what it is.

Check back here each day, because I'll have a lot more to say on Cliffe, his preaching style, and the questions that are often posed to him.