Tag Archives: apologetics

Who Are the Young Christian Apologists??

In the wake of the news, this past summer, of two prominent Christian leaders, either doubting or even fully leaving the faith, I thought it might be helpful to consider the state of apologetics, in the American evangelical church today. Even if you take just a quick glance at Marty Sampson’s Instagram page, one of these leaders who has been struggling with his faith lately, you get a picture of what type of intellectual questions doubters are wrestling with today, and just how much social media plays into the confusion, and just how little the local church is making an impact, in many cases.

Furthermore, in reflecting upon Norman Geisler’s death earlier this past summer, it made me wonder: Geisler was perhaps the senior “dean” of evangelical apologetics, for a whole generation of Christians. Now that he has departed this earth, who will carry on the torch, to defend the faith for a new generation?

Can you defend your faith, when you are asked some of the big questions?

Sure, there are still plenty of Christian apologists, earnestly upholding the truthfulness of the faith, but many of the most public ones are either about my age or older. Here is a brief list of some of those most prominent voices today, in conservative evangelical circles. I do not agree with everything the apologists below say, but these are all folks who are competent. They know their stuff (I will not hyperlink to everyone below, as there are just too many. Google is your friend here 🙂 :

  • William Lane Craig: Classical and evidentialist apologetics, who is perhaps the most well known apologist of our day. If you only had time to study the arguments of one Christian apologist, I would recommend William Lane Craig.
  • Timothy Keller: Combine a conservative Presbyterian pastor, with C.S. Lewis, who can actually read philosopher Charles Taylor, and who knows how New York City urbanites think, and there you have… Tim Keller.
  • John Lennox: British heavy-weight sized up against Richard Dawkins.
  • Ravi Zacharias: Another senior apologist, with great appeal among older generations, and intercultural.
  • Lee Strobel: The Case for…. You name it.
  • Bobby Conway: THE One Minute Apologist.
  • Frank Turek: Mentored by Norman Geisler.
  • Hugh Ross: Old Earth Creationist scientist.
  • Michael Brown: Leading Messianic Jewish apologist.
  • J. Warner Wallace: Cold-case Christianity from a real police detective.
  • Greg Koukl: Stand to Reason, best known for the “Columbo” tactic.
  • Hank Hanegraff: Hank has taken some heat, from his recent turn towards Eastern Orthodoxy. But his training as an apologist goes back to the late Walter Martin, one of the best Christian apologists of the 1970s and 1980s.
  • James White: The top Reformed presuppositional apologist around.

What about slightly younger apologists, or at least those who have greater appeal among folks who are just a bit younger than me? Well, notice that all of these folks have some type of presence on YouTube:

  • Michael Heiser: Semitic languages and Old Testament scholar.
  • Michael Licona: New Testament scholar, and one of the best defenders of the Resurrection today.
  • David Wood: Apologetics oriented towards Muslims.
  • Jeff Durbin: The next generation James White.
  • Mike Winger: A Calvary Chapel pastor, who has a vibrant interest in apologetics.
  • Sean McDowell: Son of Josh McDowell.
  • Justin Brierley: The best apologetics podcast in the UK, with Unbelievable?
  • Alisa Childers: A former CCM (contemporary Christian music) artist turned apologist. I realized that I have listed no other women above, but Alisa really stands out as a very thoughtful thinker in the apologetics world, in her own right.

All of these folks contribute significantly to the world of Christian apologetics, but what about reaching the generation of students coming out of high school and college today?

There are a couple of things to note about these new, younger Christian apologists:

  • Nearly all of these apologists have major platforms on YouTube. YouTube is becoming the “go-to” source for top-notch apologetic content, in the world of social media. Having a high-quality video presence really gets the message across to younger generations of people. Podcasts are great, but sharp YouTube videos are even better.
  • Young apologists are primarily driven by evidentialist apologetics, more so than classical or presuppositionalist apologetics. There are a few exceptions to this trend, such as presuppositional apologist, Sye Bruggencate, as in his movie “How to Answer the Fool,” a video primer on this particular apologetic method.

Can you think of any other up-and-coming young apologists?

There is a lot of great content out there. Perhaps too much content, but here is my advice: My advice is for folks to Google (or use Bing) to find a few of these folks on the Internet, and then check out some of their content. Subscribe to a podcast or a YouTube channel you can connect with, and then check in every once in awhile to find out what they might be discussing.

Consider giving financially and prayerfully to a ministry you really like. They really need that.

There are two dangers that Christians face, as related to apologetics. One is to basically ignore apologetics, and simply base your faith on emotional feelings alone. Emotional feelings are fine, but as Dr. William Lane Craig notes, many of the recent and very public “deconversions” from Christianity are being propagated by Christians who are part of faith communities where apologetics are simply not valued as important.

The second danger is at the opposite extreme. Sometimes, we can expect too much from Christian apologetics, as the number of objections to Christianity are as plentiful as the human imagination is creative. It is impossible to have all of the answers, to every question. It is okay to say that you do not know the answer. But it is a good idea to have some type of resource available, whom you can consult, to help you have a better, more informed conversation, with someone who might have some serious questions, and who is looking for answers.

Christian apologetics should not be about winning arguments, but rather about winning people to Christ. We do not need to have a knock-out punch, in our discussion with our neighbors. What is sufficient is that we should show that faith and reason are not in conflict with one another, so as not to create an artificial barrier to someone meeting Jesus, at the foot of the Cross.

I will close with this quote from veteran apologist, William Lane Craig, as to why local churches, particularly parents who are raising the next generation, should care about apologetics:

If parents are not intellectually engaged with their faith and do not have sound arguments for Christian theism and good answers to their children’s questions, then we are in real danger of losing our youth. It’s no longer enough to teach our children simply Bible stories; they need doctrine and apologetics. It’s hard to understand how people today can risk parenthood without having studied apologetics.

Unfortunately, our churches have also largely dropped the ball in this area. It’s insufficient for youth groups and Sunday school classes to focus on entertainment and simpering devotional thoughts. We’ve got to train our kids for war. We dare not send them out to public high school and university armed with rubber swords and plastic armor. The time for playing games is past.

Well said.

Here is Standardized Apologetics with a nice run down on the top YouTube apologists:


To Know With Certainty: A Perfect Present for a High School Graduate

On a recent trip down to Florida, my wife and I met up with a cousin of my mom’s, Dr. G. Lee Southard. Lee has been retired for a few years, living with his wife, Nancy, in Ft. Myers, Florida. After a successful career in pharmaceuticals, Lee has now become a Christian author. So, if you are looking for a great book, to give to a high school graduate, I can make the perfect recommendation, as I personally know the author!

The title is pretty self-explanatory, To Know With Certainty: Answers to Christian Students’ Questions Upon Leaving High School. As a proud grandfather, Lee has become burdened with what he sees is a crisis among today’s Christian youth. In his book, Lee cites a troublesome statistic, that roughly 1 out of 3 kids growing up, in Christian homes today, will probably leave the church, sometime after hitting age 18, never to return back to the church. Like me, Lee believes that most young people, in evangelical churches, are woefully unprepared, to survive the cultural pressures that exist to desensitize young Christian people from sticking with the Christian faith. Many Christian parents and even youth leaders and pastors, are either unaware of the challenges that young people face today, or they lack the resources to know how to help equip young people to face these challenges.

After taking a quick read, I am excited to say that Lee has written a most excellent book. To Know With Certainty has several features that make this such a great gift to a high school graduate:

  • To Know with Certainty is unpretentious, and down-to-earth, without being shallow. Lee opens the book with a forward, by a former classmate of his, Bobby Ross, a retired college football head coach (The Citadel, University of Maryland) and retired NFL football head coach (San Diego Chargers and Detroit Lions). Lee’s writing shows that he is a thoughtful writer, as you get a sense of his strive for excellence and detail, harkening back to his years getting a PhD in chemistry.
  • To Know with Certainty is short, without being skimpy. At under 130 pages, this book is far from being overwhelming. But he hits all of the major topics, and challenges facing students today, in Christian apologetics.
  • Want to know about the challenges to a young person’s faith, once they leave high school? Read this book. Does God exist? Who is Jesus? Is the New Testament true? How did the Christian church develop? Is America a Christian nation? What about the supposed conflict between science and faith? These and many more topics make this a very comprehensive, compact tool.
  • To Know with Certainty is fair and balanced. This is what I liked the most about the book, in that a lot of books, in this genre, can sound like they have an axe to grind. But Lee is really good about laying out some facts and ideas, and encouraging the reader to do their own research, and think for themselves.

I know I sound like I am gushing with enthusiasm for To Know with Certainty, as I know the author, but it really is wonderful. Nevertheless, I would change up just a few things, if I was writing this book.

For example, Lee’s treatment of Christianity’s role in American history is very good, yet I would not make as much use of the work of populist historian David Barton, as Lee apparently did. There are much more reliable evangelical Christian historians out there, who can give an accurate reading of American history, with respect to the story of Christianity.

Also, Lee uses the terminology of “theistic evolution,” to describe the efforts of some Christians, to try to find compatibility between Neo-Darwinian biological theory and the Christian faith. A lot of “theistic evolution” advocates are all over the place theologically, and do not necessarily present the best case for reconciling the Bible with contemporary science. Alternatively, those who intentionally speak of “evolutionary Creationism,” are generally better advocates for a view of science that is compatible with conservative evangelical Christianity, a point that Lee does not bring up clearly. However, Lee does a great job showcasing some of the leading ideas, being advanced by Christians, including Young Earth Creationism and Old Earth Creationism. Nevertheless, it is clear that Lee favors an Old Earth Creationist approach, blended with arguments for Intelligent Design, which is arguably a centrist position in the Creation debate.

Lee also does not address timely, cultural issues regarding race, and particularly gender, ranging from same-sex marriage to the transgender trend, that confuses a lot of young people today. Having just a short chapter on such topics would have rounded out the book a bit more completely.

But these criticisms are minor, as the book is really geared as an introduction towards your typical high school graduate, and their parents. I just ordered several copies, to give out to some young people, who are finishing high school this June, to encourage them in their faith journey. If you want to learn more about the book, go to Lee’s website.  He might even send you an autographed copy, just like I got!! Or just go over to Amazon, and order that gift to that young person leaving high school soon!

 


The CSB Apologetics Study Bible: A Review

Can you defend your faith, when skeptics ask you the tough questions?

I work at a state-run university, so as we get geared up for a new class of entering freshmen this week, I have a recommended new resource (or more) that can help equip anyone… and particularly students … with good answers.

The Christian Standard Bible (CSB) is the next-generation version of the older Holman Christian Standard Bible. The CSB translation was released in March, 2017, and has recently been incorporated into The CSB Apologetics Study Bible, which I have the pleasure of reviewing.

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An apologist walks into a bar…

Reasonable Faith, Dallas Bar

 

Wish I’d been there for this event.

Craig at Bar

HT: Reasonable Faith


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