Category: Ministry

Why Student Apologetics? – Part 6 of 6 – Engage a mentoring apologist

In our last blog, part 5 of 6, I posed the question of how to bring apologetics into a church that had no one on staff trained in apologetics and little to no budget. The short answer is to engage a mentoring apologist to help you chart a course.

As a mentoring apologist, I have helped several churches begin the process of bringing the discipline of apologetics into their church. So, let me propose several steps to begin the process.

If you are reading this, you have found my website. Step one, therefore, is to find someone that can help. In addition to myself, I know almost all my classmates that have or are working on their Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics and most of them would be happy to engage locally. In addition to classmates, I am also affiliated with Ratio Christi, a worldwide apologetic organization that helps facilitate the training of high school and college students. A mentoring apologist or Ratio Christi director/mentor/staffer can be a significant help in starting apologetics in your church or organization. Step two is to start planning. How do you want to introduce apologetics to the congregation? Bring in an A-list apologist? Local apologist? Video? When do you want to start? Anytime? Beginning of a school year? How often do you want to meet? Weekly? Monthly? Who are you going to train? Students? Entire church? What is the budget, if any? Lastly, what curriculum will you use? These are all questions a mentoring apologist can help answer.

Before we continue, I’d like to answer the questions above regarding our own church here in Burnet. For our first full school year of apologetics training, we brought in Sean McDowell to help us kickoff the year. The following year we hosted his father, Josh McDowell. We did incur a significant cost for these events (honorariums, travel expenses, advertising, etc.), but we opened both events to the entire community, so the benefit extended well beyond the needs of our own church. We had determined that our training would meet weekly on a Monday night for students and later, Thursday night for the entire church. This coming year will see, for the first time, synchronized schedules where both adults and students will get the same lesson within a few days of each other. The intent is to enable parents and students to talk about what they’ve learned outside of the class. Aside from the cost of bringing in Sean and Josh, we have a modest budget to allow for a few special events during the year. We have had several guest speakers come and talk with our two groups. Dr. Sarah Salviander, a University of Texas research astrophysicist has lectured on the cosmology behind the Genesis creation account and the Christian influence on modern science. Christian filmmaker Brandon McGuire also visited us to share his film, Mining for God. The previous year, we showed his film to students and invited Brandon to Skype with us, which he did. Cost? Zero. We do give honorariums to our guest speakers to help them continue in their ministries. We’ve also taken a field trip to the Dunham Bible Museum in Houston, about a three-hour drive for us. Cost? Zero.

Do you need a lesson on Islam? $7.95 from the Summit Ministries website. A one-hour DVD lecture by noted apologist Nabeel Qureshi. William Lane Craig has an excellent series called On Guard, which is a complete curriculum. No budget to buy? Dr. Craig live-streams his Defender classes every Sunday for free. The options are abundant for low to no cost curriculum. <Insert shameless plug> DE&A Second Edition Teaching Notes Front CoverI’ve developed a full year curriculum (Discipleship: Equipping and Apologetics Second Edition) that I offer for a suggested donation of $25. It includes 32 lessons and breakout sessions, teaching notes and student study guides and artwork for a three-ring binder. You can contact me through the contact page if you’d like a copy to review. I also offer many other lessons not packaged with the above edition, a list that can also be found on this website.

We’ve now completed our walk through The Critical Need for Integrating Apologetics into Youth Ministry. I pray that you’ve found this helpful and that you’ll help turn the tide of the youth exodus from the Christian faith.

Why Student Apologetics? – Part 5 of 6 – Instill Apologetics

My delay in writing this article was to allow a certain event to unfold so the “Instill” step could be better illustrated. More about that toward the end of the article.

The fourth and last step in the process of bringing apologetics into the church is to “Instill Apologetics” as part of the culture. From our pilot year with high school seniors, to the high school students (not just seniors) the following year and now this year, apologetics is becoming part of our culture.

In our first full year of teaching high school students, we had research astrophysicist Dr. Sarah Salviander from the University of Texas visit our students. Sarah was a former atheist; she came to share not only her testimony but how the account of Genesis accurately represented the order of creation events in Genesis.  This wasn’t only our regular 30 to 40 students. About 100 people from our church showed up. The moms and the dads and the grandparents.  So, you can see what’s happening now. Apologetics has become part of our church culture. Both the students and adults are now interested.

It’s important to share that we are a Ratio Christi College Prep chapter. It is an organization that seeks to equip both college and high school students in apologetics. They have roughly 150 chapters on college campuses and are fast approaching a similar number of high school chapters. They provide not only a network of like-minded leaders, but access to discounted or free teaching resources, speakers and marketing materials. We were a pilot chapter our first year and saw the benefits immediately. Three of our five high school seniors went to colleges that had Ratio Christi chapters. Two went to the University of Texas at Arlington and one went to Baylor University. We were able to connect them with Ratio Christi chapters at each college. These students could transition to their university Ratio Christi chapters from their high school apologetics Ratio Christi College Prep chapter. It’s a great organization and I would not recommend starting an apologetic ministry for students without affiliation with Ratio Christi. Information on that organization can be found here: www.ratiochristi.org

The event I mentioned at the beginning of this article happened on Sunday, the 26th. On that day, I was ordained and commissioned as Hill Country Fellowship’s Pastor of Equipping and IMG_3111Apologetics. Apologetics has now been completely instilled as part of our church culture. In three years, our church has gone from knowing very little about apologetics, to it now becoming an important part of our culture.

Last night was the first church-wide apologetics training kick-off. We’ll continue through the remainder of the year, but next year, both the students and adults will be taught the same lesson each week to allow families to have conversations about their faith. Equipping and apologetics will be part of continual education for our church and anyone in the surrounding community.

This concludes the steps on the four “I’s” of apologetic training for your church.

  1. Identify the need for apologetics
  2. Introduce apologetics
  3. Include apologetics
  4. Instill apologetics

Well, that’s a good roadmap you might say, but we’re a small church with no one that knows apologetics and little to no budget to support this type of training. Good news! How to do it under those conditions will be the subject of the last article in this series.

“I never knew you.”

A good friend, Mike, recently asked about my thoughts on these verses. Here is my response.

Matthew 7:21 – “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.

The key to this verse is “those who actually do the will.” We must be doers, and not just proclaimers, of faith (“Faith without works is dead.” – see my commentary of the two uses of “works.” One is born of duty and one is born of love for Jesus and what he has done for us). We see this same principle elsewhere in Scripture, particularly James 2, which is a warning against prejudice (James 2:1 – …how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? and also James 2:17 – So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless).

This appears contradictory to other teachings where we are justified by faith and not according to what we have done. This is where we really need two definitions to convey the idea of “works.” These verses in apparent contraction can be found in Genesis 15:6; Deuteronomy 9:4-6; Matthew 9:11-13; John 8:4-11; Romans 3:22-24, 4:4-5, 16, 5:2, 8, 17, 9:10-12, 10:3-13, 11:6; 1 Corinthians 15:10; Galatians 3:1-3, 7, 9-12, 21-26; Ephesians 1:5-12, 2:8-9; and Titus 3:4-7.

The Bible tells us clearly that we are not good enough to provide for our own salvation (Romans 3:23). Our Holy God cannot abide in our sinful presence or lawlessness (James 2:10) and we then require a Savior (Romans 8:3-4 and Titus 3:4-7).

While these two doctrines may appear contradictory, they are in fact complimentary. First, we are saved by grace alone (we don’t deserve it) (Ephesians 2:8-9 and Titus 3:4-7), but saving faith alone is never enough if you believe James 2:26 – Just as the body is dead without breath, (other manuscripts use the term “without spirit”) so also faith is dead without good works. Note here I am intending this definition of works to be works born out of our agape love for God, not obligation. I’ve heard a good analogy that while many counterfeiters may make exceptionally good counterfeit currency, closer examination will reveal they are not true currency. Similarly, true faith can be discerned by examining fruit (Matthew 7:16-20).

We may not be able to determine if one’s fruit is born out of a desire to serve a Holy God out of love or merely as a means to gain the favor or acceptance of others.

Matthew 7:22 – On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’

The question here is this; did the people actually do the things they were speaking of? We have a clue in Luke 6:46-47 – “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it (emphasis mine). I would argue that they never did prophesy or cast out demons, etc. Their intent was to deceive by claiming to have done these things. Even if they did successfully prophesize about a person or event, it was probably only a lucky guess that they had done it correctly.

Sadly, many people who claim to be a Christian can tell you they attended membership classes at church, got baptized, tithe to the church and helped out at the ministry fair for the community. This is the type of works-based mentality that some will engage in to merely impress others with their “Christianityism”. Titus 1:16 – They profess to know God, but deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. Note here the adjective qualifying the second occurrence of “work” in this passage; “good.” This is evidence of the two types of works that can be found in scripture. Unlike the first occurrence of “works” in this verse, “good works” are the works born out of a love for God and it is through these “good works” that our treasure is stored in heaven (Matthew 6:20 – Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.).

So were these people ever “born-again” believers?

Matthew 7:23 – But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’

According to verse 23, the answer is an emphatic “NO!” Jesus told us He never knew them. This is evidence that while they may have claimed to done things in Jesus’ name, it was in name only; there was no repentant heart or surrender to Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Answer the Christian: Why do people suffer for a sin Adam committed long ago?

  1. God chose Adam (and Eve) as His “spiritual representative,” and we now have Adam’s sin imputed to us through his sinful act of disobedience to God in the Garden of Eden. In this view, known as federal headship, it should be noted that this does not mean actual sin has passed to us by way of Adam, but only through his actions is God holding us accountable. In much the same way, Christ’s subsequent righteousness can be seen as imputed to us. An example of this would be a wealthy industrial leader that had many productive factories, and through his financial missteps and bad decisions, was now bankrupt and forced to close the factories. The workers were not responsible for his bad decisions that produced this result, but they bore the consequences and lost their jobs.
  2. We are Adam and Eve’s progeny. In describing this nature, Augustine writes, “The seminal nature was there from which we were to be propagated; and this being vitiated by sin, and bound by the chain of death, and justly condemned, man could not be born in any other state. And thus, from the bad use of free will, there originated a whole train of evil…” We could not, according to Augustine, escape sin, for we were born into it. Further, John Calvin reminds us that “by the corruption into which he [Adam] himself fell, he infected his whole seed.”
    The Bible also gives us reasonable proof of this claim of inheritance, found in Hebrews 7:9–10: “Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.” In this verse, Levi is the son of Jacob, who is the son of Isaac, who is the son of Abraham. It established in this account; Levi was “still in the loins of his father” although his father was not yet born.
  3. Not only are we descendants of Adam and Eve in a physical sense, but a claim can be made that we have also inherited their soul and by default, their sin nature. In defining traducianism, Millard Erickson writes, “We receive our souls by transmission from our parents, just as we do our physical natures.” The sin nature of Adam and Eve has been passed on to us through our soul.
  4. People no longer have to suffer for a sin committed by Adam and Eve long ago. In an analogy, consider a couple that generations ago inherited the family fortune and proceeded to squander it away. While the current family may be living in poverty because of the actions of a great-great-grandparent, they are not directly responsible for what happened decades earlier. They are, however, still paying the price, living in poverty. But suppose a benevolent person comes along and tells them, “I will restore all you lost. All you have to do is receive the gift I am giving you.” In much the same way, that is what Jesus Christ has done for us. We can break the chain of the sin of Adam and Eve by accepting the free gift of the Last Adam, who was without sin.

Live!

We have finally made the switch to our new site and have shuttered our old site. While all of the information has not been added to this site, we expect to have this completed by the end of summer. We’ll have all of our resources and article on this new site by then. Thank you for your patience as we’ve made this switch!

Jail Ministry

Leonora will be ministering at the Burnet County Jail this afternoon.

Ratio Christi – Brownwood, TX

Dan will be speaking on the minimal facts approach to defend the Resurrection. Handouts will be provided.

Our new WordPress website!

Welcome to the new I Will Go Ministries website, the ministry home of Dan and Leonora Britton. Dan is a Christian apologist/teacher and Leonora is a pastor/teacher.

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Dan and Leonora Britton

1 Peter 3:15 –  but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.