Advice to Christian Apologists Part 2

For those feeling called to an apologetics ministry, Dr. Craig continues his lecture offering advice to help students in that pursuit. In this second installment, he explains how societal ideas are formed primarily within the university and why apologists can have more impact when they’ve earned a doctorate in a specialized field of study. He then concludes with some very practical advice on why anyone called to apologetics ministry must strive to develop a humble spirit and a true Christian character.

Read Part 1 of Apologetics Training Advice

2. Apologetics ministry - Earn a doctorate in your area of specialization.

This may not come as welcome advice to some of you. But popular apologetics alone will not do the job. Popular apologetics may sway the uneducated, but it will not change the prevailing thought structures of society.

In order to shape the thought structures of society so as to foster a cultural milieu that allows a place for the Christian worldview as an intellectually viable option, we must influence the university. I say this because the single most important institution shaping Western culture is the university. It is at the university that our future political leaders, our journalists, our lawyers, our teachers, our business executives, our artists, will be trained. It is at the university that they will formulate or, more likely, simply absorb the worldview that will shape their lives. And since these are the opinion-makers and leaders who shape our culture, the worldview that they imbibe at the university will be the one that shapes our culture. If we change the university, we change our culture through those who shape culture. If the Christian worldview can be restored to a place of prominence and respect at the university, it will have a leavening effect throughout society.

But that implies that popular-level apologetics aimed at the masses will not do the job. Only scholarly level apologetics aimed at specialists in the various academic disciplines will be capable of changing the university and so ensuring lasting cultural change. Machen observed that many people in his day "would have the seminaries combat error as it is taught by its popular exponents" instead of confusing students "with a lot of German names unknown outside the walls of the university." But, Machen insisted, the scholarly method of procedure

. . . is based simply upon a profound belief in the pervasiveness of ideas. What is to-day matter of academic speculation begins to-morrow to move armies and pull down empires. In that second stage, it has gone too far to be combated; the time to stop it was when it was still a matter of impassionate debate. So as Christians we should try to mould the thought of the world in such a way as to make the acceptance of Christianity something more than a logical absurdity. 

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