Q: How did you become a director of Ratio Christi at Ohio State University? What led you to make that decision?
Eric: As a missionary, I was already doing a lot of evangelism and discipleship at The Ohio State campus. I realized there were not any ministries that had any apologetic focus on the campus. I also had seen the first hand results of Christians leaving the faith on the campus. The skepticism is everywhere and is certainly not getting any better.
Q: What initially drew you to apologetics?
Eric: After I became a Christian in 1994, I began to share my faith with a lot of people. It became very obvious to me that there are many objections to the Christian faith. I realized that if I wanted to be an effective evangelist, learning apologetics was not even an option. I also saw William Lane Craig do a debate in 1998 at The Ohio State campus. That was a real inspiration to me. And when my wife gave me a copy of Reasonable Faith for my 28th birthday, I became addicted to apologetics. The rest is history.
Q: Where have you seen the most benefits of being a Ratio Christi director? And what have been your biggest challenges?
Eric: Being a director means that if you really want to see RC make a difference on the campus, you have to put the time and effort into it. But the benefit is that you see a lot of changed lives. People get to hear about truthfulness of the Christian faith. And when people actually hear how and why Christianity is true, this means there is a greater chance they will stick with the faith. So the hard work pays off. Also, to see students on fire for evangelism and apologetics is exciting. The Holy Spirit uses apologetics to make them into bold, confident witnesses for the kingdom of God. The greatest challenge is to get Christians and other campus ministries to see the need to learn apologetics and to catch the vision of RC.
Q: Would you mind sharing a testimony of a student who was greatly impacted by Ratio Christi at OSU?
Eric: This past Spring, a student who used to go to the atheist group on the campus told me he left atheism for Christianity. While he had been raised in a Christian home, he had left it for atheism during his college years. Sadly, The God Delusion had played a role in his switch to atheism. We had one of our RC members attend the atheist meetings for the year of Fall 2010 to Spring on 2011. It was during this time, that this former atheist (who was at the meetings) observed the fact that our RC member challenged many of the atheist arguments at the meetings. This showed this student that RC had something to offer. He said he was disappointed in the substance of the atheist arguments and never saw anything but lots of complaining about how bad religion is for the world. This showed this student that RC had something to offer and in turn caused him to start attending RC meetings. Hence, he has been attending RC meetings for the last two years. He has also attended just about all our events (William Lane Craig lecture, Frank Turek events). He told me that for him he really cared about whether Christianity was true. He finally read The Case for Christ last summer. It was the historical argument for Jesus that really did it for him. So all I can say is that I am happy that RC was used by God to play a role in his journey from atheism to Christianity.
Q: Tell us about an event that your chapter put on this year.
Eric: Frank Turek (CrossExamined.org) came to OSU in March 2012. This was the second time we had Frank come to the campus. Here are some personal testimonies from people that attended the event:
- “Loved the event! Reinforced my faith and opened some doors for witnessing already. I’m an older OSU staffer”
- “The lecture was awesome. What I learned most from the lecture is that Christians can stick up for their beliefs without being condescending towards others. I appreciated the respect for varying opinions by the speaker”
- “Thanks again for hosting such an engaging event. I had no idea how well-versed (in everything, really) Dr. Turek would be before I decided to come; I’m glad I got ahold of my new and signed book copy! I’ll definitely come back next year because it’s a great place to meet people, Christian and non-believer alike. I met a couple of dudes, both atheists, of whom I could tell were seriously considering what Turek had to say — something to pray for!”
- “The Turek event was excellent! Loved it! Especially the Q&A, but the whole thing was excellent. Great attendance, too! I have some friends who came and brought their friend who is currently agnostic but open-minded. He really enjoyed it and said that he has a lot of questions for them now”
- "Thanks for the OSU “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist!” event. I really enjoyed hearing Dr.Turek present all of his material and learned a lot to help me in my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. You guys have a great program and I hope to hear more from you guys.”
Q: How often do you meet? What do you often do during your meetings?
Eric: We met every week during each term. We covered a variety of topics such as:
• Apologetic Methodology
• Hermeneutics: How to Study the Bible
• Do We Really Have Free Will?
• A Look at Atheism
• The Gospels: How Do We Know They Are Reliable?
• How Do We Know the Bible is the Word of God?
• Is Jesus the Only Way?
• The Impossible Faith
• The Quest for Certainty
• Handling the Objection: “But Jesus Never Said ‘I am God.’”
• The Importance of Being a Disciple
• A Look at Naturalism
• A Look at Messianic Prophecy
Q: Do you have any other highlights from the year to share?
Eric: Yes! In February of 2012, we were asked to do a panel discussion with the atheist group called “Can Christianity and Science Get Along?” I, our president, and one other RC member were asked several questions about this topic. Questions included “What do you believe about evolution?” “What do you believe about Adam and Eve?” “Is the earth young or old?” The audience was predominately atheists.
Also, during this same month, the president of RC and myself participated in an Interfaith Panel. We answered a variety of questions from the moderator and audience as well. What is humorous is that two atheists were on the panel as well. At certain times, it almost seemed like a debate between the atheists and us.
This year, our president of the chapter was a very bright engineering student named Michael Shenigorudy. Michael is very knowledgeable about historical apologetics and loves to defend the resurrection of Jesus. So this is where he and I share the same passions. Michael had also been attending several of the atheist meetings this year and challenged some of their arguments as well.
In April of 2012, Michael did a debate/dialogue with one atheist on the resurrection of Jesus. This was an event that was put on by both RC and the atheist group. Michael did a wonderful job and we even heard that one atheist said that he is really thinking that Jesus may have risen from the dead. He said the event has got him thinking very hard about these issues.
About two weeks later, Michael was asked to do a presentation called “The Impossible Faith” (an apologetic for the resurrection of Jesus) at a philosophy club on the campus. Keep in mind that this group consists of undergraduate and graduate students who mostly specialize in philosophy. It even consists of some of the philosophy professors at OSU. Furthermore, philosophers generally have a hard time with historical arguments for the existence of God. So Michael had a lot to deal with in doing this presentation. Suffice to say, Michael did a great job again. He also answered some difficult questions in the Q&A from professors about miracles, etc.
Keep in mind that both of these events took a lot of preparation on Michael’s part. I am very proud of him.
During the month of May, I received an email from one student who had been attending our meetings. She also attends another campus ministry. Anyway, she had a friend she had been witnessing to and asked if I would meet with both of them to go over some of the objections to the faith. When I met with them, her friend said that I had given her a glimmer of hope about the truthfulness of Christianity. Not to boast, but she also said we had done a better job answering her questions than anyone else on the campus.
We also did a fair amount of evangelism on the campus in May. I always run into students that have attended our events. They thank us and say they really appreciated the speakers. I could not help but share just SOME of the objections to Christianity that I heard from a variety of students on the campus. For those that say there is no need to learn apologetics, perhaps you should re-evaluate whether that is true or not. Here goes:
Objection by a Jewish person: Jesus is not the Messiah because there is no new Temple. The Messiah is supposed to build the Third Temple.
Jewish person: Gentiles don’t need to believe in Jesus to be correctly related to God. As long as they keep the Seven NoahideLaws, they will be fine.
Jewish person: There is a difference between theology and history. History is more about facts. Theology is more about belief. The Bible is really just theology. Quit trying to say it has anything to do with Jesus! Israel is ready. He is waiting on Israel to be worthy of his coming!
Jewish person: Truth is in perception. Whatever you perceive to be the truth is true!
Jewish person: I have a hard time believing in a God when I look around the world. While I do go to Temple, I am agnostic. I mean how can there be a God who intervenes into history when we have things like the Holocaust.
Jewish person: There have been alot of crazy Jewish people in the history of Judaism. Paul was one of them!
Response: What is your evidence that Paul was crazy? In the end, this is just an assertion.
[Note: Although not Jewish himself, Eric grew up in a Jewish community, where most of his friends were Jewish. He attended countless Jewish holiday events, weddings, and numerous Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. His daily exposure to Jewish culture continued throughout his youth and into his college years. At age 24, Eric had never before met Jewish people who believed in Yeshua (Jesus). Invited by a friend to attend Beth Messiah, a messianic congregation led by a Jewish pastor, Eric heard the powerful and convicting message of salvation, for the first time, taught from the Book of Matthew. After becoming a believer a few weeks later, Eric felt a strong burden from God to share his faith in Yeshua with his Jewish friends.]
Jewish person: We as Jews don’t believe in human sacrifice, blood atonement, or a virgin birth. Furthermore, we don’t think God can be a man (Numbers 23:19)!
Jewish person: I am a pantheist. And I think God is too transcendent for us to understand Him.
Jewish person: The New Covenant passages in Jeremiah and Ezekiel have nothing to do with Jesus. Look at the context: they are about the future Messianic Age when the Messiah comes back to Israel.
Christian: It does not matter if Jesus is the Messiah. All that matters are his moral teachings!
Atheist: I see no need to posit God for any explanation for anything. And the Jesus story is the same as Horus, Mithras, etc. After all, these figures did not even exist (they are myths). The same goes with the Jesus story!
Atheist: What evidence do you have for the miracles of Jesus?
Atheist: Evolution can give us objective morality. I don’t need God to explain that at all.
Atheist: I don’t need to appeal to any authorities in my arguments. They are all my own ideas. And even if you cite authorities to show the universe has a beginning, I probably won’t agree with them and still think the universe is eternal.
Atheist: The genre of the Gospels is historical fiction!
Atheist: Why do Christians start with the Bible to show the Bible is true? That is so circular!
Atheist: The empirical method is the way to show God exists. And since you can’t demonstrate God’s existence empirically, He does not exist.
Atheist: I admit that my worldview is kind of depressing. After all, I have no hope for my loved ones or myself when we die. However, what I believe is true. So in the end that is all that matters.
Atheist: I don’t think I believe in the law of causality. So saying God doesn’t need a cause won’t work!
You can learn more about Ratio Christi at OSU here: RC Chapter OSU