From our outgoing student president:
I can still hear my youth pastor saying, “One in every three of you sitting in this room will walk away from church once you move to college.” I remember thinking he was off his rocker; I mean that’s ridiculous, right? We’ve been in church all our lives; it has become our deeply entrenched routine. What curveball could college possibly throw so that we would walk away from Christ and his church? The answer isn’t a simple one. For some it’s freedom, and for others its institutional liberal agendas.
I spiritually struggled once I got to college. There was even a consecutive couple month long window that I did not attend church. What all I did when I first arrived at college isn’t really important. What is important is that God in his amazing grace convicted me of my sins, and lit my path as I found my way to repentance. He then revealed to me that he wasn’t done showing off his grace, he was choosing me to be a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Now, I do not mean to be misleading; this was a battle in my heart, one that took several months. In my efforts to be concise I do not want that to be lost. Through this rather intense process I grew a lot closer to God, and also became confident in that relationship, sometimes to err in blurring the lines of confidence in Christ and confidence in Matt. At this point you’re probably thinking something along the lines of, “well, this is nice, but what does it have to do with apologetics?” That’s next, for God had much to teach me about this increasingly blurry line.
I read a lot (by my standards) about the Great Commission and those that went to great lengths in an effort to fulfill it. So, I thought it a good thing to work on. I struck up a conversation with a man whom I knew was not a Christian, wholly anticipating to spit out a few Bible verses and to witness scales fall from his eyes as he saw the light, instantly converted. Well, that didn’t happen. What did happen is one rhetorical headshot after another that left me dazed and confused. Now, considering the rhetorical beat down that I suffered, God’s grace was once again in abundance, for my faith in Him was not shaken. Faith in Matt, however, was crushed. I was left feeling that I had completely let God down. I was filled with “what ifs” such as, “what if no one reaches that guy?” or “what if there are other people that have his kind of oppositions, what should I say to them?” It was a dark, but thankfully short season that resulted in my reading a popular Christian apologetic author to better equip myself.
By no coincidence, in just a short time I was forwarded an email about a guy named Adam Tucker (UNCG Chapter Director) who was trying to start an apologetics club here at UNCG called Ratio Christi. There wasn’t a question in my entire being of whether or not God intended my involvement in this new group. My excitement must have been evident, because I somehow ended up being the group’s president for the first two years of its existence. I’m still not sure how that happened. Week after week for two years I learned about apologetics, something that I had not even heard of prior to my rhetorical beat down I was so graciously given. In those two years I’ve purposefully taken many courses that I knew beforehand would bring opposition to what I believed. Ratio Christi has allowed me to hear both sides of the argument, and even more basic has shown me that there are other arguments. In my college classrooms I’ve witnessed professors frequently push theories as laws. Ratio Christi has greatly helped me unpack liberal agendas, which as it turns out professors are not wholly against. I’m not going to waste time in speculation as to why they do this, but they do.
As my final semester was about to start, our campus director (Adam) had this idea. An absolutely crazy idea; you see, he wanted to take a group of our students to the Reason Rally in Washington DC. For those not familiar with the Reason Rally, it was only the largest atheist event in all of history [according to them]. You know, no big deal. I had never been in the religious minority before. I mean, this is the south, most will at least say that they believe in God. While in the midst of thousands of self proclaimed atheists I suddenly became very thankful for every lesson Adam taught, and video chat meetings we had with accomplished apologists around the country. The Spirit gloriously brought teachings to recall as He guided us through conversations with Reason Rally participants. I feel incredibly confident a number of rocks were put in a number of shoes that the Spirit will use in ways I dare not speculate. The Reason Rally taught me what evangelism is, or at least what it should be. It should be a cooperative effort of the Spirit’s power, an unrelenting love for those still in captivity, fruit from the Word, and apologetic reasoning. It was a beautifully scary thing.
Upon our return I had a number of conversations with brothers and sisters in Christ about the event. They were amazed anyone would do what UNCG’s Ratio Christi did. One night I had a Facebook chat conversation with someone from my hometown. She started out with asking me about the Reason Rally, so I dove into my typical synopsis of the event coupled with a sales pitch for apologetics. Most people at this stage of the conversation said something like, “to God be the glory” or “I need to learn more about apologetics” or some combination thereof, but not this girl. She was initiating one of the most heartbreaking conversations I have ever had. She continued with these haunting words that I will never forget, “I realized about a year ago that I no longer believe in God.” This seemed ridiculous, this girl had been in church all of her life. My youth pastor’s words seemed so much wiser now. I talked to this newly atheistic friend of mine about her beliefs and how she had come to believe them. Folks, let me tell you that she had no arguments. She had merely been swayed by theories pushed as facts. Furthermore, she rejected any conversations about holes in those theories, for she was “set in her beliefs, and saw no reason to defend them” no matter how wrong she truly was, nor the consequences that followed. Atheists need faith, too. I continuously pray for the day that she sees need to hear arguments that are in opposition to her self proclaimed “beliefs.”
What gets me about my friend is it should never have come to that point. The church should have answered her questions before they were questions. It’s a part of discipleship, or at least it should be. Our churches need to be discipling our youth with apologetics so that “one in every three” thing becomes archaic. But they’re not. This magnifies Ratio Christi’s importance, as it equips students as they march out into the intellectual battlefield that is each and every classroom. I feel Ratio Christi is filling a void long left empty in our church. For too long we have clung to a blind faith, as if ignorant Christians gained preferential treatment in heaven. The more time I spend in personal evangelism the more I see the importance in apologetics. People have real questions; real answerable questions that John 3:16 does not directly answer. It’s time we stop being lazy and care as much about evangelism as atheists do.
University of North Carolina at Greensboro