Full discipleship impact will only be possible when the rational, righteousness, and the relational are combined. Explaining truth, living it out, and loving others is a powerful combination.
We see this explained in I Peter 3:15-16 (NASB):
…But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, [righteousness] always being ready to make a defense [rational] to everyone who asks you to give an account [rational] for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence [relational]; and keep a good conscience [righteousness] so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ [righteousness] will be put to shame.
This ministry holds to three important values in Christian discipleship:
(1) Christians must understand their faith
(2) they must live in the world, but not of it
(3) they must have compassion and understanding for their neighbor who needs saving faith in Jesus Christ
In other words
(1) Educate/Equip in Apologetics & Worldview
(2) Engage with Integrity
These three values are coordinated and inseparable. The table below shows several other ways to communicate these principals.
|Equipped (Apologetics & Worldview)||Engage with Integrity||Evangelism|
|"Always be ready to give an answer"||"Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts"||"Gentleness and Respect"|
|Content of the Gospel||Good Citizen||Friendship Evangelism|
|Minister to the Mind||Minister to the Moral Character||Minister to the Body/Emotions|
|Charge: Christians are stupid and irrelevant||Charge: Christians say one thing and do another. Hypocrites.||Charge: Christians are angry, self-justified, stuffy, isolationist|
|1Knowledge: Accurately Informed Mind||1Character: Attractive Manner||1Wisdom: Artful Method|
|Son: The Word||Father: Holy One||Spirit: The Comforter|
1This wording of explaining these three values is from Greg Koukl and Stand to Reason as part of their "Ambassadors Creed."
The book, Relational Apologetics: Defending the Christian Faith with Holiness, Respect, and Truth by Michael Sherrard (Kindle Version here), provides a very good explanation of how these three values work in concert. Another example from the Bible is Paul's charge in Romans 12:2:
Do not be conformed to this world [righteousness], but be transformed by the renewing of your mind [rational], that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [relational evangelism].
Explaining truth, living it out, and loving others is a powerful combination that will enable you to impact those around you. We call this combination of three values Apologetics Discipleship. While there is more to Christian discipleship, without these aspects individuals and churches are missing key components of Christ’s call. They must all work together in concert for fully effective outreach to unbelievers. If one is lacking, the others will not operate as they should. Without careful thinking and an accurate objectively true message, non-believers will have what they think are grounds for rejection of God, the Bible, and the Resurrection. Without moral integrity, the charge of being hypocrites gives people an emotional smoke screen to reject the message. Without honest interest in their lives, your neighbors will have no personal desire to hear the message regardless of its truth.
This does not mean to keep these values “in balance” with 33% of each. Jesus is our example. He was full of grace and truth.” There is no need to neglect one to have the other. And neither are any of these three values “responsible” for individuals placing their faith into Christ. No one can be reasoned into heaven. No one can be impressed into heaven. And no one can be loved into heaven. But each of them is a tool the Holy Spirit uses to eliminate excuses, plant seeds, and bring the will to the foot of the Cross. So, the task before us is to Get educated, Get engaged, and Go evangelize.
Another important value of Ratio Christi is teaching students to be leaders. This must include a method that incorporates the previous listed values and lean on the leadership model of Christ. The underlying method of Ratio Christi is:
(4) Servant leadership
Jesus did not lead by domination, but by serving. He washed his disciples feet. He gave his life for others. Ratio Christi endeavors to serve the university, the church, and the apologetics movement. We are not here to compete with other ministries, but to enhance them. We see ourselves as a success if we help other ministries on campus thrive.
Furthermore, Ratio Christi is trying to bring apologetics into the realm of discipleship. The recent history of the apologetics movement has been more event focused, probably out of necessity due to the fact that there have been so few apologists. However, as more and more apologists are being trained there is opportunity and need to add "on the ground" mentoring into apologetics ministry. One on one and small group apologetics discipleship will be key in transforming the university culture.
Connecting the concepts of discipleship and being a servant is the biblical concept of doulos. Jesus plays on the concept of servant to image his own mission (Mark 10:45 ; Luke 22:27 ). The epistolary literature focuses on the figurative usage of slave. These books frequently use the primary term for slave, doulos [dou'lo"], as a metaphor of being a servant to God (Rom 1:1 ; Php 1:1 ; 2 Tim 2:24 ; Titus 1:1 ; James 1:1 ; 1 Peter 2:16 ; 2 Peter 1:1 ), to fellow believers (2 Cor 4:5 ), and even to sin (Rom 6:20 ). This is a most striking metaphor because a Greek person linked personal dignity and freedom together. Freedom was power and something about which to be proud. The use of doulos [dou'lo"] to image relationship to God and fellow believers sent a message of commitment and abandonment of autonomy (1 Cor 7:22 ; Eph 6:6 ;Col4:12). Similarly, instead of teaching people that God just wants to make our lives better, Ratio Christi is trying to teach about the issues of self-denial and servant leadership (being a doulos).