"I Was Dramatically Unprepared to Answer Questions about My Faith!"
It’s time to spotlight some outstanding students again! Each spring we interview new recipients of the Ratio Christi Legatus Christi certificate – students selected by their chapter directors as being exceptionally well-versed in apologetics and capable of meeting the challenge to be “an Ambassador of Christ” (see the requirements for Legatus Christi).
Our first student to be highlighted this spring is Jakeb Shuck, who graduated with a B.A. in Criminal Justice in May 2017 from Marshall University, where RC chapter director John Mays leads a vital and active group.
Mays explains why he selected Jakeb for the Legatus Christi designation:
“Jake is our student president and has been instrumental in leading our group the past two semesters. He has coordinated with the Student Government Association to obtain student funding for the chapter. He also presented to his home church elder board for funds, and received $500.00 for our club. Jake taught Frank Turek’s I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist to his home church congregation and coordinated four presentations for myself and two other members of our club at his church.”
Q: When did you find Christ as your Savior?
A: I found Christ as my Savior during my second year of college. It was actually during a presentation by a guy who claimed to have had a life-after-death experience during which he met relatives, Jesus, and angels. Looking back I cannot comment on the veracity of his story, but the very thought of Christianity being genuine was enough to spur me in the direction I needed to go.
Q: As a young person in church, how much did you learn about the Christian faith and reasons to believe?
A: I learned almost nothing about the Christian religion from the church that I was raised in, and the little bit that was taught to me was theologically questionable.
Q: When did you realize the material was questionable?
A: This only became apparent to me after my foray into apologetics. The things that were taught about the nature of God, sin, and eschatology were erroneous or watered down. For example, God was thought of as having a human-like body, and eschatological teachings were saturated by material from sources that are known as being outside mainstream Christian doctrine.
Q: How did you get interested in apologetics, and how did that lead to RC?
A: I first became interested in apologetics after a long discussion with two self-proclaimed atheists online. They showed me how dramatically unprepared I was for the simplest indictments against the faith. Shortly thereafter, I went to my pastor with the arguments raised by the atheists. He answered by giving me the Frank Turek book, which sparked a conflagration of passion for Christian apologetics. I learned about Ratio Christi from one of Frank’s television broadcasts.
Q: What is this RC chapter like?
A: My RC chapter is amazing! We have a mixture of open discussion and pre-planned presentation nights. Usually 15-20 people attend, with at least one and sometimes three secular students.
Q: Is Marshall’s campus environment tolerant toward the Christian viewpoint?
A: Marshall University’s campus is very tolerant towards Christians, since the vast majority of students identify as Christian. However, I would say that the campus is hostile towards apologetics and RC! The Christian presence on campus could accurately be described as “fideism”* (the doctrine that knowledge depends on faith or revelation). Apologetics interferes with the emotionalism that forms the foundation of many students’ beliefs.
Q: How did you feel about receiving the Legatus Christi certificate?
A: I was elated and proud that my chapter director thought so highly of me.
Q: In what ways has apologetics enriched your life, your own faith and your witness to others?
A: First, apologetics has boosted me intellectually. After I became a zealous student of apologetics, the first thing I noticed was my GPA soaring. Next, it has provided me with answers to many pernicious existential questions, putting to bed many sleepless nights. Lastly, other Christians seem pleasantly surprised that evidence for their faith actually exists!
Q: How do you imagine carrying the apologetics you’ve learned into your future endeavors?
A: I absolutely feel that apologetics will be with me for the rest of my life. It has so thoroughly permeated every facet of my intellect that I cannot even imagine myself without it. I could really see myself publishing treatises on various apologetic topics in the near future.
Q: Please define for us in your own words the “Exponential Evangelism” component of why you received Legatus Christi.
A: Exponential evangelism, to me, is the opportunity for an apologist to indirectly expose thousands to the gospel. By witnessing and evangelizing to those in his/her milieu, the apologist indirectly witnesses to everyone that those people will then go out and talk to. This concept was clearly communicated, in somewhat different words, all throughout my involvement with RC.
Q: What are your short and/or long-term career/ministry/mission plans?
A: I plan on starting law school next year and plan to use my skills as a lawyer to defend religious liberties both in the United States and abroad, if possible. I see myself enriching the body of apologetic knowledge intellectually, but not really spearheading my own ministry in the conventional sense.
Q: Would you consider coming back to work with an RC chapter in any capacity, and how could you do so?
A: I would consider coming back to work with RC. Particularly, if I ever became a professor. (Editor’s Note: That would be great, Jake! We all know that the majority of influence in schools today is secular!)
Q: What measure of importance would you give for young Christians (and perhaps their parents) to learn apologetics?
A: This is really important. Young Christians and their parents need to learn apologetics, because, collectively, we as a church must convince an unbelieving world that we are not gullible, emotional fools. If we are seriously going to talk about winning souls for Christ, we first need to hone our wits and focus our minds. The Christian narrative is accurate and relevant, and apologetics is the best medium to convince others of that.
Q: Anyone you’d especially like to thank in closing?
A: I would like to give a nod to my parents. They are a source of great encouragement, and the benefactors of my book collection!
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