"Apologetics is part of my relationship with the Lord."
This article features Benjamin L. Williamson, a member of Ratio Christi at Liberty University, who was conferred the Legatus Christi award.
The Legatus Christi award was made in memory of Jordan Slusher, a UNC Charlotte student who died in a hiking accident in 2012. Jordan was a leader in the Ratio Christi chapter at his university. His motto was "win the person, not the argument." Ratio Christi staff realized that Jordan "exemplified everything we want to accomplish with students on campus. Jordan was a kind and gentle apologist for Christianity and an amazing evangelist. He was truly an 'Ambassador for Christ.'”
Because of this, they posthumously awarded the Legatus Christi (Latin for "ambassador of Christ") certificate, and his family accepted it in his place. Every so often, we recognize a student who reminds us of Jordan.
In order to receive the Legatus Christi award, one must be able to do a number of things. They must be able to:
- demonstrate a growth in biblical and philosophical understanding
- be able to lucidly share the Gospel and defend Christianit's truth claims
- have a good understanding of the cultural milieu in which they live
- be able to defend the concept of truth
- be able to accurately interpret Scripture
- articulate arguments for God's existence, the validity of miracles, and the reliability of the Bible
- apply the Scriptural principles of love, gentleness, respect, and servant leadership
- and more
In short, one must exemplify: academic rigor, Christ-like character, lucid evangelism, and be willing to teach others how to do the same.
Today that student is Ben. We see Ben as someone who will go on to help lead in the apologetics community--specifically as it pertains to bioethics. This is an extremely important field. One that could save many lives. We're glad to have him as a proponent of our faith in this endeavor. We interviewed Ben to see how he came to know Ratio Christi, where he plans to go from here, and more. See his responses below.
How were you first attracted to apologetics?
I became introduced to apologetics when I was deployed to Iraq in 2009. I had some coworkers who had raised doubts and questions about the faith that I had little understanding of, much less preparation to interact with. I had purchased The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel prior to my deployment, but I had no idea what the book was about, much less the author’s story from atheism to Christianity. It was after reading portions of the book when I discovered there was genuine evidence for the faith that was almost surreal.
How did you first hear about Ratio Christi?
I had some video talks saved a couple years ago on my iTunes from an apologetics conference at Biola University years ago where I watched the former president talking to students about what Ratio Christi does and where their mission is leading them for years to come. After hearing this, I became interested in following their events that they have going on from year to year. I eventually attended a few of their retreats in October at different times and had a blast.
How has apologetics deepened your own faith?
I think it is probably better to say that God has used a certain person – who has done apologetics for a long time – to deepen my faith personally, and that’s J.P. Moreland. J.P. took one of the underlying principles – cultivating the life of the mind – and personalized it for me on a deep level. Apologetics has almost become an integral part of my relationship with the Lord. Not because of just simply considering arguments for and against a certain view but the fact that one is wrestling with God about certain underlying questions that greatly affect him or her on a monumental level. There are issues, without question, that trouble me with regards to my faith and how to defend it as well as a reassurance that my Father in heaven is wise, loving, persuasive, and good.
How has it enhanced your interaction with other people?
It has brought to my mind three unconditional requirements that I must bear in mind when I am interacting with other people of differing beliefs and worldviews: I must present the truth as persuasive, winsome, and beautiful. Wanting the other person to see the beauty and attractiveness of Christianity causes me to see this as an invitational way of interacting with them as opposed to a “talking-at-them” approach. It has also made me feel more confident depending on what the issue is. There is no overstating the fact that I must be knowledgeable enough about an issue in order to be prepared to talk about it. When you know more, you feel less nervous and unprepared and defensive.
What does receiving the Legatus Christi certificate mean to you?
I honestly do not know what to say. I am deeply humbled and grateful that anyone would recognize the relevant qualities that would cause me to be eligible. I have always been overly sharp and critical of myself and have not paid adequate attention to the gifts and strengths that God has endowed me with to the point of cultivating them. Perhaps this is a lesson God is teaching me about that I do not value myself as I should. God my Father is proud of me. He loves me. He is pleased with what He sees when He observes me. I in general do not like special attention or to be noticed in a special way. Some of that is just how I am and some of it may be insecurity/pride. I am very thankful for this certificate because of what God is reminding me by electing to give me this certificate. I am very grateful.
What are your future plans? How may they intersect the discipline of apologetics?
I am hoping to apply to Loyola Marymount University in California, University of Dallas, St. John’s College in Maryland, and a leadership program at John Jay Institute in Philadelphia just in case graduate school does not work out. Ideally, I would love to attend Loyola and pursue their MA in philosophy and possibly a PhD in philosophy in intersecting with bioethics. The defense of the pro-life position, traditional view of marriage, and a view of gender that undermines the transgender movement are probably at the top of my apologetic ambitions alongside my fascination with the relationship between God and morality. I really think there are not enough Christians penetrating the field of bioethics, much less the other areas I alluded to, and I would like to be given the opportunity to make a difference for the kingdom of God.
What would you tell others – especially young Christians – about learning apologetics?
I would say a few things about learning apologetics. First, if you ever intend on reaching unbelievers for Christ (which all Christians should desire), you have got to be familiar with your own faith and be able to explain it. Knowledge is an underemphasized thing in my view.
Second, you need to realize that recognizing that there are other sources of truth and knowledge apart from the Bible does not undermine its authority and role in your life. Christians need to quit making the Bible their primary or only reference they use when discussing apologetic issues. That arguably commits a form of bibliolatry in my view. And third, be very patient with them and yourself. People take a long time to change their minds about important matters and there is no good reason to stress on why they are not persuaded of what you say at the time you say it. Your expectations must be realistic. And lastly, do not neglect your prayer life, fellowship with other believers, and spending time with the Lord in Scripture.
There can be a potential danger of over intellectualizing the Christian life to where one starves themselves emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. God intends to feed our entire souls, not just the intellectual component of our souls. Don’t look on small groups as the same as academic seminars because otherwise you might run the risk of forming an elitist attitude in thinking that only or primarily intellectually inclined believers can edify or benefit you spiritually. I know because I fell into this trap. And lastly, get rid of sources that make it difficult to keep yourself holy and pure. Sin can seriously disrupt the harmony God intends to bring about in your life internally as well as with other people.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Ratio Christi or its affiliates.
Content in blogs does not necessarily represent Ratio Christi’s views. Details