Defending Truth & Christianity at the University

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Legatus Christi

“Win the person…not the argument.” ~ Jordan Slusher

Shortly after I (former president, Rick Schenker) came on board with Ratio Christi, I noticed something that amazed me. Students sitting under the training of our apologists were turning into evangelists on their campuses--places which are often pretty hostile toward Christianity. They were not afraid to engage in conversations about the things they had learned: absolute truth, the existence of God, the reliability of the New Testament, and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I found this so interesting that I took a fresh look at Ephesians 4:11. The evangelist, like the other offices mentioned, is called to “equip believers to do the work of the ministry so that the church may be built up.”  In this case, the evangelist is equipping others for the work of the ministry by helping them become better at sharing the gospel. Our apologists were equipping these students with the ability to answer the questions and objections of their peers and professors. As one student said,

The nights we had Ratio Christi were always my favorite of the week. Being a part of this group helped me understand how Christianity is not simply a blind faith, but a belief grounded in evidence. It [answered] some doubts I had … and created a doorway to bring my atheist friends to explore a reasonable faith. In a campus as spiritually opposed [to Christianity] as Rutgers, Ratio Christi is an oasis for the student seeking reasonable answers and evidences to their search for truth.  ~Andrea from Rutgers

In the spring of 2012, dozens of students joined Ratio Christi leaders to go to the Atheist “Reason Rally” in Washington DC. After hearing them talk about how they went right into the crowd to engage the atheists in rational conversations about truth and Christianity, I realized that our students have an opportunity to make a huge impact at the university and in the culture.

In order to encourage students to continue striving toward being ambassadors for Christ, Ratio Christi has created a set of standards as a guide. Ratio Christi defines an ambassador of Christ as someone that has become a conversational evangelist using apologetics (logic and evidence) to undergird the gospel and defend truth and Christianity.

Legatus Christi Certificate

An award has been established to recognize those students that have met the high standards established by Ratio Christi. Thus, a Legatus Christi Certificate (Latin for Ambassador of Christ) may be conferred on any student that has demonstrated the use of apologetics in evangelistic conversations and is willing and able to regularly teach other believers the skills they have learned. 

Legatus Christi Standards

Each student receiving the designation of Legatus Christi—Ambassador for Christ—will have completed a challenging course of study in areas of Christian apologetics, worldview analysis, evangelism, and Christian thinking that has better equipped them to be leaders in the Christian community, disciple makers, and evangelists for Jesus Christ. In order to earn this title the Ratio Christi member will:

  1. Demonstrate greater biblical and philosophical understanding, Christian commitment, spiritual discernment, and more effective evangelism, at the end of their involvement than at the beginning.
  2. Be better equipped to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and defend its truth claims against objections.
  3. Develop a better understanding of the cultural milieu in which they live and better know how to engage that culture with love, respect, and humility.
  4. Gain a better understanding of the religious alternatives in their community and in the world by investigating such items as various world religions, religious sects, and cults and know how to respond in an effective manner.
  5. Defend the concept of truth, its nature, and its application against contrary claims.
  6. Develop the skills to accurately interpret the scriptures using solid hermeneutical principles.
  7. Articulate the arguments for God’s existence, the validity of miracles, the reliability of the Bible, and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  8. Apply scriptural principles of love, gentleness, and respect in engagement with non-Christians.
  9. Grow deeper into the Sacred Romance, resulting in a lifestyle commended by the Scriptures.
  10. Better integrate their thinking and lives in line with the Ratio Christi mission statement and the historic Christian faith.
  11. Be able to identify some basic challenges in apologetics related to God, miracles, Christ, and the Bible. They will be able to defend the Faith from the challenges in these areas and be able to present a logical, systematic approach to apologetics.
  12. Be able to teach the things learned to other faithful men and women who will be able to teach others also.
  13. Understand and apply the principles of servant leadership.
  14. Be able to show a heart of compassion to everyone, whether believer or non-believer, in the exercise of the evangelistic and apologetic effort and be able to skillfully apply God’s grace and truth to areas of sin and misunderstanding both in their own lives and in the lives of others.
  15. Be better able to engage both Christians and non-Christians in conversation concerning humanity’s fallen nature and the provision of grace via Jesus’ atonement on humanity’s behalf to all that trust in Christ.

These can also be summed up in four core values: 

  1. Academic rigor. Someone who has pursued God with their mind.
  2. Demonstrated, Christ-like character (integrity).
  3. Enthusiastic evangelism. Engages others with compassion and respect. 
  4. Willing to teach others which leads to exponential impact.
Why is it important to confer Legatus Christi Certificates?

We are building a movement of evangelists who can not only win people to Christ, but also train other believers. This certificate gives the student access to an association of Ratio Christi ambassadors and leaders to facilitate ongoing communication. This will help us to encourage them to stay true to the charge bestowed on them when they were awarded the Legatus Christi certificate. They will become powerful agents of change in the society to which they go. It is also important to recognize those that have excelled in their study, character, and witness. We hope that this will help inspire others to follow their example.

Remember that a movement is based on a spontaneous exponential growth at the grassroots level. That makes it impossible to quantify the actual growth because the exponential factor is entirely out of our control. However, when a student graduates with a Legatus Christi certificate, he or she is charged with teaching apologetics to other believers. These young Ambassadors will be heading off to careers as nurses, lawyers, teachers, journalists, etc. They will be attending churches where they can offer training in Sunday Schools, youth groups, cell groups, at Christian schools or Bible clubs at public schools, or even at other Ratio Christi chapters. Their job is to train other believers and charge them to train others also. We simply sow and water and pray for God to give the increase.

A specific set of high goals will be a strong incentive for students associated with Ratio Christi. We hope this will be a rallying cry and encouragement to them as they strive to become Ambassadors for Christ.

In Honor of Jordan Slusher

On October 18, 2012 Ratio Christi awarded its first Legatus Christi Certificate posthumously to Jordan Slusher, a student leader at the University of North Carolina Charlotte.

Continue: Learn about Jordan Slusher's Life and Legacy 

“This world won’t define my Hope!” ~ Jordan Slusher

See a list of all Legatus Christi Recipients to date.

Legatus Christi

Sample Legatus Christi award