21st Century Apologetics: Diplomacy through Conversations

21st Century Apologetics: Diplomacy through Conversations

Many authors have commented on the erosion of belief in absolute truth among Western societies. The rise of relativistic thinking in post-modern America seems to discard long-accepted ideas like a heliocentric solar system in favor of a flat-earth theory. Relativism is commonly expressed as “My truth is my truth; your truth is your truth,” or “You do you.” Evangelical authors often pose a concern about the effect this trend will have on sharing the gospel. How can we share the truth of scripture when truth is viewed as customizable?

Mature followers of Christ are right to be concerned about this trend. The common response centers on training in apologetics, or defending the faith. That word often brings to mind some form of debate (which most believers do not feel qualified to begin) or verbal combat (which most believers do not enjoy). Is there another way to share the good news of enduring hope, joy and peace with our friends, co-workers, families and neighbors? Yes, believers have the best message to share to a confused, hurting world and can reach others through conversations that pose questions in a way that deepens relationships.

Know What You Believe

Christ-followers should know what they believe and be prepared to share this in meaningful ways. Speaking to the first topic, Francis J. Beckwith captured the essence of a Christian worldview in three points:

  1. There exists an eternally self-existing moral agent named God, who created the universe ex nihilo.
  2. God created human beings in his image.
  3. God reveals himself in special revelation, the Bible, as well as general revelation.1

Christian apologists rightly quote 1 Peter 3:15 – “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”2 There is a Kingdom mandate for God’s people to proclaim the gospel, and to be prepared to do so. Study helps in preparation, but notice the phrasing of this passage. Peter is assuming that Christ-followers will live in such a way that others will ask about the hope they hold in their hearts.

Know How to Share What You Believe

Peter immediately follows that well-quoted phrase with a caution: “But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” Training in what to say should be accompanied by training in how to say it. Speaking to tactics, Gregory P. Koukl challenged Jesus-followers to “artfully manage the details of dialogue.”

Here are a few questions that should get your friend to examine their thinking:

  1. Do you mind if I ask you a question?
    Believers can avoid coming off as pushy or preachy by “inviting others to participate in dialogue.” The answer will signal whether our friend is willing to engage in conversation or if the believer should prayerfully look for another opportunity for dialogue.
  2. What do you mean by that?
    Likewise, open-ended questions place an expectation on the other person to define what they mean when delivered with a genuine desire to understand them.
  3. How did you come to that conclusion?
    This question assumes the best for the other person: that they have thought through what they believe and can relate their position with clarity. It may also reveal where our friend has built their beliefs on feelings instead of evidence or careful thought.
  4. Have you ever considered … ?
    Here is where a believer can gently challenge another’s position. By presenting evidence for an alternative conclusion, believers can plant seeds in conversation that our friends desperately need to hear.3

This strategy is more like skilled diplomacy than heated debate or armed combat. Knowing what we believe is only half the preparation; knowing how to share the truth in a conversational way makes us effective ambassadors for the Kingdom.

If you would like training in either area, please consider these special courses offered this summer:
Contemporary Issues in Apologetics (graduate course) – meets online and on-campus from May 6 – August 18, 2019.

Apologetic Issues for Cross-Cultural Engagement (undergraduate course, open to current high school students) – meets online from June 24 – August 18, 2019.

Follow one of these steps if you are interested in registering and you are not yet a GCD student:

High School students (not yet graduated): fill out this application

High School graduates: fill out this application

Graduate-level students (completed a bachelor degree): fill out this application

For more information, please contact our Admissions Team.

____________

Notes:

  1. Francis J. Beckwith, To Everyone an Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview, eds. Francis J. Beckwith, William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2004), 14-15.
  2. New International Version.
  3. Quoted or adapted from Gregory P. Koukl, “Tactics: Applying Apologetics to Everyday Life,” in To Everyone an Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview, eds. Francis J. Beckwith, William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2004), 48-54.

Student Spotlight: Vonnie Bellamy

Q&A with a Bachelor of Arts in Divinity student

Vonnie faithfully attended church most of her life, but was unsure about going back to college after a long break from school. GCD’s helpful staff and student body encouraged her to take the next step.

Bible college studentWhat made you decide to take classes at GCD?

One day as I was driving on Cliffdale Road, I saw GCD and call to inquire about the curriculum being offered. After speaking with one of the academic advisors, I decide to attend an accredited Bible college. I am currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts in Divinity program.

What do you like best about your experience with GCD so far?

The three things I like best about my experience with GCD are the helpful/friendly staff, the help of tutors, and at my age how to navigate online.

Where/when do you do your best studying?

I do my best studying in the school’s learning lab and at home in my quiet place, my Lazy Boy. I do my best studying anytime when I’m alone.

Bible college students

What tips could you offer a new student at GCD?

Come with an open mind to learn and grow, and to be willing to do the homework assignments in a timely manner.

How has your learning at GCD helped you grow personally?

Learning at GCD has helped me to grow in the areas of self-discipline. That is, being consistent with early morning devotions and managing finances more effectively. Also, It helped me to learn how to search out the truth of God’s word, and to grow in the area of marriage and family.

How has your experience at GCD benefited your ministry to others?

I am more able to minister to others with confidence and assurance in a better understanding of what the Bible truly means.

Theological Journal

 

Theological Studies Journal

theological-studies-journal

 


 

     Grace College of Divinity’s Journal of Contemporary Theological Studies has been approved for indexing in The Christian Periodical Index of the Association of Christian Librarians. It has been published by the Association of Christian Librarians. This index provides access to over 150 journals written from an evangelical perspective or of interest to the evangelical community. A majority of the journals indexed are unique titles to this database.

Grace College of Divinity’s Journal of Contemporary Theological Studies was created by GCD to aid others in their pursuit of knowledge in theology. Article topics range from practical theology, to historical, biblical, or exegetical theology. The journal is to benefit students, staff, and the general public. GCD hopes that the journal would be an encouraging way to grow and collaborate on theological issues.  If you enjoy writing or have written a paper that would be of interest to the evangelical community submit it to scrowther@gcd.edu

 

GCD’s Student Life: Social Media and Journal

 

GCD’s Student Life: Social Media and Journal

GCD_IG.jpg

Does GCD have any social media we can follow?

       GCD has a Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. For Facebook, look for Grace College of Divinity, and for Instagram and Twitter look for gcdivinty. Most weeks we have a different student spotlight on our website dev.series5technology.com/gcdtest and the person we select takes over our Instagram for a whole day so others can see our students’ lives. On the website you can also check out weekly blogs about different topics.

We also have a theological journal that was on our website where students are able to share articles and respond to articles written by other students. The Journal has since been moved to a site dedicated to The Journal of Contemporary Theological Studies. If you are interested please visit the write for the Journal of Contemporary Theological Studies section of the website .

 

Bachelor of Divinity Degree

<h2>Bachelor of Divinity Degree</h2>
The Bachelor of Divinity program is a four-year course of study suited to the student who desires extensive training for the purpose of leadership in the local church. The program consists of 96 credit hours of required courses and 24 credit hours of elective study, relevant to leadership and educational ministries. Courses have been aligned in three specific disciplines: Biblical Studies, Theology, an Practical Ministry. In addition in the 120 hours of academic studies, student are required to complete a practicum in their fourth year of study and fulfill the Leadership in Action requirement.
<h3>Program Objectives</h3>
This program will:
<ul>
<li>Confront the student with the Word of God proclaiming humanity’s alienation from God and God’s work of redemption in Christ (Bible) and to explore ramifications of this Gospel for the student’s personal life and the work of the Church in the world (theology);</li>
<li>Equip the student with the tools to communicate clearly and effectively;</li>
<li>Bring about the student’s increased understanding of the world in which one lives, including history and philosophy;</li>
<li>Give the student a sense of preparedness by providing practical ministry experience.</li>
</ul>
<h3 style=”padding-left: 30px;”>First Year Program</h3>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”>BIB 101  Old Testament Survey                   3hrs
BIB 103  New Testament Survey                 3hrs
BIB 104  Hermeneutics                                  3hrs
CLG 101 Destiny &amp; Calling                           3hrs
HST 101 Church History I                             3hrs
THE 101 Intro to Theology                            3hrs
ENG 101 Effective Communication             3hrs
ENG 102 Writing and Research                   3hrs
PHL 101 Philosophy &amp; Worldview               3hrs</p>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”>Elective</p>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”><strong>Total Credit Hours:</strong>                                       30hrs</p>

<h3 style=”padding-left: 30px;”>Second Year Program</h3>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”>THE 201  Systematic Theology I                   3hrs                      <em>(prerequisite: THE 101)</em>
THE 202 Systematic Theology II                   3hrs      <em>(prerequisite: THE 101 &amp; THE 201)</em>
CLG 201 Spiritual Formation                        3hrs
CLG 211 Church Life                                     3hrs
CNS 201 Counseling I                                   3hrs
BIB  201 Writings of John                              3hrs
HST 201 Church History II                             3hrs
MTH 211 Math                                                  3hrs
MIS 201 World Missions                                3hrs</p>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”>Elective</p>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”><strong>Total Credit Hours:</strong>                                        30hrs</p>

<h3 style=”padding-left: 30px;”>Third Year Program</h3>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”>MIS 301 Cultural Anthropology                      3hrs
GRK 301 Greek I                                              3hrs
BIB 301  Synoptic Gospels                            3hrs
BIB 303 Book of Romans                               3hrs
MIS 308 Communicating the
Relevance of God’s Story                                3hrs
HST 301 History of Music                               3hrs
SCI   301 Creation Science                            3hrs
THE 301 Kingdom of God                              3hrs                           <em>(co-requisite: THE 101)</em></p>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”>Elective                                                               3hrs
Elective                                                               3hrs</p>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”><strong>Total Credit Hours:</strong>                                          30hrs</p>

<h3 style=”padding-left: 30px;”>Fourth Year Program</h3>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”>BIB 401  Book of Mark                                       3hrs               <em>(prerequisite: GRK 301)</em>
CNS 402  Marriage and Family in Society     3hrs
CLG 401  Pastoral Ministries                           3hrs
CLG 410 Homiletics                                           3hrs
CLG 480 Church Growth                                   3hrs
ENG 495 Senior Seminar                                 3hrs
Elective                                                                 3hrs
Elective                                                                 3hrs
Elective                                                                 3hrs
Elective</p>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”><strong>Total Credit Hours:</strong>                                            30hrs</p>

<h3>Graduation Requirements</h3>
For the Bachelor of Divinity degree program, a total of 120 credit hours plus four approved Christian Service projects, total. (1 per semester, no more than four total projects) of Leadership in Action are required for graduation.

&nbsp;