The first chapter of Genesis gives a general overview of the creation, and the second chapter zooms in to give more detail. Consider the last blog my chapter 1 overview, and this blog my chapter 2 detail. So, what exactly did my journey into apologetics look like?
I had a vague interest in apologetics for a long time. The only figure in the field that I was in any way familiar with was CS Lewis, and not so much from my own reading, but from listening to my father talk about what he’d read and I’d discuss Lewis’s ideas with him. This vague interest existed before I went through the great trial that forced me to rededicate my life to Christ, and continued after it at about the same intensity for a while. My focus after that point became the media and arts. It was TV and the internet that were the seed of much of my own rebellion, and appropriately, they were also heavily influential in the shaping of the behaviors of the one who betrayed me. I felt frustrated about the moral and spiritual decedence portrayed in the media. I was also discouraged by the fact that generally, Christian media is greatly substandard compared to secular media. I wanted to do something to fight against this trend. I’d had an interest in writing stories for a long time, but now I was fired up to write something really spectacular for the glory of God.
Of course, it needed to be fantasy, since I didn’t have the life experience to write about anything real. Since Star Wars was rereleased when I was 7, I’d been making up my own sci-fi/fantasy worlds. Now, I just needed to hone my skills and develop my stories. In the spirit of CS Lewis, I knew I wanted my story to have a lot of good theology in it. Problem was, I didn’t know much theology. So, I began to look around on the internet for the information I needed. I discovered, among other sites, the Christian Apologetics Research Ministry (carm.org), which I found to be a very interesting resource. I especially enjoyed reading about the cults and their various problems, and the material I was learning enhanced the occasional spiritual discussions I’d have with my father.
But the day that apologetics really clicked with me was April 12, 2007, which was about a year after my life-changing crisis. I was traveling with my parents and younger brother to Florida for a vacation. I’d been spending most of the car ride writing in my notebook, but at some point, I picked up the Newsweek my mother had been reading. Inside was the transcript of an informal debate between Rick Warren (whom I’d heard of) and some atheist whom I’d never heard of. The debate topic was the existence of God. I don’t remember the exact content of the debate, but I remember putting the magazine down after I’d finished, underwhelmed by the arguments from both sides, but especially from Warren. I expressed this to my parents, and I remember my dad replying that he’d felt the same way. Warren, he pointed out, was a preacher. His specialty is talking to people who at least are open to the existence of God. “They should have picked someone trained to talk with atheists, like Ravi Zacharias.”
It just so happened that my dad had been reading one of Ravi Zacharias’s books at that time. He had also previously heard a few of his broadcasts on the radio. He told me that Ravi was an apologist and well equipped to speak with unbelievers to pursuade them of the truth of Christianity. Suddenly, the light bulb turned on. Admittedly, it was a dim bulb, but it was on. CS Lewis, CARM, Ravi Zacharias, the God debate, theology, and my desire to impact culture were beginning to intersect in my mind. I took my writer’s notebook and began to jot down ideas, not for stories or characters, but for apologetic arguments. Now these arguments were admittedly rough, but they were the starting point of a great and fascinating study.
After I got home from the vacation, I searched Ravi Zacharias in iTunes and discovered his podcast. He became one of my heroes, and he still is. Following closely behind Ravi came William Lane Craig and his “Defenders” podcast, which has honed my thinking skills like probably nothing else to that day.
One of the greatest things that came from this surge of interest in apologetics, besides the fact that it has brought me closer to God, is that it brought me closer to my dad. I shared with him the podcasts I’d discovered, and since at the time he didn’t have his own iPod, we’d plug my iPod into the car and listen to it together while we’d drive around together. Our infrequent, sporadic discussions became routine, as we would spend almost every Sunday and Saturday morning for the rest of my high school career driving around for hours at a time, to get my autistic brother and sister out of the house to allow my mother some time to sleep in.
The study of apologetics isn’t something one should do alone, and I was tremendously blessed to have my dad with me through this. Now that I’ve started an apologetics club on my campus, I hope to inspire this same interest in others. It has been an amazing experience and increased my faith tremendously. I love God all the more because I see him so much more clearly than I once did. Apologetics is something that I believe the Holy Spirit used to bring me closer to God, when once I’d felt so distant from him.