Apologetics: Advanced

2017 European Apologetics Network: Advanced Track

What did the Apostle Paul do when Pre-Christian Europe was pagan, relativistic, and pluralistic? He did apologetics among his contemporaries. Paul went to the Jews arguing from the Old Testament Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. Paul also went to pagan Greeks and used their literature and cultural artifacts to argue that the "unknown God" has been revealed and proclaimed in Jesus.

21st century Europe is in a state very similar to Paul's time. Just as Paul confronted the marketplace of ideas in his generation, Europe today needs gifted apologists who can demonstrate that Christianity is true and relevant. Therefore, the vision of the European Apologetics Network is to train a new generation of apologists who can stand in today's marketplace of ideas in the way that Paul did in his generation. Our desire is to develop apologists who will testify to the truth of the Gospel with wisdom, versatility, and courage in their efforts to persuade their contemporaries.

Applicants should be those with evangelistic or apologetic gifts who have previously attended the European Leadership Forum Apologetics Network: Foundational Track and the European Evangelism Network. The purpose of the Network is to train, mentor, equip, and resource those evangelists and apologists who are seeking to communicate the Gospel in their local communities. This Network will be led by Stefan Gustavsson and John Kirkpatrick. Prior preparation will be set for all applicants.

 

NETWORK LEADER

Stefan Gustavsson is a member of the European Leadership Forum Steering Committee and leads the Advanced Apologetics Network. Stefan is the General Secretary of the Swedish Evangelical Alliance and the Director of CCA - Centre for Christian Apologetics. He is the author of several books on Christian apologetics and the Christian mind, and writes regularly for different Swedish magazines. Stefan is married to Ingrid and has three grown children.

 

John Kirkpatrick has been the pastor in Portrush Presbyterian Church for the last 21 years. This church is situated on the North Coast of IReland very close to the famous world heritage site, 'Giants Causeway.' John is the director of the apologetics course Reality316 aimed at equipping a wide range of people to be relevant apologists. For a number of years he served as Chairman of New Horizon, a well-known Christian conference in Ireland and has been a chaplain to the Motorcycle Racing community, quite unique to the Irish culture. John is married to Joan and they have four children, three of whom are now married.

 

NETWORK SPEAKERS

Khaldoun Sweis is the former Chair and current Associate Professor of Philosophy at Olive-Harvey College in Chicago and serves as a tutor in philosophy with Oxford University in England.  He was born in Amman, Jordan.  His experience entails teaching philosophy for over a decade as well as speaking at conferences both nationally and abroad such as in Hong Kong, Romania, Australia and England. He has three books including Debating Christian Theism, co-edited with Chad Meister and JP Moreland (Oxford University Press, 2013) and Christian Apologetics: An Anthology of Primary Sources co-edited with Chad Meister (Zondervan, 2011). He recently completed Killing God: Addressing the Seven Most Common Objections from the New Atheists (forthcoming). He is a member of the American Philosophical Association and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. Khaldoun’s greatest achievement is getting Luciana to marry him and being the father of his two precious children, AnaKaterina Cosette and Daniel Zacharias.

 

Bruce A. Little has master’s degrees in Apologetics and Religion and a PhD in Philosophy of Religion and a DMin in Apologetics. Presently, he serves as Senior Prof essor of Philosophy and director of the Francis A. Schaeffer Collection at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he has been on faculty since 2001. Since 1995, he has travelled widely in Europe and Asia, lecturing in universities, teaching in a variety of schools and presenting papers at conferences. He has published in various professional journals, edited several books, either authored or co-authored six books and contributed chapters in several books the last being God and Evil published by InterVarsity Press, 2013.

 

Daniel von Wachter is is professor and director of the International Academy of Philosophy in the Principality of Liechtenstein. He is German and studied philosophy and theology at Munich, Leichtenstein, Innsbruck, Hamburg, and Oxford. His research focusses on metaphysics and philosophy of religion.

 

 

John Lennox is Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University and a Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College, Oxford. He is also an Honorary Fellow of Wycliffe Hall and an Adjunct Professor of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics, and he teaches for the Oxford Strategic Leadership Programme at the Executive Education Centre, Said Business School, Oxford. He is particularly interested in the interface of science, philosophy, and theology and his recent books include Seven Days that Divide the World (on Genesis 1), Gunning for God (on the new atheism) and Stephen Hawking and God (a response to The Grand Design). Professor Lennox has debated a number of the world’s leading atheists including Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Peter Singer. (www.johnlennox.org)

 

Peter S. Williams (www.peterswilliams.com) studied philosophy at Cardiff University (BA), Sheffield University (MA), and at the University of East Anglia in Norwich (MPhil). He then spent three years as a student pastor at Holy Trinity church Leicester before moving to Southampton to work alongside the Christian educational charity Damaris Trust (www.damaris.org), where as 'Philosopher in Residence' he led Philosophy and Ethics conferences for sixth form students as well as undertaking various writing, speaking, and broadcasting engagements. Peter is Assistant Professor in Communication and Worldviews at Gimlekollen School of Journalism and Communication, NLA University, Norway. His publications include A Scetic's Guide to Atheism (Paternoster, 2009), Understanding Jesus: Five Ways to Spiritual Enlightenment (Paternoster, 2011), C.S. Lewis vs. the New Atheists (Paternoster, 2013), and A Faithful Guide to Philosophy (Paternoster, 2013).

 

Kirsten Birkett trained in science at the University of New South Wales with a PhD in history and philosophy of science. She worked for ten years in Christian publish ing while teaching at the Universities of New South Wales and University of Sydney, as well as teaching and studying at Moore Theological College. During this time she wrote a number of articles and books on the relationship between Christianity and science, as well as other topics. Since 2005 Kirsten has lived in London, teaching at Oak Hill Theological College. She now lectures undergraduate courses in philosophy and ethics and reading Calvin’s Institutes. At the master’s level she teaches a module in science and theology. She is a Latimer Trust Research Fellow.

 

Glynn Harrison is Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry, University of Bristol, UK, where he was a practising consultant psychiatrist and Chair of the Department of Psychiatry. He preaches locally and speaks widely on issues of faith and psychology, neuroscience, and psychiatry. He is especially focused on supporting men’s ministries and fostering the development of Christian leaders and pastors.

 

 

NETWORK PROGRAMME

Day 1

Why Do We Believe the Bible is Communication from God?
Stefan Gustavsson
The Bible plays a central role in the Christian faith. But why believe that these specific texts actually constitute a communication from God, our Creator? Three main arguments for the Bible as God's Word will be presented and analyzed.
 
The Theology of Daredevil, Batman, and the X-Men: Engaging Secular Society with Modern Mythology
Khaldoun Sweis
People need stories to make sense of life. Sometimes these stories or myths are true and other times they are fabrications or caricatures of reality. The people of old used myths and spiritual folktales for entertainment, and then these evolved into narratives to give coherence to the world they inhabited. Fyodor Dostoevsky said it best; "At first, art imitates life. Then life will imitate art. Then life will find its very existence from the arts." Today these myths are told in many forms with the most popular form being that of superheroes: Superman, the Avengers, and Spiderman to name a few.  Man has, in Aldous Huxley’s words, “an infinite appetite for distraction.”   The secular world does not want or need God in their lives, or at least that is what they think. This talk will discuss effective ways to engage this secular culture using the modern mythos of superheroes.
 

Day 2

The Relation between Reformation and Science: Competition or Cradle?
Kirsten Birkett
Modern science rests on a methodology that assumes a certain philosophy of nature and how we can come to know about it. Such things do not come out of nowhere – and there are important aspects of these fields that are not found in the medieval worldview. What is the relationship between Christianity, and in particular Reformation Protestant Christianity, and the rise of science? This talk will be an exploration of the historical conditions that brought about a new way of thinking about the world.
 
Understanding the Times: A Pre-Modern Reflection on the Modernist Roots of Postmodernism
Peter S. Williams
Romans 12:2 says, 'Be not conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, for your proving the will of God - the good, and acceptable, and perfect.' Culture is the expression of a shared spirituality grounded in a worldview. How can we understand the spiritual dynamics of contemporary western culture and its internal clash of cultures? How can understanding the times help us in our discipleship, apologetics, and evangelism? This seminar will engage with art, music, song lyrics, film and architecture, as well as philosophy, as we trace the logical and historic line of descent from a pre-modern Christian culture through scientistic modernism to nihilistic postmodernism. We will explore the ways in which the modernist rejection of God creates an inherently unstable and disintegrative form of spirituality and see that the more consistent with this spirituality one tries to be the further one sinks into the mire of postmodernism. This session will be a paper discussion.
 

Day 3

How to Persuasively Communicate the Gospel in the University
John Lennox 
How can we use our studies and academic roles to point others to Jesus?  What biblical principles will help us to do so clearly and effectively?  John will share from his years of experience on how to persuasively communicate the gospel in the university.  
 
The Key Presupposition of the Enlightenment and of Liberal Theology
Daniel von Wachter
Liberal Theology assumes that there are no divine interventions. Often this is presented as the result of research, but in fact it is derived from determinism (also called 'the causal nexus'), i.e. the doctrine that every event is necessitated by preceding events. I shall examine the function this doctrine plays in authors of the Enlightenment and of Liberal Theology, argue that it is wrong, and explain why it is important to see that it is wrong.
 

Day 4

Why Do So Many People Reject the Gospel and How Can We Respond?
Bruce Little
What do we do when people aren't interested in hearing the Gospel, when they are either antagonistic or apathetic? When faced with an audience that either rejects the God of the Bible or holds to a contrary worldview, evangelism often must appropriate the work of apologetics. An important part of apologetics is the work of pre-evangelism practiced by both Francis A. Schaeffer and C. S. Lewis. Pre-evangelism seeks to prepare the way for speaking the Gospel to those who either reject the Christian message or object to certain claims of Christianity. This is not a substitute for, but is in conjunction with the Holy Spirit in seeking to give honest answers to honest questions while presenting the Gospel of Christ. This talk seeks to demonstrate the importance of pre-evangelism.
 
The Gospel, Sex, and Human Flourishing: Telling a Better Story
Glynn Harrison
The last few decades have witnessed a radical and far-reaching transformation of western attitudes to sex, marriage, and gender. Caught off-guard by the speed of this cultural upheaval, Christians have often reacted defensively, rather than offering a compelling vision of their own. Many young Christians are beginning to question whether the Gospel is really good news in this area. In this session, Glynn Harrison will ask how Christians can recover their confidence in the biblical vision for flourishing in the sphere of sex and relationships. How can they revitalise a vision capable of winning the hearts and minds of a new generation? And what will that better story look like?

 

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