2017 European Apologetics Network: Foundational Track
The words apologist and apologetics come from the Greek word apologia, which means to defend or to convince and persuade. So when Peter writes, “Always be prepared to give a defense (apologia) for the hope that is within you,” he is teaching that Christians must be willing and able to communicate the Gospel persuasively to their neighbours.
Europe today is in great need of gifted persuasive evangelists who, like the Apostle Paul, can demonstrate that Christianity is true and relevant. The Forum's Apologetics Network Foundational Track is designed to train, mentor, and resource Christians so they can effectively demonstrate that Christian beliefs are reasonable, true, and relevant for the 21st century. This track provides the vision and strategy for a renaissance of apologetics in Europe today.
Applicants should be those with evangelistic or apologetic gifts who have NOT attended the European Leadership Forum Apologetics Network in previous years. 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 Andrew Fellows. Also speaking in this Network are Lars Dahle, Stefan Gustavsson, and David Illman. Prior preparation will be set for all applicants.
Andrew Fellows was appointed pastor of a church in Bradford, West Yorkshire in 1988 and served there for seven years. In 1995 his family moved to the English branch of L’Abri Fellowship where they lived and worked for 21 years. From 2011 to 2016 Andrew was the Chairman of L’Abri international. He has recently relocated to Cambridge to take up the role of Director of Christian Heritage. He has a special interest in encouraging followers of Christ to develop the life of the mind so it includes the whole gospel to the whole world with all of its implications. Andrew is married to Helen. They have four children.
Lars Dahle is a theologian, educator, preacher, and apologist. Having a long previous experience in various academic leadership roles, he now works as Associate Professor in Systematic Theology and Christian Apologetics at Gimlekollen School of Journalism and Communication (NLA Kristiansand), where he has lectured in worldviews, ethics, and apologetics since 1991. Lars wrote his PhD on Acts 17:16-34. It is entitled An Apologetic Model Then and Now? (Open University, UK). Since 2013, he is also the Lausanne Catalyst for Media Engagement. Lars has written several academic and popular articles on apologetics, media engagement and missiology and was a co-editor of The Lausanne Movement: A Range of Perspectives (Oxford: Regnum, 2014). He is also the Founding Editor of the peer-reviewed Nordic apologetic journal Theofilos. In addition, Lars co-leads the European Leadership Forum Media Communicators Network with his wife, Margunn. Follow Lars on his blog Media Messages Matter or on his Twitter account @LarsDahle.
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.
David Illman was raised in California and attended Covenant College, where he studied English and History. David received a Masters of Divinity from Covenant Theological Seminary and went on to serve as chaplain for a Christian school while teaching Gospels, Apologetics and Ethics for secondary education. He also served as a part-time professor at Birmingham Theological Seminary in the subjects of New Testament and Apologetics. David directs the Christian Heritage apprenticeship programme teaching and tutoring students at Cambridge University. He is married to his lovely wife, Sarah, and they have four children.
The Vision and Strategy of the Apologetics Network
This session will provide participants with a basic overview of the Apologetics Network. It will present the biblical basis for apologetics, briefly explore the pressing need for a strong apologetics movement in Europe, discuss the Forum’s vision for creating and sustaining such a movement, and provide illustrations of how the Forum is currently working to make this vision a reality both at the annual Forum conference and throughout the year.
The Lordship of Christ Over All of Life: How We Use Our Minds
No one who is a believer would consciously deny the full Lordship of Jesus Christ. There are, however, a number of ways we inadvertently diminish His Lordship. This talk explores how a diminished Lordship impacts the way we use our minds as believers. A strong foundation for apologetics must begin with an acknowledgment of Christ's full Lordship. How ought this impact the way we think?
Listening to Tomorrow's Questions Today
The Bible teaches that there were leaders who understood the signs of the time and knew what to do (1 Chron. 12:32). But sometimes we lack the insight to understand what culture is truly telling us within the general marketplace of ideas. What are the principles that will help us to carefully listen to our culture’s messages and questions? How can we develop a framework for anticipating the future questions that may arise? How can we learn to become more conversational in our apologetics, rather than bullet point ready?
Paul in Athens (Acts 17)
Despite its prominence historically, apologetics is seen as controversial in many Christian circles. Where and when it is practised, contemporary apologetics is often characterised by a neglect of biblical foundations and models. Through discussion of an article written by the speaker, this session seeks to identify, explore, and apply such key biblical material. The focus will be on Acts 17:16-34 as a relevant case study.
Jesus as Apologist
Jesus was a preacher, healer…and an apologist! Based on an article written by the speaker, this session will explore the role of apologetics in Jesus’ ministry by examining John 5, a passage which provides an excellent example of how Jesus related to the questions and objections of his contemporaries. It will conclude with a discussion of how Jesus’ model of apologetic engagement can and should mould and shape the modern apologetic task.
Jesus: Subversive Apologist
Most apologetics presuppose some degree of "openness" on the part of the person we are engaged with. The fact is, most often we are dealing with those who are "closed". The apologetics of Jesus give a remarkable insight into how we can engage subversively with the "closed". This involves tackling their dominant worldview symbols, using narrative, and engaging with questions. This session will discuss how to engage in these tasks.
The Hiddenness of God
The vast majority of those who live within a Modernist framework see no evidence at all for the reality of God. As apologists we must never forget that this is the basic starting point for those who are not Christians. They begin from a foundation that God is hidden and this acts to re-enforce their unbelief.
Drawing It All Together
Andrew Fellows and David Illman
This session will feature a time of open discussion among participants and speakers about the themes and issues presented during the Network programme.