‘I attended this because I really thought this would help me grow in my faith’ OCCC student Alex Rodriguez.
The word apologetics comes from the Greek word apologia, meaning an answer given in reply. Christian apologetics is then defined as the rational response to objections made against Christianity.
The defense of Christian theology uses historical and evidential facts not just found in the Bible, but in outside sources as well.
Together Church, previously known as Western Hills, has held an apologetics seminar on Wednesday night for the past two weeks, with six weeks left on the schedule.
Dr. Jim Burkett, the pastor who has been leading the conference, is a long-time friend of the church. He has over 30 years of experience teaching apologetics and was asked by the church to speak.
Brandon Werner, associate senior pastor at Together Church, described how the church realized their need for apologetics and reached out to Dr. Burkett.
“Dr. Burkett came and spoke in January and when he finished speaking in January it became very clear that there was a lot of interest. That the topics that he covered, we felt that we just barely scraped the surface of how much there was to know about the facts and the evidence of our faith. And why we believe what we believe and the reasoning that’s it not just blind faith. I had several families come up and say that there were things that he flew by that we want to know more about. Through that discussion we saw the need for working on our thinking and asking Dr. Burkett to come back.”
The purpose of apologetics is to prove that Christians do not just live by blind faith, and by studying the reasoning of Christianity, they also develop a better understanding of their faith for themselves.
Brandon expressed his hopes for his church regarding this.
“I really believe in what Romans 12 talks about. Being transformed by the renewing of our minds. That as we focus our thinking, that’s ultimately the direction our lives are going.”
Romans 12:2, the passage of scripture Brandon referred to, states as this, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
That is part of what Christian apologetics is about- renewing the mind by studying and knowing why you believe what you believe.
“Dr. Burkett has already been sharing several times that there’s really a gap here in churches regarding the study of apologetics. He’s sharing statistics about how 75-80% of students have fallen away from the faith. They weren’t exposed to the reason why we believe what we believe,” Brandon Werner says.
That number is mostly college students and a result of the lack of apologetics teaching in the church.
With that in mind, Brandon has been working with Together Church’s youth pastor, Britt Clay, to find more ways to introduce to students the reasoning behind the Christian faith.
“I would love to do more events like this for our students. I think it’s really valuable in learning scripture and not just learning but learning how to apply it for a biblical worldview,” Clay said.
He hopes his students will gain a lot from apologetics so they can apply it to their life. Equipping them with the knowledge of why they believe what they believe is something he wants for the youth of the church.
“I’m praying that the greatest benefit that it will give the students is that it will give them confidence in being able to look at scripture and say this is why I believe what I believe whenever they’re faced with things that simply aren’t true,” he said. “Also helping students gain a biblical worldview is important so that whenever faced with things that are contradictory they know it is contradictory to what God’s word actually says. That’s what I’m hoping will happen.”
It is happening for at least one Oklahoma City Community College student.
Alex Rodriguez, a student at Together Church, has been attending the apologetics seminar and recognizes its importance to his faith.
“I attended this because I really thought this would help me grow in my faith more and if I can understand it here then it will help me spread it to my friends outside of here,” Rodriguez said.
One bonus of participating in the apologetics course is the college credit. Alex is a concurrent student at OCCC and is using this opportunity to achieve more credit hours.
Besides the boost to his GPA, Alex also enjoys going to these events because it helps strengthen his faith with his friends.
“Stuff like this is a lot of fun. Mainly because I get to learn more about God and hang out with my friends while doing it,” he said.
With six weeks left in the course, Together Church’s leaders pray that both its adults and students are strengthened in their faith and benefitted by apologetics.
“We’re just a few steps behind our most prevailing thought,” Brandon said. “And so really setting our minds on God will pay major dividends of faith for people as they go through this course.”