The Highlight of My Week: by Jamie Crook – Ratio Christi member and recent graduate from University of North Carolina Greensboro
Ratio Christi was usually the highlight of my week at UNCG. I’ve been interested in apologetics since early high school when I read The Case for Christ. I was already aware that something was very wrong in much of the culture, with most movies, TV shows, school curriculums, teachers, trolls on the internet, and even other students acting on the false assumption that science, history, and logic were all neatly lined up in direct contradiction to religion, particularly Christianity. I was satisfied to discover that, far from being diametrically opposed to Christianity, these fields, when correctly understood, supported them. This unlocked a whole new way of understanding God and the Bible, elevating them to a whole new level of admiration and wonder. I mean, really; try reading about the fine-tuning of the universe without feeling your breath taken away.
The study of apologetics has been essential for me because when I hear or read something that bothers me (such as people trashing my religion) my brain automatically feels compelled to formulate a counter-argument, whether or not I’ll ever actually get a chance to respond to the offender. There is no “Forget them, they’re jerks and they’ll figure out who was right when they die.” I can’t stop thinking about it until I have a thorough, well-worded response in mind. Then I usually have to tell someone about it. It’s really irritating. I’d like to stop it, but I can’t. So the best thing I can do is read up so I already know responses for most anti-Christian objections before I encounter them. Now I don’t have to spend as much time, cheeks flushed and pulse elevated, searching for what I should have said after the moment has passed. While quips from snarky atheists, whether in person, on the internet, bumper-stickers, or TV still annoy me, but they don’t pose a threat to my faith or ruin my day.
Most objections to Christianity I’ve encountered are fairly clichéd and dependent on easily exposed fallacies. Yet the people spewing them continue to think they are novel and brilliant simply because so few Christians have prepared themselves to defend their faith in that way. That’s really the sad thing. Most churches just teach what the Bible says, which is extremely important, but not enough in this case. If someone asks one of these Christians why they should believe the Bible in the first place, all he has in his arsenal is circular reasoning. What’s even more painful is that many Christians don’t even know they’re using circular reasoning, and the atheist has to explain it to them.
I help with the youth group at my church, and I feel like, since we don’t do much apologetics, we’re sending our teens into battle only half armed and half armored. The sentiment seems to be,
.Well, as long as the bullet-proof vests are covering their hearts they don’t need helmets.
Most churches have a tendency to spiritualize everything. I hear phrases like “you’re just thinking too much” or “you’re letting your brain/logic get in the way,” and it drives me absolutely bonkers. What kind of message does that send? That Christianity falls apart when thought about too much or exposed to logic? Ha! Thought and logic are the best allies an evangelist has. I seriously doubt they would want me to “get my brain out of the way,” because if I did that I’d probably be an atheist, or at least agnostic.
Ratio Christi is the only ministry on campus, or anywhere else I know of, that meets in person to address this need. There are plenty of books and websites, but meeting in person adds more excitement. Talking about these ideas makes them more memorable, and the environment encourages comments and questions. We are able to share our perspectives, help answer each other’s questions and recommend books. It is very reassuring to know there is a place I can bring my toughest questions and have a good chance of getting them answered, or at least being pointed in the right direction. Having a weekly meeting also made me carve a sliver of time out of my hectic schedule to go, while I never would have given myself an hour and a half to sit and read a book on the same subject with so many assignments threatening to crush me.
We also had guest speakers, including the amazing Dr. Turek. He came to UNCG last semester for the first part of a two-part talk, and it was truly brilliant. I’m planning to bring my church’s youth group to UNCG for Dr. Turek’s second lecture in March. We used Skype during meetings to talk with other leading apologists by webcam. Apologetics might seem confusing at first, but at Ratio Christi the concepts are explained in an enjoyable way that keeps us laughing. Overall, the most important thing is that Ratio Christi gives well-reasoned answers to the questions both believers and non-believers have. Skeptics aren’t shy about asking these questions. If we don’t answer them, who will?