Dean Meadows joins us today. Dean is the Executive Director and Co-founder of The Daily Apologist. If you haven’t checked them out, follow this link for blog posts, videos, and podcasts about apologetics. Needless to say, I’m thankful he took the time to write about apologetics in this series. His article is called What Al-Qaeda Taught Me about Apologetics. We hope it’s a blessing to you like it was to us.
In March of 2006, I arrived in Fallujah, Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom 5.7. I had just turned 19 and was only six months removed from Marine Corps recruit training. Over the next eight months my life would change forever. I would not be who I am today without that experience. Ironically, in hindsight, Al-Qaeda, the terrorist organization responsible for 9/11 and many counter American operations in Iraq, taught me much about apologetics and its place in the Church.
First of all, we must change tactics.
I remember one of my earliest missions involved the dropping of detainees on the outskirts of Fallujah. We would convoy on MSR-Mobile, park at the drop point, and make the transfer with the Iraqi Police. The tactic was used by the previous company of Marines and was successful for us until Al-Qaeda identified the frequency of the strategy and began carrying out attacks. In war, a sure way to find yourself on the losing side is to simply do what has always been done, hoping that the opposition will never catch on. The problem with this strategy is, the opposition, no matter how limited, will always identify repeating strategies and note its potential weaknesses.
The same is true for the Church. What worked 50 years ago in evangelism will not work today. For example, the Church has done a magnificent job in the area of natural sciences, countering the arguments for evolution, age of the earth studies, fine-tuning, etc. However, more work needs to be done in the areas of philosophy of religion, defense of the resurrection, the problem of evil, and issues pertaining to sex, gender, identity, and Critical Theory.
Because the strategy of the secular entities seeking to undermine the Christian message have changed, the Church must change as well through innovative apologetics training along with the funding of apologetics organizations nationwide. While apologetics seminars are great “starter kits,” our seminaries, preaching schools, and brotherhood universities must begin offering graduate programs specifically dedicated to apologetics training. Furthermore, there must be online avenues for lay-Christians to access so they too can be equipped. To fail to see this need, in my opinion, is an irreversible blunder which will stunt the growth of the Church for generations.
We need Christians in secular academies.
I’ve only been a Christian for about 20 years. However, growing up in the Church and even today, there seems to be a raw, negative tone towards higher education. But how will we know what the cutting-edge arguments against Christianity are if we don’t have people “in the room.” In part, this stems from the academy being overrun by actors non-sympathetic to Christianity.
However, there is a benefit to higher education both within and outside the brotherhood. First, it allows Christians an opportunity to explore areas, subjects, and viewpoints they haven’t heard of before. Second, it allows Christians a glimpse into how we are actually view by the culture. Third, based on this exposure Christian’s can develop apologetics methodologies to defend the latest secular argument against Christianity. Such training rarely takes place at the Church level and because of it, many are left unprepared. Fourth, it gives Christian a better opportunity to platform the Gospel.
Graham Oppy, the world’s leading atheist (in my opinion) never debates preachers. Why? Because many preachers (like it or not) simply don’t have the credentials worth platforming. But what if we had a generation that remained faithful graduated with PhD’s from Yale, Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge, Notre Dame, etc., would they not have a better chance to secure the opportunity to public engage those like Oppy?
They would. So we should encourage such things and not deride them.
The reason our unit was successful in bringing everyone home was a direct result of our training but also good intel on the opposition. We knew their movements, strategies, holy days, and areas of highest operation because there were boots on the ground observing their every move on land and in the air. If we are going to produce successful apologists, engage the culture, and retain the next generation we need people who have been “on the ground” in the academy studying, preparing, and training Christians after they graduate.
While the apologetics foundation within the Church has a rich history, there is still much work to be done. If my experience in Iraq has taught me anything about apologetics its 1) we need innovative training in apologetics, and 2) we need to Christians in secular academies. If we train aggressively and have graduates from secular academies, we can change the way apologetics is done, strengthen our evangelism methodologies, and change the culture.
Dean Meadows serves as the Executive Director of The Daily Apologist. He holds a B.A. in Theology from the Bear Valley Bible Institute International; B.S. in Bible/Ministry from Amridge University; and an M.A. in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. He’s currently pursuing a MSc in Philosophy from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He served in the United States Marine Corps Reserve for six years and deployed to Iraq in 2006. He is married to Hillary Meadows and they have two kids Nora-Grace and Wren-Mercy.