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2022 Apologetics (Foundational) Network

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    Apologetics Foundational Network
Equipping Christian leaders in Europe to demonstrate that Christianity is true and relevant

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. Prior preparation will be set for all applicants.

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.

Network Leadership

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. 

Paul Coulter lives in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, with his Chinese Malaysian wife, Gar-Ling, and their two teenage children. He is Head of Ministry Operations with Living Leadership (www.livingleadership.org), an organisation that helps leaders and their families across the UK and Ireland to live joyfully in Christ and serve Him faithfully through training, mentoring and pastoral support. He is also Executive Director of the Centre for Christianity in Society (www.christianityinsociety.org), which seeks to connect Christ with contemporary culture through evangelistic speaking and training in ethical issues and apologetics. Paul is the author of two books - Clarion Call: Finding Joy in Christ with John the Baptist and Serving Two Masters? Probing the Tensions Between Science and Faith in the Art of Healthcare - several book chapters and multiple articles, including several on BeThinking.org. He speaks and writes regularly on leadership, pastoral care, the Christian mind and contemporary culture. In his spare time, he loves to walk in hills and forests, cycle on flat roads, and read about history.

Network Speakers

Paul Coulter lives in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, with his Chinese Malaysian wife, Gar-Ling, and their two teenage children. He is Head of Ministry Operations with Living Leadership (www.livingleadership.org), an organisation that helps leaders and their families across the UK and Ireland to live joyfully in Christ and serve Him faithfully through training, mentoring and pastoral support. He is also Executive Director of the Centre for Christianity in Society (www.christianityinsociety.org), which seeks to connect Christ with contemporary culture through evangelistic speaking and training in ethical issues and apologetics. Paul is the author of two books - Clarion Call: Finding Joy in Christ with John the Baptist and Serving Two Masters? Probing the Tensions Between Science and Faith in the Art of Healthcare - several book chapters and multiple articles, including several on BeThinking.org. He speaks and writes regularly on leadership, pastoral care, the Christian mind and contemporary culture. In his spare time, he loves to walk in hills and forests, cycle on flat roads, and read about history.

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 the director for Apologia – Centre for Christian Apologetics and makes his home in Stockholm. He was the founding General Secretary for the Swedish Evangelical Alliance. Stefan travels widely with apologetic teaching and training and is often involved in university evangelism and public debates. He is the author of several books on Christian apologetics and the Christian mind. Stefan is married to Ingrid and they have 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. 

Kristi Mair teaches philosophy, ethics, and apologetics at Oak Hill College in London, UK, where she also provides pastoral support for female students. She holds a degree in philosophy and theology, as well as an MA in philosophy of religion and ethics. She is currently working on her PhD in the area of epistemology in philosophical theology, with a particular focus on Michael Polanyi, Esther Meek, and Augustine. Kristi worked for 8 years with a campus-based ministry in the UK (UCCF), and she continues to speak regularly at mission weeks and events across Europe. Kristi has a heart for engaging people with the message of Jesus, developing a Christian mind, and raising the next generation of apologists to live out our calling as disciples to love God and our neighbour. Kristi is the author of MORE > Truth (IVP, 2019), Co-editor of Healthy Faith (IVP, 2020), a board member and speaker for Chrysolis, and an itinerant SOLAS Associate Speaker.

Network Programme

Sunday, 22 May

Knowing 'why' we do anything is of core importance. Where is our confidence to be found? What motivates us and sustains us in the long road of service? This session aims to inform and inspire us in the apologetic task, the great and exciting task of sharing our faith at this pivotal time in European History.

Paul’s famous words in 1 Corinthians about the foolishness of the cross and his decision to preach the cross, but not with wisdom, have often been misinterpreted. For many they stand as evidence of a strong anti-intellectual strand in Paul’s thinking and a clear reason for us to neglect apologetics and instead focus on other issues. In this session we will analyze Paul’s understanding of wisdom and foolishness as we look at four particular issues: (1) Paul’s thinking when he started the church in Corinth, (2) Paul's thinking when he wrote to the church in Corinth, (3) the cultural context of the church in Corinth, and (4) Paul’s message in his first letter to the church in Corinth.

Monday, 23 May

The Lord Jesus repeats the call from Deuteronomy to love God with every aspect of our beings, including our minds. If we neglect the mind, the result is unreflective activism and unthinking experientialism. But the mind isn't the sum total of a person, either, and so apologetics can't just mean winning arguments. To be effective apologists who lovingly persuade others of the truth, we need to love God and others with both our minds and every other aspect of our being. In this session, we will explore what that means as we work towards a biblical understanding of the role of reason in faith and persuasion in evangelism.

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.

Tuesday, 24 May

Many of our apologetics encounters will be in one-to-one conversations with friends, colleagues or family members. This session will delve into 1 Peter 3:13-16 to discover its timeless wisdom for responding to others’ questions with gospel hope. In doing so, we will discover the character apologists must develop, the importance of relationships and the values and skills that shape effective apologetic conversations.

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.

Wednesday, 25 May

In a time of post-truth, virtue-signaling and relativism, do people even care about truth? When it comes to engaging with our cultural moment, how can we persuasively communicate the truth of Jesus Christ? In this session, we will explore a few philosophical underpinnings before we consider how we can share Jesus in a non-truth culture, where slogans like ‘stay in your own lane’, and ‘you do you’ dominate discussions. How can we engage, expose, enter, and evangelize in seemingly disinterested and apathetic societies? We will also spend time considering how we can share the liberating, life-giving joy of Christ when suspicion, power-plays, and corruption occupy the public imagination.

As we reach the end of our network time, where better to focus than on the unique person of Jesus Christ? In this session, we will consider who He is and how His claims challenge other religions and worldviews. We will conclude with a call to keep Him at the centre as we look towards our next steps in apologetics.