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Apologetics: Advanced

2020 European Apologetics Network: Advanced Track

What did the Apostle Paul do when Pre-Christian Europe was pagan, relativistic, and pluralistic? He did apologetics among his contemporaries. Paul went to the Jews arguing from the Old Testament Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. Paul also went to pagan Greeks and used their literature and cultural artifacts to argue that the "unknown God" has been revealed and proclaimed in Jesus.

21st century Europe is in a state very similar to Paul's time. Just as Paul confronted the marketplace of ideas in his generation, Europe today needs gifted apologists who can demonstrate that Christianity is true and relevant. Therefore, the vision of the European Apologetics Network is to train a new generation of apologists who can stand in today's marketplace of ideas in the way that Paul did in his generation. Our desire is to develop apologists who will testify to the truth of the Gospel with wisdom, versatility, and courage in their efforts to persuade their contemporaries.

Applicants should be those with evangelistic or apologetic gifts who have previously attended the European Leadership Forum Apologetics Network: Foundational Track and the European Evangelism Network. 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 Andy Bannister and Kristi Mair. Prior preparation will be set for all applicants.

 

NETWORK LEADERS


Andy Bannister is the Director of the Solas Centre for Public Christianity in Scotland and an Adjunct Speaker with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. Andy holds a PhD in Islamic studies and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths at Melbourne School of Theology. Andy is the author of An Oral-Formulaic Study of the Qur’an, and his latest book, The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist (or: The Terrible Consequences of Really Bad Arguments), is a humorous engagement with the New Atheism. When not traveling, speaking, or writing, Andy is a keen hiker, mountain climber, and photographer. He is married to Astrid; they have two children, Caitriona and Christopher. See more at andybannister.net

 

Kristi Mair teaches philosophy 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), a board member and speaker for Chrysolis, and an itinerant SOLAS Associate Speaker.

 

NETWORK SPEAKERS


Ralf Bergmann, born 1962, is married and has three adult children. He received his degree in physics and a doctorate from German universities. He is or has been mainly involved in solid-state physics, semiconductors, photovoltaics and optical technologies at several research institutions in Germany and Australia and has also worked in industrial research. Since 2008 he has been a professor at a German university and head of a research institute working on optical technologies and optoelectronics. Beyond his research, he is interested in defending the reasonability of Christian faith, especially all around the border triangle of physics, philosophy, and theology as well as the relevance of Christian faith for modern western society. In 2019, he authored the book Gott und die Erklärung der Welt – Christlicher Glaube oder atheistische Weltanschauung: Was ist vernünftiger? (God and the explanation of the world – Christian faith or atheistic world view: What is more reasonable?). See also: https://erklaerung-der-welt.de/

 

Luke Greenwood is British by birth, grew up in Brazil, and now lives in Wroclaw, Poland, with his wife Ania and their two children. He serves as the European Director for Steiger, a mission organisation dedicated to reaching and discipling the Global Youth Culture for Jesus. Luke’s passion is in evangelism and discipleship among the alternative youth scenes, and has a vision to establish dynamic missionary teams to reach the secularised culture of every major European urban centre. In addition to such projects, Luke often speaks, sharing the vision of Steiger in churches and conferences, as well as teaching each year at the Steiger Missions School. Luke studied music therapy in Brazil and missiology at All Nations in the UK.

 

Stefan Gustavsson is a member of the European Leadership Forum Steering Committee. He 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.

 

 

Bruce A. Little has master’s degrees in Apologetics and Religion and a PhD in Philosophy of Religion and a DMin in Apologetics. Presently, he serves as Adjunct Professor of Philosophy and director of the Francis A. Schaeffer Collection at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he served on faculty since 2001 until he retired in 2018. While at Southeastern he served as the second director of the L. Rush Bush Center for Faith and Culture from 2008 to 2013. From 1969 pastored several churches, three of which he helped start, and taught at a Bible college (1965-2000). Since 1995 he has travelled widely to several continents lecturing in universities, teaching in a variety of schools and presenting papers at international conferences. He has published in various professional journals, edited several books, either authored or co-authored six books and contributed chapters in several books the last being God and Evil published by InterVarsity Press, 2013.

 

Ádám Szabados is a Hungarian theologian and the leader of the Hungarian Evangelical Forum. Until 2017 he had been a pastor for 20 years. He is married to Dóra, and has two adult sons. He studied English literature and linguistics at the University of Veszprém (MA equivalent, with honours), and theology at Schloss Mittersill Study Center (Diploma in Biblical Studies and Culture) and at Covenant Theological Seminary (ThM in Exegetical Theology). He received his PhD (summa cum laude) in the area of New Testament at Károli Reformed University. His study on the Reformational understanding of sin has been published by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He wrote a book on Eros (Erosz nyomában, Harmat Publishing House, 2008), which aims to address both Christians and non-Christians in their search for the good, the true, and the beautiful. Ádám also has a popular theological-apologetic website (divinity.szabadosadam.hu).

 

Peter S. Williams (www.peterswilliams.com) studied philosophy at Cardiff University (BA), Sheffield University (MA), and the University of East Anglia in Norwich (MPhil). Peter lives in England, and is Assistant Professor in Communication and Worldviews at Gimlekollen College, NLA University, Norway. His publications include A Sceptic’s Guide to Atheism (Paternoster, 2009), Understanding Jesus: Five Ways to Spiritual Enlightenment (Paternoster, 2011), C.S. Lewis vs. the New Atheists (Paternoster, 2013), A Faithful Guide to Philosophy (Wipf and Stock, 2019) and Getting at Jesus: A Comprehensive Critique of Neo-Atheist Nonsense About the Jesus of History (Wipf & Stock, 2019).

 

NETWORK PROGRAMME

Day 1

A Duty of Care: The Christian Foundations of Environmental Concern

Andy Bannister

The environment is the number #1 issue many young Europeans are concerned about, and there is a perception in the wider culture that Christianity has nothing to say—or worse, is profoundly unhelpful when it comes to the issue. In this seminar, we’ll show how creation care is actually a deeply Christian issue and, more than that, how only Christianity can offer any basis for a duty of care for the natural world.

 

Communicating Truth in a Non-Truth Culture

Kristi Mair

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.


Day 2

Session 1 to be announced

Stefan Gustavsson

 

On the Relation of Worldviews, Christian Faith and Science

Ralf B. Bergmann

Apologetic discussions often suffer from a lack of clarity concerning the definition of terms such as worldview, science and Christian faith as well as their interrelation. The talk first discusses the concepts underlying these terms focusing on the relation between Christian faith and atheism and the role of natural science. In order to understand the scope especially physics can cover, I discuss the nature of theories in physics, the concepts of evidence and proof and the role of falsifiability and paradigms, especially related to reductionism. The results of this discussion will allow to reject frequent misleading accusations against the reasonability of Christian faith. Finally, I will give examples of answers atheists and Christians give concerning several fundamental questions and conclude that believing in God is reasonable and explains the existence and the properties of the world better than atheism does. For further details see www.erklaerung-der-welt.de which contains resources in German as well as in English.


Day 3

Is Jordan Peterson a Friend or a Foe to the Cause of the Gospel?

Adam Szabados

Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson is a highly controversial and uniquely influential thought-leader in contemporary Western culture. Many Christians welcome him as an ally to the Christian cause. Others think his ideas are subverting the Christian message. Is he a friend of Christianity or is he not? Should evangelicals utilize his thoughts or should we be wary of them? In this workshop we will critically evaluate if (and what) we can learn from him.

 

Ancient Aliens? Rebutting Alien Conspiracy Theories as Popular Alternatives to Biblical History

Peter S Williams

Were there flying saucers at the crucifixion? Was Jesus really an alien? Just as Christian apologists need to rebut the ‘alternative’ historical claims of The Book of Mormon, so they need to rebut claims about so-called ‘ancient aliens’. These claims offer people with a secular worldview historical counter-narratives to biblical history that draw upon the scientific respectability of astrobiology and the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (SETI). Drawing on his peer-reviewed research in this field, Williams argues that when it comes to ‘ancient aliens’, it’s the conspiracy theorists who are swimming against the scientific evidence.


Day 4

Responding to Key Misconceptions in a Secularized Global Youth Culture

Luke Greenwood

The current global culture is largely influenced by one predominant worldview: secular humanism. God is dead and we are at the centre. In this relativistic culture we are god, and consumerism is our religion. This is a generation that does not look to the church for answers, as it believes it to be a dead and empty tradition of the past. Either there is no God, or if He is there, He doesn’t really interfere with our lives.

In this seminar we will address for key false assumptions predominant in the global youth culture: 

  1. We can only be sure of what we see
  2. We are here by accident
  3. Everything is going to be ok
  4. To find God you have to be "religious"

 

Four Challenges for Communicating the Gospel in a Post-Christian Culture

Bruce Little

How do we communicate the truth of Christ in a culture that has lost the art of conversation and reasoned argument? What does it mean to commit to Christ in a culture that is obsessed with keeping its options open? How do we hold to a sense of the sacred without making it sound mystical? This session will discuss some of the primary obstacles to communicating the gospel in contemporary secular society and suggest possible ways forward.

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