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Apologetics: Foundational

2020 European Apologetics Network: Foundational Track

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. This Network will be led by John Kirkpatrick and Paul Coulter. Also speaking in this Network are Lars Dahle and Stefan Gustavsson. Prior preparation will be set for all applicants.

 

NETWORK LEADER


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 Malaysian wife, Gar-Ling, and their two children.  Having begun his working life in medicine, he moved into pastoral ministry across cultures among Belfast’s Chinese community and then within his own culture in Glenabbey, a large church outside the city.  He completed doctoral studies in church and mission and taught practical theology and missiology for eight years in Belfast Bible College.  Since April 2019 he has been Head of Ministry Operations for Living Leadership, training, supporting, and resourcing disciple-making leaders in the Church across the UK and Ireland.  He is also a member of Council of Evangelical Alliance UK, director of Sophron, a network of apologists and apologetics trainers based in Northern Ireland, and author of several articles on BeThinking.org.  He has written several articles for BeThinking.org and speaks and writes regularly on the Christian mind and contemporary culture.

 

NETWORK SPEAKERS

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.

 

 

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.

 

NETWORK PROGRAMME

Day 1

A Transforming Vision: Motivation for the Privileged Task of Apologetics
John Kirkpatrick

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.

 

The Lordship of Christ Over All of Life: How We Use Our Minds
Stefan Gustavsson

No one who is a believer would consciously deny the full Lordship of Jesus Christ. There are, however, a number of ways we inadvertently diminish His Lordship. This talk explores how a diminished Lordship impacts the way we use our minds as believers. A strong foundation for apologetics must begin with an acknowledgment of Christ's full Lordship. How ought this impact the way we think?


Day 2

Paul in Athens (Acts 17)
Lars Dahle

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.

 

God's Wisdom and the Foolishness of the Cross (1 Corinthians)
Stefan Gustavsson

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.


Day 3

Conversational Apologetics: Principles from 1 Peter 3
Paul Coulter

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.

 

Jesus as Apologist
Stefan Gustavsson

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.


Day 4

Session 1 To Be Announced

 

Confidence in Christ: Proclaiming the Unique Jesus in Century 21
John Kirkpatrick and Paul Coulter

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.

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