BA: Hello, this is Brian Auten with Apologetics 315. Today’s interview is with apologist Kerby Anderson. Kerby serves as the president of Probe Ministries as well as host of Point of View radio talk show. He is the author of over a dozen books covering a wide array of biblical and apologetic topics. The purpose of this interview is to learn a bit more about Kerby and his ministry with Probe, explore the importance of worldview thinking and get his advice on equipping young people in the area of apologetics. Well, thanks for joining me for this interview today, Kerby.
KA: Well good to be with you Brian.
BA: Well first off, would you mind just telling our listeners a bit more about yourself and what your background is?
KA: Certainly. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and became a Christian in the 1960s and got involved with a number of different campus groups like Navigators and especially Campus Crusade for Christ. But the way I became a Christian in large part is due to this area of apologetics. I had gone to an event and heard somebody talking about Jesus in a very personal way and he mentioned some books, and I was able to find them. One was Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. The other was a book of basic Christianity by John Stott. And so after reading those books, I really pretty much became a Christian. In a sense lead myself to Christ because I saw the sheer weight of evidence and then early on I had a chance to cross paths with people like Josh McDowell and others, so I was always even when I went to graduate school interested in apologetics. That was back in the day when we didn’t have that many books out. One of the first books I ever edited when I joined Probe Ministries was a book by Norm Geisler, so again, that got me into that area. And that’s something that Probe Ministries was very much involved with anyway. So I’ve really got a testimony in large part of being interested in knowing how to defend the Christian faith, knowing how to show some of the logical inconsistencies of a different world view. So in some respects, what I’m doing today after being with Probe 36 years is just sort of a culmination of what really was instrumental in my own conversion.
BA: That’s great. I really appreciate Probe Ministries. Its one of the podcasts I began listening to as I started getting into apologetics and studying in this area, and so I’m also happy to be interviewing because you’re voice is the voice of a podcast in my head. So maybe some people aren’t familiar with Probe and what that ministry is. Can you just talk a bit about it, its history and the sort of resources it provides?
KA: Sure. Probe was started almost 40 years ago. I was not there at the founding. Actually two individuals that had been involved with Campus Crusade for Christ and had been reading Francis Schaeffer really concluded that we needed to spend time going into college classrooms and giving an alternative to what the students were studying. And also produce a series of more academic books, which were called The Christian for University Curriculum to try to answer some of those questions. And so even though I found out about Probe when I was in undergraduate school, they said maybe getting a graduate degree would be a good idea, so I went on and got a graduate degree from Yale University, and then later I took a leave of absence to get a second degree from Georgetown University because really the one from Yale was pretty much science because I was speaking to the origins question and some areas of bioethics. But I also found myself a lot of times speaking on politics. I was vice president of the student body. I minored in political science. I was a lobbyist for the state legislature, but I didn’t have an academic credential per se. So when I went to Georgetown, it was to get an academic degree in political theory as well as study at the Kennedy Institute for Bioethics so that I could really address those issues. Then over the years I’ve been teaching at Dallas Seminary and other seminaries so I really have kind of a broad perspective.
But back to Probe ministries, it was started in large part to answer the questions people were asking. We initially were spending a lot of time on the college campus, speaking in the classroom, producing materials. But over the years, we also put on conferences to prepare high school seniors before they go off to college. We also spent a fair amount of time really just interacting with where the society is. And our latest outreach is to really help to free culturally captive Christians and empower them to be confident ambassadors for Christ. That first part is really based upon Colossians 2:8 of not being taken captive by culture, and we have a lot of evidence in one of the studies we’ve done with the Barna group. We’ve done probably the most extensive surveys ever done of born again millennials, those would be those born between 1980 and 2000, about how they are culturally captive. And then also to talk about how to empower people and to equip people to be confident ambassadors. And we recognize cultural captivity looks different in the United States than it does say in Africa. It looks different again in Asia or in Europe. There are different aspects of that. But that is certainly one of the things we’re focusing on a great deal. I’ve been with Probe for 36 years I mentioned. I’m the president of Probe.
But I thought I’d also mention that a lot of people who hear this voice as you pointed out, might hear it on other radio programs. The Probe radio program, of course, is on about 600 radio stations, but I also am the host of a show called Point of View. And that one was actually started by Marlin Maddoux and I have been a guest host and now I’m actually the host of that program. It’s a daily program that’s heard all over the United States and even in other countries as well as people listen to it on the internet or pull it down from other different kinds of things. And this last year I have also been president of the International Society for Christian Apologetics. That was an organization started many years ago, and I’ve served as vice president and now I serve as the president. And each year we bring together various apologists, internationally oftentimes, to really address key issues. The last one we focused on the issue of evil and suffering. This next one is there a historical Adam. But we also read papers on a variety of different things. So, those are all part of the activities that I am involved with on a day-to-day basis. Not only president of Probe and a talk show and also heading up an apologetics organization, which are all just part of the things I do on a day-to-day basis.
BA: Well you’re definitely wearing a number of different hats there. And I really appreciate the experience and the expertise that you bring to what you’re doing at Probe and these other ministries. But I want to talk about one thing that Probe seems to me to be something that Probe really emphasizes and that’s the importance of having a Christian worldview. We use the word worldview a lot in different circles. But can we just talk a bit about worldview and what does worldview as a concept involve.
KA: Well again, that is something we owe a debt of gratitude to people like Francis Schaeffer and others who have talked about this idea of worldview. Brian, a number of years ago I was convinced we needed to bring a lot of groups together. So we at Probe Ministries working with Worldview Academy tried to bring together in one place at one time people that were working in worldviews. So that was Worldview Academy, worldview ministries of various kinds, Breakpoint Commentaries as well as the Prison Fellowship things that Chuck Colson was doing. We brought in various people various people who were teaching worldview. Places like Bryan College, Worldview Matters from Seattle and on and on and on. We had just a whole who’s who of everybody in the worldview area because we are convinced that we all need to work together. You go to our website, probe.org, which I’ll talk about more about in just a few minutes, we link to all those various organizations because we’re not unique in that way at all. As a matter of fact, we’re all about trying to facilitate and to encourage as many people to think about worldview.
When we talk about worldview, we talk about just the way in which you perceive the world. One example we use sometimes is when I’m speaking to an audience, I’ll say, “I notice a number of you are wearing glasses. Well, glasses are a little bit like a worldview. It helps you to see the world clearly. When I was growing up in Berkley, California during the 1960s, they had people who were wearing rose-colored glasses. Well that gave them a different view of the world obviously. And so the point is, is that worldview is sort of like a set of glasses or it’s a set of assumptions. A very good book that we oftentimes recommend is a book by Jim Sire, he used to speak with us quite a bit on our campuses, and that’s Universe Next Door. He says it’s a set of assumptions or presuppositions that we have about the world. Everybody has a worldview. Nobody came to this interview today without a worldview. New broadcasters have a worldview. People that write music have a worldview. Producers have a worldview. Internet web producers have a worldview. Everybody has a worldview. And the sad reality is a lot of people have worldview that conditions how they think, and yet they are unaware of how those worldview assumptions, presuppositions affect the way they perceive the world. And so a Christian worldview really starts with the assumption that there is a God, that there is revelation, that human beings are created in the image of God, that they have sin in their life as well, that history has a future and a purpose, that there are distinctions between humans and animals. There are just all sorts of aspects of that, which then filter in to everything from medicine to philosophy to history to science to government as well as our own theology. So those are some basic aspects of worldview. And we’ve found that being able to explain worldviews is very helpful for people who are doing evangelism or trying to understand, if you will, what people are thinking or what kind of perspective they come from.
BA: Very good. And you mentioned how worldview is sort of analogous to glasses that you would wear because you see the world through this lens. And if that world is shaped by that lens that you’re wearing, how do we go about testing worldviews to be sure that they’re accurate, that we are getting a clear picture of the world. And how does that work with the Christian view.
KA: Well, again, I think there are various worldview tests. And those of us who teach at seminaries sometimes like to use various alliteration and things of that nature. Let’s look at some of the “c”s, for example, that are part of the test. That is, first of all, is a worldview consistent? In other words, do you have different views that contradict one another? This is one of the things we’ve surfaced in our studies of the millennial generation. They don’t really feel that the laws of non-contradiction apply. In other words, they can have vastly different conflicting views of the world as part of their worldview. So on issue is: is it consistent or are there internal contradictions. Another part of that is: is it coherent? Does it really answer all of the questions that are important? You know, some people have a worldview that answers some: I get up in the morning, I think about what I'm going to do. I make some rational choices about what I'm going to eat and those kinds of things. But it doesn’t answer the big questions about what happens after death. Or what is the purpose of my life. And so that’s another one. And just to pick one more “c”, because we can go through a long list, correspondence. In other words, does the worldview correspond with the world? That is, some people have a worldview but it’s contradicted by reality. A pantheist, for example, will tell us that the world is an illusion, but they don’t act that way. They act as if the world is real and that there are real consequences to standing in the street and getting hit by bus. These are kinds of things that we need to understand. So there are various ways that we can test a worldview in terms of whether or not it really answers the good questions of life, whether or not it really corresponds to reality, and most importantly, whether it gives us any sense of meaning. And if we find that our worldview has internal contradictions, it’s probably not a biblical worldview because God’s worldview is not going to have contradictions. God’s worldview is going to be one that is accurately looking at the world and helping us understand the world in a much more effective way. So those are just a few quick tests that we can apply. And if you go to our website, we have lots of other material and so do other people as well. I might put in plugs for people like Greg Koukl at Stand to Reason, as well as things by Norm Geisler. Certainly some of the great materials by Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell, certainly William Lane Craig and others, just to mention a few, J.P. Moreland. These are people who have done a very good job of helping you evaluate a worldview, understand the implications of that and live more consistently and live biblically.
BA: When we’re looking at worldviews, and we are trying to put them to the test with these different criteria that you’ve spelled out, the various “c”s, what are the certain components that you’re going to find in worldviews that you can actually test?
KA: Well it seems to me that, again, we can kind of work our way down just to some theological issues. The first one is: Do you believe that there is a God or don’t believe that there is a God. Right now, that is a very important issue because a lot of people are really hearing the arguments by the so-called new atheists. One of the most popular talks I'm doing right now talks about Richard Dawkins and when he was alive, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris and the rest. I’ve put forward a half a dozen of their strongest arguments against religion and in particular against Christianity and then give a response.
So the first issue is: Do you believe there is a God or is there not a God. Because that relates to whether or not there is an objective standard of truth or not. If you believe there is a God, and he has given us revelation, then you have a belief that there is something to explain the universe. If, indeed, you say there is not a God, then you have to explain the universe without God, so that gets you into evolution, and you have to explain the entire universe on the basis of mass, energy, chance and time. And if there is no God, and there is no revelation, then there is no objective standard; so then you have to figure out how to answer questions about say, ethics. Whether or not something is right or wrong is no longer based on biblical revelation, but it’s based upon either 51% say it’s right, an elite group of judges say it’s right or something of that nature. So those are all very important issues. And those are all tied up into your view of God, revelation and truth.
Then you have a whole set of others that are related to human beings. If you believe that a human being is created in the image of God, but maybe has a flaw, well then you recognize that they do have rationality and they might have altruism. But also they have a flaw, so you recognize that they might have selfishness and greed. So that’s going to condition say, the kind of government that you want to have to control that behavior. It also conditions the way in which you would want to counsel that individual in terms of psychology. We would want to understand its origins in terms of anthropology, sociology. But if on the other hand, you believed that human beings are not created in the image of God but instead are results say of an evolutionary product, pongid apes evolving in the African plain, you have to come up with a different set of explanations. You might, on one hand, have certain psychologists say that man is basically good, but it’s his culture that makes him bad or causes dysfunction. Others might say, no, we’re just an evolutionary product. And so we would have to come up with things like socio-biology to explain how we would come up with an ethical standard. Some might just simply say we are biologically determined. There is no free choice and so as a result everything is determined. So that’s going to be a very different set of views.
I alluded to another one earlier when I talked about history. I think Christianity teaches that history is linear. It’s teleological, in other words, it has a goal or an end point. But if you reject the Christian view, then you have some that say well history has no meaning at all. It’s just random actions in a determined universe. Or others might say, well history is cyclical, there are chains and reincarnation and being and birth and re-birth. So again your view of history is very, very different. So each one of these particular academic disciplines, each aspect of even our systematic theology has consequences. If you accept Christian perspective, you’re obviously going to have an attempt to try to explain the world from a biblical point of view, in terms of God, Jesus Christ, human beings, history, government, truth. But if you reject that, then you are going to have to still answer those questions, but you’re going to be looking for a naturalistic in many cases, in some cases a pantheistic explanation, to try to answer those very same questions about life.
BA: I want to talk and ask you a question about integrating a Christian worldview into ones life. What do you think is the difference between a person who is a Christian and does not have these integrated components and a Christian that is fully integrated to Christian worldview? What does that look like and how can we remove that gap?
KA: You’re asking a question that is really front and center with what we are doing right now at Probe Ministries. Because as I mentioned earlier, we actually commissioned a study working with the Barna group to do probably the most extensive survey ever done of born again millennials. Now there have been others that have looked at millennials in a general sense, those born between 1980 and 2000. Now the reason we did that is because we are recognizing that every generation is guilty in some way or another of being captive to the culture going back to Colossians 2:8. But this generation, even more so as we have looked at certainly the American culture. Now we can also apply this to other areas of the world, but I will focus on the study that was done, the most extensive study of born again millennials. What you find is first of all in terms of their thinking, they are not necessarily always thinking biblically. Our goal as Christians should be to think God’s thoughts after him. So we should first of all, have a Christian world and life view, and by that I mean that we should be thinking Christianly. So when we are encountering various issues, we should be applying that biblical worldview. We should have that grid to make sense of.
In a world today, Brian, where we have so many individuals that are really overwhelmed with the data. We now live in a digital society where the data and the concepts and the ideas are coming faster than ever before, if we don’t have a consistent biblical worldview, if we aren’t thinking biblically, we are going to be like an inexperienced juggler. Somebody throws me a ball and asks me to juggle it, that’s pretty east. Someone throws me a second one, I can still probably juggle two. Start adding three, four, five, there are all sorts of balls that are going to land on the ground. Likewise, I think we have people just overwhelmed with the data today. Overwhelmed with ideas, philosophies, worldviews, concepts, issues, and if you don’t have worldview, you’re not thinking biblically about it, you’re going to drop the balls. There are going to be all sorts of areas where you are not thinking biblically. Well then, we took the survey and went one step further. OK, we can identify that a lot of individuals, those under the age of 40, are actually not thinking biblically, how does that affect behavior because it’s a Christian world and my view. That is, if you are not thinking biblically, you’re not acting biblically.
So when you talk about various issues, problems with anger, lying, certainly all the sexual issues and much, much more, you found that again their lifestyle is not biblical as well. And so if you are not thinking biblically, you are not going to be acting biblically. You know Proverbs says, “As a man thinketh, so is he.” So again, as you think affects the way you are. So this is one of concerns that we have. Because really what we need to do is to actually integrate our beliefs into the way that we live. And oftentimes, people neglect doing that for a number of reasons. And that was another part of our survey. Why is that the case? Well we found, for example, that you could take all of the groups of individuals that we interviewed, and there were hundreds and hundres, that they fell into an almost perfect one third, one third, one third. You had one third of those individuals who actually have a biblical worldview as defined by some of the questions that were asked by the Barna group and go to church. You had one third that have a biblical worldview and go to church. We had another third that don’t have a biblical worldview, but they still go to church on a fairly regular basis. And then we had a third group that did not have a biblical worldview and did not go to church. What that means is about two thirds of those individuals are in some kind of church context. But only have of that two thirds have a biblical worldview. When you start looking at how that affects the way they think about issues like theology and Christianity and most importantly, how it affects their behavior, that was strikingly different. If there is one thing that can cause people to life more biblically and to act biblically, so not only to think biblically but also to act biblically, it is this idea of biblical worldview.
So we see the incredible, almost corrosive nature of when we fail to integrate a biblical worldview into our lives. And as a result, what you have today are lots of individuals who are living much more like the world. When Paul was writing to the church in Rome, in one point, he says that we should not be conformed to this world, but instead we need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds in Christ Jesus. Well what we see is a lot of people have been captive to the culture, or to put in another way, they become conformed to this world. And so that is the consequence, that is the high price you pay when you don’t integrate your Christian worldview. You end up living more like a pagan than you do like a Christian. And that’s not talking necessarily about your salvation, but it is talking about the kind of walk with Christ that you should be having but are not having.
BA: All right, I really want to dig deeper into that question about how people actually can better integrate their Christian beliefs in they way they live their lives. I’m curious from the studies that you’ve seen, are there certain areas that you think people typically neglect and don’t let their Christianity transform their view.
KA: There are a couple of ways to look at that. First of all, as you said, we do need to talk about how to integrate it. There is nothing magical about that. The Scriptures speak to that all the time, the need for us to spend time in God’s Word. If we’re not reading the Bible, then those biblical ideas are not coming into our minds. Right now, we have a mismatch because the typical high school senior will have by the time he graduates, in at least the United States, will have seen about 22,000 hours of television. They will have probably spent 11,000 hours in a classroom. They will have spent almost 11,000 hours listening to music, almost 13,000 hours on the computer or smart phone. And that has to be counterbalanced with maybe a few hundred hours in church, maybe a few hundred hours at most, and I’m being generous, in the Bible. So you can see how the culture is really doing a very good job of conforming it to those particular ideas of the culture. So that’s the first issue. But as you pointed out, there is a real need for us to try to figure out how to counterbalance that. And I think we counterbalance that in a number of ways.
One is, as I said, we spend time in the Scriptures, but more importantly, we also begin to evaluate what we believe. The sad reality is most of us do not really think about what we believe. It has been jokingly said that for every person worried about the end of the world, there are 1000 people worried about the end of the month. For every person analyzing their biblical worldview, there are hundreds and hundreds that don’t even know what a biblical worldview is. So that’s our first problem. But there is another one that I wanted to get to which we haven’t really mentioned until now, and that is, there is a mindset today which has been adopted primarily in the twentieth and twenty first century of being kind of being a sacred/secular split. In other words, that Christianity relates to my personal Christian life, relates to my church life, might even relate to my family life, but it doesn’t relate to anything in the public arena. And so as a result, I really sort of have this dichotomy between, maybe I'm a Christian in church, but when I go into the classroom, the court room or the news room, well then I don’t apply it there. I will maybe think biblically about issues, but I don’t take that into the polling place. I may think about biblical issues but I don’t apply that to my day-to-day work. That is, I think, one of the most significant concerns that is being raised today. Nancy Pearcey, that’s a name I haven’t mentioned yet but really need to, in her earlier books, really spent a lot of time talking about this sacred/secular dichotomy. Or the dichotomy between facts and values. And so I think another reason why Christians fail to really integrate their faith is because they live in this divided world where they spend a fair amount of their time really applying Christianity to their personal life but they don’t apply it to their public life. And one of the things that worldview ministries, I think, are calling for Christians to do more and more is to recognize that in every area of your life, you really do need to apply a biblical point of view.
BA: Well thanks for that Kerby, that’s real helpful. And you know, right along the lines of putting things into practice and taking steps to actually help people to think with a worldview in mind and equip them, I want to talk a bit about some of the events that Probe Ministries posts. So could we talk about this national student Mind Games Conference? I know this has been going on for sometime. Would you talk a bit about that?
KA: Certainly. In some respects, the history of that goes all the way back to the founding of Probe. We used to have a brochure when I first joined that said, “Will your kids go off to college and lose their faith?” There has always been a concern on the part of parents and even some kids, but especially parents because it’s the high school who thinks he’s bulletproof and is probably never going to have any problems. Parents recognize when we send kids off to college, something happens, and that is that a lot of the kids when they come back at Thanksgiving break, the freshmen aren’t so fresh anymore and after about a year or two, sometimes they’re not going to the youth group anymore. And a lot of that has to do with what’s happening on the campus. You know, you can take a class called Philosophy 101, but oftentimes, it might as well be just be entitled Introduction into Atheism 101, or Indoctrination into Atheism 101. You can take a class in evolution and yet it’s pretty much again Indoctrination into a Naturalistic Worldview 101. And so we for many years recognized how important it was to prepare high school juniors and seniors for their college experience. Now what has developed out of that for us is a Mind Games Conference which we do over one week. But again, I mentioned some other ministries, Summit Ministries is one that has a two-week program that they do in Colorado or they’ve done some others in Virginia and Tennessee. I’ve spoken at some of them as well. Worldview Academy and others are doing this, so I’m again not saying that we’re the only ones, but certainly our Mind Games Conference is an attempt to bring together in maybe a smaller function a lot of students and really help them to know how to learn.
Some of these other programs certainly do very good by bringing in notable people who lecture them. But we really try to get them more into an environment where they need to think. We start off with one of our speakers who pretends to be an atheistic professor, walks around the room asking tough questions and pretty soon, every kid that thought they knew really good answers and wondered why they really had to be going to this conference in the first place goes, “Ok, I guess I need to sit back and listen a little bit more because I didn’t do a very good job of answering any of these questions.” And I might be honest, Brian, oftentimes when we hold this in a conference center or a church, I notice some heel marks at the back of the church or conference center because a lot of the students sometimes are encouraged to go there by their parents under some duress. But after they get involved with that and recognize that this is a place where we’re going to really encourage you to think, we are going to interact with you, we even give them readings where they have to come back and give us answers to the readings, do it’s a little more of a hands-on, a little more of a didactic kind of teaching format. It’s a really great program. We just finished one that we did here in the Dallas area. We’ve done it in other places as well. It’s a great place where in this case, most all of the kids that come are Christians, but not all. This last time, we had an atheist that came that gave him an opportunity to interact on those issues as well. But we want to really help them understand these issues before they head off to college.
Now what we’ve also discovered, if I might once again come back to some of the surveys, and this comes as much from the surveys done by Christian Smith and others, Lost in Transition, Souls in Transition, and some of the other books he’s written, we are now coming to a reality that I think has caught most people off guard. It used to be in the 1970s and 1980s, that we noticed a fairly significant decline in faith among young people going off to college. In other words, we saw that the university was sometimes was toxic to Christian faith. And so we found that kids who went off to college oftentimes were more inclined to give up on their faith. I won’t say lose their faith, we can get into theological issues like that, but certainly they gave up on practicing their faith on a regular faith. So I’ll just say they lost their faith for a moment just as a handle. What we found in the 1970s, it used to be that the kids who went off to college were losing their faith. Now we’re finding that the kids who graduate, it doesn’t matter where they go. As a matter of fact, there is actually a little bit of evidence to suggest that the kids that don’t go off to college are more inclined to lose their faith, than the kids that go off to college. And I think that doesn’t mean that the colleges are doing any better, it just means that now not only is the college toxic to the Christian faith, but the culture is toxic to the Christian faith. And frankly the ones that go off to college, sometimes they have to sink or swim and they can find apologetics groups and Christian groups that maybe bolster their faith. And so, in some respects, we recognize how these ideas of the classroom have gotten into the culture and that, I think, illustrates why the Mind Games Conference is so important. It doesn’t matter now whether you’re planning to go off to college or you’re going to the military or you’re just going to go into the work force. You are going to go into a world that is going to assault your Christian faith. If you don’t have answers for why you believe, that brings us back to, of course, 1 Peter 3:15. If you do not have reasons for your faith, if you cannot defend your faith, if you do not know how to defend your faith, you’re going to eventually fall prey to many of the issues and ideas and false philosophies of the culture.
BA: Yes, there is definitely a sobering element there with all the statistics that we hear about kids who, if you will, walk away from their faith for whatever reasons when they leave their homes. I’m just thinking about the role that parents play in that. You’ve mentioned what Probe does with Mind Games Conference, and we’ve already know how apologetics plays an important role in maybe giving kids good reasons to believe, and when they face challenges to their faith, they have answers and they have a better foundation for believing it’s true. But what is it that you think that parents might be able to do to help their kids critically think about their faith, not just believe it because their parents do? And what sort of practical advice would you want to give to parents?
KA: Good point. And again this is where I can come back from our survey. It’s really good to have this kind of data because then it’s not just giving you an opinion, but it’s giving you some really strong facts. And one of the things that really was striking about our survey of millennials, and this is validated by other surveys as well, but the one that Probe Ministries did with the Barna Group, and I’m glad we have these kind of things, because we spent a lot of money with them and talked to a lot of people and did some very extensive surveys, was that we found that the parents still are the primary dispenser of values. They are the most significant influencers in children’s lives. Now that’s a bit of a surprise because I hate to say it for anybody who is a youth pastor out there listening, but youth pastors are very low down that list, senior pastors were. A parent or a grandparent had still a very significant influence. And as a parent of three children, that sometimes is a little hard for me to believe when my kids were in the teen years. I wasn’t sure they were listening to or believing anything I had to say. So, the first point I want to say to any parent who is listening to this or reading this will have to recognize that they are still a very significant influence in there child’s life. Now this cuts both ways. In other words, if the parents have orthodox beliefs, oftentimes the kids continue to have those orthodox beliefs. The sad reality, though, is that if you have parents who have culturally compromised beliefs, in other words, they don’t have orthodox beliefs, they pass their culturally captive ideas on to their kids.
So the first issue is we recognize that parents are very important. And second of all, we recognize that if parents do not have good theology, neither do the children. Now there are some real striking exceptions to that. We have some individuals who we interviewed where they came from homes where maybe the parents were atheists or they were in a mainline church and they did not have orthodox beliefs and the students did. But in most every single one of those cases, it was because of being involved in a campus ministry, Intervarsity, Campus Crusade, Navigators, Wesley Foundation, Baptist Student Union, whatever, they became Christians and began to develop a strong theology. So there are some obvious exceptions to that, but still it shows how important parents are.
Well for the parents who are listening that are saying, “well I have young kids, can I teach worldview there?” My argument would be yes. A very good book that I would recommend by Lael Arrington is called Worldproofing Your Kids, showing at a very young age you can take some of these worldview concepts and you can apply those to your children. I mentioned Nancy Pearcey. She uses examples, even things from the Berenstain Bears and things like that. There are really significant ways that you can educate your child about worldview issues, educate them about the Bible, even at a very young age.
But when they get older, here is a great opportunity because as they enter into the middle school or high school years, oftentimes they’re asking lots of questions. Encourage them to ask questions and encourage them to find answers. This is where I would really send them to some of these very good websites that are able to answer their questions. If they make a statement or ask a question, say, “That’s really good, let’s look that up.” You can go to probe.org. You can go to bible.org. You can go to the websites of some of the people I’ve just mentioned like Stand to Reason, Josh McDowell, and on and on and on. You can go through a long list of those that are available resources. So you can take some of those ideas that they are wrestling with and say, “You know, that’s a good idea, that’s a good question. Let’s investigate it.” In the past life, sometimes what has happened both in the families and in the churches, is when some student asks a threatening question like: how do I even know that God exists, or how do I know the Bible is really true, we sort of looked at them like “well you’re not supposed to ask that question, you just accept it on faith.” No! Use those inquisitive minds to go and investigate and find that there really are good, solid answers to their questions.
I'm thinking of a book by David Kinnaman. I interviewed him awhile back. He is the head of the Barna Group right now. He wrote an earlier book call unChristian, about why non-Christians don’t become Christians. But his latest book, he lost me. He’s talking about how you have a lot of Christians who leave the faith, and they leave the faith in large part, because the church is not willing to answer their questions. One of the major reasons the young people leave the faith, according to that and other books that have been written, is having to do with science. And sometimes when churches or even pastors or parents can do is apply: You either believe the Bible or you believe science. But you can’t believe both. In other words, there is no attempt to try to integrate my biblical thoughts into science. Well, I have two degrees in science and I know all sorts of kids who go into the scientific enterprise and they like science and frankly, I want to get more Christians into science. But if they are really hearing and have put before them this dichotomy: Either you believe the Bible or you believe science, when they go into science they go: “Ok, I reject the Bible.” And that’s a problem that we have here as well. So my encouragement would be that at the younger age, really do what your can to teach your children biblical ideas. But then as you really, in a sense, have protected from the world, as they get older you move from protection to preparation. When they ask a question say, “Ok that’s a good question, let’s see if we can investigate that. I bet there are answers for that. Let’s go onto a website. Let’s get a book. Let’s talk about that.” So that eventually they are prepared to be effective, so that they’ll always be ready to make a defense for the hope that is in them.
BA: Wow, that’s a lot of great advice there, Kerby. I appreciate that. You’ve got a great deal of experience in ministry and in this area of apologetics. So how about some advice for apologists. If you were in a classroom teaching the next generation of Christian apologists, what words of advice would you want to impart to them?
KA: Well, certainly they want to make sure that they spend time in God’s Word. There sometimes is a danger for people to get so involved in apologetic work that they aren’t reading the Bible. I mean it’s a problem those of us who teach at seminary recognize that you can get so academic about the Bible that you fail to really have the Bible come to your heart. And so, I still think that there is a value in making sure that you think through what you are putting into your mind and make sure that you’re using biblical criteria. One man that I enjoy interviewing quite often is Ron Rhodes. Ron Rhodes has written lots and lots of books on cults and false philosophies and things like that. Ron Rhodes has his wife keep him accountable by saying, “Ok, Ron, for every one bad book you read, you have to read two good books.” And I think there is a wisdom in that. If you head down the road and say, “I’m going to really investigate the occult or Mormonism or pantheism. I’m going to read all the new atheists.” There is nothing wrong with that. I think apologists really need to spend some time in the primary source material, doing the best job they can to understand the arguments so that they can fairly present the other side’s argument and then give a biblical answer. But at the same time, don’t get seduced by the dark side of the force, if you know what I mean. There is a real need, I think, for us to understand that we need to keep a balance in our lives as well.
That’s brings us to a second point that I would make, and that is, I just alluded to it, but let me say a little bit more. Some of us who have done work in apologetics set up a straw man. By that, I mean, that we create this argument but it’s really a false argument, and like a straw man, we just knock it down. And everybody goes: “Oh, wonderful!” But have we really understood the arguments of the new atheists, the arguments of the evolutionists, the arguments of the nihilists, the pantheists, whatever it is, to at least fairly represent that before we give an answer? So I think that is a very important aspect as well.
And a third one real quickly, because I know we’re kind of running tight on time here, but the third thing I would say is to be aware of some of these growing trends. The person that works in the area of biblical apologetics probably doesn’t have to think about that so often, although we certainly have people that are even at this late hour challenging the authority of the Bible and manuscripts and things like that. But if you’re working in the area of biblical apologetics, you don’t necessarily have to change your arguments. There are some things that I'm reading by Ravi Zacharias or Norm Giesler or others that have been written pretty much the same way for three decades. But if your working in the area of cultural apologetics, I think it is important to be a lot more cutting edge because there are so many new pieces of information coming out and frankly, I think there are some new arguments coming out. Let me take one. As an apologist, I just go into a bookstore, Barnes and Noble, whatever it might be, and I’ll go to certain sections and see what some of those books are. Well, I can tell you right now, I can see one of the growing areas of debate in the 21st century is going to be the issue of whether or not there is a soul because if you go into the book section on psychology or human improvement or personal improvement, you will see all sorts of books coming out right now dealing with the fact that these brain studies show that there is no mind. Everything is determined, we are all biology. There is no evidence of a soul.
And you’re starting to see all the new atheists address this. Not just the new atheists, I mentioned their names just a minute ago, the Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennis, people like that, but also Stephen Pinker and all sorts of other people who are working in the area of neurophysiology. They are all basically arguing that neurophysiology brain studies show that there is no soul. So it’s good that we have some books like The Spiritual Brain by Beauregard and O’Leary, and we have books like The Anatomy of the Soul by Thompson, and even Dinesh D’Souza whose book, The Life After Death, which is kind of giving some answers to that. But I do tell you and just before we did this interview, I was responding to an email from somebody working in neurophysiology in Palo Alto, California, who is really struggling right now with all the things she is hearing as a Christian and wondering how she can answer these questions. So here is a good example of by paying attention to some of the best selling books, by paying attention to books that are being published in bookstores, by looking at articles that show up in news magazines and newspapers, you can kind of see what some of the next issues are going to be and thus, instead of being a day late and a dollar short, and let’s face it, sometimes Christianity is like a decade late and a million dollars short in terms of answering some of these questions, you can be on the cutting edge.
So I think it is important, if you are going to do apologetics, to answer the questions people are asking and to recognize that some of those questions are the perennial questions. We will always have people asking do you have evidence for the existence of God, do you believe that the Bible is true, do we really believe that Jesus performed miracles or that he rose from the dead. Those biblical apologetics-kinds of questions have been around and will continue to be around. But when we start talking about some of these other cultural ones or even ones related to science, about the universe, about biology, about evolution, those are going to be issues that I think we are going to have to know how to answer as well. And certainly, the scientific realm right now is raising some very good questions that I think we, as apologists need to know how to answer so that we can always be prepared to give a defense for the hope that is in us.
BA: Well that is excellent advice, Kerby. As we wrap up here, would you mind pointing our listeners to where they can find more resources online? I know you mentioned probe.org. But maybe you can tell them what else they might be able to find there.
KA: Well certainly. A couple of websites I’ll give. First of all, let’s mention that one probe.org. Really easy to remember. Now if you go to probe.org, we have about 2000 different articles, podcasts, other resources and everyone of the articles is free of charge. You are free to print it out. You are free to make multiple copies. You are free to pass it on to your friends. And it relates to much more than just apologics, but also science, government, philosophy, history, cults, world religions, any aspect of worldview is certainly covered there. It is probably the broadest of all the various websites out there on worldview as illustrated by the other day when I was doing questions and answers, I mean I was getting questions about everything from transhumanism to scientology, to the second law of thermodynamics to books about universalism and in every case I was able to say, “well, we have an article on the website that you can read about that.” So first of all the articles are all available to you free of charge. Then, we have almost 100 different power point presentations that you can download and use in your own teaching. Those are free of charge. The podcasts, which you alluded to a minute ago, Brian, are all free of charge. As a matter of fact, I think you’re seeing a trend here. It’s all free of charge except for the books and DVDs because they charge us and we charge you. But other than that, everything else is free. So I would encourage first of all going to probe.org. But you might also sign up for what’s called the Probe Alert. We put that out twice a month, and that will educate you about new issues that coming forward, new articles. We also usually have an article about something most recent. The most recent one was on the movie Prometheus, the Ridley Scott movie. Whatever the hot issue is at the moment, we certainly talk about that. And so you might sign up if you want to for the Probe Alert.
Now the other website I might point you to is the website called pointofview.net. As I mentioned earlier, I do a talk show every single day. As a matter of fact, in a few hours from now I’m going to go do it again. This is on all sorts of contemporary issues. We certainly are, in a sense, positioned to help you articulate a biblical worldview, and also help you defend a biblical worldview. So some of the programs are on apologetics, but a lot of them are just on the contemporary issues of life: what’s in the news whether it’s politics or science or economics, government, philosophy, whatever it is, we’re talking about it. And if you go to that website, pointofview.net, again, you can hear those broadcasts. If you have a smart phone, and you can go to pointofview.net, you don’t need an app, it will read that it’s a smart phone and already give you sort of a built in app so that you can listen to the program anytime you want at any point along the way because we re-broadcast the two hour program everyday, every two hours until the next day, then it’s a podcast. Again, for people who might be interested in more of a political look at the issues, although, it is much more than political, I do a daily commentary called The Point of View Commentary. That’s a two minute commentary which airs not only on the stations that carry Point of View, but many other broadcast stations. And it’s an attempt to pull together what I think are some of the most important issues of the week. It includes oftentimes bits of interviews that I’ve done with newsmakers, whether it’s a United States senator or congressman, whether it’s an author, whether it’s an apologist, a theologian, whatever it might be, we have those materials. So again, you can sign up again if you want to get The Point of View Commentary and that’s at pointofview.net. That’s a separate organization from Probe, but it’s something that I do everyday as I leave Probe for a while to go do that broadcast. So I would encourage people to go to probe.org and also to pointofview.net if they would like to know a little bit more.
BA: Well great. That is a lot of high quality and free resources there, so I will definitely point people to those sites. Kerby, thanks so much for your ministry and thank you for taking the time to do this interview today.
KA: Well, thank you Brian. I enjoyed it and look forward to hearing from people as they go to those two websites.