In this episode, Kurt talks with Christian apologist Ted Wright on the importance of apologetics to edify believers, young and old.Listen to “Episode 106: Equipping Students (and Parents!)” on Spreaker.
Kurt: Good day to you and thanks for joining us here on another episode of Veracity Hill where we are striving for truth on faith, politics, and society. So nice to be with you here today. The topic for today’s program, we are discussing equipping your children for the upcoming school year. Equipping them with various resources and knowledge for their faith. On last week’s episode, we were joined by Dr. Braxton Hunter, where we talked about integrating the evangelistic call, the gospel message, within our apologetics, and on today’s show we’re talking about equipping the believer, chiefly your child or a child, if you don’t have children, but you’re involved with the youth group, we want to give you some tips and some resources for how you can help young ones to be prepared in this upcoming school year, to be able to learn more about their faith, to be able to share it with their friends, and their peers, and to be able to answer perhaps even their own difficult questions. To discuss these issues, I’m joined by my friend and founder of Epic Archaeology, Ted Wright. Ted. How are you doing today?
Ted: I’m doing great, Kurt. Great to be with you today.
Kurt: We were just chatting about something we could do together. It’s been a few months now that you’ve been on the program. You had this great idea. August is just around the corner here. School’s going to be starting up. What a great opportunity it would be for us to do a show geared toward explaining how we can give these resources and talk about the importance of equipping young ones for the upcoming school year.
Ted: Absolutely, for sure. Not only high school, but college. It’s hard to believe summer’s almost over. No one likes to think about that, but it is a good time to start thinking about these things.
Kurt: I was just talking with a high school student and I said summer’s about halfway over for you. She said, “No, actually, it’s more than halfway over” and she was very disappointed. I remember those days as a young one. I would play backyard baseball. Those were the fun times.
Ted: They were. I remember going to school. When I was a kid, that’s been many, many years ago, I mean when I was in school. I remember school didn’t start until after Labor Day. It was a Jerry Lewis telethon so that shows you how old I am. I won’t mention numbers, but it’s right around the corner and as a boy scout, as a former boy scout, be prepared is a good motto to have. I think it’s good that folks hear some resources as we look at the new school year thinking about how we can be better prepared as the church to equip our young people, not only with high school, junior high, but also college which also surfaces a bigger issue, and that is knowing what we believe and why we believe it.
Kurt: The church hasn’t really done all that well of a job preparing young ones to go off, even to high school or to college knowing what it is that they believe. I know for many churches, youth group can be sometimes be like babysitting or it can be just play games and let’s learn this pithy little phrase or idea and it’s just sort of this idea out in the ether. It’s not really helpful and grounding for kids.
Ted: Yes. We were talking about one of the satire blogs websites that a lot of Christians like today. It’s on Facebook. You see it everywhere. It’s the Babylon Bee. You remember a couple of weeks ago they had this one little story where they were talking about, they brought the kids up, they were getting ready to graduate and send them off to college and it’s great and it’s wonderful, it’s a great idea that we should pray for our kids. They brought them on stage and laid hands on them so they could prepare them for the onslaught of college. That’s great. That’s wonderful. I’m a former pastor. I get that. I understand the importance of prayer, but we gotta do more than just pray. In fact, it’s not just high school kids, but it’s also, it goes all the way down to elementary school and even into preschool. I think it’s never too early to prepare. A couple of days ago, a professor at Princeton University, Robert George, who is the brilliant professor, he’s one of the top national law scholars in the country, very conservative Catholic. He tweeted out an article talking about Republicans and Democrats, but it was basically saying in the universities Democrats outnumber Republicans 10-1, something like that. In some cases, even worse than that.
Kurt: With regard to.
Ted: With regards professors, yes. Even though we’re not talking about politics per se today, it just goes to show you universities are very left-leaning when it comes to ideology. It’s proved out again and again with professors. There’s quotes from professors all across the United States. One of their goals is to try to indoctrinate, secularize, a large portion of Christians who kind of grew up in the church and they kind of look it as a challenge to try to unseat their beliefs. Anyway, I think that churches, it’s not like that they don’t think it’s important. They’re not aware of it. They’re not aware of, when you send these kids to college, what’s going to happen. It’s something that needs to be talked about for sure.
Kurt: Yeah. That Babylon Bee article, it was basically saying, as you had mentioned, they brought the kids up and prayed for them, and that was it. Right? They had just hoped that the prayer would do it, would prepare them for what’s coming, instead of realizing, “Oh gee. Maybe we should have been training these kids for eighteen years.”
Ted: Exactly. That brings up a great point, Kurt. A lot of times when Christians start to see and parents, Moms and Dads and churches begin to see that this is a huge need, it’s almost a day late and a dollar short. We’re trying to play catch up now for bad thinking in the church that’s been going on or no thinking at all. Again, it’s not that churches are bad necessarily or what they’re doing. It’s just that they don’t know. They don’t realize that sending our kids into this culture is like sending them into combat. You wouldn’t send a soldier into combat having not been prepared. In the same way we don’t want to send our kids into this very secular world, even if they don’t go to college, you’re going to have questions about “Why do I believe this?” Several years ago, I used to work as you know, many people know me, I used to work for Cross-Examined. I had been involved with that several years. I got to be good friends with Brett Kunkle and Greg Koukl, Stand To Reason, along with Frank Turek and many others. One of the things Brett and I actually did a conference together somewhere and during the Q & A, someone asked Brett, they said, and this is a really great point. It stuck with me. They said, “What about kids who grew up in the church? They’ve heard good preaching. They’ve heard solid teaching from the pulpit.” That’s all great. “Their parents are Christians. They grew up in the church.” Those are all wonderful things, but Brett said this, “But my kids still walk away from the faith. They got their faith challenged,” and here’s what Brett said. Here’s the answer to that. He said that the child never took ownership. It wasn’t their faith. The challenge is how do we get them to own their faith? They begin to be intellectually engaged. That’s the challenge of trying to get them engaged in their own faith, to actually own it, so it’s actually their faith and not just their parents’ faith. If it’s their parents’ faith, they don’t do it. One of the things that Brett has done is he started an organization called MAVEN which stands for someone who cares about the truth, I forgot the actual title. He’ll take kids to university, like U.C. Berkeley and it’s called an immersive experience. There’s Impact 360 and some other great organizations and then, of course, there’s Summit in Colorado. There’s a lot of great places that parents can send kids. Those are great, those are fantastic. It’s got to start at the grassroots level as well.
Kurt: Let’s go really grassroots here. I’m the father of a couple young daughters and so talking to my wife about what should we do? Should we send our kids to public school? Private school’s not something we can afford so we’re strongly leaning towards homeschooling actually, which even five years ago I hadn’t considered, but more and more people are looking at homeschooling kids, in fact. I’ve got here an article from Marketwatch. According to March 2016 data from the National Home Education Research Institute, there are about 2.3 million home educated students in the U.S. and that is up from approximately 2 million that they had tallied, I’m not sure exactly how they tallied it, but from 2010, so you’ve got 300,000 more kids being homeschooled and that same research says year to year it grows from 2-8% a year and it’s just fascinating because it seems like a trend at least I’ve been perceiving of is it worth it? Is the public education system worth it for what they’re going to be taught? I come from a public school background. My wife was homeschooled. I liked certain aspects to the public school setting. There’s some things that I didn’t like. When I was in high school, there certainly was a hostility or maybe more accurately a belittling of people of faith, whether you’re Christian or not. We know better type thing, an aura if you will, and so some parents are not really asking themselves, like you said, it’s like you’re sending your kid into combat and are you preparing them? That’s all the more so the case if you’re sending your kid to public school. I’m not here to argue homeschool vs. public school, but one of the things I think parents need to realize is that especially if you send your kid to public school, you have to be very involved in the educational process, from parent-teacher association meetings, school board meetings, helping your kid do their homework. Answering their questions for them about history, especially worldview issues, those things get brought up even in the public schools, and for me, that was part of my story. When I was in high school I began to ask the deep questions of life. One of the plus sides to going to a public school was that I met Muslims, atheists, Hindus, Buddhists, I had an exposure to that when I was in high school, at least as far as my journey’s concerned, that was a good thing. Sometimes for other peoples’ journey it’s a bad thing. Sorry. I’m going on and on here.
Ted: No. Absolutely. Like you, Kurt, I went to public school as well from first grade all the way through high school and graduated in a public school setting, but you are exposed so it does give you a broader horizon. There’s pros and cons to both. Even with the homeschool, you don’t want to isolate kids to where they don’t have any interaction. One of the problems, it’s easy to sit here and throw stones at what we should and shouldn’t be doing in the church. We could be here all day. It’s not to turn down the church, it’s to edify, to build up, and to encourage. I don’t think it’s a one-size fits all. It’s a multiple level thing that has to do with integrating. One of my favorite books on apologetics, it’s sort of an unconventional book. It’s written by a guy named Thomas Dubay. It’s called The Evidential Power of Beauty. He’s sort of expounding on this one particular theologian who wrote a lot on beauty and how God uses beauty to reach people for the truth and whether it’s through science or art or music or whatever, but one of the things that Dubay says is this. In the very beginning of the book he talks about people being jaded and he talks about parents and the importance of parenting, the importance of being actively involved as a parent, and it really touches on the heart of the issue we’re talking about here and that is preparing young people, but what he said is he said that parents who are not engaged and who don’t have an appreciation for beauty and those kinds of things or truth, they can’t give it to their kids. He basically says you can’t give what you don’t have. Then that puts the burden on us as the parents to then prepare ourselves. Why do you believe what you believe? Why are you a Christian? I’m a Christian because I was brought up as a Christian. That may be the case for a lot of people, especially here in the South. You kind of grow up in church, a lot of people do anyway. It makes it even harder. It’s got to be, why do I believe Christianity is true, but at the end of the day it has to be because it corresponds to reality, because it’s actually true. I don’t want to become a Christian because it makes me feel good. C.S. Lewis said, “If I wanted to become a Christian, I wouldn’t do it because it made me feel good. I could get a bottle of port and do that.” But he said, “I’m a Christian, because it’s actually true.” Then we begin to look at reasons for our faith and then we look at 1 Peter 3:15, always be ready to give an answer for the reason and hope that’s within you, but do this with gentleness and respect. There are reasons for faith. We who are engaged in apologetics. We go in these circles so we really get that, but people who are not, I’m surprised when I speak at churches, sometimes I’ll speak at a church who hasn’t really had a lot of exposure to apologetics and when I bring some of these things up and I talk about this, they’re just overwhelmed. “Wow. This is amazing. Why have we not heard about this?” There’s positives, really good positive things that we can do. Let me say one other thing and I know you might have something to add to this, but on a practical level, I know, because I’ve been a pastor, spoken on apologetics around the country, and talked to a lot of Christian churches, there’s usually in a church, and maybe someone out here yesterday, maybe you yourself as a parent, you’re into apologetics and you see the reasons for faith and you study these things and you don’t see a lot of that in church though and you want to get your pastor involved so I want to encourage whoever you are to not give up what you’re doing, maybe even you could teach a class, even if it’s not during church time, you could actually use one of the classrooms and just put an advertisement in the bulletin or something like that. “I’m going to talk about reasons for faith”, or whatever, and you’ll be surprised at the people and how the ball will get rolling and the interest will begin to spread and you’ll see that there is a need for it. If people are involved and they are engaged in the culture they are going to see the need for knowing what we believe and why we believe it.
Kurt: And especially all the more so, you have parents if they’re interested in helping kids understand their faith, and they don’t understand their own faith, they’re going to be shocked with that class.
Ted: That’s so very true.
Kurt: We’ve got to take a break here Ted, but when we return we’ll keep talking about ways that we can equip children and parents and how to understand what it is they believe and why they should believe it as well so stick with us through this short break from our sponsors.
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On today’s program we’re talking about how to equip children for the upcoming school year and joining me on today’s program is Ted Wright. He’s the founder of Epic Archaeology and a friend of mine as well. Ted, in the first half of the program, just sort of where we left off, we were talking about parents and getting parents involved, and one of the things I wanted to say is that I’ve heard so many, a number of different ways parents have tried to help their children understand and one of those ways is just read the Bible. It doesn’t seem that saying just read the Bible works anymore in our culture today does it?
Ted: Yes. Because then when you read the Bible, then the questions arise. It’s like, “I don’t know. Where did Cain get his wife?” Those kinds of questions. How are you going to answer that? Reading the Bible is great and it’s foundational, but you have to do more than just that. It’s not that God’s Word is necessarily bad because it’s not. Scripture is very clear that God’s Word will not come back void, but we have to integrate God’s Word, and that’s the thing is that, we live as you know Kurt, we live in one of the most politically charged we ever have in the United States and so everything is up for debate, everything is up for arguing, things like that. At the end of the day, sometimes we’ll get sidetracked by, they’re important things, politics are important. Those are important questions and political issues, but at the end of the day the most important issue is Christianity and the gospel and Christ and the resurrection. Those are non-negotiable. Those things are things we should have down and we don’t, and so, it’s not that we want to argue about them. We want to know why we believe that’s true. That means you have to do a little bit of outside reading besides just the Scripture and knowing how to integrate that and how to communicate that in this culture that we live in.
Kurt: What would you say, there are two categories here. At least what I’m viewing as helping children. There are books for kids and then there’s sort of books for adults and parents.
Kurt: I’ve got a couple authors in mind, but who would you say are authors or books specifically, let’s start with kids first, books that are geared toward that audience, towards students.
Ted: Absolutely. I’m glad you asked because I just pulled that up on my phone here and this may be someone that you were going to mention as well, sorry about the glare of my glasses, but I’m gonna read this. On Amazon, you can get them, these are really cheap, but they’re actually fantastic, and I know the author. Mellssa Cain Travis. Some of these books are geared toward children. They started at a very early age. How do we know that God created life? That’s book #1. How do we right from wrong? How do we know God is really there? How do we know Jesus is alive? These are important questions. These are not just optional questions. If you’re a Christian parent, you need to know the reason and so these books actually might help you understand your faith as well. How do we know God is really there? How do we know God created life? Those kinds of things. They are also in Spanish as well, but that’s what I would start with, and I know that, I think Jim Wallace also has a book for young people as well, and I can’t think of the name. I can look it up here in a second.
Kurt: I’m pretty sure it’s a Cold-Case Christianity sort of series. That’s his angle. He’s a detective so he brought this way of understanding to the table for us. The books for the adults that he’s written and I think he’s also written kids’ versions of the book as well. One of the things also for really young kids, even before they become students, formally speaking, I know William Lane Craig has these childrens’ books with Mother Goose and Papa Bear where he’s explaining very heady issues, but kids, they ask these sort of questions believe it or not.
Ted: They do. We can learn a lot from children.
Kurt: Yes. That’s a series, something like nine books I think maybe, on what God is like. Great way of starting kids very young. Eventually, when they learn to read on their own there are these kids books that they can check out. I know that there’s Lee Strobel’s series as well, The Case for Christ, there are student editions. Definitely some good books there, but Ted, what about folks that are new Christians, let’s say you’re a parent and you’ve only been a Christian for 1-2 years, what would be some good resources for them to just get introduced into apologetics and learning more about their faith?
Ted: Yes. A couple of resources that I recommend. One would be the web site Stand To Reason. I know the guys there. Greg is a great guy and a friend, and then also the book by my former colleague and boss, Frank Turek and Norm Geisler, I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist, although the book is written and is geared toward, it’s the complete apologetic. It begins with truth and it goes all the way up to the resurrection so it’s a 12-point apologetic outline and it pretty much covers all the bases. It begins with truth, is there such a thing as truth, how do I know the truth, then it builds from there and it goes all the way up to there’s a God, theistic arguments, and then it goes into miracles and it gets into those kinds of things and it really lays a foundation. As a teacher, I’ve taught apologetics for probably 14 years and before Geisler and Turek wrote the book, of course, it’s based on Dr. Geisler’s notes on apologetics, the skeleton of the book, so anybody who studied under Norm Geisler has gotten this. It’s a classical apologetic approach. I don’t want to debate presuppositional vs classical, but the book happens to be written in a classical approach and the benefit of that is that it’s very well organized and it helps you to see the whole system. It’s good to get the big picture. We talk about the resurrection and we talk about miracles and things like that, but they’re all connected together and there’s step one, step two, step three. If there’s no truth, then not even atheism cannot be true. If there’s no God, Jesus can’t be God so you have to start from foundation one and you build up from there. When I taught apologetics in undergraduate classes, I would use that 12-point apologetic outline and I would say everybody is somewhere on this continuum. They’re either denying truth or denying God’s existence or they’re denying miracles or they’re somewhere on this line, so as a Christian one of the things you need to figure out with people is where they are on that line by asking questions and having a dialogue with them. To answer your question, yes, those would be two really good sources, and of course, our stuff on Defenders Media. We have a lot of great websites, Mike Licona’s stuff is great.
Ted: Apologetics315. What an incredible resource we have. There’s tons of podcasts on there, specific topics that you can drill into like the problem of evil and does God exist, those kinds of things are all on apologetics315, and then myself, I look at the Bible and the biblical worldview, part of my specialty in apologetics is archaeological. I look at is there historical archaeological evidence for the Bible. There overwhelmingly is. We talk about these amazing evidences, historical and archaeological, that the Bible is actually true. Those are some good resources that people can check out.
Kurt: And for those that might be concerned that archaeology sounds boring, you’ve got to find the videos of Ted teaching online. Ted. You really make that stuff sound exciting.
Ted: Thank you. I try to. It’s a really dry subject, pardon the pun.
Kurt: Dry. Dirty. Messy.
Ted: Exactly. It is a challenge. The whole thing, how my teaching evolved is when I was an undergraduate student in archaeology, I was personally engaged in it, but I heard a lot of archaeology major speakers, major scholars in archaeology. Israeli scholars, Americans, European scholars, and it’s great stuff, but they’re pretty boring and I’m thinking, “This is exciting material here. Why don’t you liven it up a little bit?” Thank you very much. Thank you.
Kurt: Alright. We’re going to close up the program here shortly ending the program a little early today, but one of the things I did want to say here is that you noted how we have to have dialogues with people. Apologetics is a relational enterprise. You can’t just say, “Here. Read this book.” You have to be winsome in your apologetic and that means having these conversations. For some people, it’s just sitting and listening, because they might be dealing with suffering in their life and they don’t have anyone to talk to and if you’re just the person you can talk to, that’s going to be very winsome and appealing to them and then they’re going to see you as a mentor or an advisor, and all of the sudden, Christianity seems like a very, it seems like something that they want to do.
Ted: Kurt. I’m so glad you mentioned that Kurt, because I think you hit the nail on the head. I have a lot of friends who are still teaching and they’re teaching in seminaries and universities on apologetics and amongst ourselves we kind of chuckle and some of my friends roll their eyes at this, but it’s absolutely true. Bill Craig, William Lane Craig, in his book Reasonable Faith. By far, if any Christian out there, you know who Bill Craig is, William Lane Craig, everybody knows his scholarly credentials, but he wrote this book called Reasonable Faith and Reasonable Faith he said himself is an entire apologetic for Christianity, but in the very last chapter Bill Craig says the greatest apologetic is love. People don’t care how much you know unless they know how much you care. You hit the nail on the head. It is not just the knowledge of why we believe and why Christianity is true. It’s also communication of that knowledge with our actions, with actually how we live our lives, and whether or not we are there for people and we are winsome and loving and have a Christlike life and, of course, nobody’s perfect, including myself, I’ll be the first to raise my hand, but we are forgiven by the grace of God. It’s like somebody said the gospel is one beggar trying to tell another beggar where to find bread. I think it’s good for us to be genuine, not to be holier than thou, and a lot of times apologists can come across a little bit judgmental, like know-it-alls, so we have to be humble and remain gracious and kind. In fact, that’s what Peter says in the passage of apologetics. Always be ready to give an answer for the reason of the hope that’s within you, but do this with gentleness and respect or meekness and respect, so we have to maintain that meekness when we give our answers.
Kurt: Great. Ted. Thank you so much for coming on the program today and for really just helping us thank through these issues, giving us some resources on ways we can learn more about the apologetics enterprise ourselves, to learn more about what we believe and why we should believe it and then to help kids as well. I really appreciate your insight.
Ted: Thank you, Kurt. Glad to be with you.
Kurt: You bet. That does it for our show today. I’m grateful for the continued support of our patrons and partnerships that we have with our sponsors. Defenders Media, Consult Kevin, The Sky Floor, Rethinking Hell, The Illinois Family Institute, Fox Restoration, and Non-Profit Megaphone. I want to thank our technical producer today. Charles is actually on hand here, Charles Honeycutt just filling in, just for today, and for our guest, Ted Wright. He’s at Epicarchaeology.org if you want to learn more about him and his great ministry, and last but not least, I want to thank you for listening in and for striving for truth on faith, politics, and society.