CL: Isn’t that usually a position offered at a Seminary? For example, Daniel Darling’s position at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s (SBTS) is the director of the Land Center for Cultural Engagement. Is this the first time that you know of that your new position has been hired by church?
Jeremiah Johnston: Apologetics is not a parachurch ministry, but should be paramount to the local church. My word, is that so true, and yet it is for very few local churches—and here we are as a culture as a result.
The church can no longer abdicate its responsibility to speak intelligently to cultural issues and train believers with a biblical worldview. There is where I pray the vision of Dr. Graham and Prestonwood becomes a model for many other churches. Every church should have a biblical worldview specialist on the team. Why? “Apologetics” is making sure the Christian faith connects up well with the questions people have today.
The real problem we face is that people see Christianity as an answer to yesterday’s questions, and hence they think it offers no relevance today. What we need to do is translate our faith language into what C.S. Lewis calls the “cultural vernacular.” We need actually think about how we translate our faith language into today’s language but also answer the questions people are asking. Apologetics is loving God with our heart, soul , and mind. I am thankful for seminaries that teach apologetics. Churches must get off the sideline and on the field.
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Apologetics in the modern church is not an innovation. The earliest Christian thinkers were not frightened by intellectual pursuits or tough questions—which is why the early church took the Roman world by storm. The global church has been reticent to tackle the trending, unanswered questions posed by people in our pews, avoiding the intersection of culture and the Bible.
Every generation faces challenges—a crucial calling of their time. We are no different. The earliest Christians out-thought everyone around them. We must follow their example. Skepticism against Christianity is becoming more sophisticated and the church must be present and stand for absolute truth.
CL: What are you hoping to accomplish with your new position at Prestonwood?
Jeremiah Johnston: This success will be hard-won, but success is resourcing every believer to pass along a legacy of faith in their community – a vibrant, intelligent, conversant faith. I thank God for Dr. Graham’s vision to take biblical worldview seriously.
There are over 3,000 questions in the Bible. Questions are not dangerous. It is not a sin to question our faith.
Jesus asked more questions than he answered! People tend to be effective communicators on subjects that hold their passion. Yet many Christians with a deep love for Jesus don’t think they can be effective communicators about their faith. I don’t know enough; it would take years of study to answer a skeptic. The good news is you don’t have to be either a “professional” or a degreed scholar to be knowledgeable about your faith.
The book of Jude has shown us that every follower of Jesus can defend the faith. We can be informed and able to carry on great conversations about coffee, restaurants, and sports, but our faith is so much more valuable. It’s time to make a decision to defend it! God’s command and desire is for every believer to stand ready to defend the faith and at Prestonwood our goal is for every follower of Jesus, not just a few delta-force Christian Thinkers, to be ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within them.
CL: You were also named the dean of Prestonwood Christian Academy. What are you most looking forward to in your new position at the school?
Jeremiah Johnston: Dean of Spiritual Development at Prestonwood Christian Academy (PCA) System of Schools allows me to directly impact future generations of Christians to be Christian Thinkers. Unlike any other time, we are trying to reach young people with a worldview of hopelessness and a developed skepticism of the Church.
Deaths of despair among our children and grandchildren are rising at alarming rates. Our aim is to show how Christianity is the greatest force for good on the planet and why there is persuasive evidence that bolsters our faith in Christ. Christian faith is faith in evidence, not faith in spite of the evidence.
I will also assist PCA System of Schools students/faculty/staff in how to “Think Christianly” by working in tandem with the PCA team in creating events, training, teaching series, conferences, summit(s), think tanks, and content specific to engaging culture with the best answers for our faith and worldview integration. Our team will expose our students to the greatest Christian Thinkers alive today.
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