If you’re like me, you read good blogs and then want to know more about the person behind the curtain. Who are they, and why do they bother keeping a blog?
With that in mind, Brian at Apologetics 315 was kind enough to answer some questions about his life, blog, and views on apologetics for Cloud of Witnesses. This is the first part of a two-part interview, the second part of which I will post tomorrow.
If you have follow-up questions or comments for Brian, feel free to post them.
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Please tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Brian. Although I am originally from Michigan, I now live in Northern Ireland. This is the result of meeting my wife of the mission field. Now my time is taken up with being a husband, father, doing graphic design, and studying apologetics.
What prompted you to create the Apologetics 315 blog?
In studying apologetics I found that there was a vast amount of excellent audio resources available on the internet for free. However, they weren’t always the easiest things to find unless you already knew what you were searching for. So, I just started putting the stuff I found personally helpful on the blog.
After chatting with a couple of other bloggers I tried to imagine what I thought would be the ideal blog to develop: What sort of blog I would benefit most from personally? My answer was a sort of one-stop-shop for quality resources. This eventually came to include the idea of a quote of the week, weekly book reviews, and treatments of various arguments. And of course, lots of audio and numerous other resources.
In the early stages I didn’t post daily. But one week I came across a lot of good stuff and decided to schedule a series of posts – one for every day that week. Then, I thought, why not keep the ball rolling? The daily posting never stopped after that. Now there have been over 500 posts, with the goal that every post would be some sort of helpful nugget. If I don’t really benefit from it or I don’t think others will benefit from it, I don’t put it out there. In addition, pretty much the only thing that I publish of my own is book reviews and an occasional essay. There are much better thinkers than me, and the idea is to try to get the best ideas out there to the masses.
Do you see your blog as mainly directed toward believers or non-believers? What has been the response? Do you receive many comments from skeptics of Christianity? How do you handle those interactions?
The blog is geared to be an apologetics resource; a place for continual learning. This is of course going to be most appealing for believers. However, in gearing it primarily as a resource to believers, it is ultimately going to be a means for reaching unbelievers. So basically it is for equipping believers to reach unbelievers.
The response has been positive, for the most part. I occasionally get an email or two from people who are glad to have a good resource. That makes me thankful. One encouraging word can keep someone going for some time.
I aim to invest proper time with honest objections or discussion, but really try to limit my time with off-topic debate and personalities that seem just to be “in it to win it.” I think one must be both careful and prayerful when assessing the approach one takes, the amount of time invested, and just how fruitful a discussion has the potential to become. In the end, these interactions should be to win the person – not every objection needs to be engaged. I think of Francis Schaeffer saying, “honest answers to honest questions.” In addition, I think bloggers should be aware of the time they spend trying to “win” online, when they should be winning their wife and children. If I think that someone just wants to showboat his or her intellectual prowess and be a mocker, then that’s time that could be better used reading Cat in the Hat to my daughter or doing some laundry.
What areas of apologetics are people most interested in now? Is the apologetics scene in Europe different from in the U.S.?
These are just my opinions here, but I think on a basic level, many people are interested in engaging the likes of the new atheism and the popular-level attacks on New Testament reliability. I think that the arguments that are faced today are in many ways no different than those you will find throughout the history of apologetics. The personalities behind the objections have changed, but many are just new incarnations of old issues. But I think most Christians are concerned with just meeting the cultural need of the moment and don’t realize that these are perennial issues of philosophy and textual criticism that are being recycled by new personalities that have pitted themselves against the Gospel.
Speaking of the apologetic challenges in Europe, my impression is that secularism, naturalism, and scientism are the biggest influences in Europe. These things are alive and well in the States, of course. But in Europe you don’t have to deal with counter-cult apologetics in the same way that you do in America. And, I would venture to say that this is because of the secularism. Again, that’s just my personal opinion and shouldn’t be taken as a particularly accurate assessment of the situation.
When I think of the apologetics “scene” in Europe I think of organizations such as Damaris Trust, the Oxford Centre for Apologetics, Ravi Zacharias International, radio programs like Premier’s Unbelievable?, excellent scientists and scholars like Dr. John Lennox and Dr. Alistair McGrath (both out of Oxford). Of particular note is the European Leadership Forum, which is held every May in Hungary, composed of a huge apologetics network and many scholars, theologians, and scientists. There are probably others I am either forgetting or haven’t heard of yet. I would love to find more.
To be continued . . .