Dr. Travis Kerns (Ph.D, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) will be teaching during Louisville Indian Fellowship at Hopewell, September 9, 16, and 23, at 6:00 PM. He is the professor of apologetics at Boyce College of Southern Seminary. He was kind enough to share his thoughts and background for our blog.
1) Could you share a little bit about your personal testimony and how you ended up at Boyce College?
I was raised in a Christian home in the upstate of South Carolina and was led to Christ by my dad when I was about 8 years old. We felt called to Louisville for seminary at Southern in June of 2001. After finishing the MDiv and beginning the PhD program in 2004, I started teaching at Boyce College in 2005 and have been teaching at Boyce since that time. In 2011, I began teaching at the Masters level for the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism at Southern and overseeing doctoral students for the Graham School as well.
2) How would you describe/define “apologetics” to someone who had never heard the word before?
2) Although the word “apologetics” sound like an apology, being sorry for something or someone, it is really the opposite. In Greek, the original language of the NT, the word “apologia” simply means “a defense.” So, apologetics is the defense of Christianity against attacks from non-Christians and the answering of the questions of Christians about their own faith.
3) Why should the average Christian, sitting in a pew on a Sunday morning, even be concerned about apologetics?
The average Christian in the pew on Sundays should be concerned about apologetics because the Bible demands that followers of Jesus be active in answering the questions of skeptics. 1 Peter 3:15 is the main text commanding us to engage in apologetics. Peter tells Christians to “always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you about the hope in you, yet with gentleness and respect.”
4) How should the local church be involved in apologetics?
The local church can be involved in apologetics through individual members own apologetic efforts with non-Christians or through an organized effort of the entire body. Anytime the local church is involved in evangelism, apologetics is taking place. Whenever we give a reason for non-Christians to follow Jesus, we are engaging in apologetics. Christians do that very thing anytime they practice evangelism. This may
be needless to say, but the Bible is filled with commands to engage in evangelism, thus, the Bible is filled with commands to engage in apologetics.
5) What are three books on apologetics that every Christian should read?
The first book every Christian should read when thinking through the issue of apologetics is the book of Acts in the NT. Throughout the book, Luke records the evangelistic / apologetic efforts of the early Christians, and Peter’s sermon in Acts coupled with Paul’s sermon in Acts 17 are Spirit-led examples of the ways we should practice apologetics.
The second book every Christian should read in the area of apologetics is
“Mere Christianity” by CS Lewis. His style of writing and wit are unmatched in modern Christianity and his defense of basic Christian truths is very helpful.
The third book every Christian should read in the area of apologetics is “Cur Deus Homo?”, or “Why the God-man?”, by Anselm. This work explains, from a biblical and theological perspective why a God-man is necessary for Christianity to make sense. Anselm’s work is old, but is very applicable to our current culture. The issue of the deity/humanity of Jesus is a huge question that most unbelievers want to discuss, and Anselm’s work answers the most basic of questions.