I have spent the last three days in Madison, Wisconsin, teaching twelve staff members for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in classical and cultural apologetics. We have surveyed the great systems of apologetical thought, we have read several books, had some intensely interesting and lively discussions and watched some really wonderful video material. The 20 class room hours I am teaching here ends today with an entire segment on the life and work of Lesslie Newbigin, the finest missional apologist of the second half of the 20th Century. We will finish up a long group segment, where pairs of students are answering major apologetic questions they face in evangelism. Besides the ususal ones, such as "Is Christ the only way?" and "How do you explain that God is good and yet evil is allowed and does so much harm?" we will also talk about the issue of globalization and homosexuality, two huge hot-buttons for Christians in the campus setting.
I have learned a lot this week from these students. First, to teach 12 adults who are all engaged in actual evangelism on a campus means that each of my students is already highly motivated and on the front lines of the missional experience in the present postmodern university setting. These students grasp the postmodern questions better than any group I have taught in this formal way. They also grasp the need for a new apologetic to be faithful to their own calling. They are serious about Christ and his kingdom and want to learn all that they can. They have been the best such class I have ever taught, at least as a total class. I am very impressed with them as a group. I have made some new friends, I hope, and thus will be able to encourage them in the years ahead, God willing. We have laughed, shared our heart, been deeply moved at times and even checked baseball scores on the Internet during class. (There are a few rabid fans like me in the class.)
I go home today. I am weary but refreshed. These 12 people have profoundly moved my heart and taught me. I sense that they have taught me far more than I’ve taught them. I doubt that they realize this but it is really true. I do believe we are going to see a move of God on the college campus in the next few years and these leaders will be in the middle of it I feel sure. I have seen evidence this week that this move of the Spirit I am expecting is coming. I am watching for it now with more interest than ever. Some of the greatest renewing works of God’s grace in our history have begun on the college campus. Pray for all those who work in such an environment. And support them where you know them personally and can do so.
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thanks, john, we enjoyed the class!