LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Seven generations ago, Charles Darwin’s “Origin of the Species” challenged Christianity as a viable worldview. Several months ago, Charles Darwin’s seventh great-grandson began challenging Christian students at Seneca High School with similar questions.
Darwin’s descendant and other members of an unofficial “secular club” at the Louisville, Ky., public school, had begun to raise questions that Seneca’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter could not answer.
The FCA members turned to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary students Jeremy Blythe and Tim Boyce for apologetic aid.
“The Christian students were getting a lot of challenges,” said Boyce, a master of divinity student from Owenton, Ky. “Evidently, about all they [secular students] did was come up with theories about how they could knock down Christianity.”
Boyce, who was on the FCA speakers’ list, was invited to give apologetic presentations at the school. He called Blythe, an advanced master of divinity student from Jacksonville, Fla., for assistance. In three FCA meetings in October, the two tackled three questions in particular which the Secular Club had raised.
Are all religions equal? Is Darwinism correct? Does God exist? Boyce endeavored to explain the first question. Blythe took the last, and they split the second.
Each 30-minute presentation included an audience of both the secular students and FCA members. A time of questions and answers followed each session.
“We covered almost anything you can think of in Q&A — all the way down to biblical authority, authorial intent,” Boyce said.
Discussions sometimes lasted more than two hours. But, the 30 students in attendance — divided evenly among atheists and Christians — stayed the duration.
“The atheists were by far the most vocal,” Blythe said.
“They [the Secular Club members] paid closer attention too,” Boyce added.
The two apologists said the students’ reactions during the presentations varied.
“When I was presenting any argument, all the Christians would smile,” Blythe said.
The atheists just looked contemplative.
“For the atheists, I think it really caused them to think more analytically,” Blythe said. “But for the Christians, I think it really buttressed their faith.”
Blythe and Boyce said the Christians probably benefited the most.
“They’re just wanting to grow in grace and grow in being able to be a witness,” Blythe said. “They want more information, and they really want to be a bolder witness.
“Even now, just in e-mails I’ve received [from the students], I have had at least two or three of them say explicitly that they have a greater confidence and greater courage about being a vocal witness for Christ.”
Blythe and Boyce understand the Christian students’ dilemma. Modern high school students often study in an anti-Christian atmosphere.
“They’re in an environment that is hostile to Christianity,” Blythe said. “They’re locked into almost an artificial environment that says Darwinism is universal truth.
“When we can present the Christian worldview as not just being a viable alternative, but ultimately being the only worldview that … really coheres with the world as it exists, then their boldness and their faith is going to be buttressed.”
This worldview training becomes crucial particularly for college-bound Christians in today’s culture.
“They’re the ones who are going to need it the most,” Boyce said. “We think under a worldview as a nation that does not consider Christianity as a viable alternative at all,” Blythe said.
And to evangelize in the postmodern academy requires an engagement of this world of ideas.
“My whole philosophy comes from J. Gresham Machen,” Blythe said. “He made the statement: ‘We may preach with all the fervency of the Reformers yet only succeed in winning a few stragglers if we allow the whole prevailing thought of the nation and the world to be controlled by ideas that are hostile to Christianity.'”
But the message, Blythe said, should always return to the cross.
“At the end of the third session, I simply presented the gospel of Christ as being the only viable worldview,” Blythe said. “I seek, in any argumentation I do, to make sure that’s the center of it.”
Both students plan to continue working with local schools to share apologetic tools with youth. Boyce has already made plans to begin a youth apologetics and evangelistic ministry.
Both Blythe and Boyce also expressed gratitude for the apologetic and worldview training they had received at Southern, with Boyce noting, “One of the neat things about Southern since I’ve been here has been a big shift back towards apologetics.”
And the two Southern students hope they shifted opinions of some of the secular students at Seneca.
In fact, they have. Darwin’s seventh great-grandson has begun to weigh the Christian worldview carefully.
“I’m going to work with him during Christmas break and set up a website,” Boyce said. The site will seek to encourage interfaith discussion of worldviews.
“Really the best thing that we can do for high school students is to let them see that Christianity coheres with reality and that every other worldview is ultimately not science,” Blythe said. “It is simply a suppression of the [real] worldview and a desire to erect another god in its place.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at www.bpnews.net. Photo title: JEREMY BLYTHE AND TIM BOYCE.