Ratio Christi's Brief History: Becoming an Apologetics Movement
By Rick Schenker
Ratio Christi was launched in 2008. Taking an idea that started at Appalachian State University, seminary students at Southern Evangelical Seminary quickly expanded the concept to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Within a year they had expanded to other universities: Ohio State, NC State, and Texas A&M. By the end of 2010 they had ten chapters at universities--including one in South Africa.
On February 2, 2011, Ratio Christi became an independent organization. Today we are now one of the fastest growing apologetics ministries in the country with nearly 100 university chapters headed by a resident apologist. Each chapter is a student led apologetics club that is or is seeking to be an official student club.
In addition, this effort is creating opportunities for the entire apologetics enterprise as we:
- Recruit students and alumni of seminaries that train apologists to help them become leaders in the campus apologetics movement.
- Engage the services of many apologetics ministries by holding one or two events at each university every year.
In August 2011, we became the first organization to start hiring apologists to become full time missionaries at universities. Since then, we have vetted and are putting in the field over 20 missionaries across the nation who are beginning to raise their funds to become a full time apologist at a university.
Today we are in the process of launching Ratio Christi International to take this vision to universities around the world. We have so much interest from around the globe, that we are bringing on a full time director just to handle the complexities of our international efforts.
We are also in the conceptual stage of developing Ratio Christi College Prep to equip high school students around the country with the historical, philosophical, and scientific reasons for following Jesus Christ.
We have done all this in just 23 months!
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If we were not making so much progress nobody would be noticing, but we have been mentioned or featured in various Christian media outlets including;
• Decision Magazine of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
• Apologetics315 Podcast
• The Ryan Dobson Radio Show
• Greg Koukl’s --Stand to Reason Newsletter and Radio Show
• Lee Strobel’s Newsletter
• The Christian Post
• Focus on the Families…TrueU Blog
• CrossExamined Radio Show
• World on Campus magazine
• Lots of radio interviews
• Countless mentions in blogs around the country and around the world
• AND MY FAVORITE, Chuck Colson’s BreakPoint Commentary (entitled “Taking on the Spaghetti Monster”)
But the most important thing is the lives that are being changed. Christian students are finding that their trust in Christ is built on truth that can be backed up by evidence. Many have decided not to abandon their faith like…
• One young lady from Ohio State that said, “everybody made me feel stupid for believing in God ever since I got in college….thank you so much for organizing the event with Frank Turek. I gained my faith back after the first lecture, it was amazing.
• Or one student at Clemson ….that left the leadership of a campus atheists organization… and is now regularly attends our Ratio Christi meeting there.
• Or another student that said… “The truth is, Ratio Christi saved my life. Before I joined Ratio Christi I was going through a “God-crisis” where I wasn’t sure if God was real, or just a human construct used to explain away things we didn't understand…. The concept of eternal non-existence after death is what terrified me more than anything. Ironically, that fear of death actually drove me to the point of contemplating suicide. I was getting to the point where I couldn't take the anticipation anymore. If I couldn't find reason, scientific reason, to believe in God, then I didn't see a reason to continue a meaningless existence. Luckily, I was introduced to the local Ratio Christi leader. He invited me to come to the RC meetings every Monday… Between [the group's] Christian apologetics lessons… and the books they recommended… my faith was restored, my depression receded, and I'm living happier now than I ever have before. And I have Ratio Christi to thank for it!
That is just a small sample of the dozens of testimonies that we have received.
AND ALL--IN JUST 23 MONTHS.
BECOMING AN EVANGELISTIC MOVEMENT
Our apologists are equipping these students with the ability to answer the questions and objections of their peers and professors. In the Spring of 2012, I saw dozens of students join together with Ratio Christi leaders to go to the Atheist “Reason Rally” in D.C. Hearing them talk about how they went right into the crowd to engage these atheists in rational conversations about truth and Christianity, I realized that we were in the middle of something that could be part of one of the greatest evangelistic movement in this century.
On the university campus, our students are becoming bold evangelists. Here are some testimonies:
Andrea from Rutgers, who said, “The nights we had Ratio Christi were always my favorite of the week. Being a part of this group helped me understand how Christianity is not simply a blind faith, but a belief grounded in evidence. It [answered] some doubts I had … and created a doorway to bring my atheist friends to explore a reasonable faith. In a campus as spiritually opposed [to Christianity] as Rutgers, Ratio Christi is an oasis for the student seeking reasonable answers and evidences to their search for truth.”
And…Brian, from Ohio State who said, “Ratio Christi…taught me how to share my faith more effectively. Before Ratio Christi I found it difficult to witness to others about Christ. Well, with Ratio Christi, every week was an adventure on campus to witness to people. We saw God work and bless us with great conversations and even a few on-the-spot conversions.”
And …Jennifer from UNC Charlotte who said, “Ratio Christi has provided an open atmosphere in which I can bring my questions about Christianity. It has given me logical answers to those questions, and has equipped me with arguments about issues I face as a Christian student on a secular campus.”
And… Hans, from the University of Alabama at Huntsville who said, “The amount of spiritual equipping that I have gone through has not only kept me from doubting my faith, but has started a passion to tell others of the many reasons for God's existence and love.”
In this age of relativism, evangelism is difficult when most people think all problems are based in a lack of self-esteem, and that personal choice is the all-determining factor in the marketplace of ideas. That is why I believe God is using Ratio Christi to help create one of the greatest evangelistic movements in this century. Every student we train not only becomes an incredibly capable witness for truth and Christianity; they are also trained to become teachers of other faithful men and women who will be able to teach others.
Ratio Christi simply trains a few at each university every year to use a classical apologetics approach to evangelism which provides logic and evidence for truth, the existence of God, the historical reliability of the Bible, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. These students go on to train others what they have learned, and to share their faith in their own circle of influence. The goal is to create exponential growth in the number of young people capable of undergirding their Gospel witness with a defense of truth and Christianity with logic and evidence.
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