International Society for Women in Apologetics: Why ISWA?
By Sarah Ankenman
Most often, while sitting at the ISWA table at Apologetics conferences, I get quite a few women who come up to me and ask me the same three questions. First, “why does there need to be something special just for women in the field of apologetics?” Second, “why apologetics at all?” which is usually followed by the statement, “all I need is the Word of God”. Finally, I get the million-dollar inquiry of, “can women even do apologetics? What about Paul saying that women need to keep silent in the church?” In the following paragraphs, I will attempt to answer those questions.
First, let me explain ISWA’s purpose. We are not inventing some new apologetic just for women. When you come to an ISWA event, or read an ISWA article, or watch a DVD of an ISWA member, you are getting the same apologetics any man would get at an apologetics conference. All of the women who teach or write for ISWA have all gleaned from, or have personally sat under, the teachings of great apologists like Dr. Norman Geisler, Dr. Gary Habermas, Greg Koukl, Ravi Zacharias, Dr. Ron Rhodes, Dr. Win Corduan, etc. I love apologetics and fortunately, God has called me into the very field I love, because through His grace He gave me one of the desires of my heart. However, I am also the mother of an energetic three-year-old. I realize that not every woman who enjoys going deeper in her studies, and loves apologetics, has the time to go to seminary. It’s difficult for even myself, and so somewhere along this journey, I realized that there needed to be something for today’s busy woman.
If you have done any apologetics at all, you have probably noticed that the conferences tend to last all day, if not a few days, and the average apologetics book is longer than the time you have to read it. Also, they tend to filled with ideas, theories, and words that are over the average person’s head, my own head included. I often refer to a dictionary or Google when I am doing research or reading, and I have been studying for nine years now. Also, even though I love theology and apologetics, if I have been up all night with my son, the last thing I want to do is sit down and read a book and try to comprehend Metaphysics. I realized that there needed to be something that teaches apologetics, but in an easy to understand manner and in smaller bites.
Enter ISWA U, an Apologetics lecture series on DVDs just for women. Each lecture is on a different Apologetics topic, and each is less than an hour long. It is specifically tailored to the busy woman, in that you can pop one in while the baby is napping, and you can even fold laundry at the same time! Each lecture is taught by a different woman apologist, most of whom specialize in that particular field. I know what you are thinking. Why not just watch the Apologetics DVD’s that are already out there? What does it matter that a woman is teaching? Well, think of it this way. When you go a bible study for women at church, who teaches it? It is a woman, right? Yet, you are getting the same Scripture teaching the men are getting over in the men’s ministry. The point is that you relate better to another woman. She will see things in Scripture, and be able to apply them to your life in a way a man couldn’t. She understands what you are going through and is sensitive to how God might want to speak to you. Along the same vein, a woman will be able to equip you, the whole woman: heart, soul and mind, in apologetics.
Next, why learn or do apologetics at all, if all we need is the Word of God? First, this is a selfish way of looking at the Christian life. Yes, the Word of God is all we need for salvation and living a godly life. But once you are saved, and you are in the process of being or have been discipled by someone, then what does Jesus call you to do? One, go out and make other disciples (Matt 28:19-20) and two, be ready to give a defense for the faith that is in you (1 Peter 3:15). Evangelism and missions are commands of Jesus. We are to tell others about Christ, and not just get saved and hang out in the comfort of the church. Now, this is not to say that you have to go live in the jungles of Africa like Mary Slessor did, it just means that you need to be Christ to your neighbors, and then have answers when people ask you why you are a Christian.
Second, there has been a dramatic paradigm shift in America. Before the Scopes Trial in 1925, everyone was a “Christian”. They taught the Bible in schools, and Jesus was a well-known household name. People just accepted that God created everything. It was easy to tell people about the Lord, and all you needed was a Bible. Not so today, as new worldviews are being created everyday. You never know what someone believes. If all you know is the Bible, but you don’t know why, you could find yourself without the answers. An example would be this: your neighbor is an Atheist, meaning she does not believe that God exists, let alone a Word of God. You can no longer use the Bible to witness to her, because she doesn’t accept it as authoritative. Also, because she is an Atheist, she believes in moral relativism. You now have to go back four steps and begin with truth. If they don’t believe absolute truth exists, than there can be no logic, no God, no miracles, no Bible, and no Jesus. That is where apologetics comes in, so you can give good reasons for why you believe in absolute truth, logic, God, miracles, Jesus, and so on. You have to be able to meet someone where they are at, and if you don’t know the reasons for your faith, you will be ineffective at sharing it.
Third, let’s bring it a little closer to home. Eighty-five percent of Christian kids are walking away from their faith in their first year of college, and some are making the decisions to walk away as early as nine-years-old. That is unacceptable. When your kids have questions, they are going to come to you for answers. If you don’t have them, Satan is plenty willing to fill in the gaps…
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