Interview with Ratio Christi President Rick Schenker
Rick Schenker is president of Ratio Christi, a campus-based, Christian apologetics organization, which he joined in February, 2011. Rick has a visionary leadership style, and has experience in business, government, public and media relations, fundraising, and non-profit management. He has a bachelor’s degree in Bible from Central Bible College, and has done graduate work in public policy at Regent University, along with additional postgraduate work in leadership and public administration. Rick has extensive experience in grass-roots political organization and campaigns in the state of Pennsylvania. As the chief elected official of the County government in Erie, Pennsylvania, he oversaw 1,100 employees and a $300 million budget.
TheBestSchools: Thank you for allowing us to interview you for TheBestSchools.org. Please give our readers an overview of Ratio Christi? What is it? How did it get started? What are its goals?
Rick Schenker: Ratio Christi is a global movement that equips university students and faculty to give historical, philosophical, and scientific reasons for following Jesus Christ. Ratio Christi (Latin for “The Reason of Christ”) is placing Christian apologetics clubs at universities both nationally and internationally. Bringing together faith and reason in order to establish the intellectual voice of Christ in the University, Ratio Christi is engaging in the battle for the mind of Christians and skeptics alike. We unashamedly defend the veracity of God, the Bible, and Christ’s resurrection. Ratio Christ started three and a half years ago as a ministry of Southern Evangelical Seminary and became an independent non-profit organization in early 2011. Since that time, Ratio Christi has developed strong partnerships with many other seminaries and organizations, focusing on Christian apologetics and worldview issues. By working together, we now have approximately 60 clubs in various stages of development in universities across the country and around the world.
TBS: Please give us a bit of background about yourself. What were some of the things you were doing before assuming the helm of Ratio Christi? How did the opportunity to head up Ratio Christi present itself?
RS: I am a grass-roots political organizer. I was an elected official, and decided to leave politics to pursue work within Christian ministry. Unfortunately, even though I had run a few nonprofits, and a government with a $300 million budget, I couldn’t find a job. Sometime in 2010, I was considering getting a master’s degree in apologetics, and ran into the Ratio Christi web site. It was a student-run ministry at Southern Evangelical Seminary. In politics, I had become used to spotting trends that could turn into mass movements. As soon as I saw Ratio Christi, I knew it was a mass movement waiting to happen. I called them up and asked them to let me run it. Based on our 500% growth in the last six months, it is apparent that this is something that was not only needed, but ready and waiting to happen in God’s timing.
TBS: It seems that Ratio Christi is in the business of apologetics for the Christian faith. How do you understand apologetics? And how important is it—to Christians, generally? . . . to Christian college students? How do you respond to the charge that apologetics is just a boutique subject, interesting only to a certain narrow set of believers who like to argue about religion, but with no wider appeal? What difference should apologetics make to the wider university culture?
RS: Apologetics is the branch of Christian theology that seeks to address the intellectual obstacles that keep people from taking faith seriously. I think it is so important that the church is heading into a new age—the age of the apologist. The modern church is under intellectual attack. For high school students, college students, and adults, the study of apologetics is becoming an imperative. However, the university is the breeding ground of skepticism, secularism, atheism, and neo-Darwinism. In the past, this was a relatively non-toxic situation. Intellectuals at the university used to simply dismiss Christianity as anti-intellectual, but all that has changed. Today they are on the attack, and they are aggressively recruiting students to their cause. Neo-atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are now proselytizing with the zeal of evangelists. They have a coordinated effort, and use the same language and the same arguments from Oxford to Appalachia. What is happening at the university is a preview of what will happen to the culture at-large…
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RELATED LINK: Ratio Christi Student Apologetics Alliance