Women in Apologetics: Lee Strobel Interviews Mary Jo Sharp
A professor of apologetics and founder of Confident Christianity Apologetics Ministry, Mary Jo Sharp is passionate about enlisting more women in defending the faith. In this interview, she describes how she’s finding a very receptive audience as she speaks at women’s ministries around the country:
• Why has there traditionally been a shortage of women in the field of apologetics?
I don’t have any statistical research on why women are not as publicly involved with apologetics. However, from my interaction with women at conferences, I have found a few repeating thoughts on the issue:
1) They’ve never been introduced to the field of apologetics before and/or they are not sure of its relevance to their life. Women in the church need to understand the importance of apologetics and its potential impact. I’ve found that once women’s groups are aptly introduced to the subject, they have some of the most impassioned responses to the material. It’s not so much of a lack of desire as a lack of proper introduction.
2) One reason that shocked me was the concern women shared with me of appearing to be unintelligent. I’ve heard women say they don’t want to come across as the one who asks the “stupid question.” They feel like they should know more of the content of their faith at this point in their spiritual life, and so they don’t want fellow church members to know that they really don’t have answers yet.
3) Women have told me that their churches are not a safe place to discuss their doubts. So those who have potential for great learning in apologetics may have no outlet within their church family to explore and learn about their questions.
4) As for why we don’t see women in leadership in apologetics: As with any issue, there are many reasons that contribute. Instead of tackling all of them, I will focus on a couple personal reasons with which I’ve struggled.
First, there is the issue of putting yourself in a position where people are going to heavily criticize and attack your character and ideas. To publicly defend the faith, you have to be prepared for slander and character defamation. You have to find a way to handle these attacks that is not an all-consuming fire. You especially cannot allow apologetics discussions to beat your family down. Finding a balance can pose a bit of a hurdle to women in leadership.
Second, women must be encouraged within the church to develop their minds and to know theology and doctrine. There must be an educational environment in the church that encourages great thinkers and develops doctrinally sound Christians to inspire greater numbers of apologists, in general, which would include Christian women.
I have found that once women are introduced to apologetics and they see the amazing transformative power of building a solid foundation for belief in God, they are excited and want to study more. I have found this to be true regardless of age, race, marital status, work commitments, or family commitments…
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Defending the Faith: Apologetics in Women’s Ministry by Mary Jo Sharp