Julie Miller and Ratio Christi at Rutgers: A Force
to Reason With
by Sheryl Young
In 2011, Julie Miller was in her last year at Biola University with a major in Christian Apologetics. She lived near Rutgers University in Brunswick, New Jersey and listened regularly to interviews from Apologetics 315.com. One day, Ratio Christi’s president, Rick Schenker was interviewed on the program. He talked about seeking apologists to lead college chapters. This was a perfect fit for someone who loved investigating apologetics and defending her faith in Christ. “That afternoon, I e-mailed Rick and told him my situation,” she recalls. “Everything came together…”
Miller continues. “We were both planning to attend a conference in New Jersey the following week. Some Rutgers students were there. One of them, a philosophy major named Isaac Woodward, wanted to start a Ratio Christi chapter on campus. He had a lot of apologetics experience.”
Miller and Woodward began the quest to start a chapter. “We had to find a faculty advisor and develop a constitution,” Miller explains. “Dean Zimmerman became our advisor. We got ten students right off the bat and had an active chapter by October.”
Now that she’s served three years as chapter director of Ratio Christi at Rutgers, Miller jokes about blaming her husband for starting this whole thing.
“Before running into Ratio Christi, I was always watching the culture and news, reading apologetics books like crazy, and just praying about what to do with my upcoming degree. Our sons were going to school and asking questions about Christ, and I felt like I still didn’t have a good handle on defending our faith. My husband found out about Biola in World Magazine and told me to just go.”
The chapter has grown to an average of 20 at the Rutgers meetings. There’s a regular smaller core group, others that come in and out, and lots of visitors.
The remarkable composition of the Rutgers chapter
“The university has five campuses and five different student centers. The students commute back and forth,” Miller explains. “And some clubs have three different groups. Our group is blessed to be at the College Avenue campus, the most popular one of the five, where they’ve now held their meetings for two years. This provides exposure.”
Miller says atheists, skeptics, and doubters have always found their way or been invited to the meetings. “Right now we have three radical skeptics. We’ve never been just Christians talking together. So the Christian students get immediate practice discussing Christianity through the apologetics they’re learning.”
They’ve had students from the philosophy and sociology departments who are constantly bombarded with relativism and pluralism. They get employees who aren’t students or faculty. There’s been an atheist Buddhist. “The first attendance of a Muslim was disastrous,” MIller says, “but now everyone engages in discussions with respect.”
They sometimes have a man over 70, upon whom the Lord impressed to bring apologetics into his church for the youth group…