The Apologist Mom
Interview by Andrea Palpant Dilley: Why Melissa Cain Travis thinks it’s crucial for her to be a mother and an apologetics scholar.
When I first met Melissa Cain Travis, she was tucked away at a corner table in a Houston café, a rust-colored scarf around her neck. I recognized her from pictures, but she didn’t look like the academic I’d seen lecturing in videos. She was more like a mom-friend I’d meet for an afternoon play date, where the two of us sit on a park bench and try to have a serious conversation in between wiping one kid’s snotty nose and grabbing another before he digs in the dog poop under the slide. She seemed accessible and human.
I interviewed Travis as well as her colleagues, for CT’s recent cover story on women in apologetics. She’s part of a department at Houston Baptist University that has the highest number of women of any apologetics program in the nation. Like most Her.meneutics readers (and writers), she defies stereotypes and easy categories. She’s a stay-at-home mom and a scholar. She homeschools her two boys and is working on a PhD. She leans toward complementarianism but spends most of her time as a teacher-speaker who’s passionate about drawing women into apologetics leadership in the church.
With a master’s in science and religion from Biola University, Travis stays busy speaking at apologetics conferences; writing her blog, Hard-Core Christianity; teaching at HBU; working on a humanities doctorate; raising two pre-teen boys; teaching at her home church, Faith Bible; and writing children’s books for Apologia Press, including How Do We Know God Is Really There?, How Do We Know Jesus is Alive?, and How Do We Know God Created Life?
When did you come to faith in Christ?
In the house where I grew up, we had a small library. Every time I would walk into that room, I was surrounded by shelves of books about Christianity that my dad was using in seminary. An indescribable sense of peace, security, and confidence would wash over me. It was in that tiny library, kneeling down on the ugly, gold, velvet recliner, that I asked Jesus to be Lord of my life.
What is it like to be a woman in a field that has been primarily inhabited by men?
In some ways, my work has gotten more exposure because being a female in this field is such a novel thing right now. However, apologetics is not an area where women are always taken as seriously as men. Some people wonder if women have the constitution for apologetics. It’s a field that often involves tackling hot-button issues and challenging strongly-held views that have become prevalent in our society. Interlocutors are often verbally hostile or even downright offensive. Emotions must stay under control at all times—grace under fire! So I feel that part of my calling is to challenge preconceived notions about what areas a woman can be gifted in and how her talents can be maximized in the context of the local church and as a public defender of the faith…
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