Brian Auten, founder of Apologetics315, was kind enough to take some time out to answer a few of our questions about his ministry, how to start an apologetics website and how to get apologetics into the local church.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got interested in apologetics.
I’m an American living in Northern Ireland since 2008. I’m married with three children.
My interest in apologetics came about in two ways. First, from a sort of crisis in my own faith when I began to wonder why we actually trust the Bible as authoritative. This led to study about the origin of the scriptures, their reliability, and also biblical hermeneutics. This was so revitalizing to my Christian walk that it led to a great deal of evangelistic zeal on my part. And this leads to the second reason for interest in apologetics. I saw that anyone I spoke to about Christianity had questions about the existence of God, the Bible, the resurrection, and the problem of evil. Apologetics proved to be something that was essential to evangelism.
So through a personal crisis of faith, then through the need to have answers for others, I began studying apologetics. This became an area which I found fascinating and spiritually helpful. I began to collect a great deal of good apologetics content and started sharing it through the Apologetics 315 blog. Then came the pursuit of a Masters of Arts in apologetics, interviewing top apologists, reviewing books, starting a Reasonable Faith Chapter in Belfast, and doing my own apologetics talks.
Q: Apologetics315 is one of the top apologetics resources on the internet. What advice do you have for budding apologists who may be considering starting an apologetics blog or website?
It would be great to see more apologetics related blogs and websites out there. But I think budding apologists should first be mindful and aware of their level of expertise (or lack of expertise perhaps) and proceed accordingly. The best kinds of blogs for those who are not experts in a particular field that relates to apologetics is to help propagate and draw attention to the resources, video, articles, and audio by those who are the best defenders of the faith out there.
For those who have degrees in fields that relate to apologetics (theology, history, science, biology, religion, etc.) can start blogs based on their expertise and provide both an outlet for their area of training as well as contribute to high quality content that makes a positive and winsome case for Christianity.
For those who have technical skills related to web design, graphic design, video production, journalism, writing, research, administration, illustration, etc., you can assist ministries that are already established. This can be a tremendous help for those apologetics ministries that are needing support and seeking to grow.
Something anyone can do is hit “share” or “like” on resources, articles, and videos that are particularly impactful. If there’s already great resources out there, but no one reads them, watches them, or listens to them, then everyone should try to bring attention to them so they can have the greatest impact possible online.
Q: You have interviewed over 150 Christian Apologists and while I'm sure all of them were interesting, were any of them especially memorable? If so, why?
Of all the interviews I’ve done, you’d think the most memorable ones would be with those who were the most brilliant thinkers, or the most knowledgeable in their areas. While that is partially true, for me the ones that have been the most memorable have been the ones where the person I interviewed was gracious, friendly, and Christlike. Some people just leave you feeling like they really care about you, they are your friend, they want to know more about your life, your work, your family… those are the ones that make a real impact personally.
And I can’t help but think there is a lesson in there for apologists in general. I think we underestimate the importance of relationship and character in doing apologetics. I think the most memorable interviews for me have been with people who have found a real balance between being really smart and really gracious and friendly.
Q: In 2010 you hosted an excellent 2 part essay series about how to get apologetics into the local church and I know that is one of your passions. What are a few first steps someone can take if they are thinking about introducing apologetics to their church?
If you have a real passion for getting apologetics into your church, then you really need to read (or listen to) the Series 1 [here] and Series 2 [here] of the How to Get Apologetics Into Your Church essay series/podcast. There’s so much great information and insight from a score of people who are already doing it with good success. That’s the first step.
As for other pointers, here are a few. If you’re wanting to see apologetics implemented by others in your church, such as the pastor, then realize that you can’t force things to chance in that direction simply because you see the need so clearly. But don’t be surprised when you don’t see huge change. Other people will rarely listen to someone else’s vision and become so inspired that they take it on as their own and become the primary driver. The best you can do if you don’t want to be the primary driver is to take the approach of offering suggestions, making opportunities, and providing resources. But this probably won’t make the impact you are really hoping for.
I think the real impact happens when an apologist acquires the skill-set and training they need, they present their vision to church leadership, and they begins an apologetics study group or class that they become the driver for. If you’re starting an apologetics group, then you must assume that you will be the primary driver. Don’t wait around for someone else to make it happen—it won’t. No, you’re the person who is going to get out there and take the steps to see the vision move forward.
Get the training you need: Reasonable Faith chapter training, Biola certificate, Masters degree… whatever you possibly can to be equipped as best you can to handle teaching/sharing apologetics in a small group setting. Submit to your church leadership and cultivate good relationships within your church. Then take one step after another to move forward. And don’t forget that there are others out there who are doing the same thing—you can get support and insight from other chapter and small group directors.
Q: What projects can we look forward to in the future from Apologetics315?
Well, the interviews are back in full swing after a bit of a hiatus. I plan on doing another read-along project, more book give-aways, and a few more things that are still top secret!
I encourage our readers to checkout Apologetics315 and the wealth of resources it offers here.
Courage and Godspeed,