Last week, a Christian friend was asking me the – admittedly difficult – question of why God would use Israel to wipe out whole people groups, as He did in the Book of Joshua. While I had some quick thoughts for her, I’m also looking through some commentaries to buttress my answer.
The point of buttressing my answer, of course, is to buttress her faith.
College ministries are obviously going to spend more time on “Christian wisdom” than “answers to tough questions.” That’s natural; apologetics is only one part of living out our salvation.
But here’s a thought: Many of our Christian students have received lots of Christian wisdom through youth group, from parents, from church services, etc.. Very few have received collegiate-level “hard answers.” Worse, some have received high school-level apologetics and been led to believe that’s all they’ll need.
So when they face a secular professor with a collegiate-level argument… or even run across a “collegiate-level difficulty” all on their own (since they’re now thinking on that level)… those earlier pro-Christian arguments look pretty paltry. If they’ve come to believe those ideas are the best arguments, then they’ll choose the collegiate-level arguments against their faith every time. (Wouldn’t you?)
But regardless of our students’ past exposure to apologetics, the point is that they need access to “faith-buttressing” right now. Maybe you’re reading large chunks of Scripture with your students (a Fridea from early this year). Or maybe students are facing tough questions from peers or teachers. Do they know where to find answers? Do they know that answers exist? Would they have a place to start this weekend, if a topic came up today?
Beyond just the occasional apologetics series (which for college students is very difficult to put together in a complete enough way), your students need help finding these answers. You may not have them all (obviously), but it’s vital to teach students about Bible commentaries and good Apologetics sites and just asking good questions of the right people. Maybe eventually you’ll build a FAQ or “knowledge base” or handouts to cover the common questions. Maybe you (or some students) will stumble upon some amazing go-to sites.
But the buttressing will be needed sooner than you have those supplies. And if students haven’t learned to seek it out, they won’t find it. Why would they?