Trinity and the Apologetics Doctorate By Johnathan Pritchett

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Doctoral programs in apologetics are actually quite rare. Some exist in one form or other around seminaries in the U.S., but I do think that despite my earlier attempt several months ago to refute ideas that Apologetics doctoral degrees are unnecessary, many seminaries are at a loss at how to go about it.

Sure, M.A. programs are still popping up everywhere, but Trinity remains one of the few seminaries offering doctorate degrees in the field. Though, it must be said that Trinity has also been doing Apologetics in general at the graduate level almost as long as anybody, and has had a doctoral program for some time now as well.

We know how to do it.

With the introduction of our new academic catalog, Trinity has expanded its apologetic degree offerings, once again showing originality and creativity in the field that has been stuck in neutral for several years now with the typical ho-hum of classical and evidential approaches foiled against presuppositional approaches, with sprinklings of niche stances all rallying under the label “cultural apologetics” in some form or other, most of which appear more culturally irrelevant than predecessor methods. Whatever else may be said about these new apologetic methods, Shakespearean engagement with a 50 Shades of Grey culture isn’t faring much better than the older approaches that have basically reached an impasse with the culture. The “Golden Age” of apologetics proliferation is basically a mere hobby horse for internet debaters with minds more or less entrenched before the conversations begin.

So why and how is Trinity different? Here are two important ways:

1. Apologetics at Trinity is practical: Trinity believes in a holistic and integrated approach to apologetics that places the emphasis on evangelism, discipleship, and local effectiveness. Instead of trumpeting a “methodology” for apologetics in a ‘one size fits all’ approach with misguided “we can win back Harvard” aims (is Harvard worth having?), we take the best from “methods” and place the focus on effective application and communication for reaching lost souls for Christ and fostering discipleship in the local church that includes apologetics in its ministries. To put it another way, we emphasize Christ-centered purpose over methodology. We recognize that “…honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts” comes first and “Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” comes second. (1 Peter 3:15)

2. Apologetics at Trinity is creative: Part of the problem with older assessments of the usual critique of “interdisciplinary” broadness being less favorable than specialization in other particular fields, Trinity charts its own course in terms of research and application. After viewing a decent selection of publicly available dissertations from other seminaries with doctoral programs in Apologetics, it is quite clear that the problems other seminaries have, whether they have doctoral programs or are on the fence about starting them, is that they lack a clear vision as to what constitutes relevant and important research questions for investigation. In short, the dissertations are generally decent to good research papers, but with no clear question that hasn’t been asked and answered (in some variety or other) in other disciplines over and over again.

That last point is important, but there is no need to get too sidetracked with what constitutes good research questions and methods to answer them in general, or with a view to apologetics in particular. The point is that without framing the research questions right, doctoral programs in Apologetics, and apologetics in general, will remain hopelessly subpar in its overall effectiveness as an academic enterprise.

That is, except at Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary. Here, we know Apologetics. We know what Apologetics needs. We know how train Apologists to both ask and answer the questions that matter most to both the lost and the Church.

Most importantly, we know what it takes to make Apologists both effective and busy (and not simply “internet busy”).

If you wish to be an effective Apologist for Christ in your church, community, and the world, check us out.

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