March is Women’s History Month. To honor this, the Baltimore Christianity Column will be featuring the profiles of talented and accomplished women in the field of Christian Apologetics all month. These are trained, professional, and accomplished women who champion Christianity through their expertise in fields such as philosophy, history, and science.
Ratio Christi is an international Christian organization aimed at creating chapters in colleges and universities all over the world. In any given college, an advocate with experience and training in the field of Christian Apologetics collects a group of students – Christian or otherwise – who are interested in exploring the Christian faith through reason, philosophy, history, and science.
At Rutgers University in New Jersey, that advocate is Julie Miller. Julie is a trained Christian Apologist, having graduated with Highest Honors from the Apologetics Masters program at Biola University as well as pursuing a rigorous and on-going personal investigation into the evidence that supports her Christian convictions. For 24 years, she has served in Bible Study Fellowship, a group that investigates the Bible from all angles: historically, theologically, and linguistically.
This last is appropriate for Julie, since her interest in Christian Apologetics was sparked during her years teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) for Friends International. Julie describes her experience:
“Along with our language study, I also shared the truth about God and the gospel. I had ladies from many countries, including China, Japan, South Korea, Columbia, France, Germany, Ecuador, and Iran. I soon learned that apologetics was essential. These ladies needed evidence for the existence of God and the reliability of the Bible before they would consider the truths of the gospel. Soon after this realization, we moved to New Jersey and my two teenage sons began attending public school for the first time. They encountered many objections to Christianity and needed answers and evidence and reasons for their faith in Christ.”
Unlike her ESL students, Julie did not begin her Christian Journey as an intellectual pursuit. She was raised in a Christian home where her faith was more or less passed down to her from her parents, teachers, and pastor.
It was not until college that Julie began her own investigation into her faith.
Julie has not practiced her faith in a vacuum, however. She has had to weather challenges that require her to look at the reasons behind her own beliefs. She lost her 57-year-old mother to cancer when she herself was just a young wife and mother; then later had to watch as one of her sons strayed into wayward thinking and behavior. If her faith had been simply an emotional one, these would have been reason enough for her to doubt her God.
Armed, however, with her convictions bourn up by solid evidence and reason, Julie has emerged a stronger Apologist for Christ.
Julie puts these skills into practice in her Ratio Christi chapter at New Jersey’s State University. She describes her experience there:
“We have a wide variety of students who attend our meetings. For the Christians our aim is to strengthen their faith by equipping them to give reasons and evidence for their beliefs. Their faith is challenged in the classroom and on the secular campus, so unanswered doubts can soon lead to rejecting the faith. It is unlikely that a student will continue to believe something they seriously doubt is true. The heart and soul cannot continue to embrace what the mind rejects. We also have skeptics, atheists, a Muslim, and a Buddhist who come to our meetings. For them our aim is to answer their objections and give them intellectual permission to investigate the truth claims of Christianity.”
While Julie admits that the beliefs certain Christian churches’ have about women’s place in ministry may hold those women back from pursuing their investigations into the evidence for Christ, and from sharing that evidence, she believes that women have a special role in the field of Christian Apologetics:
“I think women are in a unique position to see the value of incorporating apologetics in raising children. I have heard [Christian Apologist] J Warner Wallace say we need to stop teaching our children what to believe and start training them to be able to give reasons and evidence for their beliefs and welcome their questions and doubts. This just means in it is necessary to focus on the ‘why’ as well as the ‘what’ when preparing our children to be good ambassadors for Christ in our post Christian culture.”
Julie may be a hard-working woman who has devoted a great deal of time and effort into achieving her position of ministry and leadership, but she champions the evidence for Christianity for the edification of others, not for herself. As she, herself, states:
“…my story is not very different from others. Questions about the truth claims of Christianity, either our own questions or from others, motivate us to find answers.”