New Center for Christian Apologetics to continue Southern Seminary’s legacy of defending truth
Timothy Paul Jones will be the director of the center
Secular culture is more antagonistic to the Christian faith than ever before. In the last century, historic Christianity has often been criticized as outdated, outmoded, and out of touch. And at each step, the church has trusted The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to defend it.
A new Center for Christian Apologetics at Southern Seminary will continue that legacy by ensuring that today’s Christians are prepared to defend historic, orthodox Christianity. The center will give students opportunities to learn from leading apologists and theologians in an effort to underline Southern Seminary as a leading institution for the study of apologetics as a theological discipline.
It was announced this morning by Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr., who said the center highlights the central importance of apologetics in Christian witness.
“An emphasis on apologetics is not an option for a Christian institution in today’s age. Furthermore, it’s not an option for an individual Christian,” Mohler said. “Every single Christian in this generation is called to defend the faith; to be able to give an explanation for the hope that is within us; to be able to marshal the very best arguments on behalf of Christian truth; and to be able to discern the difference between truth and error.
“In this post-Christian age, the defense of the Christian faith falls as a responsibility upon every church, and certainly upon every minister of the Christian gospel. The Center for Christian Apologetics now extends and enlarges the work of Southern Seminary in this final area. We need to arm the rising generation with every apologetic argument and the full arsenal of Christian truth. This is a time for deeper, more intensive, more concentrated emphasis upon apologetics, and that’s exactly why Southern Seminary is establishing this new center.
“I’m very pleased that Timothy Paul Jones, an accomplished and published apologist, will be taking on this responsibility. He’s already well-known in the field, and his experience — channeled through his academic and intellectual background — will be invaluable as he gives leadership to this new effort. I’m particularly looking forward to the annual institute, but even beyond that, to the increased profile of apologetics in the life of every one of our students in every degree program.”
Beginning in 2020, the center will sponsor an annual apologetics institute on Southern Seminary’s campus which will give students a chance to hear from top scholars in apologetics. The center will also sponsor a podcast featuring conversations with apologists and theologians discussing their field as a theological discipline.
Timothy Paul Jones, who has written several books designed to equip the church to defend the faith, will be the director of the Center for Christian Apologetics. He is currently the C. Edwin Gheens Professor of Family Ministry at Southern Seminary and a teaching pastor at Sojourn Church Midtown in Louisville, Kentucky.
Jones is the author of Misquoting Truth, a guide to refuting the arguments of skeptic Bart Ehrman’s book, Misquoting Jesus. Jones has also written Christian History Made Easy and How We Got the Bible, for which he earned a Gold Medallion book of the year from the Evangelical Publishing Association in 2016. He also hosts a personal podcast on apologetics with Garrick Bailey called Three Chords and the Truth.
He also has extensive experience defending the Christian faith in public forums, including a series of lectures at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill on the historical reliability of the New Testament Gospels. He also spoke on the reliability of the Bible at the Ignite Conference in Chicago earlier this year and the Without a Doubt conference in western Kentucky.
“I am delighted to take on this role as director of the new Center for Christian Apologetics,” Jones said. “Dr. Mohler’s consistent biblical witness on cultural issues has already positioned Southern Seminary as a leading voice in apologetics. I’m excited to build on this foundation by developing a center that will provide students and church leaders with the best training in apologetics available anywhere.”
Events sponsored by the Center for Christian Apologetics will be announced during the 2019-2020 academic year. Additionally, the seminary will establish the Philosophy, Apologetics, and Ethics department under the School of Theology, with Jones serving as chair. The new department will go into effect on August 1.
Matthew J. Hall, provost of Southern Seminary, said the new center will extend Southern Seminary’s longstanding role as a hub for winsome Christian apologetics.
“The task of Christian apologetics is one with apostolic charge (1 Pet 3:15). In an increasingly confused and secular age, it has become even more urgent and complex. And yet, the opportunity for Christian witness in our time is remarkable,” Hall said. “Southern Seminary has always been committed to equipping and training Christians to defend the faith.
“That commitment will be well served through the Center for Christian Apologetics for years to come. I am delighted that Dr. Timothy Paul Jones will be assuming this post in addition to his current responsibilities. He is a prolific author in this field and one with a proven ministry in Christian apologetics."
While evangelicals have long emphasized cultural engagement, too often they have diminished the role of apologetics as a theological discipline, Jones said. Southern Seminary’s commitment to biblical inerrancy and the sufficiency of Scripture make it the perfect place to house a center for apologetics, he said.
“The Center for Christian Apologetics will serve as a catalyst to position Southern Seminary as the leading institution for the study of apologetics as a theological discipline among believers who recognize the primacy and centrality of biblical inerrancy,” Jones said.