In 2020 Eric Hernandez, Texas Baptists apologetics leader and millennial specialist, received a message on Facebook from a group of Filipino believers.
They had started an online group dedicated to apologetics, and they wanted to know if Hernandez would be their first international debate guest against a local atheist. Hernandez agreed, but he also wanted to make a more lasting impact.
“Even If I did a great job with this debate, I’d be gone in a few hours,” he said. “What would make a bigger impact is if I trained them in apologetics and equipped them to share that with other believers who want to discuss it.”
Hernandez talked with Zuriel, a young man in his 20s who had helped start the Facebook group. Zuriel explained there had been a rise in atheism in the Philippines, and the group started to learn more about defending their faith as they were being challenged by their non-religious peers.
The group comprises of Filipinos from across the country, many of whom have never met each other.
Still, they built a camaraderie through their shared passion for apologetics and often invited guest speakers to hold virtual workshops and debates.
Hernandez offered to start a virtual class with a small group of 10–15 people from the online group. They began meeting every other week for a total of 15 sessions. The last class took place in March 2021. Everyone who took the course was given a certificate of completion by Hernandez, which was also signed by the director of evangelism, Leighton Flowers, and the director of the Center for Church Health, Phil Miller.
A year later
Over a year later, Hernandez has stayed in touch with Zuriel and a few other class members. They have all used the classes Hernandez taught to design apologetics courses for churches and believers in their areas.
One became a pastor and has been teaching apologetics to his congregation; another is doing youth group training sessions around his city. They have started two more online apologetics groups to reach even more people.
Since the class, Zuriel has begun going to college, where he is studying apologetics. Next year, he will begin teaching classes on philosophy and other related subjects at the college.
Zuriel was invited to be a breakout speaker at National Conference for Christian Apologetics and has also created Bible studies about apologetics.
‘Factual way to defend the faith’
Hernandez hopes the same passion for apologetics will be felt in America.
Apologetics is important, Hernandez explained, because it gives a factual way to defend the faith and can pave a path toward gospel conversations.
“Having this knowledge can make the church relevant again in the public sphere of ideas and influence,” he said.
People who have doubts or are skeptical want to know Christians are firm in their foundations and know what they believe. They want to discuss topics they are wrestling with. By being informed about how the Bible responds to different situations and questions, Christians can present a solid case for why they believe what they believe.
Ready for difficult discussions
“As much as we need to love them, we also need to be ready to have these difficult discussions with them,” Hernandez said.
In order to equip Texans, Hernandez and his team host [un]Apologetic conferences across Texas. They bring in renowned speakers who are deeply knowledgeable about topics such as the soul, why God allows evil and how science and faith can work together.
Want to learn how to defend your faith and engage others with the gospel message?