“The barbarians aren’t at the gate, they’re in the citadel.”
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Corey Miller Transcript
Welcome to the post COVID church podcast with your host, Stuart Kellogg.
Stuart Kellogg 0:12
Our updated mission is helping the church share more of the good news in the face of persecution, hostility and disinterest. Nowhere is the challenge greater than on us campuses. here’s proof: three fourths of students who enter as Christians lose their faith while on campus. Three out of four. Today, you’ll discover a group that’s equipping Christian college students to stand firm in the face of the onslaught.
My guest, Dr. Corey Miller, the President and CEO of Ratio Christi; that’s Latin for the reason of Christ. A group with the motto “transform lives on campus today, change culture tomorrow.” Cory took an unusual path to faith growing up in Utah as a seventh generation Mormon. He came to Christ in 1988. He served on the pastoral staff at four churches and has taught nearly 100 college courses in philosophy, theology, rhetoric, and comparative religions at various universities, including Purdue and Indiana. He’s written several books, including, “Is faith in God Reasonable?”. He’s passionate about defending and proclaiming the truth of the gospel in winsome and bold ways.
Dr. Miller lives with his wife, Melinda and three children in Indiana. Welcome Corey to the post COVID church podcast.
Thank you for having me. It’s great to be part of your show.
Your focus is equipping students and faculty. How does Ratio Christi do that?
Several ways. We try to expose them to the right resources. It will depend on you know who your audience is, are they high school students, students, we have a Ratio Christi college prep division, are they grad students and professors, we have an RC prof division in addition to our regular University College student segment. So this morning I just finished doing an RC prof section with professors and grad students both here at Purdue University where I’m near and online. And we’re in the process of going through a one year program on developing a movement of missional professors trying to get them to stop being professors who happened to be Christians, and think through what it looks like to integrate faith and reason faith in life. Faith and vocation for students that might be training them in apologetics, which is our forte and apologetics evangelism in particular, by overcoming obstacles, whether that be from science or philosophy or history, or whatever, and do it in winsome and bold ways. But our heart of hearts really, Stuart is to do apologetics evangelism. So we look at not only saving souls on campus by God’s grace, but saving the campus we want to reclaim the intellectual voice of Christ on the college campus.
By apologetics. That means defending the faith while also proclaiming the gospel.
That’s right. Yeah. And in today’s era, and especially at universities, doing evangelism without having apologetics in your tool chest is foolhardy. The secularism is running rampant, and in so many different ways the university culture is changing. But nowhere is the life of the mind the head of Christ on exhibit more than at the universities. The Evangelical Church as been relatively good at exhibiting the hand of Christ and the heart of Christ. But in some cases, that it can be argued that we have excommunicated the head of Christ. And that’s what we want is a fully integrated Christian.
You’re talking about having a Christian worldview, looking at everything through the lens of Christ.
That’s right. Our vision statement is thoughtful Christianity, where thoughtful, can conjure up the notion of a compassionate, considerate person, and also a contemplative, rational person. So thoughtful Christianity, “transforming lives on campus today, changing culture tomorrow”. If you want to change the culture downstream, you can’t treat the symptoms, you’ve got to go upstream and that always lands at the university.
Do you agree that not too long ago, it was defending the idea of truth, but now it’s defending the idea that Christianity is good for culture?
Oh, absolutely. So sometimes we think about this in terms of cultural apologetics and rhetorical apologetics where we’re concerned about diagnosing the culture the audience correctly in doing our defense of the faith and promotion of the gospel, but also thinking about the words we use, how we say something. Sometimes this is important in what we say because now we have hate speech, right? There are speech codes, certain things you ought not say. These are blasphemy laws that can be violated and come with severe punishments as well. For example, in 2017, Yale’s National Student study emerged, the following conclusions: Almost 50% of the students support campus speech codes. Wow. 81% say words are a form of violence. 1/3 of students say physical violence is justified to prevent hate speech. And two thirds of students say hate speech is anything a student believes to be considered hurtful to a particular individual.
So Christianity, by its very nature, making exclusive truth claims by its standing for Biblical values, like heteronormativity. Like absolute morality, like absolute truth, and so forth, and that Jesus is the only way those things are viewed as hate for some.
So you agree that too many Christians use the same tactics. So instead of being appealing to non believers, they act like those hostile to the faith?
Yeah, I think so. Right now we’re seeing the Great Divide happening as in the title of the new book “Fault Lines, the Looming disaster within Evangelicalism.” For the last 100 years, we’ve been under the spell of naturalism, they infiltrated and virtually took over what once were universally almost Christian entities from Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia on down.
But naturalism came in through a subtle philosophy and took over the universities and put Christians on the outside looking in. Now, a century later, we’ve got it coming from the humanities section, still on a naturalistic emphasis, but it doesn’t require it anymore. It’s Cultural Marxism, Neo Marxism, critical theory, social justice, identity politics. And that stuff is quickly becoming the reigning paradigm and universities, eclipsing the Neo atheists of the last 20 years making people like Richard Dawkins go on an apology tour.
And so it’s a new thing, but it has jumped tracks, it has found a more fruitful host in Christianity. And so the social justice movement under that Trojan horse of a name, has infiltrated churches, campus ministries, Christian academic societies and seminaries such that the barbarians are no longer just at the gates, they’re in the Citadel.
An example is the term social justice. It’s not the same as biblical justice.
That’s right. And we could put aside what is in pop culture and call it critical social justice, which is a better way of isolating that from biblical justice because the term social justice can mean anything from reproductive justice, abortion, climate justice, climate change laws, economic justice, socialism, LGBT justice, gender justice, research, justice, that is not using white male authors anymore. You name it, and most of that justice stuff talked about and that Trojan horse social justice, is injustice. mix it in with helping the poor and downtrodden in human sex trafficking, which are good things. But the term social justice is one that I don’t like because it is being used as a rhetorical method of infiltrating a harmful, perilous, second secular philosophy into the church. And because the church of evangelical tradition in this last century has largely excommunicated the head of Christ, we don’t teach critical thinking and so we’re accepting critical theory critical social justice, which is not biblical.
He who changes definitions can control the conversation, right?
Right. And that’s what they mean when they say that knowledge is a social construction. But knowledge in this construct is gained by the rhetoric of words.
My guest, Dr. Corey Miller, President and CEO of Ratio Christi, an organization on campuses around the world, helping to equip students to grow and defend the faith. Christian kids on campus. I mentioned in the introduction, three out of four, losing faith. Is the biggest issue. kids coming out of their churches, not knowing what they believe?
I think that’s a significant portion of it. They don’t know what they believe in why they believe it, they can’t defend what they believe. And they leave their safe secure nest of what they’ve taken for granted at home with a youth pastor, who often unfortunately, and many churches focus more on skinny jeans and fog machines than they do on substance. They get to this place called the university and we quickly find that the church has not done its job.
When you are looking at a ratio from left to right professors now 12 to one for those aged 65 and older ready to retire 23, to one for ages 40. And under, there’s no chance that students are going to not face challenges to their faith.
A Christian parents might say, “Well, let’s at least make Johnny take a religious studies course.” Now that’s the absolute worst, the ratio there is 70 to one. So, you know, they’re not equipped for this. And then they get to the, you know, the frat world, they’re, they’re away from their home. And in the past, maybe they had, “Well, I believe this, and that’s why I won’t do that.” But now they have no reason to defend. I believe this because their bucket full of water no longer has water because it’s been shot full of holes in every department in the secular baptismal font called the university.
So when we look at churches now re gathering, the youth ministers getting back together.
What do you feel that church leaders lay leaders should do right now to better prepare those high school kids for and it’s not just campus but especially campus basically the real world that they’ll be getting into?
If churches are not including apologetics, across the board at virtually all age ranges now in our secularizing culture, they are not doing their jobs.
The latest Barna research on reviving evangelism even confirms this. It asks the question of non believers what they think would most interest them in Christianity. And 44% of them chose one single answer out of 13: greater supporting evidence. When they asked not just believers, but practicing believers what they thought non believers would say, that answer was picked dead last, which is to say that the church is woefully ignorant and out of touch with the non believing world.
We need to be equipping our people for works of ministry, and not only equipping them for survival, so that they survive in these hostile environments, but so that they thrive, the non believing world wants reasoned answers. Now, that doesn’t mean we have to throw away the hands of Christ and the heart of Christ. It simply means we need to readmit into fellowship, the head of Christ, and love God with our mind as Jesus commanded. So not only is apologetics back in demand, it’s still a command in First Peter 3:15. As far as I recall.
Going through the pandemic, a lot of non believers are asking more questions, are seeking more meaning, searching for it. It’s a great time for the church to be engaged.
Yeah, and even I mean, we’re not we’re not trying to make people into academic fat heads or, you know, just intellects or computer minds walking around or anything like that. We’re talking about loving our neighbor.
If, if we go through this mask scenario, and the big argument was always look, you should love your neighbor, wear a mask for the sake of them, even if you don’t care about yourself. Well, don’t we care about our neighbor? What if our neighbors now are secular? What if our neighbors have objections to the faith and if we don’t do our due diligence, to even try to seek out a reasonable faith to supply and to be able to articulate it. We are not loving our neighbor. I don’t know what we’re doing with skinny jeans and fog machines but not loving our neighbor.
My guest, Dr. Corey Miller, President and CEO of Ratio Christi.
You’re engaged with students and faculty prepping, believers to answer those tough questions. It’s ironic, isn’t it that the stereotype is that the evangelical Christian is a stupid one. In fact, Christians were the pioneers of science, right?
We’re told there’s this fact value, faith reason dichotomy. And that if you are going to be a believer, you stay in your closet and you can no longer even stay in your closet because the thought beliefs are about. But yeah, the founders of the major sub disciplines of the sciences were all Christians. Mendell in his monastery playing with pea pods coming up with genotype and phenotype traits, Pastore and bacteriology, Maxwell and electrodynamics, Kepler in astronomy, Newton in physics. The list goes on and on and on. And virtually all the modern universities from Paris to Bologna, to Cambridge, and Oxford and Europe, and then to Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia and the states. And then to the first universities in South Korea and India that just launched 150 years ago. They were all not just Christian friendly, but Christ centered.
So the thinking the thoughtful aspect of Christianity is not peripheral, it’s part of the main plate. Jesus Himself said it in John 17. Here is eternal life to know God, knowledge is not peripheral to the Christian experience.
And it’s okay for us to stop and say, “I don’t know, let me find out.”
Absolutely, we encourage that. And we have half of our clubs on campus, we’re on 140 campuses, many of them have more non believers that attend there than believers. We do debates, I’ll be probably touring Texas in the fall with an atheist philosopher on viewpoint diversity, where we’ll get to hear our varying perspectives. But then we’ll unite on some classically liberal causes, like viewpoint diversity. Perhaps the most important part of diversity that’s not skin deep or body part deep. But the most important part that ought to be at the universities.
Finally, I want to talk about sexuality and gender identity. They’re probably the hottest buttons when it comes to our cultural shift and the antagonism against those who have a biblical view of marriage. For example, how does Ratio Christi fit in to this discussion, fit into this cultural shift?
Sure, people can go to our website, Ratio Christi.org, look at our faith statement, as well. And you’ll see a a year long project for our doctrinal statement and attending footnote on it. But, you know, we want to come alongside people that are not fully understanding that are given to worldly secular doctrines, and human corruption, and even delusion and psychosis.
We’re living in a world now when we’re talking about, it’s not just gender identity, its racial identity. So the these, you know, transgender, there’s also trans racial, there are multiple people now that are claiming to be different races because they self identify that way. And it goes beyond that to trans species ism. People are identifying now as animals and getting plastic surgery To that end, trans able ism, where literally people are blinding themselves, are having surgeons that will accept the money cut off limbs. You can go Google this stuff. It’s not theory, it’s active, it’s actual. And because they self identify as someone who cannot see, or doesn’t have two legs or something like that, and this stuff is insanity. It is insanity. And the fact that we are going along with this social construction of reality, a new definition of knowledge
is akin to the children’s story, the Emperor’s New Clothes.
You’ve seen the rapid cultural shift. Are you hopeful?
It depends on the day. I mean, I’m hopeful in that I know how the story ends. How it plays itself out in particular lives and nations is a different story. I mean, shooting from the hip, you might say Europe becomes Islamic by sheer birth rate and migration. America becomes post secular Europe with a Marxist twist, and China maybe becomes the new heart of the church.
Who knows. But all I know here in America is that as go the universities, so goes the culture. As go the US universities, so goes the world. We have got to consider all Christians as part of the forefront of Christian mission. The universities, this is the greatest omission of the Great Commission. It is the 1040 window of the Western world, especially if we include professors in that we have got to go after the most influential institute in civilization, otherwise, we we neglect it at our own peril.
Christianity has a lot to offer, doesn’t it?
Absolutely. Jesus made sure that Christianity is good, but also that Christianity is true. And so we find embedded in the incarnation, the goodness of Christianity in the Christ narrative.
And we asked what would Jesus do, and also truth that Jesus is truth that God is truth, and rationality itself. And logic itself is not something we invented, but we discovered, and that’s why John 1 one begins “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God and became flesh and dwelt among us.”
So it’s no accident of history that all the universities and the sciences emerged in Christian Europe and America. That’s part of the DNA of Christianity, and it’s no accident that the hospital movements for example, most of them have a Christian denominational name on them for a reason. They’re not called Bill Gates hospital or Richard Dawkins hospital, or Robyn D’Angelo hospital. I
If a listener wants to see if a Ratio Christi chapter is on their campus, or if there’s a campus near their home for an adult who might want to help. How do they best connect with y’all?
Stuart, we’re on 140 campuses, we’ve got 4860 to go so they can contact us at RatioChristi.org, they can look on the website. It’s changing. Sometimes people leave, sometimes new people join. They can help launch a chapter but contact us info at ratiochristi.org or just get on our website and have a look.
If you want to go after high school students, we can do that. If you want to go after our professors or grad students, we can do that. Whenever after university students, you can do that. If you want to do it within your church, you can do that. You want to do it internationally. We’re in Pakistan, we’re in England. We’re in South Africa, Canada, Philippines, and so forth. So this is a global movement, equipping students and faculty with historical, philosophical and scientific reasons to follow Jesus.
As Jesus said, the field is white, is ready.
Thank you, Cory, for being part of the post COVID church podcast.
Thank you. Love the title.
And thank you for listening. I’d love to hear from you: Critiques, ideas for guests topics, anything, it’s [email protected]
And please visit our website, www.thepostcovidchurch.com You’ll find this podcast and the transcript if you want to look that up. Also, all the archived material from the Post COVID Church project for more than the last year. Lots of good information. I think you’ll agree. Thank you so much for listening. I’m Stuart Kellogg.
Thank you for listening to the post COVID church podcast. You can find much more at the post COVID church group on Facebook or on the website. www.thepostcovidchurch.com
Transcribed by https://otter.ai