Several years ago, I was invited to help train a set of agents for a call center.
It would have been easy if not for the fact that the people we had to train thought in a different language (Visayan), and had to communicate in English to serve (American) English-speaking callers.
It was quite a task, but we managed to get a good team working in around three months. My previous experience in teaching wanna-be disc jockeys how to sound good on the air paid off.
Elated with the experience, I decided to offer my services to other call centers in the area. After all, I found out that I could do the job, and well.
It turned out to be more difficult than I thought. And not because the job was going to be more difficult. The Human Resources people turned out to be the difficulty.
As it turns out, they were looking for graduates with a degree in English. A bachelor’s degree in English at least, or its equivalent.
It didn’t matter if I was able to do the job. They wanted someone with the diploma. And never mind if they couldn’t speak English as well. ( I mean, what are they thinking or looking for??)
As it turns out, it was a good thing that I didn’t get it. But I didn’t know it then.
What does this have to do with apologetics? A lot. As we go looking for material to further improve our skills, educate ourselves intently and renew our minds (as we get transformed as well in the process), there is this overwhelming desire to acquire a degree in theology or Christian philosophy in order to be able to be seriously considered as a credible apologist.
However, in this part of the world where I live, there aren’t many schools that offer those courses or even subjects. ( I found out that I already had a more extensive library on this subject matter than a school that I considered enrolling in.)
Realizing that it would be quite a pipe dream to even think about enrolling in a school like Biola, or HBU to get the necessary units to deserve the sheepskin at the end of the term – it would take forty plus Philippine pesos for every dollar required to study in those places, and foreign students have to pay more as well – the desire would remain just that for quite a while, unless I got a stroke of fortune and picked a winning combination for the weekly lottery.
Or something like that.
However, some recent encounters with various groups of people either wanting some answers to some of the difficult questions that we’re exposed to, or those that make it a hobby of heckling believers (until they’re confronted by one of us), I realized that most of us aren’t really going to be going to debate with Richard Dawkins or Michael Shermer anyway.
Most of us are going to come across a lot of people like us – those who have jobs, those who don’t have jobs, those who’re struggling with issues, and those who aren’t struggling but are looking for meaning.
And when we come across them and are confronted with those questions or challenges, we had better be prepared. And if someone else who sees that we do have answers and wants them as well, we had better be prepared to equip them as well.
Don’t get me wrong. I am all for earning the degrees in theology, apologetics, and philosophy. If you have the opportunity to do so, go right ahead and go for it.
But for the majority who either don’t have the funds, the time, or the proximity to those prestigious institutions that dispense with the letters to affix to your names that affirm your expertise on the subjects – take heart. The best Apologist for God in the first century was questioned by the scholars of His day for being unlettered. And of course, His credentials that He claimed were not just questioned, but used as evidence for His wrongful conviction and execution.
But then again – the conclusion to that argument came on the third day after His death. Which, provides the evidence that we need to show that what we believe is true.