Women in Apologetics
Given the proliferation of men in apologetics, the questions that begs to be answered is “are women interested in apologetics?”
The short answer is yes. An example is the International Society of Women in Apologetics (ISWA). ISWA is a loosely-connected group of Christian women who are theologically, philosophically, and apologetically inclined, and have a passion for encouraging and equipping other women in the church who are interested in learning how to think more deeply and intelligently about their faith.) There website is Women in Apologetics.
Women in apologetics is actually not new because Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) was an avid defender of orthodox Christianity. Louis Markos (one of the leading lights of Cultural Apologetics) has an excellent chapter on Sayers contribution to apologetics in Apologetics for the 21st Century. Nevertheless, this trend of women in apologetics is much more self-aware and intentional by its practitioners.
Christianity Today has touched on this new trend with the article “Meet the Women Apologists: Apologetics has long been a bastion of men—until now.” This article chronicles the exciting growth in this trend. Houston Baptist University is spearheading this trend. The faculty at HBU include “Nancy Pearcey, author of Total Truth and Saving Leonardo; Mary Jo Sharp, director of the ministry Confident Christianity; Melissa Cain Travis, a national speaker and author for Apologia Press; Kristen Davis, an engineer who runs DoubtLess Faith Ministries; and [Holly} Ordway, an Inklings scholar with a PhD in literature.” The article goes on to say:
“These women are expanding the scope of apologetics beyond the traditional male bastion,” says Lee Strobel, author of The Case for Christ and now on faculty in the MAA program. He sees his colleagues as building a movement that’s “cutting across gender and racial barriers” to draw more people to faith.
“Women bring a deep relational intelligence to apologetics,” says Kelly Monroe Kullberg, founder of the Veritas Forum, a university-based organization that hosts apologetics events across North America and Europe. “They bring a sense that biblical truth is the highest love for human beings.”
“The next big breakthrough in apologetics will come from women,” says John Mark Reynolds, HBU’s [former] provost and former Biola University philosophy professor.
Some of the publication and output from these women apologists have included books, conferences, ministries, and bible studies:
Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms is by Holly Ordway which is the touching story of her remarkable move from atheism to Christianity. Convinced of the truth of Christianity by reason and imagination.
Mary Jo Sharp of HBU wrote a study of Lifeway called Why Do you Believe That?: A Faith Conversation which is a video-driven women’s bible study. The trailer for the study:
Sharp also wrote Defending the Faith: Apologetics in Women’s Ministry for Kregel Ministries Press.
This past November this was a women’s apologetic conference: No Pat Answers. Other conferences on women’s apologetics have included DC Women’s Apologetics Conference hosted by the C. S. Lewis Institute, and the Women Teach Women Apologetics Conference by Ratio Christi in New Jersey.
Other Articles on Women in Apologetics
“Oxford’s Unapologetic Female Apologist” by Katelyn Beaty | Christianity Today April 8, 2015 – This article chronicles the rise of Amy Orr-Ewing UK Director for RZIM Europe and Curriculum Director of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (OCCA).
“Women in Apologetics – Sisters Who Defend the Faith” by Mikel Del Rosario | Apologetics Guy March 14, 2014 – Ironically, this post on women in apologetics is on a website called the Apologetics Guy. Irony aside, Mikel is genuine pleased and sympathetic to women in apologetics. He posts:
Just as the testimony of women sparked an investigation of Jesus’ empty tomb in the 1st century, so the testimony of women in the 21st century leads many to consider the evidence for the claims of Christianity.
I’m pleased to know some outstanding women who are beginning to make history in our field–a field which has long suffered from the stereotype of being “just a guy thing.”
“The Women of Christian Apologetics” by Joel Furches – HubPage, March 9, 2017
Some of the Women in Apologetics
ISWA’s website has a list of women who are active in apologetics. Here is just a sampling of some notable female practitioners in apologetics:
Amy Orr-Ewing – The UK Director for RZIM Europe and Curriculum Director of the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics (OCCA). She gained a first class degree in Theology at Christ Church, Oxford University before receiving a Masters degree in Theology at King’s College, London. She is currently working on her Doctoral Thesis at Oxford University. Amy has written two books exploring key questions in apologetics: Is the Bible Intolerant? which was shortlisted for the 2006 UK Christian Book Awards, and Is Believing in God Irrational?
Here is a video of her lecture on “Can I Trust the Bible?”:
Mary Jo Sharp – Mary Jo is the first woman to become a Certified Apologetics Instructor through the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. An assistant professor of apologetics at Houston Baptist University, Mary Jo found the ministry Confident Christianity. Here is fun clip by Brett Kunkle of Mary Jo:
Lydia McGrew – With PhD in English literature from Vanderbilt, Lydia is a full-time housewife and home schooling mother living in Michigan. She has published in the field of analytic philosophy, with specialties in theory of knowledge and probability theory. Her philosophical publications, some written alone and some jointly with her husband, Tim McGrew, have appeared in journals such as Erkenntnis, Philosophical Studies, and Philosophia Christi. She writes on political, cultural, and religious topics at What’s Wrong With the World and at her personal blog, Extra Thoughts. One of her outstanding contributions to apologetics his her co-authored chapter in Blackwell’s Companion to Natural Theology, 2009, edited by J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig titled “The Argument from Miracles: A Cumulative Case for the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth” and the new book Hidden in Plain View: Undesigned Coincidences in the Gospels and Acts which is a revival of an argument for the historical reliability of the New Testament that has been largely neglected for more than a hundred years. Undesigned coincidences are casual, yet puzzle-like “fits” between two or more texts, which the best explanation is that the authors knew the truth about the events they describe. Here is a lecture she gave on Undesigned Coincidences:
Melissa Cain Travis – Featured alongside other women in apologetics in the Christianity Today cover story “Meet the Women Apologists”, Melissa Travis serves as Assistant Professor of Christian Apologetics at Houston Baptist University. She is a Contributing Writer for Christian Research Journal and author of the Young Defenders apologetics storybook series. She is currently writing a popular level science and faith book for Harvest House Publishers that will go to print in early 2018. Pursuing a PhD in humanities, Melissa earned the Master of Arts in Science and Religion from Biola University in 2012. Her website.
Holly Ordway – Dr. Ordway was featured in my post on Cultural Apologetics. In brief, Ordway is Professor of English and faculty in the M.A. in Apologetics at Houston Baptist University specializing in cultural and imaginative literary apologetics. Here memoir is Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms. Here is her story telling of her journey from atheism to faith:
Nancy Pearcey – Pearcey has been involved in apologetics, journalism, worldviews, and science since the early 1990s, but she is now professor of apologetics at Houston Baptist University. Here official website. Some of her works include: Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity, Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, and Meaning, and most recently Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes. Here is a short clip with Pearcey:
Other posts on Trends in Apologetics:
Children’s Apologetics (forthcoming)