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Home > Professor Lectures Apologetics to "Global Village" in Tonga

Professor Lectures Apologetics to "Global Village" in Tonga

October 22nd, 2010

By Sarah Pride

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722

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PHC's Dr. John Warwick Montgomery (left) speaks to his Tongan audience

To get to the tiny Pacific island of Tonga from the United States, one must first fly to New Zealand or Fiji, wait for half a day or so until the next flight is ready, and then make one last hop to the final destination. “This flight arrives two days later!” proclaims one popular ticket reservation website cheerfully on its overall itinerary. But PHC’s Dr. John Warwick Montgomery considered this journey well worth the trouble in mid-October, for the chance to spread the truth of the Gospel. The Asia Pacific Conference in Nuku’alofa, Tonga invited Dr. Montgomery as its keynote speaker to present “Apologetics in the 21st Century: Winning the Mind and Heart” to its 1500 in-person attendees from all over the Pacific and to a worldwide audience via Internet webcast.

“I was there because I want to see unbelief dealt with decisively across the globe, especially in areas where this hasn’t been done effectively,” emphasizes Dr. Montgomery, who has written more than fifty books and earned eleven degrees to assist in demonstrating the evidence for the historical Christ.

While Christianity is ostensibly the most popular religion on the island of Tonga, “the society is being pushed toward secularism on many fronts, and Mormon cultists are making considerable advances,” says Dr. Montgomery. A new, Christian college, Lavengamalie College, sponsored the apologetics conference because, in Tonga as elsewhere, “Christianity is widely dismissed as an irrelevant belief. Post-modernism is prevalent,” according to prominent area apologist Dr. Steve Kumar, from New Zealand. The president of Lavengamalie College, Dr. Liufau, had found Dr. Montgomery’s books an invaluable resource years ago, when he was studying as a foreign student at the University of Melbourne, Australia. This made Dr. Montgomery an obvious choice for keynote speaker at this first international apologetics conference in the Pacific islands.

“Since he is in the process of building a new college, we talked in detail about the way we integrate faith and learning here at Patrick Henry College,” says Dr. Montgomery.

Dr. Montgomery serves as PHC's Distinguished Research Professor of Philosophy and Christian Thought

Most interesting for Dr. Montgomery was observing that Marshall McLuhan’s idea of the “global village” – and the pervasive cross-cultural connectivity it suggests – is, indeed, increasingly true. “Everywhere in the world, secularism is posing objections to the Christian faith,” Dr. Montgomery insists. “[The Pacific islands] are traditional societies, but they are impacted by television and by secular universities the same as anywhere else.”

In today’s world, teaches Dr. Montgomery, it becomes more and more important for Christians to know exactly what they believe, and why. In his fall apologetics class at PHC, Principles of Biblical Reasoning, he outlines a defense for the Christian belief that is reinforced squarely by the same criteria used to evaluate any historical facts. In this semester’s Faith and Reason lecture, he grafted together diverse bodies of secular knowledge to illustrate how they distort genuine truth.

And each summer at the International Academy of Apologetics, Evangelism and Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, he and other scholars from across the globe train students in the defense of the faith. “Both Dr. Steve Kumar from New Zealand and John Heininger from Australia, who spoke at the Tonga conference,” notes Dr. Montgomery, “are members of the Board of Reference for the Strasbourg academy.”

In sum, Dr. Montgomery seeks to help Christians everywhere understand the unique nature of their faith, that they possess a rational, factual belief. He has poured his heart into this pursuit for decades. PHC is very grateful to count him amongst its faculty members.