By Sarah Pride.
Patrick Henry College
Emily Morcos (r) and her mother near the University of Strasbourg
Rising leisurely from the dorm at the University of Strasbourg, France, every morning in mid-July PHC senior Emily Morcos and her mother stepped out for yogurt from the grocery store around the corner. At about 10:00 a.m., they and their classmates from around the world gathered for their first class of the day in the International Academy of Apologetics, Evangelism & Human Rights. They were studying for a week and a half under Dr. John Warwick Montgomery, PHC’s Distinguished Research Professor of Philosophy and Christian Thought, as well as other foremost Christian apologetics experts from around the globe.
“It was an experience beyond compare,” relates Morcos. “We were surrounded by people who I will never forget, who made it even more rich. . . . It’s getting to know every street and shop and the people in the city.”
Alumnus James Barta (’10), who attended the Academy in 2008, recalls that “trying to explain all of what I learned is simply impossible.” Topics then and now included, among many others, classical arguments for the existence of God, the challenges of modern bioethics, a Christian approach to human rights, and the historicity of the resurrection.
Barta decided to attend the Academy during his second year at PHC, following Dr. Montgomery’s lecture entitled “The Barrister’s Case for the Resurrection.” Intrigued by Dr. Montgomery’s “historical-legal apologetic,” Barta applied for the summer program in Strasbourg and was accepted, as members of the PHC community are always welcome and receive a special discount on tuition.
Dr. John Warwick Montgomery
Participants at the Academy gain a depth of learning from reading required books in ten apologetics subjects and attending 45 class hours. Those who arrange with PHC to undertake an intensive exam and write a significant paper can also earn up to nine semester hours through the program. This intensive study and apologetics training, in an international setting, inspires and opens students’ minds.
“The highlight of the trip was meeting the other students from across the world,” says Barta. “They brought a wide variety of perspectives and backgrounds to the table.”
The beauty and culture of Strasbourg also provide an education of their own, as then-PHC-student Miciah Watt recalls from her experience in 2011. “Think of a medieval town—add a giant cathedral and lots of bikers, and you have Strasbourg,” she remembers. “It was like walking into the past in a way. There was so much history there.”
In addition to the majesty of Notre Dame Cathedral in Strasbourg and the history of the streets, the city also houses the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and the European Court of Human Rights. Dr. Montgomery has fought and won leading religious liberty cases in that court, since he is both an English and French barrister and is qualified to argue cases before the Supreme Court of the United States.
“These very modern buildings don’t seem to fit the rest of Strasbourg, but they are nonetheless part of the city’s character,” says Morcos.
Dr. Montgomery is the author of more than fifty books in four languages on the topics of human rights and biblical apologetics. He spends the fall semester at PHC teaching the core course in apologetics and upper-level philosophy.