By Sarah Pride
With reporting by Angelise Anderson
Patrick Henry College
Dr. John Warwick Montgomery, world renowned apologetics expert, steps up to his classroom podium in Founders Hall. Despite having lived abroad in various other countries during his decades as an influential apologist, the newest addition to the Patrick Henry College faculty speaks with clipped, American tones.
“I understand that you are all getting constipation of the mouth,” he tells his class wryly, “so we’ll have a discussion on Friday.”
He lectures for fifty minutes straight, articulating complicated concepts from the philosophies of science and history, quoting Hume, Marx, and others from memory.
“Philosophers of history try to get an all-embracing view of historical phenomena. So they are metaphysicians,” he says, displaying on an overhead a picture of an “all-seeing eye” and a graph depicting ups and downs in the story of the world. “But the only way to do this is to be outside of history. To have an external revelation.”
Dr. Montgomery, author of more than forty books in five languages on the issues of human rights and biblical apologetics, joined the PHC campus this spring as Distinguished Research Professor of Philosophy and Christian Thought. Arriving in Purcellville from his home in Strasbourg, France, he is teaching Philosophy, Topics in Philosophy: Philosophy in Law, and a directed study apologetics class.
The landmark affiliation brings the College and its students direct access to and association with Dr. Montgomery’s International Academy of Apologetics, Evangelism and Human Rights, a summer-study program for training young Christians in a range of biblical apologetics. Each summer, the Academy will reserve five spots for PHC students.
Dr. Montgomery, who first learned of Patrick Henry College through a BBC documentary in the summer of 2006, was “much impressed” with the College’s mission. Also a long-time admirer of Dr. Gene Edward Veith’s writings on classical learning, Dr. Montgomery contacted PHC’s new Provost shortly after he arrived on campus in May 2006.
“I have greatly respected Dr. Veith’s theological and academic perspective,” Dr. Montgomery notes. “I support classical education which takes Scripture and historic Christian theology with all seriousness.”
A long-time enthusiast of Dr. Montgomery’s writings, PHC President Graham Walker lauds the arrival of a philosopher/theologian of Dr. Montgomery’s magnitude: “He is kind of like a Francis Schaeffer or C.S. Lewis to many folks in the evangelical movement as well as in Europe.
“Dr. Montgomery has been an active combatant contending for the faith in the public square for many years,” Dr. Walker adds, “powerfully demonstrating that trusting in Christ is not simply a matter of subjective personal feelings, but stands on evidence. He’s taught many prominent Christian leaders, including Josh McDowell, so our students should consider themselves quite privileged to study under this man.”
Dr. Montgomery returned the compliment, recalling his first meeting with PHC students at a Townhall meeting during Spring semester 2006.
“The student body not only understood what I was doing, but were really enthusiastic about it,” he recalls. “And they understood the classical allusions in my presentation, which usually pass right over the heads of the students. This is a place with a higher quality student body than one would find just about anywhere.”
Recently, Patrick Henry College added Dr. Montgomery’s Global Journal of Classical Theology to the College website and linked it to its main page.
“There aren’t a lot of scholarly journals on the Web,” explains Dr. Montgomery. “Normally, you find a serious journal only in print. What I wanted to do was create that sort of journal and put it on the Web for a much larger audience.”
According to Dr. Montgomery, this journal has two major characteristics. First, it is “theologically solid.” Second, it “includes really excellent academic material.”
“And as the cherry on the sundae,” he exclaims, “we try to explore exciting issues that really touch Christian communities, and that can impact a wider society.”
His introduction in the December, 2007 issue of the Journal discusses the importance of the doctrine of sin and how the inability of modern people to recognize their own sin leads to the devaluation of all other human life. Articles touch on the concepts of natural law and its connection to current culture, and of Heidegger’s theory of being.
All past issues are available on the website, from September, 1998 onward.