We recently sat down with Patrick Henry College President Jack Haye, the camp instructor for our Worldview and Apologetics camp. Here's what he had to say about apologetics, worldviews, and teen camps! Note: questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.
When did your interest in worldviews and apologetics begin?
When I was a college student, because I was working through the aspects of my own faith. I realized there needed to be reasonable argument and reasonable proof of faith claims. So I became very interested in searching that out for myself. Over the years I’ve continued to do that personally and to work with students who ask those questions.
You’ve taught some teen camps before. What was your favorite part?
This will be my third teen camp. I love being around high school students: their energy, their directness of questions, and their willingness to consider different points of view.
What different types of worldviews do you plan to cover?
We will look at everything from pantheism, which would include Buddhism, and new age spirituality, to atheism, agnosticism, and looking at monotheism, specifically Islam.
Why is it important for teens to practice apologetics or understand different worldviews?
Well it’s more important than ever that all of us know how to explain what we believe. It used to be that there was a cultural underpinning for Christian values– that’s no longer the case. When I was coming along, you could talk about the Bible and people would have a general understanding of what you were talking about. That doesn’t exist anymore. So the way I teach apologetics has changed over the past four or five years. You used to begin with this is what the Bible says– but now you have to begin at a different place… The Bible is seen as equal to other sacred writings, whether it’s the writings of the Hindu or Buddhists. They’re all seen as the same thing. And so, you have to clearly start with something else.
There’s four basic questions every person has to grapple with. 1. Origin: where did I come from? Is there a god, or am I from evolution? 2. Meaning/purpose: does my life have any meaning. 3. Morality: who gets to decide what’s right or wrong? 4. Destiny: is this all there is? Is there a life after this? With those four questions, I can sit and have coffee with anybody, no matter what their background is, because they have a story. As I listen, it helps me to understand their starting point.
The model we use with teaching is the model Jesus used with the rich young ruler who asked what he had to do to get eternal life. Jesus said he needed to sell the things he owned—he was able to see what was holding him back. But what was so instructive about it was how Jesus did that: he listened, then he spoke. By listening to someone and asking clarifying questions, you show them respect. And at some point, they’re probably gonna ask you how you answer those four questions. And that’s something we’ll talk about at the camp. Some students won’t know how to answer those questions. Last summer, I had the kids go find a quiet place to answer those four questions. There was kinda this deer in the headlights look.
What are you most looking forward to this summer?
The questions that the students come with, because the format of the camp is that there are no questions that are off limits. We waded into some very difficult complex questions. And I help them think through it. Let’s think through these complex questions together.
If I come to this camp, am I going to have fun?
You will have fun! We have a lot of silly things that we do, including a surprise movie day the last day of camp that involves horns and birthday party favors and clickers and ridiculous things that will really annoy you if you want to watch the movie.
Always encourage the students to come with their thinking hats on and be prepared to be stretched!
Interested in signing up for President Haye's camp? Click the link below to register!