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Wafer

Graduate Programs in Christian Apologetics / Philosophy of Religion

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Then a job outside of conservative evangelicalism is clearly not what you're after (and that's cool) and your app fees will be wasted entirely at a non-evangelical POR department. Skip it.

Edited by Body Politics

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I'm interested in a philosophy of religion program. I would like to get maximum exposure to the strongest objections against to Christianity so that I practice apologetics.

 

I think what everyone is trying to get across is that if you're interested in the latter, then you're not really interested in the former. Or at least, you're not going to get the latter in the former unless, as Body Politics has said, you go to a school that does [very conservative] Evangelical philosophy of religion. Even at schools that are considered conservative (e.g. Fuller or Talbot) the emphasis is not really going to be on "defending the faith." You have to go more conservative for that.

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Since we're discussing Talbot some, how has William Lane Craig affected Talbot's reputation? I'm not an apologist, nor have I been following the hottest name(s) in the field, just curious more or less. I was writing a small paper on modern Christian approaches to theodicy. A professor, in her comments, suggested I check out William Lane Craig's writings but I've been hesitant to so far. I generally shy away from such material but if he's worth checking out, I'll bite.

 

WLC is incredibly annoying, as well as utterly confused.  Sorry to be so harsh, but no one really listens to him except impressionable undergraduates who already believe the gibberish spewing from his football coach-esque mouth.     

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Craig is certainly more of a popular apologist, but I find myself agreeing with him more often than Hitchens in their debate(s). He is clearly Protestant, but as an atheist I appreciate what I have heard him say vis-a-vis another popular figure (Hitchens). 

 

Meh. I like plenty of silly 'undergrad' things. Sometimes I read heavy philological works that require one to know 4-5 ancient languages, other times I play online games and argue with 12 year old kids about mana cost. This is how we keep our sanity. You gotta have balance, mates.  :lol:  B)

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I think what everyone is trying to get across is that if you're interested in the latter, then you're not really interested in the former. Or at least, you're not going to get the latter in the former unless, as Body Politics has said, you go to a school that does [very conservative] Evangelical philosophy of religion. Even at schools that are considered conservative (e.g. Fuller or Talbot) the emphasis is not really going to be on "defending the faith." You have to go more conservative for that.

I'm interested in both philosophy of religion and apologetics. A person who is well-acquainted with philosophy of religion will able to figure out how to do apologetics.

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Hi Wafer,

 

I think perhaps you and some of the forum members are starting to talk past each other, so perhaps if you'd care to elucidate us on your background we might be able to offer more informed advice (though, a caveat is in order here - you might not like what you hear, but I can confidently say that the people trying to advise you so far have only been trying to help and not to harm). What was your undergraduate major? Do you have a Master's degree in either religion and/or philosophy? Specifically, what kind of training did you receive in either of these disciplines i.e. coursework, languages, etc.? What school of thought or method has your prior training inclined towards? Who has influenced you, and are there any particular scholars you have in mind who you'd like to study under?

 

For the record, I'm Pentecostal and studying at Princeton Seminary, which makes me someone from a conservative, experiential camp of Christianity studying in a moderate/left-leaning mainline school - all that to say, in case you might be afraid that someone's out to get conservatives here, I can attest to the fact that 1) most people on this forum have been are at least civil to me and more than frequently really happy to help :), 2) there are a number people here who move in both 'conservative' and 'liberal' circles and so can understand where conservatives/evangelicals/whatever are coming from while being able to comment on the realities of academia, which may or may not fit within those labels.

Edited by cadences

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I'm interested in both philosophy of religion and apologetics. A person who is well-acquainted with philosophy of religion will able to figure out how to do apologetics.

 

I agree! But the point I was trying to get across is that studying philosophy of religion, even at a fairly conservative school like Talbot or Fuller (I'm a Fuller alum, btw) is not going to have an apologetics focus, which you may or may not find frustrating. And in a non-religious or much more progressive or liberal religious environment, you will most likely encounter hostility toward the very idea of apologetics or in some cases even hostility toward the practice of religion in general.

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I agree! But the point I was trying to get across is that studying philosophy of religion, even at a fairly conservative school like Talbot or Fuller (I'm a Fuller alum, btw) is not going to have an apologetics focus, which you may or may not find frustrating. And in a non-religious or much more progressive or liberal religious environment, you will most likely encounter hostility toward the very idea of apologetics or in some cases even hostility toward the practice of religion in general.

 

This plus there's the question of the statement of purpose. I'm pretty confident that most schools wouldn't be interested in an "apologetic" diss (others correct me if I'm wrong), and I expect it would do you no favors to talk about such a goal in your SoP. Do you intend to be another person for five to seven years?

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Hi Wafer,

 

I think perhaps you and some of the forum members are starting to talk past each other, so perhaps if you'd care to elucidate us on your background we might be able to offer more informed advice (though, a caveat is in order here - you might not like what you hear, but I can confidently say that the people trying to advise you so far have only been trying to help and not to harm). What was your undergraduate major? Do you have a Master's degree in either religion and/or philosophy? Specifically, what kind of training did you receive in either of these disciplines i.e. coursework, languages, etc.? What school of thought or method has your prior training inclined towards? Who has influenced you, and are there any particular scholars you have in mind who you'd like to study under?

 

For the record, I'm Pentecostal and studying at Princeton Seminary, which makes me someone from a conservative, experiential camp of Christianity studying in a moderate/left-leaning mainline school - all that to say, in case you might be afraid that someone's out to get conservatives here, I can attest to the fact that 1) most people on this forum have been are at least civil to me and more than frequently really happy to help :), 2) there are a number people here who move in both 'conservative' and 'liberal' circles and so can understand where conservatives/evangelicals/whatever are coming from while being able to comment on the realities of academia, which may or may not fit within those labels.

 

Hi Wafer,

 

I think perhaps you and some of the forum members are starting to talk past each other, so perhaps if you'd care to elucidate us on your background we might be able to offer more informed advice (though, a caveat is in order here - you might not like what you hear, but I can confidently say that the people trying to advise you so far have only been trying to help and not to harm). What was your undergraduate major? Do you have a Master's degree in either religion and/or philosophy? Specifically, what kind of training did you receive in either of these disciplines i.e. coursework, languages, etc.? What school of thought or method has your prior training inclined towards? Who has influenced you, and are there any particular scholars you have in mind who you'd like to study under?

 

For the record, I'm Pentecostal and studying at Princeton Seminary, which makes me someone from a conservative, experiential camp of Christianity studying in a moderate/left-leaning mainline school - all that to say, in case you might be afraid that someone's out to get conservatives here, I can attest to the fact that 1) most people on this forum have been are at least civil to me and more than frequently really happy to help :), 2) there are a number people here who move in both 'conservative' and 'liberal' circles and so can understand where conservatives/evangelicals/whatever are coming from while being able to comment on the realities of academia, which may or may not fit within those labels.

 

I'm a conservative Christian and I attend a non-denominational church. I have two bachelor's degrees- one in communication studies and the other in computer science. I've had undergraduate coursework in logic, critical thinking, and philosophy of science. 

 

I do not have a graduate degree.

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Thanks for the info. From my perspective, you have two options: 1) go to a conservative seminary and get an M* degree or 2) go to a mainline seminary and get an M* degree. The latter will change you in ways that might seem impossible at this point. The former will give you a secure (though nonetheless challenging) place to spring to a conservative doctoral program (if you do well, the acceptance rates at any doctoral program are abysmal). Of course I would suggest the second option, but I have never attended a conservative school nor am I Christian, so take that for what it is. But I will say, having grown up around a LOT of conservative types (I'm from Kansas): push yourself to go to that uncomfortable place. There are reasons why many conservative schools make their faculty sign documents not allowing certain things to be taught. Because they are compelling. For me, you are an adult and can deal responsibly with the material as it is presented. The mainline schools are not full of evil people out to make anyone liberal. Far from it. Most of my encounters with theology/div faculty at mainline schools is that they are accepting of all sorts of students, from the conservative to the non-believer. For me, I simply must know. I must look at what the general consensus is in a given field. This stuff is too freakin' cool/awesome/exciting. /rant  :)

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I'm a conservative Christian and I attend a non-denominational church. I have two bachelor's degrees- one in communication studies and the other in computer science. I've had undergraduate coursework in logic, critical thinking, and philosophy of science.

I do not have a graduate degree.

That's helpful information. You will almost certainly need a masters degree of some kind to pursue thus (as opposed to a doctorate at this point.) what do you want to do with Christian apologetics? Because there are plenty of possible future directions and a lot of reasons why someone might want this kind of academic background.

Are you interested in ministry? If so, you would want to talk to members of your denomination's group that oversees this and you will need some kind of formal study. Do you want to teach? If so, where? You will probably need more/longer studies, but again, the context of your future teaching will affect your current studies. Or do you want to learn more so you can have grounded, convincing conversations with folks in everyday life? In that case, another bachelor's might help, or a course at a bible college.

What you intend to do with your studies will affect where and how you should approach them. Where and how and to whom would you like to practice Christian apologetics?

Edited by Macrina

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Without knowing exactly what you intend to do, and if you're looking for a little adventure, you may want to check out the Oxford Centre for Christians Apologetics over at Oxford, England. I don't know a ton about it but they offer a one-year certificate program. I believe you either have to already be enrolled at Wycliffe Hall, pursuing an undergraduate certificate, or pursuing a Masters there. They have some of the foremost apologists teaching at the center (among others, Alister McGrath, Ravi Zacharias, Os Guinness, John Lennox, etc.). You can find out more info here: http://theocca.org/

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I'm a conservative Christian and I attend a non-denominational church. I have two bachelor's degrees- one in communication studies and the other in computer science. I've had undergraduate coursework in logic, critical thinking, and philosophy of science. 

 

I do not have a graduate degree.

 

Hi Wafer,

 

I second what others are saying about getting a Master's degree, in particular because:

 

1) every discipline/sub-discipline has debates and central issues that are particular to it, and in order to get a good foundation for pursuing doctoral studies you would need to know the history and the current state of the discussions that are presently going on in your discipline/sub-discipline. Case in point: in order to pursue a PhD in, say, Genesis, I cannot not know the history of the documentary hypothesis, current responses to said documentary hypothesis, comparative work between Ancient Near Eastern texts and Genesis, the present state and direction of research in these areas, etc. - it is a given that an incoming PhD student would be entering the program with some basic knowledge of these discussions. I am sure it would be the same for Philosophy of Religion too - you sound like you have some philosophy-related background, but to really dig your hands into Philosophy of Religion you'll need to study Philosophy of Religion proper.

 

2) speaking as a Christian (and possibly Christian scholar *fingers crossed*), getting a Master's degree would also be good insofar as it would give you a chance to gain a broad knowledge of the Christian tradition. Especially since apologetics is not a new thing - the Apostolic/Early fathers, Eastern and Medieval theologians, the Reformers, etc. have all dealt with the questions that Apologetics is attempting to address; if Christian, then it would be quite amiss to ignore what all these voices have said. Plus, the apologetic endeavour cannot be taken simply and uncritically. On what theological foundations is current Apologetics built on? Can we rearrange the building blocks to develop a fresh apologetic paradigm? What can be explained apologetically, and what can't? How does the Bible come into play? How do we interpret the Bible (! this is a question that needs must be thought through regardless of which end of any spectrum you fall under!)? So, If you want to do Apologetics with the intention to contributing to the larger Christian body, then you need to have a good, working knowledge of the Christian tradition 'outside of' Philosophy of Religion, so to speak.

 

I think jdharrison's suggestion of Fuller is worth pursuing, btw. But that's just me :)

Edited by cadences

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Wafer,

 

This may or may not interest you (depending on how exclusively you want to focus in on the philosophy side of things), but Boston College has just announced that they are offering a join MA in theology and philosophy run jointly by both departments.  BC has great strengths if you are interested in medieval philosophy and theology, the history of philosophy, continental philosophy and its dialogue with theology, as well as philosophy of religion.  While few of the professors would be interested in apologetics per se, there a few exceptions, such as Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli.  If you came to BC, you would also have access to the resources of the other institutions in the BTI, including Harvard Divinity, Boston University, and Gordon Conwell.  Just a thought.

 

I am a doctoral student in the theology department and have some familiarity with the professors involved.  If you have any questions, feel free to send me a private message.

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Wafer,

 

This may or may not interest you (depending on how exclusively you want to focus in on the philosophy side of things), but Boston College has just announced that they are offering a join MA in theology and philosophy run jointly by both departments.  BC has great strengths if you are interested in medieval philosophy and theology, the history of philosophy, continental philosophy and its dialogue with theology, as well as philosophy of religion.  While few of the professors would be interested in apologetics per se, there a few exceptions, such as Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli.  If you came to BC, you would also have access to the resources of the other institutions in the BTI, including Harvard Divinity, Boston University, and Gordon Conwell.  Just a thought.

 

I am a doctoral student in the theology department and have some familiarity with the professors involved.  If you have any questions, feel free to send me a private message.

 

 

NOW they do that!? When I was there I tried to set up a joint MTS/MA program in theology and philosophy and I remember the philosophy dept. was having none of it. It seemed so natural to set that program up! It's even more bizarre that almost every program has a joint JD/M* program, which apparently is more obvious than joining theology and philosophy! BC even had an MBA/MTS! Haha. Anyways, it's good to hear they are finally joining forces.

 

And to the OP, for what it's worth, I chose BC over the other big mainline Prot schools (Emory, Vandy, etc.) because 1) there are more resources available in Boston and 2) BC's program is WAY more lax about its MTS requirements than the others I was considering, which allowed me to focus on mostly languages. Incidentally, after being at a big mainline Prot. school now, I have found that language courses are WAY more difficult at the Catholic schools. My experience here has been that because almost everyone is interested in biblical studies, there are huge classes for languages that must adjust for the needs of a lot of ministerial students. At BC, for example, if you actually wanted to take Greek or Hebrew it was entirely historical-critical (no MDiv needs to take such courses), with literally no discussion of theology. This was fantastic for me, as an atheist. But for you might be a nightmare!

Edited by furtivemode

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If you self-identify as conservative, Fuller or Talbot would probably be good fits. At Talbot, you will actually be able to do serious philosophy that could situate you to get into either a philosophy PhD program (secular or religious) or a theology/religious studies PhD program. At Fuller, you'd be able to do philosophy of science as it relates to theology much more explicitly since Nancey Murphy is there which would set you up for a theology/RS program (but not philosophy.) I'm not familiar with all of Talbot's various programs/tracks, but at Fuller you'd probably do an MA in theology, which would allow you to do a good amount of philosophy work with Murphy but also get the theological/biblical studies background you'll want if you want to do apologetics. If you're more conservative on the evangelical spectrum, both programs will challenge you in the way that furtivemode describes--just not as extreme perhaps as at a mainline school.  :) Which is neither good nor bad necessarily--it has to be about what you're going to be comfortable with at this point.

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NOW they do that!? When I was there I tried to set up a joint MTS/MA program in theology and philosophy and I remember the philosophy dept. was having none of it. It seemed so natural to set that program up! It's even more bizarre that almost every program has a joint JD/M* program, which apparently is more obvious than joining theology and philosophy! BC even had an MBA/MTS! Haha. Anyways, it's good to hear they are finally joining forces.

 

And to the OP, for what it's worth, I chose BC over the other big mainline Prot schools (Emory, Vandy, etc.) because 1) there are more resources available in Boston and 2) BC's program is WAY more lax about its MTS requirements than the others I was considering, which allowed me to focus on mostly languages. Incidentally, after being at a big mainline Prot. school now, I have found that language courses are WAY more difficult at the Catholic schools. My experience here has been that because almost everyone is interested in biblical studies, there are huge classes for languages that must adjust for the needs of a lot of ministerial students. At BC, for example, if you actually wanted to take Greek or Hebrew it was entirely historical-critical (no MDiv needs to take such courses), with literally no discussion of theology. This was fantastic for me, as an atheist. But for you might be a nightmare!

 

Just to be clear, the new MA program in Philosophy and Theology is NOT offered by the BC School of Theology and Ministry.  I only mention this because you spoke of the MTS program, which comes through the STM.  The MA program will be offered jointly by the philosophy and theology departments at Boston College, which are technically separate from the STM (although you can still take classes at the STM, of course).

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 When I was there I tried to set up a joint MTS/MA program in theology and philosophy and I remember the philosophy dept. was having none of it. It seemed so natural to set that program up! It's even more bizarre that almost every program has a joint JD/M* program, which apparently is more obvious than joining theology and philosophy! BC even had an MBA/MTS! Haha. Anyways, it's good to hear they are finally joining forces.

 

Dot

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