October 2019 – “The death of Christ is the necessary prerequisite to His resurrection, which is the crowning proof of Jesus’s claim to be God,” wrote the late Dr. Norm Geisler. Few people, if any, have devoted more time and effort into study of this “crowning proof” than Dr. Gary Habermas (photo above).
Habermas is a professor of apologetics and philosophy at Liberty University, where he has taught for over 30 years. He has authored or co-authored over 40 books, with half of them dealing with the resurrection of Jesus.
However, Habermas wasn’t always convinced that the resurrection of Christ was a verifiable historical event. A long period of doubt – 10 years or more – impelled him to dedicate his professional life to the examination of the historical, philosophical, and theological issues surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus.
In his quest for truth, Habermas began researching other religious and non-religious systems. After years of study, he concluded that very few religious claims could be substantiated, and that even Christianity suffered in that sense to some degree.
During his analysis, one subject began to show hope – the resurrection. If Jesus had been raised from the dead, all the rest of Christianity could be trusted as well. That realization sparked his fascination with the resurrection.
Habermas, who will be speaking at the National Conference on Christian Apologetics (NCCA) at Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES) in October, spoke with AFA Journal about his ministry, the importance of apologetics, and the significance of the NCCA at SES.
AFAJ: Tell us about your ministry.
Gary Habermas: I’ve never left the subject of specializing on the resurrection of Jesus … that’s my focus. The evidence for the resurrection is so good, it’s almost incredible to think about it not happening.
It’s good to know why the Old and New Testaments are reliable and to know about theology. It’s good to have all that, but as long as I’m sure about the deity, death, and resurrection, and I’ve said “I do” to Jesus, I don’t have to answer any other questions. … [W]hat I mean is, we don’t have to get nervous if we can’t answer objections. If the deity, death, and resurrection are true, then Christianity is true. Period. To me, that’s a liberating thought.
AFAJ: How important is apologetics today?
GH: The bottom line is, our faith is going to be attacked more, not less. The stats show that church attendance is way down over the last 20 years, and I can only see it’s going to go more in that direction if we’re not talking loudly and answering questions. I just think we have to be there for this culture that’s trying to push us in the most secular way possible.
AFAJ: What will the upcoming conference offer?
GH: I go to a lot of conferences, and this one seems to have the most to offer. It has the most speakers, the most sessions for people to choose from. It’s the closest thing for a person to get the subject they want with the speaker they want. They usually have the biggest names and the largest audiences – anywhere from 3,000-5,000 people. Now I’m not a big head count guy, but obviously a larger head count usually translates to more ministry. I don’t think I’ve missed a single year in its 25 years.
Apologetics Conference: Why Truth Still Matters
Dr. Gary Habermas will speak at the 26th annual NCCA along with other prominent Christian scholars, leaders, and apologists including Stephen Meyer of the Discovery Institute , pastor and author Chip Ingram, and many more.
▶ For more about Dr. Habermas’s ministry, visit garyhabermas.com.
▶ Learn about and register for the October 11-12 conference at conference.ses.edu, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 704-847-5600