Do you ever wish you had a time machine so you could go back to relive various moments a second time? I’m not talking here about moments you regret and wish you could “do over.” I mean going back to moments that seemed so ordinary at the time, but in retrospect you wish you would have relished it more. Now that you’re older and wiser, you know you would soak up so much more if you could just go back again.
That’s how I feel about taking Intro to Apologetics with Dr. Greg Boyd at Bethel College about the year 2000-01. I was just beginning my intellectual journey into a deeper understanding of the Bible and Christian faith. I had heard quite a bit of buzz surrounding this quirky prof who had long waiting lists to get into his course on God, Evil and Spiritual Warfare. His controversial views on God’s foreknowledge were also making his name known around campus.
Well, I was just a theological ignoramus trying to check off an elective when I found myself in the quite heady Apologetics class with Dr. Boyd (who I have learned to just call Greg). I was over my head at the time. I remember trying to keep up with a very intimidating syllabus with an insane amount of reading on very philosophical stuff.
I remember Greg flying in the door like a mad professor with mussed hair, wrinkled clothes and his trademark ADHD jitters. His brain seemed to be several places at once. Part of him was in the classroom, and another part of him was somewhere else entirely. Half his brain was probably still back in his study working out a chapter his Satan and the Problem of Evil, while the other half was outlining the Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God on the whiteboard in front of us. Still, half of Greg’s brain probably contains more than 2 or 3 faculty minds combined.
Greg is a genius — with all the blessings and baggage that often accompanies the gift.
I wish I could go back and sit in that classroom again now because I had no idea what a privilege it was to take a college course with Greg Boyd. He’s a first class thinker. He’s a fun, electric personality. He’s never boring and always provocative. I also had no idea that this would be one of the last classes he ever taught at Bethel. (A John Piper -led inquisition would soon hound him for his ‘Open View’ and no doubt contribute to his departure from the faculty.)
I wish I could go back because I’m sure much of what Greg taught went over my head the first time. I didn’t know at that time how enormous Greg’s influence would be in my long journey ahead. I have continued to benefit richly from Greg’s preaching ministry at Woodland Hills Church (St. Paul) and through his many books. He has been a treasure in my formation as a follower of Jesus and ‘Kingdom person.’
Well, the thing that sparked this post and my nostalgia for my Intro to Apologetics class 17 years ago was one of the books he assigned us — by far the lightest and most enjoyable of the class: The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel (1998). That book was still hot off the press back then, and now almost 20 years later has been adapted into a motion picture.
Tonight I was in the mood to be sorely disappointed with another faith-based film by a Christian producer on a low budget. I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to cheesy Christian art and entertainment. I’m weary of over-the-top plots that wreak of Christian subculture, using poorly written scripts and unbelievable actors. I will resist naming some of the films that have made me groan and embarrassed.
Well, I don’t know if it was the nostalgia for the book and that memorable class that whet my appetite for the movie. But I have to say that I really enjoyed the movie tonight! While the book just let us eaves drop on Lee’s interviews in stuffy, book-filled offices with various scholars, the movie brought us into Lee’s personal struggle with his wife’s newfound faith, his rocky relationship with his dad, his career as a criminal law reporter for the Chicago Tribune, and, of course, his inflated ego and need for a softened heart.
My favorite part was still seeing real life scholars portrayed by actors. Many will get a kick out of seeing Lee’s wife coming to faith while visiting an new, up-and-coming little church in the Chicago suburbs meeting in a movie theater. The marquee sign on the theater in the movie includes the name of the young, unknown pastor as well:
WILLOW CREEK COMMUNITY CHURCH | PASTOR BILL HYBELS
Well, here’s to being pleasantly surprised by a very enjoyable Amazon rental and trip down memory lane to reading Strobel’s book with Greg Boyd in my first introduction to Christian Apologetics. Go check it out! (And if you want extra credit, go read the book!)