It was the fall of 1975 and I was a happy college freshman. Two months into the first semester, I was happy about my courses, my professors, my decision to be a high school English teacher, my new friends, and my all girls dorm. I was happy about my diet of subs, pizza, and ice cream. I was happy to be at Boston College, on a beautiful campus, and in God’s will. And I was happy when the Campus Crusade for Christ staff brought a speaker named Josh McDowell to the campus to discuss God, truth, and—uh–sex. You see, it was the mid-seventies and the majority of people willing to discuss sex were leading (and winning) a cultural revolution which they started a decade earlier.
The Christian students who entered McHugh Forum that night were eager to hear a middle aged man (he was 35) speak about the topic with intelligence and without prudishness. The non-believers who attended were eager to hear what a father of four could possibly have to say that made any sense. Those riding the fence were eager for any reasonable treatise. Besides, it was free.
The non-celebrity guest speaker was energetic, eloquent and emphatic. He spoke with great authority, not only because his summations were grounded in the Word of God, but also because they were grounded in the findings of Gallup, Barna, US News and World Report, and sources ad infinitum. The guy was a walking statistic file. What I did not know at the time, was that he had written Evidence That Demands a Verdict just three years earlier. That book has been reprinted dozens of times and it is the most quoted book
of all time in regard to Christian apologetics. Every home should have one.
Fast forward exactly 27 years. We spent a week at the Sandy Cove Christian Conference Center on the beautiful shores of North East, Maryland. It was a terrific week of relaxation, water sports and edification. The guest speaker for all five nights was, you guessed it, Josh McDowell. Imagine the thrill of attending a family retreat to hear a speaker who had impacted my life so many years ago.
The now-celebrity guest speaker is still energetic, eloquent, and emphatic. His hair is silver, he is just a bit past middle age, (he is 62) and he now speaks with abandonment, passion, and urgency not often observed in our “Jesus loves you” subculture. He makes no apologies for his straight talk. He pleads with parents and grandparents of “born again, fundamental, church going young people” to get their heads out of the sand. He insists we are “in trouble” and he has documentation to substantiate every word. Mr. McDowell has written 82 books and he is about to launch a website called BEYOND BELIEF.COM
He was quite animated as he described this cutting edge site as “an intersection, NOT a destination.” This is a man who understands God’s economy of time.
Cont. Part II