We are learning how to create meaning for Christian language in a culture that no longer understands words like ‘sin’ or ‘salvation’, how to use metaphor to communicate the truth, and how to discern and address the manipulation of language. As we proceed, we will apply these concepts to specific, key apologetics issues, including the problem of suffering, doubt, and the longing for meaning and beauty.
My interest in apologetics is rooted in my own story of conversion from atheism to Christian faith, as an adult. Stories and poetry had a tremendous impact on my conversion and on my growth as a Christian. Teaching in HBU’s MA in Apologetics program, I have seen first-hand how valuable it is to have an ‘integrated’ approach that draws on both Truth and Beauty. In my work as an apologist, I’ve also seen that one of our greatest challenges is that of meaning: much of the time, when we use Christian terms or concepts in apologetics and evangelization, we’re using words that are empty of meaning for our listener, or that have had their meaning twisted or trivialized. People just don’t understand what we mean by ‘sin’ or ‘grace’ or ‘salvation.’ So, in order to be effective in sharing the Gospel, we need to attend to the way we use language, to help people find these words meaningful once again. That’s where imaginative strategies can really help us, and that’s one of the key themes I explore in this book.”
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John 1: 1-5
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.
Meet The Author
Dr Holly Ordway is Professor of English and faculty in the M.A. in Apologetics at Houston Baptist University; she holds a PhD in English from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
She is the author of Apologetics and the Christian Imagination: An Integrated Approach to Defending the Faith (Emmaus Road, 2017) and Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms (Ignatius, 2014), and she has contributed chapters to C.S. Lewis at Poets’ Corner (edited by Michael Ward and Peter S. Williams), C.S. Lewis’s List: The Ten Books that Influenced Him Most (edited by David Werther) among other volumes; she is also a published poet, with poems in Word in the Wilderness and Love, Remember (edited by Malcolm Guite).
Her academic work focuses on the writings of the Inklings, especially C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Her current book project is Tolkien’s Modern Sources: Middle-earth Beyond the Middle Ages (forthcoming from Kent State University Press, 2019).
She lives in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and travels regularly to speak on Tolkien, Lewis, and imaginative apologetics.
Photo of Holly Ordway by Lancia E Smith