By Madison Boboltz, Staff Writer
Hardin-Simmons University and the Logsdon School of Theology welcomed Eric Hernandez, apologetics lead and millennial specialist for the Texas Baptist General Convention of Texas, as the speaker for its annual Cornerstone Lecture Series, which took place Sept. 17-19.
Hernandez delivered three lectures and attended a luncheon where students were invited to dialogue and ask questions. Students had a variety of reactions.
Ethan Pierce, a junior ministry major, said he attended because he was curious about the topic and is always interested to see what Texas Baptists believe about certain issues. Pierce acknowledged some of Hernandez’s arguments which he felt were strong.
“I enjoyed the argument that everything has to come from something. You can’t get something out of nothing. There has to be a force to activate the creation of the earth, so in order for something physical to have been created, there has to be something that is not physical. For there to be earth, there had to be something that transcends earth, and God is transcendent, so I thought that was a good, strong argument in apologetics,” Pierce said.
Pierce also expressed that he believes apologetics is important and that he wished more students had taken advantage of the opportunity to hear Hernandez speak. “I will say that I wish there had been more student involvement. Though there are some things that are miniscule that we debate over, I think that it was very helpful for students to learn strategies they can use to defend their faith. Defending our faith is something that we have to do constantly throughout the world, no matter where we are. It was a really neat opportunity to see how you could do that. He presented arguments in a way that perhaps they had never heard before, it was just good to hear someone making a case for the Gospel,” Pierce said.
Despite having an overall positive appreciation for Hernandez, Pierce did state that he had a few reservations. “I thought he was good and made some really strong arguments, but I kind of felt like he was too focused on man and didn’t have a great appreciation for who God is. I feel like you can make a good apologetic stance if you are focusing on the sovereignty of God and how great God is, but I felt like his view was very philosophical. I wouldn’t say he has a low view of God, but he didn’t have as high a view of God as I would have liked him to focus on,” Pierce said.
Caitlyn Smith, a junior English major, said she attended the lectures on Tuesday and Wednesday because she had never been exposed to apologetics before. Overall, she would not consider herself a fan. “His approach was very arrogant. Even when I saw him walk on stage, I was like ‘Uh-oh, I feel like this guy has got a chip on his shoulder.’ Then he started talking about his YouTube channel, and it felt like he was throwing in our face how good he was,” Smith said.
Despite disagreeing with Hernandez on many levels, Smith expressed that it was still valuable to expose herself to his beliefs and arguments. “I think it was still a good thing to hear. Especially being at Hardin-Simmons, I think we need to broaden our perspective in a sense of at least being willing to hear what others have to say. With that being said, we don’t have to be all gung ho for it.”
Smith elaborated on what she personally took away. “We did get something out of this apologetics lesson. We learned sometimes how not to walk on stage. Although I might not agree with what he said at all, he planted seeds in my mind that allowed me to think more deeply about what I believe and why,” Smith said.
Caitlyn’s sister, Chloe Smith, a freshman education major, agreed. “I liked how he wasn’t afraid to ask questions and consider ways of answering them. But, apologetics should be used as a tool, not a force. He felt very forceful,” Chloe Smith said.
Chloe Smith said that, in particular, she disagreed with his method of approaching evangelism. “Another thing that set me off was how he seemed to try to disprove everything else that other people believe rather than expressing why Christianity is something worth believing in. He gave a bunch of reasons atheism isn’t true, or reasons other worldviews aren’t true, rather than explaining why Christianity is true,” Chloe Smith said.
Chloe Smith then clarified that she believes proving whether or not something is true misses the point. “I think Christianity is about faith. It’s not something that even can be proven,” Chloe Smith said.
Emily Williamson, a freshman criminal justice major, said she enjoyed the luncheon. “I thought the luncheon was good. I appreciated his willingness to answer questions. I think he brought up lots of valid points, and lots of interesting things to think about,” Williamson said.
Williamson discussed the importance of discerning for one’s self what to take away from such lectures. “I liked being in an environment where I could take what he said, filter it for myself and think about what God wanted me to get out of it personally, not necessarily taking something he said as black and white. I didn’t walk away with facts, but I did grow based on what he told me and based on how I felt I needed to respond to it,” Williamson said.
Williamson also spoke about both the importance and difficulty of applying apologetics. “I appreciate apologetics and I think there’s value to it, and I liked that he recognized the importance of it. I’m not sure that I agreed with his dependence on apologetics. I think for some people apologetics is the only thing they can be reached by because they are so cerebral, and that’s why I think it’s beneficial. But, his full send, 110 percent, ‘this is the way to reach people,’ attitude made me a little skeptical,” Williamson said.
In addition, Williamson said that some of his points were difficult to follow. “I think there’s more to be thought about regarding Christianity and science than most people do consider, but it was kind of hard to follow what he was saying sometimes because there was that arrogant aspect to his delivery. I don’t think he was intentionally trying to send stuff over our heads, but there was that aspect to it,” Williamson said.
Students who did not attend, but who are interested in developing their own opinion regarding the lectures and apologetics, can access the three chapel sessions on HSU’s YouTube channel.