A chat with Dr Sean McDowell

Dr Sean McDowell is a household name in Christian apologetics. Together  with his father, Josh McDowell, he spoke at the Reasonable Faith Conference (covered in the June issue of Methodist Message). Methodist Message had the pleasure of chatting briefly with Dr Sean about apologetics and its significance.


Methodist Message (MM): Christian apologetics is more often geared towards adults than young children. How do you convey the Christian message in a kid-friendly way?

Sean McDowell (SM): I think this is where creativity, and sometimes thoughtfulness, comes in to make things more understandable to kids.

For example, how I broached the idea of ‘intelligent design’ with my son when he was probably seven or eight was through a set dining table with the plates, cups, and cutlery in their right places. I asked him whether the arrangement happened by chance or was organised by someone. When he said it was organised, I asked how he knew that for sure. He replied that there was a certain kind of pattern to the layout as opposed to random placement like the plates in the sink. I then advanced the idea to the outside environment. I told him that, like the set table, there are certain set designs such as our distance to the sun and the water cycle that point to a designer.

MM: What is the most difficult theological question you have had to answer?

SM: I think the hardest one hands down is the problem of evil – why God allows evil and suffering. It is not so much intellectually hard but rather, emotionally difficult.

I think of all the worldviews, Christianity offers the most emotionally and  satisfying response to the problem of evil even if we do not always understand why God does not heal somebody or why bad things happen. That is where faith comes in after we thoroughly examine the Christian message.  It therefore takes not blind faith but a convinced mind to say that what we see is but one small piece whereas God sees the whole picture and we have to trust God even if we do not have all the answers.

MM: If there is such overwhelming evidence that points to the existence of the Christian God, why is it that not more people believe?

SM: Humans are not robots. You do not just input evidence and out comes belief. We have free will and there can be many reasons why people will still refuse to believe. Firstly, they may refuse to live in the moral ways of Christianity. Secondly, there can also be volitional factors as echoed in the lyrics of the Bon Jovi song, ‘It’s My Life’. The third reason is emotional as some individuals may have been hurt by Christians or they view Christianity as bigoted or intolerant and want no part in it.

Jason Woo –
is Methodist Message’s Editorial Executive. When not working on the latest articles, he enjoys long jogs and cuddling up with his cats along with a good book.