Oct 6, 2009

Professor Profile: Dr. Habermas

by Camille Smith

Thomas Didymus was a disciple of Jesus who needed to know the facts. John 20:25 says, “(Thomas) said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.’”

Present day Christians may not be able to place their fingers in the wounds on Jesus hands, but they can certainly listen to the facts from the Bible as presented by respected philosopher and Liberty professor, Dr. Gary Habermas.

“Without assuming that the Bible is inspired or even reliable, you can take the information that a scholarly critic is willing to admit and show that the resurrection happened using their basis,” Habermas said.

Habermas has debated with critics, agnostics, atheists and skeptics over the course of his career and used what these individuals have recognized as historical facts to argue the resurrection of Christ. Habermas debated against Antony Flew, one of the leading philosophical atheists in the world. The debate, mentioned in “A Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel, resulted in a four-to-one victory for Habermas.

Flew and Habermas then coauthored the book “Did the Resurrection Happen?”

Habermas began teaching at Liberty in 1981 and currently teaches in the doctorate program at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary (LBTS). He is the chair of the School of Religion’s Department of Philosophy and Theology.

“My central goal is to minister to and change lives, so I’m interested in students learning skills that they can take out and apply to people that are hurting and going through doubt,” Habermas said, “(LBTS) is looking at starting a course next spring to train students to do this.”

Training under Habermas in the doctorate program is not a task for the faint of heart. Students at this doctorate level, who he refers to as “highly motivated,” are expected to read 3,000 pages per class and write three research papers.

“I’m not a taskmaster. I’m a hard professor, but I will not say ‘do it or else,’” he said. “I’m more of a ‘live and let live’ kind of guy. If you don’t want to do the work, that’s your business, but you are going to wake up one day and find out you didn’t get what you wanted.”

Habermas knows that there are undergraduate students who want good grades, but most do not do the work. When they get to the doctorate level, not doing the work will not result in good grades.

“If you are coming here to prepare, then prepare,” Habermas said. “Don’t shy away from the reading. Don’t shy away from the work. Preparation takes time and commitment.”

Habermas knows the importance of commandeering the skills necessary to speak as a professional philosopher and has a bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degree in religious education under his belt. These tools have allowed him to confidently speak the truth of the resurrection of Christ to thousands.

“I want to make the most impact that I can,” Habermas said.

Contact Camille Smith at cjsmith3@liberty.edu.


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