Ratio Christi has not only equipped me to defend the Christian faith on and off campus, but has also strengthened my own conviction of its truth. In their community, I have experienced the opportunity to ask honest questions, to invite others with their doubts, Christians and non-Christian alike, and to realize that there are good and reasonable answers to these questions. Their ministry has also inspired me to pursue a life of loving God with my mind, not only equipping but also inspiring me. Faith and reason are not opposed, as many would proclaim, but actually enhance each other. Talking to others has never been so easy and I’ve shared my faith with more people than ever before. Through their ministry I’ve also seen that there are essential truths that we as Christians (regardless of denomination) need to hold on to and that we should unite to defend these truths against those who do not. More and more, the need for apologetics is becoming apparent in our societies, on university campuses and even in our churches. I am convinced Ratio Christi will continue to help water the soil of society, in the least, to make Christianity a reasonable option, and ready the crops for harvest.
Karnu Van Heerden
When I first joined, I was just a new student – passionate for the Lord, but totally unequipped to engage in meaningful conversations with other people, especially those who objected to the Christian faith. However, over the years that really started to change. As I learned from the example of our student leadership at the time, I really began to be more and more confident in speaking to others regarding my faith and also seeing the importance of having reasons for why I am a Christian. For many years in my life, despite my passion for the Lord, there had always been that doubt at the back of my head that I couldn’t get rid and just repressed. However, for the first time in my life, I could start addressing my own struggling doubt with confidence.
Now 2016 marks the next milestone, it is the year when Simon and Nel Brace came to help Ratio Christi in South Africa. After having the privilege of meeting with them, and now also working with them now for four years in this ministry, I quickly realized that I had so much to learn. I remember one of the questions that really impacted me was “What is truth?” However, struggling with this question opened up a whole new reality, in that the message of Christianity is really real! But at the same time this opened the reality that there are false and deceptive ideas everywhere that ensnare so many… In that moment Jesus’s words for us to be a light unto the world, become very tangible.
In the end, in what capacity has this ministry impacted my life? I would say, it has completely changed my life and I would shudder to think where I would be if the Lord did not guide me onto this path. It is the influence of Ratio Christi that really gave me the tools and motivated me to further my studies, both formally and informally, to speak the truth of the Gospel boldly, not be afraid when facing adversity and to know what it means to love the Lord with your whole mind as well. But the most amazing thing is to see how this ministry has changed the lives of so many people. Having non-Christians admit that for the first time Christians have “given me something to really think about.” I have also seen time and time again fellow brothers and sisters in the faith, who wept after coming to the RC meetings. They were tears of joy, joy in the fact that what they believe has solid ground to stand on, it is actually true! “Why hasn’t anyone told me this before?” is the frequent question that keeps you going in this ministry.
So, for all those who are reading this, continue to fight the good fight. Seek answers and ask questions. Boldly commend and defend the faith for as the Apostle Paul says in Acts 26:25 “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words.”
I came to know the Ratio Christi chapter at the University of Pretoria through my younger brother Lukhanyiso. He was the chapter president of Christian Lawyers Associations at the University of the Witwatersrand, who happened to have friends at Ratio Christi. I am working as a quantity surveyor. Though I am no longer a student on campus, I enjoy intellectually stimulating discussions, especially on themes of religion and its applications in daily life.
Lukhanyiso invited me to the annual Ratio Christi Symposium which started on 8 July 2019 (my birthday). My interest was pricked by the wide spectrum of thought-provoking topics. I ticked off the topics I had the most curiosity about and was available to attend – ‘The Religious Rhetoric of Land Reform;’ ‘Decolonizing Jesus;’ ‘Capitalism vs Socialism;’ ‘Aren’t All Religions Fundamentally the Same?;’ ‘Ancestors: Remembered but not worshipped;’ ‘C.S. Lewis on Doing Justice to the Other: The Implications of a Democratic Society;’ ‘Atheism for Lent?: Bringing Merold Westphal and the Masters of Suspicion into an African Context.’ There are many more topics I wished I could have attended from the symposium, but I was only free to attend sessions after working hours. Since the symposium, I have attended a number of Ratio Christi Wednesday evening discussions. The discussions are set up to be informal and relaxed, yet very engaging and informative. I like the systematic approach of exploring the topic of the day, the open engagements, the cordial atmosphere within which we agree and disagree, and the Christian spirit that drives the discussions.
Why I continue attending Ratio Christi programs is because I appreciate: 1) the level of detail they go into when defending or exploring a particular stance or belief; 2) the juxtaposing of the Christian religion with other paradigms, worldviews, or interpretations of reality; and 3) the friendships built over agreements, disagreements, differences, and a bowl of biscuits.
When I went to my first Ratio Christi event, I couldn’t have known the ways it would impact my life over the next few years. I couldn’t have known that I would be making new friends all over the country and overseas. I couldn’t have known the interests it would spark in me. I couldn’t have known how much I would learn. And I certainly couldn’t have known that I would meet my husband there.
The Ratio Christi events are bursting with opportunities to meet people. I’ve gotten to know world-renowned experts in various fields, peppering them with all my questions and occasionally entering into correspondence. I’ve also made friends, and I’m very grateful, because it’s not just new people I’ve met, but like-minded people.
I’ve been exposed to fields outside of my everyday bubble, such as logic, philosophy, politics, science, apologetics, law, and sociology. Learning about some of these fields, I’ve developed new interests. It’s been incredible! I’m humbled by how much I don’t know, but excited to learn more.
My learning has been facilitated by weekly discussions on topical issues, weekly logic classes, and conferences with world-class speakers. It was so stimulating that I started doing some of my own reading. One can learn content as well skills, such as effective communication, thinking more critically—more logically—and expressing my ideas in a clear and logical fashion, and to recognise mistakes in reasoning.
In between the excitement and activities, I encountered a person. He was also not afraid to discuss difficult questions and interesting topics. And not afraid to make jokes. And not afraid to ask me to get a coffee with him. And eventually not afraid to ask me to marry him.
I look back fondly on my first few times at RC, and think about the adventure it has been. It has strengthened my faith, helped me answer some nagging questions, and guided me in difficult conversations with people who do not hold a Christian worldview. I am so grateful for everything.
I first heard about Ratio Christi (RC) from a close friend of mine, Christo. As a theology student, he had already stumbled over Christian apologetics in his coursework, an experience he’d often lamented as quite dry and blunt. He nonetheless appreciated that apologetics might be very useful if it wound up in the hands of a Christian passionate about proving knowledge and engaging in arguments. One who revels in the ‘dry and blunt’ aspect of the Faith. Someone like me, Christo must have thought. So, in late 2017 after hearing of a group of people from RC were gathering to discuss the opening of a chapter in Pretoria, Christo took me to the meeting. That is where my journey with RC began.
It was a blessing to meet Daniёl Maritz and a number of other Tuks students keen in apologetics at the meeting in November 2017. I didn’t realize there were so many people in Pretoria who had a keen interest in a field many Christians were often reluctant to engage in. In January 2018, Daniёl our Pretoria Chapter co-ordinator hosted a planning meeting at his house where more Tuks students attended and I was impressed at how excited everyone was to start doing apologetics. Our first event of 2018 was a talk on Cults. Having had experiences with friends in cults, the approach in the talks laid out a structure of classification for cults as well as some insightful wisdom on how such groups continue to grow. Having some knowledge on cults already, I realised that the talk allowed me to arrange what I already knew such that my understanding was better structured. That was a preamble to my other experiences in RC.
The next sessions were focussed on Worldviews in which we worked through the book The Universe Next Door. These sessions were quite insightful for me personally as I realised (as with our first RC talk) they helped me better organise some of the knowledge I already had on the topic, forming a rigid base on which I could build up more knowledge. As I continued to investigate these ideas, I gained a new sense of appreciation for the value of worldviews different to mine as well as the value of western philosophy as a tool for understanding the Natural World.
The two biggest highlights for me this year was a talk I gave at our RC chapter on Islamic Theism and the annual RC symposium in Pietermaritzburg in July 2018. Having had a keen interest in Islam, I quite enjoyed researching and presenting a talk on a topic I could literally talk on for hours. The RC Symposium was an incredible learning opportunity, as it opened my eyes and ears to theological discourses I’d never heard of, particularly Thomas Aquinas’ philosophy. Along with picking the minds of renowned theological scholars such as Richard Howe, Mike Willenborg and many others, I also met Rudolph Boshoff, a Pastor specialising in Islamic Studies. Rudolph debated Abu Bakar, an Islamic scholar at the Pietermaritzburg town hall on Jesus Christ in Islam and Christianity. While I’ve seen many debates on YouTube, this was the first one I attended and it was quite an experience. The Muslim community were present in numbers as was the Islamic Propagation Centre International (IPCI). Being present and witnessing that close encounter between the two faiths emphasised the importance of apologetics not just as talks behind closed doors but as a tool in breaking walls and preaching the gospel. After the debate I met two Muslim coverts from the IPCI who I’m still keeping in touch with via WhatsApp to this day. They’ve both been keen to share their faith with me, and I am finding opportunities to preach the Gospel to them as we compare our beliefs.
My involvement with Ratio Christi has been profoundly rewarding. In addition to learning about new worldviews and discourses, I had an incredible opportunity to deepen my understanding of Islam which is a great passion of mine. It is an experience I profoundly enjoyed as well as meeting and learning from people who share the same interest in finding, sharing and testing knowledge. Of course, for me this year at RC isn’t the end, but only the beginning of a longer journey of learning and growing in faith.
Pierre Le Roux
Ratio Christi (RC) has been instrumental in strengthening my faith. Apparent contradictions between faith and science created a split between my academic work and faith. However, RC has introduced me to a wide range of material that has shown me how to integrate my love for Christ with scientific research and do my academic work to the glory of God.
Before learning apologetics, I was scared to engage people about their beliefs, especially people who followed another or no religion. However, after joining RC my faith has been strengthened and I am now confident to engage others both in public and in private. RC has taught me how to engage people in a meaningful and comfortable way in order to be more effective at evangelism.
RC has become a home for me filled with dear friends and family in Christ. Somewhere where I can turn when struggling with the intellectual problems of the Christian faith. A place I can learn and grow to become more effective at apologetics and evangelism. And a community to go to for fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ!
I remember my first encounter with apologetics. My mind was blown. I was 16 years old, enthusiastic and above all, curious. I was completely mesmerized by the confident and logical approach in which the most difficult world questions were addressed and systematically analysed by the speakers. Most importantly, I wasn’t left with the uncomfortable feeling that reason replaced faith. In fact, it was the first time that I felt empowered and more prepared to act according to the instruction of the apostle Peter in 1 Peter 3:15-16: “but in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behaviour in Christ may be put to shame.” From that day onward my passion for apologetics grew and I was continuously reading, studying, and searching for answers to satisfy the many doubts and questions that I had.
During my time at university I was constantly challenged to defend my beliefs and I also challenged myself to engage in religious discussions. However, I found it very difficult to articulate the various arguments and answers in a convincing and coherent way. Furthermore, there was no “safe space” to discuss these contestable topics and I was constantly drawn into unhealthy and circular argumentation. This left me frustrated and isolated. Ratio Christi was exactly what I needed: a safe space where open, constructive dialogue was encouraged and managed. It was at Ratio Christi where I had the opportunity to develop and practice my debating skills, specifically according to the second part of Peter’s instruction in verse 15– “yet do it with gentleness and respect”. I was always excited to attend the weekly sessions, and we had the privilege of hosting some of the most renowned apologetic speakers in the world on numerous occasions. Even though everybody did not have the same outlook/opinion/belief, there was mutual respect and friendship within the group. Ratio Christi gave me, as a Christian, the opportunity to explore the underlying questions, issues and meaning of this world. Most importantly, Ratio Christi gave me the opportunity to listen before I speak. It is by listening that I became deeply conscious that we live in a horrible world, filled with sometimes inexplicable pain and suffering, but through Christ there is immeasurable joy and beauty. I thank God for the spiritual growth that I experienced at Ratio Christi and I pray that He will continue to give strength to those who are devoted to defending His name.
Tineke van de Wetering
When I entered Simon and Nel’s house for my first Ratio Christi (RC) event, I knew I found a gem. Finally, I found a place where tough questions are allowed to be asked and where satisfactory answers were given. As I continued attending the weekly RC gatherings and logic classes, I slowly began to form a new and more clear understanding of the Christian faith, the relationship between faith and reason, the absurdity of Postmodern thinking, other religious views, etc. Ratio Christi has given me a new zeal for Christian apologetics, opened a new world of interests like philosophy and logic but most importantly Ratio Christi has strengthened the foundations of my faith, and thus my relationship with the Lord, for which I am immensely grateful.