An Interview with Josh McDowell, author of More Than A Carpenter and Evidence That Demands A Verdict
Renowned apologist and senior Cru staff shares nuggets of wisdom on lasting the long haul, the future of Christian apologetics and tips on how to be a witness. Check out the amazing wealth of resources he offers at https://www.josh.org/. Special thanks to Reasonable Faith Singapore for making this interview possible!
Josh, what strikes us is your longevity in Christian ministry – more than 50 years! Can you share with us – what keeps you going?
I would have to say it’s a calling. If your life is not motivated by a calling, you are going to be inconsistent your whole life. I feel called of God to do – to be on staff for Cru.
People always ask me, “When will you stop? When will you retire?”
I tell them, “I will stop when I wake up in the morning and I don’t have the fire in my gut to tell people about Jesus. Or if I wake up, I have the fire in my guts but I don’t have the emotional and physical energy to do it.
Or when my wife and children say to me, “It’s time to stop.”
Or bluntly, when Satan doesn’t say “Oh no, he’s up.”
Many full-time Christian ministers face ministry burnout. How do you keep yourself fresh?
For me, this is not a joke – an incredible sex life. I’m serious. When I am right with my wife and with my children, I will never burn out. To be right in the centre of God’s will with my wife, our intimacy and my children, you can throw hell at me and I can walk through it.
When I was single, I wasn’t striving to be married. I was striving to be all that God wants me to be. Having a clear purpose in life is key to lasting the long haul – for both singles and married.
My purpose in life is to go to heaven and bring as many people with me as I can, and enjoy every moment of it.
When you know what your purpose is, even in hard times, you won’t burn out. You burn out when you don’t keep yourself in shape physically and emotionally.
Be disciplined in your personal life. Most people are not disciplined. When you are not, you remain a weak individual and burn out.
You will also burn out if you don’t have the right kind of relationships. I always try to be around people who encourage me in ministry, and to build a good marriage and strong relationships with my kids.
What do you like to do in your leisure time when you are not jet-setting?
We all need hobbies. For years, Dottie and I were into re-doing antiques – buying junk and turning them into priceless antiques. We love it. It’s wonderful. Now for Dottie, it’s photography. She’s taking a photography course online.
As for me right now, it’s probably research. I just love it. It energises me every day.
What are you researching about right now?
I am researching on Generation Z right now. I have also done extensive research on the topic of pornography.
If you could go back in time and offer a piece of advice for the young Josh McDowell when he first started out as a Cru staff, what would it be?
I’d use two words. Be faithful and be loyal. It won’t just be as a Cru staff. Faithfulness to God and to the organisation you are in. Faithfulness or endurance.
Are you faithful to Christ’s calling in your own life? Purity? Are you faithful to Cru’s principles?
Having been in the front-row seat for Christian apologetics since 1961, what is an encouraging trend that you have observed?
Because of the Internet, there is an increased interest in apologetics. There are many young apologists rising up and it’s encouraging.
Church apologists need to address key issues such as: 1. Concept of Truth; 2. Same-sex marriage (the Church is losing the battle here in our attitude, not content); 3. Pornography; 4. Tolerance; 5. Is Christianity Good? (Not “Is Christianity true?”)
In approaching Christian apologetics, we need to follow this framework: What is the issue? What are its consequences? What is wrong with it? How does that affect you? What are the answers to it?
In Singapore, where religious harmony is greatly valued, could you share some tips with our readers how they can share their faith both convincingly and respectfully?
With gentleness (1 Pet 3:15), that’s how all we should do it anywhere, not just in Singapore. A man with an argument is always at the mercy of the one with an experience.
We should help everyone develop their three-to-four-minute personal testimony, or their story. And then developing a conviction – knowing what you believe, why you believe it and having an experience that can back it up.
What we need as believers is not just beliefs but convictions.
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