"More Christian students are dedicating their lives to the intellectual side of faith – apologetics and philosophy – than we’ve seen in many years,” observed Answers In Action co-founder and director Gretchen Passantino. “Think of the marvelous academic programs through Biola University, Southern Evangelical Seminary, etc. And yet, most of these students are shocked when they graduate and try to find a paying job where they can devote themselves to what they’ve been educated for: defending and explaining the Christian faith from a rigorous intellectual platform.”
As part of the solution, Passantino announced today that Answers In Action, one of the oldest and most respected American evangelical apologetics ministries, is launching a paid intern scholarship program in memory of her late husband, Bob Passantino, co-founder of Answers In Action, who died November 17 of last year. “The Bob Passantino Memorial Apologetics Intern Scholarship Program will enable college and seminary students and others who are preparing for such ministry the opportunity to work in the field for a concentrated period so that they actually experience the hardships and rewards of such work,” explained Passantino, who has spent over 30 years as a Christian apologist and teacher.
“The students who are awarded the scholarship will spend 2 months during the summer working full-time for Answers In Action, experiencing apologetics ministry first hand – with all their travel and living expenses paid, and a salary in addition.” Passantino smiled, “The only thing ‘unrealistic’ about the experience is that, unlike most full-time Christian workers, these deserving students won’t have to worry about finances for 2 months. We want them to focus entirely on what it is like to work with people on a daily basis who are challenging or questioning the Christian faith.”
Accredited upper division undergraduate credit or graduate credit is also available to interns through cooperation with Faith Evangelical Lutheran Seminary in Tacoma, Washington. Both Passantinos earned graduate degrees from Faith Seminary and Gretchen teaches and directs the Orange County Extension of Faith Seminary. Dean Dr. Michael Adams remarked, “We’re proud to be associated with this internship program. We have a strong commitment to encouraging individuals who are called to active ministry, defend God’s Word, and use what they learn for God’s glory.”
Passantino said academics, books, and classrooms can only go so far in preparation. “Those who want to dedicate their lives to the thinking side of Christianity need to understand that it can’t be divorced from what people are experiencing and feeling, from the everyday world around them that often entices, challenges, and distracts them from seriously considering the factuality and reasonableness of Christianity.” Passantino explained, “often budding apologists and philosophers have spent nearly all of their time in classroom settings and with those who are like-minded. They need to spend time with the realities of apologetics ministry life, too – atheists who seem more angry than reasonable, Christians who seem proud to believe without reason, and government functionaries who think their duty is to squash religious expression, instead of protect it.”
The late Bob Passantino, whose 53rd birthday would have been today, was known worldwide for his innovate approaches to philosophy and Christian apologetics, including his Argument from Reason, a libertarian free form of the transcendental argument, and his Golden Rule Apologetic, a principle of intellectual interchange that brought ethics into the marketplace of ideas. Along with research, writing, speaking, debating, and teaching together with his wife, Gretchen, Bob Passantino mentored many young Christians over the years who were or became leading Christian apologists.
Among those who credit the Passantinos with fundamentally forming or improving their techniques of promoting and defending Christianity are Lee Strobel (author of the bestselling The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, and The Case for the Creator and host of the upcoming PAX television series Faith Under Fire), Hank Hanegraaff (president and director of the largest international apologetics ministry, the Christian Research Institute and host of the nationally syndicated daily radio talk show, the Bible Answer Man), and Dr. Norman L. Geisler (founder and president of Southern Evangelical Seminary and author of more than 50 books and textbooks on Christianity, philosophy, and apologetics). Among others influenced by the Passantinos are Josh McDowell, Mark Mittelberg, Elliot Miller, Douglas Groothius, Francis J. Beckwith, H. Wayne House, Douglas Geivett, Chad Meister, Greg Koukl, Richard Abanes, Scott Klusendorf, John Warwick Montgomery, and J. P. Moreland.
The Bob Passantino Memorial Apologetics Intern Scholarship Program will begin receiving inquiries from interested applicants and donations from those who would like to help fund the program immediately and will announce the first scholarship winner at the end of this year. The first intern program will be held July and August 2005. The scholarship will include all travel and living expenses for the students as well as working wages for the two month term of the intern program. Answers In Action is in Costa Mesa, California, in Southern California’s mild coastal region, approximately 45 miles south of Los Angeles and 90 miles north of San Diego.
The late Bob Passantino’s adult children are involved in the memorial program as well. Daughter Mary (26) oversees publicity and public relations, daughter Karen (24) oversees travel and accommodation arrangements, and son Paul (20) oversees applicant screening. Speaking for the family, Paul noted, “My dad was the most brilliant person I ever met, but he never made anyone feel stupid and his heart was as big as his mind. He would be proud to sponsor a program that taught people to think, talk, and engage others about Christianity in a practical, heartfelt way.”
Answers In Action Board of Directors member Richard Pratt, who has been involved in the Passantinos’ ministry for more than 20 years, is excited about the potential for the Bob Passantino Memorial Apologetics Intern Scholarship Program. He observed, “One of the weaknesses in apologetics is that, since it attracts people who are good thinkers and natural arguers, it tends to be too cerebral and not relational enough. Answers In Action has the opportunity to affect new generations of apologetics with a balanced approach that marries the raw power of logic and fact to essential Christian qualities of caring and encouraging.” Pratt continued, “If you talk to people who loved Bob Passantino, they will tell you that his enthusiasm and genuine caring about people were at least as important to their conversion or growth as Christians as was his knowledge and argumentation. That’s the kind of well-rounded apologetics we hope to model and reproduce through this exciting program.”
Those who are interested in applying to, supporting, or learning more about the Bob Passantino Memorial Apologetics Intern Scholarship Program are asked to contact Answers In Action at Passantinos@answers.org, 949.646.9042, or P.O. Box 2067, Costa Mesa, CA 92628-2067.
The Lord's Servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will give them a change of heart leading to a knowledge of the truth
II Timothy 2:24-26