To get started, I share a couple of things. First, I developed a webpage with many links to resources on Christianity and Christian apologetics. Also, the first assignment in the course is for students to provide a brief, personal religious biography. This is not intended to be a statement of faith, but a personal religious experience. To give the students a feel for this, my colleague and I have provided our religious biographies. Here's mine:
In a sense, there was never a time in my life where I was not a Christian. I grew up in a house with Christian parents, who taught me and my siblings the truths of the Bible, led family devotions, and saw to it that we regularly attended church. When I was probably 7- or 8- years old, I recall professing my belief that Jesus was my savior and my parents leading me in prayer, and I was probably 10-years old when I made a public profession of faith and was admitted to the Lord’s table in my church. So, in another sense, I might mark the beginning of my Christianity to these points. I was thoroughly “churched,” even in my education. I attended my church’s school from 1st-12th grade. I memorized the children’s catechism in elementary school and the shorter catechism (which is not all that “short”) in junior- and senior- high school; I took Bible courses throughout my primary and secondary years in school and even had fairly advanced courses in church history and a survey of the Old Testament in high-school. In short, God was always a certainty in my life, and I always considered myself a Christian. With that said, this doesn’t mean that I have mindlessly accepted my beliefs. Also, it doesn’t mean that I have been consistently fervent in my faith. Indeed, one of the struggles I sometimes wrestle with is having the “head-knowledge” about the faith without the “heart.” There were periods in my life, while never rejecting or even having a desire to move away from the faith, I merely carried the name of Christian, yet there were other periods in my life, where I was profoundly moved to learn and commit myself to my faith. Upon reflection, these latter periods are tied to my exposure to sound preaching, regular Scripture reading, and fellowship with other believers. A difficult part about maturing in the Christian faith is that the more I try to become Christ-like, the more I realize how monumentally I fail to live up to this call, so I am thankful for the grace of God through Christ Jesus, who accomplished my salvation on the cross. One of the many ways I fail to live up to my calling is my timidity to share the gospel with others, so it is for this reason that I am both excited to give “a reason for the hope that is in [me]” (I Peter 3:15) and anxious about this course.