Today is Dr. John Warwick Montgomery’s birthday. I know this because it came across on social media. How do you thank someone who has had such influence on your life that you will actually only meet face to face next year at the Academy? Well, let me start with how I got to know him in the first place.
In 2004 I was speaking with my sister about going to college, finally, getting a degree in Christian counseling and looking for just the right place. It had to be online and affordable. I ended up attending Trinity College of the Bible out of Indiana where Dr. Montgomery had developed the Apologetics courses. I began those studies when after I’d written a paper the grader said to me that I’d written my assignment more like a legal brief and had I considered switching my focus to Apologetics. Honestly I thought to myself, “What’s apologetics?” I had never heard of this so I asked the grader and they responded that it was defending the faith. He asked, “Do you ever question where a teaching comes from? Or think about witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses? Well, apologetics helps you to do that.”
Sold! I would often find myself questioning things from the pulpit and I often, on the way home from work walking through the NYC subway tunnels encounter Jehovah’s Witnesses and try to share the gospel with them…albeit not too well.
So, I switched my major and began the journey towards what would eventually be a PhD in Apologetics. Since this was all online I had cd’s to listen to, mp3’s weren’t out yet. Each day I would listen to the lectures of this stalwart defender of the faith, taking copious notes, learning, marking, reading whatever I could to expand my knowledge and understanding of the faith and how to properly defend it. For the next four years, each semester I took another Apologetics Course which were filled with lectures from Dr. Montgomery. Finally I earned my BA in Theology and then onward to my MA in 18 months and finally finishing with my PhD in Theology and Apologetics…or so I thought I had finished, but I’ll get back to that.
As I learned theology along with apologetics, that changed too. My husband and I moved from Pentecostal – Charismatic – Charismatic Reformed – Reformed Baptist – Dutch Reformed. We thought we were finally theologically at home but that was not to be the case. Bad weather here in Idaho forced us to stay home on Sundays for months and we eventually began to check out the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod here in town (check out my blog post on Winter Came…). Here at Faith Lutheran we had found a home. Theologically speaking we found ourselves to be more in line with the Book of Concorde, though we have much still to learn and settled ourselves into this warm, loving, fun congregation who studied the Word of God with great passion.
It was at the Ladies Bible Study that I’d mentioned Dr. Montgomery and how I’d found him on Facebook again and connected with him. Then, from that page I found out about 1517legacy.com which has most, if not all, of his books and audio lectures available. I was sharing with the ladies how because of certain Calvinistic teachings my passion for defending the faith was nearly gone. However, one gal decided that she would look into Dr. Montgomery and found his Academy on the internet. She approached me and asked if I’d like to go, and if so, they’d work things out. I spoke with my husband and we agreed I would attend, Lord willing.
WOSH! It was like pouring gas onto a cinder that was nearly snuffed out. Suddenly the passion I’d once had some 10+ years before at Trinity Seminary under Dr. Montgomery’s teachings was on fire. Seriously, WOOOSHHHHH is the only way to describe it. Soon I received the reading list for the Academy and began to rebuild my library. Reading through such classics as Christianity for the Tough Minded, Faith Founded on Fact (which was required reading at Trinity Theological Seminary) Suicide of Christian Theology (also required reading at Trinity), How do you Know there is a God, Law & Gospel and Jurisprudence, even working through Tractatus Logico-Theologicus, listening to Christianity in a Corner, Presuppositional & Evidentialism Revisited, Sensible Christianity and other resources, the fire to defend the faith was lit.
Now, I have yet to meet this man face to face but his writings and lectures have driven this woman to read more widely, speak more boldly and write more prolifically than I’d ever intended when I signed up for a BA at Trinity. I know too, that I am not the only one so greatly influenced by this man as many of the books I am reading in preparation for the Academy are written by others who have been greatly influenced and helped by him. His love for clarity of mind, his determination to help equip the church to answer for our Faith, his sense of humor and his encouragement to bring them to the cross when speaking with the unbeliever, has been the greatest influence on my life thus far. In some ways, I know him through his lectures and published works but I look forward to meeting him within the next year and learning even more how to bring the unbeliever to the “house of salvation” so the Holy Spirit can bring them inside.
Thank you Dr. Montgomery for all you have done for the Church and I pray God will continue to bless you abundantly in the years to come.