New college professor hopes to help students defend faith, atheists find faith
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Keith Loftin, the newest addition to the College at Southwestern’s faculty, knows how to defend his faith and says he is ready to challenge his students to do the same.
Loftin, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, wrote one of his two master’s theses on a moral argument for God’s existence. He then defended it to an atheist, a Muslim and a Christian at Louisiana State University.
“They didn’t agree with it, but it was passed with no revisions, which was quite an honor actually, especially in a state school,” Loftin recalls.
The research that Loftin compiled when writing his thesis helped to further convince him that questions of philosophy and theology should be questions every person considers—especially those in the church whose hope is in Christ but who often cannot defend that hope.
“People have questions that unfortunately a lot of our churches are not providing answers for, and if I hear another person in church say, ‘Well, you just have to take it on faith,’ I might pull my hair out,” jokes Loftin, whose head is bald.
“I might grow hair and pull it out. Faith does not mean believing something without reasons. The church never thought that until after the Enlightenment, and we don’t need to be going back to that.”
This fall, InterVarsity Press will release a new book, God and Morality: Four Views, for which Loftin served as editor. The book will include essays arguing both for and against the connection between morality and God. Loftin says he hopes this work, which will be his first published book, will lead someone to faith in Christ.
“Ultimately, I hope it will convince some non-believing atheist folks to think twice about the connection between God and reality,” Loftin says. “If they believe there are objective morals, I think that they should believe that there is a God who provides some sort of foundation for those morals.”
Loftin also hopes he can help get apologetics conversations back into the local church.
“I think it’s sad that in the contemporary church—especially here in America and in particular amongst evangelicals, which would include Baptists—we just don’t talk about these things at church,” Loftin says. “You never hear pastors talking about these things. There’s hardly any Sunday school classes that emphasize apologetics or knowing what you believe and why. I teach a Sunday school class in my church about those things, and we love it. Of course, I love it; I teach it. But they seem to love it, too.”
The new professor says being personally involved in a local church is vital and should be a priority of all Christian scholars.
“I think that it’s very important for scholars to be involved in some kind of local ministry,” Loftin said. “I think Sunday school is a good fit because what we do here is, of course, ultimately for the glory of Christ. Not a lot of people have the opportunity to go to seminary or to go to Bible college to earn Ph.D.s, so those of us who are blessed in that way need to just wring as much edification for the church as we can out of that sponge.”
Loftin’s teaching philosophy is much of the same.
“I truly care about the students individually,” Loftin said. “I want them to mature as thinkers, and I want to develop them as ministers of the Gospel. This means, though, that I expect excellence. Paul commands us to do whatever we do unto the Lord with excellence, and this includes our time in the classroom.”
Loftin, who grew up on a rural farm in Louisiana, has been married to his wife, Julie, for eight years. When he is not researching or working on his dissertation, Loftin enjoys playing basketball, reading C.S. Lewis’ books and hanging out with his wife.