Dr. Jerry Johnston Interviews Dr. Phillip Tallon

Dr. Philip Tallon is chair of the HBU Apologetics department. As a professor, he researches the intersection of theology, culture and the arts. His books include “The Absolute Basics of the Christian Faith,” and “The Poetics of Evil.”

Visit HBU.edu/MAA and PhilipTallon.com.


Dr. Philip Tallon leads Houston Baptist University’s prestigious Apologetics program. He talked with Dr. Jerry Johnston, VP of Innovation and Strategic Marketing for HBU, about the program and the importance of the area of study.

“Even though we’re fairly new on the scene, we have one of – if not the best – apologetics departments in the world,” he said. “We have students from all over the world.”

The program has two tracks: cultural and philosophical apologetics. The cultural track looks at the ways that the arts and other forms of cultural expression point to Christian truths. The philosophical track explores traditional topics and questions such as the nature of evil and the evidence of God’s existence.

“The word ‘apologetics’ comes from the Greek word ‘apologia,’ meaning defense,” Tallon says. “It’s offering a reason for the great hope we have as Christians. Apologetics is for everyone. Anyone who is seriously interested in ministry should study it.”

Tallon says that basic biblical literacy or even commonly accepted ideas are not culturally shared as they once were. “Not that long ago in the West, Christians would not be called upon to defend and explain their beliefs,” he said. “There has been a decline of cultural Christianity in America and the surrounding world. We are seeing a rise in skepticism and even in hostility to Christian values. It’s just not the case anymore that Christianity is given deference to answer the questions of what it means to be human, what the nature of the world is and what morality consists of. There are no more free rides for Christian beliefs. We need to be prepared to encounter and face these questions.”

Apologetics study is ideal for ministry leaders, teachers, writers and every believer.

Watch or listen to the complete podcast on HBU.edu.

Dr. Jerry Johnston Interviews N.T. Wright

Dr. N.T. Wright is an English New Testament scholar, Pauline theologian and retired Anglican bishop. He is known for his work as a professor and author.

Visit NTwrightpage.com.


            Dr. Jerry Johnston talked with prominent New Testament scholar, N.T. Wright, at Houston Baptist University. In their time together, they discuss what the coming of Jesus meant in the first century, and what it means today.

“As a historian, as a theologian, as a Christian, Jesus is at the center of it all simultaneously,” Wright says. “The resurrection means that God has started something new; Jesus in His own body is the paradigm for something new. I Corinthians 15 is really working with Genesis 1 and 2.”

Wright refers to the passage in which Paul writes in verses 21 and 22: “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

While the ministry of Jesus sent shock waves throughout the ancient world, to the modern mind, His ministry began small in scope. “God seems to take delight in working through tiny, small things in order to achieve great ends,” Wright explains.

Many in the current era tend to view faith as a compartment of life, but that wasn’t always the case, Wright says. “For us, the word ‘religion’ has come to have a meaning that is totally different from anything anyone would have recognized in the first century. Since the 18th century in Europe and America, the word ‘religion’ seems to mean something of a private, personal belief which is split off from real life. In the ancient world, what you believed about God or the gods was all part of real life,” he explains.

Growing up in a Christian home, Wright deepened his faith in God when he came to understand what it really meant that Jesus died for him. Throughout his life, Wright has sought God, going on a journey that has heavily involved academic work.

“When you pray, you have no idea what God is going to do, but you put yourself in His hands,” he says. “Guidance is a funny thing. You get the guidance you need, not the guidance you want. You’ll find out what God wants you to do if you’re patient and faithful.”

No matter how much he has learned, Wright says there is always more ways to grow. “All human beings know in their bones that there are certain things that matter – justice, beauty, relationships, spirituality, power – these are all big concepts that matter. The Christian story addresses all of those,” he says.

The redemptive work of Jesus Christ is more powerful than most Christians perhaps realize. Wright says, “Everything about the New Testament says that the story of Israel has come to its fruition in Jesus. The claim is that the story of Israel has converged upon Jesus and now it is for the whole world. Jesus says at the end of Matthew, ‘All authority in heaven and on Earth has been given to me.’ Western Christians are quite good at thinking that Jesus has all authority in heaven – we’ve hardly begun to think what it might mean to say that He has all authority on Earth. God has passionate love for His wonderful, good creation.”

Listen to the complete podcast on HBU.edu.

Dr. Jerry Johnston Interviews Jay Strack

Dr. Jay Strack is the author of several books and the founder of Student Leadership University. The mission of SLU is to develop and equip student leaders to think, dream and lead. Visit SLULead.com.

Dr. Jay Strack, longtime evangelist and founder of Student Leadership University, visited with Dr. Jerry Johnston, VP of Innovation and Strategic Marketing for Houston Baptist University, about his faith story and founding an outreach for student leaders.

After experiencing the life-altering power of Jesus, Strack spoke to students in an estimated 10,000 high school assemblies over the course of two decades. Then, a turning point in his ministry came when Billy Graham asked Strack a simple question: who would carry on Strack’s ministry after him?

“From that moment on, I had four or five guys who would go with us,” Strack said. Strack realized the value of developing leaders of the faith and not only followers. He envisioned inspiring promising youth and the church workers who discipled them.

“Bigger was better in my mind, but all of a sudden I was hearing a heart cry,” Strack said. “I said, ‘We’re going to come up with a solution.’ What could I do that the Lord has called me to do that maybe not everyone is doing?”

The idea of investing in youth led to the development of Student Leadership University. Student participants in SLU 101 through 401 explore how to think, dream, lead and serve with the Gospel at the forefront through life-changing trips. Students have an introduction to the program in a US city during their first year, visit Washington, DC the second year, visit major world cities including London, Oxford, Normandy and Paris the third year, and travel to Israel and Jordan during the fourth year.

SLU outreaches include Lift Tours that teach teens to live for Christ and Youth Pastor Summits that help equip youth leaders. The concept of SLU is unique among ministries, and has made an indelible difference for those involved. “We want to be a game-changer,” Strack said.

Listen to the complete podcast on HBU.edu.

Dr. Jerry Johnston Interviews Jerry Jenkins and Craig Evans

Dr. Craig Evans is the John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins at HBU. He is a sought-after biblical scholar and New Testament expert. His books and teaching have encouraged many and led skeptics to faith in Jesus Christ.

Jerry Jenkins is a bestselling author of numerous books, including the famous “Left Behind” series. Together, they have collaborated to create the novel, “Dead Sea Rising.”

Visit CraigAEvans.com and JerryJenkins.com.

The team behind the recently released “Dead Sea Rising: A Novel” spoke with Dr. Jerry Johnston, VP of Innovation and Strategic Marketing for Houston Baptist University. The collaboration came out of Jerry B. Jenkins’ ability to weave stories that appeal to a popular audience, and Dr. Craig Evans’ historical and archeological expertise.

Evans remembers his initial idea behind a historical fiction piece. “I was interested in writing something that relates to the past, that has real archeology, but has great implications for the present and could lead to a whole new understanding and peace,” he says. “I realized, ‘I can’t write this. Fiction is complicated.’”

That’s when Evans’ literary agent steered him to the talents held by the likes of Jenkins. “We hit it off right away,” Evans says. “It was a lot of fun exploring possibilities.”

Evans and Jenkins worked together to create a plot about a woman in her late 30s in a modern-day setting. Her story intersects with the past, allowing Evans’ expertise to play into the storyline. While Evans doesn’t consider himself a fiction writer, he did try his hand at creative writing.

“I have made up scholarly conversations – the kind you might overhear,” Evans says. “I like to feed him stuff that he can seize and incorporate. My goal is to make sure that everything has to do with history, archeology and scholarship.”

A paid writer since age 14, Jenkins considers it his mission to write for God’s glory. “In my mid-teens, I was called to full-time Christian work,” he says. “I thought that was the end of my writing. The wife of a Christian speaker actually encouraged me. She said God sometimes equips us before He calls us. If you’re equipped to be a writer, that may be the vehicle you use to fulfill your calling.”

Jenkins progressed in his gift from being a teenaged sports writer to a New York Times bestselling author, known for almost 200 books, including the “Left Behind” series.

“I’d like my legacy to be that I was obedient to the call,” Jenkins says. “That’s success.”


Listen or watch the complete podcast at HBU.edu.