Editor’s Note: What difference does Summit make? Why should you send a student? For the next 10 days, I’ll be posting alumni stories, originally printed in our monthly newsletter The Journal. These stories illustrate the difference Summit is making in the lives of it students, and the difference they’re making in their communities.
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Randy Hardman (Originally Printed March 2012)
Two Summit alumni will be part of the response to the largest expected gathering of atheists in history: the Reason Rally in Washington, D.C., scheduled for March 24 , and headlined by famed author Richard Dawkins. Randy Hardman and Sam Youngs will be at the rally with other Christians hoping to dialogue about Christianity, but they’ve also contributed chapters to an e-book responding to the rally: True Reason: Christian Responses to the Challenge of Atheism.
Hardman’s chapter examines the reasonableness of the New Testament. Since most skeptics of Christianity take issue with the miracles described in the New Testament, Hardman assesses the rationality of the supernatural and the process by which New Testament manuscripts were discovered and preserved.
When Hardman finished high school six years ago, he had read only two books on his own that he enjoyed: The Lord of the Rings trilogy and Mere Christianity. Those are great books, but Hardman admits that at the time he viewed reading as a chore — tedious but necessary.
Six years later, after attending Summit East as a student and returning as staff for several years, Hardman has become a “learning junkie.” He’s now not only finishing up a master’s degree, he’s looking forward to starting work on a doctoral degree. “To stop learning or to stop reading books would just put me in a space of boredom and un-fulfillment,” he said in a recent interview. It was hearing Summit lecturer Kevin Bywater’s “Historical Jesus” talk that turned things around for Hardman. “In a lot of ways,” he said, “that’s been the source of my reading. I read the stuff I enjoy, and I enjoy the stuff I read.”
Hardman’s work in Reason Really is characteristic of his past efforts and future hopes. “I’m not one who overtly caters to the conservative community,” he said. “I am trying to dialogue here with skeptics on reasonable terms.”
Eyeing a teaching career in the secular academy, Hardman has also combined a passion for proclaiming the biblical worldview, a knack for teaching others to defend it, and a get-it-done attitude to develop what could be called apologetics entrepreneurialism. He has started two organizations aimed at defending the biblical worldview: Ratio Christi and the Bara Initiative.
Ratio Christi grew from Hardman’s time as an undergraduate at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. While numerous campus ministries aided students there, none of them helped students intelligently engage faculty who told students that Christianity has no logical foundation. “We needed some sort of defense on campus,” he said. “We needed someone to say, ‘We believe these things are subjectively true and objectively true.’ Summit sparked the idea.” After watching the organization grow and gain national recognition, Hardman eventually passed the project on to others. As a catalyst for apologetics and biblical worldview discussions, the organization quickly expanded to other campuses across the country.
Hardman’s new endeavor, though, is the Bara Initiative: a ministry on the video website YouTube. By posting brief, well-produced videos, Hardman and fellow Summit alumnus Todd LeBarge hope to challenge groups like the Amazing Atheists and Atheist Illusion that post videos deriding Christianity as nonsensical. “We’re trying to approach it from an intellectual perspective,” Hardman said. “Atheists are telling the world what Christianity is.” He recently interviewed New York Times bestselling author Eric Metaxas (Bonhoeffer, Amazing Grace) for the project, and he encouraged readers to subscribe to the YouTube channel.
Hardman’s aspiration to teach at a secular university is motivated by his assessment that many Christians don’t pursue their faith intellectually, while others retreat from the culture at large. “It’s the same problem we have with marriage,” he said. “We divorce because we don’t feel in love. But you have to continue to work through it; love doesn’t just happen. When we retreat from the world, we lose the world.”
Hardman and his family live in Wilmore, Kentucky.