A Conversation with Frank Turek
When Frank Turek reported to Naval Flight Officer training in Pensacola, Florida, a fellow flight school student and son of a conservative Methodist minister engaged him in conversations that challenged his more liturgically based religious upbringing. Frank had a lot of questions, and his friend suggested he read a couple of books that might help him find answers: Josh McDowell’s Evidence That Demands a Verdict and More Than a Carpenter. Frank was intrigued.
A few years later, he took an apologetics course at McLean Bible Church near Washington, D.C. One week, the teacher announced he was bringing in a guest lecturer. He asked if any of the students would mind putting him up for the weekend, and Frank and his wife Stephanie volunteered. It turned out that the guest lecturer was one of America’s greatest trailblazer Christian apologists, Dr. Norman Geisler. From that start, Frank would go on to become one of this generation’s most courageous Christian apologists.
Dr. Geisler obviously had an enormous impact on you. Tell us about your experience of being mentored by him.
Before he stayed with us that weekend, I didn’t really know who he was. And then I realized he was like the Michael Jordan of Christian apologetics. While he was there, he said, “I’m starting a seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. Why don’t you come down and take a look at it?” My wife and I drove down and saw the seminary. A few months later, we moved to Charlotte with our three sons who were five, three, and one. That’s how it started.
Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES) was a very small school at the time. It was only in its second year; there may have been 20 students. I started traveling with Dr. Geisler a little bit, doing some of the presentations with him. Then we wrote a book called Legislating Morality in 1998. We were also doing a seminar called, “Twelve Points That Show Christianity is True.” At one point I said, “This really needs to be a book.”
Dr. Geisler said, “Well, then let’s write it!”
He had the outline and had done a lot of the research. I just word-smithed everything. That turned into, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist in 2004. In 2007, some friends and I started CrossExamined.org. A little later that year, a study group at Appalachian State University invited me to come there to speak. That turned out to be the first Ratio Christi event. Then in 2008, we started the CrossExamined Instructor Academy (CIA) because I wanted to try to train people at a lay level to do apologetics.
You are well known for your CrossExamined presentations and Q&A sessions on college campuses. At what point did you start to focus on the “Youth Exodus” problem?
We’d seen survey after survey that said three quarters of Christian kids walk away from the faith once they leave the home. And of course, college campuses are some of the most anti-Christian pieces of real estate in America. We targeted high schools and churches too, but we decided that colleges would be good places to start. Really, we wanted to go to any place where Christianity was not represented at all.
Look, the bar is so low for some college students, they think Christians have just been mocked for not having answers. So, if you go on a college campus and put together a declarative sentence they think, “Well, maybe there is evidence?!” The bar is so low, you don’t even have to be that good at it, right? That was CrossExamined’sfocus beginning in 2007. But I wasn’t doing it full-time until 2011.
So something changed in 2010 that led to you making CrossExamined your full-time ministry. You were one of “cancel culture’s” first targets.
From 1993 to 2011, I was doing a lot of corporate management and leadership training. I had a family to support while I was going through seminary and even while I was starting CrossExamined. I was doing a training seminar at Cisco Systems when a gay manager in the seminar googled my name and found out I had written the book Correct, Not Politically Correct: How Same-Sex Marriage Hurts Everyone. I never mentioned the book or talked about anything in the book. But an HR manager fired me within hours without ever speaking to me. It became a news story and Bank of America also fired me shortly thereafter. So, Cisco Systems and Bank of America fired me in the name of inclusion, tolerance, and diversity. They excluded me for holding a different view. They didn’t tolerate me.
This was four years before same-sex marriage was judicially imposed by the Supreme Court. We went public after the head of inclusion, tolerance, and diversity couldn’t answer any of my questions. I asked, “What do inclusion, tolerance, and diversity mean? And why is it you’re excluding me for holding a diverse view? How is this tolerance?”
I had other corporate training accounts, but I wasn’t going to be quiet about it because of the hypocrisy and ridiculousness of the whole thing. I knew at that point I’d rather be doing the CrossExaminedstuff anyway. I decided to burn the ships and start doing it full-time. I can imagine the eggshells a lot of people have to walk on now when it comes to this woke ideology.1
You have not been shy about engaging with what some have defined as “political issues,” both in your presentations and on social media. How has this impacted your ministry?
A big problem in our country right now is that too many Christians are silent. So, I’m not one of those who are silent, because I think that’s just contributing to the problem. I recently did some podcast episodes about this. The first one is “Four Reasons Why Christians Ought to be Involved in Politics.” The second is “Seven Mistakes We Make When We Do.” I think we’re commanded to be salt and light. Jesus was involved in politics. It affects our ability to live and preach the gospel.
We take religious freedom for granted here. Go to North Korea and see if you can have Salvo magazine . . . or even have a church for that matter. You can’t. Because politically, they’ve ruled it out. We have a lot of pastors running around saying, “I just preach the gospel.” Well, guess what? Your ability to preach the gospel is affected by politics. If for no other reason than you’re going to love your neighbor and love the fact that you have religious freedom, you have to be involved.
I mean, look at the abortion issue and what happened in Montana. [Montana voters rejected a ballot measure to provide medical care to infants born alive after an attempted abortion.] I don’t know if there were people who didn’t even read the proposition or if there were negative ads against it or something. But how does that happen? I think in some of these states it’s going to get worse.
This is why I think that Christians have to get engaged, particularly on that issue. The right to life is the right to all the other rights, right? It’s the most important issue, but not every populace is going to accept a total ban on abortion. Some will. I think Indiana is close to that, maybe. Mississippi, Florida. At least some babies will be saved with the bill that prevented abortions past 15 weeks. That’s better than nothing. Is it ideal? No. But there are even laws in the Old Testament that aren’t ideal. Jesus says, “Moses gave you a certificate of divorce because your hearts were hard.” So even God on occasion works incrementally. A partial prohibition is better than no prohibition.
Christians have to get wise. We know we can’t get a total ban yet, but we can save some babies. So, let’s do that. In the case of abortion, the goal is absolute. We’re not compromising on that. We’re compromising on the means to that goal.
I’m going to be doing a little bit more work with Charlie Kirk on this kind of thing. Charlie is a 29-year-old phenom. The thing I like about him is that he will never back down on the gospel. It doesn’t matter to him if the people in the audience are not Christians. He’s going to talk about it. His ministry is more political than mine, but we’re going to work together on some things to try and get the church more engaged. If we’re going to love our neighbor, that’s one way we do it. Putting good laws into place gives us the ability to preach and live the gospel.
It seems like you are having an enormous impact, especially on social media. How do you see your ministry and others like it growing and evolving in the future?
We’re trying to bring some new people in. You’ll see and hear about that soon. We’re trying to get some CIA people to step up and be speakers as well. We’re still working on that. We’re probably going to be doing some work with Charlie Kirk, maybe some conferences that will get a bigger audience, that kind of thing. So, we’re always trying to expand our influence. We’ll see how it goes. We do have a good social media presence because we have a great social media team. That’s how we reach people. I mean, how many people can you talk to in person? Not many. But some of our short videos have like 6 million views. When am I ever going to get the chance to talk to 6 million people? Answer: never. So social media is a big deal in that regard. And then that is an entrée to the deeper conversations we have on our YouTube channel and online courses.
The number of Gen ‘Z’ kids who claim to be atheists has doubled over the previous generation. Does your interaction on college campuses encourage you about the impact of Christian apologetics on that demographic?
My observations would only be anecdotal. The survey data is probably accurate. I think the interest in these issues is going up. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the generation is becoming more Christian. Anybody can attract a crowd. You could have a seminar for Flat-Earthers and people would show up, right? But it’s not indicative of the wider culture. Yes, there is interest out there. And people are asking questions. You can attend a two-hour seminar and ask a question about it, which feels good. The longer-term trends are that we’re probably headed toward oblivion. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t fight. We do what we can.
Readers can find a more detailed account at “Sex at Work?” CrossExamined.org, August 26,2011.Bob Perry
is a graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy (B. S., Aerospace Engineering) and Biola University (M.A., Christian Apologetics). Recently retired, his professional aviation career included 8 years in the U. S. Marine Corps flying the AV-8B Harrier attack jet and nearly 32 years as a commercial airline pilot. Bob blogs about Christianity and the culture at: True Horizon.Get Salvo in your inbox! This article originally appeared in Salvo, Issue #67, Winter 2023 Copyright © 2024 Salvo | www.salvomag.com https://salvomag.com/article/salvo67/uncancelled