Friday Five Interview: Sean McDowell

January 21, 2011

Today it’s an honor to interview Sean McDowell, a guy I have admired for some time. He’s the son of Josh McDowell, whose life and ministry has inspired thousands of seekers to come to faith in Christ. Sean is an educator, a thoughtful writer, and a speaker. Sean is a reknowned apologist, having written several books on Christian worldview. His latest is Is God Just a Human Invention? He is a popular conference speaker, Sean has spoken for organizations including Focus on the Family,Campus Crusade for ChristYouth SpecialtiesFellow of Christian Athletesand the Association of Christian Schools International.

Sean is head of the Bible Department at Capistrano Valley Christian Schools, where he teaches the courses on Philosophy, Theology, and Apologetics. Sean received the “Educator of the Year” for San Juan Capistrano, California in 2008. His apologetics training was awarded Exemplary Status by the Association of Christian Schools International.

Today, Sean was kind enough to stop by for The Friday Five:

1) You work in Christian education. Lot of parents wrestle with the decision of where to put their children, home-school, Christian school, public school. What is the value, in your view, of a Christian education?

Barna’s recent survey of trends in 2011 revealed that newer generations are less and less theological in their thinking. Both parents and young people are increasingly less able to think biblically, and this has a significant impact on how they live. While the Bible does put the responsibility on parents, good Christian schools can be a huge aid for parents to surround their kids with good role models (and mentors) and give their kids a biblical worldview. Yes, I work at a Christian school but I don’t think it’s necessarily the best forevery kid. Some kids thrive in a public school setting where they are challenged (these kids are often few and far between), while others need the Christian environment. Parents need to take a close look at the maturity of their kids while making this decision. And don’t be afraid to make the tough decision for your kids. Too many parents these days make decisions based on what kids want rather than what is necessarily best for them. Sadly, many parents let issues such as sports and facilities override the spiritual and moral development of their kids.

2) Do think that parents often feel like if they put their kid in a Christian school, have them in youth group and church, that they don’t have to do the hard work at home?

I actually have some parents who think it’s my responsibility to give their kids a biblical workview. I regularly remind them that the Scriptures always hold parents accountable first. My job is to simply strengthen what they ought to be doing in the home. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 sets up a great pattern for how parents are to raise their kids. With eight years of teaching, it’s obvious that parents have the most influence on their kids’ worldview.

3) You teach quite a bit on apolegetics and worldview. What are the most pressing issue among this generation of Christian young people?

Probably the top issues are the problem of evil, the exclusivity of Christ, and moral issues such as homosexuality. The problem of evil has always been around and it’s never going away, in this lifetime. It’s important to realize that many (if not, most) young people who ask about evil and suffering are asking because they have either experienced or witnessed pain in their lives. It’s no surprise that a generation so disconnected from parents and other significant adults would ask about why God allows evil.

4) You grew up as the son of a very famous evangelical father. What was it about your Dad that convinced you his faith was real and worth pursuing for yourself?

Simple: he lives what he believed. My dad is the same on stage as he is at home. Rather than practicing what he preaches, I genuinely believe that my dad preaches what he practices. I have seen him share his faith, give to the poor, and ask for forgiveness when he’s blown it. He’s certainly not perfect, but he does really live his life as if Christianity is true.

5) If you could give one message to this generation of Christians, what would that be?

Go for it. Step out of your comfort zone and do great things for God. Don’t compare yourself to others, but begin to ask how God has uniquelly gifted you to build His kingdom and step out and do it. The most rewarding things in my life have often come when I took risks, trusted God, and let Him work. The message of our culture is selfishness and to get for yourself. But the radical message of the gospel is to give your life for others. That’s the only way we find genuine happiness (Matt 6:33).