Dr Holly Ordway is an academic and a working Christian apologist. She is the Chair of the Apologetics Department at Houston Baptist University and teaches in the Master of Arts in Apologetics program.
About the MA in Apologetics at HBU
HBU’s MA in Apologetics program (MAA) has a cultural apologetics emphasis, and is complementary to other modes of apologetics, such as classical or philosophical apologetics. The mission of the Master of Arts in Apologetics program is to develop students who are capable of serving their community and the Church successfully in a variety of vocations, including academic, parachurch, and ecclesiastical professions. The Master of Arts in Apologetics degree is intended to provide students with interdisciplinary training in apologetics so that they understand and engage with contemporary worldviews and culture in order to transform the world for Christ, as academics, as apologists, and as followers of Christ.
HBU’s MA in Apologetics is set apart from other apologetics programs by its interdisciplinary nature and its engagement with culture and the arts and humanities. Apologetics faculty hold degrees in disciplines such as apologetics, philosophy, theology, and English. Furthermore, the program includes a strong component of coursework in writing and communication in apologetics, designed to help students achieve excellence in writing, speaking, and other forms of apologetics engagement. The degree includes a thesis option, which is ideal for students who wish to pursue further work at the doctoral level.
The “mere Christian” focus of the program and the ecumenical nature of the faculty means that the MA in Apologetics is designed to serve all parts of the body of Christ, and welcomes Catholic and Orthodox as well as Protestant students.
Distinctives of the MAA
- Cultural apologetics focus: building on the foundation of classical apologetics, the MAA’s emphasis on cultural apologetics prepares the leaders of tomorrow to defend and apply a Christian worldview over against the secular worldviews that now permeate every academic discipline. Students will learn to articulate and defend Christianity as credible truth using both rational and imaginative modes of communication.
- Emphasis on effective, gracious communication: the program includes substantial coursework designed to help students achieve excellence in writing, speaking, and other forms of apologetics engagement.
- Hands-on experience: HBU’s engagement with the larger apologetics community through apologetics conferences, faculty scholarship, cultural and arts programs, and local engagement means that students in the MA Apologetics program will have opportunities to gain further experience in the practical aspect of apologetics work.
- A “mere Christian” focus: the ecumenical nature of the faculty and the coursework means that the MA in Apologetics is designed to serve all parts of the body of Christ, and welcomes Catholic and Orthodox as well as Protestant students, thus also providing an intellectually and culturally rich and dynamic experience for students.
- Spiritual growth: the program is designed to provide mentoring for graduate students so that the MAA is a spiritually as well as intellectually strengthening experience. The coursework includes a spiritual formation component, providing an element usually only found in seminary degrees.
- Academic rigor: The degree includes a thesis option and provides the academic foundation for further study at the PhD level, as well as for further academic work in philosophy, theology, or the humanities.
- Stellar faculty: The faculty include nationally and internationally known public intellectuals with terminal degrees from universities such as the University of Rochester, the University of Notre Dame, the University of St. Andrew, Northwestern University, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
The MAA Faculty and Classes
Students in the MA in Apologetics program will benefit from small classes with faculty committed to excellence in both teaching and scholarship. Faculty include:
Holly Ordway, Ph.D., Chair of the Apologetics Department
Mary Jo Sharp, M.A.
Michael Ward, Ph.D.
John Mark Reynolds, Ph.D.
Jerry Walls, Ph.D.
Mike Licona, Ph.D.
John McAteer, Ph.D.
Bruce Gordon, Ph.D.
Nancy Pearcey, M.A.
The program is 36 units, with required courses as noted below:
Core Apologetics Concepts: Students will work through apologetics concepts in philosophy, theology, and biblical studies in Philosophy of Religion: Faith and Reason; “Mere Christian” Theology and Apologetics Implications; and Scripture and Apologetics Implications. Students interested in scientific apologetics may take Science and Worldview as an elective. All students will demonstrate a grasp of the essentials of classical apologetics, either by successfully completing the Fundamentals of Apologetics course or by achieving a passing score on the Fundamentals of Apologetics exam by the end of the second semester.
History of Western Culture: Students will study the foundations and development of the Christian faith from ancient to modern times, as expressed in literature, culture, and philosophy, in Ancient Philosophy and Culture; Medieval Philosophy and Culture; and Modern and Post-Modern Philosophy and Culture. Students may also take Eastern Philosophy and Culture as an elective.
Imaginative Apologetics: Students will analyze in depth how Christians have used artistic forms to communicate Christian truth in C.S. Lewis and Imaginative Apologetics; Film, the Visual Arts, and Apologetics; and Literature and Apologetics.
Communication: Students will develop skills in writing and speaking, in both in-person and online contexts, for academic success as well as practical apologetics and ministry work, in Apologetics Research and Writing and Apologetics Communication.
Spiritual Formation: The program includes a component of discipleship and spiritual growth in Spiritual Formation I-IV. These practical pass/fail courses provide the means and opportunity for discipleship and spiritual growth with the aim of fostering love of God and a strong personal relationship with Christ.
Thesis: The Thesis elective is offered for students who wish to go on to further graduate study, or who wish to do an independent semester-long project with a faculty mentor to prepare for academic writing and research in the field of apologetics. Students not opting to do a thesis may take an elective instead, from options such as Science and Faith, World Religions, or Eastern Philosophy and Culture.
Full course descriptions are available on the HBU MA in Apologetics page.
For more details on the MA in Apologetics program, visit HBU’s website (where you can apply online!) or contact Dr. Holly Ordway at hordway (at) hbu.edu.
More on Cultural and Imaginative Apologetics from HBU Apologetics Faculty
Dr John Mark Reynolds – interview on Apologetics 315
Literary Apologetics: Podcast series with Dr Michael Ward, discussing CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia
Selected Presentations by Dr. Holly Ordway
- Bible Answer Man Interview : focusing on her article in the CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL, “Truth In Darkness: The Hunger Games as an Unexpected Resource for Apologists.”
- Lecture series: “From Death to Life: Malcolm Guite’s ‘Stations of the Cross’ Sonnets.” Spring 2012.
- “The Importance of Excellence in Christian Writing.” Athanatos Ministries Online Apologetics Conference, 2012.
- “Literature and Faith: the Poetry of John Donne.” Torrey Honors Institute, Biola University, La Mirada, CA. Nov. 3, 2011.
- “The Role of Imagination in the Life of Faith.” (YouTube video) Biola University Undergraduate Chapel, La Mirada, CA. Oct. 12, 2011.
- “Literature and Faith: the Poetry of George Herbert.” Guest lecturer, Rivendell Sanctuary, Bloomington, MN. April 14, 2011.