HCU Apologetics Day Speaker Bios

Austin Freeman

Austin is the chair of apologetics at Houston Christian University. He holds a PhD in systematic theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and an MTh in historical theology from the University of Edinburgh. He is the author of Tolkien Dogmatics and the editor of several books on the theology of fantasy literature. Austin is an international speaker as well as an advocate for the classical education movement.

Jesus among the Myths: Isn’t the resurrection just a storytelling device that the Christians copied from earlier cultures like the Greeks and Egyptians? Did Jesus even exist at all? In this lecture, Professor Freeman will (1) debunk the Jesus Myth conspiracy theory, (2) demonstrate that in fact there are no mythical parallels to the resurrection of Christ, and (3) defend the idea that Jesus Christ is the ‘True Myth,’ as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien called him.

Paul Sloan

Paul Thomas Sloan is the chair of the theology department at Houston Christian University. He received his PhD in New Testament and MLitt in Scripture and Theology from the University of St. Andrews and MATS from Houston Christian University. He writes on Jesus’s relationship to the Law.

The Resurrection in First-Century Jewish Thought

Chunming Fong

Ph.D. from Westminster Theological Seminary, associate professor in many seminaries, senior pastor, and prolific writer. Eager to equip believers with knowledge, “heat,” and “ability to soar.”

The Challenge of Relativism to the Younger Generation: Explore the negative impact of the relativist views of truth on today’s young people, and learn how to respond appropriately to this trend. The purpose is to know how to attract and lead young people to desire Christian truth.

The Challenge of Jesus’ Resurrection: Some people think that Jesus’ Resurrection is a mystical experience preached by Christians in the first century and is not real. This lecture is to explain that Jesus’ Resurrection is based on authentic and credible historical documents and is supported by witnesses, physical evidence and circumstances. It makes more sense to believe in Jesus’ Resurrection than not to believe.

Annie Crawford

Annie Crawford is a cultural apologist and classical educator with a Masters of Arts in Cultural Apologetics from Houston Christian University. She teaches apologetics and humanities courses for Vine Classical Community where she serves as Head of Vine Classical Hall. Annie is co-founder and Senior Fellow at The Society for Women of Letters and she writes for Salvo Magazine, The Symbolic World, An Unexpected Journal, and The Shadowlands Dispatch where she is a founding editor and writer. To learn more, see anniecrawford.net.

Parenting in the Apocalypse: Making Sex and Gender Meaningful Again (parent track): We become the stories we tell. Our stories tell us who we are, what the world is like, and where we are going. In 2024, the stories our culture tells about sex, gender, and the body are very different from the story God has given us in Scripture. In this talk, we will see how the postmodern story is distorting our understanding of the body and look at how we as parents and ministers of the Gospel can tell a better story that will restore the meaning, goodness, and beauty of sacred sexuality in the minds and hearts of the next generation.

Christian Sexuality: Flexing Christ’s Love with God’s Drip Design (student track): Why does our culture seem to have such a very different view of sex and gender than the church and scripture? Does it really matter? Are God’s commands regarding sex just arbitrary? Are they outdated? In this talk, we will look at how our understanding of what reality is determines how we understand what a human is, which in turn determines how we understand what sex is and what it is for. Only by living in harmony with reality and how it works will we find the happiness and meaning we are all looking for.

Rebekah Valerius

Rebekah Valerius earned a BS in Biochemistry from the University of Texas at Arlington and an MA in Apologetics from Houston Christian University. She lives with her husband and two daughters in a suburb of Dallas, Texas. She teaches biology and chemistry at a university-model, classical Christian school in the area.

Navigating Doubt for Parent Track: This talk will present some ways that parents can help their kids manage spiritual doubt – from dispelling common myths associated with doubt to properly classifying the kinds of doubt their loved one is experiencing. Different approaches and resources one can use to help a loved one navigate seasons of doubt will also be discussed.

Navigating Doubt for Student Track: This talk will present some ways that students can manage spiritual doubts they may have – from dispelling common myths associated with doubt to properly classifying the kinds of doubt they are experiencing. Different approaches and resources students can use to navigate seasons of doubt will also be discussed. Students do not need to be afraid of doubt – but they do need to take it seriously.

Jason Tarn

Jason Tarn is the Lead English Pastor of Houston Chinese Church, a non-denominational Chinese heritage church in Houston, TX. He received his bachelors from UT Austin and completed an M.Div. at Regent College. Jason grew up at Houston Chinese Church as a teenager and has been pastoring there since 2011. His passion is to bring healthy reform to the immigrant church that is rooted in sound doctrine and a missional vision. He is married to Theresa and has two daughters, Talia and Maisie.

Unless I See … I Will Never Believe: Deconstructing Doubt in John 20:24-31: What would it take for you to believe that a dead man rose from the grave? Many would say, “If I saw it with my own eyes.” To them, it’s no different than believing in any other fanciful claim – be it a sighting of aliens or Bigfoot. They would need empirical proof. Such skepticism is not a modern phenomenon. The Apostle Thomas famously demanded similar proof if he was going to believe Christ has risen. This, of course, assumes that all doubt would be dispelled at first sight. But what if doubt stems – not merely from the absence of empirical proof for our senses – but from the presence of something in our hearts? Something that might compel us to resist the idea that Jesus is alive. Maybe it’s not just about asking, “Can I believe in the Resurrection?” but “Do I want to believe?”

Mike Licona

Mike Licona is Professor of New Testament Studies at Houston Christian University and President of Risen Jesus, Inc. He has a Ph.D. in New Testament Studies from the University of Pretoria, which he earned with distinction. Mike is the author of numerous books and was interviewed by Lee Strobel in his book In Defense of Jesus. In 2017, Mike was elected to membership in the prestigious Society for New Testament Studies. He has spoken on more than 100 university campuses and has appeared on dozens of radio and television programs.

Three Objections to the Resurrection: The Resurrection Hypothesis does a great job of explaining all of the facts that are widely agreed upon by scholars. But skeptics think better explanations are available. In this lecture, Dr. Licona will discuss the 3 major alternative hypotheses offered by skeptical scholars and demonstrate why the Resurrection Hypothesis is clearly the winner.

William Lane Craig

William Lane Craig is Professor of Philosophy at Houston Christian University. He has authored or edited over thirty books, including The Kalam Cosmological ArgumentAssessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of JesusDivine Foreknowledge and Human FreedomTheism, Atheism and Big Bang Cosmology; and God, Time and Eternity, as well as over a hundred articles in professional journals of philosophy and theology, including The Journal of PhilosophyNew Testament StudiesJournal for the Study of the New TestamentAmerican Philosophical QuarterlyPhilosophical StudiesPhilosophy, and British Journal for Philosophy of Science. In 2016 Dr. Craig was named by The Best Schools as one of the fifty most influential living philosophers.

Did the resurrection happen?: The historical facts upon which the Resurrection Hypothesis is based may be summarized under three broad headings: (1) the discovery of Jesus’ empty tomb, (2) Jesus’ postmortem appearances to various individuals and groups, and (3) the sudden and unexpected origin of the disciples’ belief in Jesus’ resurrection. Multiple lines of evidence for each of these have convinced the majority of New Testament critics of these three facts. The question, then, which remains is, what is the best explanation of these facts?

Bill Scott

Bill Scott is a public speaker and apologist that works with Ratio Christi HCU, a campus apologetics and evangelism mission society. Bill has taught apologetics and ministered in several cross-cultural contexts including East Africa, the Muslim-Christian interface, and the underground church in closed countries. He holds an M.A. in cultural apologetics and a certificate in philosophical apologetics from Houston Christian University. In Fall 2024, Bill will begin a PhD in Intercultural Studies at Talbot School of Theology. Bill also hosts an apologetics and theology YouTube channel called The Truth Conversation. 

 Jesus as The Word of God from Athens to Arabia: A Thoughtful Approach to Islam: What can we glean from the apologetics approach of the early Muslim interlocutors? The thoughtful and winsome approaches to answering the worldviews of the religious other could have hit their peak with examples such as John of Damascus, mar-Timothy, and al-Kindi. Take a from Athens and Jerusalem to Mecca with this insightful talk that will help you think past the common polemic approaches to intercultural apologetics.