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How to Handle Apathy in Evangelistic Encounters (Video)

World Record Attempt at Apathy

Apathy and Whatever-ism

Apathy is the antipathy of substantive conversation. Deep conversations require at least two interested parties. In evangelism it can be challenging to convince someone that it’s important to have a discussion.This is true of any topic: politics, economics, religion, etc. What if the other person says, “Who cares?” Before a substantive discussion can take place, the illness of “whatever-ism” must be cured.

World Record Attempt at Apathy
World Record Attempt at Apathy

3 Ways to Cure Whatever-ism

Apathy and whatever-ism are manifestations of a “so what?” attitude. Overcoming apathy, therefore, means showing someone why they should care. Dr. Groothuis (professor of philosophy at Denver Seminary) has three ideas for how a lackadaisical attitude can be overcome:

  • Appeal to their sense of shame
  • Appeal to their sense of prudential self-interest
  • Pick the right environment

Video Transcript

Here’s what Dr. Groothuis said when we asked him how to handle someone who’s apathetic about God.

You certainly need to pray for insight, for discernment, for love of the other person. I think sometimes the apologist wants to hit someone over the head and say, “listen to my arguments!”

[Tweet “Sometimes the apologist wants to hit someone over the head and say, “listen to my arguments!””]

But I think you can appeal to people’s shame and say “Shouldn’t you pursue these ultimate questions in life? Why avoid them? Shouldn’t you think about this seriously, use your intelligence in this way?” And I think also you can raise the issue of prudence. If Christianity is true and you don’t come to Christ there are eternal consequences, very unpleasant consequences. If you come to Christ and Christianity is true there is tremendous fulfillment and reward. Now that’s not an argument to become a Christian per se. That is an argument to investigate the possibilities.

[Tweet “That’s not an argument to become a Christian per se. That is an argument to investigate…”]

I think another significant thing is to try to interact with people about apologetics in a calm, intellectually hospitably situation. Because part of the problem of indifference of whatever-ism is that people are over stimulated. Their mind is saturated with all kinds of things. They say, “Oh I don’t want to think about Christianity I’ll think about this and I’ll be involved with this. So an environment that’s quiet, that’s one-on-one, that’s relational, that’s intellectual, I think can help people take things more seriously.

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What’s the Best Apologetic Method? (Video)

Apologetic Method and Five Representative

Apologists love debating about apologetic method. In other words, they love debating about debating. If unbelievers are scarce, apologists turn to each other to sharpen their iron. Some take a casual approach to the discussion. Others see it as a matter of utmost importance.

[Tweet “Apologists love debating about apologetic method. In other words, they love debating about debating.”]

SPOILER ALERT: We won’t be settling the debate between evidentialism and presuppositionalism today.

Who Wants to Do Apologetics the Right Way?

Apologists hear bad argumentation and reasoning all the time. It’s part of the job, but they can get tried of it. Apologists are human too. Most of the time they’re arguing with unbelievers of one stripe or another. However, when the topic is apologetic method, it’s probably other apologists they’re interacting with. Fellow apologists hold each other to a pretty high standard. These are the people who should really care about the how of apologetics, right?

Apologetic Method and Five Representative

When the Argument over Apologetic Method Goes Too Far

It’s possible to get so caught up in the debate about apologetic method that we never actually do apologetics. This may make sense for the aged professor who’s already walked the walk and has the lumps to show for it. But the new apologist should be concerned with actually taking the message of the gospel to the streets as best they can. This allows them to learn from experience what works. Experience combined with theory can create a biblical and practical apologetic method.

Two objections spring to mind when arguing for experience over theoretical precision ad nauseam:

  • Does a person need to know how to do apologetics before they actually get out there and try?
  • Won’t a person do more harm than good if they don’t use the best apologetic method?

Being an Informed Practitioner

You must know how to do something before you can actually do it. This seems reasonable. But sometimes (in the debate over apologetic method), it gets carried too far. How far is too far? If you never get around to engaging in apologetics, you’ve probably gone too far.

Think of it this way. Many people have dreamed about writing a book. They know they don’t have the best grammar, spelling, or plot construction and should study up on these topics; otherwise their book will be a big mess. So they plan, study, wait, and plan some more. After a few years they’ve done a lot of planning and studying but still don’t have a book. They don’t even have a bad book; they have no book at all.

This is an example of taking things too far. Apologetics is both a science and an art. It’s like riding a bike, writing a book, or learning how to cook lasagna. It’s learned best by study and practice. Your first lasagna might not be fit for the family pet to eat, but you’re on your way. That’s what’s important.

[Tweet “Apologetics is both a science and an art. It’s like riding a bike, writing a book, or learning how to cook lasagna.”]

Using a Bad Apologetic Method Is Like Working With a Dull Axe

Do you think an apologist who doesn’t use the best apologetic method will do more harm than good? It all depends right? How wrong are they? Maybe they get the main idea right but are off on some of the details. If that’s the case, most of us will give them leeway (in Christineese this is called “grace”) for their error.

What if they get some of the main points wrong? We certainly don’t want to be so off base that we end up being an apologist for knowledge falsely so called.

Here’s the point though: disagreements over apologetic method do not fall into this category. The content of what we’re arguing for may (e.g. what is the gospel), but not the way in which we do apologetics. This isn’t to deny that there’s a “right” way to do apologetics. There certainly is. It’s more important to do apologetics than endlessly debate how to do apologetics.

[Tweet “It’s more important to *do* apologetics than endlessly debate *how to do* apologetics.”]

Take Your Pick of Evidence and Presuppositions

One of the hottest topics in apologetic method today is between evidentialism and presuppositionalism. Which school of though is right? I don’t think it matters. Good apologists use both.

Dr. William Lane Craig is one of the foremost Christian thinkers today. Dr. Craig presents arguments for God’s existence without talking about presuppositions at all. Of course, Dr. Craig has presuppositions. He just doesn’t start with them.

Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen is on the other end of the spectrum. Dr. Bahnsen was a student of Dr. Cornelius Van Til and popularizer of presuppositionalism. Dr. Bahnsen debated apologetic method with Dr. R.C. Sproul. In that debate Bahnsen admits that the transcendental arguments for God (TAG) is like a reformulation of more traditional arguments for God’s existence. Bahnsen doesn’t dismisses evidence. Far from it. In fact, he lectured extensively on the superiority of Christianity based on the evidence.

So take your pick. Start with evidence and go to presuppositions. Or you can start with your presuppositions and go to the evidence. Either way, you’re doing apologetics to the glory of God.

[Tweet “So take your pick. Start with evidence and go to presuppositions. Or you can start with your presuppositions and go to the evidence.”]

Video Transcript

When Dr. Doug Groothuis was asked what the best apologetic method is he gave the answer that served as the basis for this post.

Well, first of all, the best method is to do it, to get out there and do apologetics. But you do need a good foundation for it, and I’ve found that the best method is hypothesis testing—that is, the Christian worldview is a theory of everything, if you will, and we argue that several lines of evidence converge on Christian truth.

So we have evidence from science, evidence from philosophy, evidence from history for the historicity of the Bible. And you combine those arguments into an overall case that shows that Christianity is true; and it’s rational, very rational, compellingly rational to believe it. And you use those same kinds of tests concerning consistency and livability to other worldviews and try to show the weaknesses of those other worldviews.

Conclusion

I can’t put it any better than Dr. Groothuis: “The best apologetic method is to do it.” Don’t wait until you have all the kinks worked out of your system. Start today, even if that means defending Christianity in an Amazon product comment box. There are apologetic opportunities all around us.

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A Short Technical History of Credo Course Videography

Technical History Timeline of Credo Courses

Interested in the nitty-gritty of how we create a Credo Course? You’ve come to the right place. This isn’t a history of how Credo Courses started. Michael Patton will be blogging about that soon, so keep an eye on the Parchment and Pen.

What Is a Technical History?

Good question. A technical history is, for obvious reasons, focused on equipment. But, a list of equipment is pretty dull; you can buy a catalogue for that. So we’ve supplemented our list with stories about what we’ve learned as a startup. We’ll look at our philosophy of filming and at some of the people behind the scenes. This post has four main sections:

This is the nuts-and-bolts of video production (on a budget). If this is what you’re looking for settle down for a good read. We’ll try to keep this interesting.

To date, eight Credo Courses are in various stages of completion. Some have been released. I’d like to say that they’re in stores everywhere, but that just wouldn’t be true. Others are still on the drawing board. Here’s a timeline of the courses we’ve filmed (click to enlarge):

Technical History Timeline of Credo Courses

When I first came to work at Credo Courses I was star struck. They’d already worked with some of the top scholars in the world. Thankfully, the trend continued. I’ve had the pleasure of working on the following courses:

  • Revelation with Dr. Mark Hitchcock
  • Old Testament Theology with Dr. Tremper Longman
  • Christian Apologetics with Dr. Douglas Groothuis
  • The Historical Jesus with Darrell Bock

If you’ve ever met these men, you know how kind they are. If not, you’re missing out.  None exhibit symptoms of ivory-tower-itis.

I’ve always regretted missing a lecture by a scholar visiting OKC. If you can attend the filming of a Credo Course, I’d encourage you to do so.

The Philosophy

There are a lot of ways to build educational material. One of our primary methods is video. The video is not an end in itself. What I mean is that a course isn’t better just because a couple cameras have been turned on. In fact, if done poorly, video can be downright harmful. There are many things that can make a video course worse:

  • Poor video quality
  • Distracting elements on screen.
  • An uncomfortable speaker.

The choice to use video should be an informed one. The visual aspect of the course should help people learn not hinder them. Presenting a complex topic in a simple way requires a lot of work.

Credo Courses have to serve many possible uses. People don’t all learn the same way. A one-size-fits-all approach just isn’t appropriate. The basics of videography are timeless, but the execution of is as much an art as a science. A Credo Course may take any number of forms:

  • Audio Presentation
  • Video Presentation
  • Workbook
  • PowerPoint Slide Deck
  • Small Group Study Materials
  • Self-Study Curriculum

We have to capture the raw material we need for each use case. This takes planning. It means asking ourselves a lot of questions: Will the scholar be providing their own outline and slides, or will we have to create them? Is the material appropriate for a small-group study, or is it at a seminary level? Has someone else already made a course like this?

We begin by imagining what would make a course as timeless as possible. What do I mean by timeless? Well, by timeless I mean not trendy. There are a lot of ways a video can show its age:

  • Background furnishings, wallpaper, and decorations
  • Filming style, framing choices, and lighting
  • Graphical elements like slides and transitions
  • Clothing and accessories
  • Hair styles
  • Glasses, earrings, and hair pins
  • References to pop culture or current events

These have a way of sneaking into a presentation. We try to minimize these. For example, a good suit ages well. The same doesn’t go for a Hawaiian shirt.

Maintaining Quality Standards

Getting things right is a journey of trial and error. Achieving a high-level of production quality is never pretty, but it is a process. The higher the level of production value the more it will cost. Higher quality equals higher cost.

For the end user of an educational product, quality is all that matters. A quality course instills confidence in the viewer. It also makes the course more durable. Unless you’re teaching on a fast moving industry an educational course can last years.

When it comes to questions of quality you have to pick your fights. It’s humbling but realistic to go into a project knowing that you’ll make mistakes. Fixing your mistakes is an exercise of courage and hard work.

Retakes

A retake is when something has to be filmed over again. This is what happened during Dr. Dan Wallace’s course on textual criticism. Dr. Wallace was gracious enough to return to Credo House for a retake. It can be humbling to admit when you’ve made a mistake. Luckily, Dan has a machine like endurance for speaking on textual criticism. In fact, his course was the longest we’ve filmed, clocking in at thirty-six sessions.

Rerecords

When filming the course on Revelation, I forgot to hit “record” on our sound system. I noticed my mistake two-thirds of the way though the session. My stomach sank. I tried to think of a way we could avoid having to rerecord the entire session. I decided rerecording the session was our best option to ensure quality. Dr. Hitchcock was extremely gracious about rerecording his session. Keep in mind, this was at the tail end of three long days of filming. It wasn’t easy to admit I’d made a mistake. I consoled myself knowing I’d be glad I had a clean recording in hand when it came time to edit.

Recreations

Mistakes caught early (like some software bugs) are easy to fix. Once they’re in production, they’re much harder to root out. We’ve had to fix a slide, re-export the video, transcode for DVD, and re-burn the DVD—all of that work because of a spelling mistake. It may seem like the time spent on quality control up front is a waste. Trust me, it isn’t.

The Hardware

There are three main pieces of hardware you need to produce a Credo Course:

  • Lights: The ability to add, subtract, and direct the light on set.
  • Camera: You’ve got to have some way of capturing the action on screen.
  • Action: The on-screen action is provided by the scholar.

It’s really that simple. Having better lighting, a better camera, better, well, everything can all help. But you don’t need them.

Keep things as simple as possible. Don’t multiply your sorrows by trying to do so much you get the basics wrong. This sounds like a truism. After all, who wouldn’t agree that things should be kept as simple as possible? It’s easier said than done. If using three cameras is good, wouldn’t five be better? If a three point lighting system is good, what about a seventeen point system? On and on it goes.

Advances come with trade-offs. The more equipment you have, the more expensive an operation is to run. You may need more people. The more cameras involved, the more hard drive space you’ll need. This also means more editing work later on. Will your audience benefit from all this extra work? Will it result in a better, more marketable product? If the answer is yes, then by all means, go for it.

Computers

Once the video is captured, it all has to be transferred to a hard drive for storage and editing. It’s not unusual for a single course to take up over a terabyte of hard drive space. The actual storage requirements will differ. More cameras equals more storage. Using a raw codec? You’ll need more storage. Doing commercial work? You’ll really need more storage now! Hard drive space is like closet space. There’s no such thing as too much.

Once the footage is on a hard drive, the editing begins. The bulk of the work is done on two Apple laptops:

  • MacBook Pro 15-inch Retina 2.3 GHz Intel Core i7
  • MacBook Pro 15-inch Retina 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7

These laptops get the job done despite not being as powerful as a tricked out Mac Pro. We typically have two editors who can work on different sections of video. One of us color corrects and syncs angels while the other adds graphics. These laptops handle these tasks like a champ.

A more powerful computer would be handy when applying complex effects. Complex effects are effects that are processor intensive. Sharpening and noise reduction are examples of processor intensive effects. These can add hours of rendering time. This reinforced for us just how important it is to get things right “in camera”.

Cameras

We started out using two Canon XA10s for the early Credo Courses. These little cameras worked well enough. They have XLR jacks which are perfect for recording audio from an external source. However, the DSLRs we’re using now provide a much better picture. We record the audio separately and stitch it all together in post-production.

  • Canon XA10s
  • Canon 7D
  • Canon 5D Mark II
  • Canon 5D Mark III (Rented)
  • Canon 6D (Rented)

Would we like to upgrade to better equipment? Who wouldn’t? It’s tempting to think that newer means better. This isn’t always the case. A $10,000 camera would provide a better picture for that one camera. But if I had $10,000 to invest it in lighting, camera-rails, tripods, and editing software. These upgrades would improve the picture from all the cameras.

Lenses

All of our cameras use interchangeable lenses (except the XA10s). This allows us to pick and choose the best lens for a given shot. The list below does not include information regarding the lenses on the XA10s.

  • Canon 24–105mm 4.0 L-Series
  • Canon 70–200mm 2.8 L-Series
  • Canon 50mm 1.8

Lighting

We began by using mostly ambient light along with a CF powered soft box. The room we filmed in added a warm colorcast to the video. We eventually replaced the soft box with bi-color LED panels with diffusion paper. The LED panels allow us to control the power and temperature of the light. On a recent project we balanced everything to these LED panels. Warmer lights were used as accents (e.g. hair lights).

Misc

There’s no such things as too many memory cards, batteries, or hard drive space. As camera technology continues to improve, so do storage demands and power consumption. This means more memory cards and batteries for filming and more hard drives for long-term storage.

  • Lots of Memory Cards and Batteries
  • Lots of Hard Drives
  • Revelli Tripods
  • USB 2.0 and 3.0 Memory Card Readers

The Software

Video editors become very familiar with their software. After filming you’ll spend hours, days, maybe weeks or months inside your programs. If a scholar presents according to a strict outline this time may be reduced. Why would this be the case? I’m glad you asked. A Credo Course consists of several components. Each component should, ideally, be consistent with each other. For example, a lecture should have the same name regardless of the medium it’s on. A lecture called, “The History of the Catholic Church” should appear with that title on DVD, in a workbook, or on an iPhone.

An organized presenter helps this along. Ideally they’ll focus each lecture around one central theme. That central theme then becomes the focus of each type of media we use. It’s helpful to have your sessions planned out ahead of time. If the scholar prepares detailed notes this ensures a better end product and easier editing.

It may seem like an experienced scholar could present session after session without notes and communicate just as well. After all, they do this with their classes regularly. However, in a classroom environment the students can ask questions and receive clarification. A video presentation lacks this feature. Therefore, planning to answer the typical questions within the body of a presentation ensures a better experience overall.

Enough about planning. Let’s dive into the software tools we use.

Evernote

We keep notes on titles, excerpts for future commercials, chapter titles, file download links, etc. inside Evernote. It’s indispensable to our workflow.

Daisy Disk

When you’re generating and manipulating thousands of gigabytes of data, you need a solid disk management tool. Daisy Disk is our choice because it gets the job done and looks pretty doing it.

Avid Pro Tools

This is the software we used to record most of our audio. We’ve been blessed to have the help of Kelcy White (see below) in the audio department. We’re looking at transitioning to Adobe Audition.

Apple Final Cut Pro X

This is our video editing workhorse. We spent a lot of  time comparing non-linear editors (NLEs) against each other. We’ve worked with Windows Movie Maker (please don’t laugh), FCP 7, Adobe Premier, and Avid Media Composer. FCPX was the best investment for us.

Apple Compressor

When we need to prepare a video for upload or to be burned to DVD, we use Compressor. We did a side-by-side comparison between Adobe Media Encoder and Compressor. Compressor’s results were far superior when it came to DVD encoding. This wasn’t just an academic test either. We had some footage we needed to rescue (my fault, lesson learned). Compressor got the job done.

PluralEyes by Red Giant

PluralEyes is the industry standard for synching multiple camera angles using audio. FCPX does have some synching capabilities but I prefer PluralEyes.

DaVinci Resolve

This is the next software tool on our wish list. It’s been an industry standard in color correction for a while and has recently come into its own as a full-fledged editing tool. If you enjoy watching movies, you’ve seen DaVinci Resolve at work.

The People

We’ve been blessed to work with some of the best scholars in the world. Their expertise is the reason we exist. But to communicate their knowledge with an audience takes an entire team of people.

To try and list all of the people who’ve helped create Credo Courses is impossible. However, without the help of the following people, Credo Courses would not exist:

  • Michael Patton: Michael is the CEO and creator of Credo Courses. Michael is the driving force behind the Credo Courses vision. He has built relationships with scholars across the evangelical spectrum.
  • Tim Kimberley: Tim was Executive Director of Credo House and a passionate advocate of Credo Courses from the beginning. The stories he could tell about working with scholars are legion. Tim orchestrated the production of several courses. He also established an understanding of the importance of  form and function that is felt to this day.
  • Ted Paul: I came to work at Credo Courses as Executive Director in late April of 2014. I was hired as a full-time videographer. My responsibilities include overseeing the entire production of each course, scheduling the scholars, filming, creating graphics and slides, creating DVD master, etc. There a little more information on my micro-bio.
  • Anne Paul: Anne does a yeoman’s work in color correcting, synching, and organizing video footage. She’s has an eye for creating sets for filming that comes in handy. She also helps write and edit our workbooks. Lastly, she helps ensure quality control of all our products.
  • Carrie Hunter: Carrie is the unsung hero behind Credo Courses. She makes sure the critical administrative tasks are taken care of.
  • Kelcy White: Kelcy attended OC for a Bachelors degree in Youth Ministry, Bible, and International Studies and [email protected] for an Associates degree in Music Production. Kelcy’s expertise and education in audio engineering made him an invaluable member of the team. Kelcy helped the production quality of Credo Courses take a giant leap forward.
  • Timothy Berg: Tim has attended every Credo Course as a student. However, one more than one occasion he’s jumped in and helped out beyond the call of duty. His takes a personal interest in the subject matter and has a deep respect for all the scholars.
  • David Vallandingham: David was a volunteer at Credo for a few months in 2014. He helped record weekly lectures at Credo House. He also assisted in filming Old Testament Theology with Dr. Tremper Longman. We miss David all the time. He has an excellent work ethic and an infectious, positive attitude.

Without the hard work of these folks, Credo Courses would not exist. In the end that’s what every great project comes down to: the people. Without the scholars, film crew, and support staff none of these courses would exist. Is this a brief technical history of Credo Courses? Yes. But you can’t isolate the machines from the people operating them. It is to them that we give our hearty thanks.

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