Jane Pantig, who works for Ratio Christi, loves her unique platform as a Filipino-American woman. Apologist Joel Furches shares some of her story here
Jane Pantig is an advocate for Christian apologetics on college campuses. I had the opportunity to sit down and interview her about her experience being a woman in the field of Christian apologetics, and being a Christian apologist on a college campus. The Ratio Christi organisation works to bring Christian apologetic resources to college campuses across the world. The challenge that Ratio Christi faces is a decidedly uphill battle. The predominant attitude at the level of higher education is that any kind of religion is a regression into anti-intellectual, unscientific superstition.
Being a Christian biology major
This is the struggle Jane Pantig faced when she first became a Christian:
“…it was hard to tell others about my faith because most of my friends did not think religion or faith were for ‘smart’ people. I majored in biology and oftentimes I heard that, ‘science and faith are immiscible’ and saw the hostility towards a belief in a creator. And because I was a new Christian I did not know how to tell a person that wasn’t true or that science and faith were compatible. One of my classmates asked me, ‘Why are you taking this class when you don’t believe in it (evolution)?’ At the time the only answer I can give to him was, ‘I need to know both sides.’”
An encounter with apologetics
The struggle that Jane felt in defending her new-found faith was answered a few years after her graduation as she sought out resources to address the intellectual challenges posed against Christian beliefs:
“A turning point in my life was in the summer of 2009, I went to an apologetics conference at Wheaton College. One evening, Stuart McAllister said something that really penetrated my heart. He said, ‘We need the next generation of apologists, and all God wants is for you to be available.’ At that moment the Holy Spirit was speaking into my heart. When I got home from the summer institute, I applied to the master’s in Christian apologetics program at Biola University and a few weeks later I was in my first semester. In May 2011, I received my MA in Christian apologetics with high honours.”
Now, in a poetic turn of affairs, Jane herself works for Ratio Christi, teaching and providing resources for college Christians who, like herself, long for the intellectual foundations for their beliefs.
Opportunities for a Filipino-American
As a Filipino-American, Jane feels blessed by her distinct heritage. It has allowed her to reach an audience to which apologetic resources have been scarce. Her work with Filipino churches in America has been met with excitement and enthusiasm on the part of her audience to learn and share these new intellectual tools. However, it is not only her cultural background that gives Jane a special platform for sharing her worldview:
“I had a talk with J Warner Wallace before our event at San Jose State University and he asked [about my platform]. He was asking this question to encourage me. The first thing that popped up in my mind was that I am Filipino. He then told me that I was also a young woman and that I had a platform that men like him cannot reach.”
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Being a woman in apologetics
“Women are able to reach other women, and encourage each other since apologetics is often seen as a ‘heady’ field and women are more emotional or relational. We are able to bring a more relational aspect to it.”
However, Jane expresses that the unique advantage women have in the field is not without its hurdles. In a male-dominated field, she felt intimidated as one of the very few females in her Biola University classes. Now she is surprised to find that other women are intimidated by her and her knowledge:
“I think the challenge I have as a woman that does apologetics is that other women see me as ‘intimidating’ or that I have a ‘strong’ personality; I still don’t really understand what that means. I just love learning and sharing what I learn with others so that they too will be bold in sharing their faith.”
Jane’s path on the road to becoming an apologist has been rugged. She has faced the uncertainties of a new faith in a hostile academic environment, of a Christian academic environment in which she was a minority, and of the concern of what she was to do with her knowledge and training when she graduated.
However, through it all, she feels God has blessed and led her into an exciting ministry, assisting others to overcome the struggles she herself has faced.
“I teach youth groups and young women at my church and I teach apologetics to college students through Ratio Christi. I am not trying to take on a pastoral role; I just want to encourage the next generation to be bold for Jesus Christ.”
Joel Furches is an apologist, journalist and researcher on conversion and deconversion, based in the USA.