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Montgomery Sheds Gospel Light Overseas

January 11th, 2011

By Sarah Pride

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722
OfficeOfCommunications@phc.edu

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Dr. John Warwick Montgomery preaches the Gospel message in Marseille

Shortly after his fall classes ended in December, the College’s internationally renowned Christian apologist, Dr. John Warwick Montgomery, boarded a plane for France, where he spends the spring and summer. Shortly after his arrival, PHC’s Distinguished Research Professor of Philosophy and Christian Thought delivered a French-language Christmas message to nearly 800 people at the Baslique du Sacré Coeur in Marseille.

It proved yet another fascinating endeavor for the prolific writer, legal scholar, lecturer, philosopher and thinker, made possible through the efforts of PHC alumna Kelly Orsini (Government: International Politics & Policy, ’08). Orsini is a dual American/French citizen currently engaged in graduate work at the Institut d'études politiques of Aix-en-Provence.

In 2009, she had been working as executive assistant for Dan Painter, president of the International Christian Community, a network of English-speaking churches across Europe. That year, Orsini suggested Dr. Montgomery as the speaker for the group’s annual Christmas carol service in Marseille. Although they could not arrange the details on such short notice, they scheduled Dr. Montgomery for 2010 instead.

“French society is very tied to the principle of ‘laïcité,’ or secularness, which has traditionally emphasized a separation between religion/faith and public life,” explains Orsini. “As the French also value intellectual abilities, Dr. Montgomery’s distinguished credentials were an asset. People are less likely to siphon off what he says as being from a ‘religious’ person.”

An audience of nearly 800 people witnesses the Christmas service

Whether audience members regarded Dr. Montgomery as an intellectual or a preacher, he presented a clear Gospel message in the ten minutes, notes Orsini, taking full advantage of the time he was granted alongside Scripture readings and carols in English. Quoting two of Martin Luther’s Christmas sermons, he emphasized that the prophecies in Isaiah 9 and the birth narratives of Jesus Christ, while constituting real history, should not be considered solely from an academic perspective. His address established that these passages remain extremely personal narratives in which, for his French audience, the important words are “for you.”

“If this good news is not made personal by an act of faith, it might as well not have happened at all,” Dr. Montgomery concluded.

This extraordinary opportunity shone a light into a country that has very few chances to hear God’s Word presented as truth.

At PHC, Dr. John Warwick Montgomery teaches Principles of Biblical Reasoning and upper-level philosophy courses. He holds eleven earned degrees and has written more than fifty books in four languages on the issues of human rights and biblical apologetics.