The Source for Youth Ministry

Josh McDowell
Jonathan Interviews
Josh McDowell
April 4, 2006

Jonathan and Josh grabbed an hour together in Josh's RV after one of his teaching sessions. They discussed everything from Josh's Da Vinci Code resources to evangelism and the Emergent Church. Sit back and relax as we eavesdrop into their conversation.

JONATHAN: You've just written a resource about Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code that we can put in the hands of our teenagers. The timing is perfect because Ron Howard's movie The Da Vinci Code is probably going to be fantastic and questions are going to surface... more than we've already seen from the book.

You've always been good at providing answers to tough questions. Name it: More than a Carpenter, Evidence that Demands a Verdict, Answers to Tough Questions... Your research and your books have always been a valuable resource to youth workers, especially for people who have questions or doubts. What started you down the road of answering the questions of skeptics? That's kind of a unique ministry.

JOSH: I have always done that. I've always lived in the skeptic's world: universities, high schools... my whole life. That's where I got started.

JONATHAN: Did you have these doubts growing up or were you surrounded by people with doubts...?

JOSH: I wrote about this in More Than A Carpenter. I set out to write the book Evidence Demands a Verdict against Christianity, because I felt Christians had two brains. One was lost and one was out looking for it. I thought Christians were walking idiots.

I thought the Bible was written years after the time of Christ and full of myths, legend and fiction. I met these Christians whose lives were different and I said, "Why are you so different?" And they said, "Jesus Christ." I just laughed at them. But they challenged me to intellectually examine it. So I did it to refute them. And in the process I became a Christian.

Then I spent 13 years documenting why, which became Evidence Demands a Verdict... which was selected as one of the 100 most influential books of the last century. Out of that came then More Than A Carpenter. I did More Than A Carpenter in 48 hours. I just sat down with 12 legal pads, just like this (holding up a yellow legal pad) and just started writing. I never went to bed, never went to sleep or anything.

JONATHAN: Talk about your all-nighter!

JOSH: And more teenagers are reading it now than ever before. This just blows my mind. There are more teenagers seeking, quote "truth" right now than I've ever seen in 45 years of ministry.

I've always dealt with skeptics and I like to deal with cultural issues that potentially surface the truth. And this is why The Da Vinci Code is an ideal opportunity. I believe that The Da Vinci Code can be one of the most positive platforms that the church has had in 100 years to make truth known if we do it positively, winsomely and wholesomely. We don't dare to attack it, because that would be like attacking Ron Howard and Tom Hanks and it will backfire.

JONATHAN: Like The Last Temptation of Christ?

JOSH: Yeah. It is so easy and yet it's amazing. I mean the negative impact The Da Vinci Code has had on people's faith is staggering. And they just printed 5,000,000 of the paperback because they said the ground swell is so great towards the movie that they are going to do one of the biggest printings in history... five million copies over night.

JONATHAN: You said the book is having a negative impact on people's faith. Have you seen this?

JOSH: It's taking nominal believers—which make up to 90% of the church—and turning them into skeptics. It's taking honest seekers and turning them away. Because what it does is, it reinforces your skepticism.


JOSH: It's like when the young man said to Jesus, "I believe. Help me in my own belief." Well, what The DaVinci Code is doing is adding to that unbelief. And the reason is, only about 5% of it is true. But Dan Brown does a masterful job of mixing truth with imagination and you never know where one leaves off. And it's smart of him. I commend him for it. I mean it's brilliant.

But the problem is you can't answer these issues by quoting your Bible. You've got to know church history. And with all my background and everything, nine months ago, I couldn't have answered it. I had to do my homework. But then I thought, oh my gosh, the answers are so simple and overwhelming and encouraging.

JONATHAN: Do you think the book is growingly popular because it's a really good book ...or do you think that part of its popularity is because it's giving people an excuse to say, "Ah ha! See! I knew that Bible stuff was all bogus!"

JOSH: You just answered it. It's very popular because it's a real good book that reinforces your skepticism. At a university, this student came up to me—and this is happening all over—and said that he was assigned in Western Civilization to read The DaVinci Code and see how corrupt Christianity is.

JONATHAN: (Laughing) I guess it didn't register to them when they grabbed it off the shelf in the "Fiction" section of the university library.

JOSH: That's right. A father called me in Phoenix and said, "My daughter, 16 years old in high school here, was just given a mandatory assignment-she must read The DaVinci Code to see how religion lies."

One pastor came to me—it's been about 6 weeks now—and he said to me, "Josh, I lost two of my closest friends in my congregation to The DaVinci Code."

JONATHAN: That'd be like an American History class assigning Oliver Stone's "JFK" to find out the truth about the Kennedy Assassination.

JOSH: That's right. That's right.

JONATHAN: Assuming it is fact.

JOSH: Which makes you realize how many read The Da Vinci Code and think it's factual. But see what it does? It reinforces your skepticism to not believe.

JONATHAN: And this new generation of young people...well... let's talk about that for a second. and then we'll get back to The Da Vinci Code because I'm excited about some of the resources you have for us. But everybody has their theory on the characteristics of each generation. We've got Baby Boomers, and we have Generation X and Generation Y. Some people call this new generation of young people Millennials, or Generation @... or recently The MySpace Generation. What are the characteristics that you notice of this new generation, and what makes them vulnerable to this kind of skepticism reinforced?

JOSH: I think this generation will be best described in two words: "Whatever" and "Abandoned."

JONATHAN: Okay... Elaborate on that.

JOSH: We've never had a generation that, as a whole, feels like they have been abandoned by adults. Not just so much because of divorce and broken homes, but emotionally abandoned. And... do you know Chap Clark?

JONATHAN: Yep. Great guy. In touch with teenagers today.

JOSH: His book confirmed that. He said if one word described what kids feel, it would be abandonment...

JONATHAN: Hurt? mean his new book, Hurt: Inside the World of Today's Teenagers.

JOSH: Yes. It would be abandonment. The hurt comes out of that sense of abandonment and they project that right upon God. But it's also, "Whatever."

My son Sean is the head of the Bible department and teaches at Capistrano Valley Christian School.

I said "Son, what is your greatest obstacle to anyone believing truth today or wanting to learn?" He said, "Oh Dad, that's easy." He said, "Whatever." Whatever!

His new book just came out. It's called Ethix: Being Bold in a Whatever World. Oh it's powerful. It's on the 10 top ethical issues a kid would face today.

JONATHAN: Anyway...I like that—"Whatever."

JOSH: Yeah, "Whatever." That's how you describe it.

JONATHAN: So what reaches this new generation... this "Whatever" generation?

JOSH: It's very simple...integrity, authenticity. If they don't see it in your life, forget it, forget it. It doesn't matter how good you are. That's what I spoke on today the whole two hours. If they don't see it in your life, forget it.

JONATHAN: They want to see something real.

JOSH: They have to. Here's why. To you and me, if it's true, it will work. For kids, if it works, it's true...180 degrees opposite!

I have four kids and I am so fortunate. My 19 year old daughter is a first year student at Biola. She wrote me a note a few days ago and she left it on my table at a conference. She said, "Dad when I was little, I always hoped that Jesus was just like you."

JONATHAN: Wow. That's cool.

JOSH: So why was it easy to get my daughter to fall in love with Jesus? Cause she fell in love with me.

JONATHAN: She saw Him in you.

I find it interesting that you say "authenticity and integrity" reaches them. It's funny; kids have their own words for that. One of the pages on our web site that draws the biggest hits is our slang dictionary page... so youth workers can understand what kids are talking about today. Kids have words for people that say they are one thing and live something else. They use words like "perpetrator" and "poser." They also use the term "fronting" if you're acting like one thing but really you are something else. If you're "posing," you might be acting like a gang member, but really you're a "wanna-be." So in some circles, kids recognize a fake. Authenticity at least "seems" important to them.

JOSH: And here's the problem: most of them are fakes themselves. They really are. This generation is not committed to relationships. And I hear youth workers say, "Oh, they're committed to relationships." They're not committed to relationships. They're committed to themselves. Not much different than 40 years ago but that self has manifested different ways.

JONATHAN: Committed to themselves... I won't argue with that.

But Josh... let's talk about your comment "not committed to relationships." I don't know if I'd say kids are committed to relationships, but I definitely think relationships are very important to teenagers today. And the church has moved in that direction—especially the "Emergent Church."

You've always been a leader in the field of apologetics. How do you feel about the "Emergent Church" and the focus on the relational? Is there a balance between apologetics and the importance of relationships?

JOSH: Some of those emergent guys have claimed that my Evidence Demands a Verdict doesn't care about relationships"...well they couldn't have read any of my stuff. From the word go, I proposed modernism before these guys were even born.

Right up front in Evidence Demands a Verdict I start out, "the greatest defense of Christianity is not all the evidence." None of that ever brought me to Christ. It'll never bring anyone to Christ.

I do not believe evidence is the key. I don't think evidence, rationale... will bring anyone to Christ. It's unbiblical and it doesn't work. Many people say in football the best offense is a good defense. But I say, when it comes to Christianity, that the best defense is a good offense. A simple clear presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit backed up by a lifestyle.

That is the greatest defense, I don't care what Dan Kimball or Brian McLaren or anyone else says. That is the number one defense of truth..."backed up by a lifestyle." All truth in scriptures is relational.

These emergent guys don't listen to me. They go out and they make all these statements about me which are untrue. Biblical truth is not one dimensional. This is why I butt heads with so many of the apologists out there. It's not cognitive.

There are three dimensions to biblical truth and two of them are relational. I call it relational apologetics--relational with a little "2"-- to the second power. You take the incarnation, three dimensions of it:
  1. How does that truth affect you? (Not in relationships with others, that is secondary. And this is where the emerging church needs to understand that. That is all secondary.) The first relational aspect of truth is "How does that truth affect you in relationship with the truth giver?"
  2. Is it credible?
  3. How does that truth affect you in relationship with others? You see, all truth from Genesis to Revelations is relational. Jesus nailed that when he said, "I am the truth." This is why when Jesus said, you will know they are my disciples, not by the truth they believe, not by all the evidential or biblical arguments they have, no, if they love one another. Why—truth is lived out relationally if it's truth.

If young people today don't see that truth lived out relationally, they'll walk away. And they should. And they should. It's relational. But see, here's the thing: if you take most apologists... the older generation... if you can show the incarnation is credible, it's true, but you can't show it's relationally relevant... they'll walk away. But if you can do like the emerging church, you can show it's relationally relevant but you can't show it's true ...then you have much of what we have today. Our church kids are living new age and calling it biblical Christianity. It's not modernism, it's not post modernism, it's not truth and it's not experience. The biblical side is truth in the context of experience. And both post modernism and modernism is wrong. It's neither modernism and it's neither modern. It is truth in the context of relationships and experience. And both sides better start learning from that because we are suffering in the body of Christ right now.

JONATHAN: And you can't have one with out the other... truth and relationships.

JOSH: You shouldn't have one. You can... Oh, look we've had apologists out there for years... cognitive, cognitive, cognitive, just show the evidence use the evidence to...

JONATHAN: ...try to argue 'em into the kingdom. Yeah.

JOSH: It won't work! You will win them into the kingdom, first of all, by how you live, and second of all, you've got to present the truth.

See. It blows my mind that More Than A Carpenter is so popular among kids today and selling more than I would have ever dreamed of. Why? They sincerely want to know truth, but they want to know you care. And they've got to see that that truth is relevant in relationship with the truth giver and with others.

JONATHAN: I hear you.

JOSH: Jonathan, learn one thing in your own ministry, this is not always true, but most the time it is. "That which is balanced is that which is biblical. And that which is biblical is that which is balanced." Every single heresy or occult is a truth, unbalanced.

The modern church was a truth but it was out of balance. The post modern church is a truth but it is out of balance. We always swing modernism... I tell you this, you take the 10 top guys promoting quote, "the post modern, emerging church" today... put them back when modernism came out on the scene in reaction to pietism, and I guarantee you they would have been leading the church into modernism. Why? It was rebelling, it was reacting. The same people that are reacting to modernism today would be the same ones reacting to the other with modernism. They would be the leaders of modernism. Look, history is full of that. And what do we do? We always get out of balance. Youth ministries get out of balance. Here, modernism came out way over here, out of balance—truth, reason, rationale, evidence. What and then we have a reaction to that, way over here with postmodernism—feeling, emotion, experience—out of balance; where biblically, it is truth, but in the context of experience. It's balance. And we've gotten out. And the whole history of the church has swung way over here, swung way over here and youth pastors do that. They will go and they'll read this book and something else and they'll go way over here and this will be where the youth ministry is gonna be...usually when they do that they are unbiblical. They are out of balance. And the one thing I have learned in my life is, "That which is balanced is that which is biblical." And "That which is biblical is that which is balanced."

JONATHAN: Greg Stier and I had a similar conversation about balance when he interviewed me about my book Do They Run When They See You Coming. The whole thing we talked about was the balance in evangelism. The balance between just making conversions vs. lifestyle evangelism.

JOSH: They're both out of balance.

JONATHAN: I agree...

JOSH: See, I believe in lifestyle evangelism. But you've got to understand, in biblical lifestyle, evangelism is the message spoken. Not just lived.

JONATHAN: Well, lifestyle evangelism creates opportunities to share.

JOSH: Evangelism... people say evangelism is conversion. No, evangelism is conversion, discipleship, growth, maturity. For example. I learned this from Bill Bright. Bill was telling somebody from the Navigators... he asked "What is your thrust in ministry? The person responded, "Oh, discipleship. We want to disciple people." And Bill said, "Well, what about evangelism?" The guy responds, "Oh we don't do that, we disciple." Bill said, "You can't have discipleship without evangelism." Another time he was talking to a Crusade staff member, and he asked, "What really drives you?" The person responded, "Evangelism." Bill asked, "What about discipleship?" The person responded, "Well, I just want to win them to Christ." Bill says, "You can't have evangelism without discipleship." Do you see how each one goes to the extreme?

Your life will not win them to Jesus, they have got to hear the message. It's the two together. It's not either/or.

JONATHAN: So put feet to that. I don't care what you call it... emergent or balanced, modern or post modern... how does that help me reach my 33 year old, single \mother neighbor down the street?

JOSH: Well, very simple. If that 33 year old mother down the street doesn't see that in my life... in my relationship with my wife and my children, in the way I treat my wife... kiss her goodbye! But if she hears the message from me—"You need to come to Jesus and repent!" – but doesn't see it in my life, she'll walk away. She needs so see it lived out and spoken. It's not either/or. Because eventually she would come back and say, "Well Jonathan, if you really believed this was true, why didn't you tell me?"

JONATHAN: Good answer.

JOSH: (re-emphasizing) Why didn't you tell me?

JONATHAN: You always keep pretty current with youth culture... which is pretty good for a grandpa. How does Grandpa McDowell keep current with little whipper-snappers today?

JOSH: Very simple. First of all I read what kids read and I listen to what kids listen to. I interact with them. My whole ministry for years is based on what I call focus groups. I just had two down in San Diego. I bring kids together, I get them in a circle and I start interacting with them, listening to them, probing. I learn things that most youth pastors never learn from their own youth group. I can learn it in one hour where they couldn't learn it in one year.

JONATHAN: Why, what is the difference?

JOSH: Asking the right questions.

JONATHAN: So what questions do you use in a focus group?

JOSH: Well, it always varies according to what you're probing for. Like, in this last group I probed, I said, "What is one word that you would use to describe your generation—what's one word?" Then I asked about walking away from the church. Some say that within 12 months 85% of kids are walking away from the church. I ask them, "Why do you think they're walking away?" And then listen. Then I ask, "Do you believe Jesus, do you believe the Bible is true?" Yeah. "Do you believe it's historically accurate?" Yeah. "Do you believe it's reliable?" Yeah. "Why?" (pause)

JONATHAN: (interjecting) Cause my mom told me.

JOSH: Yeah. So often it's asking the right questions. And it's often not asking cognitive questions, but, "Jonathan, how does that make you feel?" Not, "Jonathan what do you think about that?" Well it makes me mad. Or I don't like it. But, "Jonathan, how does that make you feel? What hurts?" ... and now you're down where the kid lives. It's asking the right questions.

JONATHAN: Now do you just do these focus groups with church kids or do you do them with unchurched kids too?

JOSH: Oh, no. Every type... different races, everything.

JONATHAN: When you get a group of church youth group kids, versus... let's say... some unchurched Young Life kids. What are the main differences you see?

JOSH: Very little difference. There is hardly any difference now between, quote "born again" Christian kids and secular kids.

JONATHAN: Because they are both on MTV and MySpace, hearing the same stuff and getting it fed into their head.

JOSH: That's why I have a book called The Last Christian Generation. It's not the kids, it's the parents. And it's not America, it's the church.

JONATHAN: You, in that book, address why an entire generation is not returning to the church. So give us the skinny—why aren't they coming back to the church?

JOSH: Church has not been relevant to them. The truth has not been presented in a way that they can understand. It's basically been presented cognitively, not relationally.

Secondly...the parents. Researchers show, that parents probably have a 300% greater impact on a kids theological beliefs than a pastor or youth pastor has. It should be that way too. And young people today—their beliefs seem to be a reflection of their parents'.

To most adults—you discover truth. In youth culture—you create truth. To adults, if it's true it will work. To youth, if it works, it is true. 89%, in the latest study, 89% of born-again, evangelical fundamental church kids will say the only way you'll know something is true is "if it works." Not if it's biblical, "if it works."

JONATHAN: If it feels right?

JOSH: Well, yes...that's working. See that's actually what the phrase means when a young person will say, "Well, it might be true for you but it's not true for me."


JOSH: But that's your truth. What they really mean by that culturally is nothing cognitive. It means this, "Well if you believe that, it's affected you, giving you a good feeling... then it's true for you. If it hasn't affected me, it's not true."

JONATHAN: I always word it, "what their gut tells them."

JOSH: Well, we're talking about the same thing. Yeah, what their gut tells them: their feeling, their emotion, which usually has nothing to do with truth except that which they feel.


JOSH: That's why hypocrisy plays a greater negative role now in a kid's life than ever before. I don't even think most youth pastors realize that. Because almost every youth pastor and every adult in this church right here... when they see hypocrisy their immediate response is, "They are not living the truth." A kid today sees hypocrisy through mom, dad or whoever, and says, "It's not true."

JONATHAN: That's a big difference.

JOSH: Oh, it's a big difference. And also have you read Barna's book, Revolution? He's kind of given up on the church...he really has. Barna said something in there that I have found to be true and it has been one of the things that's motivated me, and probably one of the things that separates me from a lot of apologists out there with kids. Barna said that the problem today is not with absolute truth, the problem is that we don't motivate people to want to know the truth.


JOSH: And that's the issue. The church is not motivating young people today to want to know the truth.

JONATHAN: But does this "Whatever" generation really even care about the truth?

JOSH: If you motivate them they do, but you've got to motivate them.

JONATHAN: But if you've got a group of kids from the "Whatever" generation who seem like they aren't interested in truth... don't you think that's where the emergent church bends towards the relational side? Because when we encounter these people we think, "Oh, they don't care as much about the truth as they care about that authentic relationship."

JOSH: But you see, one of the problems is that the quote "modern side" of the church has reacted to the emerging church. And, let me tell ya, the emerging church has so much to offer. Unbelievable. It's a healthy emphasis on the experience, the relationship, the feeling.


JOSH: But the problem is, they are getting too out of balance.

JONATHAN: The pendulum is swinging too far?

JOSH: That's right. Now yet you read some of the things Dan Kimball writes and you wonder if he is a Josh McDowell. My son just wrote an article, just printed this month, it came out in The YouthWorkers Journal—on truth. Boy is it good, you've got to read it—it is powerful! And he does a couple of quotes in there from Dan Kimball that are, whew, powerful. Saying if we don't bring our kids to the point of believing that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that the Bible is true... then we have failed. And wow!

JONATHAN: And you're finally agreeing with them.

JOSH: You better believe it. And I think Dan would agree with this, you've got to motivate them to want to know that.

And that's probably what makes me different from a lot of people out there—I motivate kids to want to know the truth.

JONATHAN: And sometimes, opportunities like The Da Vinci Code might catalyst an open door to talk with kids about this.

Let's talk a little about The Da Vinci Code. The film is coming out. Ron Howard is directing it and Tom Hanks is in the lead role. The film is based on the best selling book. I'm curious of your opinion of the book. What was your first reaction when you read Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code?

JOSH: "One phenomenal novel"...and "How much of it is truth?"

JONATHAN: So did it make you want to look into it?

JOSH: Well, because I am an apologist...I have such a quest and search for truth. It made me want to say, "What part of it is true?" I couldn't have answered it then.

JONATHAN: So you wanted to start digging and finding some answers? Is that what motivated you? Because you thought, "People are going to want answers when they hear this story?"

JOSH: No, I wasn't planning on doing anything. But I had so many kids and youth pastors, pastors, parents, people just... and they hit me all in like a full week period saying, "Josh have you read this?" "Well, what do you think about it?" "Do you have anything out on it? It's shaken my faith." That's one of the biggest things I've heard. "It's shaken my faith."

JONATHAN: And now I heard you say that it's the biggest thing in the last century.

JOSH: It can be, because the movie will be 100 times more explosive than the book, because you visualize it. You feel it, the emotions...

JONATHAN: And it's not being done by some schmuck... I mean...

JOSH: Oh, I know.

JONATHAN: This is being done by Ron!

JOSH: Dan Brown said, he's already seen it. And he said when people walk out they're going to be shocked! SONY pictures went to Ron Howard to get him to soften some of the areas on the Bible, and Jesus, and Christians. And Ron Howard's response was, "There will be no placating."

And so, there are a lot of good books out there. There are! But one: they're too scholarly. And two: they are too expensive.

JONATHAN: Money is definitely a factor...

JOSH: They ARE too expensive. And so pastors kept saying, "Well Josh, we want to know! And we were brought up on you. Our commitment to truth has been so much because of your influence in our lives over the years. We want to know what you have to say." So at that point I said, "Then I'll do it."

JONATHAN: So you did.

JOSH: But then I said I'll only do it if I can do it on the 8th grade level. Where everyone can understand it. And I'll do it in dialogue.

JONATHAN: What level is More Than a Carpenter at?

JOSH: More Than A Carpenter ...I would say would be a 10th grade level.

JONATHAN: Okay. I assume you've read Darrell Bock's Breaking the Da Vinci Code? He seemed to think that there's this conscious agenda at work in The Da Vinci Code. In other words, he said there's this agenda to redefine or revise the history of the early Christianity. Does that sound a little "conspiracy theory" to you? I mean, do you think that there's possibly this conscious agenda to do that?

JOSH: Yeah. On NBC, Matt Lauer asked Dan Brown, "If you wrote the book all over again as a non-fiction book, what would you change?" And his response was, "Absolutely nothing." He said the same thing on ABC.

JONATHAN: Basically, he let people in on the fact that, "Yeah, this is exactly what I think is the truth."

JOSH: This should be a challenge to Christians. We don't need to criticize him for it. Instead of dumbing-down someone else, let's elevate the believer.

This is a chance for youth pastors. And the thing is, a youth pastor doesn't have to be very smart to turn this into a positive. If they don't take any other book but just my A Quest for Answers and use it with their kids... they can take their kids from here (holding his hand out chest level), up to here (holding it higher).

Here is an ultra opportunity to help our kids to be able to discern between truth and imagination, between fact and fiction, between hoax and history. You see, most kids can't think that through. And in today's culture, all truth is personal. So it doesn't matter what you believe, if you believe it, it's true. And this is why many walk away and say, "It doesn't matter what the facts show it is, it's true!" Why? Dan Brown believes it. I just think he is being brilliant... to sell books. I do. And I commend him for that.

JONATHAN: Isn't he—in a way—kind of doing the Josh McDowell testimony? Isn't he saying that "I set out to write this book on the subject, and then in my research..." he had this religious experience of discovering the truth?

JOSH: But the difference is, I think I had a little more integrity.

This is what I mean. This is in the book. "In 325 A.D. the council of Nicaea, in a relatively close vote, established that Jesus was deity. Until then Jesus was viewed by his followers as a mortal prophet."

JONATHAN: That's one of the huge issues. That's the one that Bock said was the most ridiculous...

JOSH: The "close vote" at Nicea was 300 to 2. And it had nothing to do with Jesus' deity.

JONATHAN: I always find that interesting when someone claims that Jesus wasn't deity. Isn't that why they killed him? I mean...

JOSH: That's right. But anybody reading this, if they don't understand that in history, they'll go, "Wow! They have held the truth from me!" But any youth pastor without a brain in his head can expose that.

JONATHAN: Well most of us youth pastors don't have brains, so where would we go to find...

JOSH: They have brains. They just don't have training and experience.

JONATHAN: (sigh) So where could the common, "untrained and inexperienced" person who can't do in a year what you could do in an hour find this information?

JOSH: Right there, in my book.

JONATHAN: Good. But where could they find the documented...

JOSH: Right there (pointing to his book). It's all documented. See, I even document Dan's source.

JONATHAN: But Josh, when our friends are asking us crazy questions about the first century church, and we ask them where they got that from... couldn't they just say, "Well it's right here. It's in Dan Brown's book." But now we're supposed to just respond, "It's right here. It's in Josh McDowell's book."

JOSH: But I document it all.

JONATHAN: Okay. So if someone wanted, they could go into the library and find it from other authentic sources.

JOSH: You've read my books. Everything I do, I document. You don't have to take my word for it.

JONATHAN: I know. That's why we like you, because then you do all the work for us...

JOSH: That's right. That's right.

JONATHAN: Is anything that Dan Brown did in his book different from what Scorsese did with The Last Temptation of Christ back in '88?

JOSH: Yeah. Brown went into more detail.


JOSH: Alleged detail. Oh, yeah. A lot more detail. You see, what he did was write down how many panes of glass—and even there he was wrong—how many panes of glass and the significance of them in the pyramid at the museum. Well, see, when you get into detail then people are thinking, "Oh boy..."

JONATHAN: (finishing Josh's sentence) He really knows his stuff because he's so detailed.

JOSH: Yeah. And even then he was wrong! That's the subtle way he influences people. This is why sometimes I do this in my presentations. I'll say, "Well he said this on page 82, paragraph three, third line where it says..." And all of the sudden people go, "Oh wow!" And I could be lying and they will believe it's the truth.

JONATHAN: That kind of details hints toward knowledge of the subject.

JOSH: Yes. That's what Dan Brown does. And then look at this. They talk about "The Last Supper" and say, "This is Mary Magdalene." Well, have you ever counted? I've seen it many times right there in Milan. There's only Jesus and twelve others. And if that's Mary, where's John? Where's John? Nobody ever asks that question. You'd have to have thirteen. Are you telling me that Da Vinci did and left out the most beloved disciple to Jesus, John, out? And nobody even thinks that. No one sees how simple it is. Even a youth pastor can do that.

JONATHAN: Uh... there it is again. "Even us youth pastors..." (pause) I'm not even going to address that. MOVING ON! How could Christians respond to this Da Vinci "hype" without looking like idiots?

JOSH: Oh, that's easy. Do your homework... and I make it easy for you. And I think Lee Strobel (author of Exploring the Da Vinci Code: Investigating the Issues Raised by the Book & Movie) makes it easy for you. I think Erwin Lutzer (author of The Da Vinci Deception) has made it easy. I would get three or four of the different books out there for yourself. But of all of them out there, I would use mine to give to others.


JOSH: I would use this one (laughing and lifting up his The Quest for Answers)... it's so much cheaper than any of the others to give away. And second: it's in dialogue. I have put together a team, and the Holy Spirit did something, every person that reads it says, "Josh this is the best resource you've ever done."

JONATHAN: And it's not like you have only done a couple resources.

JOSH: That's right. (laughs) It's all documented, but it's in dialogue between two university students, a graduate student, and a professor. It's positive, it's winsome and it's wholesome. What we've done, Jonathan, I wanted to get down to $1 a book and I couldn't. We got it down to $1.27 a book. Even the cover cost $8,000 bucks. Because I wanted something that every Christian would be proud of.


JOSH: Top quality paper, every thing. So we got it down to 36 books in a carton for $58 dollars, but $13 dollars of that is shipping.


JOSH: And so it's 36 books for $45 and we include my new book "The Last Christian Generation." And there are some flyers in it, magazines... which should take it down to about a dollar a book.

JONATHAN: What if a youth worker says, "I just want one book?" Can they just grab just one?

JOSH: $3.95

JONATHAN: Perfect. And you also have a...

JOSH: Oh, we have a magazine. A sixteen page magazine...

JONATHAN: And that's the resource for... seekers?

JOSH: We have got a three part study on it that youth pastors can use. I've done all the work for them. You can get it all at

JONATHAN: That's something that Gen X can appreciate. "Someone else did the homework." We're just going to copy your homework after you made all those comments about us!

JOSH: If you quote one person they say you are plagiarizing, if you quote many, they say you are a scholar.

JONATHAN: Absolutely.

JOSH: (Laughing)

JONATHAN: Okay. So I have one last question for you. Any old school youth worker like me, we all have the exact same question. And that is: "Petra! You toured with Petra. What were you thinking?"

JOSH: I didn't tour with Petra. They toured with me.

JONATHAN: (Laughing) That's a really good answer to that question... Well, Josh, I totally appreciate your time.

JOSH: No, I appreciate you. I've known a little bit of you, but this was good. I've heard from Greg (Dare2Share) and others, and they seem to like your candor very much.

JONATHAN: That just means my foot is usually in my mouth!


For any of these other books
referenced in this interview...
Just click on them below:

More than a Carpenter, by Josh McDowell
Evidence that Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell
Answers to Tough Questions, by Josh McDowell
Hurt: Inside the World of Today's Teenagers, by Chap Clark
Ethix: Being Bold in a Whatever World, by Sean McDowell
Do They Run When They See You Coming, by Jonathan McKee
The Last Christian Generation, by Josh McDowell
Revolution, by George Barna
Breaking the Da Vinci Code, by Darrell L. Bock
Exploring the Da Vinci Code: Investigating the Issues Raised by the Book & Movie, by Lee Strobel
The Da Vinci Deception, by Erwin Lutzer
The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown


click here for more

© 1999-2017 The Source for Youth Ministries           Site Disclaimer