NICK EICHER, HOST: Coming up next, an excerpt from tomorrow’s Listening In.
This week, Warren Smith talks with former NFL linebacker Derwin Gray. After a six year career in pro football, Gray earned a degree from Southern Evangelical Seminary. Today he’s an apologist and pastor, leading one of the largest and most ethnically diverse evangelical churches in Charlotte, North Carolina.
DERWIN GRAY: When I became a follower of Jesus and the Holy Spirit opened my eyes and I developed a passion for theology in the Bible. My grandmother, who had a Jehovah’s Witness background and my Mormon family and friends—cause half of my wife’s family’s Mormon—they would tell my wife and I: “well, you guys are wrong.”
And so as a football player you studied a playbook to play good, I knew, well, if I had a playbook as a football player God must have a playbook and that’s the Bible. And so that’s what developed my heart for apologetics and theology is, it was survival. I had to know what I believed and why. And as we studied theology, we studied apologetics, both my wife and I began to grow in our faith. And one of the things that we noticed early, is that a lot of Christians didn’t know what they believed or why they believed it.
WARREN SMITH: And so, that birthed in you. Ultimately this strong love for apologetics and you ended up studying under Norman Geisler, sort of the grandfather of apologetics.
GRAY: Yeah, yeah, so in 1998 I came to the Carolina Panthers as a free agent. In 1999 my wife and I became a part of a local church and the pastor introduced me to Dr. Geisler and we sat down over lunch for like three or four hours, and I had read some of his work. And just connected with him and eventually I ended up getting my master’s from Southern Evangelical Seminary. And then I went on to get a doctorate in New Testament, from Northern Seminary in Chicago.
And so I view myself first and foremost as a disciple of Christ but also as a pastor, theologian, apologist. I believe that it’s important to equip the church to understand what they believe and why they believe it—not to win arguments, but to display love and be a part of the kingdom of God on earth.
EICHER: That’s Derwin Gray talking to Warren Smith. To hear the complete conversation, look for Listening In tomorrow wherever you get your podcasts.