This Brief Biog
Dr. Johnson C. Philip is a Christian apologist. He was born 1954-04-03 in Kerala, India, and raised in Kerala, Chennai, Kota (Rajasthan) and Gwalior.
Philip developed an interest in books, science and evolution in particular. However, as he studied evolution, he thought it difficult to resolve many of the evolutionary theories and explanation with empirical observations. He developed an interest in creation science, and since devoted his efforts to Christian apologetics and creationism.
Johnson C. Philip authored more than 100 books and 10,000 articles on various subjects, including the defense of the Christian faith. He also founded the first seminary in the world that offers masters and doctoral programs in Christian apologetics through distance education. Known as Trinity School of Apologetics and Theology, it has trained a number of key apologists worldwide.
His degrees include:
BSc, Physics, 1976
MSc, Physics, 1978
PhD, Physics, 1991
DSc, Alternative medicine, 2003
Since 1971 he has been a prolific writer, and has published more than 100 books and 10,000 articles in 6 languages in the fields of theology, apologetics, counseling, and communication. He has also published several research papers in apologetics and information technology as applied to information technology in India.
He was raised up in a small but active evangelical and separatist denomination best identified as the Plymouth Brethren.
In 1989 he joined Brethren Bible School, Pathanamthitta, India as a lecturer, teaching apologetics, theology, communication and counseling. In 1994 he was made the Academic Dean and in 1995 the Vice Principal Cum Academic Dean. From 1999 to 2002 when the Principal was away on a Sabbatical, he became the full principal. In 2003 he accepted the invitation from a visionaries to become the Founding-Principal of Rehoboth Theological Institute in Trichur, India. RTI was launched on 2 June 2002, where he served up to 21 June 2005. In 2011 he was invited to become the Founding Principal of the Brethren Theological College, a position in which he continues as of today.
Over the years from 1970 to 2005 he founded a number of institutions, secular as well as theological institutions with an emphasis on education and research. The first one of these was the Creation Research and Apologetics Society (CRASI) founded in 1971. The initial work of CRASI was to give lectures in creationism and apologetics. Then in 1982 CRASI started the publication of Science and Faith, an undated periodical. In 1990 he started Philip Communication, a distance education school to train Christian print media communicators. In 1996 he and some of his students started the Calvin Research Group to function as an umbrella for all the present and future ministries initiated by Philip.
He made notable contributions in several fields, such as education, information technology, and Alternative Medicine. He also played a key role among the conservatives in the Brethren Assemblies. He was the joint writer of the first Systematic Theology in and Christian Apologetics in the Malayalam language. He was also the Chief Editor of a 4-volume Bible Encyclopedia, and a one-volume Encyclopedia of Theology, both a first in the Malayalam language.
During Philip’s student days he was curious to know about every subject in as much detail as possible, but this led to trouble with many teachers who did not wish to take pains answer him, or who did not know these subjects in depth.
Philip had a great love for books, but his parents could not afford to buy enough books to keep up with the pace of his reading. He approached many in his church who had access to vast libraries in their institutions, but none of them obliged. For them it was sheer waste of time for a young person to read on a wide range of subjects. Others simply did not understand why a young person should be so much interested in books.
Help came when a Canadian missionary Edward Schroeder and his wife Helen recognized Philip’s thirst for books. They opened their large private library to him. The library rich and varied in collection for the first time put him in touch with the wide world of knowledge. They also allowed him to read books from their Christian Book Shop. By the time he completed his eighth standard in school, he finished reading all the Hindi language books in the bookshop. Up to this time he had studied in Hindi medium, so he did not have easy access to English books.
At the prompting of Helen, Philip started reading the more easy books from their English collection, and this became another milestone in his life. Helen saw to it that he reads all the key books in their library. Since he was not fluent in English, she gave a summary of such books before and after he read, with the intention of training him. The strategy paid rich dividend, and soon he was reading books on par with his college professors. Often they would be amazed at the way he was able to engage them in discussion on subjects which they felt was much beyond a college student. This in turn earned him the respect of the faculty whether it be the Government Science College in Gwalior or in the School of Advanced Studies and Research in Physics, Jiwaji University.
When Philip joined MSc in Physics, his professors and seniors were at first taken back by the way he talked on any subject with ease. Soon they realized that it was his real self, and not a pretender in him. They were thrilled to have a student of such disposition and intellectual background, and encouraged him every day to pursue knowledge.
Philip was full of curiosity, and this only increased with the encouragement of two of his professors: Dr. Ramji Srivastava and Dr. KG Bansigir. They encouraged him to ask all kinds of questions, but responded to each question only with suggestions for investigation. They wished him to do his own exploration, and would offer an answer only if his investigations did not produce results. This approach assured that he became an authority on fundamental Physics in the initial two years that he spent under them.He used to confer frequently with his Physics professors, and the discussion often touched the whole range of knowledge from Physics to Philosophy. Since this was also a time when he was formulating his Integrated Apologetics, Philip used them as sounding-board to see if his ideas would stand the test of rigorous science.
None of his Physics professors were Christians, and some were not even theists. This ensured an atmosphere of objective testing for his ideas. Meanwhile the expansion of the department brought a large number of faculty, and he was able to interact with all of them. He remained there variously as a student, a researcher, and a UGC (University Grants Commission of India) Visiting Professor from 1976 to 1994. His access to the vast departmental libraries, the central library, and the intellectual atmosphere further helped him shape his apologetics. Professor YM Gupta, the last person under whom he taught there, even invited him to speak on Bible and Science in the local chapter of the Indian Physics Association. The rigorous question-answer session with researchers and professors from numerous colleges that functioned under the Jiwaji University further helped him to refine and consolidate his stand and approach on Integrated Christian Apologetics.
Professional Contribution And Involvement
He is a voting life member of the Creation Research Society. He is also a voting life member of Indian Physics Association, Indian Association of Physics Teachers, and numerous other professional societies in India and abroad.
Nothing other than mainframe computers were available during his M.Sc. studies and therefore from scratch he fabricated an analog computer for the University physics department and it was able to solve second order differential equations in real time. It was manually programmable to represent a wide variety of differential equations. Present-day digital computers were not available at that time. The corresponding handbook he produced entitled “IC Analog Computers” was used by students of School of Advanced Studies in Physics, Jiwaji University in India for a quarter of a century as a reference work. He produced many other key documents which were also used by students and teachers there, and also in other colleges.
For his PhD he worked initially on the “Changing Fundamental Constants And The Age Of The Universe”, encouraged by the work of Glenn Morton and Barry Setterfield. He felt that such a work done in a secular University would be helpful for the creation movement. He was able to get many breakthroughs, but had to abandon the work after two years of research due to the prevailing hostility against this subject and its implications for Christians. He then moved on to Quantum Chromodynamics and worked for ten years on the Potential Model of Quarks. He finally came up with a model that explained the behavior of all hadrons on the basis of their quark constituents. He was granted PhD for this work with high praise by the examiners [similar to Summa Cum Laude]. While at the University, he also worked with researchers in metallic and semi-conductor thin-films,photo-electric materials, pure and mixed crystals, X-ray Crystallography, and microhardness. Both the students as well as faculty eagerly looked forward to his public lectures, often called “Seminars”. Several generations of University doctoral researchers were benefited by his participation in researches with them.
He took interest in many subjects, and electronics and computers were an area of great interest. He was one of the pioneers in computer education in Jiwaji University. Soon after Personal Computers became available, a team made up of him and others started one of India’s first masters courses in Computer Science. He also wrote a regular column for many years in the Information Technology magazine. He was also a frequent contributor to the PC Quest magazine. He has also contributed articles to Science Reporter, The Progress of Science (Hindi language). Several campus journals keep publishing his articles on cutting-edge technologies and current breakthroughs.
Development of integrated apologetics
While there are many schools of thought about the theory and practice of Christian Apologetics, Johnson C. Philip does not fall into any of those camps. On the contrary, with a background in all those schools of thought, he has developed a new approach of his own. It builds upon theology, apologetics, logic, and informed reasoning. Thus the corpus of apologetic works produced by him contain several topics that are not seen in any other writer in this field.
The style developed, perhaps, from the multiple influences he had during his growth and studies. Genetically he was a South Indian but culturally he was a North Indian, thus inheriting the best traits from both the cultures. The church he attended had at one time or other people from at least a dozen language groups and half a dozen nations. He freely mingled with them all, and all of them shared their customs, culture and other areas of interest and information with him. They often invited him to their homes, which would be a mini-replica of their own countries, exposing him to a wide horizon early in his life.
Exposure to this wide and heterogeneous circle ensured that he did not think from a straitjacket. His family encouraged him to think freely and openly and this also ensured that he would become an original thinker. As a consequence, he often challenged conventional ideas and practices. This was noticed first in the theology classrooms where he would firmly ask his professors to authenticate their statements. This was no easy thing to do in the authoritarian Indian theology schools. However his teachers quickly realized that he is inquisitive, and is not challenging their authority. This led to great rapport between him and his theology/philosophy teachers, who motivated him to go to highest levels of intellectual attainment.
They led him to the books of BB Warfield, Robert Dick Wilson, OT Allis, and other classical writers in Apologetics. His father introduced him to Strong, Hodge, and other writers in theology. A senior Brethren evangelist George David introduced classical philosophy and philosophers to him. Eventually he became acquainted with almost all living apologists of his time and entered into communication with them. He also became a voting member of the Creation Research Society and other Christian professional societies.
In 1970 Philip introduced the seminal version of his “Integrated” apologetic approach. This received a more mature expression in 1980 when he released his syllabus in Christian Apologetics. The approach was so novel that he received invitations worldwide to either teach Apologetics or to study for specialized courses. In 1981 he went to the Haggai Institute in Singapore to attend a training program in Christian Writing. There he presented the outlines of his Apologetics, and all his teachers urged him to develop it into a full system of Christian Defense. Taking this into his heart, he released an expanded and revised system that he called the Integrated Christian Apologetics.
For the next decade his students at Brethren Bible Institute and Stewards Bible College kept critiquing the syllabus and Philip kept revising it. In 1990 he released the final version of Integrated Theology in India and also in USA where he spoke for 6 months on this topic. He made further revisions in the light of critiques received during this trip and the refined Syllabus was released by the Philip Communication. Philip Communication is a distance school with students worldwide. Material related to Integrated Christian Apologetics were subsequently published in a massive book in the Malayalam language.
Integrated Christian Apologetics works on the premise that one embraces the Christian religion by an act of faith, howsoever small and howsoever unformed. Probably a seed faith or a seminal faith, which manifests itself perhaps only in terms of a spirit of inquiry and no other commitment to the Christian faith. Once this seed-faith is established, it can be shown with the help of one or more branches of Christian Apologetics that the Christian faith is not inconsistent with logic and the world of knowledge.
In 1994, Philip noticed the many doctrinal deviations current among the Kerala Brethren. These were the result of rejecting the key doctrine of Sola Scriptura, so he launched his campaign with stress on the doctrine that the Bible alone is the Holy Spirit inspired scripture. A large number of his students, Brethren family members, and fellow faculty members joined him in this campaign. At times the battle took many bitter turns, specially when his opponents came to name-calling. But his reiteration of Sola Scriptura finally brought good result and by 1998, the widespread compromise on this doctrine came to an end.
Philip then started writing widely in Brethren magazines on fundamental doctrines. These articles emphasized the fundamentals always embraced by the Brethren. This included doctrines like Bible Alone, Faith Alone, Grace alone, and Christ Alone.
Dr. Saneesh Cherian, one of his students, was always a part of this reform efforts. Since Philip was not fluent in the Malayalam language, Cherian translated all his articles. This is the language spoken by the largest segment of influential Indian Brethren. Cherian also translated many of his books.
Eventually they together formed the Brethren Research Group which published a series of booklets on individual fundamental doctrines.
Philip started speaking on Apologetic themes when he was in the ninth standard. In 1970 he started an apologetic ministry with the help of several young people in his church. This work kept growing and eventually became what was known as the Creation Research and Apologetics Society of India.
Creation Research and Apologetics Society of India worked through articles and lectures, and then started a Correspondence School. Known as Philip Communications, this school offered free courses in Bible, Science, and Apologetics. It also offered courses in Christian Journalism.
With the arrival of Internet, Philip Communication began offering courses to a wider group. Soon there was a demand for more advanced courses. Philip then started the Calvin School of Apologetics and Theology which offered masters level theology and apologetics courses through the net. Calvin School eventually gave birth to Trinity School of Apologetics and International Institute for Communication, Evangelism, and Teaching. Each of these schools has an international student body.
Philip lived, studied, worked, and settled in more than once place. Moreover he traveled to many countries, and used almost all forms of media available to him. Thus he influenced people over a large sphere. The education-related community, the Plymouth Brethren, and the Evangelical Christian community are the three groups whom he touched most.
He started teaching Physics in 1978. That was a time when few people opted to go into either Physics or Engineering. The rush was for Biology and Medicine. This created a shortage of good Physics teachers, and students felt trauma at the mention of Physics. Philip taught at Miss Hill School and the School of Advanced Studies in Physics at Jiwaji University at this time, and demonstrated that Physics can be exciting. He challenged his students to opt for teaching physics as a career and many embraced it. He also wrote numerous popular and semi-technical articles, and delivered numerous lectures, to popularize physics.
Plymouth Brethren have about 2200 churches in India, and are known as a zealous and separatist group. From 1970 onwards he became widely known among this group, and from 1974 onwards he was invited to speak on topics dealing with the defense of the Christian faith. By 1990 he was widely accepted as an authority on Heresy and other deviations in the Christian Church, and particularly the Brethren. This helped him to launch an effort for restoring the Indian Plymouth Brethren to their roots. He spoke against a number of practices and doctrines as not right for the Brethren. By 2000 his efforts succeeded, and the Brethren in general gave consent to go back to the four fundamentals of Bible Alone, Faith Alone, Grace Alone, Christ Alone. His influence also caused revelation-outside-Bible teachings to be abandoned. Thus from 1990 onwards he became an important voice towards conservatism among the Plymouth Brethren in India.
He became a published writer when he was in the fifth standard in school. By the time he was in the eighth standard he was getting published in national level science magazines such as Science Reporter. His teachers encouraged him to choose writing as his hobby. Dr. Kamal Vashishta, one of his teachers, and Vishal Mangalwadi, one of his mentors, played a key role in motivating him to become a writer.
During his masters studies in Physics he was mentored by Miss D. Gruber, an American missionary who at that time had a school for Indian Christian writers. This had a deep impact upon him, and he decided to make writing an important part of his ministry. Dr. George Samuel, another mentor, sent him in 1981 to the Haggai Institute in Singapore for advanced training in Christian writing. Senior journalism teachers from USA, Australia, South Korea, and other parts of the world trained and motivated him. This became a milestone in his life and he embarked upon the theme of “An article a day, come what may”. This discipline eventually led him to produce a very large corpus of writings in spite of his ill health.
The following are his important works in English and Indian languages:
- Does God Exist, Philip Communications, 1984
- Bible And Science, Philip Communications, 1984
- Evolution Or Creation, Philip Communications, 1984
- Introduction To Christian Apologetics, Philip Communications, 1985
- The Importance Of Christian Apologetics Philip Communications, 1985
- Classification Of Christian Apologetics, Philip Communications, 1985
- Historical Apologetics, Philip Communications, 1986
- The Canon Of The Bible, Philip Communications, 1986
- Revelation And The Pagans, Philip Communications, 1987
- Bible Difficulties, Philip Communications, 1987
- Errors of Bible Interpretation, Philip Communications, 1987
- Analysis Of Science, Philip Communications, 1987
- Logic And Fallacies, Philip Communications, 1988
- Resisting Propaganda Techniques, Philip Communications, 1988
- Resisting Mind Manipulation Techniques, Philip Communications, 1988
- Analysis of Debating Techniques, Philip Communications, 1988
- Formulation of Leading Questions, 1988
- Does God Exist [Malayalam language], Satyam Publications, 1993
- Bible And Science, Araba Publications, 1994
- The God of Peace [Editor, Malayalam language], SLS Publications, 1994
- Christian Family [Malayalam], GLS Publishers 1995
- Systematic Theology [Malayalam], SLS Publishers, 1997
- Cloning [Malayalam], SLS Publishers, 1997
- Cloning [English], Philip Communications, 1997
- Importance Of Biblical Archeology, CRG, 2005
- Biblical Archeology And Historical Apologetics, CRG, 2005
- Dating Techniques In Archeology I, CRG, 2005
- Dating Techniques In Archeology II, CRG, 2005
- Dating Techniques In Archeology III, CRG, 2005
- Justification By Faith [Malayalam], Indus Media, 2005
- Justification By Faith [English], Calvin Research Group, 2005
- How To Prepare To Become An Apologist, Calvin Research Group, 2006
- Introduction To Tools Of Integrated Apologetics, Calvin Research Group, 2006
- Things Which A Christian Apologist Should Avoid, Calvin Research Group, 2006
- What Is Right And What Is Wrong, Calvin Research Group, 2006
- If You Remain Silent On Moral Issues, Calvin Research Group, 2006