FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – Jan. 1, 2014, brought not just a new year but a new home and position to Paul Gould, a recent addition to the faculty at Southwestern.
Spending the past 16 years serving with Campus Crusade for Christ (CRU), Gould now serves Southwestern as a professor of philosophy and Christian apologetics.
Born in Milwaukee, Wis., Gould came to know Christ as a college student through CRU, despite his initial doubts.
“I didn’t believe that stuff, but if it’s true then I missed the boat, is essentially what I believed,” Gould says.
Wanting to discover the truth, Gould began asking questions, reading about Christianity, and speaking with Christians. Finally, while reading the Bible while home from school, Gould realized the foolishness of unbelief.
“I knew in my mind that it was true,” Gould says.
Gould’s wife also became a Christian through CRU’s efforts, and they both became active in that ministry.
“We had a huge heart for college students, so it was a real natural fit to join staff with them when we graduated,” Gould says.
His first few years on staff with CRU, Gould began to see himself not just as a generalist but as someone with a specific calling.
“I realized that in my evangelism, I always seemed to veer toward the intellectual types,” Gould says.
Those first few years with CRU, Gould treated his love for truth and defending that truth like a beach ball that he would push under water, only for it to reappear. But he began to realize that God would use this passion in a more specific way.
That third year, Gould began to teach an apologetics class and came to realize he had an ability to teach. His students’ desire to learn how to give a reason for the hope they had also encouraged him.
“Christianity is true; truth is on our side,” Gould says, “but we’re losing the classroom, and that wasn’t an option for me. … I found these newfound passions as I engaged students with the Gospel. I realized I just wanted them to know how to defend their faith.”
A Bible study in Luke—which says Jesus set His face toward Jerusalem, where His purpose was found on the cross—and a testimony quoting Olympian Eric Liddell, who said he experienced God’s pleasure when he ran, led Gould to seek his own purpose and passion further.
“What is it God that, when I do it, I experience Your pleasure?” Gould prayed.
“And for me it was immediately obvious,” Gould recalls. “It was sharing the Gospel in the context of the life and the mind.”
With that realization, Gould applied for graduate school and received his Master’s in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics from Talbot School of Theology and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Purdue University.
Gould continued serving with CRU and transitioned to the faculty the last 10 years, helping professors integrate their faith with their scholarship.
But as he rose in leadership, Gould found he did not have as many opportunities to teach. In recent years, while continuing to teach apologetics with CRU, he also taught at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.
“This is indeed what God has created me for,” Gould says, “to write and to speak and to engage the Gospel in the life of ideas.”
Gould was drawn to Southwestern through conversation with friends and Southwestern professors Travis Dickinson and Keith Loftin. The work of God on the campus and the vision of an apologetics program for the school attracted Gould.
“Crusades’ DNA is win, build, send,” Gould says. “And Southwestern is very much about preaching the Gospel and faithfully defending and upholding the Word of God, so my DNA resonated with it. … There’s a vision to build a program that would make a difference in the culture and in people’s lives. I was drawn to that.”
Gould enjoys serving with the apologetics faculty at Southwestern, already considering what new courses will be offered as well as annual conferences on the subject.
“There’s no objection that Christianity can’t handle,” Gould says. “We worship a God that is not only beautiful as our Redeemer but also brilliant as our Creator and Sustainer. … In Him are hidden all treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
Gould hopes Southwestern’s programs will train and equip believers to engage in apologetics and evangelism both inside and outside the church.
“Jesus is our greatest need and our highest good,” Gould says. “If we can effectively [teach] students, that of all the competing stories that are out there that compete for our allegiance and invite our participation, that Christianity is the one true story of the world that understands me and will satisfy all my desires for happiness and significance and love, I think that’s a good place to start.”