No Pat Answers is a Christian Ministry focused on Apologetics and Theology aimed at the everyday Christian. This is, perhaps, best embodied by the book that founder Ray Ciervo authored, titled Apologetics for the Rest of Us: A Beginners Guide. Here, Ciervo says, he tries to teach his readers the basics, such as “What arguments show God’s existence?” and “What arguments show that Jesus rose from the dead?” Once they have a handle on those, he encourages his readers to find their area of special interest, such as science, philosophy or theology, and pursue the arguments that stem from those interests.
Through his ministry, Ray shows his audience that answers come in thoughtful, structured arguments. Not sound bite, bumper sticker slogans. There are, as the name suggests, “No Pat Answers.”
Ray’s ministry has reached out internationally and has branched into an extensive Women’s Apologetics ministry, as well – spearheaded by such notables as Mary Jo Sharp and Natasha Crain. No Pat Answers hosts a number of conferences, and is an influential part of the Christian Apologetics Alliance. Recently, this Columnist had the opportunity to interview Ciervo regarding his ministry, its roots and his own gradual rise in influence within the Christian ministry.
Ciervo grew up in the Roman Catholic tradition, and to him, that’s exactly what it was: tradition. Like many youngsters raised in the church, he wandered away after confirmation. In his case, he began to dabble in Spiritualism, examining such things as astrology, mysticism, past life regression and so on. Eventually, Ray fell into military service and went off to Vietnam.
When Ray returned Stateside, he had a healthy dose of PTSD from the things he had experienced during war, and tried to drown them in the distractions available to him in the Sixties. Says Ciervo:
“Drugs and very loose living quickly led me to the end of my rope. All during that time I had a nagging sense that I was both searching and also being chased. Today, I attribute that to the “hound of heaven” relentlessly chasing me down. My conversion was dramatic in the sense that it was immediate. Once I accepted Jesus I turned completely away from my old life and followed hard after Him. I wasn’t specifically looking for Jesus as much as I was looking for truth and reality. I found Jesus to be both.”
Almost immediately, Ciervo entered the ministry. He went from street-preaching to prison ministry to church planting to training Ministers to heading up church associations. He received his MAA in Apologetics from Southern Evangelical Seminary in 2002, and several months ago, his D.Min. which was also in the field of Apologetics.
“At heart, I am still a pastoral person seeking to build the church. Apologetics is extremely useful in doing that. I’m still a preacher at heart, too. I love to declare the truth of Jesus Christ.
“When I do preach I always attempt to bring Jesus out of the Scripture. The evidence for Jesus’ uniqueness is always a help to strengthen believers and challenge unbelievers.”
True to this message, when Ray travels and speaks, he keeps his Apologetics messages focused on the person of Christ, typically speaking of the resurrection appearances of Jesus, the reliability of the New Testament and the oral history and oral tradition by which the New Testament documents are confirmed.
No Pat Answers is a ministry which offers dozens of free resources for Christians interested in Apologetics. For Christians living in the Northeast, NPA has a number of events coming up soon that are worth investigating:
On April 8-9 NPA is hosting its annual conference in Central New Jersey. One of the featured speakers will be Natasha Crain of Christianmomthoughts.com, who just released her first book: Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side.
Other speakers include Michael Sherrard and Kent Suter who are both involved in helping young people understand and defend their faith. Mike heads up “College Prep” for Ratio Christi and is the author of Relational Apologetics. Kent is youth pastor who has more than ten years experience ministering to teens.
This Conference will also be holding a special youth night for young people and youth workers.
NPA will be hosting other seminars in June and then September, both free, and both on the subject of Apologetics.
Near the end of the year, NPA is hosting its Women Teaching Women conference, November 4-5.
Ray is looking to turn his dissertation from his recently acquired D.Min. into either a curriculum to be taught in the church or perhaps an e-Book, as he thinks it would be helpful to equip the church to learn apologetics.