This week’s entry in my Favorite Pastors Series is one on a man who hasn’t made much of an impact for the Kingdom of God from preaching weekly sermons from a pulpit, but instead, has done most of his work in front of a television camera and through the printed page. And through these mediums, John Ankerberg has been a tremendous influence on me and helped in solidifying my Christian beliefs and spiritual discernment.
Who is he? Well, Dr. John Ankerberg is a prominent Christian apologist, author, and ordained Baptist minister who has devoted his life to sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with people around the world, mostly through his television program, “The John Ankerberg Show,” which has been on the air now for nearly 50 years and is broadcast in more than 200 countries.
John Ankerberg was born on December 10, 1945, in Chicago, Illinois. He grew up in a Christian home and attended Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies. After graduation, he went on to earn a Master of Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from Luther Rice Seminary.
Dr. Ankerberg began his ministry in 1972, when he founded the Ankerberg Theological Research Institute (ATRI) in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The institute’s mission is to provide Christians with the tools they need to defend their faith and engage in evangelism. ATRI offers a variety of resources, including books, videos, and online courses, to help Christians grow in their knowledge of God and the Bible.
In 1976, Dr. Ankerberg began hosting “The John Ankerberg Show” on local television in Chattanooga. The show quickly gained a following and was soon picked up by national and international networks. Today, the program is broadcast in over 200 countries and has featured interviews with some of the most influential Christian thinkers and apologists of our time.
Over the years, Dr. Ankerberg has authored or co-authored more than 100 books on a variety of topics related to Christian apologetics and theology. His works include “Knowing the Truth About Jesus the Messiah,” “The Secret Teachings of the Masonic Lodge,” “The Encyclopedia of Cults and New Religions,” and “The Facts on Roman Catholicism.” He has also contributed articles to a number of Christian magazines and journals.
In addition to his work as a writer and broadcaster, Dr. Ankerberg has been a sought-after speaker at conferences and churches around the world. He has spoken on a wide range of topics, including cults and new religious movements, the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, and the reliability of the Bible.
Dr. Ankerberg’s ministry has been recognized with a number of awards and honors over the years. In 2005, he was awarded the Daniel Award by the National Religious Broadcasters for his lifetime of service to Christian broadcasting. He has also been recognized by the International Society of Christian Apologetics and the Christian Research Institute.
Throughout his ministry, Dr. Ankerberg has remained committed to sharing the Gospel with people from all walks of life. He has a passion for helping Christians grow in their faith and equipping them to defend their beliefs in an increasingly skeptical world. His work has had a profound impact on countless individuals, and his legacy as a Christian leader and apologist is sure to endure for generations to come.
Why John Ankerberg?
I discovered “The John Ankerberg Show” right after I got saved as a teenager in the summer of 1987. The Lord used the TV program for my discernment and spiritual growth in a big way. In an age where Christian TV would be dominated by lighter Christian talk shows like “The 700 Club” or by television evangelists, “The John Ankerberg Show” presented intelligent, info-packed debates and discussions on subjects like comparative religions, cults, evolution vs. creationism, and evidence for the existence of God. I ate it up and gained a heavy interest in the aforementioned topics.
Some of the multi-part series that summer that I recorded on my VCR were on matters like Roman Catholicism vs. Protestantism, The New Age and the Church, and an excellent one on Evolution featuring the late pastor Dr. J. James Kennedy. But my favorite Ankerberg series of all time was a tour-de-force, multiple-episode presentation of the historical evidence and Resurrection of Jesus Christ given by guest renowned apologist and trial lawyer Dr. John Warwick Montgomery, titled “Was Jesus a Liar, a Lunatic, a Legend or God?”
Ankerberg hasn’t let up in the 35+ years since that summer. “The John Ankerberg Show” has featured a diverse range of guests over the years, including Christian apologists and authors such as Lee Strobel, Dr. William Lane Craig, Dr. Norman Geisler, J.P. Moreland, Paul Copan, Dr. Gary Habermas, Josh McDowell, and Dr. Frank Turek. The program has also welcomed Christian theologians and authors like Darrell Bock, Theologian, Cult Expert, and original “Bible Answer Man” Walter Martin, Messianic Jewish apologist and author Michael Brown, Reformed Christian theologian and apologist James White, Christian astronomer and author Hugh Ross, Christian science expert and author Dr. Stephen C. Meyer, Christian mathematician and philosopher John Lennox, and Christian author and former Muslim Nabeel Qureshi.
Christian pastors and authors like John MacArthur and Timothy Keller have shared their wisdom and expertise, and Christian author and conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza has offered his perspective on current events. Even atheists such as Richard Dawkins have made appearances on the program, providing an opportunity for dialogue and exchange of ideas. Overall, the guests on “The John Ankerberg Show” have contributed to the program’s goal of providing a platform for engaging discussions on issues related to the Christian faith and culture.
Today’s YouTube landscape offers an amazing array of videos, channels, and apologists, offering well-written and conferred defenses of the Christian faith or hosting illuminative debates with the top minds in theology, philosophy, and science. We are blessed because we are swimming in an informational ocean rich with this kind of content with our online resources today. But at one time (namely the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s), this material was almost impossible to find (save for occasional magazine articles or a few books on sale at Barnes and Noble). So for people who watched TV channels or Christian satellite networks broadcasting “The John Ankerberg Show,” they were able to find a rare treasure through which they could find intellectual answers that would point them to the “Answer,” Jesus Christ. Back in my teenage years, I lamented that there weren’t more television and media resources similar to “The John Ankerberg Show,” with its focus on apologetics, comparative religion, and creation science. Nonetheless, God gifted us this prize back then, and for that, I am grateful.
All in all, John Ankerberg is a television pioneer whose obedience response to God’s calling has impacted millions. His dedicated, trailblazing mission of pointing people to Jesus Christ through apologetics has made a huge, personal impression on me. John is one of my spiritual heroes. Because of that, he has incontestibly made it into my list of all-time favorite pastors.
Find Out More
The John Ankerberg Show:
The John Ankerberg Show in Canada:
About John Ankerberg:
John’s Statement of Faith:
John Ankerberg Show Podcasts: