Vince Vitale Speaks at West Point Military Academy
Posted by Michael Davis on February 20, 2018
On February 13, Vince Vitale spoke at the West Point Military Academy for a Veritas Forum in front of nearly 400 cadets, staff officers, and military spouses on the subject of suffering. This topic has special significance for those who have volunteered to serve in the military during these turbulent times. The school motto, “Duty, Honor, Country,” is constantly on the minds of those at West Point, but this ethos is tempered by the reality that protecting our nation from its enemies requires experiencing and inflicting pain so that others do not have to.
The men and women who answered the call to attend West Point have chosen to serve while most young people their age have chosen to be served. The West Point cadet faces a constant stream of demands and stressors that other college students don’t have to experience. They have to worry about meeting intense academic and physical fitness standards while under the strict cultural and moral requirements of the premier military academy in the United States. There is nothing easy about the life of a cadet.
West Point churns out officers who will one day lead soldiers into battle. After their military service is over, officers will oftentimes enter into influential positions in politics and business. United States history shows that many of the nation’s influencers were molded in West Point’s hallowed halls. This is the setting in which Vince spoke Tuesday night, preaching the gospel to a group of young people and seasoned veterans who will one day be the leaders who would shape the political and economic policies of the United States.
Vince spent his talk laying out the apologetic for how a good God could allow such suffering in the world and ultimately tied it back to the amazing truth of the gospel and the future hope that God will one day wipe away every tear. The cadets were transfixed throughout the entire talk. Their eagerness to unpack the glory of the gospel was evident by the fact that there was almost no delay between the floor being opened up for questions and the first hand darting up. The questions were not only relevant to their specific context but, as Vince said, “The sincerity of those questions was refreshing.”
The climax of the Q&A portion was when a young cadet stood up and asked with a shaky voice, “If I believe everything you just said, what is it that I should do next?” Vince, desiring to truly address the question, simply said that he would best find the strength to live out the call to serve by putting his faith in a God who did the same for us. Next, Vince laid out the model for turning to Jesus. Even after the official event was over, Vince fielded questions from cadets for an additional hour and a half. Some of the questions came from cadets who acknowledged themselves to be atheists, but who were curious for further clarification of the Christian worldview. We were incredibly moved to hear from an officer who said that, for the first time, he heard responses to his questions about suffering that were helpful in light of what he had experienced in combat.
The highlight of the trip was the experience of witnessing the dedication to Christ among the officers who hosted us for the event. In spending time with them, we saw that their heart for serving their country was only seconded by their desire to serve the cause of the Kingdom of God and to make Jesus known at West Point and throughout the world.