If you want to learn apologetics, what are some tips you should follow? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Recently, a friend messaged me wanting my tips on apologetics. There’s a whole big world out there of things to learn. It looks so big and you look so small. How can you go out there and grasp it all? What are you to do if you want to be good in the world of apologetics? I gave my reply and I’d like to expound on it here.
First off, choose the area that interests you. At most, I recommend specializing in two areas. There are many that these could be. You might choose another religion or New Testament or Philosophy or social issues or dealing with cults. Any of these can work, but choose the areas that you are most interested in. Let those be focus areas for you. If you try to take on too much, you will find yourself being a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. Okay. So what happens when those areas come up? What happens if you’re a New Testament guy and a question comes up on evolution?
Simple. You defer to a friend and say they can answer the question. That’s the benefit of having other friends in the field. You all can rely on each other. If you’re at a place where you can’t go to a friend, you can say that it’s not your area so your opinion isn’t authoritative, but if you had to say something you’d say whatever it is you say. This kind of thing shouldn’t happen too often. If you’re invited to speak somewhere on the topic of the New Testament, you really shouldn’t be in the Q&A given a question on if you think homosexuals should be allowed to marry each other or not.
Second, once you have your area, read, and read the best that you can. Look for the scholars in the field. Look for books published by academic presses and try to read those. Try to read the best scholars on both sides of the issue so that you can know the side of the opposition just as well as you know your own. Also, when you’re not reading, try listening to podcasts. Naturally, I happen to favor my own, the Deeper Waters Podcast, but also consider shows like Unbelievable? or go to ITunes U and listen to a Seminary course. You can also go and get something at your library like Portable Professor or Modern Scholar. These are courses on CD that you can listen to and do so while doing something else, like driving.
Third, find a good mentor. This is someone you can look up to who will guide you on your journey and is willing to invest in you. You can have several mentors, but I really recommend having one that is your main mentor. Let this be a person who will hold you accountable.
Fourth, don’t neglect your personal life. Apologetics is not all just intellectual. Be a person of prayer and Bible study. If you’re married or a parent, be sure to not neglect your marriage or your children. Be a part of the local body of believers and seek to do what you can to help them out. If you neglect your own spiritual health and only treat yourself like an intellectual, you will crash.
Finally, don’t be afraid to fail. You will. Everyone flubs in the service of the Kingdom. It’s tempting to try to look at someone like William Lane Craig and compare yourself, but Bill Craig got where he was after decades of training. It’s not realistic for you to expect that you should be at the same level when you start. No one starts off as a professional. Everyone starts off as an amateur.
These are all tips I’d give someone starting out and wanting to learn. You’re entering into a noble affair and don’t lose sight of why you do it, for the glory of God in Christ Jesus.