Advice For Up and Coming Apologists

What would I encourage someone getting started to do? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I got interviewed this past week by someone for a project in their education to interview an apologist. One question I was asked was what advice would I give to anyone starting in this field. Since I don’t recall ever writing on this, why not do so here as well?

An obvious one is to read everything you can. Nowadays, there is no excuse for not learning what you need to learn. Books have never been more readily available and there are plenty of free resources such as YouTube and even if you’re someone on the road and driving a lot, you can get audiobooks.

Also in that reading, you should be reading material that disagrees with you too. You need to learn directly what the other side is saying and what their main reasons for it are. If the only material you’re reading is that which agrees with you, you are staying in a bubble.

Get yourself a good mentor as well. Find someone wiser than you who can teach you. Again, in the age of the internet, this is far easier. I would generally prefer you have someone in person if at all, but if the only one you can find is someone online, go with that.

Be engaging in debates regularly. Again, thanks to places like Facebook, you can easily find someone you can argue with and who is willing to challenge you. Odds are as well, you will get your butt kicked a good time or two. That’s okay. It is something that will drive you back to your studies more and more.

While I do encourage you to read plenty, it would be a mistake to think you have to know everything. There are numerous fields out there such as history, philosophy, science, cults, other religions, ethics, politics, etc. This naturally includes the Bible, but all Christians should be by default studying the Bible. Your specialty area could be something in the Bible.

Yet even these areas have sub-areas within them. Suppose you want to study other religions. Do you think you’re going to be an authority on Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Confucianism, Shintoism, and many other religions out there? Quite likely you won’t. You might just want to specialize in Islam or a little bit broader in Eastern Religions or just study the New Age movement.

The same applies to any other field. If you don’t know everything, and you don’t, that’s okay as well. In this, it’s good to know plenty of people who are proficient in areas you aren’t. I can enjoy talking about the history of science and the philosophy of science, but when it comes to science as science, I pass that on to specialists I know. When someone sends me questions on Hinduism or Indian culture, I have a friend who does that. I have friends who study Judaism and the New Age movement.

This is why a community is so important and it’s something we’ve often lost sight of. Surround yourself with great minds and people you can learn from. These are the ones to emulate who have walked the road you want to walk.

Choose a field you’re not just capable in, but one that you also enjoy. Choose areas of study that grip you and leave you wanting to learn more. You’ll likely spend your life studying this.

One other question asked was how has God used my ministry. I could have told some stories, but ultimately, I said that’s not for me to know now. It’s really my job to just be faithful with what I have and leave the rest to God. Do the same. There are plenty of stories of missionaries who spent several years overseas without a single convert and now, their names are well-known for the great change they brought to the culture they went to.

If you want to come into this field, welcome aboard, but it will be work. I hope you’re ready.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)


Tips For Apologetics

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.

In Christ,
Nick Peters