This month marks 5 years of blogging at Apologetics 315. With that in mind, I went back to review a guest post I did with Cloud of Witnesses three years ago to see if the advice I offered then still sounded good to me. The question was: “What advice do you have for those who want to learn more about apologetics? What kinds of attitudes and character traits should Christians adopt as they use apologetics in conversations with skeptics?”
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Here was my answer, in 52 Tips for Apologists:
As a learner myself, I am on the lookout for good advice for learning more. My advice to others would vary depending on how involved in apologetics someone wants to get. It is such a wide subject, dealing with theology, philosophy, history, textual criticism, science, culture, evangelism, etc. Everyone is going to have a different level or area of interest, so my advice here is for those who want to learn as much as they can on the subject. Here are the things that I would have told me when I first got interested in apologetics:
1. Be first a person of prayer with a goal to know the Lord.
2. Be a continual reader.
3. Know both sides of the issues.
4. Listen to as many good lectures as possible.
5. Listen to every debate you can get your hands on.
6. Learn from the best debaters.
7. Learn from the worst debaters. (what not to do)
8. Find a mentor if you can.
9. Apologetics is not a boxing match; it’s walking along side another in dialogue.
10. You’re not in it to win arguments; you are in it to win people.
11. Be mindful of your spiritual life above your apologetics studies.
12. Allow your apologetics studies to be worship unto the Lord.
13. Your wife doesn’t want to hear about your online debates.
14. Don’t talk about apologetics at the dinner table, unless you are with apologetics buddies.
15. Find like-minded friends to fellowship with and reflect on apologetic issues.
16. Get input and feedback from other apologists and mature Christian peers.
17. Pray for the people you are interacting with. If you don’t pray for them, what do you expect to accomplish?
18. Never respond to blog comments in an emotional state. Cool off first and pray.
19. Remember, you don’t have to win the whole world.
20. Study how Jesus interacted and communicated with people.
21. Remember that you have the truth.
22. Pray all the time.
23. Spend time with your family.
24. Enjoy worship at your church.
25. Get away from the apologetics stuff for a while regularly.
26. Avoid taking extreme views and ignoring other options.
27. Study logic and critical thinking; it will help you more than you can imagine.
28. Get into public speaking and learn communication skills. And learn to spell.
29. Always seek first to win the person.
30. You don’t have to respond to every possible objection.
31. Study theology alongside or before you get into apologetics.
32. Study and understand different apologetic methodologies and don’t defend your method to the death.
33. Read Pascal’s Pensées.
34. Read stuff that challenges you to think hard.
35. Be humble; you know so little.
36. Draw from the expertise of others.
37. Specialize if you can.
38. Understand the spiritual condition of those you are interacting with.
39. Understand the psychological reasons people have for holding their views.
40. Admit it when you are wrong.
41. Realize that there is no end to the subject; get in it for the long haul.
42. Don’t rush your studies.
43. Don’t be a hypocrite. Stay pure.
44. Poor character will destroy your apologetics.
45. An apologist is ultimately an evangelist; so first know how to share the Gospel well.
46. In evangelism, start with the Gospel and use apologetics only if the need arises.
47. Realize that not everyone at your church is going to be as excited about apologetics as you are.
48. Apologetics is about loving people; remove the love from your apologetic and you fail.
49. You don’t have to know every answer, just where to go to get the answers.
50. Apologetics can bolster faith and dispel doubt, but it cannot bend the will.
51. The results are up to the Lord.
52. At the end of the day, are you walking with Jesus?
What would you add?