Are you prepared for apologetic engagement? In part 3 (of six) in this series, I’ll offer three practical suggestions to help prepare you for potentially life-changing interactions with nonbelievers. As noted in parts 1 and 2, the term Apologia Sophia (Gk: ἀπολογία σοφία) transliterates the Greek word endings and roughly translates to “apologetics wisdom.” These three points will help provide you with such wisdom, whether you’re a professional or lay Christian apologist.
1. Develop thinking, speaking, and writing skills.
Apologists need to think, speak, and write with clarity and cogency. The study of logic is the greatest way to develop superior critical thinking skills. Rhetoric (the study of speech and debate) can serve to sharpen your oratory abilities. Writing skills can be enhanced by mastering the basics of English grammar (for English speakers) and by seeking to develop an imaginative storytelling style. Apologists should not underestimate the critical importance of developing their thinking, speaking, and writing skills.
2. Learn to think worldviewishly.
The word “worldview” refers to the cluster of beliefs a person holds about the most significant concepts of life—such as God, the cosmos, knowledge, values, humanity, and history. A worldview is, therefore, one’s big-picture view of reality. You can improve worldview thinking by learning the basic philosophical categories of thought and how to evaluate worldview truth claims. An ability to compare and contrast what one worldview affirms with another will prove to be valuable.
3. Develop a specific area of apologetic specialization.
In addition to studying general Christian apologetics, you would do well to choose an area that is centrally involved in the apologetic enterprise, then develop a specialized understanding of the field. Such fields might include theology, philosophy, ethics, psychology, history, literature, religion, science, and mathematics. By developing a specialization, you will acquire relevant expertise for apologetic research and outreach.
The Book of Acts describes the apostle Paul’s apologetics practice:
As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,” he said. Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women.
If I were to start my training for a career in Christian apologetics all over again, I would rigorously pursue the three areas discussed above. The Lord by his grace uses our apologetics reasoning to draw people to faith in Christ. And God will honor your prudent preparation for such service.
Reflections: Your Turn
How has God used your preparation for his kingdom-building purposes? Which of the three suggestions above do you deem most important? Why?
- I engage in apologetics in two of my books, Without a Doubt: Answering the 20 Toughest Faith Questions and 7 Truths That Changed the World: Discovering Christianity’s Most Dangerous Ideas.
- For more about apologetics within the context of the Christian worldview, see my book, A World of Difference: Putting Christian Truth-Claims to the Worldview Test.