Recently, I conducted an apologetics workshop and a lady came up to me after the question and answer session and said, “I just don’t know if I could ever do what you do, it seems like you have to have a PhD.” “Ma’am, I don’t have a PhD., I actually don’t even have my M.A. yet.” With a look of surprise on her face, she said, “Oh wow.” We easily are caught up in thinking that the only people who are capable of “understanding apologetics” are those with a PhD in philosophy or science. I personally believe this is the biggest factor that keeps Christians away from studying the subject. Here are four ways we can equip ourselves in the field of apologetics without enrolling in a PhD program.
1. Keep it Simple
Too often we, as Christians, start with the most complicated articles, journal entries, books or blog pages. Thus, when the language comes across as “over my head” we stop, give up, and don’t continue studying. Start with short (500-700 word) blogs or easy to read books. Why? Because these are summations of topics, meaning they simply introduce the basics of a specific category and allows the reader a better chance at retaining the information.
2. Pick One Category at a Time
Have we ever known someone who was so consumed by getting multiple things done at once they end up not getting anything done at all? Their mind is overloaded with so many tasks they do not know where to start, so they accomplish nothing. The same thing is true with apologetics. I’ve known too many people (myself included) who at one time or another desired to study every subject within apologetics at the same time. Thus, they aren’t proficient at any of them. Study one category at a time. The information isn’t going anywhere, and better to be excellent at one category then to be a disaster at them all!
3. Be Brilliant at the Basics
While serving in the Marines as an 0811 (artillery) one lesson constantly preached was the need to be brilliant at the basics. The same is true for apologetics. Once we’ve read the basics, study the basics over and over and over and over again. How will we know when we’ve mastered the basics? We will know when we can hold a conversation with someone confidently, without the feeling of needing to redirect the conversation or delaying it for later time.
4. Have Conversations with Non-Believers
This sounds scary, but it isn’t. There are people we know that are non-believers, engage them in conversation. This will help us measure our own understanding of the subjects, expose our deficiencies, acclimate us to evangelism, and who knows, we may just help bring someone to a relationship with Jesus! What good would it have been for Michael Jordan or LeBron James to practice and prepare all their life, if they never played a single game? The same goes for apologetics!
By implementing these lessons, we can be better equipped to apply apologetics confidently and practically, without having a PhD.
A great starting point would be the blogs here at apologia and some recommended books would be A Case for Christ or Cold Case Christianity.
1. When was the last time we had a conversation with a non-believer about the existence/evidence for God?
2. What keeps us away from those conversations?
3. If we could narrow down one area of apologetics that you would like to study what would it be? Have you looked for apologetics resources in that area?
Sir William Ramsay. St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen. (London, England: Hodder and Stoughton, 1925), 4.