Earlier in the summer, I suffered from a number of health issues. I had a dramatic weight loss, severe joint pain, fainting, anemia and something odd in my lungs. Because I was between doctors, I went to a walk-in clinic doctor. The problem was that he was firm that he would only look at one symptom at a time, assuming that they were all different health issues. He focused on my feet (joint pain) but did not do much else. All my health issues got worse. I eventually received better medical care, discovered that all my symptoms were connected and I in fact have something called sarcoidosis.
Why do I share this? I see in this a picture of apologetic conversations. When talking to a skeptic or a doubting Christian, we should be careful how we deal with the symptoms. There is a certain wisdom in focusing on one issue and there is a time for that. But it is also important to see how each issue is connected. How are the intellectual concerns connected with family background issues? How does that fit with personal disappointment or broken relationships? By looking at all the symptoms, you can see what the real problem is. There is no point pushing the ontological argument when the real issue is that they were abused as a child. Take the time to look at the big picture instead of tackling the first question that comes up. Treating symptoms won’t do when you have not diagnosed what the root problem is.