5 Mistakes Apologists Make

Apologetics has never been easier. Not only is there an abundance of apologetics resources (books, podcasts, conferences, etc.), with the internet there are countless opportunities. It takes almost no effort to enter into an apologetic conversation.

But just because it is easy to do apologetics does not mean that it is easy to do good apologetics. Here are five mistakes that apologists often make.

1. Try to do too much

What is the goal of an apologetic conversation? Do you have to demonstrate the existence of God, the historicity of the resurrection, lead someone into conversion and start the road to discipleship? Some people seem to think so. There is that nagging voice, “What if they never talk to a Christian again.” The apologist then feels far more pressure than they should. I really like what Greg Koukl says about putting a stone in their shoe. If you have got them to think a bit more about the Gospel, you have done your job. The next person will take them a bit farther.

2. Spending too much time with the wrong people

It is important to be ready with the reason for our hope for all those who ask. But not everyone is a seeker or an open skeptic. There are people that I call “career skeptics” that just love to take up all your time. They are not looking for answers, they are looking for arguments. My policy is to express my position, clarify any misconceptions and then to let the conversation end if I sense they are a “career skeptic.” I have other things that I need to be doing.

3. Having too narrow of a focus

I have no problem with apologists being specialists. I specialize in the Jesus myth. But it is also important to read outside your area. New Testament comes easy to me while philosophy is more of a challenge. That is why I read philosophy. I will never be a philosopher, but it is important for me to have some generalization.

4. Taking things personal

Some skeptics can make things very personal. Some Christians can do the same thing. When someone rejects the apologetic arguments, it is easy to feel as if it is against you. Apologists of course must strive for excellence in every apologetics presentation. But there are some people at certain points in their life that have no interest in Jesus. No matter how tight your arguments, they will mock your beliefs. Don’t take it personal, it is exactly what Jesus promised would happen.

5. Attacking other Christians

Some apologists fall into the trap of going after other Christians. I firmly believe that we have to stand up for historical Christianity and that there is a line that if crossed leads to heresy. But some apologists, out of love for the argument, go after other Christians who they see as overemphasizing or underemphasizing certain doctrines even though they remain within Christian orthodoxy. It is fine to privately express your concerns, but there is so much work to be done that we cannot afford infighting.

Bonus mistake: Letting your spiritual life slide

If you want to be effective as an apologists, you need to take care of yourself spiritually. You cannot just read the Bible to mine apologetic arguments. You cannot just pray for apologetic opportunities. You cannot just show up for church to offer an apologetic presentation. Self-care is one of the most important parts of being a good apologist.



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4 thoughts on “5 Mistakes Apologists Make”

  1. Most of your points are good, but I disagree with your second point. It highlights the main problem apologists make which is to seek to “do apologetics” (not your words, but commonly used ones) with people. Is the primary goal to show good reasons for belief, or is it to introduce people to Christ and employ apologetics when called for? How can there possibly be “wrong people” to talk to about the Lord? Apologetics is something Christians should use when necessary, not a stand-alone project of proving the truth (in whatever strength of meaning one wants to assign to “proving”). Now, it’s true that time can be wasted trying to prove something to a person who has little interest (shaking the dust off one’s feet, as it were), but maybe in such cases one should shift to some other subject and keep the conversation going. The resistant person might be so because of something totally unrelated to apologetical matters and is just throwing up dust to obscure the real problem. We can shake the dust off too quickly if what we’re really after is engaging in apologetics rather than engaging people.

    1. I wouldn’t say that there are wrong people to talk to about Jesus. We should present to everyone but should also discern when a person is closed to what we say. It may be the right message but at the wrong time.

  2. The Progressives have infiltrated our slhoocs. There is no more truth no black or white. But it has also infiltrated many churches and why we are that church of Laodicea. It is time to wake up. As a Messianic Jew (Christian) I’ve always taught my sons never to believe what they are told but to research and weigh things against the Word of G-d and against our Constitution. My GGGG grandfather was one of the founding fathers Signers of the Declaration of Independence. Just today a woman on FB who is a Progressive didn’t know the Declaration of Independence from the US Constitution This is why I support Charter Schools, Christian Schools and home schooling. My sons attended a Christian school and they were home schooled (encouraged to read, taken to museums and travel) They were in Church and we studied the word. CMy youngest son is now a Mechanical Engineer and serving in the US Navy ( Nuclear Engineering) and is a Conservative He has organized a prayer group in the evening with other Navy serviceman.

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