Plan Your Education
It is definitely possible to become a knowledgable apologist without a formal education. At the same time there is a benefit to following a curriculum and being held accountable to completing a course.
One of the most common questions I come across is about the type of education an apologist should seek. There is no one answer to this question but there are some important principles to keep in mind.
The first question that needs to be asked is, what is your goal for education? There are three main goals that you could be working toward: increased knowledge of apologetics and related topics, training and qualification for pastoral ministry or academic preparation for teaching in a college, university or seminary context. There can be some overlap with each of these areas.
If you are looking just to increase your knowledge for your own personal ministry, there are plenty of options. One is to find a certificate program in apologetics. These are often by distance education and are affordable. I only have experience with the Biola certificate and I found it to be a good resource. The Reasons to Believe Science and Apologetics Certificate also looks interesting.
Another option is to take a degree at a school that is not accredited. These are usually distance education and much more affordable than accredited schools. If you have the time and money, you can take apologetics degrees at accredited schools. Apologetics degrees do not usually lead to a specific career, but are very good preparation for apologetics ministry.
If your intention is to become a pastor, you need to check with your denomination to find out what educational requirements are needed to be credentialed and ordained. Some denominations accept Bible college degrees (see my post on Bible colleges) and others require a Master of Divinity degree from an accredited seminary. Make sure the degree you are working toward and the school you are studying at are recognized by your denomination.
If your intention is to teach is at a college, university or seminary, you need to be careful in how you choose your education. Teaching usually requires a Masters (in Arts or Theology but usually not in Divinity) or more often a doctorate (see my post about the difference between a DMin and a PhD).
Many people who get interested in apologetics believe the best choice is to become a philosophy professor. That is a worthwhile goal but just as important is developing educated laypeople and apologetics-minded pastors.
This brings us to the subjects that should be studied. While some schools have an apologetics curriculum, most do not. Again many choose to study philosophy but that is not the only option. I have never taken a course in philosophy. Just as important is studying biblical studies, theology, history, ethics and world religions. It is important to get a general theological education before choosing a specialty.
My challenge to you is to both make a plan for your educational goals and to register for at least one course that brings you closer to that goal. Remember, you do not need to have a PhD to be an apologist. Getting that apologetics certificate may give you all the formal education you need for what God is calling you to do.
Visit my Apologetics Resources page for some links to schools that offer apologetics training.
Recommend Resource: The Portable Seminary edited by David Horton
Find other posts in this series here.