Become a Generalist
There is a debate among some apologists about whether it is better to be a specialist or a generalist. My response is that is important to be both. What do I mean by that? I think there is something unfortunate when an apologist has extensive knowledge in one narrow area and almost no familiarity with other apologetics-related subjects.
I understand that no one can be an expert in every subject. If we tried, we would soon get burned out. But it is a good idea to have at least a working knowledge of the main subjects.
Some people try to do this by simply studying “apologetics.” The problem is that apologetics is not a subject, it is a cluster of various subjects used for a specific purpose. If you look at the average introduction to apologetics book, it will likely touch on philosophy, theology, science, biblical studies plus many more. Reading good apologetics books will give you a start in understanding the questions, but more is needed.
What subjects should apologists study? Here are the areas that I think it is good to have some background in:
- Biblical Studies (Old and New Testaments)
- Science (Cosmology and Evolution/Intelligent Design)
- Church History
- World Religions
There are definitely other subjects that are useful but this list should keep you busy.
How does one get the knowledge to become a generalist? First you need to start with the background you already have. In my case, my background is in biblical studies, especially the New Testament. Therefore, I am intentional in improving my knowledge of other subjects. I am weak in philosophy and so I listen to philosophy podcasts and I am reading through the philosophy section of my personal library. Biblical theology comes easier to me than systematic theology, so I am reading through Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics.
One way to work on your generalist knowledge is to read apologetics journals. Many of them include articles on different subjects. You can find some links on my Apologetics Resources page but I would also recommend the journal I edit, Hope’s Reason: A Journal of Apologetics.
My challenge for you is to write down the subjects that you are familiar with and those you are less familiar with. Pick two of your weak apologetics-related subjects and come up with a plan on how to improve. That may include reading books, listening to podcasts or taking a course.
Find other posts in this series here.