Become a Specialist
Last time I encouraged you to become a generalist, that is to gain a good understanding of a number of subjects. That is important but it does not negate the need to be a specialist.
What do I mean by a specialist? It does not necessarily mean that you have to get a PhD in the subject. Being a specialist simply means reading extensively in an area you are interested in.
Why is being a specialist so important? It is not because that one skeptic who happens to struggle in your area of specialization just might happen to cross your path. The reason we need specialists is that we all need someone we can call on. I am not well read in intelligent design but I know that there are people who are and I can call upon them.
How do you decide on your specialization? Your specialization should be at the intersection of your talents and the needs that exist. You may be interested in Jude’s doxology, but there probably is not a great need for it. There may be a need for explaining cosmology but if you can’t understand basic science, that may not be a great idea.
My academic background is in the New Testament. I try to read books on the New Testament in general, but I am particularly interested in historical Jesus studies. Having spent some time in that subject, I have found myself immersed in the Jesus Myth. I did not set out to become a specialist in the Jesus Myth, my focus emerged out of what I saw as a need at the time and my interest in the historical Jesus.
You do not have to know what will be your narrow focus right away. The best thing to do is to read in the area of your interest. As you research, you will find your area coming more and more in focus.
Once you have an idea for your specialty, it is time to learn. Subscribe to podcasts, read books and search for blog posts. It is also good to connect with people who have a similar focus. You may want to also try and give a small talk on your subject. Nothing makes you learn like the pressure of an audience.
My challenge to you is to work toward your specialization. Start with the broad subjects such as philosophy, theology, biblical studies and so on. Then begin to narrow your focus into a more specific area. Remember that it is fine if you shift areas. Any knowledge you gain in one area will never be a waste.
Recommended Resource: Apologetics 315 (This website has links to almost everything apologetics related)
Find other posts in this series here.