Have an Apologetic Conversation
What is the difference between an apologetics junkie and an apologist? An apologetics junkie enjoys reading and talking about apologetics. An apologist actually does apologetics.
One of the best ways to develop as an apologist is to actually do apologetics on a regular basis. I understand that it can be scary and you might find yourself not having a ready answer. That is good because that is the sign that you need to have more apologetic conversations.
How did I start as an apologist? I did not really go about it in a logical way. I had recently come to a personal faith in Jesus. Since I had come from atheism, I had a burden for other atheists. This was in the early 1990s and so I did not have access to internet. Instead I went to FidoNet. There I found a forum called Holy Smoke that was made up of skeptics, including atheists, agnostics, pagans and others.
I did not know that there was a thing called apologetics, nor was I aware of the apologetics resources available. I probably had only two or three Christian books on my shelf. But I began to have conversations with these skeptics. Sometimes their claims were easy to refute, other times they really challenged me.
It was the challenges that helped me. They would make a claim and it was up to me to find what the Bible really said and to find the proper context. That time with those skeptics was the best training I could ever ask for. Having said that, I don’t recommend active apologetics to new believers, although they should be trained to defend when asked.
Here are some things to consider as you have apologetic conversations.
- Let the apologetic conversation happen naturally. People are already thinking about apologetics-related topics (e.g. problem of suffering, religious violence, etc), even if they do not use that label.
- Spend a lot of time listening. This develops the relationship, gives you a better understanding of what they believe and provides you time to formulate a response.
- Don’t feel the need to have all the answers. There is nothing wrong with saying, “That’s a good question, let me get back to you.” Make sure to give them the same grace.
- Always keep your cool. Getting upset will always prevent a successful apologetic conversation. It is okay to be offended and yet not respond.
- You do not have to do everything. We sometimes feel the pressure that we have to get them to believe in God, accept the resurrection of Jesus, pray the sinner’s prayer and hand them tithing envelopes all in one conversation. I appreciate Greg Koukl’s advice to seek to just put a stone in their shoe, that is give them something to think about.
- Pray. Pray before you talk. Pray while you talk (not out loud). Pray after you talk.
My challenge to you is to have a real apologetic conversation with a skeptic or a struggling Christian. It can be online but it would be even better if it was in person. The point is to be intentional in having an apologetic conversation.
Recommended Resource: Tactics by Greg Koukl
Find other posts in this series here.