As someone who has taught apologetics in both a university and congregational setting, in many cases, I have had Christians ask me for tips on where to begin in learning apologetics. After all, there is no doubt that there are more than enough resources out there. Thus, it can seem overwhelming. In some cases, many Christians just throw their hands in the air and say “Forget it.” I don’t think this needs to happen. So here are a few tips:
#1. You Can’t Learn Everything!
Remember, when it comes to apologetics, you can’t learn everything. In other words, you can’t be an expert on every single topic (e.g., philosophy, ethics, history, science, cultural apologetics). I think we should have a general understanding of these topics but then specialize in a few areas. For example, I tend to specialize in early Christology, messianic prophecy, cultural objections, the resurrection, worldviews, Jewish objections to Jesus, etc. Now I do love to dip into the science stuff as well. But most of us don’t have time to master every topic. And remember that there will always be questions! I do think the first topic everyone should strive to have to do is to be able to talk about the difference approaches to God’s existence.
#2. Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
I am well aware that when Christians attempt to learn a new topic such as apologetics, they can tend to compare themselves to others. In other words, it can be quite intimidating to see other Christians who seem to grasp apologetic concepts quickly or for that matter seem to be apologetic geeks. This can lead to hidden insecurities. Remember, there are some Christians who do have a strong calling in the area of apologetics and what they do is for the edification of the Body of Christ. We need to appreciate the diversity in the Body of Christ and realize people have different areas of focus. For example, I know other Christians that focus primarily on issues such as human trafficking, or social justice issues. Yes, these topic matter! But also remember that learning some of the basics of apologetics will help you to be a more effective witness with others.
#3: Set Short Term and Long Term Goals
It’s best not overwhelm yourself. Check out Apologetics 315 reading list and resource page here and decide what areas you want to focus on. Also, there are plenty of apologetic conferences around the U.S. and elsewhere. Also, there is a national apologetic ministry called Ratio Christi, which has situated apologetic clubs on college campuses. If you are more of a visual learner, check out the DVD resources that are available from Illustra Media, Lee Strobel, Cross Examined, and other places. Also, see my clip here where I give some recommended reading.
#4: Get Out and Do Apologetics
The best way to learn apologetics is by doing it. You can read books and learn the material. But if you aren’t engaging people, you won’t see how well apologetics works in practice. Granted, I have been on a campus for many years and had many discussions with students about these topics. But all of us should be committed to sharing our faith and engaging people on a one on one level. That’s where the rubber meets the road. In my personal experience, many Christians aren’t motivated to defend their faith in the public square because they aren’t challenged.