Advice for the Discouraged Apologist
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Advice for the Discouraged Apologist

Apologetics is the hardest and most interesting thing I’ve ever tried to do (besides marriage, parenting, some friendships, dog-training, and Boolean Logic). I love apologetics and I hate failing. Sadly, these two things go together for me more often than I would like.

I have preached for 18 years. Doing Apologetics is harder than preaching. It is so much harder to make a case for how you know that you know what you know than it is just to preach what you know. If you don’t believe me, try.

So, maybe you are an aspiring C.S. Lewis. You’ve gotten a few great books under your belt. Perhaps you’re taking courses, blogging, battling in the comments on Facebook and YouTube, or even presenting. Just know, you’re going to crash and burn sometimes. Ok — many times. You’re going to study with the person for whom no amount of evidence is sufficient and you’re going to think it is your fault that you can’t convince them. You’re going to meet the argument you don’t have an answer for. You’re going to get lost in the weeds of religious epistemology. You’re even going to revisit the doubts that put you on your path to being an apologist.

But, don’t quit! You must never quit. Peter didn’t say make a defense unless you fail and get discouraged. Peter said, always be prepared to make a defense (1 Peter 3:15). So, I want to pass along to you some encouraging advice that isn’t mine, but that has been very helpful to me. It comes from a guy named William Lane Craig — some of you may have heard of him. (read with heavy sarcasm)

At the close of Part 1 of his book, Reasonable Faith, Dr. Craig offers these two pieces of advice for the discouraged apologist:

  1. “Don’t expect the unbeliever to just roll over and play dead the minute he hears your apologetic argument.”[1] Instead, expect the unbeliever to disagree and to be unwilling to change. There is a lot at stake for them in accepting your argument.[2]
  2. “Remember that being ‘convincing' is person-relative.”[3] Some people will be convinced by one argument while others will be more convinced by some other argument. And, some people are just closed-minded and won’t be convinced regardless of the argument (Mt. 7:14).[4]

Dr. Craig is essentially saying, don’t be discouraged if you don’t convince every person the first time. I couldn’t agree more. Consider this final note from, Dr. Craig: “Effectiveness in using apologetics in evangelism requires study, practice, and revision in light of experience, not just pat answers.”[5]

So, good on you for not being satisfied with pat answers. And, don’t be discouraged in your search for better answers. Instead, keep on doing the hard work necessary to become an effective apologist.

[1] Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith (3rd edition): Christian Truth and Apologetics (p. 60). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

[2] This is my paraphrase of Dr. Craig’s explanation.

[3] ibid.

[4] This is my paraphrase of Dr. Craig’s explanation.

[5] ibid.

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