The Right and Wrong Reasons to Pursue Apologetics
by Eric Chabot
A ways back I remember reading an article by William Lane Craig about advice for people who want be an apologist. In all honesty, Craig probably knows many people who have come to him asking for advice. I think he would admit that many of them want to live the life he has and is living (lots of speaking gigs/debates, lots of fans, lots of attention, etc). The more I have thought about this issue, I can think of the right and wrong reasons to pursue a career in apologetics. Or, perhaps here are some of the right and wrong reasons for being very active in the field of apologetics.
#1: The Need for Attention
Given the overload of reality TV shows and celebrity worship, the last thing we need are apologists who have a narcissism problem. If you are craving attention and affirmation, than that can’t be motivation for being a player in apologetics. I am not saying that it is a bad thing to be encouraged and noted at all for contributions into the field of apologetics, but we need to check ourselves in this area.
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#2: The need to tear people down with knowledge
Sean McDowell gives us some tips on this one:
“Youth Specialties president Mark Matlock wrote a compelling essay about apologetics and emotional develop ment.3 In it, he argued that apologetics often attracts people who have been emotionally hurt, and in turn, who use apologetics to hurt other people. He’s absolutely right. As the saying famously goes, “Hurt people hurt people.” There is power in knowledge. And many people seek power by gaining more information so they can control and even humiliate other people. If you are an apologist, I encourage you to ask yourself some deep questions: Why (honestly) are you an apologist? Is your heart genuinely broken for non-Christians? Do you pray for humility and guidance in your research and conversations with both Christians and non-Christians? I hope so.” (To read on, click here.)
#3: The Need to Look Really Smart
Don’t get me wrong. I know we have an anti-intellectualism problem in the Church. I also know we have a fideism problem as well. But if you want to be an apologist to show people how smart you really are (and boast about your degrees), that is probably not a good thing. We need to check ourselves in this area…
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