The Perilous Pitfalls Facing “Tent-Making” Christian Case Makers
by J Warner Wallace
The rapid growth of the “tent-making” Christian Case Making community is a reflection of an apologetics “renaissance” here in America and abroad. Tent-makers make great Case Makers, but there are also a number of liabilities we face as bi-vocational Christian apologists. If you’ve taken the time to step out as a Christian Case Maker, you’re already familiar with some of the common pitfalls. If you’re still thinking about how you might begin your own personal journey as a “One Dollar Apologist”, let me prepare you for some of the challenges (and offer a few solutions):
The Lack of Formal Training
Many tent-making Christian Case Makers have completed graduate programs in apologetics, philosophy or theology, but most have not. Even those of us who have degrees are probably not experts in our field. As a result, “One Dollar Apologists” (ODA’s) may feel intimidated by their lack of formal education.
A Possible Solution:
Remember, you don’t have to be an expert witness to play an important role as an apologist. You’ve already got what it takes to make the case, but you’ve got to be strategic. Begin by specializing. If you have an interest in the Moral Argument, for example, learn all you can about the topic before you branch out into another area. Write about it, interact online in related discussions and “stay in your lane”. Once you’ve mastered this topic, move slowly into tangential areas, then into fresh territory after you feel competent. Remember, an advanced degree is typically a collection of hours spent studying, writing, reviewing and vetting ideas. Given the nature of the Internet, you can now spend thousands of hours working through a topic without ever leaving the comfort of your laptop. Study hard and take small, strategic steps.
The Temptation of Arrogance
Our common, fallen human nature predisposes us toward arrogance and pride, and many tent-making Case Makers (without the guidance of ministry leadership or the wisdom of an organizational board of directors) succumb to this temptation once we feel we have mastered a topic. This is a danger all of us face as ODA’s. We’ve all seen how “messy” the comment sections can get on apologetics websites, and much of the time it’s haughty Christians making the “mess”.
A Possible Solution:
Do your best to stay away from blogs or message boards dominated by angry internet trolls. You know they’re out there and they’re easy to identify. It’s tempting to aggressively defend the God we love so dearly, but remember, your character is as important (if not more important) than your content. I always ask myself: Would my wife, Susie, approve of what I just said or wrote? If you have someone like Susie in your life (a calmer, “better half”), evaluate your posts, comments and interactions through this filter.
The Absence of Support Staff
Larger apologetics ministries have the benefit of support staff. If you’re a tent-making Case Maker, odds are good you’re doing this on your own. It’s harder to accomplish your vision without staff, and time management can be problematic. It’s easy to become overwhelmed…