Doing Apologetics For Yourself
by Randy Everist
Some people might think this post is about learning how to do apologetics on your own, or becoming a better Christian apologist. Unfortunately, that is not the topic of this post. This post is concerned with being a better Christian. You see, too many of us, on too many occasions, are doing apologetics for ourselves. What do I mean by that? I mean that sometimes we aren’t in it for the glory of God—we’re in it for the glory of ourselves.
“Surely not!” you might be thinking. “Who would set out for their own glory?” But it’s true. Of course, the vast majority of us never set out with the explicit goal of furthering our own kingdom. But it happens, nonetheless. The issue lies mostly in our argumentative nature. Almost by definition, we apologists like to argue. We want to show our case, to persuade our listeners or readers that we are not merely justified in our beliefs, but we are right! Slowly, that idea becomes the main idea: we are right. That idea takes root as focusing on the subject and adjective: we are right. And then a funny thing happens. When this idea takes root, and we experience some resistance in our intellectual pursuits, the first person plural becomes the first person singular: I am right.
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When that happens, a kind of pride and arrogance sets in. No, I am not saying it is arrogant to think that your view is correct. I am saying that, for a Christian apologist, a misplaced focus on oneself is a reflection of a prideful heart. There are some consequences to this. These consequences may also function as tests for you. Try to ask yourself if these things apply, and if they do, why?
First, you won’t be able to let perceived falsehoods go. This manifests itself in a number of ways. There will be the times you are talking with someone and they say something incorrect—you will jump in to correct it immediately. There will be those times in an internet conversation that you absolutely cannot let the other person have the last word, lest someone perceive that you are wrong. You may even seek to correct people on utterly irrelevant matters. This last one is the most telltale. Someone writes to you that, “When America was founded in 1776, George Washington became the president, and he was the best.” Even though the argument is about being the best president, you snarkily interject, “But Washington didn’t become the president in 1776!” It was totally irrelevant, but in the example, the person just couldn’t wait to correct his opponent, even on trivial matters. Why? Because he himself had become the most important thing; he was doing apologetics for himself, one could say…