Becoming an Effective Apologist by Forgetting All you Know
by Lenny Esposito
Apologetics is an interesting discipline. To be properly equipped, we spend years in study, learning theology, philosophy, worldview, ethic, reason, argumentation, and science. I continue to read books and articles by both classic authors (Plato, Pascal, Augustine, Aquinas, etc.) and popular authors today—both Christian and non-Christian. We take seriously the command that we should study to show ourselves approved (2 Tim. 2:15) and that we should “always be ready to make a defense” (1 Pet. 3:15). But as important as all that preparation is, I think it’s equally important to know how to chuck it all and a recent experience I had solidified that concept to me.
A few weeks ago I engaged in a conversation with a man who was seeking to know God. “John” said he was seeking to know the evidence for God’s existence. He told me he “was desperate to believe” that God is real. After a few minutes of conversation, I learned some facts about John: he
claims to be agnostic, he’s read Bart Ehrman and feels his arguments are strong, he feels the problem of evil argues against the existence of God. John holds a PhD in Philosophy.
Given that John has an expertise in philosophy, I began to engage him in the arguments for God’s existence – how the Bible cannot be considered circular given that it isn’t one source but a collection of 66 different books written by many authors over a 1500 year period, how the Kalam shows that everything that has a beginning must have a cause, how moral theory shows that for evil to exist we must have an absolute standard against which to measure what counter with others. However, with each exchange John was becoming more combative and entrenched in his position.
I couldn’t figure out at first why he was becoming so argumentative. He had originally sounded so desperate to find out reasons to know that God is there, but the more I provided, the more he fought me. It was at this point that God opened my eyes to something – my approach was all wrong…
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