How to Do Apologetics without Fear or Aggression
by Kaeli Joyce
When I was sixteen, I went to summer camp. But instead of mountains, sunrises, and songs around the campfire, this camp offered school desks, podiums, and hours of daily lectures. This was no ordinary summer retreat—this was a training ground for would-be apologists.
Led by experts on worldview, Christian leadership, and culture, this camp provided training for young Christians who wanted to know how to defend their faith—and I thrived in that environment. I was fascinated by the lectures and eagerly anticipated the next small group session, devotion, and worship session. At camp I was given tools to defend my faith, but as I tried to integrate them into my everyday life those tools eventually began to feel like weapons.
Beyond “us versus them”
My experience at that camp was valuable overall, but around that same time I began to develop an ”us versus them” perspective on the world. Although it wasn’t obvious from the outside, my interactions with non-Christians became fearful and aggressive. Though the camp leaders probably didn’t intend to teach this, I believed that if I just had a certain set of answers memorized, I could confound and convert even the most committed atheist.
The irony is that while I was confident I had The Truth and needed to convince The Unbelievers of all The Facts, I also was afraid. I knew people wouldn’t react well to the confrontational approach I thought I needed to take. Not only that, I was afraid I wouldn’t actually have all the answers when I needed them. The result? I did my best to be bold about my faith, but I often felt inauthentic. When I was sharing, I felt that deep down I had ulterior motives (proving that I was right), and when I wasn’t sharing, I still felt that I had ulterior motives (being liked by people).
Through years of discipleship and growth, I have learned some valuable lessons about giving a defense for my faith—lessons that have taken away both the aggression and the fear…
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