Q&A: How Do You Make Apologetics Your Own?
By Nate Sala
“I was just wondering, with all the apologetics materials that we read and consume, how do you guys make the things that you read and learn your own? Do you take notes? Do you memorize some of the information? I find myself reading a lot of material, and it is useful in the sense that it strengthens my own faith, but when I have to articulate what I know to someone else, suddenly I sit with a mouth full of teeth or the information comes out completely wrong. I would like to know how to fix this as studying apologetics is not primarily for myself to have a stronger faith, but to be able to clear the view for an unbeliever. How do you guys do this?” – Jana B.
Carey: Personally, I have realized that if I really need to learn something and make it my own, I have to write it down and summarize it using my own words. This is especially true for me with apologetics, since many topics can be complex and have many layers. I usually use Google Drive for doing this, so that I can jot things down on my phone when I hear something and so I can access my notes from anywhere. My posts on ACL so far all have a final section that summarizes the key takeaway points from the post. I have always done this when studying something and I thought it might be helpful for others as well. I have a bad memory as is, so when I write down 5 or so key points that I can easily memorize, then I can better explain my position to others in conversation.
Nate: I have three quick thoughts, Jana. First, like Carey, I take notes. Sometimes I jot notes down with a pen; sometimes I type it on my phone or laptop; sometimes I record myself speaking. It doesn’t matter as long as I can get to it later! Second, I explain the new information to someone. Having to explain or even teach material to someone else is the best way to fully understand it yourself. Now, maybe there’s nobody around. That’s okay. Have a fake conversation with yourself. Pretending to explain new concepts or information to someone is often just as good. Third, I roleplay with friends and family, i.e. they take the role of a skeptic and I try to unpack the information. I do this a lot! Roleplaying is tremendously beneficial as it not only helps you to understand the material but remember it as well (especially if you keep doing it).
Since these last two methods really force you to interact with the material over and over, the information often becomes so familiar to you that you start seeing different ways to explain it, like analogies, metaphors, even stories. In other words, the more you have to explain new material and interact with it through roleplaying, the more it becomes your own…
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