I have had the honor of working with and talking to some of the greatest apologists of our time. With that, I have seen a lot of up-and-coming apologists, if you will, burn out and hit a wall.
One gentleman in particular had a drive for learning about philosophy, natural theology, and classical apologetics. He seemingly spent all of his time and energy reading, debating, and blogging.
What I suspect happened to this man is that he took off in so many directions, he became a superior generalist. What I mean by that is he became someone who knew a small amount about everything and had no depth in any one subject. Because of this, atheists had an easy time boxing him in.
All of this culminated one day when he claimed he was agnostic and no longer believed in God. It was really sad. I tried talking to him and clearing up any questions he had, but he was pulled in so many directions that conversations with him were difficult.
I tell you that story to warn people who practice apologetics as their discipline that only learning about apologetics will get you in a bad spot.
Apologetics is one part of Christianity, not the entire ball game.
The Christian life is filled with many different avenues: relationships, trust, apologetics, theology, church-life, and communication. It’s not about being able to name off six arguments for God’s existence, defend all the premises, and leave your opponents weeping.
While I think we’d agree that’s a good thing to do (minus the weeping), there is a lot more to the Christian life than just creating arguments and defending them. Relationships are important and moreover, there are certain things that crop up in your life that apologetics is going to be useless for.
Let’s say a close friend of yours loses a child; in the early days all of your work in theodicies aren’t going to help your friend cope with the loss of their child. Your relationship and communication skills, though, they may.
Dropping Bill Craig’s logical answer to the problem of evil won’t do the grieving couple much good; but you being there and listening to them, will help.
Christianity isn’t just about apologetics, and we’d do well to remember that. Apologetics is one of the many tools Christians ought to have in their utility belt (sadly, we don’t get those post-baptism).
We ought to recognize when to use it and when to put it on hold. Until we can do that, we are going to keep forging paths of destruction with the people we meet, the people we know, and worst of all: ourselves.
Grace and Peace