This post is a “part two” of sorts–a follow-up to my post “Why You Should Use Apologetics for Your Own Growth.” A reader asked for a better picture of how to put this idea into practice, so that’s what I’d like to share with you today.
Here’s a one-sentence summary of my previous post: Apologetics isn’t limited to answering others’ questions; you can use it to answer your own questions as well.
If you’re doing this truth-seeking and truth-sharing life right, you should be finding yourself in intellectually stretching situations regularly. For example, you might read something from a perspective you disagree with, and force yourself to think through the challenges presented. Or you might have a solid, engaging conversation with that coworker of yours who seems to always shoot down your carefully-presented reasons. Whatever the situation, you will discover new challenges.
When you come across these challenges, you’re initially stumped. The conversation moves on or ends, and you’ve finished reading the book or article. There’s not an immediate drive to have the answers for someone you’re engaging with. So, is it still worth digging into the issue? It’s up to you to discern, but many times it’s valuable to put in the effort to learn.
This is apologetics for your own growth: searching out the answers to your own questions. After all, if we aren’t fully persuaded, how can we persuade others?
When you diligently study apologetics for your own growth, you will be better balanced and prepared to answer questions posed by others. Instead of reading lists like “Top 10 Arguments for Apologists” or “Everything You Need to Know to Debate an Atheist and Win,” you will have a more holistic and meaningful array of acquired knowledge. Suddenly, your conversations are much more personal.
When your friend poses a tough question that you’ve wrestled with, you can respond, “You know what, I wondered that, too. Can I share with you what I found when I looked for the answer?” Now you’re sharing a story–your story. You’re not launching a round of pre-determined attacks. You’re sharing your journey and inviting them to join you.
At the end of your time together, you can follow up with, “I know I haven’t found all the answers yet. Would you like to continue looking into this together?” Just like that, you’ve transitioned from apologetics for your own growth to apologetics for growing together. Now you’re solidly in the sphere of relationships.
Here are a few action steps to begin implementing a mindset of apologetics for your own growth.
1. Make a list of the questions you still have.
I know, you think you’ve got a good idea of what you still need to learn. Or maybe you can’t think of any specifics right now. I challenge you to set it out on paper anyway. It’s hard to make visible progress without an idea of where to start.
2. Pick one, and start studying.
Look at the list of questions you just made. Choose the one that’s the most pressing and make an effort to start looking into that. Ask for some resource recommendations. Consult a trusted friend for their perspective. And of course, pray for God’s guidance.
3. Rinse and repeat.
There should never be a point in our lives when we stop learning. If you notice you haven’t uncovered a new question in a while, take a look at your life. You might find you’ve accidentally (or purposefully) stepped out of any uncomfortable situations and surrounded yourself with people who believe all the same things you do. Begin to seek out those challenging situations, for the benefit of your own growth.