Always Be Prepared – 1 Peter 3:15-16

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. – 1 Peter 3:15b-16 NIV

When someone asks you why you believe in Christ, how do you respond?

I am not very evangelistic. Initiating conversation with people, especially strangers, does not come easy. And it’s not so much that I don’t want to talk with them as much as it is that I don’t know how. But Peter is not talking about initiating the conversation here. He is assuming that someone else has initiated the conversation, asking about the hope I have in Christ, likely because they see something different in me. And when that happens, I need to be ready to share my faith with them, including why I believe it. This comes much easier for me. I may not be able to answer every theological question someone asks, but I can tell you why I believe, and I am quite willing to do so.

As you give an answer to the one inquiring, be respectful of them and their beliefs. You do not have to agree with them, but you should deal with them in a loving manner. Becoming confrontational or angry with them will just negate anything you have to tell them and drive them away. You would be better off just being quiet.

Tips for Being an Effective Apologist

As a disciple of Christ, I am called on to always be ready to answer anyone who asks me about the hope that I hold on to.  And it is not just me, but all who call on his name who are expected to be able to do this (see 1 Peter 3:15-16).  Below are some tips that may be helpful to you in being able to successfully give a defense for your faith.

1. Be a Believer:  An essential step to being an apologist is that you have a relationship with God; that you are a follower of Jesus.  If not, you will be trying to defend something that is outside of your experience.

2. Be Active in your Faith:  It will be very challenging, and not too effective, to share the reasons for your faith if you are not personally living it.  You really need to believe, and be obedient to, the truth you are trying to defend.

3. Know What You Believe:  Can you explain to someone else what you believe?  It is not enough to say that you hold to the doctrinal statement of your particular church or denomination.  You are not really called to defend a doctrinal statement.  You are called to give answer to anyone who asks you why you believe.  And to be able to do that, you need to know what you believe.

4. Know Why You Believe What You Do:  Knowing what you believe is really only a first step.  You also need to know why you believe it.  It is generally not sufficient to claim the belief because it is what your church teaches, even though it likely does teach that.  It is much better when you can put into your own words just why you believe some truth about your faith.

5. Care About Others:  An effective apologist needs to have a concern for the people that he is sharing with.  Without that, your defense will likely be more of a sterile debate or an angry exchange.  Genuine concern for the person you are sharing with will be evident to the other person, and will make them much more likely to at least give you a fair hearing.

6. Know Your Questioner: Who is it you are providing a defense to?  Is it another believer who has doubts or an alternative view?  Is it an honest inquirer who just whats to know why you believe what you do and is open to your response?  Or is it someone who is just looking to argue and has no interest in what you have to say?  Knowing who you are talking to should impact the way you make your defense, and whether you should even bother; the last given alternative is one that most are advised to avoid.

7. Don’t Get Sidetracked: It never ceases to amaze me the direction that conversations about faith can take.  And too often those detours really have nothing to do with the original discussion or question.  Sometimes that is OK.  But other times the detour was intentional; an effort to steer the conversation into an area that your discussion partner feels more comfortable debating.

8. Be Respectful: Do not attack the other person, belittle them, or act like they are stupid because they don’t believe like you do.  Respect them as a creation of God.  And respect their right to hold to the beliefs they do.  That they do not believe like you is not a reflection on your value or beliefs.  Remember that they are not answerable to you, but to God.  Treating them with dignity and respect is your best shot at having them give you an attentive audience.

9. Keep Your Cool:  Remember to always maintain a gentle and respectful attitude in your defense.  If you feel you are reaching a place where you can’t do that, then its time to disengage.  Lashing out may be just the response that your questioner is looking for.  While by no means applicable to all, I have found that some of those who are interrogating you are like a small boy with a stick, poking at the lion through the cage bars, trying to invoke a response.  Don’t give them that satisfaction!

10. Know When to Quit: You need to stay aware of the effect your defense is having.  If it is being productive, then by all means continue.  But all too often you quickly reach a dead end and need to gracefully disengage.  If you have been able to explain to your questioner what you believe, and why, and have done so with gentleness and respect, then you have accomplished what you are called to do.  How they respond is not up to you, and you are not obligated to go over the same thing over and over, or chase them through every rabbit hole they go down as they seek to confuse you.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument

The Kalām  Cosmological argument is one of the simplest and most effective arguments for the existence of a creator.  It goes like this:

  • Whatever begins to exist has a cause
  • The universe began to exist
  • Therefore, the universe has a cause

Whatever begins to exist has a cause

This premise is simple and intuitively obvious.  We have no examples of something beginning to exist without a cause.  Some will bring out the example of quantum particles appearing, seemingly coming into existence without a cause.  But this is more likely an example of something with an unknown cause.  Seldom will anyone really challenge this premise because it is so obvious.

Do note that this is not the same thing as claiming that everything has a cause.  If you make the mistake of making that claim, expect to be asked the question of what caused God.  The Kalām argument specifically deals only with things that began to exist, which eliminates anything that did not begin to exist at some point, including God.

The universe began to exist

There are two valid approaches one can take in making this argument.  The first is philosophical and goes something like this.

  • An actually infinite number of things cannot exist
  • A beginningless series of events in time entails an actually infinite number of things
  • Therefore, a beginningless series of events in time cannot exist

An actually infinite number of things cannot exist
Infinity is a mathematical concept that has no real life parallel.  There is nothing in this universe, including the number of molecules, that cannot be counted.  Dealing with actual infinite amounts on anything leads to some absurdities.  For instance, if you take an infinite number of people, and add 3 more people, you still have the same amount.  Or if you remove 3 billion people, you still have the same number of people.  While we might have a potentially infinite number of divisions between any two numbers, in actual practice, those divisions are countable.

A beginningless series of events in time entails an actually infinite number of things
If something did not have a beginning, then it has existed for an infinite number of time periods.  This is contrary to the initial premise that expresses that an actually infinite number of things is not possible.  In other words, this second premise is really just a specialized version of the first one.  Related to this is the inability to ever reach infinity by counting.  No matter how big your number is, and no matter how much you add to it, your number will never reach infinity.

Therefore, a beginningless series of events in time cannot exist
While there are those who will argue in favor of the possibility of a universe that has existed for an infinite period of time, it is really an illogical argument on their part.  What they are trying to do is take the infinity concept of mathematics and apply it to the real world.  And doing so demonstrates a lack of understanding of the concept.  There is really no philosophical basis for believing that the universe did not have a beginning.

The weakness in this argument is that it only applies to things that are “in time”.  And while that makes it easy to exclude a God who has no beginning, it also can easily apply to a multiverse that produces a multitude of island universes.  If a multiverse does exist, which is beyond our ability to know, it would be outside of time, at least as we know it.

Scientific – Big Bang

Many Christians view science, and in particular the Big Bang, with much skepticism and disbelief.  But I believe that this can be a very important tool to us in demonstrating the rationality of belief in a creator.  The important thing to note about the Big Bang is that it is the best scientific explanation for the origin of the universe.  And that the Big Bang implies a beginning.  The implication of this should be obvious.  A beginning requires, according to the first premise in the Kalām argument, a cause; something, or someone, to bring it into existence.

There have been many scientific attempts to provide an alternative to a Big Bang beginning for the universe, most frequently to circumvent the need for a creator.  But so far, none of these attempts have been successful.

Scientific – Thermodynamics

According to the second law of thermodynamics, processes in a closed system tend toward a state of equilibrium.  Life exists today, as well as all processes in the universe, because of energy transfers from one object to another.  And these energy transfers occur because of a difference in the energy level between the two objects.  But the 2nd law states that the trend is toward equilibrium, or a lack of difference between the objects in the system.  Eventually, there will be no energy to transfer, life will cease and the universe will become cold.  When this is applied backwards, it requires that there was a beginning point of high energy with the universe slowly cooling down since then.  Thus, the 2nd law of thermodynamics requires a beginning to the universe.

Therefore, the universe has a cause

If the two premises are true, and it is hard to argue against them, then the conclusion is unavoidable.  The universe did not just come into existence all on its own, it had a cause.  While the Kalām argument does not speculate on the nature of the cause of the universe, there are some things that can be reasonably determined.

  • The transition from no universe to universe required a triggering event, making the cause for the universe a personal agent who chose to create the universe.
  • The intelligence displayed in the universe implies a high degree of intelligence by the creator.
  • The creator, or cause of the universe, necessarily exists independently of the universe, or is transcendent to it. 

While this does not constitute an absolute proof for the existence of God, it does demonstrate that it is rational to believe in a creator.  This is also not an argument for the existence of the Christian God, or the god of any other religion.  The argument only asserts that there is a cause for the universe, and likely a personal and intelligent cause.

Does God Exist?

I think the initial question in the debate concerning religion is about the existence of God.  Why should a person believe that there even is a God?  Obviously, if there is not a God, then worshipping him is a pretty limited exercise, at most providing some social stability.  I have engaged a number of people in the debate concerning the existence of God over the past few years, although I have yet to find the magic approach that will be convincing to most people; nor am I at all certain that such an argument even exists.

In fact, I am fairly convinced that it is not possible to really prove the existence of God.  As appealing as it might be sometimes to have that compelling proof, what would such a proof do to faith?  It seems like proof would eliminate the need for faith.  But Hebrews 11:6 says “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”  That would indicate to me that God has stacked the deck against those who would seek to develop a way to prove that he exists; because proof would eliminate the need for faith and thus make it impossible to please God.

So why should we bother to develop and offer proofs for the existence of God.  In my opinion, a good proof for the existence of God can demonstrate that it is at least rational to believe in God, unlike believing in the Flying Spaghetti Monster or in the tooth fairy.  You do not need to check your brains at the door when you come to faith in God.  There are quite a few ‘proofs’ that have been developed over the years, some better than others.  Before looking at these, I think it would be instructive to take a look at the basic structure of a proof.

Logic Argument

A logical argument is one in which a set of premises (a statement assumed, or believed, to be true) are defined and then a conclusion is drawn from the premises.  For example:

  • All fathers are male (premise 1)
  • I am a father (premise 2)
  • Therefore, I am a male (conclusion)

So long as the premises are true and logically lead to the conclusion, then the conclusion should be valid.    There are two basic types of logical argument that can be made.  The first, and most reliable, is the deductive argument.  This argument uses general premises to arrive at a specific conclusion, like the example above.  In a deductive argument, if the premises are true, and complete, then the conclusion can be considered to be valid.

Inductive arguments, on the other hand, start with specific premises and try to reach a general conclusion.  For instance:

  • All of the crows I have seen are black (premise)
  • Therefore, all crows are black (conclusion)

In this case, the conclusion may be true, but there is no guarantee of it; the conclusion is not required by the premise.

Arguments

There are many logical arguments for the existence of God, and some that I find to be compelling, while others are less so.  But of course I am already a believer in God, and so it is perhaps natural that I would find some of these arguments convincing.  But I have seen atheists, who appear otherwise logical, who were un-swayed by these same arguments.  While it is certainly possible that the atheist just refuses to allow himself to be convinced, it is also possible that the arguments require a certain amount of predisposition towards believing in God ahead of time in order to actually be effective.

The Design Argument

  • The universe displays a tremendous amount of intelligibility, both internal to objects and in the way those things interact with each other.
  • This intelligible order is either the product of chance or of intelligent design
  • Not of chance
  • Therefore the universe is a product of intelligent design
  • Design comes from a mind, a designer
  • Therefore the universe is the product of an intelligent designer.

The Moral Argument

  • Real moral obligation is a fact.  We are really, truly, objectively obligated to do good and avoid evil
  • Either the atheistic view of reality is correct or the “religious” one
  • But the atheistic one is incompatible with there being moral obligation
  • Therefore the “religious” view of reality is correct



The Cosmological or Kalam Argument

  • Whatever begins to exist has a cause for its coming into existence
  • The universe began to exist
  • Therefore, the universe has a cause for it’s coming into being.

The Argument from Contingency

  • If something exists, there must exist what it takes for that thing to exist
  • The universe – the collection of beings in space and time – exists
  • Therefore, there must exist what it takes for the universe to exist
  • What it takes for the universe to exist cannot exist within the universe or be bounded by space and time
  • Therefore, what it takes for the universe to exist must transcend both space and time

The Argument from Miracles

  • A miracle is an event whose only explanation is the non-natural, or God
  • There are numerous well attested miracles
  • Therefore, there are numerous events whose only explanation is the direct intervention of God
  • Therefore, God exists

The Ontological Argument

  • It is greater for a thing to exist in the mind and in reality than in the mind alone
  • “God” means “that than which a greater cannot be thought”
  • Suppose that God exists in the mind but not in reality
  • Then a greater than God could be thought (namely a being with all of the attributes of that God plus real existence)
  • But this is impossible, for God is “that than which a greater cannot be thought”
  • Therefore, God exists in the mind and in reality.

The Argument from Desire

  • Every natural, innate desire in us corresponds to some real object that can satisfy that desire.
  • But there exists in us a desire which nothing in time, nothing on earth, no creature can satisfy
  • Therefore there must exist something more than time, earth, and creatures, which can satisfy this desire
  • This something is what people call “God” and “life with God forever”

Giesler
Norman Giesler’s argument deals with ’cause’, but it is different than many.  He is not arguing for a cause in time past like the Cosmological Argument.  Rather he is arguing for current cause, similar to Contingency.  The light being on by my chair was caused in the first case by me turning on the switch, and in the second by the electricity that is flowing through the bulbs filament.  Giesler argues that just like the glow from the lamp is caused by electricity, so my continuing existence is caused by something.

  • Some things undeniably exist
  • My nonexistence is possible
  • Whatever has the possibility not to exist is currently caused to exist by another
  • There cannot be an infinite regress of current causes for existence
  • Therefore, a first uncaused cause of my current existence exists
  • The uncaused cause must be infinite, unchanging, all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-perfect
  • This uniquely perfect Being is appropriately called “God”.
  • Therefore, God exists
  • This God who exists is identical to the God described in the Christian scriptures
  • Therefore, the God described in the Bible exists

The Church

I believe that if we, as the church, the body of Christ, were to love God with all that we are, and were to love those around us, that there would be no need of logical proofs for the existence of God.  People would see God in us and be attracted to him.  Unfortunately, all too often the world sees little difference between us and them.  A transformed people provide powerful evidence of the existence of God.  People claiming to be reborn, who are no different than the once born, apart from where they spend Sunday morning, are really an argument against a God, especially as described in the New Testament.

Conclusion

In the end, I think that believing in God is a choice that each person makes for themselves.  That choice may be made with little, if any thought.  Or it may be made after much thought and consideration.  To believe in God, just because someone else does, or even your culture as a whole does, is, IMO, not a very good reason.  I do believe that there are valid reasons to believe in the existence of God.  But whether those reasons are compelling is something that each person will need to evaluate for themselves.

So why do I believe there is a God?  I have believed there was a God for as long as I can remember.  Initially it was because of the home I grew up in.  But ultimately, it is because of my own experience with what I understand to be his workings in my own life.  It is possible that I have misunderstood my experiences, but it seems more logical to me, in light of the writings in the Bible and the experience of others I know and have read about, to believe that it is indeed the actions of God, wanting me to know him and to prepare me for something beyond this life.

References

Handbook of Christian Apologetics – Kreeft & Tacelli
Reasonable Faith – Craig
Christian Apologetics – Geisler

Introduction to Apologetics

What is Apologetics?

The American Heritage Dictionary defines apologetics as (1) the branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrine, and (2) formal argumentation in defense of something, such as a position or system.  Formally, then, Christian apologetics is a specific area of study that is directly concerned with proving a defense for the Christian faith to those who are challenging the beliefs of Christianity.  But apologetics is not just a field that should be left to trained theologians.  Apologetics should be a concern for every believer who is interested in reaching the lost around them.  While there will be those you may witness to who will not question the validity of Christian beliefs, you will find more and more who will ask some serious questions about one or more of our beliefs.  Being able to provide at least a simple answer to them can potentially remove a distraction that might keep them from God.  In a very real sense, apologetics and evangelism work hand in hand; with evangelism sharing the good news and apologetics knocking down the walls that can inhibit reception of the gospel.

Why do it?

As a Christian layman, why should you have any interest in apologetics, something that is generally considered a field for theologians?  I have already mentioned one reason above; it can be used to remove roadblocks that keep people from being receptive to the gospel.  But there are two other reasons that should concern every believer.

The first of these is because we are instructed to.  1 Peter 3:15-16 provides the most specific instruction for engaging in apologetics.

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

 1 Peter 3:15-16 NIV

In this passage, Peter tells us to always be ready to explain to others why we have the hope in God that we do; to give a defense for our faith.  This instruction was not just given to trained theologians who are able to give long involved book length defenses.  But it was given to the persecuted believers scattered throughout the part of the world Peter is writing to.  We should be able, not only to tell people what we believe, but also to share with them why we believe it.

And this really leads into the second reason why we should engage in apologetics.  Being able to provide a reason for your faith requires you to first understand those reasons and then to be able to simply express those reasons.  This, in turn, helps you to better understand what you believe and helps to move your faith from being something that was taught you, to something that is actually yours.  This makes your faith much more personal and real.  Philemon 6, while not addressing apologetics specifically, does express this motivation.

I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.

Philemon 6 NIV

Faith and Reason

One of the challenges you may face with apologetics is an apparent conflict between faith and reason.  I believe this comes primarily because of a misunderstanding of just what the two terms actually mean.  To the rationalist, reason trumps all and faith has no place.  For many Christians, faith is all that counts and reason has limited value.  And between those two perspectives, there seems to be little chance of effective communication concerning Christianity.  But I don’t believe either of these extremes is correct.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines reason as ‘To determine or conclude by logical thinking’.  The implication to this is that rational conclusions are reached, not based on personal desires or feelings, but by an examination of available evidence using the rules of logic to arrive at the most reasonable conclusion.  If the evidence used is comprehensive and accurate, and the rules of logic are rigorously applied, then a valid, or rational, conclusion is likely.

Among the definitions for faith in the American Heritage Dictionary is ‘Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.’  At first glance, this would indeed appear to be contrary to reason, since it is expressly not based on either logic or evidence; key attributes of reason.  And this often times leads to the charge that faith is blind; that it requires the abandonment of reason.  And it must be admitted that this is often times the case for some people, choosing to believe something in spite of all of the evidence being contrary to the belief.

But I would argue that this is not always the case, nor should it ever be.  When evidence is sufficient, reason can provide a conclusion.  But what happens when evidence is not sufficient.  You can choose to not reach a conclusion or you can make the best one you can, based on the available evidence.  Many will claim that they choose not to reach a conclusion if the evidence is insufficient, and at times that is true for all of us.  But I seriously doubt that there is anyone who will never reach conclusions that are not based solely on reason.  It is just not practical for our day to day lives.

I have faith in God.  And many would say that that faith is blind, that it is a belief based solely on desire and with no supporting evidence.  But I would argue that there is sufficient evidence to support a belief in God, particularly the Christian God.  This is the role of apologetics; the application of reason, a logical examination of the evidence, to the Christian faith, and will be what the other posts in this series will attempt to do.

Human Understanding Without the Holy Spirit

There is another very important issue to consider when addressing apologetics, applying to evangelism as well.  The Holy Spirit is God’s presence within the life of believers.  The Holy Spirit gives us assurance of God’s presence as well as guiding us into the truth.  This is something that is missing in the life of the unbeliever.  Both of these roles are important in the area of apologetics.

God’s presence within is, to the believer, proof of the existence of God.  As a believer, faith in God is not just an unfounded wish.  Rather it is based upon the reality of his presence.  We don’t just hope that there is a God.  We are able to walk with him and talk with him; we can know him.  But to the person without the Holy Spirit, the thought of him within us is just nonsense.  Trying to describe the Holy Spirit to one who is spiritually dead is like trying to describe the color red to one who was born blind.  In a very real way, that person is handicapped, although they do not recognize the handicap and will take offense at the thought.
The other advantage of the Holy Spirit’s presence concerns the assistance he gives us in understanding spiritual truths.  With God’s presence within, there are many things we can know that would not be possible otherwise.

“The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit”

1 Corinthians 2:10b-14

This passage, among others, makes it clear that the person without the Spirit of God will be unwilling, or unable, to accept spiritual truth.  And observation bears that out as well.  It is easy to make the charge that the unbeliever is being purposefully contrary when we are providing a defense for our faith.  But a significant part of the problem is that they are not really capable of understanding.  We should not take that as an excuse to not bother.  Rather, it should encourage us to not become discouraged and just write them off.  Remember, that at one time, all of us were in the same position of unbelief.

Trust the Holy Spirit’s presence within and the understanding that he brings.  It is the most powerful tool you have in living as a follower of Jesus and in giving a defense for your faith.  But don’t be surprised or offended when those you share with are incredulous or take offense when you talk with them.  Remember the great handicap they are operating under.  They deserve your pity more than your scorn.

Related Posts
Being an Apologist

Being an Apologist

Apologetics is an often misunderstood Christian discipline.  The first time I head the word I thought it was related to being apologetic; apologizing for being a Christian.  And I was not interested in that.  But I came to learn that it means something quite distinct from that.

Apologetics comes from a Greek word that means ‘speaking in defense’, and is the discipline of defending a position through the systematic use of information.  This term is most often applied in a religious context, referring to providing a verbal defense for ones faith.

Some believers would like to delegate this discipline to preachers and scholars, but scripture really assigns this task to all of us.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

1 Peter 3:15b-16 NIV

All of us are instructed to be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks us to give the reason for our hope.  This is not an instruction to go and share with people, although you can find that elsewhere.  Instead, we are told here to be ready to share why we believe with those we encounter who ask about it.  Do you know why you believe?  I hope so, although many seem not to really know the reason.  And I hope you are willing and able to share that reason with those who ask you about it: that you have taken the time to work through those reasons and are comfortable enough with them to be willing to share them.

And I also hope you are able to share it with them in a way that is understandable to the one inquiring.  Imagine someone sees you offering a prayer over a meal, and asks you about your faith.  Can you explain to them what you believe, and why you believe it?  And do it in a way that they would be able to understand, even if they do not agree with you.

If you can, then you are an apologist; one who is able to practice apologetics.  You do not need a seminary degree or any other intensive training to be an apologist.  All you need is a willingness to share with those who inquire, know why you believe, and be able to share it in an understandable and logical way.

So now that you are an apologists, Peter goes on to give some tips for your apologetic practice.  Do it with gentleness and respect.  The person who inquires about your faith may have a variety of motives.  He may actually be attacking your faith, trying to confuse you or convince you that you are a misguided fool.  Or she may be seriously interested in knowing what you believe and why.  Or anything in between.

But whatever the motives of the questioner, we should respond to them with gentleness and respect.  And that can be hard to do when you feel like you are being attacked.  But you should remember the proverbA gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger“.  Responding to a verbal attack with a verbal counter-attack only makes the situation worse, as well as justifies the initial attack, at least in their own mind.  But responding with gentleness and respect will generally, although not always, make the questioner much more open to your response.

The other thing he tells me to do is to maintain a clear conscious.  That may seem strange at first, but is very important.  If my life does not match my ‘defense of the faith’, how seriously will the other person take that defense.  Most likely it would do little other than fuel a charge of hypocrisy and justify their rejection of your faith.  But if you are keeping a clear conscious, practicing what you preach, then you may find your ‘attackers’ coming to have a grudging respect for you and your faith.  And at the same time toning down their rhetoric and becoming more willing to listen.

I spent a number of years actively engaged with militant atheists in a discussion forum.  As far as I know I never convinced one of the rightness of my position.  But most of them were at least willing to engage me with respect and openness.  And these same folks would attack other believers without mercy.  Why the difference?  I tried to always be respectful of them and their right to believe what they did, even if I disagreed.  Others treated them as foolish losers, and got the same in return.

The Cliff Notes version of how to be an apologist:

  • Know what you believe.
  • Learn to express your beliefs simply and clearly.
  • Be willing to share with those who ask.
  • Share with gentleness and respect.
  • Let your life match up well with your beliefs.
image_print