5 Qualities Of A Good Apologist
Recently, I republished a post introducing apologetics to those who do not know what it is. This post was based on a teaching outline for the Columbus, Indiana chapter of Reasonable Faith, of which I am the Chapter Director. There is one section of that outline that I skipped over in the previous post because I thought it would interrupt the flow of thought in the post. The scope of that post was, after all, narrower than the scope of the meeting. Today, I am going to present the section that I skipped as a separate blog post. So, today I will be posting about 5 qualities of a good apologist. Perhaps this post would best be explained in terms of 5 qualities that apologists should strive to have. That is, these are good qualities for an apologist to have, as well as qualities that will improve his or her apologetic. They are as follows:
1. The Fruit of the Spirit
A good apologist will seek to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit in his or her own life. This is incredibly important. From a biblical standpoint, every Christian should desire to see the fruit of the Spirit manifest in his or her life. This is just as true for the apologist. It is also vitally important for the apologist, or for anyone else engaging in evangelistic activity, for that matter. Many unbelievers will judge a person on their lifestyle before ever hearing their argument. If someone sees that you are easily angered or have no self-control, they are naturally going to be more apt to tune you out. That others see the Holy Spirit working in your life to develop the fruit of the Spirit is thus vital!
2. A Heart for the Lost
A good apologist will have a heart for the lost. It is important to care about the people that you strive to reach. Apologetics has an evangelistic aspect, and it is vital that we have a heart for those that we strive to reach. We should reach out to them because we care about them and about their soul. There is a difference between an apologist who engages in debate because he hopes to reach the lost and an apologist who engages in debate for some personal reason, such as personal pride. Trust me, people can tell which is which.
3. Adherence to Christian Doctrine
A good apologist will have a sound understanding of and a lifestyle that adheres to Christian doctrine. I am not here talking about the specifics of a particular denomination. I think that all Christian denominations likely have some things right and some things wrong. What I am trying to say is that a good apologist will adhere to orthodox theology. We can safely disagree over whether a Christus Victor model or a Penal Substitution Model of redemption best adheres to the biblical data. What we must agree on is that our redemption and salvation comes through Christ's sacrifice and resurrection, and through no other source, and by no other name.
A person who does not adhere to orthodox theology may one day find himself defending a position that is quite unorthodox. At that point, he will no longer be a good apologist. Rather, he will be advocating against the Christian faith. This is why an apologist should have a sound understanding of and adherence to the content of Christian doctrine, as well as understand various heresies. The heresies should be avoided while sound Christian doctrine should be embraced.
4. All In For Jesus
A good apologist will not have a half-hearted devotion to Christ. A good apologist must be all-in for Jesus. A half-hearted devotion will not do for any Christian, including any Christian apologist. A good apologist will be willing to sacrifice all for Christ. No part of his or her life should be off-limits to Jesus.
Last on this list, a good apologist will be knowledgeable. This comes last on the list because, while it is important, it is far more important to live a life that demonstrates the fruit of the Spirit, having a heart for the lost, adhering to orthodox doctrine, and is all-in for Jesus than it is to have knowledge. I am sure that even many apologists with advanced degrees would agree with me on this.
Knowledge is still important for an apologist, however. An apologist should at least have a solid grasp on the reasons he or she gives for belief in the Christian faith. He or she should at least have an understanding of the arguments. This does not require an advanced degree. It simply requires us to dedicate ourselves to studying, which is one way to love God with our mind.