Intelligent. Logical. Doctoral. Articulate. These are all words I think about when I think of a philosopher or an apologist. I think of well-dressed men who have forgotten more than I know in just about any area. I see guys sitting around, making a living coming up with arguments about what they don’t agree with and defending ideas that they would die for. Most importantly I see a group that I could never fit into. A group I could never understand. A group that makes me feel inadequate.
This feeling of inadequacy is at the root of many of our reasons for not participating in apologetics. We make excuses such as “I don’t like to argue”, “I don’t know enough”, and “I don’t want to get in a fight”. Deep down inside we let the fear drive us. We think not having done research on every topic in apologetics makes us unprepared to give any response. Or the fear of speaking counter-culturally during a casual conversation will escalate to a full on argument. These little fears speak to us quietly in our heads, yet we hear them as shouts. They shout that we don’t know enough to make an impact. We aren’t prepared enough to get involved in a discussion. Please notice my overuse of the personal pronouns though. I am writing this article to myself more than anyone else. This is my confession of feeling inadequate.
For years I kept away from anything that sounded like an argument. As I attended a public university, I kept mostly to myself or silent around issues that I thought would stir up the pot. When classmates would discuss politics or moral choices, I would tell myself that I just didn’t care about those issues. Or sitting in education classes, where we would discuss human nature, I know there were days where I sat out of the conversation. Fear silenced me. It wasn’t doubt. It wasn’t uncertainty. It was fear. I used all of those excuses and more. I didn’t just run from my fears of inadequacy, I ran from opportunities to speak truth. I was running from a biblical mandate and the intimacy Christ was desiring in my relationship with Him.
All throughout scripture we see God commands people to stand up for their belief in him. I think one of the greatest stands is David coming down the valley to face the giant who defies the Most High God. David leaves his fear behind and speaks truth the whole way down. The Apostle Peter, in turn, commands us to do the same. He tells us to be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks for a reason for the hope that is in” us1. Like every Biblical command, we have a choice to obey or disobey. We can continue to talk ourselves out of it (like we tend to do with so many other commands, but that is a different story), or we can take a stand and speak truth. Will the insecurities and fears die down when we make that choice? No. Will they shout louder? Most likely. But in those moments we will hear another voice. We will hear the voice of the Holy Spirit “teaching” us what to say.
So just like that we will be prepared to give a defense. Take note that we are told to prepare. This is a verb. Outside the comfort of the Holy Spirit, there are small things we can do to fight back the feeling of inadequacy. We can do just what Peter told us to. We can get ready. Since this was my confession of inadequacy, let it also be my declaration to prepare. Below I have listed some small ways I will get prepared to give a defense. I suggest you try a few as well.
- Read books outside my comfort zone. I love to read, but the first book I reach for is usually not about worldviews or apologetics. Most of those books will not capture my full attention. It will take discipline to get into them. It might take some perseverance, but I will learn something. Learning never just happens it takes effort. I will start off easy though. I am starting with Counter Culture by David Platt. In it he takes a look at the modern issues plaguing our world (mostly cultural) and discusses how the church should “speak clearly with the gospel”2.
- Listen to the Summit Podcast. Summit ministries is a Christian organization focused on education and worldview. They have created a podcast for learning on the go. The podcast contains talks, interviews, and discussions from some of the most prominent scholars in worldview and apologetics. These are the guys who would create feelings of inadequacy. Turns out, they are extremely humble and down to earth guys.
- Join a community of fellow “scholars”. I joined the 5k Philosophers to glean information and knowledge of men who are smarter and more educated than me. Yes, at times it can be uncomfortable. Yes, I still feel inadequate. But more than that I am surrounded by guys who love me and want me to grow in truth. If you ever want to see growth in any area of your life, get people who will love you and push you to do things that make you feel uncomfortable.
If any of this resonates with you, know that you are not alone. This blog is not just for the scholarly and educated apologist. It is for those looking to grow in knowledge and truth. Join us on this journey. Tackle my list of ways to be prepare. Comment on our posts. Hold me to my reading and podcasts. Share with some of your friends. More importantly, shine the light of God’s truth on your life. Fears and feelings of inadequacy with have no dark place to hide.
- 1 Peter 3:15, English Standard Version
- Platt, David. Counter Culture. Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2015. 19. Print.