By Michael Licona
Feb 2, 2024
My interest in apologetics arose from my own doubts about the Christian faith. These doubts led me to seek evidence and engage in debates, which I found to be a succinct way to test arguments to see if they could withstand the criticisms of leading skeptics. Initially, it was through casual discussions about faith that I began to see the impact of apologetics. Responding to challenges against Christianity not only helped others but also strengthened my own faith.
I asked the director of education at my church if I could teach a Sunday school class on evidence for Christianity. This small step marked the beginning of my journey in public speaking and teaching. The positive response I received encouraged me to continue. As I taught more classes, word of my work spread, leading to opportunities to speak at different churches and youth groups.
As I ventured further into apologetics, I started receiving more invitations to speak. I began to realize the importance of diversifying my audience. Speaking at a variety of venues, from small groups to larger congregations, middle-schoolers to medical students, helped me refine my skills and tailor my message to different audiences.
Advice to Apologists
In my journey, one lesson in particular has stood out: the importance of humility. I learned that being a successful apologist isn't about winning arguments; it's about genuinely seeking to help others understand why the Christian worldview is true.
For those new to apologetics, I recommend starting with local opportunities. Whether it's a church study group or a community event, these experiences are invaluable. They not only build your confidence but also help you understand the common questions and concerns people have about Christianity.
I've also found that continuous learning is crucial in apologetics. Engaging with a wide range of literature, attending conferences, and staying informed about different viewpoints have enriched my understanding and ability to communicate effectively. Once you are getting invited to speak on a fairly regular basis (i.e., a minimum of one time a month), I strongly advise getting professional public speaking training. The SCORRE Conference is worth every penny plus a whole lot more! (visit scorretraining.com).
Spiritual growth is also essential for apologists. We must continually strive to embody the principles of Christianity in our daily lives. This ongoing process of becoming more Christ-like is at the heart of effective apologetics. An apologist's character is hugely important. Kindness, patience, and a genuine concern for others are vital. I've found that the way we conduct ourselves can have a profound impact on how our message is received.
To conclude, my advice to future apologists is to seek God's guidance, remain patient, and embrace the journey of learning and growth. Apologetics is not just about defending the Christian faith; it's about living it. Be diligent, humble, and ready for the opportunities that will come your way.
— Michael R. Licona (PhD, University of Pretoria) is Professor of New Testament Studies at Houston Christian University. He is the author of numerous books, including the critically acclaimed The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach. Mike is a frequent speaker on university campuses and has engaged in dozens of public debates on the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection. He is a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, the Institute for Biblical Research, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas.
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