This is part two of my series on helping out the GED Apologist. For the first post, click here.
6. Enroll in certificate programs
This is probably one of the best things an aspiring Apologist can do and I can personally testify as to how much I’ve benefited from going this route. I’ve either completed these programs, currently working on them, or will most likely do them in the future. Here’s a list to get you started:
Stand to Reason ABC Curriculum – $69.95
This is a three part series covering 17 different topics, all taught by Greg Koukl. I highly recommend this.
Biola Distance Learning Certificate Program in Christian Apologetics – $285 ($95/course)
Another three part series covering 24 different topics, taught by some of the best in the biz such as Plantinga, Craig, Moreland, Habermas, and many more.
Athanatnos Apologetics Certificate Program – $2,000-$2,250
This is a 10 module program consisting of over 50-60 books you will go through over the course. This is obviously much more intensive than the previous two. The entire program should take 1-3 years to complete. They also have the Literary Apologetics Certificate Program with similar guidelines.
CrossExamined Instructors Academy – $695 (plus travel/lodging)
This is slightly different than the other programs in that it requires travel to their facility to go through the program in three intense days. This is also not for the entry level apologist but is more suited for someone who has a decent grasp of the issues. You will be trained personally in small group settings with instructors such as Frank Turek, Greg Koukl, Richard Howe and others.
Reasons to Believe Certificate in Science Apologetics – Varies
This is a certificate program geared toward Science from an OEC perspective. These classes are also available for actual college credit.
Apologetics 315 Read Along: Christian Apologetics – Free
There isn’t for a certificate for this, but this textbook written by Doug Groothuis and used for his class at Denver Seminary is exactly what the subtitle says: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Christianity. At the time of this writing, the Kindle version is on sale for $4.08 (that’s truly insane), but even the regular price of $17.60 is a steal. Apologetics 315 provides a stellar 130 page study guide with multiple questions on each chapter and a podcast with an introductory interview with Dr. Groothuis for each chapter. I can’t recommend this resource enough. There is also a Read Along series on “Is God Just a Human Invention?” and future Read Along projects coming up.
The Accessible Apologetics Curriculum for Youth and Adults – $97
This is not an individual learning program but an introductory teaching curriculum designed to make apologetics accessible to people who haven’t been exposed before (more on this below on point 8). All the materials you need to teach a class of up to 50 people are included and the recommendations are as good as one could ask for. Holly Ordway can’t say enough of the sound pedagogy! (yes, I had to look that up… again, sans degree here)
Bible Boot Camp – $47.98 each (Two Series)
These courses are designed for those who are new to theology or new to the Christian faith, harkening back to my first suggestion on becoming a theologian first. Once this course is complete, go more in depth with The Discipleship Program and then go for the big leagues with The Theology Program. This isn’t specifically focused on apologetics, but again, an apologist is only as good as his theology.
7.Know your strengths and weaknesses
As difficult as it is to accept, we can’t be experts in every area of theology and apologetics. Find what you get the most excited about and really focus on becoming strong in that area. There’s nothing wrong with being a go-to guy in a particular field of study in other areas of life, and apologetics is no different.
That said, it’s still extremely wise to strengthen areas you may be particularly weak in, even though you may never attain to the level you are in other areas. For example, I still can’t wrap my head entirely around the ontological argument. After much study I have come to a cursory understanding, but I won’t be teaching a lesson on it or using it in my conversation with a nonbeliever any time soon.
Just because we may have a hard time understanding something is no excuse to be content with our ignorance. Keep digging. Keep challenging yourself. Get confronted with a challenge and you blow it? It happens to all of us. Learn from it and be better equipped next time.
8. Get involved in a local apologetics group
If your Church doesn’t have a culture of apologetics, find some other like minded guys in your area, but don’t be afraid to link up with Arminians if you may be a Calvinist (and vice versa). Apologists typically follow the rule of IN NECESSARIIS UNITAS, IN DUBIIS LIBERTAS, IN OMNIBUS CARITAS and all Christians would do well to follow this principle. Don’t let your view on cessationism, Calvinism, OEC/YEC, prevent you from fellowship and growing in your walk with Christ.
* This is not a plea for ecumenicism at the sake of the Gospel, thus the IN NECESSARIIS UNITAS clarifier *
One of the best goals to strive for is to get a group started in your own local Church. “Grow where you’re planted” as they say… or “grow where your planted” as the people who drive me crazy would say. There is most definitely a need in the local Church for apologists. Apologetics 315 has two series on how to do this here and here.
Another community of apologists to be a part of is not in your neighborhood, but worldwide online. The CAA has a Facebook community of apologists from a broad spectrum of Christian denominations (1,700 members and growing). Obviously I highly recommend it.
9. Don’t be afraid to engage different worldviews directly
Read some books by Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and others. If you don’t want to purchase them they should be readily available in your local library. Watch Bill Maher. Watch the Penn Jillete vlogs. In order to effectively engage with the skeptics we meet on the streets, we need to know what message is being preached to them. Since there is so much reading we need to do anyway, a good start would be to read reviews of these books/videos by more experienced Christian apologists (sometimes offering an entire book as a detailed refutation)… but don’t be afraid to engage them yourself. They present challenges, but there are answers.
Brett Kunkle takes a group of high school Christians trained in apologetics to Berkley to get those young people prepared for what will happen once they arrive on the college campus as students. This model will hopefully be replicated by Churches throughout the country.
The easiest way to get an idea of the secular worldview is to watch debates between prominent atheists and Christian apologists. There are many good debates out there, and if you’re gonna start anywhere, start with the man atheists fear most; William Lane Craig.
10. Start blogging and looking for opportunities to debate
Neither of these recommendations are for everyone. Not everyone is able to write effectively, so blogging might not be in your wheelhouse. If you want to give it a shot, start a free blog on Google or contact the CAA about opportunities.
Debating can be an even more intimidating task with considerably more risk involved. I am convinced we as Christian theists have truth on our side, however that does not mean we will win every debate as debating is more than just knowing the truth. Since a good debater is not just someone who knows the material but knows how to employ that knowledge, we must tread very lightly here.
William Lane Craig is one of the sharpest minds we have in Christian apologetics, but he is also a master of using that knowledge in a debate setting. He makes it look incredibly easy, but that’s like saying Yo-Yo Ma makes playing the cello look easy. If you think you have the chutzpa for official debates, start small. Do some role play with fellow Christians, read some books on Lincoln-Douglas debates, and consider a 40 day fast.
So there you go. I covered a lot, and I know I’ve missed some things (or many things). I was primarily focused on classical apologetics, but there are many other apologetically minded areas to cover such as abortion, Christian cults, and others. Most of those area’s are covered by the ministries referenced above, but I am going to do a follow up post with only resources listed and will probably include those.