Not too long ago, on the back of a pink, sparkly box, posed a doll made after the image of an oh-so-pretty, female human being with proportions and accouterments that would weigh an actual woman down with burdens too heavy to bear. On the back of the cardboard box marketed to young girls, Barbie asks the question: "What do you want to be?" Standing in various fashionable poses are other Barbies: there's Lawyer Barbie, Business Mogul Barbie, Doctor (not Nurse) Barbie, etc. What do you want to be? (God forbid that a young girl would want to grow up to be a mother. Mommy Barbie wasn't an option).
Now, I don't think it's wrong for a messed up, broken, flawed and hurt person to major in psychology in order to find healing. God bless her, and pray she finds restoration. And for those who want to be counselors; well, to be a good counselor, you have to know something about human nature, and that means knowing the junk that's not only inside others, but inside you. To the point: many hurt people, when they become Christians, or when they get turned on to apologetics, will use apologetics to get out their frustrations against the world abroad, including against fellow Christians. They want to "be" an apologist, because they find their identity in it. "I'll show them!" It could be for many reasons: to find security, comfort, power, or a whole host of things. For me, the temptation is, "People used to say I was stupid." (This is true, in fact; I used to tell myself that, too). "I'll show them. I'll be the best arguer around!" This temptation doesn't manifest itself so glibly or clearly in my own soul, but it's there. Temptation to pride often works in a much more subtle way. Oh, it's so much more subtle. Albeit, that's the temptation, and if I unpack it, the aforementioned sentence is the boiled down goods. The blind subtlety. That's the insidious nature of human pride! Apologists get tempted this way, and this is the number one temptation. Pride. These questions in the next paragraph, I hope, will be helpful in beginning the diagnostic process of getting real with ones' soul, for pride is tangled in a web of other needs in the soul that only Christ and satisfy.
Are you an apologist? Do you, or do you desire to, make a living (even partially) at it? Why? How do you handle rejection? Criticism? Where do you go for comfort? What do you do to relieve stress? Do you have any addictions? Do you have any addictions? Unhealthy habits? Do you have an unhealthy, i.e. sinful "happy place"? Do you use apologetics to hammer people over the head and to make you feel worthy, praised, or admired? Do you have a problem with your temper? Are you a bully? Arrogant? Angry? Could you use some counseling? (News flash: we all could use counseling, so the answer is yes). None of us are immune to this kind of thing. Some of us have more issues than others. Only you can say if this is you. Or, ask these questions to your spouse, or your pastor, or to a close friend. Often times, arrogant people are hurt people. When these people want to be Bible scholars, pastors, and apologists, they can then use the Ultimate Authority--with which no one can argue--to bully people into praising them for their intellectual power, obeying them due to their counsel, and serving them because of their expertise. That's sick, isn't it?
Addictions are about security, comfort, significance, and dealing with pain--pain that is often decades old and reaches to childhood; often it is childhood trauma: some kind of abuse. Jesus Christ offers Himself to us as our only comfort (the meaning here is "strength" from the Heidelberg Catechism). Our fallen human nature resists, in its brokenness, and its rebellion, this strength, consolation, and rest found in Christ and Christ alone. The reasons for this resistance are too many to flesh out here.
So then, to be a good apologist means having ones' security in Christ, and having a noble character, and being patient with others when you detect their flaws. This need is especially notable given the vitriol offered in online forums. Christians should, above all, display the utmost of honor, respect, and patience with non-Christians, and with fellow Christians. How are we doing so far? I'll leave you to ponder your own actions in the presence of the Lord.
Am I an apologist? Well, I work for a campus ministry called Ratio Christi (Latin for "The Reason for Christ"). So, I can say that I am an apologist, yes. But why is it that I myself shy away from this title? Pure and simple, it is because I don't want to come off as prideful or "All head, no heart," as the (false) caricature is often libeled against apologists. Secondly, it is because not many people know what the word "apologist" means. They think it means saying your sorry for something. (Well, I've done plenty of that in my life, too. Ha). Well, so I'm an apologist. And strictly speaking, an apologist sets forth arguments to support the truth claims of Christianity. This is a different calling than say, pastor, counselor, or elder in a church. Working with college students in training them in apologetics could, for the sake of argument, rest solely in that course of discipline. Life doesn't really work that way, though, as dealing with people means dealing with the whole person. Dealing with the whole person means handling issues of the soul, and the stuff we mentioned earlier: messed up, broken, flawed, and hurt people. Rebellious people. While is it true that strictly speaking the task of an apologist in training others is in teaching them the facts, arguments, evidences, and so on, it is also true that the apologist is dealing with a whole person, and not just a single category that exists in that person in abstraction from the other things that make a human being whole.