Summer Prep Series- Apologetics, By: Joel Erickson

Preparing in the summer for Speech and Debate? For limited prep events? Seems unnecessary, to say the least… maybe even incongruous. Despite the category’s connotations, starting prep in the summer will enable you to actualize your maximum competitive potential and derive the greatest educational benefit. This week, I’ll be sharing some strategies for conquering the task, starting with apologetics.

What should you do to get ahead this summer? Continue executing your preferred prep strategy (if you have one…), be it methodically consolidating information for your cards, fortifying the cards you already have, or collecting blank index cards so you can frantically cram before the tournament (you know who you are :P). If you’re looking for a reprieve from normality or some supplemental ideas to implement while traveling to your family’s vacation destination, try the following three ideas…

1. Devote some significant time to reading. Read the church fathers, the medieval theologians, the contemporary classics. Read the latest works on apologetics and books addressing other worldviews. Read books that imbue you with wonder for God’s majesty and holiness and inspire you to greater fellowship with Him. And, of course, read the Bible. 😉

Listed below are a few suggestions. Some of you may not be familiar any of these; others will have read them all multiple times. Please feel free to reach out to me if you need additional titles and\or books tailored specifically to an area you need to research!

  • Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton
  • Knowing God, J.I. Packer
  • How Should We Then Live, Francis Schaeffer
  • Holiness, J.C. Ryle
  • The Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer
  • Total Truth, Nancy Pearcy
  • Finding Truth, Nancy Pearcy
  • Cold Case Christianity, J. Warner Wallace
  • Postmodern Times, Gene Edward Veith

Annotate heavily. Buy your own copies so you can mark them up. Journal about the books, talk about them with your family in friends, deliver dissertations about them while alone in your room. All this ought to facilitate your assimilation of the information.

2. Memorize Scripture. You don’t want to have to look at your card to recite the verses you cite in the round. Ideally, you should be so conversant with the Bible that you can share its content from your heart — memorizing Scripture requires discipline, commitment, and passion that will transform not only your rounds but also your heart. Although familiarity with Scripture affords you a competitive edge and differentiates you from your opponents, you should memorize with the intent to do more than wow your judges… God’s Word never returns void and your life will be fundamentally altered by it continually coursing through your veins. When your eyesight grows dim, hearing deteriorates, and memory degenerates, you will still be able to recall the passages of Scripture you memorized in youth. It is an invaluable treasure. Do not neglect it.

A little too ambitious? Start small. Memorize one verse a day, or if that’s too daunting, do one every two or three days. Select verses which will apply to multiple topics, from passages like Isaiah 53 and Romans 1. Create a plan so you can accomplish your goals incrementally. Journal about Scripture. Copy it. Pray it for yourself and others. Maintain a review system so you don’t forget passages you previously memorized.

And pray. God deeply desires you to commit His Word to your heart, and His Spirit will empower you to attain this.

3. Deepen your relationship with God. 1 Corinthians 8:1 reminds us that “knowledge puffs up,” an admonition imperative to competing properly in this event. Garnering information and broadening your grasp of apologetics is exhilarating, but paves the way for pride.

I struggle persistently with this, falling again and again. My propensity is to treat apologetics like a compartmentalized discipline, a specialized field of knowledge, rather than a supplement to Scripture. I often consider it an end in itself, as opposed to a deeper relationship with God. I surgically isolate facts and arguments from the power of the gospel, which is what imbues them with meaning.

As Paul writes later in the same epistle, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

God doesn’t care about what you know. He wants you to be close to Him, and to share His truth with the world. Don’t study apologetics without prayer, and never let the pride that knowledge engenders impair you from ascertaining the true significance of this study.

Obviously, there is no right or wrong way to study Apologetics. The point is to dig in, and there is no time like this summer!

Lasting Impact! is in its fourth year of providing an opportunity for students and families to participate in a weekly group, that meets online. To learn more about Online Apol. click here.
Joel Erickson is majoring Philosophy and English at Wheaton College, and desires to pursue education, law, or ministry after his undergraduate studies. His highlight of his forensics involvement has been coaching, and as a coach for Ethos Debate, he has helped numerous competitors actualize their personal goals from winning tournaments to breaking for the first time. For Lasting Impact, he coaches all Limited Prep events and Lincoln-Douglas Debate, and looks forward to helping you become a better communicator for Christ and His Kingdom.

photo by: JulieannePhotography