The Foundations of Apologetics: Why It’s Important to Start With the Basics by: Annie Rogers

Tomorrow kicks off our Spring Quarter Classes – 5 weeks of coming together to grow, grow, GROW (and of course have some fun!!). Having a good foundation is essential in any endeavor. Annie Rogers will be teaching our Foundations of Apologetics Class, specifically geared for Speech and Debate students. She is about to complete her Bachelor of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies, and received her competency certification in Biblical Hebrew last December. She is excited to share the treasures she has learned with her students! To sign up, Click HERE… or continue reading about the importance of a solid foundation in Apologetics…

One of my guilty pleasures is buying makeup. Amidst the countless Sephora trips and trial runs and money spent, I have certainly learned at least one lesson: if my foundation is applied poorly, the rest of my makeup will look terrible. Foundations are essential. They set the parameters for action, give you a starting point, and load you up with a wealth of information. This applies to all topics, but especially Apologetics. Without the proper foundation for competing in Apologetics, our speeches can, at best, sound incoherent, and, at worse, be rife with heresy (you will, at some point, guaranteed, commit heresy while giving an Apologetics speech. Better to accept it now). Admittedly, that seems like a terrifying proposition. However, with the right tools, gaining a solid foundation for Apologetics will do more than prepare you for your tournaments–it will prepare you for life. Below are three essential steps in building the correct foundation for Apologetics.

As a Bible and Theology major at Wheaton College, it’s tempting to puff up my ego and trick myself into thinking that I have all of the answers. In reality, I know next to nothing. However, that is one of the cornerstones of Apologetics: admitting that you are not the expert on anything–the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the nature of suffering, or anything in between. Three quick reasons for why this is the case (and why that should comfort you). First, men and women have been debating these topics for literally thousands of years. Many of the church fathers and mothers devoted their entire lifetime to trying to better understand Scripture. It took the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church well over 100 years just to agree on a doctrine of the Trinity. Chances are, a 16 year old (or a 20 year old) isn’t going to come up with the answer that the church has been searching for since its inception. Second, this is the nature of God we’re talking about here. No one fully understands exactly who God is, because we are limited and finite being who rely on Scripture to guide us in our quest to know Him better. In the words of one of my favorite professors, “you can try to understand God, but you can never comprehend God.” Third, your Apologetics judges do not expect you to tell them why suffering exists. The burden of the Apologetics competitor is to lay out different possible answers to these incredibly complex problems in light of what Scripture tells us. Approach Apologetics with humility, for the sake of yourselves, and your judges.

The next step in building a formidable foundation for Apologetics is to read. Again, nearly all of these topics have been debated, researched, and analyzed for thousands of years, so as Christians living in the age of digital libraries, we have a near-infinite supply of resources at hand. Explore St. Augustine’s thoughts on the nature of sin, Athanasius’ staunch defense of the Godhead, and Julian of Norwich’s soul-wrenching recount of her visions of Christ. Familiarize yourself with the different councils, the main translations of the Hebrew and Greek texts, and the different approaches to reading Scripture. While intimidating, delving headfirst into these subjects will give you so much background information that you will be prepared for any topic you pull in competition.

Finally, go for depth, rather than breadth. Due to the intense nature of Apologetics, these speeches can very quickly become overwhelming to judge and listen to. Instead of attempting to explain every view on the aseity of God, for instance, try instead to focus on just two or three. This strategy will give you time to explain their origins, their warrants, and their theological implications, instead of just trying to list off as many as you can. As with preparation for any speech, take a deep breath, and remember that the goal of Apologetics shouldn’t just be to win, but rather to further the kingdom of Heaven.

We welcome all! Whether you have started your journey in Apol, just beginning, or thinking about competing in Apologetics next season- this is something you don’t want to miss. For more about how to start in Apologetics. Online Class, which starts TOMORROW (at 4:00pm CT), click HERE. To check out all of our Spring Quarter Classes, click HERE.