I recently stumbled upon a great post by Michael Patton that just about perfectly expresses how I’ve felt about Christian apologists since growing past teenagerhood.
This is the problem that I have with some apologists (those who defend the faith). Don’t get me wrong, I believe very much in apologetics and also love many apologists. But very rarely do I find a reasonable apologist. Most are very hardened because they are committed first to defending their particular position, not so much to learning.
I would add: apologists too often fall into mere rhetorical violence: hyperbole, attacking a straw man, verbal aggression, smug, acid condescension, simply repeating oneself more loudly, insults, poisoning the well, and so on. And this is leaving aside poorly constructed arguments. Sadly, debates between philosophers (one or both of whom may be atheists) are nearly always ”cleaner” (more reasonably and respectfully conducted) than your average debate between a Christian apologist and anyone else.
I’m always reminded of what James says:
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires…
If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. (James chapters 1, 3 NLT)
If you’re doing Christian apologetics, and it doesn’t look like this, you’re not doing it right!