How To Become a Better Apologetics Communicator

Timothy Fox

So you want to be an apologetics writer or speaker. Or maybe you already are one. How can you be a better communicator? Here are five quick pointers:

Better Apologetics Communicator

  1. Watch Your Language

No, I don’t mean profanity. I mean your vocabulary. If you’re like me, you’re immersed in the apologetics world. You read apologetics books, you listen to apologetics podcasts, you devour all things apologetics. So you’re used to the language, the ideas, the jargon. But your audience may not be. Find ways to communicate without using “insider” language. Always imagine what someone completely new to apologetics would think of your writing or talk. Have an “outsider” review your material (more on this later). And if you absolutely must use special apologetics vocabulary, be sure to carefully – and simply– define your terms.

  1. Hone Your Craft

Did you ever have a teacher who was a genius but terrible at teaching? It’s easy for apologists to fall into the same boat. Knowledge is not enough. Sincerity is not enough. If you want to be an effective Christian apologist, you must hone your craft. Read books or blogs on communication. Attend writing workshops or public speaking conferences. A book that has impacted my writing tremendously is On Writing Well by Howard Zinsser. If you’re a writer, buy a copy. Now. And make sure you proofread! Nothing will bring you from professional to amateur in a reader’s eyes faster than spelling and grammatical mistakes. Give your best in all you do. Hone your craft.

  1. Stay on Target

One of the best pieces of communication advice I’ve ever received is to make one point and make it well. Everything you say should strengthen or reinforce your one point. I’ve read many apologetics articles where I was halfway through and wondered “What was the point again?”

You may have an awesome quote or anecdote. But does it really strengthen your point? If not, remove it. You have an objection that kinda, sorta relates to your topic. Delete it. If you have more to say about a subject, write another article. Stay on target so your audience always knows exactly what your point is. Make one point and make it well.

  1. Get Feedback

I hate criticism. Hate it, hate it, hate it. But getting others’ feedback has improved my writing greatly. Have other people review your material and give their honest opinion. You need someone to tell you “this doesn’t make sense,” “your logic is faulty here,” or “this is worded poorly.” I have apologetics “insiders” check my argumentation and logic and I have “outsiders” make sure my content is understandable and readable. Both are important!

  1. Reach the Head and the Heart

The rise of apologetics is a wonderful thing, showing that there is a place for logical types (such as myself!) within a Church that has been largely feelings-driven. However, we apologists run the risk of being too cold and rationalistic, turning into emotionless “apolo-bots.” But not everyone is like us. Some will never be argued into the kingdom of God through evidence and logic. They want to see that Christianity is good and beautiful, that it meets humanity’s greatest needs and desires.

Apologetics doesn’t need more syllogisms. It needs more stories! There’s a reason why C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton have withstood the test of time. They engaged the imagination to bridge man’s reason and passions. If we apologists truly want to impact the culture, we need to reach both the head and the heart.

Conclusion

These are just some pointers on how to be a better apologetics communicator. It takes work, but stay at it. Keep it simple. Keep it clear. Hone your craft and get feedback. Target both the head and the heart of your audience.

For more advice on being a better apologist, check out Sean McDowell’s articles “Why Apologists Need to ‘Lower the Bar’” and “Why Apologetics Has a Bad Name.”

This article originally appeared at SeanMcDowell.org.

 


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8 replies
  1. jcb says:

    This article is pretty good overall. If you want to communicate better, many of these techniques are useful. I think though these techniques will lead you away from religion.
    However, for now I just wanted to talk about # 4: Get Feedback. It seems that most of the authors who post here don’t care about getting feedback. They post articles, and sometimes there are dozens of responses. Rarely (almost never) do the original authors respond to the criticism/feedback people offer. It gives the strong impression that the authors want to be heard, but don’t care to hear from others.
    This author is right: a good communicator, and one who cares about the truth, will welcome feedback from others, including demonstrations of how one’s logic is faulty, etc.
    There is one serious problem with the article. The author says, “I have apologetics “insiders” check my argumentation and logic and I have “outsiders” make sure my content is understandable and readable.” That’s the problem right there. You should be having anyone, including “outsiders”, check your argumentation and logic. But it appears that many theists refuse to do this, instead preferring an insular echo chamber. Yes, insiders might offer useful corrective, but so too might outsiders. And insiders are often prone to agreeing too quickly.
    Other than that, yes, truth seekers should welcome feedback and polite criticism. If they did, it would look like more people would realize the many flawed arguments on this site, as have been pointed out numerous times. Apparently though, in most instances, outsiders have pointed out the flaws, and the insiders and authors continue to fail to acknowledge them.

    Reply
  2. Susan Tan says:

    Immerse yourself in the scriptures until Christ manifests in you.

    The Word is the Truth.

    The spiritual gifts are the Spirit.

    Christ said to worship him in spirit and truth and that is a 24/7 commitment just like marriage is.

    So keep your commitment to Him because we Christians know He will keep His commitment to us because He already sacrificed everything for us.

    The spirit and the truth will work through your very life then resulting in the voice of prophecy in the believer.

    Don’t be too quick to answer the world with its’ own ways. Spend time with God in the scriptures and He will enable you.

    Isn’t He always enabling those who give Him their time, attention, love and respect?

    That is what a 24 carat gold relation is based upon.

    God can enable people to communicate and get up in the Spirit just like he enabled Moses who was too afraid of public speaking.

    So be sure to go to the one and only source and ask for all the spiritual gifts as Paul directs.

    If you are really going to try communicating as God’s ambassador then you never know which gift you will need so be sure to go to God in prayer and ask for all of them and watch them spring up in
    your life with a little watering of the Word. God has already planted them in Christ’s nature in you hasn’t he. All you have to do is sow the gifts now.

    God Bless everyone reading. May His Grace abound to you.

    Reply
    • jcb says:

      There is no evidence that if I read the scriptures, Christ will probably “manifest” in me.
      Truth is Truth. The Bible has some truths and some falsehoods.
      “The Spiritual gifts are the Spirit”. That looks incoherent.
      Yes, Jesus said many things. Some are true, some are false.
      No, Jesus is not actively, currently, keeping any commitments.
      Many people believe Jesus will keep promises such as eternal life. This is unlikely/improbable.

      Again, your article states many things, almost all of which are false/unsupported by any facts.
      It’s as if i did the following:

      Zeus is coming!
      Bigfoot will keep his promises!
      The Lochness Monster will work its way to you!

      It may be the case that all 3 of the above are true. But probably not. This same point applies to your claims above.

      “Bigfoot blesses you”?

      And it is quite odd that none of what you say directly addresses the original article nor my reply to it.

      Reply
      • Susan says:

        Sorry I don’t read most posts on this blog any more. I mostly post Christian ideas that occur to me.
        Partly because I have a
        short attention span and don’t want to devote any more of my psychic energy trying to understand ideas that I most likely disagree with.

        I don’t see why atheists have to turn every article comments section into a debate even if this is a blog by an apologists.

        But maybe someone will accommodate you and argue.

        So just ignore me. I didn’t read and wasn’t responding to your post.

        Reply
        • jcb says:

          I see. My mistake. I thought you were responding to my post. It does still seem like you weren’t responding though to the original article either though. But yes, I will do my best to remind myself that you are not here to discuss the truth of these matters in relation to the evidence.

          Reply
          • Susan says:

            i already discussed them and directed you to Geisler and Zukersn’s work on this.

            I was making a Bible based observation for the Christian apologists that may read this blog.

            Have a good day.

        • jcb says:

          If you don’t know what I mean, I would. Evidence: evidence for dogs is barking, fur, etc. Evidence for a guy who can lift 1000 pounds: a guy in front of us, lifting 1000 pounds, and then doing it again the next day, and the next, etc.
          The best evidence/the most reliable evidence is that which is patterned such that it shows that a particular thing is probable.
          One definition of “evidence”: the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.
          The evidence for Leprechauns is thin: they are not probable.
          The evidence for dogs is strong: they are probable.
          The evidence that humans will not live past 200 years is strong/probable.

          Feel free to help the conversation by adding your definition of “evidence”. Please reply if you aren’t trying to help the conversation.

          Reply

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