by J.P. Moreland
- Title: Developing an Apologetic Character
- Date: 2001
- Source: ACSI Leadership Academy Report
- Article Type: Periodical, Presentation
- Audience: Beginner
- Kingdom Categories: Life of the Mind, Spiritual Formation
The Christian in general, and the local church in particular, should aim to have a well-formed, skillful apologetic character and presence in their world.
In my 2001 keynote address for the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), I underscore both the importance of apologetics and character formation and model how they are interrelated. I define an apologetics character in this way: It is those habits of excellence that constitute what it means for a believer to flourish as a convinced disciple, an attractive, skilled defender of the faith, and a persuasive ambassador for Christ.
So understood, an apologetic character is not a set of answers a person memorizes and adds to a life otherwise defined without regard to the apologetic mandate. No, an apologetic character is a way of being present in the world, an approach to life, a part of the very structure of one’s embodied soul. Just as there is a difference between someone who can spit out answers from one’s home medical book and a skilled physician who sees the world as a doctor, so there is a difference between one who memorizes a set of answers to certain apologetic questions and one who has an apologetic character. An apologetic character is part of the very warp and woof of one’s journey, of one’s very life as a disciple. So understood, it will increasingly exemplify a set of virtues and exhibit mastery of a range of skills … The development of an apologetic character cannot be reduced to mastery of a set of questions and answers, to a set of skills, or even to a list of virtues. While such a set or list is very helpful for focusing one’s training efforts, we must never forget that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Training believers to exemplify an apologetic character includes, but goes far beyond, any list of answers, skills, or virtues. It is an entire way of living. Thus, such training will always require role models who are themselves examples of an apologetic character. As a result, it is far more important for a Christian school to help its faculty to grow as apologists than it is to learn skills for teaching “apologetic techniques” to students.
I describe crucial, interrelated groups of virtues especially relevant to the development of an apologetic character: truth seeking and honesty; humility and the associated traits of open-mindedness, self-criticalness, and non-defensiveness; ardor, vigilance and fortitude.
Increasingly, our society makes decisions based on image and emotion. The make-up man has become more important than the speech writer. In this context, a church that knows what it believes and why it believes it will stand out as a radiant light in the midst of darkness. If we are to keep from hiding our light under a bushel, the development of an apologetic character will continue to be central to the formation of vibrant ambassadors for Christ.
Related Content: If this article interests you, you might also want to consider the following:
- Love Your God with All Your Mind (book)
- In Search of a Confident Faith (book)
- Lost Virtue of Happiness (book)
- The God Question (book)
- The God Conversation (book)
- Kingdom Triangle (book)
- It wonderfully models and explains the interrelated significance of apologetics and character formation.
- It offers guidance about how relevant moral and intellectual virtues are relevant to the apologist.
- It treats every Christian as an apologist and shows how and why that is the case.