Beginning an Apologetics Library

Here are a few tips to getting started with an Apologetics Library. Basically you will have to cover quite a bit of ground since the subject deals with a minimum of four great categories: Theology, History, Philosophy and Science.

Here are my thoughts:

Theology

A good understanding of the text of the Old and New Testaments and their theology is essential. I am quite aware that there are differing interpretations of some key theological issues. Understand your position and defend it.

These resources are important.

1. A reliable modern language Bible translation. Hint: Shy away from the King James version. Atheists often like to quote from it. It has been vastly improved both in accuracy to the manuscript tradition and especially, readability. I like the New International Version and the New Living Translation, but any major translation published since 1950 should do just fine. If you really want to go deeper, get a Theology degree. Otherwise, be careful about quoting what “the Greek says” about a certain passage. Remember, atheists do not believe the Bible anyway – but for you it is a basis for your worldview, so be clear about what you believe it teaches.

History

History is key to apologetics. This is one area where everyone should have access to the same sources, but often differ on the interpretation of an event. Be able to cite original sources for your claim. During the Middle Ages did the Catholic Church squelch the study of science because it was afraid of losing authority? Did Constantine really convene a meeting of church officials in order to establish the divinity of Jesus as a core church doctrine? Were the “secret gospels” (Gospel of Thomas, etc.) deliberately repressed in order to establish a more mainstream Christianity? Know the historical facts and sources to bolster your conclusion.

Philosophy

The great ideas about God, the origin of Universe, Morality and Free will/Determinism have been discussed throughout the ages – all before the rise of Christianity. Know who the key thinkers were, their views and how they changed throughout time. There are some great histories of philosophy, but nothing can take the place of reading the source documents for “getting it.”

Science

Know the general trend of scientific ideas from ancient times until now. Make yourself aware of the great scientists, their primary contribution and how it impacts the Christian-atheist dialogue. This is an area where the conclusions often change and in which equally gifted scientists differ in their ideas. You don’t have to be a world-class physicist in order to talk intelligently about the issues, just be sure that you really do understand their position, and not just a caricature of it. It is easy to build up strawmen and destroy them – it happens with both Christian and atheists alike.

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