Hello Mr.Minton, I hope you’re well. I believe there is a quote that is featured in some of your articles that goes “we don’t need the next Million Dollar Apologist, we need a million Dollar Apologists”. So, I will be using the analogy of money for my question. In this analogy, your amount of money would equal your “level” of apologetics. Let’s say someone has already earned their dollar. They’ve read their Lee Strobel and finished On Guard. They’ve completely read all of GodandScience.org and read vast swaths of BioLogos,Reasonable Faith and Reasons to Believe. They have subscribed to relevant apologetics channels and spend their afternoons typing up emails to pester more seasoned apologists with, all in the sake of knowledge. Now, I’ve done all of the above and more but I still feel like I haven’t earned my dollar, maybe like 65 cents. Now my question is not about completing my dollar. My question is after that, now what? Lord knows that there are tonnes of online resources to speed you along to that dollar. Most websites provide the basics of apologetics and maybe some more detailed material. But there are few more advanced resources for those wanting to multiply their money. So my question is how do I turn my dollar to ten? and how do I turn that into 100 and the 100 to 1000 and so on? What resources (think:free) other than a business degree(degree in apologetics) or buying a bunch of books on money(buying apologetic books) can I use to multiply my money?
Secondly, at what amount of money should a person begin to look at the other side of the story. At what point does an apologist in training have enough knowledge to look and examine atheist content without completely crumbling, like what less seasoned apologists would do instead of critically examining the objections and content. I am by no means seasoned and I still have that knee jerk crumbling reflex. But, my question is, at what point should an apologist in training start examining atheist content to see what kind of arguments they will be going against and how to counter them. What level of knowledge is a good foundation before going into the belly of the beasts?
I think you misunderstood the point of the analogy (which I got from J. Warner Wallace, by the way). The “Million Dollar” VS. the “One Dollar” doesn’t have anything to do with the amount of knowledge you possess, but with the amount of fame and/or academic credentials. So, examples of a “Million Dollar Apologist” would be people like William Lane Craig, Alvin Plantinga, J.P Moreland, N.T Wright, Gary Habermas, and Michael Licona. These men are world renowned experts in their fields, and some of them have doctorates in more than one field! For example, William Lane Craig doesn’t just have a PH.D in philosophy, he has a PH.D in Theology as well! They’re like the “rock stars” of the apologetics world.
A “Dollar Apologist” by contrast, would be just your average person who may not have a lot of fame or academic credentials under his belt. He may just be a local pastor, or an electrician who spends his free time studying apologetics and theology, gaining knowledge which he calls upon when witnessing to unbelievers. He need not know only the basics either. He may have studied so much for so many years that people sometimes instinctively call him “doctor” which he must correct because he doesn’t have a doctorate, he has just read a lot of books and listened to a lot of podcasts. I know a person like that. That person is me.
When Wallace and I said we need a million of these, the reason we said it is that the growing secularism and pagan spiritualism in western culture will essentially die the death of a thousand cuts. If every Christian has more than just “Jesus loves you and died for you” that he can tell the unbeliever, imagine the impact that would have on the culture! For one thing, more non-Christians will probably come to faith because their intellectual barriers will be removed even if they never watch a Dr. Craig debate. Another effect is that doubting Christians will feel more open to express their doubts and ask hard questions in the church because they’ll feel that they’re in an environment that appreciates asking and thinking about hard questions about God. And if there’s a bunch of dollar apologists in the congregation, and the pastor has also done his homework, chances are that the questioner will receive a satisfactory answer. Or if he doesn’t, the pastor will say “That’s a good question. I don’t know how to answer it. But let’s ask an expert like Dr. William Lane Craig or Dr. Michael Heiser. These guys are a lot smarter than I am. Perhaps we can find a satisfying answer together.”
This isn’t to say we don’t need million dollar apologists. We definitely do. After all, where do you think guys like me got their knowledge from? These guys are kind of like my professors! Million dollar apologists are needed to create dollar apologists, for one thing. Moreover, the million dollar apologists themselves have had gigantic impacts on the intellectual life of the church, keeping doubters from falling away and bringing skeptics in. But I tend to think of people like William Lane Craig and J.P Moreland as like commanding generals with the rest of us as foot soldiers. A good army needs a good general, but it also needs a large number of well trained fighting men.
If you’ve mastered the content of William Lane Craig’s “On Guard” and studied Lee Strobel’s “Case For” series, chances are you’re more than well prepared for the average garden variety skeptic who’s best attempt at debunking your faith is either the problem of evil, saying evolution is a fact, or “Haha! You believe in a sky daddy!” Of course, there are more sophisticated atheists which will require more training, but you won’t need a doctorate in philosophy to deal with the average Joe. And if you can do this, you’re already a One Dollar Apologist.
Regarding when you should look at atheist arguments; I’ve never been really good or really comfortable at answering this question. In one sense, I just want to tell the questioner to “Go for it” because, even if it causes them to doubt, I know there are good answers available to resolve any doubts that have been created. Truth cannot crumble under scrutiny. And if Christianity is really true, then it will never be falsified no matter how much scrutiny it’s put under. And I also think doubting can be a healthy thing. In my experience, doubting and having my doubts resolved repeatedly has been the intellectual equivalent of building muscle. When a person first works out, he puts stress on his muscles and they get somewhat damaged leaving him to feel sore the next day. But then his muscles heal. And as he repeats this process, his muscles become stronger and stronger and can handle more and more stress. The constant deconstructing and reconstructing of the muscles eventually leads to man being rippled and being able to lift some really heavy stuff! Today, things that used to make me really question the truth of Christianity don’t affect me anymore. I know how to answer the logical and evidential problems of evil, most objections concerning the doctrine of Hell, I have the arguments for God’s existence down ingrained deeply into my brain such that I can give an entire improptu lecture on them.
Doubting can be a scary thing, but it’s good. Doubting false beliefs can lead you to affirm better beliefs. Doubting true beliefs can lead to a stronger confidence in them. I’ve experienced both and I think I have more robust worldview than I had 10 years ago.
If by “crumbling” you mean doubting, yeah that will probably happen a few times. But when it does, go see what an apologist like William Lane Craig or Frank Turek had to say about it. If you can’t find any material, e-mail Craig or e-mail me and we’ll deal with it in an article (FYI, I’m more likely to write a response than he is simply because he gets more mail).
If by “crumbling”, you mean apostasy, this won’t necessarily happen either. However, it could. And this is the reason why I said I’m hesitant to tell people to look at anti-Christian arguments. I’m hesitant to tell them NOT to because I think it’s intellectually dishonest to only look at arguments that support your beliefs. I don’t want to advise someone to live in an echo chamber. But at the same time, I don’t want to tell someone to grab a copy of one of Graham Oppey’s or Sam Harris’ books and have them become an atheist. I don’t want the eternal damnation of someone on my conscience. So I’m stuck in a Catch 22. If I tell people “Stay away from that stuff”, people will tell me I’m advocating Christians to be in echo chambers. If I say “Go right ahead. Here’s a list of material to dive into.” I run the risk of ruining the faith of a weaker brother. So, I really hate receiving this question or some variation of it. Even though objective truth cannot crumble under scrutiny, that doesn’t mean an individuals confidence in it cannot.
The only advice I’m really comfortable giving is to expose yourself to all kinds of content and pray that God keeps you from heresy. Pray to God to guide you by His Spirit. Ask Him when and if you should pick up a certain book. He is, after all, “the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
You asked \\\”What resources (think:free) other than a business degree(degree in apologetics) or buying a bunch of books on money(buying apologetic books) can I use to multiply my money?”\\\ — Using money as an analogy for knowledge, I would suggest several resources.
You can check out Inspiring Philosophy’s YouTube videos. They can be found on YouTube and on his website InspiringPhilosophy.org. Michael Jones (the one who makes the videos) has a ton of well researched content on a variety of different subjects; Arguments For God’s Existence, The the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, the reliability of The New Testament, The Problem Of Evil, Genesis 1-11, creation and evolution, biblical archeology, and so much more. His videos are properly categorized according to subject matter on InspiringPhilosophy.org, so when I watch his videos I usually go there rather than to his YouTube channel.
I would also suggest you to take advantage of all the content Cerebral Faith has to offer. Read as many of my blog posts as you can, watch my YouTube videos on the Cerebral Faith YouTube channel, listen to The Cerebral Faith Podcast. All of these are free resources as well and you’ll get a ton of great content. I’ve also written a few books, but since you’re asking about free resources, I’ll just limit it to my blog, podcast, and YouTube channel. Regarding The Cerebral Faith Podcast, you can either start from the beginning and listen to all of them until the most recent one or you can just hop around. Most of them are topical episodes and don’t require a lot of background knowledge. The Podcast is available right here on CerebralFaith.net, but you can also listen to it on Anchor, Stitcher, Spotify, Podbean, and iTunes.
William Lane Craig’s Defenders Podcast is EXCELLENT! Defenders is a Sunday school class held at a church in Atlanta where Craig teaches apologetics and systematic theology every week. They come in both video form or audio form. I like watching the videos because you get to see slides and biblical passages and logical syllogisms that come up on the screen, stuff Craig writes on the blackboard, and so on. But if you’d like to listen on the go, you can listen to it in pure audio form on Sticher or the Reasonable Faith app. Defenders is divided up into different topics; The Doctrine of Revelation, The Attributes Of God, The Existence Of God, The Doctrine Of Christ, The Doctrine of The Trinity, and so on. He gets really into the weeds. It’s basically like free online courses. Plus, Craig has occasional question and answer segments where people physically present ask him questions and he responds.
Another free resource I’d recommend is The Naked Bible Podcast hosted by Trey Strickland and Dr. Michael S. Heiser. This isn’t an apologetics podcast per se. It’s biblical studies stuff. However, some of what you learn will be useful in defending Christianity. If you understand The Bible, you can adequately defend The Bible. Heiser’s podcast gets REALLY deep in the weeds. He has topical episodes, but he also has entire book studies where he will exegete entire books of The Bible quoting from commentaries and scholarly papers, and giving his own thoughts. The podcast has gone about 360 something episodes, and I have listened to almost all of them. It is well worth it. It’s like a free seminary education.
Frank Turek’s “Cross Examined” podcast and the various blog posts on CrossExamined.org are another good free resource for you to check out. I would also have you check out Rethinking Hell.