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While I agree that the study of apologetics is a vital part of being a mature child of God, how much effort should we put into it alongside studying theology? While I most definitely try to do my part in studying apologetics, I sometimes feel that it can be a distraction of the most important of all Christian study, which is the study of God's word.

I personally have difficulty maintaining a comfortable balance between these two fields of study. Too much study of apologetics i feel leads to a numbing down of my relationship with God, while to much study of theology leads to me being confident of my understanding and walk with God, but lacking the ability to discuss my worldview in the public square.

Am I the only person who struggles with keeping this balance? If anyone could give advice and share their opinions then I would be delighted. Thanks.

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abc

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Re: How much should a Christian study apologetics proportional to theology?
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2013, 08:52:12 am »
While I agree that the study of apologetics is a vital part of being a mature child of God, how much effort should we put into it alongside studying theology? While I most definitely try to do my part in studying apologetics, I sometimes feel that it can be a distraction of the most important of all Christian study, which is the study of God's word.

I personally have difficulty maintaining a comfortable balance between these two fields of study. Too much study of apologetics i feel leads to a numbing down of my relationship with God, while to much study of theology leads to me being confident of my understanding and walk with God, but lacking the ability to discuss my worldview in the public square.

Am I the only person who struggles with keeping this balance? If anyone could give advice and share their opinions then I would be delighted. Thanks.

My advice is to spend about 5% of your energies on theology and considerably less on apologetics. Spend about 25% on your energy on being a good person and doing good things. The rest of your time should be taken up with sleep and hangout out with friends. If you work, you do some of that, too. Also, get yourself a lover or two so you can give theology entirely.

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troyjs

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Re: How much should a Christian study apologetics proportional to theology?
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2013, 09:05:21 am »
Theology is foundational to apologetics, and so we must know what we believe before we should try to defend it.

The difference between the 2 can be unified when we look at the 'why we believe' as something which points to the common source of both dogmatic/systematic theology, and apologetics. When we try to study the sources themselves, we fulfill both tasks because by studying Scripture or the light of nature, we organically come to know the 'what', alongside of the 'why'.

By learning that the universe is not eternally exiatent through science, and scripture, we learn the 'what' alongside the 'why'.

By remembering that knowledge is a gift from God, we can grow in humility as we come to see reality as so much more bigger than ourselves, and as we come to know the greatness of God and what He has done for us.

The risk is that we may allow ourselves to be puffed-up and become prideful. However, the more we reflect on the truth God teaches us, the more we see how dependent upon Him we are for all that we have and do. This way, as we grow in maturity, we are sanctified and are brought by grace to grow in holiness.

John 17:17
 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
“Knowledge of the sciences is so much smoke apart from the heavenly science of Christ” -- John Calvin.
“I consider looseness with words no less of a defect than looseness of the bowels” -- John Calvin

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grosso

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Re: How much should a Christian study apologetics proportional to theology?
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2013, 09:13:43 am »
While I agree that the study of apologetics is a vital part of being a mature child of God, how much effort should we put into it alongside studying theology? While I most definitely try to do my part in studying apologetics, I sometimes feel that it can be a distraction of the most important of all Christian study, which is the study of God's word.

I personally have difficulty maintaining a comfortable balance between these two fields of study. Too much study of apologetics i feel leads to a numbing down of my relationship with God, while to much study of theology leads to me being confident of my understanding and walk with God, but lacking the ability to discuss my worldview in the public square.

Am I the only person who struggles with keeping this balance? If anyone could give advice and share their opinions then I would be delighted. Thanks.

My advice is to spend about 5% of your energies on theology and considerably less on apologetics. Spend about 25% on your energy on being a good person and doing good things. The rest of your time should be taken up with sleep and hangout out with friends. If you work, you do some of that, too. Also, get yourself a lover or two so you can give theology entirely.
Salvation by works, or atheism by works, Theo? :)

The problem with Theo's advice is that no matter how good you try to be, you can never reach any meaningful standard of good. It's self-medication, trying to convince yourself and others that you are a "good and acceptable person".

Goodness without God is emptiness.




Stuart, it's hard to put a percentage on it. You have to ask yourself why you are studying apologetics and theology. If it's to serve others, then you go by the need of others.

If you are doing it purely for personal enrichment, then go by what enriches you.

But if you are doing it for God, then read the story of Martha and Mary. Sometimes apologetics can be like Martha, when God wants us to be like Mary.

It's vital to have a solid theological foundation so that you don't end up being a well-educated heretic. But that aside, I think rigorous theology is more vital for your personal walk with God.

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troyjs

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Re: How much should a Christian study apologetics proportional to theology?
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2013, 09:16:13 am »
Remember also that God is our Teacher, and what He wants to teach us, we should do our best to learn.

It is sinful to know that the Holy Spirit has inspired a writer of the Bible so that we may know something, and then to ignore it.

To ignore or decide not to learn all that God teaches us, is to ignore God.

If God has blessed you with resources such as the Bible in your language, and study hepls, then it would be a great shame to say to God, 'Thanks, but no thanks. I have better things to do with my time'.

Ofcourse, learning thhe truths God reveals to us also means living them out in our relationships and our jobs/school  Being a student means we seek to apply what God teaches us, at every opportunity.
“Knowledge of the sciences is so much smoke apart from the heavenly science of Christ” -- John Calvin.
“I consider looseness with words no less of a defect than looseness of the bowels” -- John Calvin

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:)

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Re: How much should a Christian study apologetics proportional to theology?
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2013, 01:55:53 pm »
Thank you very much for the helpful responses. :)

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abc

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Re: How much should a Christian study apologetics proportional to theology?
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2013, 06:08:55 pm »
The problem with Theo's advice is that no matter how good you try to be, you can never reach any meaningful standard of good. It's self-medication, trying to convince yourself and others that you are a "good and acceptable person".

You don't think there's any meaningful standard of good? Why do you think that?

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depthcharge623

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Re: How much should a Christian study apologetics proportional to theology?
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2013, 06:47:50 pm »
The problem with Theo's advice is that no matter how good you try to be, you can never reach any meaningful standard of good. It's self-medication, trying to convince yourself and others that you are a "good and acceptable person".

You don't think there's any meaningful standard of good? Why do you think that?

That's not what he said.  He said we can't reach any meaningful standard of good.

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abc

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Re: How much should a Christian study apologetics proportional to theology?
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2013, 06:55:43 pm »
The problem with Theo's advice is that no matter how good you try to be, you can never reach any meaningful standard of good. It's self-medication, trying to convince yourself and others that you are a "good and acceptable person".

You don't think there's any meaningful standard of good? Why do you think that?

That's not what he said.  He said we can't reach any meaningful standard of good.

We'll see, of course, but that's not how I read it. He added "self-medication." I think his point was that the very idea of a standard of good is an illusion (not that it was real and unattainable.)

Either way... I hope he'll explain his rather radical view.

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grosso

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Re: How much should a Christian study apologetics proportional to theology?
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2013, 07:31:37 pm »
You don't think there's any meaningful standard of good? Why do you think that?

That's not what he said.  He said we can't reach any meaningful standard of good.

Pretty much this.

Thanks for understanding what I meant.

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abc

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Re: How much should a Christian study apologetics proportional to theology?
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2013, 07:34:01 pm »
You don't think there's any meaningful standard of good? Why do you think that?

That's not what he said.  He said we can't reach any meaningful standard of good.

Pretty much this.

Thanks for understanding what I meant.

So your point was that we cannot actually achieve goodness, eh? Why do you think that? Why is saying to some "be good" a foolish piece of advice in your mind?

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grosso

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Re: How much should a Christian study apologetics proportional to theology?
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2013, 07:41:43 pm »
You don't think there's any meaningful standard of good? Why do you think that?

That's not what he said.  He said we can't reach any meaningful standard of good.

Pretty much this.

Thanks for understanding what I meant.

So your point was that we cannot actually achieve goodness, eh? Why do you think that? Why is saying to some "be good" a foolish piece of advice in your mind?

What is goodness?

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abc

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Re: How much should a Christian study apologetics proportional to theology?
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2013, 07:43:03 pm »
You don't think there's any meaningful standard of good? Why do you think that?

That's not what he said.  He said we can't reach any meaningful standard of good.

Pretty much this.

Thanks for understanding what I meant.

So your point was that we cannot actually achieve goodness, eh? Why do you think that? Why is saying to some "be good" a foolish piece of advice in your mind?

What is goodness?

Good question. I don't have a good answer for you.

13

idunno

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Re: How much should a Christian study apologetics proportional to theology?
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2013, 07:55:40 pm »
Regarding the OP, I think it's unwise to delve into apologetics without a good theological foundation to stand on. Why defend a faith you don't really understand? Once you've got a solid grasp of the fundamentals, which isn't as easy as it sounds, then feel free to test the apologetic waters. What you don't want to do is be one who can easily deal with atheistic arguments, but has trouble answering questions from young children at your church.

I'm currently investing in Aquinas' thought. Given the high academic nature of it, I have to keep reminding myself that the pushing through the metaphysics will eventually yield great theological fruit. Indeed, understanding the distinction between essence and existence should enable me to answer the question "who made God"?

There's also the edification one gets from studying theology that isn't equally present in apologetics.
“...these things- the beauty, the memory of our past- …are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never visited.”
- Clive