But on the other hand, there are certain pitfalls that can appear that, when left unchecked, can become character traits and make you a foolish apologist. Although there are surely more, here are Ten Pitfalls of the Foolish Apologist:
- The foolish apologist speaks before listening. Proverbs 18:13 says, "He who answers before listening - that is his folly and his shame." Not only does he communicate to others that he could care less about what they have to say, but he also becomes unable to give a well informed answer. The wise apologist is patient, seeks to understand, and avoids monologue.
- The foolish apologist overstates his argument. The foolish apologist doesn't have "good reasons." Instead, he can prove it. He can show something beyond the shadow of a doubt. His arguments are presented with all confidence -- and of course he can't be wrong. Even when using good arguments, he exaggerates what they actually show. No modesty here, and people balk. The wise apologist argues confidently, yet with modesty.
- The foolish apologist wants to win every point. When the conversation gets complex, he needs to make sure to correct every single error he sees with another person's view. Never mind that his conversation partner is getting offended by his "attention to detail." This apologist is the fallacy police, the fact-checker, and grammarian all-in-one. If he makes an error, back-pedaling is in order, with little or no admission of wrong. The wise apologist can discern what really matters in a conversation.
- The foolish apologist chases red herrings. If the topic is the resurrection, just bring up evolution. The foolish apologist will happily hop down any bunny trail that appears. The conversation goes in all directions. He can't make any progress in an argument because he can't spot red herrings, distractions, and non-issues. In fact, he may often enjoy these deviations from focused dialogue, because he's proud of his expertise in his own pet subject areas. The wise apologist knows how to stick to one point.
- The foolish apologist is proud of himself. He likes the fact that he knows terms that make the "novices" around him cock their heads. He secretly commends himself for reading more books in a month than most people do in a year. He enjoys the sound of his own voice, and thinks he does a pretty good job in an internet forum. Apologetics is his tool to show the world he can flex his intellectual muscle. He's received his reward. The wise apologist humbles himself before God, and looks upon himself with sober judgment.
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