In my own study of Christian apologetics, I have noticed a certain tendency toward the defensive. This seems to boarder upon tautology as the very word apologetics means to give an answer or a defense. It is an inherent quality. While there are certainly positive elements to apologetics, and I love apologetics, this practice, being inherently defensive, lacks a certain element: It is not inherently a witness; it is not, in point of fact, the gospel.
I have seen well meaning Christians, in an attempted gospelling, strong arm their prey into an argument. What could have been a conversation turns into a confusing situation for the unbeliever as he struggles to defend a position he never really held until this point, on a subject for which he wouldn’t give a tuppence. Even if they are eloquent and able to deliver their killer arguments without misplacing premise (3), I suspect the recipient of all their labor thinks very badly about the interaction if he thinks on it at all. A further trouble, one I know from internal inspection, is that apologetics has the terrible tendency to make a man feel good and proud about himself. He has defended the faith, from someone who wasn’t attacking it, and shown himself a clever old boy.
This aggressive use of defense can be done well, I think. Given the right situation, goading on an attack might prove the only way to bring someone out of his shell. Such instances are few, if at all.
No. For all the good apologetics does, the removing of obstacles to faith, the gospel itself must take priority. Arguing for the veracity of God’s invasion into a damned world, his torture for our sakes, his victory over death, the defense of these things is not so wonderful as these things are themselves.