I think increasingly we are going to need to be not only the bearers of the gospel to others but a people who have answers available to questions such as, “What about the problem of evil? and “How do I know God exists?” We will need to give basic answers to these objections. Typically, the same questions come up over and over again. You won’t need to learn lots of new material with each person you talk to. If we have a mastery of some of the basics, we can really go a long way. And, as we’re evangelizing, as we’re talking about our faith, we will have greater confidence in presenting the gospel and won’t be daunted by the potential questions that might come up, but rather will say, “I believe the Christian faith does a better job of answering these sorts of questions.” —Paul Copan (From the interview: Starting Right Where I Am)
Some people seem to think that we have to turn our brains off before we do anything religious, but that is not what God wants of us. As John Piper said “the brain God gave you is intended to throw fuel on the fire of your affections for God. It’s really good at it if you let it.” . Exploring the world and theology are related if your mind is open. One is the study of God, the other is the study of what God created. If you can interpret the facts with an open mind, they both blend together quite beautifully.
When I exercise my mind I get excited. The more I know about him, and his creation, the closer, and more in awe of his majesty I am.
It is like exercise of the body at first, and difficult to do at first, if you haven’t done it in awhile, but with prayer God will get you through it.
This also has the benefit of catching those who believe that Christians are unintelligent off guard. I remember one time that I was talking to a group of people on X-box. Somehow the subject of Christians being stupid came up, and that was my chance to shine. For 45 minutes these teenagers who wanted to play a racing game shut up and listened to me talk about God! They had never heard anything like I was saying. God was certainly with me that day to enable me to draw teenage boys away from a game, to hear about God.
If I had not been a book reader, I don’t think that conversation would have been possible.
Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. The Apologetics Study Bible
Christians are often accused of having a God of the gaps mentality, but does the naturalist come out any better by saying that in the future we will have the answer that won’t require God? I don’t really think so. It is a guess, based on their preconceived notions. There is a big difference though, as Christians, we know that God works in two main ways; naturally, and supernaturally. We are open to all sorts of scientific explanations. Naturalist, on the other hand rule out some possibilities before they have collected a piece of evidence.
It is OK to keep looking for evidence to confirm or deny your hypothesis, but at some point you have to go with the evidence you already have. More and more people are beginning to believe that it took an intelligent agent to create the universe as it is how with the ability to support life. This isn’t just a guess, or lazy thinking, it is inferring the best possible explanation
I would never downplay the role of the mind in Christianity. It is part of the most important commandment Matthew 22:36-38 (NIV) 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your MIND.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. (emphasis mine).
But the mental aspect of apologetics isn’t as important as living as a Christian. It doesn’t matter one bit how intelligent your words are if you are living like the devil. There are way to many people out there who say they are Christian, and turn around and commit terrible crimes! Most infamously people like David Koresh, who claimed to be a Christian for most of his “ministry” but later claimed to be Christ himself, and priest who were overly fond of little boys. But there are a lot of people who claim to be Christian with their mouths, but live in ways that completely contradict the word of God. If you are mean, and nasty in one breath, and in the very next talk about the love of God, no one will listen to you. SOME of the things the Rev. Phelps guy says are technically correct but his behavior is so vile that any somewhat decent person who hears him speak will reject everything he says.
Always keep in mind that any time you identify yourself as a Christian people will be watching your conduct. They see you as a reflection of our God. If you act like a jerk, or commit newsworthy crimes this reflects poorly on Christ.
The closer you live to God’s word, the more believable your words about God will be.