A while back, a Christian friend emailed me with a challenge to Christianity that was troubling her. I gladly answered her question, and she thanked me and responded,
I think I thought I could avoid apologetics and just tuck away these types of questions that creep into my mind and assume that someone out there has an answer for them. Yes, I am still someone who cringes when I hear some apologists speak, because I think that somehow the “love the Lord your God with all your mind” is crowding out the heart and soul parts.
This is a very common objection to apologetics—the fear that apologetics will somehow stifle your love for God,* but I think it reflects a misunderstanding of people and God’s gifts in general.
I know a lot of apologists. I have one apologist friend who demanded I debate his arguments against my claim that I disliked Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, and I know other ones like Gary Habermas who move me to tears with their emotional words about Jesus. What I’ve discovered is that this all has to do with innate personality. People are worried that if they study apologetics they’ll end up like [fill in the blank], when in reality, it just isn’t going to change your personality. Instead, the information will be filtered through your own personality and used for everyone’s benefit in your unique way.
In the case of apologetics, you see a lot of one type of personality (logical, reasoning, persuasive) because those are the gifts that tend to make a person interested in apologetics. In other words, it’s not the using of apologetics that makes a person have an emphasis on logic and analysis; it’s the person who already has an emphasis on logic and analysis who is drawn to apologetics. (Note here that I’m happy to say I think the apologist stereotype is changing somewhat as more and more people get involved in using apologetics to meet the needs of their family and friends. See what Natasha Crain had to say about this here.)
Because of their special gifts and the corresponding personality traits, apologists of the type described above generally have to be more deliberate about developing and communicating the “heart” part of loving God (if by “heart” you mean artistic, emotional, right-brained approaches). But trust me, they’re passionate about God; they just express it in a different way—the way God created them to express it for the good of all.
Different hearts are drawn to different aspects of God’s character. I know that my heart rejoices when it meditates on apologetics, and I’m often moved to worship as I’m studying. To those who have a very different gift—perhaps of mercy—this might sound unbelievable. They know only the joy of their own gift and think deep down that their service, since they’re blessed so incredibly through it, must be the true way of communing with God.
In the same way, I think apologists sometimes forget that not everyone “feels God’s pleasure” just by talking about apologetics, so they don’t think to mention the fulfillment and closeness to God it brings for them. They just assume everyone is experiencing it! But those who are not experiencing it may not realize it’s present at all, leaving the impression that no heart is involved.
We make the mistake sometimes of thinking everyone will be as fulfilled by our specific gifts as we are, forgetting that we’re created for different purposes. I too often see people trying to get others to join them in their particular “most important” gift, but what we really need is to realize that all the gifts are valid and to rejoice in the diversity that makes up the whole, healthy Body, understanding that each person is most blessed (and most blesses others) by fulfilling his own gifts. Let’s appreciate each other, men and women, and smile and thank God whenever we’re bemused by someone enjoying God in ways we can’t understand, in areas in which we don’t have the least bit of interest. Thank God there’s someone to take care of each kind of thing—and find joy in it! You need not fear that benefiting from another’s gift will cause you to enjoy your own less.
So make use of your local apologists—God has raised them up to help you just as He raised you up in your gifts to help them.
*I do think it can stifle your love for God if the time you spend on apologetics causes you to neglect the ordinary means of communing personally with Him that He’s provided for us (e.g., prayer, praise, repentance, Bible reading, fellowship with other believers, etc.—see here for more on this).