Everyone is more or less aware of my own stance on Apologetics in reference to myself: I don’t do it. But a few shower thoughts (literally) have occurred to me, and which I think are nevertheless important, and which are too long for twitter. My aim is not nonbelievers, but rather the Christian himself.
I’ve noticed a trend in Christian Apologetics, especially those that attempt to have a “scientific backing,” that attempts to have Here is the proof, therefore you must believe. But given the nature of Faith, argumentative proof for God does not compel belief. Nevertheless, this is not the argument I want to make in opposition; rather, the primary function of Apologetics and its secondary effects.
I would argue that the primary function of Apologetics is to defend Christianity, and its secondary effects are conversion. In a sense, the substance of Apologetics is defense, and any conversions that occur from it are accidental.
Now it is clear that a mean is necessary to reach an end; such that, for want of a stable income, the mean of a career is necessary, and such is the same for all things desired. For natural ends, natural means suffice to reach it; however, for supernatural ends, natural means will not suffice–only a supernatural means will reach it; for it is not within the capacity of a lower ordered thing to reach the higher. Now the supernatural end is that of Faith in desiring conversion, but Apologetics, which deals with rational discourse against the attacks of opinions of heretics and unbelievers alike, is a natural means; for discursive thought belongs to man naturally, and he is able to act as such without supernatural aid, but Faith requires the necessity of grace, and man cannot believe without this aid. Therefore it follows that Apologetics cannot act as a means for granting Faith in itself; however, should God deem it fit, as He is accustomed to do through his creation, He may grant the nonbeliever the graces of Faith through forms of Apologetics. This, however, is not through Apologetics per se, but per accidens; for gifts of grace are given per se by God and not per se by any other means.