Busy, busy, busy. A word many of us are familiar with. Even if we aren’t busy compared to others, we all still find ourselves at times too busy to do everything we would like to. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it simply means we have priorities and personal enjoyment tends to fall pretty low on the list. Unfortunately for a lot of Christians today, so does learning about the faith we profess. Have you ever met someone so smart, so knowledgeable about something you’re interested in and wished you had more time and resources to achieve that level? I know I have and I hope to help with that.
Please understand, this post will not make you an expert, but it should serve to point you in the right direction. Also, before you begin studying church history and apologetics it is very important to note that these things are no replacement for daily Bible study and devotion. The Bible is always the final source and sole authority. That being said, church history and apologetics certainly have their benefits of study.
Now, how is this supposed to be easy? Well, it’s not actually. If you want to learn you have to put in a certain level of effort, as well as be of a mind to do so. The first step is to set aside time. Whether it’s 15 minutes a day, an hour a week, or whatever you can fit into your schedule, set aside a consistent time that you can devote to learning.
But what if I don’t know where to start? I’ve set aside my time, how do I learn? I’ve put together a list for just that purpose. The more you study, the more you will find what resources you like best, but here are a few of my favourite sites:
Biblical Training offers multiple courses on a wide variety of topics, from biblical survey for new believers to biblical languages. The lessons are all on video, though a majority have transcripts if you prefer to read. The videos are usually between 30 minutes to an hour in length, so if you only set aside 15 minutes a day, you may wish to view only one video in a week, or forgo this resource entirely.
5 Minutes in Church History gives us exactly what its name offers. Dr. Stephen Nichol’s, a favourite of mine, spends 5 minutes a week sharing this podcast that is informative and concise. A person could add this to their daily study by listening to previously aired episodes.
Got questions? Or maybe you don’t but would like to browse the answers to other people’s questions. In any case, Got Questions is a great site for reading brief, but informative articles on thousands of topics.
Reasonable Theology. Presenting the layman with sound theology and a biblical look at things like church history, and have a great section on apologetics.
Theopedia is a theological encyclopedia. I would suggest it either for looking up new terms you come across and don’t understand or reading it simply to acquaint yourself with theological terms and systems.
Of the resources I’ve offered so far, Monergism has the clearest theological lean, which is monergistic. It is still a trusted resource for many things, whether theology, apologetics, or spiritual growth. The site will is more of a directory of trusted articles and pdfs, but well worth having in your repertoire.
As with anything, be sure what you are reading lines up with scripture. These are a few of my favourite resources, but unfortunately they are run by fallible humans, so be sure you don’t take what you read as scripture and always test everything.
To benefit from brief study with these resources, I would suggest daily reading or listening to keep the things you learn fresh and to develop the habit. There are a variety of ways a person could organise the way they spread out their study over the week. This is up to the individual person, but I’ll share my personal order for example. I try to read books and do in-depth study, but it isn’t always possible with my schedule so I force myself to do at least minimal daily work. In addition to daily Bible reading, I make it my goal to read at least one article and watch one informative video (podcast, debate, or lecture) a day. In my free time I like to do art and crafts I find on the internet, so I multitask by listening while I do this. Apologia Studios, The Dividing Line, and the Line of Fire are a few of my favourite podcasts. For church history lectures I strongly recommend Ryan Reeves from Gordon-Conwell seminary. All of which can be found on YouTube.
The important thing is to develop a routine, an intentional pattern of time to devote to studying. You may not become a scholar on this method but you will find, as I have, that the knowledge you gain from daily study will add up over time. If you have any other recommendations, share them in the comments!