I have had a great interest in Apologetics in the early days of my Christian life. At some point, I wanted to be an Apologist myself. Many great apologists attracted me such as Hank Hanegraaff, Ravi Zacharia, and Matt of carm.org. I think I have read pretty much everything on carm.org. It helped me to understand different cults, bad theologies etc. I have to admit that my primary intention of learning these stuff was to use my knowledge to bash others who belong to such groups and to win the argument with others who don't believe what I believe(Wrong motive!).
Later, I learned something the FBI does to identify counterfeit dollar currencies. They won’t spend time studying all the counterfeits in the world, but they study the real currency thoroughly so that the moment they see a counterfeit they can easily identify that it is a fake. There are always going to be new counterfeits, new cults, new theologies, new philosophies etc. The trick to identify the ‘the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming’ is knowing the real thing.
I gained a lot of knowledge and I think I was more of a student of religion than the follower of Jesus.
There is this verse in 2 Thimothy 3:
always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.
Or in another translation it says,
always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth
That was me! I wouldn’t say the knowledge did not help at all. In fact it did help a great way but I did not come (arrive) to the knowledge of truth. I didn't come to a conclusion. I was still in the 'seeking' mode.
I Corinthians 2:9-10 says,
However, as it is written:
"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him"
I have seen people stop that verse there and use it to make points such as ‘it is impossible to know the things of God’. But the verse continues as follows,
but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
I think every ‘but’ in the scripture comes with some kind of surprise. BUT God has revealed it to us by His Spirit. From my life experience, I would be able to boldly say that UNLESS it is revealed to us by His Spirit, all our knowledge stays in our head. When the Spirit start to reveal the things of God, the ‘head’ slowly goes out of the picture and heart comes in to the picture.
One of the questions I always struggle with is, what is the point in sharing the Gospel to a person who doesn’t even believe Bible is the word of God and Jesus is God or even doubt the existence of God. I have tried to use Apologetics, Scientific evidences of creation such as Newton's first law of thermodynamics, etc to convince such people but so far I haven’t seen anybody who has really convinced just by the logical reasoning based on these facts. I still value the genuine work some people do in this regard. I would highly recommend books like ‘More than a Carpenter’ to any skeptics. But the point is, UNLESS and UNTIL the Spirit reveals the truth they wouldn’t come to a conclusion of the reality of Christ's love and His salvation. The only 'problem' I see in those who come to believe in Jesus through Apologetics is that they believe because of the compulsion of their intelligence. If we think, it is pretty easy to rule out any possibilities of evolution, Big Bang etc with a little intellect, logic, history and science.
I think apologetics can be a starting point of any skeptic's faith journey but the true faith is beyond the intellectual capabilities of our finite mind. True faith (not just belief) sees the 'unseen' and start walking in that reality. They not only knows that the chair can hold them (belief) but they go and sit in the chair (faith). It is not enough to believe that Jesus is the way but there requires a response of faith which lead to us to resting (sitting in the chair). This is possible only when it is supernaturally revealed to us by the Spirit of God. I think it was Joel once said, the love and grace of God cannot be taught but it has to be caught. When it is revealed to us by God, we will catch it and it usually is a big 'AHA' moment; then as we start the journey, there will be a lot more 'AHA' moments. And thats where the fun starts!