I can remember thinking, even recently, that Christian apologists were bunch of tighty-whitey wearing grown up home-school kids. I know it's a caricature but that was the brand I sizzled on the realm of Apologetics. I thought that we as Christians should be more interested in sharing the love of Jesus with the world, if you go around arguing with people you sure aren't loving them, are you? Now I understand the false dichotomy I had set up. Sharing the love of Jesus can often take the form of sharing well-thought out reasons to why I believe in Christ in the first place. Surely there are some 'apologists' that seem to have forgotten that Jesus didn't die win a logical argument but there are just as many Christians who are bashful about sharing Jesus, under the guise of compassion.
I think all this crystallized while reading St. Augustine's Confessions. A third of the way through the book Augustine still isn't Christian and he reflecting on how he ended up where he did. He writes,
Even before I left Carthage I had listened to the speeches of a man named Elipidus, who used to join in open controversy with the Manichees, and I had been impressed when he put forward arguments from scripture which were not easy to demolish (105 Penguin).
Elipidus might not control a large part of Augustine's narrative but Augustine was affected by the great gravity of Elipidus' apologetic. After reading that section in the Confessions I saw that apologetics weren't just some invention of 'modernism', nor an expression of Christian hubris, but rather a cogent voice of faithfulness to our Lord in a culture that often runs counter to the cross.