The strategy used in a fight can be more important than the power of the punch. Just ask George Foreman and Muhammad Ali.
Be ready and willing to defend the faith, absolutely; but try to be smart about it. Sometimes you can rope-a-dope by letting your opponents exhaust themselves on each other.
Maybe you noticed when the Apostle Paul did just that in Acts 23. He was being accused by a uniformly hostile group of devout Jewish academics. They were unified by their opposition to him. So what did he do? First, he sized up the crowd — they were a mixed group of Pharisees and Sadducees. Second he had an awareness of what other people believed, and could interact with those beliefs. Third, he used wisdom. As one man, he couldn’t overcome the hostility of an entire crowd. But he could harness the energy of the crowd itself.
He leveraged a long-standing schism between these factions (belief in the miraculous), and pronounced his agreement with them. Suddenly, half the group saw him as an ally, and came to his defense. The strength of his opposition was not only cut in half (part of the crowd defected) but it was directed against a crowd of opponents, rather than a single individual. He lost little (the Sadducees were naturally hostile to ideas like Resurrection anyway) and swayed the Pharisees from open hostility to tentative interest. “What if a spirit or angel HAS spoken to him?”
We can, and should do the same thing today. For example, instead of going toe-to-toe with atheism, why not put forward the argument of an atheist who challenges a major tenet of their beliefs, and let them duke it out in-house? Here is an example of that process in action. Atheist Thomas Nagel has challenged some of the major tenets of prominent atheist Daniel Denett, and they’re decrying him as a heretic. Let them pound on each other. Why should you take the hit if you don’t have to?
Here is an excerpt:
“The neo-Darwinian materialist account offers a picture of the world that is unrecognizable to us—a world without color or sound, and also a world without free will or consciousness or good and evil or selves or, when it comes to that, selflessness. “It flies in the face of common sense,” [Nagel] says. Materialism is an explanation for a world we don’t live in….”