C.S. Lewis said he was never less convinced of the truth of Christianity than when he had been vigorously defending it.
I have the same kind of problem but not just with Christianity or Mormonism. Politics or history or economics or culture or beauty, its all the same. I get into a good debate, maybe I win, maybe I lose, but to my own self my arguments seem like straw and my convictions like wisps of clouds.
(Disclaimer: I am not one who objects to Mormon apologists. I see that they do necessary and honorable work in the service of the King of men. My trouble is with *my* apologetics, not with the enterprise of apologetics, and is mine alone. Whether anyone other than, perhaps, C.S. Lewis, shares it I do not know and cannot say.)
Monday a possible explanation for my trouble popped into my head. My trouble might be that when I get into a debate my object is to persuade the other person, or defend myself, or even just to win, and I’m using arguments mostly not because they are true (though they are usually true) but because they are helpful, and my convictions not because I am convinced of them (though I usually am) but because they block my opponent’s lines of attack.
That explanation has a lot of evidence behind it:
-In my general experience argument is a good source of new insights but I never really develop the insight until later when I am mulling over the new line of attack I came up with the debate and decide that there’s something to it.
-Elder Moro and I got into a long, fruitless debate with a Jehovah’s Witness girl on her doorstep. When we gave up on persuading her and gave up on touching her with the spirit, we bore testimony anyway as we turned to leave, because testimony was our refuge. The Holy Ghost came on all three of us and she leaned against the doorway, sobbing.
-a Missouri soldier in my basic training company came from a strong anti-Mormon Baptist background. He kept needling me and I kept parrying. He made me angry enough that I eventually gave up arguing, or explaining that I had a spiritual witness, or recounting my experiences. I told him the restoration was true and he could got to hell. The Holy Ghost came on us. He started to cry and I started to cry and he looked as disconcerted as I felt.