Why Christians Should Argue More & Fight Less When Debating One Another
‘We cannot defend the truth by creating caricatures’. So stands the conviction of the White Horse Inn as they have been engaging in debates with people from all sorts of theological persuasions over the last two decades. The web is a trolls dream come true as they move around from blog to blog and twitter feed to twitter feed causing havoc and leaving pernicious, ill-informed comments about a host of theological topics, safe in the anonymity of their own home. For instance, Calvinists become those who hate evangelism and don’t love people and Arminians become theological lightweights with an anemic view of God’s Sovereignty. Discussion in this arena can quickly become personal, aggressive and completely at odds with Scripture’s urgings to brotherly love and particular respect for our enemy. Instead of having a good argument, what ensues is a fight in which the other position is caricatured and both sides end up talking over one another rather than with one another.
The White Horse Inn has written an excellent article here in which they remind us that what we say matters. I would encourage you to take the time to read and digest it. I have been reminded of the importance of guarding my words again this week as I prepare my sermon for Sunday on Ephesians 4:29-32. Paul, here, encourages the church to use their tongue for building up and not for tearing down. Change that to the written word in the context of this article and you get the picture. I am very thankful that on this blog people are generally respectful even if they disagree with me. Thankfully, I have a feature which allows me to approve (or not) those who wish to make themselves heard on the particular topics I deal with. Not everybody makes it through this process if I feel that what they are saying is (1) not genuine. By that I mean is this person trying to be controversial or do they have a genuine point to make. (2) If they are respectful and coherent then I will allow their response. Interestingly, on my blog I receive more correspondence through email or on Facebook than I do on the blog itself. I think that often these people want to keep their opinions out of the blogosphere. That’s fine and these conversations are usually healthy and well thought through.
Of course, pretty much most of what I write here is my personal opinion. That’s the point of it being my blog. Some of it is jest and some of it is a nod to internet quirkiness. Much of it is serious thought or my own thinking out loud about topics I am still digesting and trying to work out in my own ministry. I am happy in all of this to have discussions with people about what I write and, if I can, argue my point from the Scriptures. Sometimes I will be right and sometimes I will be wrong. Some of it will be down to poor communication and writing skills and some of it down to a lack of mature thinking on a subject. All of it will be out of a heart to engage my Reformed convictions with the messiness of my particular ministry. Of course, it is all open for good-natured, biblical critique by those who follow and read what I say. The point is not that we argue over these things, but the spirit in which we do it as believers. The article end with this reminder:
In the din of talking heads shouting at each other, Christians have a great opportunity in the current atmosphere to end quarrels by offering a few good, at least better, arguments.
Wise words and good counsel. Have a good day.