My dad was the kind of person who would argue with anyone, anytime on any subject. If someone said the sky is blue, my dad would jump in and say it is yellow just to engage in spirited debate. For reasons unknown to me, he somehow derived satisfaction and pleasure from playing the devil's advocate and/or taking contrary positions just to rile someone. Whatever the reason for his love of word wrangling; I am just thankful I did not inherit it.
From the First Century unto the present hour, Christianity has been ravaged by debates on both the theological and practical sides of our faith. To a certain degree this is a healthy thing for it keeps someone from gaining a "corner on the market" when it comes to matters of faith and practice. As long as the debate stays civil and rational, there can be good and profitable things come from honestly discussing a matter.
But, if the discussion turns away from the attempt to find either the truth or common ground upon which to agree, it usually turns into verbal battles that become so fierce, the inevitable result is division and/or offended parties. Honest discussion is good, but egotistical flaunting of one's supposed intelligence, pedigree or spirituality is a breeding ground for all sorts of bad things.
The early Church was splintered and fractured by horrible debates regarding how much of the Law was still applicable after Pentecost. Subjects such as circumcision were flash points throughout the First Century. By the time John wrote to the seven churches in the book of Revelation, there remained little of the unified and powerful church that arose after Peter's sermon in Acts 2.
Of course it would be wonderful if we all could become like-minded and be of one mind and one heart; but the chances of this ever happening in this life are not encouraging. Humility and submission are absolutely needed to have unity and there is little willingness within Christianity to manifest either.
Whenever someone rides into the community of faith on their big white horse proclaiming they have all the answers, in due time they are proven to have NONE. Whenever someone claims to have the secret code to unlock all the mysteries of the Christian faith, they usually possess NONE. Whenever someone elevates himself to be some "great one", it is ALWAYS proven in due time that they are no one. Humility and arrogance simply do not mix.
For any of us to get along, we must manifest faith, hope, love, patience along with all the other fruit of the spirit. We must respect each other enough to listen instead of feeling compelled to preach at each other all the time. With great patience and understanding, we can at least be civil within the Body of Christ and once in awhile we actually unite in one mind and purpose so as to get something great done-- TOGETHER.
excellent post blessings2you, I too as your dad like a good debate, but I don't like arguments.
Debates should be intelligent debates not emotional debates.
The bible says prove all things, hold fast to that which is good.
There is so much out there that is not good IMO that has been taught as orthodox/mainstream that it is hard not to get into a debate.
The best way to avoid debate is to try as best as one can to avoid stating opinions as fact, make sure if one uses opinions, he states it as his opinion.
Another way is to use the scriptures. Not just what one thinks they say, but what they actually say. There are way too many assumptions in mainstream Christianity.
One such is Adam didn't have to work prior to his sin. Read my blog on "Sabbath in the Garden?" and you'll see what I mean.
Feel free to read my blogs and jump in if you disagree, I'll treat you respectfully.
These are links to a story about monks fighting in a Bethlehem church, supposedly the one built on the ground where Jesus was born. It is the embodiment of what you are talking about. The second link is a video of the actual fighting.
Events like this are all the more embarrassing when they make it into the secular world. It is fuel for the fire of mockery against Christianity. My question though is thus, why is it that we as Christians are drawn into these divisions and disagreements?
[quote]We must respect each other enough to listen instead of feeling compelled to preach at each other all the time. [/quote]
I think this is very true. Over the years here on this site, I have seen newbies in particular, sweep in, write a blog and expect everyone to immediately rush over and embrace everything they say as the Gospel truth even if it is contrary to what the reader believes to be true. It generally does not work that way and I don't think it is a bad thing.
It is not that the person is necessarily wrong. In fact, we may learn valuable lessons from them. However, we need to be careful who we follow. Just because you say/think you are right, does not mean you are. We need to remember, we are only a tool in the hands of the Holy Spirit and we need to let Him speak to the hearts and minds of people, not hit them with a two-by-four ourselves.
To tell you the truth, most people do not like or respond well to that sort of behavior both in the real world and in cyberspace. Perhaps instead of focusing solely on our "agenda", we should also focus on developing relationships. After all, isn't that what Jesus did?
Another good one, B2y! It is well stated here...the differences between doctrinal issues can be handled badly, and results in nothing beneficial. Even though we will have these opposing viewpoints, I agree that we should look to common ground upon which to agree. That is especially true with the message of salvation! A singular message is what the Lord wants to deliver to the world, and we need to make an effort to do just that!
Good job. Another reason we will always have problems is due to tares in the field of the faithful. I farm and do not like weeds but it is an ongoing battle to preserve a field. The challenges must not go unmet. I would prefer sweet repose, but that time is coming. Amen
I tend to be a bit like your Dad...It is required that we be prepared with an answer, but often forget to speak in softer tones when sharing that truth. I firmly believe that veracity and volume often get in the way of His small still voice. And we are kidding ourselves if we think it is our doing that changes anything...the Holy Spirit changes lives and hearts, we just need to be an active tool and sometimes being there is much more important than our reasoning.
A lesson I am still very much learning.
i'm learning there are some conversations that were not meant for me to engage in and dont profit anyone , just something to "pass the time away".the present politics in our country, i dont know enough about who is running to make any kind of point so i just 'let it be to a point and ask God for wisdom thru prayer and be "about his business and a good steward of the time in front of me. be blessed.if i see a elephant and a donkey in heaven, i might pass out some peanuts and "look around for shrek" if the donkey starts talking lol.
Differences, debates, discussions . . . It s all part of the human side of Christianity. Yes, some do take them to the extreme and I, over the years, have been as guilty of this as anyone only to be remorseful about it later.
However, these things have always been in the Church. Even from the beginning. Who among us have heard the Word of the Lord more clearly or as clearly as the Apostles and prophets who were instrumental in the beginning of the Church? Even so, it is clear in Scripture they did not always agree on things. They argued points and divisions sometimes came from these disagreements.
I'm not saying this is a good thing. Especially when the end result is division among us. I'm only saying that perfect One who resides within us is encompassed by a filthy house of sinful clay. The I factor will always remain with us while we are in this house. The tongue does the damage, our egos drive the tongue.
If only I could always be steadfast in knowing, and doing, I must decrease so He can increase through me.
Blessings to all,
Good blog. I had an older brother like what you describe. He would debate you on anything. He would openly admit that he often didn't care which side of the argument he took, he just enjoyed trying to convince the other person of his position. He eventually went into sales, and did very well financially. The same thing seems to happen in political discussions. It doesn't take much for the conversation to get heated, and therefore pointless. I don't think I ever remember someone saying after a political discussion, "You make excellent points, I think I will change my thinking on that." Even on this site, I shy away from blogs that have a tone that is somewhat inflexible and therefore divisive. - bibleguy64
For all the criticism of arguing, I think there is a healthy side to arguments however. I have learned in my experiences that arguing what I believe (in a mild and controlled manner) has strengthened my faith in ways that otherwise could not have done. When you are challenged on what you believe and forced to articulate it and present it, you are affirming your faith more resolutely than living quietly, not talking about it. The Christian faith was never meant to live quietly and too many Christians come up lacking when their faith/belief is put to the test in this way. They are inept at defending what they believe.
I think we need to remember there is a difference between arguing and defending. There is also a difference between a debate and an argument. In a formal debate, each part presents evidence as why they support or do not support an idea. They present evidence supporting their argument before judges and in the end, the judges rule who best presented the most convincing case.
Time and time again, the religious leaders of the day attempted to draw Jesus into arguments. He refused to do so and I believe we need to follow His example. He gave His listeners the Bread of Life but He did not attempt to force them to eat. In fact, when He sent out His disciples He said that if their message was not received, they were to leave and move on. (Matthew 10:14).
In our culture here in America, this is the stereotypical picture of a Christian... someone who gets in the face of others all of the time and yells at them about how wrong they are. When we do that, it makes me wonder... it is about Christ or about us being "right"?
With so many doctrines and interpretations about much in scripture, I doubt that we will ever reach a consensus about a lot. It should be a deeper issue than just to 'get along', though. If it goes against clear scripture, on any subject, then the only compromise is that it honors and points to Jesus Christ. If it doesn't, sorry, it is mans interpretation, not the Holy Spirit. He convicts, testifies and lifts up Jesus Christ. John 16:8-15.
I agree, many issues do not focus on that. If a person has convictions that do these things, then being in agreement is no problem. But when they do not, then there is a problem, and it goes deeper than getting along. Sometimes division has a purpose, and in our short lifetime we may not see that purpose. History within christendom shows that. When people start bringing in doctrines that do not do as the first paragraph of this comment says, then God may have a purpose for division. Many have had to take a stand for the scripture before, and it will continue, even to the end.
If it is about the color of carpet, or an elevator, or better seats, bigger parking lot, etc, then being dogmatic may be childish. Too deep a subject to say too much on. So, I agree brother, in many areas, and disagree in others. But I believe that we 'get along' myself. I appreciate the blog about it. God Bless you brother.
This a very serious topic... Unity... You read the prayer of Jesus recorded in the gospel of John, chapter 17... You easily surrendered to see that unity is the evidence of the Gospel... Then you pick your head up, look out today and ask yourself,"where is it"? Splits upon splits upon splits upon splits... I look at the whole picture, I'm convinced I couldn't find the first letter to the alphabet, even if I only had one letter and it was A. I turn to God,"I'm apart of this mess and I have no notion to the start. Most of the time I don't know what I'm doing, the remains I'm sure I'm just quessing." Then in the quite of His warmth I'm granted security, He's the start, He's the A... I'm learning the issue is never about right and wrong, that was settled years... It's about life and death... And God has settled that issue, He gives life. Thanks, sincerely Tim