Sunday, April 17, 2005

Rules for Theological Debating

  • Strive to employ a tone that is more gracious than you expect/receive in response, because:
    • You will usually overestimate your own graciousness and underestimate that of others.
    • Being a peacemaker requires cranking the heat down a notch or two on each exchange.
    • There are enough ambiguities in any discussion to create sufficient conflict.

  • Interpret other people's statements in the most charitable manner that fits.
    • Other people use different words to say that same thing. Don't get into "violent agreement" with anybody.
    • Most Christians are growing in their spiritual understanding. Allow for the possibility that their "errors" reflect progressive sanctification rather than progressive declension.

  • Do not publish anything you still have qualms of conscience about.
    • Prayerfully review anything that your intuition flags as unsafe.
    • Imagine how you will view what you've said 5 years from now or when the current controversy has cooled off.

  • Allow everyone the sincerity of his beliefs.
    • Assume that each person is being honest about their motivations unless they give you specific reason to think otherwise.
    • If someone is not convinced of your point, review the strength of your argument.
    • Go into each discussion assuming that you will learn, rather than teach.

  • Never make a bald accusation (heresy, dishonesty, hypocrisy, etc.) against someone you do not have formal authority over.
    • Humbly lay out the evidence that leads you to make the judgment.
    • Let the reader draw his own conclusions.

  • Do not sin yourself in attempting to correct others.
    • Be humble, not triumphalist in your posture.
    • Give people the opportunity to concede points without losing face.

  • Trust in God's sovereignty and providence.
    • Remember that you are not the instrument of God's salvation, only the messenger.
    • Don't continue a discussion beyond the point where it is bearing fruit. God will work in his time.
    • Do not begrudge a weaker brother his errors. Make his nurture your work.

  • Never give an adversary a damaging out-of-context quote.
    • Review compositions for "loaded" words and phrases before publishing.
    • Don't make strident remarks for effect -- they will come back to haunt you.
    • Don't make excuses for a hasty response. Repent, reconcile, and move on.


At Monday, April 18, 2005 12:07:00 AM, Blogger Mac said...

pretty good bro.

Not discounting anything you have said...really good...but do not also count out a good rant. Bible is full of them. Just have to keep tongue in cheek and not take yourself too serious.

We're the only animal that talks..and most of it is nonsense...but sometimes poetry.


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