Debating is Often Pointless

October 16, 2011 at 7:14 AM

As one who writes about and teaches doctrine and theology, it is always amazing to me to see just how many people are interested in debating.  Unfortunately for them, my view is that debating is general pointless and without any winners.  Of course, those who enjoy the debate will disagree with me completely.  That’s their right…and no, I’m not willing to debate it.

When I look at the New Testament and Jesus specifically, I note that He did never essentially debated.  He stated and left it at that.  People were free to discuss His Words, ignore them, or agree with and embrace them.  If they disagreed with them, they usually went their own way as in the case of the rich young ruler (cf. Luke 18:18-23).

It seems the only individuals who wanted to debate Jesus were the religious leaders – the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes.  Of course, these individuals were intent on catching Jesus in a mistake so that they could hold him up to ridicule publicly, thereby destroying His credibility.

This is – in essence – what debate is all about.  It is winning so that the person we are debating will be in the loser’s circle.  It is also a way to puff ourselves up, believing that if we “win” the debate, we are obviously the one with the truth.  This is a foolhardy way to look at it.

Here is what I have noticed concerning debates, especially in the area of religious studies.  People come to a debate with their opinions firmly based in their own research.  They do not approach a debate with the intention of possibly learning something.  That is not the point to a debate.  The point to debating is winning and not being declared the loser.  That is the entire point.

In the area of religion, no one wants to “lose” because what we believe about religion goes deep within us.  To be declared a “loser” in a debate about our own beliefs is to have to admit to being on the wrong side.  Who wants that?  No one wants to have to admit that the beliefs they hold are wrong, so we vigorously defend them to the end and too often, debates can become quite heated.

Jesus always had the final word.  He was the Word and He stated that Word clearly and succinctly.  He was a master at it, yet I believe there are those alive today who would deign to debate Jesus.  They would be very willing to step into the ring to defend their error-filled viewpoints against Jesus.  The trouble is that they would be entering that debate ring alone.  They would not find Jesus standing opposite them.  Because of that, they would declare themselves “winner” of the debate.

The sad fact of the matter is that we could have complete truth on our side, but if people are unwilling to hear it, no amount of debating the issue will clear things up for them.  They are so intent on believing that they have the truth that they are more concerned about trying to prove their point while disproving yours, that they could really care less what you have to say about their viewpoint.

How many times have you talked to someone in a cult, who has an answer for everything you say?  You believe in your heart that they are desperately wrong, just as they believe YOU are desperately wrong.  Neither makes any headway.  It certainly could be that the Lord will use your words to one day wake them up because the basic problem is their understanding of salvation, which is wrong.

We are told to fight the good fight, to stand firm in our beliefs and I believe that this has mainly to do with salvation in Jesus, through faith alone, by grace alone, in God alone.  Almost everything else is peripheral to this one main issue.  Yet even here – the Scripture is filled with numerous examples – we have people rejecting the words of Jesus for one reason or another.  They did not view His words as truth, therefore His words were rejected out of hand, and for no reason other than they did not view His words as truth.  How does one debate that?

If Jesus Himself refused to enter the debate, then why should we?  Don’t misunderstand Jesus’ responses to His enemies as debate.  It wasn’t debate.  In Jewish culture, one rabbi would say something and then ask the opposing rabbi a question.  If that rabbi answered that rabbi’s question adequately, he was given the opportunity to ask that first rabbi a question – quid quo pro.  If that rabbi was unable to adequately answer the question posed, the discussion stopped.  If he was able to answer it properly, he was allowed to ask another question.  This is not so much debate as it was the way information was shared in that culture.

When was the last time you went to any debate where one of the debaters turned to the other and said, “You know, I hadn’t thought of that!  You are correct! I’m wrong!”?  It doesn’t happen because that is not part of the game.  Both debaters must challenge the other with everything they have and not give up until the other is defeated.  Neither gives an inch.

This is unfortunately, what has become common in the area of theology and religious instruction.  Let’s say I make a post here and someone comes along and disagrees with me.  They feel compelled to comment.  I read their comment and if it is on topic and not insulting, I choose to publish it simply to give them space to air their opinion.  I’m not obligated to do that because this is my blog and it is for me to share MY opinion.  I have no obligation to allow others to share their opinions – either for or against mine.

So I allow their opinion.  Someone else then comes along and posts something that either agrees with me or the person who disagreed with me and so on and so forth.  What inevitably happens in debate is that someone will eventually go to another “authority” for support of their position.  Nothing wrong with that, but it simply proves that they are here to “win” the debate, mistaking my opinion as an invitation to debate me.

People who refer to other authorities, do so to prop their own case up.  They believe that if they defer to those who know better than they, that greater credibility to their opinion will become evidenced.  The problem of course is that for every “authority” they use to prop up their opinion, there are opposing authorities who will knock their opinion down.

Not long ago, someone asked me why I don’t allow debate here on my blog.  After explaining myself, their response was something along the lines of “well, if you are going to discuss it, you would think you would allow for debate.”  No, that’s not the reason I post anything here.  If people want to agree with me, that’s fine.  If they want to disagree with me, that’s fine also. I am not interested in trying to prove people wrong.  I am only interested in sharing my opinion.

There is not one subject today that can be stated as an original opinion.  It simply does not exist, especially in the area of religion or theology.  Someone believes that my view of eternal security is wrong, so they post their view, which they’ve gotten from someone else.  They rely on others (as I rely on others) who are hopefully more knowledgeable in certain areas to support their own viewpoint.

This is how we arrive at our own opinions.  We study, we read, and we adopt viewpoints that make sense to us, based on how we understand God’s Word.  This is why there are so many denominations and schisms within Christendom.

As in the case of eternal security, I have heard all the arguments one way or another.  I have arrived at my conclusions based on what seems to make the most sense.  I’m sure you’ve done the same, even if that means that you do not believe in eternal security as I understand it.

There are those who believe that once we are saved, we need to have an additional “baptism” of the Holy Spirit which is often evidenced by speaking in tongues.  I do not agree with that, though at one point in my life, I did.  What caused the change?  I would say a greater study of His Word and reading by those who have also dealt with the same subject.  If you disagree with me, you would say that I have not understood God’s Word correctly.

There are those who believe the Pre-Trib Rapture, the Mid-Trib Rapture, the Post-Trib Rapture, the Mid-Wrath Rapture, and the no Rapture view.  Who’s right?  Well, obviously, every individual who firmly believes their particular viewpoint would tell you they are correct.  They did not arrive to their position by flipping a coin.  They arrived to their position after (hopefully) careful study, research, and prayer.

Yet to some, because I believe in the Pre-Trib Rapture, they have no problem in calling me a heretic.  They go so far as to say that because I believe in the Pre-Trib Rapture, if I am alive when the Tribulation occurs, I will lose my faith completely so devastated will I be to realize that the Rapture has not happened.  I will then eventually take the mark of the beast and be relegated to hell with all the rest of the sinners not saved by grace.

First of all, that’s a human argument, but it also tells me that these individuals do not believe the way I do about eternal security.  Do I debate these people?  Hardly.  It would be pointless because their view is as solid as mine.  To them, I’m a heretic, basically hopeless.

There are times within the scope of certain sciences that debate is acceptable simply because something can be tangibly proven.  Debating sports teams, politics, and religion is not the same.  Look at the political debates we hear and read.  To me, they’re pointless because the average conservative is not going to become a liberal simply by debating political issues.

With respect to theology, doctrine, and religious studies in general, what we need to realize is that debate serves to take us off the chosen path.  Our job as Christians is to evangelize the lost.  That means explaining salvation to people who do not know the Lord.  Within that arena, we will have to fight the good fight as Paul and others did.  The times he even seemed to debate was when he was trying desperately to get others to hear and understand that salvation comes from the Lord and Him only.

Today, I believe that Satan is having a field day with Christians.  He has successfully sidetracked us into debating everything from the Shroud of Turin to the timing of Jesus’ return.  It’s pointless.  It is one thing to instruct someone.  It is another to join in an extended debate over issues.

If we stop to consider the fact that Jesus did not chase down the rich young ruler, or debate people until they gave in and acquiesced to His position, I think it behooves us to ask ourselves why we think we can and should do it?

I’ve said it before and I’ll likely say it again even after this post, but when I share something here, it is my opinion, an opinion I obviously believe to be truth or I would not be sharing it.  At the same time, it is my opinion and it is not an invitation to debate me.  I am not interested.  If someone has a polite rejoinder that distinguishes their position from mine and they present it respectfully, then I will likely allow the post.  This still does not mean I am now inviting debate.

When it all comes down to it, debate is based on what we know and what we have learned by studying (I’m assuming).  So it makes sense then that when people debate, they refer to other people and other studies to bolster their own position.  This goes back and forth, back and forth, until someone is either declared the winner, gives up, or the debate officially ends in a draw.

Since no one really has an original thought anymore and our viewpoints are arrived at because of our studies and research, then it makes much more sense to simply READ and debate YOURSELF.  We erroneously believe that if we can convince others that our position is correct, we ARE correct.  That’s ridiculous because the person we may have convinced might have done very little study or may not be capable (or could care less) of debating the deeper issues.

Debating is a great way to puff yourself up.  It’s a very easy (and heady) way to make ourselves appear to be possibly more intelligent than we are and so because of it, we tend to rest on our laurels.  Debating fully involves the ego.  We don’t like to admit that, but it is true.

Winning the debate makes us feel good (ego).  It tends to bolster our position (whether it’s factual or not) and we begin to believe our own press.  I will never forget one individual who referred to me as a heretic because of my Pre-Trib Rapture position and my view on eternal security.  He seemed to enjoy pointing to another individual that – he said – never lost a debate.  To him, that was tantamount to being correct.

When I asked him how he knew the other person always won the debate, he was unable to provide me with tangible evidence.  However, to him, his friend never lost.  That is so asinine, it’s difficult to imagine, yet this is how people view debates.

What if his friend IS wrong and only thinks he’s correct?  I get the impression that if Jesus were here incognito and debated this guy, the guy would STILL think he won the debate.

Then there is the excuse that people put forth stating that they love to “discuss” because they learn from it.  Listening to them debate is proof that they don’t believe this because as soon as you say something, they pounce all over your comments with their preconceived and “reliable” information that they believe fully nails you over the head.

Discussion is certainly valuable, but debate is pointless.  Jesus never debated.  He stated.  We should try it.  Say what we believe, then drop it.  No amount of debate convinces anyone of anything.  If the truth that Jesus presented was not enough to change the minds of the religious leaders of His day, why on earth do we believe that same truth that we believe we possess is going to change anyone?  Wow, how self-aggrandizing to think of that – that our knowledge is somehow far greater than Jesus’ – at least enough to convince others of their error.

Jesus couldn’t do it.  Paul failed miserably, as did others.  Why?  Because hard is the heart that rejects the truth.  We cannot make anyone accept what we believe to be truth as their truth?  It cannot be done.  The only One who can and does open the eyes of the unbeliever is God Himself.

If we state what we believe to be the truth and then let it go at that, is not God able to use what we’ve said to accomplish His purposes, or do we believe we need to beat people over the head with our words until they submit?  I wonder what changed the mind of the one thief on the cross?  One minute, he’s reviling Jesus; the next he’s asking to be remembered.  What happened?  I have no idea, but it is clear that Jesus did not preach to the man until he repented.

Go and debate if that’s what you want to do.  Enjoy yourself.  Knock yourself out and puff yourself up.  You’ll have to excuse me if I choose to ignore you, all right?  Thanks.

Entry filed under: 9/11, alienology, Atheism and religion, Barack Hussein Obama, Barry Sotero, Communism, Demonic, dispensationalism, Eastern Mysticism, emergent church, Gun Control, Islam, Islamofascism, israel, Judaism, Life in America, Maitreya, new age movement, Posttribulational Rapture, Pretribulational Rapture, Radical Islam, rapture, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, Satanism, second coming, Sharia Law, Socialism, temple mount, Transhumanism, ufology. Tags: .

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