Using Scripture in the Argument or Debate
I think most Christians would agree that Scripture is extremely important. We Christians need to not only be familiar with God’s Word, but have as much as possible embedded in our hearts so that we always have it with us to think about, analyze and pray about. God’s Word is either true or not. If it is true, then there really is no excuse not to know it and understand it.
Aside from those Christians who love to study His Word to learn from it, to gain from it, and to be renewed by it, I also notice there are generally two extremes here. The first extreme is the Christian who knows little of Scripture. They read it occasionally but usually in very small bites. They are familiar with some of the more well-known stories found in Scripture and might even have a few pet verses memorized. These are their go-to verses that they constantly bring out regardless of the situation.
The other extreme is the person who, during the course of any discussion, debate, or argument, will unload reams of Scripture on another person. This is done for several reasons, but most importantly, it is done to impress. That person is so enamored with their ability to quote Scripture that it is very difficult to have any type of intelligent conversation with them. Their answers almost always involve some form of Scripture quotation, as opposed to referencing it and using it to undergird what they are saying.
You may have been on the receiving end of a discussion like this, especially if you’ve ever visited forums on the ‘Net that have to do with any religious discussion. Invariably, the person in question – instead of answering your question with their words and understanding of Scripture, will simply parrot Scripture, verbatim. Often, they will quote paragraphs of it, verse after verse after verse, as if simply by quoting Scripture, they will have settled the issue and you’re an idiot if you don’t see it that way.
Jesus did not do that and neither did Paul. Of course, they both quoted and/or referred to Scripture (as did Peter and others), but they also usually provided an explanation that provided understanding of it, proving they could rightly divide it, even if their answer was brief. It was not like talking to a robot that simply spat back Scripture verses. The responses that Jesus and others gave showed us that there was not only the authoritative use of Scripture, but served to show us a level of intelligence that far surpasses many today who simply memorize Scripture and spit it out.
Please don’t get me wrong here. I am not saying people should avoid memorizing Scripture. I think that it is something all Christians need to be doing. Unfortunately, some memorize Scripture for the sole purpose of using it as ammunition against anyone who deigns to disagree with their particular position on something.
Recently, an individual wrote me who firmly believes (he would say “knows”) that it is water baptism that actually brings about the new birth, not merely faith in Christ. He started off respectfully enough. I responded and essentially informed him that I’ve gone round and round with people who believe as he does and it’s never amounted to anything other than an argument. Because of that, while I appreciated the time he took to state his opposition to my opinion, we were going to have to agree to disagree because nothing good would come of it. I’ve learned that there are some folks who, rather than start their own blog, prefer to gain notoriety by piggy-backing on someone else’s blog like mine, where over 5,000 people read the articles (or at least have them delivered to their mailboxes because they requested it). I thought my firm response to him would be the end of it, but unfortunately, it wasn’t. As I’ve learned from others over the years, people like him don’t simply go away. They don’t take “no” for an answer. They like to push and push until they’re either blocked or get bored.
I recall one individual who was so vehemently opposed to the PreTribulation Rapture position – a position I make no apologies in holding – that he would fill up my inbox with his judgmental tripe, accompanied by volumes of Scripture, as though he sent me a Bible, page by page. I repeatedly asked him to stop sending it to me. He ignored my requests. Even placing his emails in my “junk” folder didn’t seem to help. I finally contacted his Internet provider with my complaint that he was using their servers to send out unwanted emails to me and even after my repeated requests asking him to stop, he continued. That finally did the trick, but such was the level of disdain and hatred for a doctrinal belief that he so detested. He was on one hand, trying to set me straight to “save” me from my error and on the other hand, being highly critical and even condemning of me if I refused to see things his way. I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve been told I’m going to hell because I am apparently fully deceived and deceiving others.
But getting back to the first individual I mentioned who believes water baptism is what actually saves people, not faith solely in Christ’s completed work, several weeks later, he wrote again. However, since I had deigned to disagree with him the first time and tried to put him off, there was now a noticeable increase in arrogance to his comments, which were voluminous. As one might imagine, he quoted large portions of Scripture in an effort to prove to me that he was right and I was wrong. In fact, he even went so far as to make the statement that there is not one verse or section of Scripture that proves his position as being incorrect. There are actually plenty, but he is so closed-minded about it, there is really nothing that will convince him of his error. A great deal of it has to do with context and actual meaning, not simply the stated words as they appear.
How is it possible to “debate” a person like that? He accused me of essentially being brainwashed by my “denomination,” which immediately tells me that he is involved in some cult or sect like Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism, or Seventh-Day Adventism (and even Roman Catholicism believes and teaches that water baptism as an infant is meritorious for salvation). He is probably not part of any Protestant denomination.
I’ve heard arguments like his from those folks involved in cults/sects when it comes to water baptism, once saved, always saved, and even heard the same arguments from people who are extremely anti-Dispensational or anti-PreTribulation Rapture. There are many man-made arguments used to bolster their positions along with the volumes of Scripture that they throw in for good measure (and Margaret McDonald’s “vision” of 1830 is often one of their favorite go-to arguments against the PreTrib Rapture position). All the while, I was being accused of not “rightly dividing” God’s Word by this same individual.
Let me ask everyone reading this. When you’ve taken the time enter into a discussion of opposing viewpoints, whether the subject is religion, politics, or even sports where things can become intensely heated, after all is said and done, did you notice whether or not anyone’s opinion changed? Who has ever attended a professional debate to hear at the end of it one of the presenters say, “Wow, I have been wrong! I now gladly embrace my opponent’s position!“? It hasn’t happened. It doesn’t happen.
I became a Christian at the age of 13. I slowly grew in my faith through study of His Word. I wasn’t always a Dispensationalist, but found integrity in the system because of how much it simply makes sense. Over the past few decades, there has been a growing animosity toward that line of thinking. The many man-made arguments born of rancor, irrational judgment, failure to fully understand Scripture, and even misplaced fear have come from the false narratives of Gary North, Dave MacPherson, and others, whose sarcasm-laden books have sold many and their followers simply parrot what these men state (usually in the same sarcastic vein). Yet, as a Dispensationalist, I have been accused of simply parroting back what I have been taught.
Over years of study since becoming a Christian, I began to see Dispensationalism as the only viable way to understand God’s Word and by that, I do not mean that I place Dispensationalism over God’s Word and interpreted it through that system. What I mean is that it simply seems to me that in its most basic and plain sense, God has dealt with humanity in slightly different ways during separate “dispensations” of time since the beginning of Creation. This seems more than obvious to me.
I also understand God’s Word to teach that once a person becomes authentically saved, they are saved forever. I realize there are those who disagree with that. They believe the Bible teaches that salvation can be lost if a person is not careful. I believe they are in error as much as they believe I’m in error. Do you think hours or days of discussing it would change anyone’s mind?
I believe in the Trinity as well, that God is three distinct yet equal personalities that make up one Godhead. There is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. I fully reject the notion that Jesus is not equal to the other two Persons of the Trinity. I also reject the notion that God is sometimes the Father, while at other times, He is the Son, while yet other times, He is the Holy Spirit (Modalism). Yet, I know of some very well-known and best-selling authors who disagree with me. Do you think having any kind of in-depth discussion with them would change their mind?
People must be allowed to come along at their own pace. Humans are incapable of opening another human’s eyes to the truth. Another person studies God’s Word and while we can guide them, pray for them, and even offer instruction, where they come down on certain beliefs is ultimately up to them. I can no sooner make anyone see things my way than I can make someone a Christian or turn a left winger into a right-winger. Find someone who is a die-hard Dodger’s fan and try to convert them to supporting some other team instead. Good luck with that.
Yet, there are Christians who persist in wanting to turn people to their way of thinking and when it doesn’t happen, they begin to attack the target of their attempted “conversion.” Why is that? Two reasons: first, it has to do with tremendous amounts of pride within them that they fail to see and second, they have tremendous insecurities within them about their own beliefs. They would disagree on both counts, of course.
I try to remind people who are so vehement and even angry in their presentation of their opinion, that Satan knows the Bible better than any living Christian. Simply knowing the text doesn’t necessarily mean anything. While Satan knows the truth of Scripture, he excels in twisting its meaning for his own selfish gain. Beyond this, even though he knows the truth of God’s Word, he will never benefit from that truth. He will never come to a “saving” knowledge of Jesus Christ. It simply cannot happen, yet it would not surprise me to learn one day that he actually has it all memorized from Genesis to Revelation. Knowing Scripture proves absolutely nothing and a lot of good it has done Satan, right?
Yet, some within Christendom persist in arguing or debating about everything with which they already are firm in their belief. They are not interested in anyone’s opinion unless it gels with theirs or if they can successfully turn someone to their way of thinking. They cannot appreciate the fact that the Holy Spirit is the One who guides, instructs, and opens eyes.
In truth, when people become angered by someone who cannot or refuses to see any truth in their opinion, it says a great deal about them as people, not the person they’re trying so hard to convert to their way of thinking. Their insecurities are often the driving force behind why they argue and debate. They have to continually prove to themselves that they are correct because of their own ever-present doubts. I have found this to be the case with people in cults. They chafe under that label and have to prove to people that they are “Christians” too so they are in attack mode most of the time, seriously on the defensive.
The more people they gain who see things their way, the greater their confidence becomes. That is, until God begins working on them again, and they start to doubt what they believe forcing them to go out and mix it up with someone to prove to themselves once again that they are on the right path. They mistake “winning” a debate as proof they have the truth, but they are the ones who determine whether they win or lose. Funny how they never lose a debate either. Just ask them. They’ll tell you. These people cannot let things go. They argue to prove how correct they are and in their warped view, they believe that if they “best” another person, that proves they are correct. If the other person refuses to see things their way, the insecure person begins to view them as an “enemy,” someone who is “blinded” and someone they must eventually shake the dust from their feet over. They’re still correct though.
People like this should be avoided at all costs after one or two warnings (Titus 3:10). People who go around arguing about everything are not fulfilling the Great Commission. Of course, they think they are because there are plenty of people like myself who have been brainwashed by “denominations” and being kept from authentic salvation. They think their job is to “convert” people like me. I’m “lost” according to them.
Even young or immature Christians can do this when evangelizing the lost. I recall an older Christian guy at a Christian conference talking with one of the younger, non-Christian kitchen staff. The Christian was trying to explain salvation to the young man and the young man wasn’t having it. Eventually (and unfortunately), things got a bit heated and the older guy looked at the younger man and snapped, “Well then you’re going to hell!!!!” His face was read, there was an angry snarl on his face and the young man saw no display of love or concern for him. Instead, he was on the receiving end of judgment and anger. There was no love, no concern, but instead simply a contempt for the young man’s lack of belief in God.
The older guy had a problem. He lacked love and empathy. He was trying to shame the non-Christian into heaven and he couldn’t handle the fact that this young guy could reject what he was offering (he took it personally). When the young man did reject it, he nearly went ballistic. He was almost livid toward the young man. That’s not how Jesus handled rejection when the average person walked away from Him. Was the older guy insecure about his beliefs? I believe so and I’ve been there. It’s not a pretty sight.
There was a time when I would see a post and if I disagreed with it, I’d “have” to respond, you know, to “straighten” someone out. Such hubris is never acceptable to the Lord. I’ve since learned that no matter how intelligent and Scripture-backed my response to someone might be, I’ve never seen anyone change positions. In fact, I’ve spent some time going from forum to forum just to see what type of discussion occurs. I’ve noticed that there are some people who do the same except they have to make their points. They make the same points all the time and even though the people (moderators) who respond to them exhibit a great deal of patience, the poster never changes their position in spite of how well a response is crafted to them. They simply go to the next forum and start over until they reach loggerheads. Then they go to the next forum and do the same. I guess they believe that is their calling.
True discussion has its place, even when people disagree. But people also need to learn that when a discussion turns into an unwinnable debate, it’s probably best to leave things there and agree to disagree. That is what Paul counseled and that is often what Jesus did. Why do we think that we should do things differently?
Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, christianity, Cultural Marxism, Emotional virtue, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Posttribulational Rapture, Pretribulational Rapture, rapture, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: always saved, cults, humility, jehovah's witnesses, mormonism, once saved, pride, proverbs 16:18, sects, seventh-day adventists.