Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)

Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)
Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

To Argue Or Not

I've been thinking about the place of arguing. Contrary to popular belief, I don't like arguing. It suits me much more to form my own views, but then just keep them to myself. I don't want conflict, and I don't want angst. Especially with my friends.  Some people are really good at separating the topic from the person. They can debate a point strongly, without getting personal or hot under the collar. I'm really, very much not that guy. Things get to me easily and play on my mind relentlessly. I get restless and resentful.

This blog has been a bit of an argumentative place over the past week, as me and Pedro have debated some stuff. He and I are very good mates, and that's not going to be shaken by a disagreement, but at the same time, it tends to take it's toll on me, and not in a very positive way. It got me thinking about how far we are to push these things. When does loving persuasion cross a line into an arrogant desire to be proven right? And if you are prone to not be able to not get personal, is it wisest to just refrain altogether and leave it to the more cool-headed?

Here's a couple of passages that I've found interesting when considering all this. The bits I've made bold are the bits that got to me.

'By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” toward you when away! I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
7 You are judging by appearances.If anyone is confident that they belong to Christ, they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do. 8 So even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of it. 9 I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. 10 For some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.” 11 Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.' 
(from 2 Corinthians 10)

22 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
(from 2 Timothy 2)

There's a lot in there to chew on. I'm always surprised at Paul's words- how relevant, honest and practical they seem. Anyway, no great resolve to this post, but I'll end with this quote by A.W. Tozer-

'It is important for Christian believers to be able to stand firmly and positively in this declaration: "Thus saith the Lord!" Our chief business is not to argue or to persuade our generation. With our positive declaration of God's Word and revelation, we make God responsible for the outcome. No one can know enough to go beyond this!'


Anonymous said...

Sorry cobber! I would never want to be'that guy' who made you refrain from speaking your mind altogether.
I really enjoy having a good debate and NOTHING (unless I found out you voted for Tony Abbott!) would peel me off the path of our mateship..(like that?!)
I will be a little more diplomatic in future.... YOu just post up some good debating material!!!


Anonymous said...

I agree with Pedro - for someone who doesn't like arguing, you post a lot of controversial stuff! I'm sorry if I've caused conflict and angst in my arguey responses to those posts - I must admit I enjoy a good debate, and can (mostly) separate the person from the topic (depending on the person, and the topic).

I agree, though, that the desire to argue can come from an arrogant desire to be proven right, or just an arrogant belief that I've got the right answers for everything (I really do, though!). Thanks for the challenge to think this through more often before commenting...

I love this story about Dallas Willard (a philosopher [who was also a Christian]):

"During one of [Willard's] lectures, a listener challenged him with statements that were both offensive and incorrect. Dallas paused, thanked the person for their comments, and then simply moved on to the next question. Somebody asked Dallas afterward why he had not countered the student's argument and put him in his place. 'I'm practicing the discipline of not having to have the last word.'"

(It comes from a tribute to Willard here:

Anonymous said...

P.S. I love the picture for this post!