Conservative Christianity needs more people who argue well. It does not need more people who quarrel well!
Scripture opposes quarreling, along with the behaviors the KJV renders as “strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings” and “tumults” (2 Cor. 12:20). But arguing is something else. Scripture calls us to argue and to do it well. Every Christian is obligated to develop and exercise the skill of thinking and communicating clearly with the goal of persuasion.
Definition - Argue - Basics
With that as a working definition of argue, let’s consider a few basics for arguing better.
Argue for the right reasons.
Christians - Goal - Argument - Truth - Rightness
But for Christians, the proper goal of argument is to establish the truth or rightness of ideas or actions.
And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth (NKJV, 2 Tim. 2:24–25).
Paul - Timothy - Teaching - Correcting—forms - Speaking—with
Here, Paul instructs Timothy to avoid quarreling but to engage in teaching and correcting—forms of persuasive speaking—with the ultimate goal that others “may know the truth.”
But the goal of argument is not limited to external persuasion. Skilled argument is also important to the inner life of the Christian. “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” (KJV, Rom. 14:5). Romans 14 emphasizes the need for Christians to seek not only an accurate understanding of biblical principles but also an accurate understanding of how those principles apply.
Goal - Ability - Alternatives - Courtroom - Mind
Accomplishing that goal requires the ability to argue for and against alternatives in the courtroom of the mind.
Discernment—the ability to distinguish between true, false, right and wrong—ought to be a growing skill in the life of believers. Arguing is integral to that skill.
Kind - Questions
Argue the right kind of questions.
The old adage says there’s no such thing as a stupid question, but the NT encourages...
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