Tips on Debating

Published March 7, 2013 by Michael Miller in debate, Gospel

This post was original posted on my blog in Dec. 2011 after a Facebook debate.

I just finished a debate. It went nowhere quickly, but that’s getting ahead of the story. So I once made a Facebook post about a very minorly controversial topic, which proved to be very emotionally charged when discussing with a friend of our family who is a believer. In a series a responses to that post, a sparring debate was lit over whether or not preaching about sin in churches was condemnation without love. To me, the need to preach about sin was very obviously the correct view, but I soon learned that my friend was driven by much more than just logic, and as I later view this post, I see that I was too. After a few, yet quite lengthy rounds of argument (all publicly displayed, I might add), I became exceedingly frustrated that my friend did not see the same truth I did. I pulled out of the argument in a way that might seem like a cop-out. I just claimed that my ideas must not be understandable because my explanations are not always the clearest in writing. Anyways, here are a few lessons that I have learned about debating on Facebook from this experience:

  1. When using theological terms, explain.: In this post I used the term “antinomianism.” That is a belief that one can continue to sin without regard of the holiness of God thinking that grace will pardon their sin. However, I did not clearly explain this to my friend when I tried to show them how antinomianism quickly becomes legalism. My failure to explain left my fried at loss. I then become an arrogant person by showing off my great knowledge. This is obviously not what I want to display as a Christian because it is a very prideful action.
  2. Read other posts carefully before re-posting: After reading this debate again in preparation for make this blog post I realized that I should have replied with a completely different argument. I originally chose to debate the purpose of the law, but upon review, I see that I should have gone a different route by saying that people don’t like hearing about sin because they enjoy their sin and do not want to repent.
  3. Do not get emotionaly attached to the need to win: It is not about winning the debate. As much as this debate dealt with sin, righteousness, and the gospel, my tactics should have been loving and I should have depended on the Holy Spirit to convict and bring repentance. I focused too much on logical arguments and tended not to let the Holy Spirit convict my friend.
  4. The point is to glorify God: This debate all together felt like a failure to me and I believe the root cause was my lack of love. This must be the hardest to write because it deals directly with my sin: my failure to love and spur another Christian towards love and good deeds. I could be off base with this a little but I am pretty convicted about it. I guess I get emotionally worked up about arguments like this because they seem to be an attack on the gospel, which I love. However, my friend must also have been worked up about it because they were holding their ground. Though I may have been right, when the debate became emotional, I automatically lost.

I think that those 4 points explain pretty well why I did not get anywhere with this debate. At the end of the day, it just felt futile. This could have been because of my pride. I felt like I should have won  because I have the truth, based on the Word of God through a line of godly people that openly proclaimed it.Don’t get me wrong, I still believe that we should contend for our faith, but let’s just say I’ve learned a lot about how to contend in love. So ends this post.

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