• Chris Steele

Debating

Be Strong, Be Well — Friday, October 23, 2020


With the televised presidential debates, we can lose sight of what debating is all about. By definition, debate is a process that involves formal discussion on a particular topic where arguments are put forward on opposing viewpoints.

Debating in its purest form does not suggest arguing by raising one’s voice and yelling, or showing disrespect. While presenting opposing views, debating should be civil and respectful, allowing the facts to dictate a logical conclusion rather than the forcefulness of one’s speech or demeanor.

A biblical example of debating is the apostle Paul. The back and forth of debating is found in similar words such as; disputing, reasoning, and persuading.

When the question of circumcision and the Gentiles was presented to the church in Antioch it started a debate. “Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question” (Acts 15:2).

Paul’s habit of going into the synagogues of the Jews in every city he visited, always brought about a healthy discussion about the scriptures and how they were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. “Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures” (Acts 17:2).

When he arrived in Achaia, “...he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ” (Acts 18:27b–28).

In Ephesus “...he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God. But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus” (Acts 19:8-9).

Debating, disputing, reasoning, and persuading are words the Bible uses to describe the process of healthy, respectful Bible study. Strong arguments can be made from scripture to prove Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the promised Messiah and Savior of the world.

We should not shy away from approaching people with the truth of scripture. Jesus Christ needs to be taught. Without knowledge of His saving blood, people cannot be saved.

When people are serious about their soul’s salvation they will engage in the process of finding the truth. We cannot force people to listen or study. But when they are willing, and there is a disagreement on interpretation and doctrine, we will not get them to see the truth if we are angry or condescending.

Jesus told His disciples, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). Paul said, “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient” (2 Timothy 2:24). —Chris

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