Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Proper Debate

Many discussions end up in dissension. Much of it is pride in opinion. Everyone has an opinion, but some opinions are spineless, being based on perception rather than fact. It seems the least literate and poorly read person has the strongest, and most prideful, opinions. I believe they compensate with anger for their own insecurities. Opinions must be based on something other than emotion! Opinion must be reinforced by fact and truth to be legitimate. Otherwise, as they say, "It's as worthless as teats on a boar!" to put it crudely.

Two different opinions, without proper debate, ends with both parties losing. One may be right and the other wrong, but when anger results Satan is the only winner. People make light of invisible nefarious influences, but those principalities sew dissension wherever pride resides! What I'm talking about is evil using strife to break the bonds of love:
2 Timothy 2:23 (ESV) "Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. 25 God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth..."
Discussions can be foolish and argued in ignorance! Most are. Consider this discussion:
Christian man: I believe that baptist preachers are of an unbroken line from John the Baptist.
Me: Why do you believe that?
Him: The Book Trail of Blood documents it!
Me: I've read it and checked it's accuracy. Being non-catholic is not being baptist! The book is wrong and not factual.
Him: I believe it by faith! (emotional)
Me: Then you believe a lie by faith.
Him: That's my choice!
The man had a perception based on a book which book had a motive. For some reason the authors thought it significant that baptists have always been.

I had my opinion, based on research of the "facts", presented in the book. I studied each so-called baptist group and found that many of the groups were not baptist, but were merely against Catholicism. He was emotional. I really didn't care, but just wanted to share what I had studied. He was emotional and defensive. I was merely dumbfounded by his response. I wasn't attacking him, but was just telling him what I had found. He got angry. We were both losers. He was angry with me and I had made him angry! Satan smiled.

Proper debate, to be in obedience to 2 Timothy 2:24-25 above, must be with a certain attitude. If that attitude is not there, Satan smiles.

  • Proper debate is not a quarrel, but a discussion of opinions and the facts supporting them.
  • Debates must be non-controversial in nature. We must approach debates with the thought in mind that the other is entitled to their opinion. The debate is not to destroy them, but to convince them. Emotion is non-convincing!
  • Debates are to be done with kindness. Being mean spirited is not convincing. It's a bullying tactic and bullies don't win debates. They merely provoke the opponent.
  • Debates are a teaching moment. It's a chance to share with another the truth, or at least the facts.
  • Debaters sometimes get "testy".  The person good in debate "patiently endures" as the other person freaks out. The calm person projects an image of confidence, wisdom and trust. The testy person projects negativity and defensiveness.
  • Debaters are to be gentle when they correct the opponent. Gentleness turns away anger. The person with whom there is a difference of opinion is not an enemy, but an opportunity! An opponent chastised is an enemy. An opponent convinced and shown kindness is an ally!
  • The goal of a good debate is for " leading to a knowledge of the truth". That's all we can do. We can't choose for them or force an opinion through coercion, but allow the Holy Spirit to free the opponent by truth.
  • Truth leads to repentance. Those who have been wrong and see the light, now have a golden opportunity to make things right with both God and others!
This approach for debating is taken from the passages above. It's God's approach for civility in how we interact with each other. A loving Christian must be a gentle Christian. Anger doesn't change others... love does! For Christians who desire others to grow from "babes in Christ" to mature Christians, takes admonishment, reproof and correction. This is the proper technique for sewing the seeds of change!

Some people do just the opposite. Some poor debate skills are:
  1. Debating without portfolio. "Portfolio" is having an education established over time, based on training and experience. Some argue points for which they have no base from which to argue. These are the ones who become oversensitive and angry it seems.
  2. Having opinions, but no facts on which to base them. These are the folks who are taught by the entertainment world. It's what people without experience perceive. They are deceived by the emissaries of Satan.
  3. Depend on emotion rather than persuasion; and get defensive when others confront them with facts that differ than their false perceptions.
  4. Poor debaters depend on their anger to end debates they are losing. 
  5. Poor debaters keep changing the debate points. If the argument starts out "Is the sky blue?, before one knows it the argument becomes "Is the sky made up of clouds?" As points are lost in the debate, the poor debater just swiftly changes the debate to fit his or her perceptions.
  6. The poor debater restates things which you did not say. They try to put words in your mouth which was never said by you. That's an attempt to force the other person to take obviously wrong positions so that a new argument will ensue.
  7. Poor debaters are so caught up in their fiction that they can never admit that they're wrong. They get angry because the other person is right and they know it.
  8. Poor debaters most often end the debate angrily still insisting they are right, although inside they know they're wrong.
  9. Poor debaters do not respect the position, authority nor facts presented by the other.
  10. Poor debaters have a false perception of their importance and knowledge.
  11. Poor debaters have a mean streak. They create strife because of their emotion.
  12. Poor debaters don't really debate. They care not for truth, but endeavor to reinforce what they already believe! They defend the fiction in which they live!

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