Kind of an odd title don’t you think?
As I’ve been listening religiously (no pun intended) to the podcast “Unbelievable” (hosted by UK’s Premier Christian Radio) I’ve been thinking about the wide variety of points of view presented. From Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Atheists, Calvinists, Armenians and many more, their views are presented and discussed with a moderator interjecting and asking probing questions to get to the heart of things.
I think debate is a very wonderful thing (when done well).
Why? Because no matter where you go you’re being debated by something or someone. Whether it be a billboard screaming “you need this to be happy!” or a radio host telling you his/her opinions, you process it, store it in your brain, and then it takes effect in you one way or another.
As a Christian debate is something that is very helpful and encouraging at this point in my walk with Christ. In contrast, when I was 12 listening to these programs would not have been very helpful because I hadn’t learned much about defending the Faith or dialoguing intelligently.
As we grow as Christians things come to light that haven’t before. You see a passage that apparently contradicts another, you wonder why in the Old Testament God speaks of not wearing certain materials, you wonder how you can ever understand anything! Been there. And still get to those points at times.
So where do we start? Genesis? Leviticus? Revelation? John?
Our debate starts with ourselves. We must know how to read the Bible rightly, and in order to do that you need the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to the truth. Otherwise things like salvation, justification, and many other key doctrines won’t make too much sense to you because they have to do with spiritual things (See 1 Cor 2:14).
I can almost hear loud and clear: “So you’re saying you have to be in it to understand it, so even if it doesn’t make sense we’re supposed to accept it? Sounds like a cult!”
Well, when it’s put that way, it certainly does, doesn’t it? In part it is true. Although I believe the Bible can hold its own when scrutinized, whether it be its historicity, textual reliance, or anything else for that matter. So in one sense an Atheist can look at the Scriptures and see the same reliability we do, but with a much different point of view on it, just like with anything.
But with other matters like the aforementioned doctrinal distinctions I don’t think an unregenerate individual can understand much on those things, but they can have a merely academic understanding, as the Pharisees in Christ’s day did.
So if you fall into the Bible believing, regenerated heart, hatred of sin category, then we can start to move forward.
When the debate in our minds and heart settles and we are sure of our salvation (and not just hyped about it) then from a Biblical foundation we begin working out from the pages, learning more deeply about salvation, the Disciples, the early Church, etc. So then we have a much more educated faith, though faith in Christ is sufficient, I do think after salvation we should always be “ready to give a defense for the hope that is in us”.
So when we settle the debate with ourselves we can begin to dialogue with others, “why is evolution false? Well let me show you my research”, “why is Sin so bad in Gods eyes? Here’s why:” You see that when we educate ourselves in the Scriptures we don’t degrade “real life” knowledge, we don’t get worse at science, in fact we get better and we have an ultimate standard to base it all on! While many will say we’re just brainwashing ourselves, we just lovingly turn around and tell them the answers we found.
So don’t afraid of debate. Christ calls us to be ambassadors for Him, and just one of the ways we do that is to make a defense for the hope that’s in us. Though I guarantee you or I won’t come close to having all the answers, we can still do our best to be a light to the world around us, showing Christs glorious hope.