"Nothing more impressive than an intellectual and spiritual approach to seeking truth and a willingness to embrace it unconditionally."

Sunday, January 24, 2016

We Persuade Men

Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; (2 Corinthians 5:11a KJV)

I want to make a plea—hopefully a persuasive one—to my fellow ministers for us to consider how we interact with those with whom we disagree. I will be honest, I have seen some very poor examples in the last few years. I have seen examples of how not to interact with people with whom I disagree.

We have all had friends in the church (parishioners and preachers) that have taken directions with which we have disagree. Some of those friends have been more notable than others. Regardless of their position or notoriety, there is a proper, Christian was to do it. If we really believe that someone is going the wrong direction, our first responsibility is to persuade them. Our blog text reminds us of this sober responsibility. If we believe someone is straying from the truth, and knowing the terror of the Lord, we should seek to persuade them of their error. 

Brothers and sisters, the goal is to persuade. It is not to belittle or betray. I know that there is a natural impulse to be angry and disappointed, but we cannot allow those sentiments to control how we react. I must insist that we persuade no one—either the person themselves or observing outsiders—with condescending and demeaning speech. This kind of response is unbiblical an off putting. IF your goal is to persuade people with the truth, then do not blog or preach with anger and vitriol. IF your goal is to persuade people with the truth, then do not make your response emotional or personal. IF your goal is to persuade people with the truth, then you will be more effective if you argue your point scripturally and limit your comments to the issues. I have seen very few stick with the issues. There are a number of reason why they don't, but that is a blog for another time.

If you think you have the truth, then use it. The truth, not anger and condescension, is the only effective weapon you have against error. Any weapon other than truth will be weak and ineffective. 

Don't be petty; be persuasive! 




Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Value of Debate

The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him. 
Proverbs 18:17 ESV

My last blog I discussed three reasons why I think Apostolics should engage in intramural debates. At the conclusion of that blog I stated my intention to blog about why I think that Apostolics do not debate. I still intend to do that. However, while listening to a debate, one of the speakers used this verse to demonstrate the value of debate. 

It is likely that the context—strictly speaking—is referring to taking a matter before a judge. The lawyer that presents their case first seems like they have an air-tight case. That is until the other lawyer presents their case and answers the first lawyer's arguments. The truth in such cases can only be discerned after both sides have presented their cases. A strong case does not mind questioning. When a strong case is questioned it only becomes stronger for it.

One ought to be aware of the person who refuses to have his argument questioned. This means that person is fearful that their argument will not hold up to intellectual scrutiny. Truth is never afraid of questions. Few things frustrate me as much as someone who launches a public, personal or theological attack against someone and refuses to answer any one's objections. If you are going to argue for something publicly, then be man enough to field the questions that come along with it. Don't hide behind moderated comments and pulpits!

Why?

Because if truth is what you are really after, then you won't mind both sides of the argument being heard. People who refuse to field questions are only interested in "seeming right;" they are not interested in "being right." There is a way to have healthy and productive debate on any issue. It's not divisive; it is unifying if done properly.

The early church and the Jerusalem council in Acts 15 are an awesome example how coming together to discuss issues that are controversial can lead to consensus. Avoiding controversial issues does not produce unity, it only hides the conflict beneath the surface where it festers and grows. 


Friday, January 22, 2016

The Impact of Inconsistency on One's Argument Part II

I wrote Part I of this topic two blogs ago. I am following up on this post due to something I read in the last couple of days. It never ceases to amaze me how selective we are with our judgments of others. An former friend of mine once made the statement that, "If I condemn in my enemies what I condone in my friends, then I make myself the ultimate hypocrite." This is a true statement indeed. I must also add to this statement one of my own:"If I condone worse behavior in my friends that what I condemn in my enemies, then I am a malicious hypocrite."

It is so easy to condemn people against whom we are politically aligned while going to great lengths to condone people with whom we are politically aligned. We see it all the time in the political battles in our country. Republicans will condemn Democrats for a little of nothing, but will defend fellow republicans for the same thing or something greater. The same goes for Democrats to Republicans. This also happens often in Pentecostal fellowship politics. And it is more frustrating when it happens in the church—I might add. 

This is precisely why so many young men are disenchanted with certain segments of our movement. Brothers, I am not saying that we should start judging our friends the way we do our enemies. I am saying that we should start showing mercy to our enemies the way we do our friends. Furthermore, we should start showing the same mercy to both our enemies and our friends that we show to ourselves. The worst of the hypocrites is the person who condemns in others—both enemies and friends—what he condones in himself. 

I must confess that I have at some point in my ministry been guilty of every one of the above hypocrisies. I find myself having to repent repeatedly for this sin. Thankfully, I am having to do it less and less these days. The Holy Spirit is revealing me to myself and is causing me to become more self-aware. I am grateful for this, although it has been very uncomfortable.

So what does this have to do with inconsistency? It makes one wonder if you believe what you say you do when you condemn in your enemies what you condone in your friends. It appears politically motivated and it hinders your message. This may not always be fair, but it is the way others usually perceive it. I pray that the Lord will help me to show grace to everyone equally, and not just my friends.