Posted by: the warrioress | July 18, 2012

Debating Unbelievers

Argue

(Photo credit: fixedgear)

I’ve spent what feels like many days engaging in some lengthy debate and argument, though I don’t think I’ve argued with every person that disputed my beliefs; still it is clear that there is a point at which debate and argument become unproductive; they can actually encourage angst, rage, anger, frustration, and eventual dislike as well as unkindness in response.

I find it very easy to debate and argue and could do so endlessly in a foolish attempt to prove I am correct and thus “the winner.”  I could allow my ego its way and go directly against the bible and the passages below.

Grandstanding in this way is prideful though, and it is not biblical.  If I have learned nothing else, over time I have discovered that there are many reasons why this kind of debate and strife are pointless and an absolute waste of time.

Arguing Penguins

(Photo credit: nouQraz)

In the past, I spent hours and hours and many days attempting to get through to those who deny what I believe, who enjoy the bickering and the oneupmanship of the whole thing. Do I ever wish now that I could get those days and hours back. At the time though, I thought I was doing the right thing; I actually believed this behavior was beneficial and appropriate in God’s eyes, for the Christian cause;  I know better now.

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect — 1Peter 3:15

 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. — 2 Timothy 2:16

Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.  Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth — 2 Timothy 2:23 -25

But keep away from foolish disagreements. Don’t argue about family histories. Don’t make trouble. Don’t fight about what the law teaches. Don’t argue about things like that. It doesn’t do any good. It doesn’t help anyone. — Titus 3:9

When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die, ’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself. — Ezekiel 3:18-19

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Responses

  1. It is a battle.

    By the way have you had a chance to read my e-mail yet?

    Have a great evening!

    Ed

  2. I’ve heard Christians I know say we should just tell people God loves them, and not engage in debate about Biblical topics. However, I got saved after researching the Bible and discovering all the scientific and historical facts supporting it. So, the “just tell people God loves them” approach holds no water for me. If someone doesn’t believe God even exists, what good is it to say he loves them.

    I let people know that they can believe the Bible, because it’s always proven true. A verse I like very much is 2 Timothy 4:2-3, “Be ready in season and out of season. CONVINCE, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” I’m certain many Christians have never seen this verse, but it’s one I really fall back on. Jesus and Paul never hesitated to debate and confront. I feel we’ve gotten very timid in Western Christianity, and we need more boldness.

    Thank you for posting about this topic, because it’s something I’ve thought a lot about over the years. Thank you, and God bless you!

  3. A hearty amen to that. The battle is with our own pride, fear, anger, hurt and self-righteousness, not with those who disagree with or even oppose our cherished beliefs. For all we think we know, God is still an absolute mystery to our finite minds. God’s ways are higher than ours. There is always more to learn. We are to be constantly seeking the higher ground of divine wisdom rather than building our own hills to die on.

  4. Ken,

    Thanks for stopping by and giving your opinion. I think we must share our faith with all who inquire and even stand up for it when challenged, but there is a point at which we should recognize the utter futility of arguing and debate that leads us and them — nowhere. And you are so right, that we are to be seeking higher ground. God can teach us through that kind of activity. Giving into our egos, determining to be right at all costs, will gain us little to nothing.

  5. Hi Tom,

    “I’ve heard Christians I know say we should just tell people God loves them, and not engage in debate about Biblical topics. However, I got saved after researching the Bible and discovering all the scientific and historical facts supporting it. So, the “just tell people God loves them” approach holds no water for me. If someone doesn’t believe God even exists, what good is it to say he loves them.

    I let people know that they can believe the Bible, because it’s always proven true. A verse I like very much is 2 Timothy 4:2-3, “Be ready in season and out of season. CONVINCE, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” I’m certain many Christians have never seen this verse, but it’s one I really fall back on. Jesus and Paul never hesitated to debate and confront. I feel we’ve gotten very timid in Western Christianity, and we need more boldness.

    Thank you for posting about this topic, because it’s something I’ve thought a lot about over the years. Thank you, and God bless you!”

    I’m inclined to agree with you and this verse you’ve found. I must have missed this when I was searching out verses on this topic.

    This is a great verse. It basically tells us the lengths we should go to, but I think there’s a point at which it becomes seriously non-productive and can actually hurt the message and the messenger. It won’t do anyone much good if we get angry or they do and things deteriorate into a pissing match.

    I’ve noticed in the past that I became more and more willing to trade sly insults as the arguments went on and before you know it, I was scrapping and engaging in the same kind of back and forth insults my opponents were. The bible is right that godless chatter only creates more godless chatter. So yeah, I agree with you, as long as we’re really careful in how we go about it and recognize and listen for the Spirit’s urging on when enough is enough.

    Thank you for sharing, Tom, and stopping by here! I’ll stop by your blog too.

  6. I am ready to ‘debate’ my faith any time, as long as the other party remains polite and will listen, just as I will do. On the other hand,if the other person wants to argue for the sake of arguing and will not listen to points made, but starts insulting or demeaning, I see no point in continuing. It is like throwing pearls before swine and gains nothing. My time is better spent elsewhere.

  7. Hey Ed,

    My bad… I’ve been exhausted from all of the arguing. (lol).

    I will get back to that response to your mail. Shortly. 🙂

  8. Just Awesome 🙂

  9. Reblogged this on YOU DECIDE and commented:
    A very great post not to miss….

  10. Thank you for reading and thanks so much for reblogging, Wdednh!

  11. Hi Meeting in the Clouds!

    I think you put this very well. And the bible does tell us not to throw our pearls before swine. I do wish someone would expound on this topic though, as this is one of the more vague verses, in that I’ve never been sure what was meant by the word “swine,” biblically-speaking. Who does the bible consider “swine?”

  12. Words of wisdom indeed!
    Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV)
    The key here is to tell them the Good News, the response will depend on whether they are open to God’s Word. You will have done your duty. When they do respond then baptise them as instructed.
    A good person will see an argument developing but a wise person avoids it.

    Shirley Anne x

  13. Having an opinion is one thing -and we all have opinions.
    But one cannot have one’s own facts – and this is what irks.
    Your faith comes with a doctrine that you claim is fact; is the inspired word of god. Or, depending on how far out there the believer is, the literal word of god.
    Again, it is only that this belief comes with a doctrine that it becomes highly objectionable, for although you claim we all have free will (given by your god, of course) your religion demands that you proselytize to spread this doctrine to the four corners of the earth. Which has been done by your religious predecessors -usually from behind the point of a sword, I might add.
    I am a great fan of Jimi Hendrix and occasionally I will put up a post. But I will never suggest that failure to follow this dead musician will result in eternal damnation, that his music is the be all and end all.

    Religion and state must be kept separate and this should include inflammatory slogans such as ‘For God and Country’ , or similar.
    A lot of people do not believe in your god.And this refers not just to atheists, but other religions as well. Why not respect their views? They pay taxes.
    No religion in state schools.
    You wish to bring your children up in a religious home there is little one can do and providing no harm is done to the child I cannot see a way to prevent religious instruction in the home. maybe the child will work things out for itself as it grows up.
    But this is as far as it should go.

    Keep the faith, as Bon Jovi sang, but keep it to yourself.

  14. The cool thing is that your main point of avoiding fruitless, hateful arguments is fantastic. Unbelievers can even agree. Indeed many non-Christian traditions agree that correct speech (one of Buddhism’s 8-fold path) is drastically important in nurturing a healthy mind — which Christians may call something like “honoring God”, “imitating Christ” and such.

    My point is that your wonderful insights are universal, not just Christian or Jewish. Using scripture to support them is very helpful when speaking “in-house”, but they are principles understood by and even larger audiance.

    Nice balance to the previous posts. Interestingly, I am writing something now in a similar vein. That is, when blogging, as in morning greetings, we should remember that the other bloggers, like you, may be suffering illness, lost a friend to death, in financial hard-times, lost a job or suffering depression ….

    We often forget in our fervor that behind the argument there are real people.

    Good post!

  15. Have somewhat been following your conversation with Ark and because you mentioned the blasphemy challenge I had similar results there as well. It is like trying to convince someone their boss will pay them on Friday but they refuse to invest anything. It is foolishness!

    Oh the word is so full of God and tells us everything about everything! We know their heart. 1Co 1:18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. The Gospel is the power of God!

    I was reminded of the following verses last night. 2Co 3:15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 2Co 3:16 But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. They must turn toward God! A simple question, GOD IF YOU ARE REAL, I WANT TO KNOW IT, may be all the turn needed.

    They refuse thinking themselves wise but know nothing! 1Co 1:20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 1Co 1:21 for since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.

    We Continue to Plant Seed!

  16. Yes. Leads me to remember where we first met Adrienne. It reminds me of how justified I felt in our “debates” with non-Believers. I remember how justified I felt in my righteousness.

  17. you can not change the spots on a leopard… consider this… most have had religion instilled in them from their parents, raised morman, cathlic, babtist, islamic, buddist, atheist or even the great spirit (american indian) etc. they grew up believing a certain way, to tell them they are wrong is saying they have spent a whole life in the dark and their parents and grandparents were wrong. The one common factor is that humans are spiritual creatures and build a bond from there and share common beliefs, most believe in a higher God, they just call him something different, and their culture as different as they are their beliefs will be different but similar, if you try and (verbally) ‘beat’ the truth into someone they regress and shy away from the hurt, but show the light at the end of the tunnel and most will crawl out of the darkness on their own. Art~

  18. God does not condemn those who have no knowledge of Christ or those who might call Him by another name if they live lives in accordance with His will. However those who reject the truth that is in Christ Jesus having heard it (the Gospel) condemn themselves. The Word is indeed foolishness to those who are perishing but to we who are being saved it is the power of God. God has given you the choice and the blind have chosen death. No we cannot change a leopards spots, conversion is carried out by The Holy Spirit, we simply present the message.

    Shirley Anne x

  19. well written Shirley! I have learned there is nothing more foolish than to argue anyone when only God can change minds and hearts of men….when we argue, we are telling God that we can change them….I only say this because arguing has been my weakness……thanks for sharing!

  20. Let me see if I have it right. There are two groups in this thread:

    Pro-Debate:

    The Warrioress, Tom, meetingtheclouds

    Anti-Debate:
    Shirley Ann seems to say, “If they don’t look like they could convert, leave them alone.”

    Planting Potatoes agrees with Shirley saying it is foolish to argue with anyone, “we are telling God that we can change them…”

    But there is a possible universal superiority teaching:

    The “Foolish Swine”:

    The poor, wretched heathens were referred to as “Swine” by The Warrioress, though she is not sure that is fair. Chet Dobson tells us:

    Oh the word is so full of God and tells us everything about everything!

    So why go to school, Chet? Then he tells us that unbelievers are just foolish, and quotes standard verses to show it. Shirley Anne reminds us that all who have heard Jesus’ story preached and don’t agree are foolish and damned.

    The OP was sort of interesting, but this thread seemed to be divided and dividing.

    I am not sure Christians here are aware that Buddhists, Muslims, Mormons and many others also have scriptures that make fun of nonbelievers (Christians in this case — and us Heathens too of course) and they claim we are all fools if they don’t agree with their religions. It is an excellent technique to stop dialogue and gain confidence in the community. Some believers in these faith buy into this strategy and some don’t, fortunately.

    But of course my opinion should matter not, for I am the worse of fools because I am a former Christian. (Some of course will say, he can’t have been a real Christian if he left — but they’d be wrong.)

  21. @Sabio

    We go to school to learn the ways of the world. We read the Bible (NT) to learn the ways of God in Christ Jesus. It does tell us everything about everything regarding life in God.

    Seemingly intillegent people do take a down right foolish position when it comes to the things of God! I suppose you could offer up your own verses from your own book to fortifie your position. We could banter back and forth that way for ages. It is the Good news of the Gospel, not the bad.

    The good news is this, If you Sabio called upon the name of the Lord, confessed Jesus with your mouth, and believed it in your heart, YOU ARE SAVED! Or, God is a liar! Most people who refuse God do so in ignorance of the Bible and believe what preachers who DO NOT KNOW the word of God tell them. Lets look at the great error I and others have made in Christianity.

    We live everyday life on the barter system of reward v punishment. Get your homework done, then you can have a cookie, If you are good, then you can stay up late, button your coat up or you’ll catch cold, go to work, then you get a paycheck, if your bad you’ll get a spanking. See what I mean? After we say yes to Jesus we take this idea into our christian lives in ERROR! We think, now that I’m going to church I must become good! I must quit drinking or smoking or swearing ,steeling, cheating, lying, on and on and on and on. Imediately we take up a position of the flesh, the self life! Dont get me wrong it is God’s desire for us to be free of all that.

    The church of man wants you to change into something you are not. Change into something they think you should be. Fact is I cannot change. I cannot stop doing whatever they require of me to be good and acceptable to God. I can’t do it, I’ve tried. Oh yes with a little gumption I quit whatever it was they said I needed to quit but in a day or two and usually within a minute or two, I failed! That failure brought me into a worse condition. The freedom hoped to find in God was lost to feelings of failure, self condemnation, guilt and remorse. My thought, if this is God who needs it!

    Jesus gave His life as payment for all my sin! All,past present future. Its all about Him, not me! I realized one day that my prayers were for God to do my will. God I am praying to you for more money, a bigger house, a nicer car, a spouse, a job and on and on. The Bible says that God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.

    Famous last words, IT IS FINISHED! We need to understand this, IT IS FINISHED, The work salvation is complete. Nothing we can do, only believe!

    To me there are two great foundational verses, 1)John 6:63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life. And 2) Romans 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

    I like 2 Peter also and have inserted (HOW) for pleasure!

    2Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, (HOW) by the righteousness of our God and our Savior, Jesus Christ:
    2Peter 1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you (HOW) in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;
    2Peter 1:3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness,(HOW) through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.

    Rest in HIm, IT IS FINISHED!

  22. @Chet

    Arghhhh — a long comment/sermon. It is an impersonal rant so I sped read it.

    You said:

    If you Sabio called upon the name of the Lord, confessed Jesus with your mouth, and believed it in your heart, YOU ARE SAVED!

    So I guess I am saved. Cool.

  23. @Sabio,

    It is cool, It’s Grace ! Why have you backed away from Jesus?

  24. @ Chet
    If you are really interested you can read two of my short posts listed here in Sabio’s Religious History. They are “In Jesus’ Name” and “Jesus as an Imaginary Friend” — they are in the “Back to Evangelical College” section [Wheaton College].

    A post in the same section addresses the question that divides many Christians, “Am I Still Saved?“.

    So I’d guess you would think I am still saved, no?

  25. @ Sabio

    So many questions for you but first as said prior if you called upon the name of the Lord, confessed Jesus with your mouth, and believed it in your heart, you are saved! The word, believe may FOOL MANY. They agree with what happened on the cross rather believe it. They do not adhere to, rely upon and trust in Jesus. That is unbelief.
    Question 1, Beyond salvation do you require of God?

  26. Great, I am saved.
    I let you spin algorithms for what counts as belief in the heart or the mind and all that.
    You last question is bad grammar — but even if you fixed the grammar, I doubt I’d understand it. Did you read my posts? If so, comment there if you have questions. I don’t want to derail this threat which is about arguing with Heathens.

  27. @Sabio

    On topic, I believe in debate and argument to the extent that the bible tells us is okay. We’re to rebuke, confront, and offer the reason for our hope. We can share our take on things, back and forth some, but when things begin to go downhill and deteriorate and rudeness and name-calling begin, it’s time to bail and call it a day. There is no reason to be insulted and demeaned, nor did Jesus expect us to bow and scrape while we attempt at sharing our faith. We can shake the dust off of our sandals and move forward to those interested in hearing what we have to share. So basically I agree with Shirley and Potatoes too, because they basically don’t see the point of sharing if debate and argument is going to turn rude and pointless.

    As for the verse in the bible “do not cast your pearls before swine,” I was asking the Christians who they believe the bible is referring to when it refers to “swine.” I would like to know who the swine is in the bible. I didn’t write the verse, the bible did. Wikipedia tells us the following:

    “Pearls before swine” and “casting pearls” refer to a quotation from Matthew 7:6 “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” in Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, implying that scriptural truth or knowledge (pearls) should not be put in front of people (or in this case, swine) who do not appreciate their value.

    Apparently Wiki thinks that the swine are people who do not appreciate the value of what we as Christians consider precious. Interesting, hmmm?

  28. Hi Planting Potatoes!

    thanks for sharing here. Arguing can be soooooo very draining, Potatoe, so in this regard, I do agree with you. If there is hope to be gained from the arguing, then by all means, but if there is little to be gained, why bother? This is my new take on the matter. And I agree with the not bothering to cast out pearls commentary because why cast pearls/treasure out to those whom you know are merely going to sneer at it or spit on it virtually?

  29. Well said, Shirley Anne!!! Thanks for sharing with us, hon.

  30. Hi Art!! (Zen)

    So good to see you commenting here again, Art. You know how I love your wonderful stories and the wisdom contained within them. (hugs) And what you’ve said here is a good point. It’s important to be gentle and truly loving, like Jesus was.

  31. Hi Tom (Servant of Christ 2)(hug hug hug) 🙂

    You said: “Yes. Leads me to remember where we first met Adrienne. It reminds me of how justified I felt in our “debates” with non-Believers. I remember how justified I felt in my righteousness.”

    Well, Tom, we had it really hard over there… we were in the lion’s den, remember? Think about Iam01 and the persecution we dealt with every day over there. I think you *were* justified in your righteousness, frankly. You were a saint over there, Tom; it was me that had a long way to go before sainthood. I’ve gotten a little mellower, thank our Lord. I’m learnin’.. there’s hope! 😉 Good to see you here, Tom. You are always welcome and missed when you don’t pop by.

  32. Chet Dobson, hi there!!!

    Ark and I are communicating (chuckle) we’ve got our own way of doing so and it’s working thus far… For some reason though, Ark keeps winding up in the spam category. Hmmmmmm. Now I don’t know why that is. I have nothing to do with it. Is it “a God-thing?” I dunno.. lol.

  33. @Sabio

    “My point is that your wonderful insights are universal, not just Christian or Jewish. Using scripture to support them is very helpful when speaking “in-house”, but they are principles understood by and even larger audiance.”

    Thanks, Sabio! I agree…

  34. “Chet Dobson, hi there!!!

    Ark and I are communicating (chuckle) we’ve got our own way of doing so and it’s working thus far… For some reason though, Ark keeps winding up in the spam category. Hmmmmmm. Now I don’t know why that is. I have nothing to do with it. Is it “a God-thing?” I dunno.. lol.”

    @Warrioress.
    Actually, on consideration, I believe it is a Devil thing.
    Someone hiding the truth from believers.
    If this is the case then it demonstrates perfectly that god is not I.T. literate, merely,IT (capitals in deference to Christians.)

  35. @ the warrioress,

    It has been raining here for 2 days now — it is lovely. The parched plants are singing in joy! Morning !

    When discussing things, I like to try and stay focused, specific and open. You seem to do the same. Thank you. I’d like to address 3 issues in your comments to me and direct you to one of my posts in order to further dialogue.

    (1) Wisdom
    First, our common agreement is drastically important:

    Wisdom about debating and dialogue exists in many religions and non-religious sources. The Bible certainly has no monopoly on Wisdom. Wisdom is universal. Wisdom can be found in many conflicting traditions.

    Do you still agree with my restatement of our agreement without the need to add caveates?

    (2) Debating Skills

    You said,

    We can share our take on things, back and forth some, but when things begin to go downhill and deteriorate and rudeness and name-calling begin, it’s time to bail and call it a day. There is no reason to be insulted and demeaned, nor did Jesus expect us to bow and scrape while we attempt at sharing our faith.

    But instead of running there is another option to show kindness, be forgiving, apologize, look for generous translations, follow the Debator’s golden rule and demonstrate the ability to take the higher ground. (see links on this page)

    Instead of running, sometimes direct efforts to return to civility can help — even when you think only the otherside is the offender. But I know that is tough.

    You said:

    So basically I agree with Shirley and Potatoes too, because they basically don’t see the point of sharing if debate and argument is going to turn rude and pointless.

    I think some readers of your blog, with a different temperament than you, do not want any debate which makes them uncomfortable, even if it does not get rude or pointless. They may not like any conflict or tension or disagreement. Or perhaps they classify as “pointless” any discussion where they feel, “look, they don’t agree with me and I am speaking the truth of the Lord.” <– I don't think you are supporting this view.

    The writer of 1 Peter 3: 13-17 seems to suggest that running is not the priority. Many readers will immediately think "even the Devil [Sabio] can quote scripture" and dismiss this, but maybe even us ex-Christians can see wisdom in the Bible (pointing back to our agreement in #1).

    (3) Views of the Bible

    But that gets me to an important third observation. There are many different ways Christians view the Bible. But this would make this comment way too long. So it will wait for another day because it is present in most of your posts. So in the meantime, can I ask that you consider looking at the link I gave above. Here it is again – my post is called “Religious Dialogue Tools“. Please read the posts which are bulleted in that post. I think they may help in our future dialogue.

    Importantly, in that post there is a link called “Christian Sharing” which you may consider using to make a post here on this blog.

    Well, give it a thought. Thanx.

  36. @ the warrioress,

    It has been raining here for 2 days now — it is lovely. The parched plants are singing in joy! Morning !

    When discussing things, I like to try and stay focused, specific and open. You seem to do the same. Thank you. I’d like to address 3 issues in your comments to me and direct you to one of my posts in order to further dialogue.

    (1) Wisdom
    First, our common agreement is drastically important:

    Wisdom about debating and dialogue exists in many religions and non-religious sources. The Bible certainly has no monopoly on Wisdom. Wisdom is universal. Wisdom can be found in many conflicting traditions.

    Do you still agree with my restatement of our agreement without the need to add caveates?

    (2) Debating Skills

    You said,

    We can share our take on things, back and forth some, but when things begin to go downhill and deteriorate and rudeness and name-calling begin, it’s time to bail and call it a day. There is no reason to be insulted and demeaned, nor did Jesus expect us to bow and scrape while we attempt at sharing our faith.

    But instead of running there is another option to show kindness, be forgiving, apologize, look for generous translations, follow the Debator’s golden rule and demonstrate the ability to take the higher ground. (see links on this page)

    Instead of running, sometimes direct efforts to return to civility can help — even when you think only the otherside is the offender. But I know that is tough.

    You said:

    So basically I agree with Shirley and Potatoes too, because they basically don’t see the point of sharing if debate and argument is going to turn rude and pointless.

    I think some readers of your blog, with a different temperament than you, do not want any debate which makes them uncomfortable, even if it does not get rude or pointless. They may not like any conflict or tension or disagreement. Or perhaps they classify as “pointless” any discussion where they feel, “look, they don’t agree with me and I am speaking the truth of the Lord.” <– I don't think you are supporting this view.

    The writer of 1 Peter 3: 13-17 seems to suggest that running is not the priority. Many readers will immediately think "even the Devil [Sabio] can quote scripture" and dismiss this, but maybe even us ex-Christians can see wisdom in the Bible (pointing back to our agreement in #1).

    (3) Views of the Bible

    But that gets me to an important third observation. There are many different ways Christians view the Bible. But this would make this comment way too long. So it will wait for another day because it is present in most of your posts. So in the meantime, can I ask that you consider looking at the link I gave above. Here it is again – my post is called “Religious Dialogue Tools“. Please read the posts which are bulleted in that post. I think they may help in our future dialogue.

    Importantly, in that post there is a link called “Christian Sharing” which you may consider using to make a post here on this blog.

  37. commentary on swine:2. It is not every one that is fit to be reproved; Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, Mat_7:6. This may be considered, either, (1.) As a rule to the disciples in preaching the gospel; not that they must not preach it to any one who were wicked and profane (Christ himself preached to publicans and sinners), but the reference is to such as they found obstinate after the gospel was preached to them, such as blasphemed it, and persecuted the preachers of it; let them not spend much time among such, for it would be lost labour, but let them turn to others, Act_13:41. So Dr. Whitby. Or, (2.) As a rule to all in giving reproof. Our zeal against sin must be guided by discretion, and we must not go about to give instructions, counsels, and rebukes, much less comforts, to hardened scorners, to whom it will certainly do no good, but who will be exasperated and enraged at us. Throw a pearl to a swine, and he will resent it, as if you threw a stone at him; reproofs will be called reproaches, as they were (Luk_11:45; Jer_6:10), therefore give not to dogs and swine (unclean creatures) holy things. Note, [1.] Good counsel and reproof are a holy thing, and a pearl: they are ordinances of God, they are precious; as an ear-ring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is the wise reprover (Pro_25:12), and a wise reproof is like an excellent oil (Psa_141:5); it is a tree of life (Pro_3:18). [2.] Among the generation of the wicked, there are some that have arrived at such a pitch of wickedness, that they are looked upon as dogs and swine; they are impudently and notoriously vile; they have so long walked in the way of sinners, that they have sat down in the seat of the scornful; they professedly hate and despise instruction, and set it at defiance, so that they are irrecoverably and irreclaimably wicked; they return with the dog to his vomit, and with the sow to her wallowing in the mire. [3.] Reproofs of instruction are ill bestowed upon such, and expose the reprover to all the contempt and mischief that may be expected from dogs and swine. One can expect no other than that they will trample the reproofs under their feet, in scorn of them, and rage against them; for they are impatient of control and contradiction; and they will turn again and rend the reprovers; rend their good names with their revilings, return them wounding words for their healing ones; rend them with persecution; Herod rent John Baptist for his faithfulness. See here what is the evidence of men’s being dogs and swine. Those are to be reckoned such, who hate reproofs and reprovers, and fly in the face of those who, in kindness to their souls, show them their sin and danger. These sin against the remedy; who shall heal and help those that will not be healed and helped? It is plain that God has determined to destroy such. 2Ch_25:16. The rule here given is applicable to the distinguishing, sealing ordinances of the gospel; which must not be prostituted to those who are openly wicked and profane, lest holy things be thereby rendered contemptible, and unholy persons be thereby hardened. It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and cast it to the dogs. Yet we must be very cautious whom we condemn as dogs and swine, and not do it till after trial, and upon full evidence. Many a patient is lost, by being thought to be so, who, if means had been used, might have been saved. As we must take heed of calling the good, bad, by judging all professors to be hypocrites; so we must take heed of calling the bad, desperate, by judging all the wicked to be dogs and swine. [4.] Our Lord Jesus is very tender of the safety of his people, and would not have them needlessly to expose themselves to the fury of those that will turn again and rend them. Let them not be righteous over much, so as to destroy themselves. Christ makes the law of self-preservation one of his own laws, and precious is the blood of his subjects to him.

  38. I agree Shirley….God wants us to share his word with each other….but our understanding ultimately comes from him…so if we come across something we cannot agree with….we must not assume they are wrong..but we must ask God for understanding

  39. Hi warrioress, it’s been long I have been here and it seems I have a loads to catch up on.

    Well, about this topic, I quite agree that argument with someone who does not share your beliefs does no good on the long run. I have never seen anyone convinced by an argument. I believe the most important thing for the christian is to live a life that expresses love, just as it says, “let your light shine so that men may see your good works and praise your Father which is in heaven.” The problem I see is many Christians trying to “win” someone over while their very lives and attitude does not impress. There is no way that will work. Paul’s letter to Titus seems to speak a lot about this.

    Thanks for the post.

  40. @ Planting potatoes.
    Firstly, I love your blog name. Brilliant!
    And I agree, you must ask god. And when he tells you the answer please give me a ‘Heads up’.

  41. Wow, I just listen to the video in this post — your choice surprised me. But then, I have not yet read many of your posts. The video guy believes that when someone disagrees with his message about Jesus that it is because demons are influencing those people. So if they are talking about anything else, it is the people themselves, but if they are discussing something which criticizes his religion, all of a sudden demons enter their brains. Wow, I forgot people think like that.

    I keep forgetting that people still believe in demons and use them to explain their worlds. During my 12 years in Asia, I have met many Hindus and Japanese and Chinese who also explain the world using demons, but I was naive to forget that many American Christians still view the world the way almost everyone did 2,000 years ago.

    As I alluded earlier, an important distinction to make is that Christians differ in how they view the Bible. Some Christians (liberals, many Catholics and some mainline Churches) believe the writers of the various books which were canonized into the canon, were susceptible to their culture and their times and thus must be interpreted in light of that, while other Christians (fundamentalists, conservatives & many Evangelicals) see the authors of scripture as being automatic handwriting agents of the Holy Spirit.

    It is difficult for these two types of Christians to talk to each other, yet alone for Atheists to dialogue if this issue is the basic obstacle in the dialogue. Yet rarely is the obstacle addressed, but instead, they talk around the assumptions. It would be curious to see the percentage of your believing readers who hold each position.

  42. @Sabio.
    Yes, one does forget this at times.
    I had a discussion with a chap on another blog site about Moses and he came back with an incredible assertion that there were chariot wheels on the bottom of the Red Sea, proving Moses and the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. Furthermore, he stated there were photographs and he was even kind enough to direct me to an internet site.
    Although skeptic, I went and looked.
    This was the first time I had ever heard of Ron Wyatt.
    What was truly astounding was here was a guy, a reborn Christian, who stated I must have been influenced by Satan, and refused to believe Wyatt was not on the up and up. Most odd.
    The truth is stranger than fiction. I was gobsmacked, as the vernacular goes.
    And these people walk among us!

  43. That is amazing. Hindus have a similar divide among themselves. But concerning this issue, it is, Ark, important to remember that many Christians would consider Wyatt way out inleft field. It is drastically important to remember:
    (a) Not all Christians are the same
    (b) Christians, like everyone else, make mistakes
    (c) Christians, like Atheists, change over time
    (d) We are all people, first and foremost.

  44. @Sabio

    First and foremost, this is the type of doctrine that is being pushed to be taught in schools. Even though many Creationists distanced themselves from idiots like Wyatt he managed to pull a lot of people in with such scams, and worse , people truly believe blokes like him are somehow divinely inspired.
    Hence, the millions of dollars poured into ridiculous ventures such as the Creation Museum, and Creationist pseudo science.
    Change may happen, but do we really want to see Creationist drivel like this taught in schools? Do we really want our kids graduating with qualifications based bronze age mythology touting it as ‘science’?

  45. Hi Talk Active,

    I agree with you; it’s so important to live our beliefs to the best of our abilities. We don’t ever do it perfectly, which is why people should look to Jesus Christ for their example of being a Christian, but we do it better than we did before we found Christ, imo. Thanks for the comment.

  46. Nice post, my compliments! I think, where beliefs are concerned, that troubles arise because we as human beings like to think we’re right. We like to be right. We invest a lot of energy in being right. As has been said above, we might be able to be open-minded, but this has it’s limits, especially where pride, ego, and other such hinderances to reason, grace and tolerance come in to it.

    I have had many productive chats with believers and non-believer’s alike, but in my experiences troubles are mainly caused by Christians being totally unable to entertain the possibility of being wrong. So, they quickly and staunchly tell others who believe differently that they are wrong — highly unproductive in any debate or discussion. Of course, this is logical in a way, especially when it comes to faith. To entertain the idea that a belief in God (etc.) is mistaken is frowned upon within religions as a whole, and seen as a weakness, a lack of faith. So, a back and to exchange begins, which ends up with the nose of the debater out of joint, shows one of the bad sides to religion (making God guilty by association), and totally reduces the chances of the debater ever changing his/her opinion.

    In honesty, I have found the athiest to be the most open minded of people to talk about my faith in God with, especially when I tell them what started it. It goes something like: “I started believing in God during a science lesson at school. We were learning about evolution, and the ‘big bang theory’. I looked out of the window, and saw the beautiful surroundings outside, and it just didn’t make sense, any of it. How could any of this be the result of an accident? Everything has purpose, everything is so logical and perfectly designed — everything gets fed and can reproduce. No way it this the result of chaos or some explosion in space. It is the result of something else, someone else. God? Who else?”

    That paragraph is just about God, no religious slant, no bible, just God. And I find, that when it is just God much more gets accomplished — not just in this subject, but in life as a whole. When religions come in to it, there is a pride, a ‘them against us’ tendency, which leads to ‘we must win!’ and things get very complicated and the point gets lost. And the point, in this matter, is God.

    In my experience, the non-believer might still be a non-believer, but they have all thought what prompted my faith over, and at least acknowledged it as a valid point. A valid point to me. Most Christians tell me that even though I believe in God, and pray, and have Him in my life, even though I try my best to do no harm in all I do in life, that I will go to hell. That my faith does not count because I am not a Christian. God is my faith, it is centred around him and is between me and Him. The athiest or non-believer has no problems with it — many Christians, by contrast, do, and I have found it to be Christians who disrespect my faith with closed-minded argument and/or judgements rather than non-believers. Maybe, just maybe, non-believers are not the ones doing the harm . . . ?

    Jesus said, that one should not judge others, and that his followers should worry more about the plank of wood in their own eye than they should about the speck of dust in anothers eye. I find it unfortunate that many seem to be very selective in applying this. If it were different, maybe God, and the non-believer alike, would be much better for it . . .

    (ps — how are you? I hope you and your daughter are doing well! Would love to hear from you when/if you get time! xx)

  47. @JLShaw (John)

    Nice post, my compliments! I think, where beliefs are concerned, that troubles arise because we as human beings like to think we’re right. We like to be right. We invest a lot of energy in being right. As has been said above, we might be able to be open-minded, but this has it’s limits, especially where pride, ego, and other such hinderances to reason, grace and tolerance come in to it.

    Hi John (hugs)

    I agree one hundred percent!

    I have had many productive chats with believers and non-believer’s alike, but in my experiences troubles are mainly caused by Christians being totally unable to entertain the possibility of being wrong. So, they quickly and staunchly tell others who believe differently that they are wrong — highly unproductive in any debate or discussion. Of course, this is logical in a way, especially when it comes to faith. To entertain the idea that a belief in God (etc.) is mistaken is frowned upon within religions as a whole, and seen as a weakness, a lack of faith. So, a back and to exchange begins, which ends up with the nose of the debater out of joint, shows one of the bad sides to religion (making God guilty by association), and totally reduces the chances of the debater ever changing his/her opinion.

    I’ve found that both sides have ego issues, or maybe it’s just humans in general that must strive to keep their egos under control. Some are more humble than others and I don’t know if their religious beliefs or lack thereof have anything to do with it.

    In honesty, I have found the athiest to be the most open minded of people to talk about my faith in God with, especially when I tell them what started it. It goes something like: “I started believing in God during a science lesson at school. We were learning about evolution, and the ‘big bang theory’. I looked out of the window, and saw the beautiful surroundings outside, and it just didn’t make sense, any of it. How could any of this be the result of an accident? Everything has purpose, everything is so logical and perfectly designed — everything gets fed and can reproduce. No way it this the result of chaos or some explosion in space. It is the result of something else, someone else. God? Who else?”

    I think this is a wonderful testimony, John, and I’m glad you’re able to get through to those who don’t believe; I think this is important and valuable. I don’t particularly see atheists as anymore openminded than Christians; I think it’s about the individual more than anything else.

    That paragraph is just about God, no religious slant, no bible, just God. And I find, that when it is just God much more gets accomplished — not just in this subject, but in life as a whole. When religions come in to it, there is a pride, a ‘them against us’ tendency, which leads to ‘we must win!’ and things get very complicated and the point gets lost. And the point, in this matter, is God.

    A lot of people are differentiating these days between religion and faith in Jesus Christ. I simply see the two as the same thing. I think that when one believes the bible, however, that this can definitely separate us from a lot of people, including other Christians. And yes, an “us against them” mindset can quickly develop because it often seems that way, due to the disagreements, debate, and rudeness of some. Again, I see this problem as a particular people thing, not a belief thing.

    In my experience, the non-believer might still be a non-believer, but they have all thought what prompted my faith over, and at least acknowledged it as a valid point. A valid point to me. Most Christians tell me that even though I believe in God, and pray, and have Him in my life, even though I try my best to do no harm in all I do in life, that I will go to hell. That my faith does not count because I am not a Christian. God is my faith, it is centred around him and is between me and Him. The athiest or non-believer has no problems with it — many Christians, by contrast, do, and I have found it to be Christians who disrespect my faith with closed-minded argument and/or judgements rather than non-believers. Maybe, just maybe, non-believers are not the ones doing the harm . . . ?

    Well, if you get into a discussion on what the bible tells us with anyone, they aren’t going to be able to deny what it says about those who do not believe in Jesus Christ. I mean, John, it says what it says, right? Anyone who can read english really cannot deny what it says. I would never be the one to tell you that you’re going to hell, but I would tell you what the bible tells us about anything you want to ask me about; what you do from that point forward about what the bible says is your business. I don’t make a judgment, short of, I do believe what the bible says and I feel empathy, sympathy, and sadness for those who go directly against it’s fairly easy-to-understand writings. A lot of the bible is laid out quite clearly; we often just don’t like what it says.

    Jesus said, that one should not judge others, and that his followers should worry more about the plank of wood in their own eye than they should about the speck of dust in anothers eye. I find it unfortunate that many seem to be very selective in applying this. If it were different, maybe God, and the non-believer alike, would be much better for it . . .

    I agree with what Jesus said and I have a lot of planks to focus upon, as I’m sure you can guess. lol.

    (ps — how are you? I hope you and your daughter are doing well! Would love to hear from you when/if you get time! xx)

    My daughter and I are well, but she’s grounded at the moment until Saturday morning and is doing some minor chores. I’ve got my hands full. I’ll try to respond to your last letter asap. School is starting up again in less than a month. (sigh) Neither she nor I are looking forward to that. She stresses too much when school is in session. We’ll miss these summer days. We basically try and keep to a bit of a schedule, but it’s nothing rigorous. Anyway, I’ll be in touch, John. Thanks so much for sharing your pov with everyone here and with me.


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