I got sucked into the trap recently. I knew it was a trap, but went there just the same. The trap was set on the internet and via social media. It was in the framework of a conference which was being talked about and debated. I read various articles in support of and opposed to as well as the threads of comments and before you know it, I was caught. Not only was it a waste of time, but it was detrimental to my attitude.
The debate was initiated by a prominent pastor who wrote a book and held a conference to criticize a group of Christians who he disagrees with. Of course, he believes his disagreement is objectively supported by the Bible just the same as most of those that were criticized believe they are Biblically sound. The back and forth of absolute declarations regarding the same issues of Scripture included condescending, arrogant, name-calling nonsense from just about all angles. Several things didn’t seem to happen in any of what I was reading in that:
- Nobody changed their mind from where they began
- Very little (if any) honor was given to the holders of the opposing view
- Nobody anywhere got fed, served, saved or ministered to in any way
As I considered the back and forth of the exchange and worked through my beliefs and opinions, two things happened:
- I became prideful
- I was discouraged
When we decided to engage in this type of intellectual debate, especially on the internet, the fruit is practically always negative. We practically have to puff up in pride of our knowledge in order to effectively advocate our position. We also have to hear how wrong we are, with Biblical counter-points, in the context of debate so we are torn down in our faith and encouragement. That is, unless our pride exceeds the tearing down of the negative words spoken.
Absolute answers are almost always unknowable. The beliefs, motivations and Biblical support of each side are almost always sincerely held with a valid love of God. This doesn’t mean that we should cease our pursuit of deeper understanding of Truth, it just means that we need to recognize our limits. Within our limits, we should engage each other with humility and honor, recognizing Jesus in others and accepting His manifest presence in them. If we are tempted to think we have it figured out and wield our grasp of things as a weapon against others, it has to be tempered with Isaiah 55:8-9:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”