How to have godly, edifying debate

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Mexdeaf, Jul 31, 2013.

  1. Mexdeaf

    Mexdeaf
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    (I found this helpful and hope that you do also- Mex)

    The Blogs, the Battles and the Gospel


    Tim Challies

    03/13/13

    #1. Carson's Rule

    The first rule comes from D.A. Carson and states You don't have to follow Matthew 18 before publishing polemics. ”f someone is publicly presenting theological views that are opposed to sound doctrine, and you are not in the same ecclesiastical body with this person (that is, there is no body of elders over you both, as when, for example, both of you are ministers in the same denomination,) then you may indeed publicly oppose those without going privately to the author of them. Carson does add a qualifier, but that comes under the next rule.”

    #2. Murray's Rule

    The second rule comes from John Murray and states You must take full responsibility for even unwitting misrepresentation of someone's views. “In our internet age we are very quick to dash off a response because we think Mr A promotes X. And when someone points out that Mr A didn't mean X because over here he said Y, we simply apologize, or maybe we don't even do that. John Murray's principle means that polemics must never be ‘dashed off.’ Great care should be taken to be sure you really know what Mr A believes and promotes before you publish.” To rule #2 I might add that if you have a relationship with a person with whom you disagree, it may be wise to attempt to contact that person to ensure that you have, indeed, understood their position and are now able to accurately represent it.

    #3. Alexander's Rule

    The third rule comes from Archibald Alexander and states Never attribute an opinion to your opponent that he himself does not own. “[E]ven if you believe that Mr A's belief X could or will lead others who hold that position to belief Y, do not accuse Mr A of holding to belief Y himself, if he disowns it. You may consider him inconsistent, but it is one thing to say that and another thing to tar him with belief Y by implying or insisting that he actually holds it when he does not. A similar move happens when you imply or argue that, if Mr A quotes a particular author favorably at any point, then Mr A must hold to all the views that the author holds at other points. If you, through guilt-by-association, hint or insist that Mr A must hold other beliefs of that particular author, then you are violating Alexander's Rule and, indeed, Murray's Rule. You are misrepresenting your opponent.”

    #4. Gillespie's Rule A

    The fourth rule is from George Gillespie and states Take your opponents' views in total, not selectively. “Just because someone says (or fails to say something) in one setting--either for good reasons or because of a misstep--does not mean he fails to say it repeatedly and emphatically in the rest of his work. Gillespie is saying, ‘Be sure that what you say is Mr X's position really is his settled view. You can't infer that from one instance.’ If we build a case on such instances, we are in danger of falling afoul of Murray's rule as well. We must take responsibility for misrepresenting the views of others.”

    #5. Gillespie's Rule B

    The fifth rule also belongs to Gillespie and states Represent and engage your opponents' position in its very strongest form, not in a weak 'straw man' form. “Do all the work necessary until you can articulate the views of your opponent with such strength that he says, ‘I couldn't have said it better myself.’ Then and only then will your polemics not misrepresent him, take his views in toto, and actually have the possibility of being persuasive.”

    #6. Calvin's Rule

    The sixth rule is Calvin’s and states Seek to persuade, not antagonize, but watch your motives! “It is possible to seek to be winsome and persuasive out of a self-centeredness, rather than a God-centeredness. We may do it to be popular. On the other hand, it is just as possible to be bold and strongly polemical out of self-centeredness rather than God-centeredness. And therefore, looking very closely at our motives, we should be sure our polemics do not unnecessarily harden and antagonize our opponents. We should seek to win them, as Paul did Peter, not to be rid of them.”

    #7. Everybody's Rule

    The seventh and final rule belongs to each of the previous six theologians and states Only God sees the heart--so remember the gospel and stick to criticizing the theology. Keller goes to John Newton and says “no one has written more eloquently about this rule than John Newton, in his well-known ‘Letter on Controversy.’ Newton says that first, before you begin to write a single word against an opponent, ‘and during the whole time you are preparing your answer, you may commend him by earnest prayer to the Lord’s teaching and blessing.’ This practice will stir up love for him and ‘such a disposition will have a good influence upon every page you write.’ Later in the letter Newton says, ‘Be upon your guard against admitting anything personal into the debate. If you think you have been ill treated, you will have an opportunity of showing that you are a disciple of Jesus, who 'when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not.' ‘It is a great danger to aim to ‘gain the laugh on your side,’ to make your opponent look evil and ridiculous instead of engaging their views with ‘the compassion due to the souls of men.’”

    I commend these seven rules to my fellow bloggers and to all of us who engage in online discussion. May we exemplify gospel-centered and God-glorifying polemics.
     
  2. Earth Wind and Fire

    Earth Wind and Fire
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    What was Calvin's 2nd rule......When persuasion doesn't work, kill them! :laugh:
     
  3. Tom Bryant

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    Good stuff. I sure wish the other side of my positions would read and practice this. :laugh:

    Seriously, these are good rules for all of us.
     
  4. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    John R. Rice's rule: Do not answer personal attacks. God will take care of that. His Scripture for this was Is. 54:17--"No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD."

    JRR would cease the debate (carried on in his paper, etc.) when his opponent began attacking him personally, and pray for the person.
     
  5. righteousdude2

    righteousdude2
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    Great Advice my brother!



    And here is the only rule I follow when someone debates my point: If I agreed with them, but, then we'd both be wrong. :laugh:
     
  6. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1
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    How about not "demonizing" the other party?
    Or not assume that the other side has NOTHING to add to the discussion, that they just might have some truth mixed in with errors/mistakes?
     
  7. Revmitchell

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    http://www.baptistboard.com/showthread.php?t=87751

    I believe this one went pretty well. But after having owned and run a forum for years I can tell you that unless you allow controversy and the attacking of other people and positions no one wants to get involved in debates like that. There will just not be much traffic.

    Everyone talks about it but no one wants to actually do anything about it or take part in it. When you take away their ability to attack there is little or no discussion left. Take a look at how short lived the above thread was.
     
  8. thisnumbersdisconnected

    thisnumbersdisconnected
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    You forgot one, Mex. Murphy's Law. It applies to "debate" online, too. :smilewinkgrin:
     
  9. Alive in Christ

    Alive in Christ
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    Debate unto others as you would as you would have them debate unto you. :godisgood:
     

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