Which is more important, the form of debate or the substance of debate? Keep in mind that when debating biblical doctrine the goal should never be to win the debate as an academic exercise. Biblical truth is not reduced to an Oxford-style debate format where the most thumbs up win. A more skilled debater may win the contest and still be completely wrong in his position. Now, the title of this thread is not meant to put in place a binding set of rules for the BB. It is, however, meant to focus on what is most important when discussing God's word. How should we approach doctrinal debate? What things make for profitable debate? What things make for unprofitable debate? When has a debate reached its natural conclusion? When and why should you pull out of a debate? My thoughts on this are not exclusive or exhaustive, but I think it is a good discussion to have given the general tone in this forum. So, here are is my initial contribution to the discussion: Our attitude We are discussing the Word of God. We are discussing holy words. 1 Peter 4:11 states, "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God..." In other words we need to take great care in what we say about the Word of God. We are putting ourselves in the position of teachers when we speak dogmatically to others. As teachers we should remember James 3:1, "Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment." Our knowledge I am treading carefully here. One can discuss the Bible without teaching it. We learn by asking questions. But sometimes individuals will try to speak with authority when they are not equipped to do so. Using myself as a personal example; I am very unsettled on my eschatological position. I can discuss the topic in a general sense, agreeing that Jesus is coming again. But I typically find myself as a bystander in eschatological discussions precisely because I am unsettled on the matter. We should know what we are commenting on before we assume a position of authority on the topic. Our motive Why are we engaging in debate? Are we passionately contending for the truth, or are we just interested in seeing our words on a screen? Keep in mind that I am not talking about conversation. I am focusing my attention on debate. Is our goal to champion God's truth or to win points? Is there a board member we want to take digs at? Debate is an effective method of taking shots at another; especially if one is better at debate methods than another. But do such actions glorify God? I think the answer is obvious. Debate over biblical doctrine should focus on the substance of the topic at hand, not on one's personal feelings towards another debater. When has a debate reached it's natural conclusion? When all sides have exhausted their arguments and repetition sets in. When nothing new is being added to the discussion it is time to thank the other person(s) and move on. When and why should you pull out of a debate? When a debate goes off topic and is not able to get back on topic. When a debate turns personal and insults replace profitable discussion. Why? Because to continue the debate under those circumstances is just a waste of time. Like I said earlier, this is not meant to be an exhaustive treatment on debating biblical doctrine.