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ccchhhrrriiisss
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Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4499


 Re:

Thank you, Chris. This is a good etymological encouragement to remember.

Sadly, debate [u]is[/u] often divisive -- even amongst true believers. Why? I think that it is often because our "positions" are not presented as "positions," "opinions," or "assumptions." We often present our side of a debate as if it is the only truth, the opinion that matters or as if it is the undeniable position of God.

The list of divisive debates on SermonIndex is probably as long as the list of people who frequent SermonIndex. It is difficult to find two people who agree on EVERY issue. However, I have seen two people with conflicting views of the same issue stand steadfast that they are CERTAIN that they have "heard God" regarding their stand. I have even met would-be "prophets" who have stood in opposition to one another in regard to doctrines. We often falsely attribute our slight beliefs and inclinations with the undeniable Truth.

Too often, I believe that men have turned the TRADITIONS OF MEN into the DOCTRINES OF GOD. I believe that this is the cause of much strife. We can share such things WITHOUT creating strife and division if we could somehow learn to mingle our words with the knowledge of how fallible we are.

Of course, I might sound a little like a broken record.

:-)


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Christopher

 2009/8/15 14:27Profile
ceedub
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Joined: 2009/5/1
Posts: 215
Canada

 Re:


Quote:
Of course, I might sound a little like a broken record.



No you don't.
But that's just my opinion and not an infallible statement of truth.
Maybe you do sound like a broken record.
It's just that I don't think so.

How was that? :-)

 2009/8/15 17:41Profile
twayneb
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Joined: 2009/4/5
Posts: 2000
Joplin, Missouri

 Re:

Trying to read and catch up on this thread is a monumental task! Here is another Greek word worth looking at.

G1256
διαλέγομαι
dialegomai
Total KJV Occurrences: 13
reasoned, 4
Act 17:2, Act 18:4, Act 18:19, Act 24:25
disputed,
Mar 9:34, Act 17:17, Jud 1:9
disputing, 3
Act 19:8-9 (2), Act 24:12
preached, 1
Act 20:7
preaching, 1
Act 20:9
speaketh, 1
Heb 12:5

It is interesting to me that this "dialogue" is used both for good, and for not so good purposes. The disciples arguing over who will be the greatest, and Paul bringing the Grecians to a knowledge of Christ.

Could it be that debate is neutral, and the heart and purpose of the debater is what is good or bad?


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Travis

 2009/8/15 18:24Profile
ccchhhrrriiisss
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Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4499


 Re:

Hi twayneb...

Quote:
Could it be that debate is neutral, and the heart and purpose of the debater is what is good or bad?

Very good point!

:-)


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Christopher

 2009/8/15 22:25Profile
ChrisJD
Member



Joined: 2006/2/11
Posts: 2895
Philadelphia PA

 Re:

Hi everyone,


twayneb, how are you?


You had asked this...


"Could it be that debate is neutral..."


I believe that it would depend on how [i]debate[/i] is being defined? What is it that we mean when we talk about debate?


In the case of the greek word that we looked at before(eris), it did not appear that it was used in the greek New Testament in any other way but a negative way.




The word that you brought to our attention though,(dialegomai) is what perhaps? others would think of when they think of the example of Paul in the book of Acts(Acts 19:8-9)?


There it says,


"And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God."



Maybe this word is more nuetral as you suggested?

Strong's defines it this way:


G1256
διαλέγομαι
dialegomai
dee-al-eg'-om-ahee
Middle voice from G1223 and G3004; to say thoroughly, that is, discuss (in argument or exhortation): - dispute, preach (unto), reason (with), speak.


If it is, then perhaps it would be good to consider the context, and more specifically:


what is it that is being disputed


and how, or in what manner, is it being disputed


The second question may be harder to answer, except that we believe it was in a godly way, because we believe that Paul was a man of God, and sent by God.


But I think the first question is easier to get at, in that, in verse 9 it says that some [i]beleived not[/i] and spake evil of [i]that way[/i], and that as a consequence of this, Paul went elsewhere(he being first among the Jews in the synagaouge), and then going to [i]the school of one Tyrannus[/i], so that, as a consequence of this, and here I think is the answer as to the 'what' of the first question:


"...all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks."


They heard the word of the Lord Jesus.


That Paul was doing what He was commisioned by God to do, to preach Christ unto the world.



And this then I think, if we are to hold out Paul as an example for ourselves, or as a model for debate, or contention about the things of God, that we ought to consider not only what Paul did, but who Paul was, before God.


For this same Paul could also write:


For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:


or

I am set for the defense of the gospel.


or again


But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.



or could begin his letters as saying


Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God


or to begin a most solemn warning as saying


According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.


Or to give an exhortation saying


For I say, through the grace given unto me.




I hope that I have not overstepped my bounds in suggesting these things.

May God be merciful and take away anything that is false or harmful.


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Christopher Joel Dandrow

 2009/8/16 0:39Profile
ChrisJD
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Joined: 2006/2/11
Posts: 2895
Philadelphia PA

 Re:

Chris,

We share some similar feelings about this.

I want to respond though to just one thing that you wrote, if I could :)



"...if we could somehow learn to mingle our words with the knowledge of how fallible we are."



I feel much the same way. But I want to say also, [b]that I earnestly hope that nothing that I have ever suggested has made anyone think it is never appropriate to speak with certainty and authority![/b] May God forbid that!!



My own way of writting is probably lacking this to a fault, maybe because of feeling how tremendous thing it is to share our thoughts about spiritual things in an open and public forum where we have no idea who could be reading what we write. Not because we fear who may read it, but because we have no idea of how they may be affected by what we say.



But God forbid that I should ever make anyone think it is wrong or never appropriate to speak and teach and warn with authority! God forbid that! And thank God that the Bible is not written in language that should leave us to doubt about what it is saying or the certainy of the the things that are asserted!



But balance and carefulness seem to me to be nearly always useful and tending to wisdom.


Paul told Titus:


[b]These things[/b] speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority.


Not all things, but those things.

Not everyone, but Titus.


Am I a Titus, are you?

God knows. And may he help us each one to know what we may say boldy and with much authority. And what we may have the liberty and privilielge, to share with others as only our opinon.


It was only the Lord Jesus Who ever began His sentences by saying, Amen.


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Christopher Joel Dandrow

 2009/8/16 8:09Profile
twayneb
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Joined: 2009/4/5
Posts: 2000
Joplin, Missouri

 Re:

Hey ChrisJD: I am blessed, thank you. I think you are right. How two people understand a term or concept has a huge impact on their discussion of the matter at hand. That is why going to the original language and agreeing on a definition of the term is important to the diaglogue.

Just a few more thoughts on debate being divisive. The word I brought up is literally a dialogue, I guess more like a discussion, much like we are having on this thread. It is entirely possible to discuss an issue out of a wrong motive. It is possible to discuss the wrong issue (as happened when the disciples were arguing about who was the greatest). It is also possible to allow emotion to lead you down a wrong path in the discussion.

And yes, I believe even this good discussion can be divisive. Paul's discourse with the Grecians was divisive. Not, I believe, because Paul sought to be divisive, but because the subject matter at hand, Christ, is inherently divisive. Some accept Him, some reject Him, and vehemently at that. Jesus himself threw down the glove in Matthew 10:34-38. He said that he was come not to bring peace but a sword. The Gospel is the truth, and will naturally divide those who accept it from those who reject it. Jesus never sought to divide. He is not willing that any should perish. His desire it that all men come to the knowledge of the truth, but He acknowledged that this would not happen. So, yes, debate is divisive, but I am only talking now of the type of debate that includes dialogue that is intended to bring others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
The other word you bring us is used in a negative sense, and, in my opinion, should be avoided. It implies arguing out of wrong motive. It is strife and contention. There is a world of difference in the two, but I personally think the difference can be boiled down to what is in the heart of the men debating.

Interesting, SI allows us to debate the term debate in a way that brings edification to the body and builds us all up. :-)


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Travis

 2009/8/16 14:21Profile
ccchhhrrriiisss
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Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4499


 Re:

Hi Chris,

I think that we have all been guilty of “pushing” our views as the only one that matters from time to time. I suppose that much of our ideology is based upon our own knowledge of the Word of God mingled slightly with our own intellectual ability and the experiences that we have had. Perhaps this is underlying fault in many of our discussions. Each of us knows and embraces the infallibility of the Word of God. Yet our “knowledge” of the Word is often based upon ideas that are influenced by the intellect or “gifts” that we believe God has given us. Often, we find it difficult to accept a variance of opinion because we are too easy “convinced” of what [i]is[/i] or [i]is not[/i] “truth.” We often attend congregations who share or complement our “understanding” of particular doctrinal issues. We view those with a different opinion (or even, [i]slightly[/i] different opinion) as though they just don’t [u]know[/u] what we [u]know[/u] – or that they are [u]unwilling[/u] to embrace the “[i]truth[/i].”

This is a little story that I wrote to illustrate the divisive, egocentric nature of debate. It is a bit silly, but I think that it might demonstrate the manner in which many “spiritual” debates take place amongst believers.

[color=000099]Once upon a time, there were four tenured wildlife biology professors who were discussing the anatomy and nature of a dog. They were determined to decide just what needed to be taught in the University’s Canine Biology class. While most of the anatomical makeup of the creature was not highly debated, there was an argument that arose about the purpose of the dog’s teeth. Now, everyone agreed about the specifics. That is, the size of the teeth, the physical makeup of the bone and enamel and placement was not in dispute. What was in dispute was the purpose of the teeth.

The first professor argued that the purpose of the dog’s teeth was for eating grass; because, he had witnessed a dog eat grass. The second professor said that the function of the teeth was to provide “pinchers” for removing fleas and ticks – a habit that he had seen in local dogs. The third professor fiercely argued that the teeth were used to puncture and kill other living creatures – including humans; because, this scientist had been bitten by dogs in the past. The last professor argued that the purpose of the teeth were to remove meat from the bones of scraps given to it by humans before they proceeded to crunch and consume the bones, as was the custom of the pets that he had in his own home.

The debate grew extremely fierce, since each of the scientists was certain of their own knowledge that they based upon the undeniable physical makeup of the dog mingled with their own experience.

Eventually, each of the professors decided to create their own classes. The first professor created a class that taught that a dog’s nature is to be a plant eating herbivore. The second professor created a class that taught that dogs belonged to the [i]Insectivora[/i] class of insect-eating mammals. The third professor argued that dogs were feral, aggressive and ferocious animals that can never truly be tamed. The last professor created a class that taught that dogs were quiet, docile animals that had lost all sense of their wild nature through years of selective breeding.

Each of these professors was convinced of the infallibility of his teaching. They gathered around themselves students and colleagues who embraced their beliefs. In fact, they shunned any students who held to beliefs that differed from their own. Those students who simply change classes and find the professor that they felt more comfortable with. Eventually, those students would earn their degrees, advanced degrees and expertise until they took over the classes and teach the same things that they felt certain to be true. [/color]

I know that this is a silly little story. However, I have seen very “spiritual” men argue about “spiritual” issues in a very similar way. Each is convinced of the truth as they [i]understand[/i] it. Unfortunately, they forget that we are not supposed to rely on “our own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Of course, no one admits that they are relying on their own understanding, because they think that every last issue is entirely [i]clear[/i] from the Word of God (or from what [u]God[/u] has shown or taught them).

Debate, in a very honest and pure sense, can be a very good thing. Believers, like those in Acts chapter 15, can meet together and come up with a solid solution from God’s Word (as Peter did in Acts 15:19-21). This does not create any sort of compromise in “truth,” since it takes honesty and purity of heart to admit when we don’t know the absolute certainty of any given concept – no matter how “clear” it might be to our limited intellect or base of knowledge.

The Holy Spirit will certainly guide us “into all truth” (John 16:12-13). Yet are we so bold as to proclaim that we have already arrived at such a place? That is what often happens in our debates. Many of them are unhealthy arguments that divide the Body of Christ! Such immovable stands on doctrinal issues aren’t showing how [i]spiritual[/i] we are, but how [i]unspiritual[/i] we can become! We point to the Word of God as being entirely clear on certain matters – failing to see how [u]unclear[/u] the matter is by the expansive nature of the debate itself!

We also fail to consider that each of us is changing. We are slowly maturing as we continue along our journey with God! Most of us are not the same people we were just a few short years ago. We have matured as we have learned something new or have discovered truth as God has chosen to reveal it to us over time. None of us were supernaturally endowed with the understanding of ALL mysteries at the moment of our conversion (I Corinthians 13:2). We started off with the “milk” as we progressed to “solid” substances until we began consuming the “meat” of God’s Word. Yet, surprisingly, there are some who will even argue that they, in fact, [u]do[/u] understand all mysteries.

I have met people who boast about being a “prophet” or being given “the gift of knowledge” whereas nothing is “mysterious” to them anymore – and that everything that they set their mind to is “understood.” Yet these often abrasive people are often the most devoid of any semblance of love within their words. They fail to see the selfishness of their own nature when they force their ideology or “prophetic words” upon those around them. It is as if they choose only a single phrase about “understanding all mysteries” from I Corinthians 13:2 while neglecting to realize the full truth of the verse: [color=990000]“And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, [b][u]I am nothing[/u][/b].” [/color]

I believe that our debates would be much more beneficial if we were completely aware of our flawed intellects within the temporary confines of these earthly temples. It would help if we would realize that even very “spiritual” apostles like Paul, Peter and Barnabas can have conflicting beliefs regarding a matter! It would help us if the ultimate and underlying outcome of our debates is for the maturity of the Body of Christ rather than the allegiance to a particular doctrinal view. It would help if we would remember all of those things that we have been given (such as our education – including a theological education) and count them as a LOSS and as DUNG compared with the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord (Philippians 3:4-8). If we aren’t willing to get down in the dirt and pray with the brother in loving tears without an acknowledgment or acceptance of our “side” of a debate, then we shouldn’t be debating in the first place. Of course, this is much more easily believed than is actually done. I have known many fierce debaters who furiously defend their ideas of the faith regarding controversial doctrinal issues (against believers, rather than the unsaved) – and they truly seem to feel that they are doing this at the prompting of the Holy Spirit (and have even told me as much). It is almost as if they feel that they are doing God a favor by arguing with other believers.

I just wish that we could spend more time in loving and sincere spiritual “debate” with the unsaved than what we find amongst believers. It seems that, far too often, debate is delegated to a circle of believers with doctrinal differences than directed toward a world that is quickly falling into the pits of Hell. May God help us to get our priorities right – and may He start with me!

:-(

P.S. - Just so no one is confused, I do believe in [u]absolutes[/u]. I do believe that the Word of God is [u]absolutely[/u] true. I do believe that there are doctrines that are [u]absolutely[/u] clear in the Word of God, and that we should be vigilent to proclaim such things. I just think that we need to be very careful about which things that we proclaim as "[u]absolute[/u] truths" from the Word of God, less we find ourselves bearing false witness against the Lord of Truth Himself. I am concerned about those who might speak in absolutes regarding issues that are not absolutely clear amongst those of us in the Body of Christ.

I also think that there are some debates that are healthy, while others are unneeded. There are some things that we will never need to understand on this side of eternity. Far too often, I fear that our "evangelism" is often merely to convince other believers to align to our particular doctrinal views -- rather than proclaiming the undeniable truth of the Gospel to a lost and dying world (where hundreds of thousands of people perish every single day without Christ). The greatest proof of God's love might be through the love that they see we hold for one another (John 13:34 and I John 4:7-12). I pray that you know that I love each and every one of you!

:-)


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Christopher

 2009/8/16 15:29Profile





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