Month 9:27, Week4:5 (Chamashee/Teruah, Year:Day 5939:267 AM|
2Exodus 2/40, 4th Sh'mittah - Year 49/50
Global Judgment - Day #T-35
Gregorian Calendar Tuesday 8 December 2015
What We Think About It
Introduction - Ning and Facebook Experiences
Being on various social media like Ning and Facebook, as we have been over the years, has resulted in numerous people wanting to 'debate' rather than discuss. Someone out to debate is usually out to 'win' or 'convert' you to his position. Someone who wants to discuss is willing to listen, learn and (if necessary) change their opinion on a subject.
Debaters Often Belong to Cults
Debating is more like a boxing match with the one left standing being declared the 'winner'. Evangelical (usually Baptist) KJV-Onlyers and Sacred-Name Ultra-Messianics, to name a couple of the worst, are two modern examples out of several I could name who have deservedly earned the 'cult' label for their dogmatism, aggression and love of contention.
My personal opinion and practice is to avoid debates because winning or losing tends to depend on the skillfulness of the debater, and not on the evidence. Paul speaks about avoiding the worldly "wisdom" and, in simplicity, preaching Messiah (1 Cor.1:18-25). Paul depends upon the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) to convict men of the emet (truth) (1 Corinthians 2), not on his cleverness. In 2 Corinthians 2:17 and 4:2 Paul speaks, once again, about avoiding worldly methods of communication.
Paul at Mars Hill and Skilled Debators
Some, of course, would differ with me in my opinion that debating is a worldly/fleshly method. Paul was a skillful debater, we suppose, but after his experience at Mars Hill, in Athens, before the Greek philosophers of the day, he soon realised the futility of that approach and never did it again. I am not saying that there isn't a place today for skilled and professional like Ravi Zacharias, James White, John Lennox, Nick Wright and others who seem to thrive in this kind of environment and play fair but I would say, in general, this is not the approach believers are to take.
The Testimonies of Paul and James
In addition to the texts already mentioned, the following texts provide us with useful guidelines:
A Reasoned Presentation
"Remind people of these things and solemnly charge them before Elohim (God) not to wrangle over words. This is of no benefit; it just brings ruin on those who listen. Make every effort to present yourself before Elohim (God) as a proven worker who does not need to be ashamed, teaching the message of emet (truth) accurately. But avoid profane chatter, because those occupied with it will stray further and further into ungodliness, and their message will spread its infection like gangrene. Hymenaeus and Philetus are in this group. They have strayed from the emet (truth) by saying that the resurrection has already occurred, and they are undermining some people's emunah (faith). However, Elohim's (God's) solid foundation remains standing, bearing this seal: 'Yahweh knows those who are His,' and 'Everyone who confesses the Name of Yah'shua (Jesus) must turn away from evil. Now in a great house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also ones made of wood and of clay, and some are for honourable use, but others rather ignoble. So if someone cleanses himself of such behaviour, he will be a vessel for honourable use, set apart, useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. But keep away from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faithfulness, ahavah (love), and shalom (peace), in company with others who call on Yahweh from a pure heart. But reject foolish and ignorant controversies, because you know they breed fights. And Yahweh's slave must not be a fighter but kind toward all, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness. Perhaps Elohim (God) will grant them repentance and then knowledge of the emet (truth) and they will come to their senses and escape the devil's trap where they are held captive to do his will" (2 Timothy 2:14-26).
"Which of you is wise and understanding? By his good conduct he should show his works done in the gentleness that wisdom brings. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfishness in your hearts, do not boast and tell lies against the emet (truth). Such wisdom does not come from above but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where there is jealousy and selfishness, there is disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and not hypocritical. And the fruit that consists of righteousness is planted in shalom (peace) among those who make shalom (peace)" (James 3:13-18)
As I read the Book of Acts, Paul "reasoned" in the synagogues (see Acts 17:2-3; 18:19). I don't think this was debating, but a reasoned presentation, based upon the Scriptures. Messianic Evangelicals do that through our articles on our website at www.nccg.org, public witnessing and through preaching and teaching in the local assembly.
My guess is that if Paul were asked the question about debating he would say, "Preach the Davar (Word)" (2 Timothy 4:2) and "avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the Torah (Law), because these are profitless and useless" (Titus 3:9). People are converted by the preaching of the Davar (Word), and they are also discipled in the same way.