Why We Argue - Part 1
“To take no pleasure in assertions is not the mark of a Christian heart; indeed, one must delight in assertions to be a Christian at all. (Now, lest we be misled by words, let me say here that by ‘assertions’ I mean staunchly holding your ground, stating your position, confessing it, defending it and persevering in it unvanquished. . . . And I am talking about the assertion of what has been delivered to us from above in the Sacred Scriptures.”
(Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will)
What is an “Argument”?
By “assertions” Martin Luther means arguments. It was his Biblically-informed position that presenting arguments for the faith is a Christian’s duty. But what is an “argument”?
A good explanation of an argument is provided for us in The Philosopher’s Toolkit by Julian Baggini and Peter S. Fosl:
“An ‘argument’ is an inference from one or more starting points (truth claims called a ‘premise’ or ‘premises’) to an end point (a truth claim called a ‘conclusion’).”
Bagginin and Fosl further explain that as a “general rule . . . arguments attempt to demonstrate that something is true . . .” This is in juxtaposition to an explanation which is an “attempt to show how something is true.”
Providing Arguments vs. Being Argumentative
Providing an argument should be distinguished from being “argumentative,” which is characterized by being combative or quarrelsome. As Christians, we are to do the former not be the later.
But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth.
Stay tuned for Part 2!