f The Wittenberg Door: Why We Argue – Part 3 (Conclusion)

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Commenting on Christendom, culture, history, and other oddities of life from an historic Protestant perspective.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Why We Argue – Part 3 (Conclusion)

As mentioned in the last post, we argue because we are instructed to defend the faith. Many scriptures could be cited; but, for the purpose of this post, we’re going to focus our attention on one verse: 1 Peter 3:15.

Instruction

Scripture not only instructs us to argue for the faith, but it also tells us in what manor we are to argue.

but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
(1 Pet. 3:15)

Three things I want to point out:

  1. Never surrender your ultimate starting point: Scripture

  2. Be prepared

  3. Be a good ambassador of Christ

1. Never Surrender Your Ultimate Starting Point: Scripture

. . . sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts . . .

. . . 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)

Whether teaching or arguing—or, for that matter, whatever we do—we must never surrender our commitment to take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). That means our arguments, as well as the manor in which we make them, must be based solidly on Scripture (1 Cor. 1:18–25).

2. Be prepared

. . . always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you . . .

Here Peter tells us to always be ready. I get a picture in my mind of a soldier waiting to be called into battle: his gear’s packed; his guns are loaded; and he’s been thoroughly trained.

We must have the same posture as the soldier—ready for action. Our weapons, of course, are of a different sort. Paul tells us of them in Eph. 6. Consider the sword of the Spirit, God’s word. By taking it up we can destroy “. . . speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God . . .” (2 Cor. 10:5).

God’s word is not only our most powerful weapon; it’s also the very sure foundation upon which we stand. For this reason we must consider the example of those in Berea:

Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.
(Acts 17:11)

They were daily in God’s word studying to see if what Paul and Silas were telling them was true. The only way we can fare well in battle is to be grounded in God’s word—to know the truth.

The next thing we must do is know how to defend the truth. This is where knowing good tactics and how to argue comes in. I’m going to recommend to you two resources to get you started:

  • Always Ready, Directions for Defending the Faith, by Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen—This is a first-rate book on defending the faith. Dr. Bahnsen was a master debater and a fine theologian. Regardless of your education or knowledge of apologetics (defense of the faith) or philosophy, this easy to understand book is beneficial to all.

  • Stand to Reason to Reason (STR) is, in my opinion, the best apologetics organization out there when it comes to tactics. Through essays, books, tapes, conferences, and a fantastic radio broadcast, STR will help you become a good ambassador of Jesus Christ.

3. Be a Good Ambassador of Christ

. . . yet with gentleness and reverence.

We must always remember that we are ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor. 5:20)—we represent Him as authorized messengers. This is a fearful thing. For, by our words and actions, we either tell the truth about Christ, or we misrepresent Him. To be a faithful representative, we must engage our opponent gently and respectfully. This means that we use our arguments to persuade, not to pummel. This also means that we don’t call or opponent names; we don’t talk over him; and we don't misrepresent his views.

Remember: The gospel is offensive enough; let’s not add to it!

--The Catechizer

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