Years ago as a boy, I remember when there were great “debates” among Christian people.
In particular were the ones between oneness and trinitarian ministers. These were often great events, well advertised and many people turned out for them.
The sole purpose it seemed for these events was to debate scriptures, mostly about the Godhead and baptism.
There was almost something like a circus atmosphere and they were always highly charged with emotion. Afterward, there seemed to be much talk about who won the debate and often our holiness side claimed victory.
I heard our ministers laughing about just how badly our man had torn up the other minister. They seemed to be bragging.
Something did not seem right about all of this. Even as a young person I felt this was very much in the flesh and not about the real spirit of fellowship. I let it lie.
Recently, when I first began surfing the internet, I was actually shocked at the way Christians were arguing with one another over scripture and just how heated and even nasty these conversations had become. They were awful.
What really surprised me was that those of us who say we have the truth were just as caustic in our comments as those without our circle.
It was fun at first to join in with the going conversations and be able to put in my two cents. What I learned real fast was that if I offered a question or suggestion about the spirit or attitude of the people making comments I was immediately attacked by our own people.
I couldn’t believe it . If we were to be examples of what having the fruit of the Spirit really meant then how in the world could we act in such a manner.
I concluded we certainly could not expect to win anyone to The LORD with such bitter words and even venom that we spoke.
There were even “debates” going on with some of the “Jesus name” websites and even on some of the pages there on Facebook It brought back some of those same uncomfortable feelings I had about this issue years ago.
So I looked up the word “debate” in the Bible. Then it came back to me…..
Years ago I heard a minister say that debate was in the same category as murder and deceit.
Sure enough, here it was written in the scripture in Romans 1:29, “full of envy, murder, debate, deceit……..”
It made sense. Another scripture was in 2 Corinthians 12:20 where Paul was actually concerned that these things might be happening, “debates, envyings, wraths, strifes…..”
I don’t have to tell you that it was absolutely descriptive of what I was reading and hearing on the net. And I again concluded that it was a very nasty and mean way for Christians, much less holiness people to be acting.
The word ‘debate‘ in the New Testament signifies contention. This is not a fruit of the Spirit. It is not helpful but rather destructive.
I even asked one renown minister that I thought was once featured in some of these debates in the past and he responded that he now feels they were wrong and he today wishes to avoid any comments that foster debate as a response.
Arguing over scriptures is just that, agruing.
The Word says we are to study the scriptures and “reason” together. This nasty way of talking to others and making excuses that we are just standing up for our church or doctrine is a false teaching.
Debating scripture is wrong.
It’s the spirit of the conversation that should tell us this is not like Christ. After hearing teaching and preaching for many years I was still shocked to read in Isaiah 58:4 that there are those who even fast for the wrong reasons, “fasting for strife and debate.”
If one wishes to debate politics that is your affair but the things of God do not need debate.
In our day today, I feel it is even more necessary that our conversations with others reflect the true character of those who profess the Holy Spirit.
Being unkind when talking about God never won anyone and perhaps pushed people further away from the very thing they need the most.
“…. being filled with all unrighteousness, [a]sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,” Romans 1:29 (NKJV).
“For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults,” 2 Corinthians 12:20 (NKJV).
“Indeed you fast for strife and debate, and to strike with the fist of wickedness. You will not fast as you do this day, to make your voice heard on high,” Isaiah 58:4 (NKJV).
First published: March 10, 2010.
~ Robert Blackburn