How to blow any theological conversation

"[M]y goal now is not simply to sharpen what I believe and why, but how I handle this belief in conversation more responsibly and effectively"

How to blow any theological conversation

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Bert Perry's picture

Being a lover of good debate--or for that matter being sometimes very tolerant of bad debate--I would love to metaphorically tack this one up on every forum I've ever visited (Christian, political, secular, whatever) along with the Bible verses that our gracious host posts here--many of them encouraging the same calm and thinking nature that the link to "How to blow any theological conversation" endorses.

The call for holding back and not overstating your case is very welcome, as is the call for "epistemic humility"--more or less crafting your argument for the possibility that you will be proven wrong.  Even if you're 99.94% sure you're right, oddly enough this often gets you further in a real debate.

One thing that is--probably in my not humble enough opinion--the 700 lb gorilla in the corner here is something that the author does not, alas, mention directly.  That is, all too many debates--including the one he quotes--have egregious ad hominem (personal) attacks.  For too many, it's not enough to say "Jesus coming to earth when we were fit only to nail Him to the cross and dying for us refutes X's claim that we must serve first."  No, we say "Pastor X shows that a degree from Y Seminary is worse than useless with his ridiculous, Pelagian claim that the Church serves Christ first."

Use the first comment, and the hearer knows you've done a bit of work and are presenting evidence.  Use the second, and all the hearer knows is that you are either unwilling or unable to make a real argument, and that you like to use ten dollar theological words.  Unfortunately, I see way too much of the latter, and it doesn't do the cause of Christ any good.

Kevin Miller's picture

I just posted a link to this article at the religious forum where I am an administrator.  I really like the way it is written. When I first started posting at forums, I was much more adamant about things than I am today. Oh, I still believe most of the same things I used to believe, but I have been corrected about some issues, and those corrections make me aware that I might have more learning to do, so I don't post with as much adamance.