Does mockery of our opponents have a place in theological debate?

My theological viewpoints have frequently been mocked by other Bible-believing Christians. For example, being dispensational (of a sort), my viewpoint has been called unscholarly, mindless, etc., and those who hold my view as "sensationalist."  I am a young earth creationist, and other evangelicals have accused people with my viewpoint as mindless and naive, and essentially believing the world is flat.

I, too, over the years have been guilty of mocking others, like KJV only people, or those who embrace infant sprinkling.  I have come to see such mockery as sinful, and need to argue my case with respect toward those who differ, avoiding blanket statements.  Yet it seems so natural for me to do so.

What are your thoughts on this subject?  Mockery as a tool of persuasion, along with the straw man argument, is very frequently used in the evangelical/fundamental (and, it seems to me, especially new reformed) circles, although I do not think that MOST people in any of these groups do so.

We could make a distinction between using mockery within the household of faith vs. outside it. For example, Isaiah mocks idolatry in Isaiah 44:12-20.   So we are talking about communication with the realms of a broad evangelical belief system.


Yes, it is completely legitimate for the Christian to use mockery to argue his case or deride his opponent's views
7% (2 votes)
It depends. It is usually legitimate.
7% (2 votes)
It depends. It is usually not legitimate
41% (11 votes)
No, it is illegitimate unless in response to mockery (fire with fire)
4% (1 vote)
No, it is always or almost always illegitimate
41% (11 votes)
Other (try to approximate an answer above if you can)
0% (0 votes)
Total votes: 27
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Shaynus's picture

The answer entirely depends on who one is debating and over what one is debating. Here at SI, mockery has a more limited legitimate use because presumably we have great swaths of agreement on the most important things. But after a certain point of ridiculousness of subject matter and personalities involved, mockery may play a role non-stop.

Jay's picture

I was reading in Colossians this morning and I noticed that Paul, in referring to speech, always seems to advocate the taking 'higher ground' in terms of the quality and Christlikeness of speaking to others.  To wit:

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Colossians 4:6 ESV)

Just food for thought.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells