Summary: Arguments are not bad things, rather necessary interactions. But the arguing, or reasoning, of the ideas we have is not done in a way to anger others intentionally, but to place a pebble in the shoe of another.
“Always make it a goal to keep your conversations cordial. Sometimes that will not be possible. If a principled, charitable expression of your ideas makes someone mad, there’s little you can do about it. Jesus’ teaching made some people furious. Just make sure it’s your ideas that offend and not you, that your beliefs cause the disruption and not your behavior.” (Location: 469)
“We cannot grasp the authoritative teaching of God’s Word unless we use our minds properly. Therefore the mind, not the Bible, is the very first line of defense God has given us against error.” (Location: 487)
Note:This is why the author can make the statement, “Arguing is a Virtue”.
“The ability to argue well is vital for clear thinking. That’s why arguments are good things. Arguing is a virtue because it helps us hold to what is true and discard what is false.” (Location: 503)
Note:Viewed this way, one of the most loving things we can do for our neighbor is reason with them. And one of the most loving thing our neighbor can do for us, is reason with us. I am not immune to faulty thinking! I need others to argue with me.
“Arguments are good, and dispute is healthy. They clarify the truth and protect us from error and religious despotism. When the church discourages principled debates and a free flow of ideas, the result is shallow Christianity and a false sense of unity. No one gets any practice at learning how to field contrary views in a gracious and productive way. The oneness shared is contrived, not genuine. Worse, the ability to separate wheat from chaff is lost. When arguments are few, error abounds.” (Location: 535)
Note:Read the previous paragraphs for the reasoning which led to this. In a church, or a relationship (!),where there are no arguments, the unity is most likely surface level.
“Here’s the key principle: without God’s work, nothing else works; but with God’s work, many things work. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, love persuades. With Jesus’ help, arguments convince. By the power of God, the gospel transforms through each of these methods. Why do you think God is just as pleased to use a good argument as a warm expression of love? Because both love and reason are consistent with God’s character. The same God who is the essence of love (1 John 4:8) also gave the invitation, “Come now, and let us reason together” (Isa. 1:18). Therefore both approaches honor him.” (Location: 570)
Note:This is in response to the statement that “you cannot argue anyone into the kingdom.”
“I focus on being faithful, but I trust God to be effective. Some will respond, and some will not. The results are his concern, not mine. This lifts a tremendous burden from my shoulders.” (Location: 582)
Note:This is a great relief!
“It may surprise you to hear this, but I never set out to convert anyone. My aim is never to win someone to Christ. I have a more modest goal, one you might consider adopting as your own. All I want to do is put a stone in someone’s shoe. I want to give that person something worth thinking about, something he can’t ignore because it continues to poke at him in a good way.” (Location: 598)
Note:I love this metaphor and have adopted it as well. Placing a stone in a shoe is so much easier than trying to convince someone.
“I encourage you to consider the strategy I use when God opens a door of opportunity for me. I pray quickly for wisdom, then ask myself, What one thing can I say in this circumstance, what one question can I ask, what single idea can I offer that will get the other person thinking? Then I simply try to put a stone in the person’s shoe.” (Location: 656)
This is an excellent prayer to make while I’m in a conversation with anyone.