Discussing (debating) matters of faith

Bloged in Church, Faith, Musings, Society by Mel Thursday May 2, 2013

People are frequently offended by Christians because of our dogmatic approach to faith.  And an equally frequent response I hear from Christians when they know that they have offended someone, is to shrug their shoulders and say that Jesus offended people too with His teachings.  (What we forget as Christians, is the fact that the Pharisees took offense with Jesus for a somewhat different reason - He was not dogmatic enough).

I think that there will always be disagreements - to put it mildly - in matters of faith.  What I think Christians should strive towards when discussing faith, is to sound less like a Pharisee, and more like Jesus ("full of grace and truth" - John 1 : 14).  In this connection, I recently penned on a Facebook thread some thoughts on how Jesus might approach discussions of faith :

(1)  Jesus said that "out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks" (Matthew 12:34), so when speaking / writing, it is important to examine the heart.  If it is proud, self-righteous, vengeful, hateful or otherwise unloving, the words that come out will be negative.

(2)  Jesus is the Great High Priest who is able to sympathise with us in our weaknesses (Hebrews 4 : 15), because He chose to identify with people like us who are broken.  And so when speaking / writing, we should also seek to identify with those whom we are addressing.  When we can see through their perspective, and understand how they feel, what we say and do will more likely be full of grace even if we disagree with them.

Finally, as a practical matter, it is unhelpful to engage in name-calling / (negative) labelling, and / or to make statements which are inaccurate, poorly researched or which cannot otherwise be reasonably supported by evidence (though evidence on some issues is admittedly, ambiguous).  I think it is downright rude or even callous of a person to make sweeping statements which he has not bothered to research or otherwise think through carefully, as that shows that he simply does not care whether his audience is presented with accurate / sound information or not.

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