For the Sake of Argument

One of the key principles in civil discourse is establishing common ground. Without it, there is little pretext for discussion as the parties involved will arrive at hopelessly divergent conclusions based on completely different knowledge criteria. Like when an atheist debates with a Christian. Ultimately, they must both admit that one places their trust in the reliability of science, reason, and empiricism while the other solely in the reliability of God. Thus, there's virtually no common ground to be found.

When Christians debate, however, there should be plenty as both would confess that the revealed will of God is their shared source of knowledge. Sadly, this is not often the case because most Christians are unwilling to concede any common ground. Even with each other.

That's because good Christians know their theology. They know what they believe, they've prepared their defenses, and they're fully convinced in their own minds. Having all the right answers and designing the most coherent systems are the indulgences of a modern era. It's an attitude of confidence that must be constantly maintained.

Why? Because doubts and questions have no part in the redeemed mind; in fact, they call it into question! How can one who has fully submitted to the Spirit entertain anything else? Such puerile rudeness has no place in the kingdom of heaven. Instead of condescending to the fallacies of obfuscated logic, the light of Christ's truth must shine on such insolent darkness. And the disobedient much be chastened.

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To be fair, this isn't an attitude limited to just evangelicals, or even Christians for that matter. Most people feel that entertaining another's idea is tantamount to endorsement. As if considering another point of view might jeopardize one's allegiance to their values. At best, it's a compromise; at worst, a concession. It's like expressing my love for New York-style pizza all the while living in Chicago. I could say that I like Giordano's, but how stupid would I be if I admitted to liking something that isn't my favorite? If my love for New York's pizza isn't exclusive, then it's not true love. End sarcasm.

Now Christians have taken this a step further in that discourse has become an opportunity to discipline the disobedience of perceived doubt. It's no longer a discussion or even a conversation. Christians anymore use each other like sparring partners to sharpen their rhetoric, not fellowship. I'd take a wild guess that the former is not the intended purpose of the church. But hey, good for us scoring those brownie points instead of learning from each other. That's not to say that poor doctrine shouldn't be addressed, it's just that such is an issue for church leadership--not those who fancy themselves too important to exercise temperance.

In truth, every interchange with another human being is a compromise. If I'm talking with my mom, I'm limiting the degree of violence I see in my neighborhood during that conversation (at least I did before now). For her sake. If I'm talking with a friend who's recently lost a spouse, I'm limiting how much I talk about my own wife. For that person's sake. When I talk with my unborn child in the future, I'll limit mature topics from our conversations. For the sake of this little one. When we care about someone, we're considerate of their experience and we validate it by going out of our way for their sake. Finding common ground then isn't hard, with each other or anyone. If we can accept that like compromising with loved ones, we only lose our pride, not our values.


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