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Thread: How to discuss theology effectively!

  1. #1
    Moderator Emeritus

    Join Date
    Apr 2005

    How to discuss theology effectively!

    Tamer's plea for "peace" was good, but unless we know how to really "argue" (really, just "discuss effectively" would be a better term) is the real issue, though, I believe. And I'd recommend this:

    1. We all know that others differ in their reading of the Word. This should NEVER separate or divide us as Christians. It's obvious that this was NOT Christ's intent in giving us all the excellent advice He gave us, so ..... let's not revert into what can be our darker selves, and let theology separate and divide us, or cause us to "believe" that those who hold differing beliefs than ours are "not really Christian." After all, all that's really, truly necessary for us ALL to be Christian, is that we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. All else is a REFINEMENT of our Christian faith and walk. So let's just be a little "inclusive" as it's wont to be called these days, and at least accept that others may see things differently, but maybe are at a little different stage in development than we are. And who knows? Christ didn't advise us to "study to show thyself approved" so we could just argue and feel "holier than thou." He advised us to do that in order that we might learn something, or maybe just re-affirm what we already believed. But don't be surprised if we listen to those who differ from us, if we learn something we hadn't counted on, or maybe just learned a new and potentially valid way of looking at things. We'll always learn from those who differ from us. NOT those who think just like we do.

    2. Since we know others see things a little differently, or value things by assigning different weights to certain passages than we see fit to do, we should be looking to find out WHY they view things as they do, in hopes of learning better how to deal with them more effectively and successfully. We're not put here to make everyone think just like we do, but to LEARN from others things that WE need to know to be more effective witnesses for and followers of our Lord. There's an old saying: "In order to receive some respect, first, we generally have to give some of it." And that'll always be true. It's just how we operate, and our delicate egos tend to make us work that way. Folks who REALLY know something are NEVER intimidated or challenged by another's varying view. They just get informed about how easily it is to err. So just state your case and/or belief as you hold it, and let it be challenged if others feel that's appropriate, and let's just see who has the most support for their views. THAT .... is how we REALLY learn, and grow, and do what Christ always intended for us to do.

    With these two simple and practically irrefutable things in mind, we can discuss just about anything, and actually LEARN something from those discussions, instead of letting them turn into contests of ego and stamina and determination. Then, we'll ALL truly benefit from this wonderful section of the board, and we'll all be happy, and maybe .... just maybe .... we'll all learn a new and valuable respect for each other, and our differing views. I've long looked at God as being something like a huge, gigantic diamond, with many, many facets - so large that no one of us can see all of Him at once. And it's no wonder then, that some may see different facets, or that they might see them from a little different angle than we do. This can, if we let it be, be a great asset to us, and help us to understand others of our Faith more completely and better. This, then, can simply and almost surely, lead us to a mutual respect that will enhance all our beings and understandings. THIS, I believe, is the reason Christ bade us to "study to show thyself approved." It was certainly NOT to argue heatedly and disrespectfully with one another.

    I was raised Baptist, and in my early years, was subjected to the thought that Catholics were a "cult of Mary," and that they were probably not real Christians, and MAY have been destined for the fires of hell! But I never believed that in the least, and thought the preacher the idea came from had blown a fuse or something. You see, I knew some Catholics, and they were among the most clearly Christian people I knew. I just went with what was obvious to me, and even as a youth, knew that there was God's direction, and man's interpretation of that direction, and that sometimes, it was obvious that man's interpretation was colored by things that probably shouldn't have entered into the evaluation. And so it goes, even now. There are those who seek more and more knowledge and understanding, and those who simply want to argue that they are right and all others are wrong. Even if it were so at any time, it's still a waste of time and lung power to argue over it. All that brings in response is the other side building up barriers up against the onslaught they're subjected to, and then, the battle ensues, and nobody gains one tiny, miniscule thing from any of it.

    If we just discuss things from OUR perspective, and listen - really listen - to the other side, we might find ourselves edified in a way that makes us understand them more fully, and thus, we are provided with a bridge we may cross, rather than a barrier that nobody could penetrate. And thusly, all are benefited, and all have come to think a little more deeply and broadly about our own interpretations, and maybe even, a little chink might be revealed in our own views, that needs shoring up or revision.

    THIS, my friends, is how to truly learn one from another, and hopefully, each of us can contribute something significant to each other, and we'll ALL benefit. I love it when that happens, even when it leaves me with yet more questions to solve later.

    So let's all demonstrate how really Christ-like we can be, and dispense with the judgment of others, and just stick with seeking to learn from each other, even if that learning consists of re-affirming our prior beliefs. There are a lot of really intelligent and devout believers here. I look forward to learning from each and every one of you. And even those who aren't quite so well read CAN, on occasion, reveal something really simple and elemental that many may have lost sight of, or come to gloss over in their own determined search for greater understanding. Every one of us has a place here, and something to contribute. Let's all act like REAL Christians here, and .... well, there'll be nothing to "settle" among us. Very simple, really. But not always easy to do - kind'a like Christianity itself! All we really need to do to get along is simply to .... get along, and not worry or feel challenged when someone sees something differently than we do. So very, very simple. I believe we can and should do this, and if we do, we'll ALL be so vastly better edified, and we'll all be able to be proud of ourselves for our compassion one toward another. Can't we all do this here?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master opos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Tried to send you a p/m and your box is full and not receiving any more...I'll hold it a while and then try to send it again.


  3. #3
    Moderator Emeritus

    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    It's open now, Opus. Thanks for the head's up.

    And FWIW, all I wanted to say was that nobody here should expect any or every one else to interpret the scriptures the same way we do. It's virtually a given that there'll be divergent views, and it's from these divergent views that we CAN, if we'll just keep it on a discussion level, and not make it a contest, and always insist that ONLY our view is the "right" way to see it.

    Evaluating other's divergent views from our own can do three things:

    1. They can help us learn something we hadn't considered quite the same way others have; or
    2. They can reaffirm our views; or
    3. They can cause ego driven arguments.

    It's really just that simple, and it's up to each of us, individually and collectively, to try to do either of the 1st two, and NOT fall into the latter. I love discussing theology, but I know better than to think everyone is obligated to see things just the same way I do. For me, it's just an opportunity to at least try to broaden my horizons, and maybe at least understand why others hold the views they do, even if they don't convert me to their way of thinking. I think there are no fools here. I think we evaluate the Word from each of our separate perspectives, based on our own personal experiences, and whatever indoctrinations we've been subject to.

    I also have never, or at least not for a very long time, seen divergent views as being an indication of "how good a Christian" someone else may be. We're all searching, and will be until our dying day. What others have found MAY very well wind up helping me, and even if not, it at least helps me understand their perspective, and we can even learn something from that, if we really try. I am so aware of my own shortcomings in so many areas, that I can't help but be humble, except on rare occasions when I might be in a certain mood, and err.

    The owners of this site have given us a great place for some very devout believers to discuss the things that matter to us. I laud them highly for doing this, but it's up to US to use it wisely. And Heaven knows, wisdom is one of those commodities that comes to us in spurts and not in a continued flow. We're human, every last one of us, and subject to the same foibles that humanity has ALWAYS been subject to.

    So all I intended was to echo and maybe at least try to clarify HOW we might take this section of the board, and make our best use of it, as good Christians have always been supposed to do toward each other. I don't think anyone here who believes is "lost," because of the verse "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." But we each grow at our own varied paces, and some have devoted a lifetime at interpreting the Word, while many of us were occupied most of our days by our vocations, and other necessary family and social doings.

    We have here a wonderful place where we can all come to learn and contribute, and all we have to do is keep our self-righteousness under control! Can it possibly be THAT hard to do that, among a group of believing Christians? If so, then the whole nation is already lost, and it's just a matter of its being brought to fruition, in the end. I don't believe such a great group of really great guys and firm believers can allow themselves to backslide into being "holier than thou." Those who we believe to be in error are best dealt with by trying to illuminate them. If we simply "beat each other over the head" with dueling scriptures, we're not really serving our Lord, are we?

    So my intent at least is just to get us all to stop and think for a minute. We all hold what we've won in understanding from the scriptures very close to our hearts, but not one among us is so far beyond all the rest that they can't learn something from even the newest and most yet inexperienced believers, even if it's only to revisit, in our minds, the way we once were or might have been. Respect yields respect in turn, and didn't Christ tell us to love one another? It's not very much "loving one another" when we argue in anger. If you don't understand someone else, just ask them questions until you DO understand where they're coming from, and maybe at least part of why they approach it from that angle. What could come from that BUT good things?

    In short, let's just ACT like Christians are SUPPOSED to act towards each other. If we do that, Christ will smile upon us. If we don't .... well, we can't let ourselves fall into that. It diminishes us, and allows evil to advance all around us. I for one do not EVER want to be responsible for THAT!

    Everybody here has their own personal views, and I enjoy hearing each one relate them. I learn from most, and the rest, I just take note of in hopes of understanding more later. And it's really not all that hard to treat other believers well, is it? Christ gave us great advice. It's just up to us to take it, and display it. Very simple, really, but NOT always easy for us to do. But always the right thing, according to Christ. Thanks for listening to my plea, and I just hope it's taken as intended.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master popper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Christ didn't advise us to "study to show thyself approved" so we could just argue and feel "holier than thou."
    That would be self righteousness which doesn't work. Remember though, the people Jesus was talking with didn't know much, if any Scripture. Most were 'genetic' Jews who were told what the Scripture said by the priest hood. As it is today, we interact with mostly non-believers, many are upright/moral people even by Christian standards. Lots of 'Jesus' talk goes nowhere as they don't realize a need in them. I personally see no logical reason for atheists/agnostics/Sadducee to even argue about Christianity - here today, gone tomorrow and the only thing that counts is the number of toys you have. There is NO basis for an argument. Now toss Satin in the mix and they are trying to dissuade you from Christ. Personally, the more vehemently they argue, the more IMHO they know they have a problem and just want company around the fire. The real question is how to seed and harvest in the secular world.

  5. #5
    Moderator Emeritus

    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Point well taken, popper, but the more folks we just sit and allow to continue their disbelief, without even trying to convert them, the worse things get all around us, because we haven't done our jobs as Christ directed us to. So it's a popular theory, but IMO, we've got work to do, and it's likely as not Satan himself who doesn't WANT us to do as Christ commanded us to do. Just MHO, like everything else I post, but .... it's got some legitimate backup in scripture. And it's not God's will that ANY be lost, and if it's our attitude to just "live and let live" and let them be lost, then we surely can't seem to be displaying an attitude that Christ would approve of, can we? Again, just MHO, based on what I've been able to glean from the Good Book. We owe it not just to them and to Christ, but to our own SELVES to do our best to bring others into the fold, and if we fail in that, at least we've tried, but failure is surely a sign that what we REALLY need to do is work on our technique and maybe the attitude we approach non-believers with. Again, MHO, but it's based on what I've been able to glean from the words and directions we've been given to follow. And if we don't follow them, what good is any of it, really? So we may disagree on this, but I can handle that. I've been disagreed with many times before, and it hasn't even scratched me yet, much less harmed me. I really do think, though, that the Great Commission as it's typically called was a very serious direction from Christ himself, and not just a "thoughtful recommendation as an option." After all, if it's not God's will that any be lost, and the only "hands" He has is US .... then are we not supposed to do our best to make "converts?" How could it be otherwise???

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