Friday 11 October 2013

Can Christians engage in debate?

I want to address a particular topic that is sometimes on paltalk. There are people who say that the Bible prohibits debates and I want to look at scripture to see what it says. The first section I'll address is found in Titus 3:9-11:

"Titus 3:9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. 10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. 11 You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned."

Verse 9 is the verse that is often used to say debate is wrong. A careful reading of the text is referring to dealing with heretics within the church who are teaching error they ought not to. Plus Paul is exhorting Titus not to continually waste his time with heretics, He is saying "If they don't pay attention to you after two admonitions, Don't bother with them or fellowship with them". There is nothing about prohibiting public debates. After all, the Council of Nicea housed a debate between Trinitarians and Arians, not to mention within the New Testament itself. Most councils, including the Jerusalem Council IN THE NEW TESTAMENT, came together to settle disputes in the church.

"1 Timothy 1:3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer 4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. 5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm."

Once again, the context is to admonish false teachers and tell them to cease what they are doing, it is not speaking against public debate or discussion. It's the same principle with Titus 3:9.
Let's look at some examples of public debate with in the New Testament if you don't believe what I am saying.

"Acts 18:27 When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers and sisters encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. When he arrived, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed. 28 For he vigorously refuted his Jewish opponents in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Messiah."

"Acts 9:28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews,[a] but they tried to kill him. 30 When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus."

Were Apollos and Saul in error for engaging in a disputation with the Jews regarding the Messiahship of Jesus? Now there are times where you don't waste your time with someone who mocks the gopsel, as it would be casting pearls before swine and it would be a pointless disputation with them. Also, Jesus was involved with many disputes with the Pharisees and Sadducees such as in Mark 12 where the resurrection is discussed.

I would request you consider what I say and check if what I am saying is in accordance with scripture.

Thank you for reading

Answering Judaism.

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