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Would Jesus Argue with People on Facebook? How Christians Should Handle Criticism, Arguments, Debate, etc.
by Matt Rawlings
When we read through Mark 12:13-43 we see Jesus facing three of his most ardent opponents in front of hundreds or possibly thousands of people. In verses 13-17, the Pharisees try to trap Jesus with the question of whether or not to pay taxes to Rome. It is important to remember that the Israelites were occupied by a foreign power and generally hated them for it, so this was a political question with several landmines. Jesus deftly escaped their ploy by pointing out that Caesar’s image is stamped on coins, so they belong to him. This implies of course that a thing belongs to whatever image it bears and, of course, everyone, including Jews and Romans, are stamped with the image and likeness of God.
Christians are often challenged with political questions that aren’t really questions. Facebook memes often mock believers who support traditional marriage by claiming (erroneously) that Scripture approves of polygamy. Some fire back at these challenges and justify their actions by pointing to the way Jesus shredded opponents like the Pharisees. But there is something we all need to keep in mind…none of us are Jesus. All of us are incapable of looking into the heart of an “opponent” and few of us are good at threading are way through hot button issues.
So what do we do? We’ll return to that.
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When we move on to Mark 12:18-26, we see Jesus encounter the Sadducees, another group who opposed Jesus for several reasons. The Sadducees were cozy with Rome while ironically holding a more narrow position on Scripture (they only accepted Genesis through Deuteronomy as fully inspired) and rejected the idea of bodily resurrection. They also try to make Jesus look stupid (always a bad move) by trying to look the resurrection absurd but Jesus moves on to their own ground by arguing from the Books of Moses to slam the door on them.
Many Christians will challenge skeptics like Darwinists by attempting to argue from their understanding of evolution. This is almost always a bad idea. Few Christians take the time to study apologetic resources (like the awesome material from The Discovery Institute) and end up looking foolish. Again, you are not Jesus.
But do we remain silent in the face of bad ideas? We’ll return to that in a minute.
Next we hit Mark 12:28-43 where a Scribe, also typically an opponent of Jesus, seems to ask a genuine question about what is at the core of Jesus’ faith. Christ not only answered him gently and truthfully but tells his inquirer that he is “not far from the Kingdom of God.”
Here we can certainly take a cue from Jesus. We should always answer questions with truth and grace even if in the end the person was setting us up for an insult…
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