Having Conversations Full of Grace and Seasoned with Salt: Advice to the Christian Debater
by Jonathan McLatchie
In his letter to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul instructs his readers to “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person,” (Colossians 4:6). I have found this advice to be invaluable in the context of debate, an activity in which many of us in the apologetics community participate.
Recently, I have had the opportunity to be involved in a few radio debates. In such situations, it is so important to always exemplify an attitude of humility and graciousness. Too often, regrettably, I have seen people (believer and unbeliever alike) attempt to disparage people on the other side of the argument. For the Christian, I firmly believe that the purpose behind debating is not simply to win an argument. Let me say that again: The purpose of debating, for the believer, is not simply to win an argument. It is possible that one successfully win an argument while failing to win the audience or one’s interlocutor. There are souls on the line. A message of love should thus be clearly conveyed — through the words we speak, through our conduct and mannerisms, and through our devotion to the message of the cross. It is so easy to let our Christian apologetics be reduced to nothing more than an intellectual pursuit, or a way to bolster one’s own ego. But as the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:2,
If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
Having a tremendous stock of knowledge will do you, or anybody else, no good if you have not love. Each opponent whom you face, and each person who observes and watches you debate, is an individual precious soul, desperately in need of Christ. If you view them as such then your conduct during and after debate will reflect that.
If we are honest, there can sometimes be…
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