I remember the first structured debate I ever heard. It was a four-part debate on the four views of soteriology: Calvinism, Arminianism, Molinism, and the Open View. Just typing those words still runs a tingle of excitement down my spine. It was hosted by www.theologyweb.com in 2004. I still remember my immediate infatuation with that grand, surreal, super-theological idea of “debate.” It was a word I could no more than whisper, I was so awed.
Don’t mistake me; I had heard and participated in several forum debates and discussions at another previous website (which shall remain nameless for the sake of my sanity), but it was both very informal and very tense. It was also very focused and very biased towards reformed soteriology.
That night in 2004, I listened to each of the debaters, wide-eared and full of wonder. I was already a Molinist at this point, and there was likely nothing any of the four participants could have said to change or challenge my stance. In fact, I could have written much of their material for them, as I’d had so many conversations, and had read so many articles and books already on the topic. What impressed me about the debate and the debaters was the structure and the respect. These men spoke in turn, addressed each other with dignity and honest challenge, and didn’t seem to feel any need to fall upon ad hominem attacks.
For the last five years, I have held every debate (and every debater) up to this standard of respect. Too often, I have seen debates silenced by ridicule and mocking, rather than by substance and honest scrutiny. It seems that we are far more inclined to laugh at someone than to show why she might be erred. Have you witnessed this in our society?
What a shame it is!
Christian, if an Atheist is wrong, don’t roll your eyes! Listen and challenge him.
Atheist, if a Christian is wrong, don’t mock! Listen and challenge him.
Nancy Pelosi, if the people at the Town Hall Meetings are wrong, don’t label and ridicule! Listen and challenge them.
But you cannot honestly challenge someone whose view you are too busy laughing at to listen to.
And for crying out loud, if you are honestly challenged or questioned, give an honest response. If you don’t know, have the guts to say “I don’t know.”
Mockery as a form of challenge or answer is unacceptable, and it does far more to harm your position than your opponent’s. It shows a lack of respect for others, which implies a lack of respect for self. It is nothing more than a bully tactic. Please, let’s not treat each other so flippantly.
After all, what could truly be the harm of hearing what someone has to say and taking them seriously? If they waste your time, perhaps someone else was listening who needed to hear the lesson.