Your Opponent Might Know Your Position Better than You

Anyone who cares about truth and consequences ends up in debate. We must, by necessity, hammer out our beliefs and ideas through argument with people who disagree with us. The internet has provided us a miracle in this regard: we can now find persons with virtually any and every possible intellectual claim in the world.

We also may find ourselves challenged by those people to take a closer look at our own characterizations of our own position(s). We naturally think we know our own beliefs better than could our opponent in a debate, but I think you ought to pause and examine that. Here is a wise word from the comment section of a post at Green Baggins (a great Reformed blog with a glorious past). Check this out, think about it, and maybe let these words come back to you next time you’re in the heat of debate. It might be a strength for you to learn to listen to others and analyze yourself better.

Just dropping by . . . it seems to me there’s a twofold assumption here on the part of Nathan and art which is, in fact, somewhat dubious: a) only someone who holds a position can accurately define that position, and b) their definition must necessarily be accepted as accurate. To be sure, one must always be careful, in arguing against another’s position, to do so fairly and accurately, without replacing one’s opponent with a straw man; but that doesn’t change the fact that none of us can see our own face without a mirror, and in an argument, the only mirror we have is our opponents. There are times when, in fact, those who argue against us can actually perceive our positions more clearly than we ourselves can, because they see implicit/unexamined assumptions which we don’t see, or because they catch logical implications of our position which we haven’t caught. As such, to say “I don’t agree with your characterization of my position, therefore you aren’t addressing my position” is not, in fact, necessarily true. It is, rather, a reason for careful self-examination to see if, perhaps, someone else might have seen something in our position which we ourselves have missed.


Yours in Christ,


A Frustrating Conclusion

Recently I posted a critique of Mike Gendron and his Proclaiming the Gospel ministry (an outreach to Roman Catholics). I then emailed him to give him a fair chance to see it and to dialogue. Without much commentary from me, I will here below post our email exchange. I am doing so because I am truly mystified and frustrated with this brother.

To try to be clear, I had two goals in contacting and critiquing Mr. Gendron:

  1. Call him to account for using fallacious, sub-Christian reasoning.
  2. To ask if he could give evidence that he understands what he is attacking.

And both of these points failed to produce fruit. What I want you to see is our failure to establish even the most minimal line of understanding and communication. I’d love to get your feedback or advice in the comments – how could I have done better?

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