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.

Source: https://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2009/06/22/inerrancy-vs-the-god-objectivity/#comments

Yours in Christ,

Adam

Advertisements

Atheism: Confident Evangelism

Even though I talk about how atheism is one of my favorites to confront in evangelism, for some reason I felt completely off kilter in this lesson until about 3/4 the way through. Maybe you won’t notice it.

Evangelism to the atheist is unique in certain ways, so there is a different flavor to this approach from other religions.

When we talk to the atheist, we must do the heavy and difficult work of showing them, from 10,000 different angles, how impossible and illogical it is to posit a lack of the eternal Being of God. This isn’t easy, not because it takes a huge brain to do it, but rather because the atheist has fallen into a pit of deep, dark snares within his or her own mind. A total logical failure cannot be embraced without an awesome mental ability to enforce it upon one’s own mind and heart. In other words, self delusion through moral suppression of the light of reality.

Sin. That enemy and closest companion of every mortal human. Sin can corrupt and twist our minds until we cannot see the sun shining at noon day in a cloudless sky. Watch the video, and see if you follow. Comments are open. Workbook is here.

Thanks,

Justin Adam

Jehovah’s Witnesses: Confident Evangelism

They’re the wily sect that everyone loves to avoid. The Jehovah’s Witnesses are an apocalyptic religion hunkered down awaiting the violent end to history, hoping their obedience to the Watchtower organization will earn them Jehovah’s favor and protection during Armageddon – but who has time to learn all about their mass of unique perspectives? Can we share the truth with a JW without a PhD in their doctrines?

This lesson is my best attempt to equip you with a confident course of action, without bogging you down in historical details. Give it a shot!

An added bonus in this episode is that we had a special guest in class – an ex-JW named Natalie, who kindly bore witness (punny of me to say) to my information, and added her perspective at certain points.

The workbook is here. Other episodes are available on this blog here.

Grace to you,

Justin Adam

Who’s to Say? Answering the Roman Catholic on Matters of Authority and Truth

Recently I’ve been enjoying an amiable debate with a Roman Catholic from Lebanon (via Twitter). We keep coming back to the question of the early church – I insist that we Reformation Christians are the recovered, ancient church, and of course he insists that Rome has always been the chief authority over all other churches. Here’s a snippet from our exchange: Continue reading

Take 2 John and Call Christ in the Morning

2 John is a single short chapter, easily overlooked, and yet deeply relevant to our situation as Christians today, 1,930 years after he wrote.

John is writing to his dear friend, and in extension to all Christians, and he is warning us about the danger of compromising the truth, using the themes of truth, love, and abiding/walking in truth and love.

Let’s see if I’m right, using a little color to highlight the themes:

——

The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever:

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.

——

John is an old man, and the last living Apostle. His stature in the early church is beyond authoritative: he is the most important man alive. Jesus had personally commanded him to take care of his mother Mary (John 19:26-27)!!

He greets “the elect lady” whom he “love[s] in truth. . .” Here he is possibly calling a whole church the elect lady metaphorically, but the plain use of language calls us to interpret this as an individual woman – could it even have been Mary, mother of Jesus as a very old woman? Maybe! Think about it – Mary truly was the elect among the elect, only less than her Son Jesus in importance in redemptive history.

But notice how he addresses her: he uses the word “truth” four times in the first three verses, and “love twice – and all of this he connects with the eternal life and presence of Jesus abiding with us. But look at this:

——

Walking in Truth and Love

I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another.

——

And what does that look like, John?

——

And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. For many deceivers have gone out into the world,those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward.Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting,11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

Final Greetings

12 Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.

13 The children of your elect sister greet you.

——

Why shouldn’t we share the apostle’s love of the truth? We ought to be as focused, and diligent concerning what is true, false, right, and wrong. Let us follow what is true and right, and let the Lord Himself sort out the critics who will call us cruel, mean-spirited, or divisive.

Thanks for reading,

Adam