Webster defines a debate as: "to discuss a question by considering opposed arguments; to turn over in one's mind." When Webster's definition is applied to the Truth, who would deny the necessity or the enjoyment of participating in a debate? Many Christians today, however, will not attend a religious debate. We have to ask, "Why not?" If we, as followers of Jesus Christ, love His truth, and if our hearts are filled with His truths, does it not seem contradictory when we refuse to attend, or to be a participant in a public debate? Will not one who is filled with the Spirit have within his heart a burning desire to discuss, and to hear a discussion of, God's word?
Many excuses are given for not attending a religious debate. You will notice that usually those who make excuses are not well taught in the word. Their hearts are usually filled with something other than God's word.
From the excuses used you will hear one excuse surface more often than others. "I don't like fussing." I will inject here that there might be "fussing" in a debate. However, you will find that the one who is doing the "fussing" is the one who is not certain of his position.
If we are so tender and so sensitive that we cannot be in the presence of a strong discussion on God's word, we are too tender and too sensitive to enter heaven, because only Christians who are courageous will enter the narrow gate. How dare we be so self-serving that we allow ourselves to be offended when a religious controversy is discussed.
Attenders of a religious debate will usually fall into three categories.
1. THE SELF-RIGHTEOUS: The self-righteous is the person who feels he has all the truth and will not shed his traditional blinder long enough to consider both sides of the issue at hand.
His motive in attending is to see the "other fellow" whipped by his side. His eyes will forever be closed to God's truths because he approaches God's word with his preconceived ideas. God sends such a person "a working of delusion that he might believe a lie:" Beware, self-righteous!
2. THE FOLLOWER: This follower is not a God-follower but a man-follower. This person never seems to understand what the debate was all about. Instead of imitating the Bereans who searched the scriptures to see if what was said was truth, he leaves the debate as mixed up as he was when it started. He does not realize that the debate was an aid to help him to "work out his own salvation." He is the one who is "forever learning and never comes to the knowledge..."
3. THE SEARCHER: The searcher is God's person. This person knows God's will is perfect, and he being imperfect, must forever be a searcher. He not only fills his heart with the WORD in his private study, but desires to attend any and all public proclaiming of God's word he is able to attend, including public debating. He has shed all blinders, whether they be traditional, parental, group, or others. When he opens God's word for study his prayer is "Oh God, help me to see your plan for me." With this prayer on his lips and God's love in his heart, his eyes will be opened to God's truths.
The first requirement in learning anything is to approach the subject with an open mind. In the religious debate the searcher, with his mind opened, will realize that the discussion will be an aid to his "working out his salvation with fear and trembling'' as is all Bible study. He will not "see" the men who are the participants but instead will "see" the issues discussed. He will consider it a privilege to evaluate both sides and with his personal study, make up his own mind, knowing that he and he alone will answer to God at judgment, for what he believes.
This person will be educated in God's word so that he knows when the participants are attacking the issue, or the man. He will not be led astray by the clouding of the truth which sometimes is done by one who cannot prove his own points and succumbs to personal attack.
Generally one's mind is not convinced during the debate on a given subject, but when a follow-up is done, by him, on the teaching. We are not hurrying to join one side or the other. We take what each side presented and intertwine both into our personal study. Then, with God's help, the truths will be "revealed" to us.
Each of us, and others, know if we are filled with God's word. How? "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."
Do you enjoy a religious debate? If not, why not?