David Wayne, of Jollyblogger, offers some sage advice on how to engage in Godly disputations and Christ-like argument. His points are as follows.
- Remember who you are debating [i.e., a person made in the image and likeness of God].
- Remember your relationship when debating a fellow Christian [i.e., members of the household of faith].
- Remember who you are [i.e., a sinner].
- Remember how little you really know.
- Remember the Burger King Principle. [I'll let David explain that. ;)]
- Argue with what has been said, not what you think should have been said.
- Read and listen sympathetically.
- Be careful with the "reductio ad absurdum" [i.e., leave room for unstated qualifiers]
- Be careful about the use of invective.
He also offers the following quote from John Newton (author of the hymn Amazing Grace).
"As to your opponent, I wish that before you set pen to paper against him, and during the whole time you are preparing your answer, you may commend him by earnest prayer to the Lord’s teaching and blessing. This practice will have a direct tendency to conciliate your heart to love and pity him; and such a disposition will have a good influence upon every page you write. If you account him a believer, though greatly mistaken in the subject of debate between you, the words of David to Joab concerning Absalom, are very applicable: 'Deal gently with him for my sake.' The Lord loves him and bears with him; therefore you must not despise him, or treat him harshly. The Lord bears with you likewise, and expects that you should show tenderness to others, from a sense of the much forgiveness you need yourself. In a little while you will meet in heaven; he will then be dearer to you than the nearest friend you have upon earth is to you now. Anticipate that period in your thoughts; and though you may find it necessary to oppose his errors, view him personally as a kindred soul, with whom you are to be happy in Christ forever."
The article is a first-rate example what good blogging is all about and I heartily commend it to you. In fact, go read the whole thing and come back when you're done.
Experienced Godblogger Adrian Warnock recently outlined some principles for maintaining peace among Godbloggers. After some summary points that echo David Wayne's sentiments, he adds a thought that seems to pick up where Newton left off:
"Finally, and most importantly: When angry, by all means bang out a quick witted response, but before you hit SEND, save a draft, go have a cup or glass (one only!) of your favorite beverage (beer if necessary!) talk to your wife if you have one, and PRAY before sending it."
"You will probably feel the gentle tug of the Holy Spirit to prove yourself to be more loving, to self sacrificially allow them to walk all over you making you look bad, to rather be wronged than wrong and yes to pray for the ones who seem to be your enemies."
"So why not bin that post and then write another one that responds with grace where there is arrogance, humility where there is snarkiness, peace where their is rancour, and yet doesnt shy away from tackling the many difficult and important issues we can helpfully discuss online."
"I do feel that it is vital for blogger to be accountable offline for the personna they have online. I am so glad that my pastor knows about my blog and reads it from time to time and whats more that bloggers could easily find his email and drop him a line if they felt I was out of line. Thats accountability. Some of the blogs that get into the biggest hot water dont have that level of offline accountability available to their readers because they are totally annonymous."
Amen. By the way, should anyone happen to be wondering, my spiritual director does indeed read this blog. He's been known to gently reprove me in person for uncharitable things I've said, too. 😉