RSS Feed

Tag Archives: debating

Haven’t You Heard…It is Written

A debate is a formal discussion on a particular topic in which opposing arguments are put forward.  In ancient Greece, philosophers went to the market place to exchange new ideas.  According to Acts 17:18, Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to engage the apostle Paul.  Trying to be relevant, Paul references an idol in Athens, quotes a famous poet and makes a reference to being an offspring of God.  When you don’t have much in common, its essential to find a starting place that will open the hearts and minds of a foreign audience to your point of view.

And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But Jesus replied, “It is written and forever remains written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God,’” Matthew 4:3-4.

Meanwhile, Jesus used a different strategy, especially when confronted by first century religious leaders.  In the passage above, a fallen angel, Lucifer, aka Satan tempts Jesus during his forty day fast in preparation of his earthly ministry.  Instead of using a rhetorical question on this occasion, Jesus simply says, “it is written.”  As a former archangel who knew God’s Word, Jesus corrects the deceivers request by referencing the Old Testament.  This didn’t discourage Satan, as he quotes the Bible, daring Jesus to use God’s supernatural powers for selfish reasons.  To finish this spiritual debate, Jesus uses the Bible to correct what Satan took out of context.

So then, if David calls Him (the Son, the Messiah) ‘Lord,’ how is He David’s son?” 46 No one was able to say a word to Him in answer, nor from that day on did anyone dare to question Him again, Matthew 22:45-46.

At the beginning of Matthew 22, Jesus endures an onslaught from Pharisees, Sadducees and religious leaders.  Like a fierce game of pin the tail on the donkey, each expert of the law tried to trick Jesus into making a mistake by de-emphasizing one of the ten commandments.  Beside using expressions like haven’t you read, Jesus answers each question with another question.  One by one, each religious leader left defeated, no match for the Son of God.  While no one possesses the wisdom of Jesus, if you find yourself losing a debate, reference the Bible by saying, “Haven’t you heard?” Then quote a passage of the Bible that relates to your discussion, “it is written.”

by Jay Mankus

 

Properly Utilizing God’s Power

Prior to beginning his earthly ministry, Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit.  Over the next forty days, the Devil began scheming of ways on how to trick Jesus into improperly using God’s power.  The longer Jesus went without food, fasting and praying to spiritually prepare his mind, the more vulnerable his body became.  Thus, in the passage below the Devil tempted Jesus to use God’s power for selfish reasons.  In a game of Truth or Dare, the Devil dared Jesus to show off, calling upon angels to keep him from falling.  Responding with Scripture, Jesus corrects the Devil’s abuse of God’s power.

Then he led Jesus to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle (highest point) of the temple, and said [mockingly] to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; 10 for it is written and forever remains written, He will command His angels concerning You to guard and protect You,’ and, they will lift You up on their hands, So that You do not strike Your foot against a stone.’” Jesus replied to him, “It is said [in Scripture], you shall not tempt the Lord your God [to prove Himself to you],’” Luke 4:9-12.

Before gathering a ministry team of disciples, Jesus experienced the best and worst from his fellow Jews.  Upon entering a town, Jesus went to the local synagogue, debating, listening and teaching God fearing Jews.  Jesus quoted the Old Testament, speaking with authority without any education or extensive training.  On one day, Jesus spoke about God’s grace extending to Gentiles, non Jewish believers.  This comment turned the crowd in Nazareth against Jesus, committing heresy in their eyes.  This uprising forced Jesus outside of town to a nearby cliff, as residents attempted to push Jesus off the edge to his death.  On this occasion with his life in danger, Jesus properly utilized God’s power, like a ghost, Jesus passed by the crowds escaping to Capernaum.

As they heard these things [about God’s grace to these two Gentiles], the people in the synagogue were filled with a great rage; 29 and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the crest of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to hurl Him down the cliff. 30 But passing [miraculously] through the crowd, He went on His way, Luke 4:28-30.

Today, the debate of properly utilizing God’s power continues.  Should you treat God like a supernatural Santa Claus, praying to the Lord with a long Christmas wish list?  Or should you only ask for things in accordance with God’s will?  Do you take Jesus literally, “ask and you will receive?”  What is a good middle ground, a place to start?  If you use Matthew 7:12 as an outline for prayer, this may clear up any confusion that you currently are struggling to grasp.  Prayer is a three step process, asking, seeking insight to explain unanswered prayers and continue to persist, wrestling with the Lord in prayer.  May this passage guide you to understand how to properly utilize God’s power.

by Jay Mankus

Class Not Clash

Everyone reaches a point where you lose touch with an opposing point of view.  During one of my final years of teaching, let’s just say I had a class of unique 9th graders.  My regularly scheduled lesson plans weren’t working so I was forced to adapt, developing a debate style of curriculum to engage these students.  Despite a few heated moments, I was pleasantly surprised to discover I did have things in common with opposing worldviews.  This is one of the positive outcomes when you learn to debate with class, not clash.

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15.

Unfortunately, there is a growing movement within higher education to replace debate with protests.  Instead of accumulating and debating the facts, students are being encouraged to rise up against injustice, offensive symbols and if necessary incite violence.  The end goal is to pressure public officials to give into their demands.  As leaders abandon principles by giving into this pressure, the more successful this approach becomes.  This is what happens when you allow clashing to reign.

Keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander, 1 Peter 3:16.

So which practice is better, to debate with class or clash?  Is having a national debate with both sides present the best option?  After all the evidence is conveyed, individuals can decide which argument is more convincing.  Or should we can leave things the way it is, allowing social media to set the daily narrative.  Meanwhile, anyone who doesn’t adhere or agree with Progressive views is demonized, stigmatized or trashed.  Is the opposition afraid of debating controversial topics?  Is it that the truth will expose flawed worldviews?  Whatever the reason, I pray that Americans will return to a more civil style of debate with class.

by Jay Mankus

Brain Washed, Deceived or Set Free?

When I was in high school, theology was not something I addressed with people from different religious backgrounds.  Thus, I hung out in the Mormon Church playing volleyball, went to a Methodist youth group and was a member of a Roman Catholic church.  Unfortunately, this atmosphere changed as I entered college.  Religious leaders often went out of their way exposing the flaws and shortcomings of each faith.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15.

This climate leads to one of three responses.  Those who change their beliefs are either brain washed, deceived by false teachers or set free.  This commonly held mindset ended several relationships I had with individuals from different faiths.  On one occasion, I discovered I was placed on the do not talk to list by one cult, afraid I might convince members to leave this church.  In a quest to prove whose God is true, division often ruins friendships.

Keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander, 1 Peter 3:16.

I’m assuming the context of the 2 passages above refer to a similar situation.  Peter understood that when you are debating or discussing differences in religions that you must be respectful.  Any type of arrogance, pride or smugness will offend those you are trying to convince to come over to your side of an issue.  Perhaps, individuals should follow in the footsteps of God who offers free will, not forcing anyone to believe.  Regardless of how passionate you may be, remember to talk to others who you disagree with gentleness and respect.  This honors the Lord and helps others keep an open mind in the future.

by Jay Mankus

 

You Can’t Reason with Liars

 

In ancient Greece, it was common for philosophers to go to the marketplace to introduce new ideas.  This is where the teachings of Aristotle, Plato and Socrates were first embraced and passed down from one generation to the next, impacting and influencing Western culture since its inception.  While reason can be perverted by using a false narrative to justify wrong actions, reason must contain a cognitive understanding where individuals form judgments based upon a process of logic.

Stay away from a fool, for you will not find knowledge on their lips, Proverbs 14:7.

According to King Solomon, renown for his wise rulings, there are certain people who possess a mind of their own.  Thus, whether you are arguing, debating or trying to introduce a more efficient way of doing things, trying to convince a fool is a waste of time.  You will have a better chance of molding and shaping a child than change the mind of a stubborn adult.  Therefore, the next time you find yourself in a discussion on morals going no where, remember this: you can’t reason with liars.

For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you, Acts 17:23.

The apostle Paul provides a blueprint for engaging a non-Christian culture.  Calling people liars won’t win over an audience or keep minds open to what you have to say.  Rather, the best place to start is searching for traces within society that point to an unknown God.  Paul uses an inscription on an idol and later quotes a Greek poet.  These 2 pieces of information break down previous stereotypes held without knowing Paul and provided an open door where he was later asked to return to share more about this invisible God.  Whether you’re talking to a fool, liar or stiff necked individual, bridge these gaps by speaking the truth in love.

by Jay Mankus

Faith That Yields a Bountiful Harvest

As a former seminary student, I’m embarrassed by the amount of over analysis which can take place from time to time.  In an attempt to study the Bible through the eyes of a specific theologian, the simplicity of Jesus’ words can be lost.  Instead of debating who’s right and who’s wrong, perhaps Christians should take Jesus’ words literally by becoming doers of the Word.

Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown, Mark 4:20.

While unwrapping the meaning to a famous parable, Jesus lays out four basic environments that exist in the world.  High traffic areas cause the soil underneath to become compacted and hardened.  Hilly or mountainous terrain is rocky, often unstable with soil constantly shifting and eroding resulting in shallow levels.  Unkempt areas explode out of control with briar patches, sticker bushes and thistles competing for spaces to grow.  Finally, ideal settings possess nutrients beneath which can lead to record crops.

He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? – Mark 4:21

According to Jesus, this final scenario is achieved when individuals hear the spoken message and accept it as their own.  There is no exception to this rule, faith must become personal, owned by those who believe, Romans 10:17.  You don’t just profess your convictions and go back to the life you once lived.  Rather, Jesus calls his followers to shine their light by taking a stand in the world we live.  If you want a faith that will yield a bountiful harvest, dive in today by fulfilling Mark 4:20-21.

by Jay Mankus

 

%d bloggers like this: