Debating Scripture

Debating Scripture

The other day I had the privilege to sit with a group of Godly men. We spent time going through scripture, line by line – anyone could comment on what God was putting in their heart – it was a wonderful time of fellowship as we let God move. However, something peculiar happened when we came upon a specific verse. The room quickly became divided over its interpretation and we began debating scripture. The verse’s importance was of little consequence to our larger discussion, but it seemed to spark an argument if for no reason other than to create debate.

As Christians this is trap we often fall into. We can find ourselves having a discussion with others about our faith only to suddenly be in the midst of a debate. You see, people who are far from God, or just learning of Him, will often try to find any roadblock they can to break down our foundation in Jesus. These people are “testing Christians” – they want to see if our beliefs are deeply rooted or how quickly they might crumble. As they test your faith, they are also testing your character – how will a Christian respond when challenged? Will your response be any different from someone who is not Christian? I’ve seen it time and time again – someone walking down the path to knowing Jesus, want’s to “poke the bear” and see what happens. So how do we handle it as Christians? I am often reminded of Titus 3:8-11:

I want you to put your foot down. Take a firm stand on these matters so that those who have put their trust in God will concentrate on the essentials that are good for everyone. Stay away from mindless, pointless quarreling over genealogies and fine print in the law code. That gets you nowhere. Warn a quarrelsome person once or twice, but then be done with him. It’s obvious that such a person is out of line, rebellious against God. By persisting in divisiveness he cuts himself off.

What we must learn from this verse is two-fold: First, we must learn what battles are worth fighting for. There are certain truths that we as Christians must stand up for and correct when wrong. If someone wants to argue with you that Jesus might have simply been a prophet, not the Son of God, that would be a good time to “put your foot down” as the verse says. However, at the same time, we must be able to identify what arguments aren’t worth fighting over. The verse says to “Stay away from mindless, pointless quarreling over genealogies and fine print in the law code.” Therefore, if someone wants to argue with you over something in scripture, but the matter is rather irrelevant to the gospel, it’s time to move the conversation elsewhere because that conversation will bear no fruit.

As Christians, we need to be very careful to pick our arguments wisely. The goal of any conversation rooted in Christ is not to prove who knows more about the Bible or who is wiser in Christian matters – the goal is to see Christ lifted up and shared with the rest of the world in the most loving way possible. When you have conversations, is this your goal? Do you find yourself fighting over things that don’t matter in the larger scope of the Gospel message? Let’s all work to draw closer to the heart of Jesus and have conversations that focus not on the fine print, but the goodness of our father.