Last week we covered TRUTH.
Saturday we covered the Importance of words.
This week we will look at the proper way to argue and disagree according to the Bible.
Notice, the keys to doing this well are to focus on TRUTH and the WORDS that are used.
Every day from Tuesday through Friday (like in previous weeks), I will be adding to this entry. So although this entry will say MONDAY at the top, stop by each weekday to see the continuation of this topic. Also, I want to continue to encourage people to post comments DURING the week...they help me know which points need to be better explained.
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (II Timothy 3:16-17)
Scripture is FACT.
When it is used to create, it is truth.
Creating is shown in this verse with the following WORDS: profitable, reproof, correction, instruction, righteousness, perfect, furnished, and good works.
The key EFFECT of scripture is DOCTRINE.
Doctrine is a belief statement.
A person's worldview is made up of DOCTRINE and DEFINITIONS...
...and BOTH of these are made up of WORDS.
The continuation of the above scripture:
"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry." (II Timothy 4:1-5)
Paul begins this passage with a sobering charge!
It is before God and Jesus...
We OUGHT to preach the word with longsuffering and doctrine...because a time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine. Sound doctrine is NON-CONTRADICTORY doctrine. People will avoid non-contradictory doctrine to the extent they will turn their ears from the truth and follow fables. We OUGHT to make full proof of our ministry...we OUGHT to be able to give an explanation.
When does all this happen?
Paul begins Chapter 3 with:
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times will come." (II Timothy 3:1)
Paul lists the effects of these times, ending in verse 7 with:
"Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (II Timothy 3:7)
How could ANYONE explain these passages WITHOUT a definition for TRUTH?
With the non-contradictory definition of TRUTH, do you see how these verses work?
People who are learning but unable to create with this knowledge...who are unable to explain this knowledge...who are unable to turn knowledge into understanding...will end up ignoring sound doctrine and creating their own. Paul called these beliefs "fables".
The chapter before this warning contains the verse:
"But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing they do gender strifes." (II Timothy 2:23)
So, we OUGHT to avoid questions that are unprofitable.
We OUGHT to pursue scripture and doctrine that is non-contradictory (sound) so that we can help others be profitable.
This will become MOST important and obvious in the last days.
Are we in the last days?
Are we seeing people AVOID discussing sound doctrine?
Are we seeing people prove their point by heaping teachers...by pursuing QUANTITY over QUALITY?
Are we seeing people tell us we can't know or aren't supposed to know definitions to key words that make up our doctrine?
If we take up Paul's charge to preach the word with sound doctrine to reprove, rebuke, and exhort others, this is going to involve disagreements. In fact, these scriptures imply that we will be in the minority and better expect afflictions because we will be outnumbered by the heap of teachers professing fables.
What is the Biblical way to approach these disagreements?
When I build mathematical models, I pay close attention to whether the model is getting tighter or looser as more data is added. Is the model able to handle all situations and predict outcomes or do I need to add a lot of special cases to handle the contradictions?
This is the same for a worldview! As people add more information to their doctrines and definitions, does their worldview get tighter? Do MORE things make sense and fit together? Or does their worldview get looser? Do they have to classify contradictions as "exceptions"? It seems like most of the time, people rationalize IGNORING information so that they can MAINTAIN their flimsy worldview. They should WANT to find the contradictions BECAUSE these are the areas where they can actually tighten their worldview if they change these beliefs and/or definitions! They OUGHT to be contrastive. This is their opportunity for growth!
In fact, this is the easy way to blow up a bad model: feed it and make it try to hold up under the weight of all the data. When there isn't enough truth to hold up all the contradictions, the model fails.
I remember this by thinking of weed killer. Modern day weed killers don't work by "killing" growth. In fact, it is just the opposite! Today, the most successful weed killers accelerate the growth of one aspect of the plant faster than the other aspects can keep up. Weed killer is actually a fertilizer! Long Term growth (creation) depends on several aspects working in harmony. The weed essentially dies because one aspect grew too fast.
In the same way, evil is full of contradictions and will eventually choke itself. Evil is unsound and will disintegrate. It can't hold up in the Long Term because it doesn't create. Evil needs someone to create for it in order to have something to destroy. (As we saw, Calvinists don't know this, so they doubt the ability of "good" to defeat "evil" if everything isn't predestined and God can't go ahead in time.)
The QUICKEST way to expose and destroy evil is to SPEED it up! When you resist evil, you are ACTUALLY making it STRONGER because you are giving it your energy by being EVIL! Don't fight it. That is, don't take actions that don't create. When you fight evil, it requires YOU to be evil, because you are not creating.
Remember from the GOOD and EVIL post: "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21). This means we should help evil become profitable! Since we know evil's goal is destruction, ANYTHING we do to HELP it will ONLY end in its destruction.
Let's be contrastive for a moment. What if it REALLY ISN'T evil? If we are mistaken about evil, the good part will end up profitable. Notice justice is determining our actions. Regardless of whether we are right or wrong about identifying evil, we won't receive a penalty because we were helpful. IN FACT, if we are "wrong" (it isn't evil like we thought, but actually good), then we still get a reward because profitability will result.
There is another implication for how we are to interact with evil. Evil wants to distract us from our goal. Evil doesn't want us to be profitable. Since evil doesn't create, it needs someone else to do that. Evil depends on our consent in order to function. Don't give it your consent. This is different than "helping" evil...
Ultimately, you are responsible for the evil that affects the part of you that continues the journey after you die, because you are the only one who can let it affect the eternal you. Nothing else can. Paul said in his contrastive fashion (emphasis added):
"For I am persuaded, that NEITHER death, NOR life, NOR angels, NOR principalities, NOR powers, NOR things present, NOR things to come, NOR height, NOR depth, NOR any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39).
So if we get separated and put into the lake of fire, what's left to be the cause other than ourselves?
When we encounter evil, we OUGHT NOT give it our consent to exist by following it in our actions. We OUGHT NOT energize it by fighting it, that is, take evil actions against it. We OUGHT to deal with it intellectually; agree with it in order that we can be good to it by facilitating its growth intellectually (understanding). If it is good, it will flourish. It if is evil, it will fail from the acceleration of growth just like a weed.
How are people able to Biblically handle evil WITHOUT understanding (thinking)?
Remember, our goal is to get to heaven by proving to God our will is to take direction from Him (GRACE). Make no mistake about this - evil will affect our physical selves. If we let evil affect our spiritual selves by making us unprofitable, we are telling God our will is not to take direction from Him and continue the journey as a spiritual being after we physically die.
Basically, we are all trying to identify a model that explains our beliefs. We have called this a worldview. Whether you are conscious of it or not, you have created a model made up of beliefs and definitions...it is made up of WORDS. This means that EVERYDAY you are adding information to this model and EITHER: 1)coming up with special cases to handle the contradictions OR 2)changing your model to make it tighter and more right.
The ONLY way to become more right is to intentionally look for where you are wrong and change it.
In order to become more right, you are looking for more facts that create. You are looking for truth. Some of that truth will come from you personally resolving contradictions. Some it is going to come from other people stressing your model.
If your goal is to be right and not have to change your model, then you will try to dismiss others who have something to say about your model. You will look comparatively rather than contrastively. You may even actively argue AGAINST the existence of your model...but you do have one. Most people think that feeling right about their model is the same as the model actually being right. RIGHT is RIGHT regardless of how you feel and what you think is RIGHT.
If your goal is to identify a tighter model, there is the distinct possibility that truth will come from someone outside of yourself, unless you are perfect.
Let me be straight right now; I'm far from perfect.
However, some of the people who come to you won't be contributing truth. How do you tell the difference between those pursuing truth and those pursuing their point? How can you have profitable interactions with people whose beliefs differ from yours?
One of the biggest hindrances in improving our worldview is other people. Think about it - there are other people who are using their worldview. They are making decisions on whether the information they are receiving is truth or not. When they see you doing or saying something different than their worldview, someone is going to feel like he is wrong. Someone is going to try to convince the other person that he is right. How should we deal with information from people who disagree with us?
It is the same perspective as model building. First, focus on pursuing truth. Creation is achieved with truth. People who pursue growth focus on pursuing truth. People who pursue comfort focus on proving their point.
Next, we need to find out whom we're dealing with. People who are pursuing truth will help us grow or we will help them grow. Let's look at the people proving their point...
In order for the comfort-driven to convince themselves and others of their point, they must present truth in an equal or greater quantity as their flawed point. For example, we see this when politicians state a truth and then try to prove their untrue point. If their untrue point outweighs the amount of truth in their presentation, we don't believe their position. When this deception does work, it is because people make the mistake of believing EVERYTHING someone says when he or she recognizes ANY truth in the presentation.
Contrastive thinking tells us to try to disprove everything. Whatever is proven wrong should be discarded. Whatever survives the scrutiny should be retained. Paul realized the importance of handling deception and wrote about this twice:
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (II Timothy 2:15)
"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (I Thessalonians 5:21)
In the first passage, Paul is saying the measure of our ability depends on how well we are able to separate out truth from among EVERYTHING ELSE we receive. It is NOT ALL truth if we find SOME truth!
In the second passage, Paul is saying to be contrastive in order to prove all things we receive and ONLY hold to what is GOOD, that is, what creates! Paul clearly understood the way to intentionally become profitable when dealing with information!
Paul's advice is particularly useful when we deal with statements and philosophy. We can parse the concept into sections of truth and untruth. We can choose what to believe and what to discard. This contrastive process is VERY uncomfortable. We can keep this confrontational mentality within ourselves when it comes to statements and philosophy. This is how to deal with the INFORMATION we get from people who disagree with us. We keep the contrastive process internal.
However, when it comes to debating with people, this contrastive process will only antagonize others. What should we do when it comes to disagreeing with people? What does Jesus say to do?
"Agree with thine adversary quickly" (Matthew 5:25)
"But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil" (Matthew 5:39)
First of all, agreeing your adversary DOES NOT mean getting them to agree with you quickly. It means YOU need to AGREE with THEM quickly! This is the contrastive process we have been talking about! This is Jesus saying to use the contrastive process on YOURSELF!!!!
The second verse makes the point that you don't fight evil by being evil. You facilitate its progress!
BOTH of these verses are from the mouth of JESUS!
This means you OUGHT to take on the beliefs of your adversary. This is the good way to debate because it creates. It is also the quickest way to prove someone is wrong. Why? If your goal is to make progress, resisting them is going to cause you BOTH to go nowhere and be unprofitable. You will be at a standstill. Think about it, you BOTH will be exerting tremendous amount of energy and GETTING NOWHERE!
Imagine both of you are trying to take each other down opposite roads. You would spend YEARS pushing against each other and be in the same spot as if you hadn't pushed at all. It would be more profitable to go down their road and try to find a situation where their belief is true. Did Jesus do this?
In John 8, people brought a woman to Jesus they claimed should be stoned according to the law because she was an adulterer (John 8:3-9). In fact, they claim she was caught in the very act! They asked Jesus what to do.
Jesus could have RESISTED them and told them NOT to do it. THAT would have resulted in an argument about the law. NO PROGRESS!
Jesus could have run around physically trying to prevent the crowd from stoning her by knocking the stones out of their hands. That would have gotten them riled up to stone her. NO PROGRESS!
INSTEAD, Jesus took on their beliefs and came up with a way to stone her!!!!!
Jesus said the one without sin should cast the first stone.
This dispersed the crowd MORE effectively than ANY other method!
Jesus didn't resist evil; he agreed with it and helped it reach its end more quickly.
Unfortunately, some people today believe just CONSIDERING another belief is a sin in itself. This pursuit of comfort is a sure sign of insecurity. We CANNOT live Jesus' example without being contrastive. We need to focus on the LONG TERM goal of growth by intentionally choosing to be uncomfortable and potentially wrong in the short-term.
Try this the next time you're having a debate - take the other person's side and try to apply his or her point to other areas (Big Picture) or into the future (Long Term). Remember, you are trying to make THEIR side work as if it was YOUR side.
Taking the other person's side immediately lowers his or her defenses. You are also keeping the contrastive process internal by trying to prove your own beliefs wrong by considering the other beliefs.
If their point is TRUE, it will hold up and may even explain situations in other areas, in effect creating knowledge. This would result in that model becoming tighter. If you are interested in growth, you will have achieved it because you will have learned something. You win if they are right!
People who won't consider another belief are pursuing comfort over growth. They will resist understanding and stick to quoting facts without explanation.
If their point doesn't hold up, what you've done is made the amount of flawed perspective greater than the truth it was presented with. The presenter now has three options:
1) Add more truth
2) Cut back the model
3) Admit they were wrong
Adding more truth usually results in a looser model filled with special cases. Usually people cut back the model by saying, "I never meant for it to apply to that situation." Again, you win! Ultimately, there is no reason to argue with anyone. Personally, I don't have long arguments anymore.
I believe God is very real and wants to help us grow; however, God is prohibited from helping certain people because they are under mercy. These people haven't taken a stand, so God can't move against them to correct them...or with them to speed up their growth. I also believe people realize this subconsciously and try to stay under mercy. The only way they can do this is to not express their will...to stay LUKEWARM. I have seen this happen with "Christian" leaders and authors...they seem to be experts at avoiding expressing a definite opinion.
I see my job as getting them to state their will...nothing more. The following technique becomes particularly useful when you try to correct people. Let's look at an example.
If someone promised to do something for me and didn't do it, the typical way to handle this is to tell the person what they did was wrong. This doesn't create. This is trying to overcome evil with evil.
Taking everything we've learned over the past two months, the more effective way would be to ask them three questions. I'm increasing their understanding.
First, I ask them if they remember promising they would do the specific act. (Stepping In)
Second, I ask them if they did the act. (Stepping Up)
Third, I ask if they think it is okay with God that they didn't do the act. (Stepping Through)
When you do this, your first goal is to get a "yes" or "no" for each question. In fact, you can tell the person the Bible says to let your "yes" be "yes" and your "no" be "no" (Matthew 5:37; James 5:12). You may quickly find out they don't want to give a "yes" or a "no".
If they want to give an excuse, tell them you will take an explanation AFTER they say "yes" or "no".
If they say you are going to respond a certain way if they give one of those answers, assure them you won't respond and will walk away immediately after getting all three answers.
We OUGHT NOT strike back because it limits God's ability to get involved. It is to YOUR benefit to walk away, because it is the same as forgiving a person; they will have stated their will, and you are walking away, in effect, putting them in God's hands.
You aren't due a penalty because you haven't done anything unjust; you've just taken them out from under mercy. Justice says God will act on them if they are in the wrong because they have expressed their will that they believe something this is ACTUALLY wrong. God is then required to help them grow. It they are in the right, there is no penalty either way.
This "Weed Killer" model is NOT the CAUSE of things going good or bad...it is a catalyst.
In chemistry, ingredients react with each other to form other ingredients. When ALL of the initial ingredients have been COMPLETELY reacted, we say the reaction has gone to completion.
In order to take a reaction to completion, it takes a specific amount of energy that is unique to each reaction.
However, we can lessen the energy needed and speed up the rate of the reaction by adding another chemical called a catalyst. The catalyst does not react...it makes it easier for the reaction to occur.
Likewise, the "Weed Killer" process speeds up what is inevitably supposed to happen.
There are A LOT of unprofitable friendships, marriages, business arrangements, etc. that CURRENTLY exist. We tend to get comparative. We look at the short-term temporary profitable moments and try to ignore the greater unprofitable trend. When "Weed Killer" is applied, it will speed up an unprofitable relationship and bring it to an end. It will grow a profitable relationship to the heights we hope for in our hearts.
The posts that began this blog's goal of going deeper dealt with God's Will. Every pastor and teacher has to determine their answer to the toughest question they are ever going to get asked: Why did God kill my child?
There are two fables most pastors and teachers subscribe to...
1) Sovereignty - God unilaterally does what He thinks is right against our will and there is nothing you can go about it...you can't even understand it so don't try.
2) Predestination - Your child was destined to die and we are just walking through what has already been predetermined.
Neither of these fables are supported by the Bible. These are LUKEWARM answers created by men. These are traditions which make the Word and Will of God of NONE EFFECT.
The "Weed Killer" process takes a LUKEWARM situation and makes it HOT or COLD...just like God WANTS it to be. (Revelation 3:15)
God's Will is calculated with truth. God takes truth and applies it to EVERYONE's situation and determines the best possible case according to Right and Just. As we make choices, this will is constantly recalculated with truth. If you want to know God's Will for you...apply truth to your situation. This may involve you breaking connections with certain people or organizations in order to create in the Long Term. However, comfort-minded people WON'T consider that God's Will is for something to be destroyed in the short-term in order to create something of greater value for you in the Long Term.
The REALITY is that MOST relationships are CURRENTLY unprofitable because we don't know how to intentionally do what the Bible considers to be the key ingredient: LOVE.
So, before you apply "Weed Killer" to the relationships you value most, we are going to spend the next few weeks identifying the non-contradictory definition of love, looking at Biblical applications of love, looking at real world applications of love, identifying the non-contradictory definition of "I love you", and finding out the main reason the majority of today's relationships are unprofitable.
Of ALL the words that you OUGHT to possess a non-contradictory definition...LOVE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT.