Religious Debates And Their Place In The Lord's Church
Tom M. Roberts
The history of the church of Christ is a history of debating. In apostolic times, the early church disagreed about the inclusion of Gentiles among Jewish brethren. The church in Antioch had visitors from Judea who taught that Gentiles must keep the Law of Moses. It is stated in Acts 15:2 that Paul and Silas “had no small dissension and dispute with them.” The disagreement continued until brethren met in Jerusalem with the apostles and elders. Again, it is stated that they met to “consider” the matter and there was “much dispute” (v. 7) among them. However, with the apostles present, the Holy Spirit, through Peter and Paul revealed the will of God and the dissent was overcome and unity accomplished. Such is the fruit of good debating.
In early America, debating was popular and effective. Creeds, imported from Europe, were discussed, debated and discarded. Faithful Christians challenged denominational bodies and converted many to the truth through a vigorous exchange of ideas. With the Bible as their platform, every departure from truth was fair game and it was mighty in evangelism.
While it is true that some debates were mere quarrels with more “heat than light,” such does not disqualify men who have honest differences and who are willing to defend a certain position.
This website is establishing a venue for public debates. Some will be between members of the church of Christ and others will be with those outside the church. We encourage open and honest consideration of Bible questions. Two men will speak alternately for and against a particular position regarding a Bible issue. Readers must read with an unbiased approach to seek the truth between two contentions. Usually, debates produce clear and effective arguments from each side that will let the reader understand the issue and make an honest choice.
The reader’s part is to read carefully, with a Bible in hand, what each disputant states, and then make an informed decision based upon a respect for God’s will.