Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t recall Jesus ever using that approach. He didn’t debate science, run for political office, or lead demonstrations. It seems to me that He was more interested in changing hearts, one person at a time.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be an influence on our culture. But it’s a matter of influence, not control. It’s a matter of people being drawn to Christ by our love, not by our ability to debate. Very few people are argued into relationship with Christ.
Recently, I saw an online essay on the subject of creation and evolution. It was posted by a pastor I highly respect. But in this case, I sensed what I thought was a needlessly confrontational tone. It bothered me, so I posted a response. Others chimed in, representing many different opinions.
In the end, what was remarkable, was not the debating points won by different viewpoints, but the many ways in which the conversation turned from confrontational debate, to constructive dialogue. (On the Internet, no less!) I had to agree with many of the participants, including the original author of the essay, that this was something of a miracle. It was an illustration of what can happen when we choose to dialogue, rather than debate.
While not every participant changed their tone, many did. I was privileged to be part of that conversation, and invite you to read it for yourself (the link is posted below). Notice the different approaches, and pay attention to how people are consistently pushed away by debate, but drawn in and changed by dialogue. You’re not likely to change your opinion on creationism or evolution by reading this conversation, but I hope you will at least pick up some pointers about how to turn a discussion of a “hot button” topic into meaningful dialogue.
Jesus called us to be “fishers of men”, not hunters.
And if you want to fish, you first have to cut debate.
Here is the link to the conversation: