By Shari Abbott, Reasons for Hope* Jesus
Great question! With the recent creation science debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye garnering national attention, it’s no surprise this question was asked. There are a number of things implied in this question, “are debates worthwhile…” While we might enjoy a good debate, are debates really an effective means of communication? Are debates useful for defending biblical truth? Can a debate really share the gospel?
What is a Debate?
The dictionary defines the verb debate in many ways: To consider something; deliberate; To engage in argument by discussing opposing points; To engage in a formal discussion or argument.
The noun, debate, is defined as a discussion involving opposing points; an argument; deliberation; consideration; a formal contest of argumentation in which two opposing teams defend and attack a given proposition.
Here we are specifically addressing debates between Christians and atheists, in which atheists dispute God’s truths and Christians defended God’s truth. There are also formal and informal debates between atheists and Christians. You’ve probably entered into some yourself when an informal discussion turns into a debate. Here, however, we are focusing on scheduled and structured debates that are held in a public forum
Debates offer a platform to have one’s knowledge and opinions heard.
At Reasons for Hope* Jesus we constantly talk about how we, as Christians and ambassadors for the Lord Jesus Christ, are to share our faith. Therefore, a debate can be another method of doing so. If done properly, which always means in a God-honoring way, a debate can not only be educational, but also fun. The end goal of every debate should be to present the biblical truths in a way that the intellect is challenged, the conscience is convicted and the mind is convinced. The outcome of a debate is determined by how effectively each side presents its position. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a clear-cut “winner.” Cear communication of knowledge and opinions produces a good debate, while the “winner” of the debate is a subjective determination.
Debates are another method of apologetics (defending the faith by giving answers). Therefore, debates fit very well with Reasons for Hope* Jesus’ ministry. While our foundational verse is Hebrews 6:19, our missional verse is 1 Peter 3:15
…sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.
A worthwhile debate is dependent upon the debaters. A good debate will offer two equally knowledgeable and prepared debaters with opposing views.
A worthwhile debate will be fair. A good debate should present both sides in a fair and objective way. A good moderator is necessary to navigate through the questions, assure fairness in the time allotted each debater and maintain professionalism throughout. Even though there isn’t agreement between the debaters, there should be mutual respect, which adds to the fairness and professionalism.
Back to the questions. Are debates worthwhile? Are they important, effective and useful in sharing God’s truth? Our answer is yes, because debates can be used as a tool to further God’s message and build His Kingdom. However, as Christians, we must remember that the most important objective in a debate is to honor and glorify God. So as Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 3:15, we are to sanctify God not only by being “ready always to give an answer,” but also by doing so “with meekness [i.e. gentleness] and fear [i.e. respect].”
Who wins? The outcome of a debate is really not up to those who speak, but is determined by those who hear. As Christians we know that when we speak God’s truths clearly and kindly we plant seeds, so there is never a loss. We can trust that God will use our words for His good plan and purposes.
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Got Questions? Submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Top Ten Got Questions? of 2015
- Is my TATTOO a sin?
- Is SUICIDE an Unforgivable Sin?
- Is It a Sin to Drink Alcohol?
- The Meaning of Colors in the Bible? /The Meaning of Numbers in the Bible?
- What is the unpardonable sin? What if I commit it?
- Is it a sin to be fat?
- Can Jews go to Heaven without knowing Jesus?
- Is there a hidden message in Rev 7? Why is Dan missing?
- Did Jesus descend into Hell?
- Where did OT saints go at death? What’s Abraham’s Bosom?
The Top Ten “Got Questions?” of 2014
- Is it a sin to drink alcohol?
- Was Jesus crucified on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday?
- Do I have to tithe?
- Should we call His name Jesus? Or Yahweh? Or Yeshua?
- Why did Satan rebel against God?
- Were there flood survivors in addition to Noah and his family?
- Why did God create man knowing he would sin?
- If God knows what I need and want, why is prayer important?
- Why should we study creation?
- What is Shavuot? Is there a prophetic aspect to it?
Or read these recent ones:
- Is my TATTOO a sin?
- Did Jesus go to HELL?
- Does God create EVIL as Isaiah 45:7 says?
- Are we the Bride of Christ now or is that future?
- Is there an ERROR in Genesis 2:17 because Adam and Eve didn’t die?
- Are the Jews of today still the CHOSEN people of God?
- Is there a HIDDEN MESSAGE in Revelation 7?
- How should I WITNESS to Jehovah’s Witnesses?
- Why did the LGBT use God’s rainbow for their flag?
- What do the 12 stones UNDER the Jordan River mean?
- The Meaning of COLORS in the Bible?
- Is SUICIDE an unforgivable sin?
- What is the UNPARDONABLE sin? What if I commit it?