In the Philippines that has majority of Roman Catholic adherents, there are at least two topics that could strike a heated discussion, that is, politics and religion.
Ever since Roman Catholicism entered the shore of the country in the early sixteenth century no one dared question her authority for four centuries. Until a number of individuals started to rise up questioning the teachings of the priests in the area of doctrines. This is where heated debates and arguments were held in different plazas and market places between Roman Catholics and Protestants while a crowd watches and listens.
Now, the word “argue” was defined by an English dictionary as “to give reasons or cite evidence in support of an idea with the aim of persuading others to share one’s view.” Normally, an argument is depicted as two vehement persons heatedly raised their voices against each other with the purpose of just winning an argument.
It is not only once that I’ve heard a believer commented, “I stop talking about our theological differences because I don’t want us to argue.”
It is unfortunate that exchange of communication between a believer and an unbeliever today is viewed as ‘debate’ or ‘argument’ within Christian circles.
Many times this becomes an excuse among many believers for not being vocal about their faith to the lost people.
The Bible is filled with religious discussion like Moses with Pharaoh (Exo. 7-12), Elijah with the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18), Apollos with the Jewish people (Acts 18:26), and Paul with the Hellenists (Acts 9:29).
Even Jesus and the apostles were exchanging communication with the Pharisees and Saducees but they were not accused of being ‘debative’ or ‘argumentative’ without a purpose.
This gentle exchange of dialogue is very healthy especially to those who want to grow deep in their Christian foundation so as to engage the lost people and be effective witnesses of the Christian faith.
There is nothing ‘harmful’ about communicating our faith with others who differ strongly with us as long as we remain within the sphere of civil academics, that is polite, courteous, well mannered, behave, well bred, respectful, refined, cordial, pleasant, friendly, and decent.
In other words, let the fruit of the Holy Spirit be evident as you discuss religion and spirituality with others who differ strongly with your belief system.
I would say that spiritual discussion for the sake of winning an argument is a sin for that would be pride but spiritual discussion for the purpose of sharing the truth is a divine mandate.
Being argumentative in a negative sense of the word will not surely help a believer in being a salt and light for they will surely frown over Christianity’s high standard of character. Our goal is not to win an argument but to effectively communicate the truth for the lost person to be brought towards the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
A believer cannot avoid religious and theological controversies that could lead towards argument in the positive sense of the word. But argue through civilize communication and dialogue coupled with listening ears to promote exchange of interaction following the evidence where it leads.
Let us make sure that when we communicate the truth we speak the truth in love.