The Attitude of Engagement: Christian Argumentation and the Gospel

Christians are called to a very high standard. This standard naturally applies to all areas of life. Christians represent Christ first and foremost. He created us in His Image, and the Holy Spirit is now conforming us into the image of the Son of God—Jesus. This means when a Christian argues there are several factors which should limited the method and manner of their argument:

  • The argument should be sought in such a way to glorify God, and not the individual arguer. How is this to be done? By consistently applying righteous standards in argumentation. Listening to your opponent, so that you may accurately represent them. If we fail to accurately represent our opponents, then we are not honoring God. Dishonesty, slander, or misrepresentation is not a Christian standard.
  • The argument should be logically reasoned. God, the author of all things including logic, is not arbitrary (He gives justified reasons), is not inconsistent (He does not use double-standards). When God speaks He does so truthfully and does not ever lie. The Christian should likewise act in such a manner, even if their opponent is the devil himself.

“As we obey [Christ], we must defend the faith in such a way that it ‘sanctifies the Lord’ in our hearts. This requires that we defend the faith from a position of faith. Simply put, the way that we argue for the faith must be compatible with the faith for which we argue.”[1] We are what we are in Christ, because of the work that God has done in us. Therefore, none of us can boast because everything that we are, everything that we possess is a gift from God (cf. 1Cor 4.7).

Because we represent Christ to the world, we are to have the utmost care that we respect other image bearers of God whether or not they are believers. We are commanded to be gentle in spirit when dealing with those who oppose themselves (2Tim 2.24-26). As Christians we are “to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (Tit 3.2). Why? Because “we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another” (Tit 3.3). And yet, “when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured our on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Tit 3.4-7).

Not only are we to have such an attitude towards unbelievers, regardless of what system of faith they may be entrapped in, but more so to our brothers and sisters of in Christ. In fact, how we treat one another has a direct consequence on how others in the world see us. Jesus says, “By this all people will know you that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13.35). And by this oneness of heart, Jesus later adds those in the world would come to know that Jesus was truly sent into the world by the Father (John 17.21). That is to say, our loving each other in the body of Christ, demonstrates to the world around us—people from all walks of life—that Jesus Christ is in fact the true Savior of the world.

However, the opposite is the case when Christians seek to tear each other apart. This does not mean that Christians never argue or disagree on certain topics, but it does mean that when we do we better apply godly standards to how we do it. The first of which is that we do not misrepresent our opponents, and we use consistent logical reasoning based on the truth.

The question of every Christian needs to be this: “Who am I seeking to represent in this life, Jesus or myself?” How we interact with others, says a lot about who we are truly seeking to represent. Of course, the same could be said of the person who refuses to interact with another. Christians are called to represent Christ. Truth is a hill worth dying on.

[1] Kenneth Gentry, “Defending the Faith: Approaching World Religions,” in World Religions and Cults: Counterfeits of Christianity, Vol 1, eds. Bodie Hodge and Roger Patterson (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2015), kindle location 353, kindle e-book.