Debating…

For preparation and educational purposes, I want to bring the topics of debates to the table. The main reason for bringing this up, is because it seems to be the main reaction of people here in the US to anything Scriptural, spiritual, or in any other way controversial, and thus evangelism. Not only this, but that apologetics and dealing with objections has always been around.

I have a few intentions in mind for starting this forum. I would like to be clear on whether or not debating is in fact Scriptural, how it is to be done, with whom (if specific) do we engage, as well as things like examples throughout Scripture or within our own experiences, alternatives, and anything else that is possible to find.

I do not intend to distract anybody or give someone any further reason to not be doing what we are commanded, it is more that I would like us to be able to learn from our doing of the Word and maybe even warnings and convictions of the Spirit.

As we travel farther from the time of Jesus’ ministry and the first apostles/disciples, it is harder and harder to distinguish what the true and complete standard and example is that we are to follow from all of the denominational and other-wise divisional teachings/examples that we have before us today. Therefore, I think the main intention for this is that I am preparing to disciple inner-city youth this fall as part of the ministry God has given me and for my sake and their sakes, this could be a huge lesson to learn.

Lastly, it is my intention to see this from a “full-gospel” point of view, rather than from the typical, cessationalist-evangelical point of view. With this, I would like to point out that I have a hard time finding examples of this, today, within Spirit-filled evangelism, although I see it everywhere. So it is also to help clarify a few things to me in regards of Spirit-filled evangelism.

As I began thinking about this, there was a Scripture that came to mind from

1 Peter 3:15-16 “…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: having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.”

I have looked into many different things over the past few years and the most common reoccurring things are pertaining to evolution/creationism, science, logic, rationality, history, etc. Every debate that I know of is centered on these, in fact, the very rules of most, if not all, debates require the use of some of these things in presenting your argument.

As I continue to read the pages, websites, and watch the videos, I see that it is very rare that Scripture is used as an authority, or even worse that the Christian/Biblical view prevails by much (or at all.) Why is this?

The constant thought I have is that of Elijah and the prophets of Baal.

1 Kings 18:19-40 19Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table.
20So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.
21And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
22Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
23Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under:
24And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.
25And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under.
26And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.
27And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.
28And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.
29And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.
30And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down.
31And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name:
32And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.
33And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.
34And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time.
35And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.
36And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.
37Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.
38Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
39And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.
40And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.

That is the closest example I can think of in Scripture to that of a debate.

As for today I think of people like Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens and how they prevail time after time in these areas with people from every religion, spirituality, and even Christianity. There are even many people who fear these people because of the vast resources, publications, and such they’ve written as well as their experiences in the field of debates. I also see how prevalent other religions are, and how many people have actually converted from Christianity. (I understand not every “Christian” is a true follower of Christ, “little Christ.” This also is part of this issue, I think, of how Christianity has reverted to just another religion when it was once in a whole other league.)

What are your thoughts? What Scripture comes to mind? Have you experienced any of this? If so, what came from it, or what have you learned? Does anyone have a challenge that could possibly bring this outside the realm of theory, opinion, knowledge, etc. and into our lives, evangelism, ministry, etc.?

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