Perhaps the biggest failing of believers of all kinds is our persistent use of the last-verse-read argument.
For example, in the Churches of Christ, we deny once saved, always saved (the perserverance of the saints), as we are Arminian in theology. And so in our Sunday school classes we read the once saved, always saved verses first. We then read the yes-you-can-fall-away verses last. We tell our students that the yes-you-can-fall-away verses explain the once-saved-always-saved verses. The class goes home feeling affirmed in their beliefs.
Across the street a Baptist Sunday school teacher reads the yes-you-can-fall-away verses first. He then reads the once-saved-always-saved verses last, telling his class that the last-read verses explain the first-read verses. His class goes home feeling affirmed in their beliefs.
We do this all the time — all of us. And it’s wrong. It’s really hard to actually wrestle with the Baptist verses and teach a theology that’s built on the all the verses. But until we do that, we’re just pretending to be following the Bible. What we’re really doing is starting with our preferred conclusion and then picking the verses that support what we want to say and ignoring the contrary verses.
Worse yet, this how we often argue with one another. I cite my verses to my opponent. My opponent ignores my verses and cites his verses to me. It’s as though we think the verses that really count are the ones last mentioned. It’s really quite frivolous.
It does, however, lead to a simple way to tell which debater is a serious student of the Bible and which one is not. The one who attempts to reconcile both sets of verses and find a truth that’s built on all of scripture is a serious student — and very likely right. The one who just dumps his preferred verses into the argument without coping with the other guy’s verses is not serious. He’s just a propangandist for his side.
Now, I can be right about my position and argue it frivolously. This use of bad arguments does not invalidate the point. It just invalidates the argument.
But it tells you who is worth listening to. Don’t waste your time with those who refuse to consider the scriptures that the other side argues.