I’ve had readers comment here and write me privately to praise my invitation to the CFTF, warn me against these men, or else urge me not to engage in debate with them at all. Some argue that they’ll never change their minds. Others argue that debate is never helpful. Some warn me against being slandered.
A few have written to let me know they are praying for me — in a good way (not like: “I’ll pray for you — because you’re going to hell.” I’ve gotten a few of those, but not on this subject.)
First, I must say that I appreciate all the comments — pro and con, praying in support and praying that it doesn’t happen.
And I appreciate being warned against slander. I’m not concerned. I don’t know why, but I have this peace about it. I really just don’t care.
Second, I’d like to point out a way of looking at the offer that I think is important. You see, while I’ll absolutely engage in the discussion with the desire and prayer to persuade those I’ll be talking with, I believe the dialogue will have been worthwhile even if I fail.
The success of a dialogue or debate shouldn’t be measured by whether one side persuades the other. It rarely happens. In fact, nearly daily I’ve engaged in dialogue here at OneInJesus with people who disagree with me. And I’ve rarely persuaded any of them. Nor do they often persuade me. I’m still not a Calvinist, just to take one example. But that doesn’t mean I’ve wasted my time or that they’ve wasted theirs.
There are at least these good results that usually come from an exchange with someone I disagree with — even if neither side is persuaded —
1. I’ll come to understand his position better. And that has unquestionably happened for me many times. I’m a far better student of Calvinism, for example, than I was before Calvinism became an issue here.
2. The other side will come to understand my position better. Sometimes that happens. Really.
3. We’ll both come to understand our own positions better. That always happens for me — regardless of the opponent. The smarter and more knowledgeable the opponent, the more I learn about what I believe.
4. The thousands of lurkers who read but don’t comment will come to understand both sides better. And that happens, too. Some will even be persuaded and will never tell me. That’s the nature of things. And I’m good with it.
Now, in the case of the CFTF-influenced church, my heart’s desire is to persuade their thought leaders — the publishers, writers, and preachers — but my time will have been well spent if the only good accomplished is to open the minds of some in their congregations to the true gospel.
And they should feel the same way. The odds that they persuade me likely aren’t any better than the odds I’ll persuade them. But by dialoguing with me, they’ll have the opportunity to show my readership how my views contrast with theirs. And if they’re right, well, my readers are very smart and they’ll likely be persuaded. Or at least they’ll be more open to considering the conservative position.
Indeed, those who speak for the CFTF position should feel that way. They should believe that their views, when fairly contrasted with mine, will be more persuasive and will completely undercut my ministry at this site. If they don’t feel that way, I’m sure they’ll refuse the dialogue.
For both sides, it’s far more important to open the minds of the many readers than the few who are writing posts. If they never persuade me but persuade my readers, their time will have been well spent.
But I know this. The conservative Churches are filled with people who’d be greatly blessed by being exposed to the true gospel of Jesus. And if only one person finds the true Jesus because of the effort, it will have been worth my time and effort. They should feel the same way about the progressive Churches. They obviously see the progressive Churches as led by apostates. Surely they believe they can bring some of the progressives out of apostasy if their views are contrasted with mine.
Of course, the only way to teach the gospel is to live the gospel. And that means writing in way that shows forth the love of God. And it’s frankly a difficult task — because it’s easy to seek victory at the price of truth.
Therefore, I’m looking for one or two volunteers to “second” me — that is, to review my drafts before I post them to make sure I’m writing as Jesus would have me write. It’s tough work because you’ll have to contend with me. (It’s dirty job, but someone has to do it.)
If you’re willing, write me at jfguin(at)comcast(dot)net. I’ll not respond until we know whether CFTF is willing to undertake the discussion.