Arguing on the Internet

I’ve participated in a few internet arguments in my day, especially several years ago when social interaction on the internet was fairly new. It didn’t take me very long at all to realize that arguing on the internet was about as fruitful as an orange tree in the arctic. Occasionally, though, I will step into the ring for a few minutes, not to argue, but to present some facts that might be relevant to the discussion. If someone tries to bait me into an argument, I leave. After all, if I’m going to waste time, I might as well waste it doing something more fun!

Just this week I defended a friend on the internet when I saw that someone was criticizing him with false information. In the comment section, I pointed out that it’s one thing to disagree with my friend’s approach to ministry, but quite another to make a charge against him that was factually false. I corrected the inaccuracy…the blog author responded by defending his perspective…I made one more comment to clarify my point and moved on.

I love the internet because it is the people’s media. Anyone with access to a computer can publish his opinions and beliefs for anyone else in the world with a computer to access. And, at least at this point, it’s tax free (Keep your hands off our internet you evil politicians!). What I’ve learned through the years is that arguments that have the best chance of changing my mind on an issue are the ones that are Scripturally based with a spirit of love. As Pastor James MacDonald has so eloquently pointed out…

Truth > Grace  = Fundamentalism (“sever the relationship when needed”)

Grace > Truth = Liberalism (“compromise the truth when needed”)

Jesus = FULL of Grace & Truth (John 1.14)

So I don’t even listen or pay attention to the name-calling, angry, self-proclaimed “discernment” people. Neither do I give any time of day to the “What we believe doesn’t matter as long as we’re sincere and loving” crowd (not that I ever gave them the time of day). I really only want to listen to those who are attempting to produce a truth-filled, grace-saturated articulation of a position on a matter. Show me that and I’m all ears.

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One thought on “Arguing on the Internet”

  1. Nicely said, Brett. As I age, I’ve tried to harness what I used to think was my “biblical gift of argument”. Truthful discussion is still and always valuable, but grace (which I’ve been woefully missing through the years) is a salve to ease the correction of truth, in many cases.

    Beyond that, there’s a lot of “noise” in the world. There’s a saying about opinions that I won’t quote, but it’s true – everyone has one. I’m not interested in “your opinion”, but how Scripture (if a Biblical discussion) supports your position and how you discuss counterpoints.

    I think HOW someone argues (logically, rationally, without wacky emotional swings, without attacking, etc) is as important as the argument itself. Your points may be correct, but if you’re biased, illogical, unwilling to compromise or entertain the idea the other person may have a valid point, it removes a lot of the weight of your argument.

    Unfortunately, in this case, I think most of these things have played into the Elephant Room debacle. People have closed their minds to hearing Pastor Jakes and have no room for any reasonable discussion. It’s sad. If Pastor Jakes needed correction, have any of these folks (save Pastor MacDonald) earned Jakes’ trust in order to speak into his life that way? Hardly.

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