Thinking Out Loud - Ms. Green

Commentaries from a female, conservative Christian worldview. Intermittent observations on human behavior and current events. Occasional bursts of personal tirades,confessions, and discoveries. Frequent discussions about my "Narrow-Minded Faith".

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Saturday, March 8, 2008

Should Christians Argue with Non-Believers?

I have spent several days on another blog watching an interaction with a professed atheist and professing Christians. There was a clear divide between those who seemed to be true believers and those that say they are Christian, but don’t follow the Bible. It actually helped reaffirm what Scripture says about all non-believers: those who admit it, and those who say they believe, but are not truly saved.

We as Christians are to be witnesses to the world, and be willing to suffer persecution for our faith. At the same time, it is not we who save anyone – it is God through His Son, Jesus Christ by the conviction of the Holy Spirit. So at a certain point, when witnessing to anyone, we need to back off kindly and move on. We aren’t to argue with a non-believer.

Why shouldn't Christians argue with non-believers?

Here are some things that Scripture says about non believers (which definitely applies to those who say they are Christian, but who are not born again)

They deny the authority of Scripture. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God…” II Timothy 3:16. “Nevertheless what saith the scripture?...” Galatians 4:30. “Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain,…?” James 4:5. They are no different than the serpent in the garden. “Yea, hath God said,…?” Genesis 3:1

They have no desire to witness to the lost. "Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;" Psalm 107:2

Their only desire is to edify (build up) themselves by proving that their way is better than everybody else's.It's not others' souls they are concerned about - it's about being "right". "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." Proverbs 16:25.

They follow a false Christ and they are playing church. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." II Timothy 4:3-4

Why shouldn't Christians argue with non-believers?

Because unless God is drawing them, they won't listen to anyone. "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him..." John 6:44

They are lost, just as the atheist is lost. "For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me." Isaiah 47:10

Scripture tells us we're not to argue with people like this. "Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers." II Timothy 2:14

These are the tares among God's wheat. "Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn." Matthew 13:30

If you are frustrated because you are witnessing to one who is lost, and you feel you’ve exhausted all your efforts and they still deny the truth, God says you should back off and go your way. “And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.” Luke 9:5

Put them in God’s hands. “Plead my cause, O LORD, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.” Psalm 35:1. God can deal with them much better than you can.

Jesus himself did not argue (strive, i.e: Greek “erizo”, meaning to wrangle, engage in strife). “He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.” Matthew 12:19. So neither should we.

Does that mean we should never discuss our faith with non-believers, or answer questions that they may have, or even give evidence of why they too should become Christians? Not at all. "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: 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:" I Peter 3:15.

Keep this rule in mind when witnessing. Let this sink in, because it is extremely important.

If the person you are trying to witness to has no questions, and only answers - you are wasting your time. They are not being drawn by the Holy Spirit.

Good, well meaning Christians can disagree on some things in a friendly way, and we'll all find out we were wrong on some things and right on others. But who is the final authority? God is. Through His Word. Without His word, it's just one man's opinion against another's.

The sad truth is that because of pride, most of mankind will remain lost for eternity.

Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive (Greek “agonizomai”, meaning to labor fervently or to struggle with difficulties) to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” Luke 13:23-24

Should you ever give up? No. Even if you have backed off and decided not to strive with someone over their lost condition, there is one very powerful thing you can still do.

"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." James 5:16

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At 6:50 PM, Blogger ELAshley said...

The difficulty of debating on line is you never know WHO is listening. Many choose not to comment. I guess I can choose not to argue with the usual crowd at my place, yet I must confront error since I have no way of knowing who is listening. My silence in the face of error and outright heresy could signal to anyone "lurking" about that I agree with my detractors.

I agree with everything you've written here, but I struggle between a desire to avoid pointless debate, and a stronger desire to confront error and heresy. I could just stop what I'm doing; turn the lights off and lock the door, but I can't help but equate that with burying my talent in the earth. It is a dilemma.

Woe is me [:(

Why do I attract all the heretics? Could be I'm doing SOMETHING right, no?

At 9:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A very good post, Ms. Green. I totally agree. I'm finding myself less interested in commenting and it seems as if the fire has gone out. I still believe the same things, but it seems futile to have endless discussions with the same people. I believe that only the Holy Spirit will change a heart or mind. I'm praying for a great harvest, the fields truly are white. Mom2

At 11:13 PM, Blogger Ms.Green said...

Eric, I think you do a lot of things right. You are not afraid to witness or to defend the faith. I feel for you though because of the frustration you must feel over your "constant hecklers". You are very kind and polite to them in spite of their harassment.

Mom2 - the "endless discussions" are not productive, that is true - but don't let that keep you from witnessing when God gives you opportunity.

Eric, you mentioned those that visit, but never comment. That is a very important factor. My stat counter tells me that I have a great many that come by and read regularly but never post comments. I don't want anything happening on my blog to become a stumbling block for another believer - or for a seeker.

At 2:25 PM, Blogger ELAshley said...

"I don't want anything happening on my blog to become a stumbling block for another believer - or for a seeker."

That at least makes me feel better about what I do; knowing you see where I'm coming from-- why I continue in face of continuing harassment.

I value your opinion in matters of Faith, yet several times I've encountered your argument AGAINST arguing. And though I find no argument against your reasoning, as a result, I've struggled with, "Where does that leave me... with what I'm doing?"

Sometimes I do get caught up in the argument, but most of the time I feel in my gut a necessity to challenge the errors.

Ray Comfort, in instructing fellow Christians on open-air preaching, says what I have said at my place [I first heard this from him and it's why I believe I have to forge ahead despite the constant heckling]: When witnessing one to one, or one to two or three, where the message is being rejected and criticized, we are clearly instructed by Jesus to "give not that which is holy [the gospel] unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine....". But when in an open-air setting [and blogging, to my mind, fits that description], we MUST present the Gospel, because there are always those on the fringe of the crowd who may actually be listening and taking heart to what we're saying... what the Holy Spirit is saying through us. And it could be that that one person on the fringe is the only person God has set us out among wolves to reach this day. His word will not return void. It will accomplish whatever He sent it out to accomplish; either to draw a soul to redemption or as a witness against them on the last day.

I appreciate your support and encouragement. It gets awfully lonely on that virtual street corner of mine. Often it seems I have more hecklers than not. But I appreciate the support God sends me, and I praise Him for it. To HIM be the glory, not me. I'm just doing what He sent me out to do... and doing a lot less than I could.

I am nonetheless open to suggestions and corrections from both my sisters-- you and Mom2.

At 8:57 PM, Blogger Ms.Green said...

Eric, have you every considered that God may be calling you to preach?

At 11:40 PM, Blogger ELAshley said...

I have. And that prospect frightens me. I am just about the shyest person in public you would ever hope to meet... and I am hardly worthy of such a call. He would have to say it in no uncertain terms for me to believe and accept it. I'm pushing 48 besides! Couldn't he have called [assuming He IS calling] when I was younger? LOL! No, I was too stoned back then to hear much of anything. Though I will say this... I do recognize His protection on my life throughout the years. There were times in my life I should have been rightly dead, but some providential hand stayed that judgment. Two very vivid instances come to mind... three very frightening instances that still today chill me to the bone some twenty-plus years down the line.

Pray for me if you will. I need a word from the Lord... on a number of issues.

At 5:13 PM, Blogger Ms.Green said...

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At 5:18 PM, Blogger Ms.Green said...

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At 8:51 PM, Blogger Neil said...

Good points. I wondered if you were thinking of my site. I've spent/wasted a lot of time with atheists. I don't mind some dialogue even if it doesn't sway the rabid atheists, because those following along might benefit (I think EL was making that point above). But it is very draining and I've taken to heavily moderating / deleting their comments. It just gets too repetitive.

At 7:15 AM, Blogger Ms.Green said...

Neil, you are infinitely more patient than I am though. Ad hominem attacks on me or others who post here are not tolerated. And foolish summations or long drawn-out essays that cover more points than can be responded to in one post are avoided. Even with comment moderation on, I have some who constantly attack - whose comments never make it on my blog - and they continue to do so anyway.

Most of the time it's ridiculous accusations - or even conflicting ones. For instance, on the subject of the religion of Islam, I have been called intolerant and hateful on the one hand, and accused of being a Muslim propogandist on the other - and then yesterday I was called a bigot because I want Muslim health care workers to scrub up to their elbows! *grin* Really - someone actually called me that for that reason.

At 9:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You shouldn't argue with non-believer because it is rude. Most non-believers such as myself don't want debates. I honestly hate them, and arguing with me just pushes me away. I advise all of you christians (and non-christians) not to argue. All it does is cause problems...

At 9:40 PM, Blogger Ms.Green said...

Thanks for your input, Anon. Arguing never solves anything. Friendly discussion or disagreement is ok as long as both parties adhere to an agreed upon code of ethics.

At 1:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Revelation 22:11

"Let the unjust be unjust still; let the vile be vile still; let the righteous be righteous still."

It seems to me, that those who are sealed in Him, are sealed in Him and cannot be lost. Yet those who are not, are the "bad fish" who will be thrown back anyhow. We should learn to throw the bad fish back in the water and move on, as Jesus did.


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