Daily Archives: April 4, 2009

Do Debates do any Good?

“Debates and discussions like that do not change anyone’s mind. You just believe anyway–gotta leap into the dark.”

So said someone in reaction to my analysis of the debate between Mark Driscoll and Deepak Chopra. I have found this sentiment quite common among Christians.

First, the “leap in the dark” definition of faith is not found in the Bible. Time and time again, the Bible uses the word “knowledge” in relation to our grasp of God.  While we can’t know fully, it is clear that the Bible argues that we can know somethings about God.  Oftentimes it is a “personal” sort of knowledge akin to my knowledge of my fiance’, but this includes, not excludes, propositions.  In addition, it’s still knowledge, and this is far from the “leap in the dark.”  Kierkegaard, maybe…Jesus, no.

This, I think, is a much better and more biblical way to look at faith.  Here are some questions I have for the “leap in the dark” crowd.

What about the guy’s first contention that debates and intellectual discussions don’t change anyone’s mind?

That’s just plain false on its face.  Wit every debate I’ve seen, there is positive movement in the direction of God; I’m not saying that just because I personally like debates.  I think if you honestly take a look at things, you’ll come to the same conclusion.  One of my philosophy professors, Doug Geivett, once remarked the same thing in regards to his debates.  He has debated skeptics and atheists more times than I can count.

During one class, he confessed to us a doubt he once had about these ventures: “I once wondered whether these debates did any good and whether the cause of Christ was furthered.”  He then went on to acknowledge that he’s seen movement toward the cross every time.  The feedback he’s gotten has been encouraging.

The debaters don’t change their minds, of course, and neither do the staunchest skeptics, usually, but many in the audience do.  Many have honest questions.  Many believers have honest doubts.  The questions get answered and the doubts are quelled.

Besides, the New Testament is favorable towards these ventures as well.  Read the book of Acts.

This is just one reason why I’m really, really looking forward to tonight’s debate: the name of Christ will be held in high honor.

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