Making an Argument

18 Sep

I’m not the world’s best arguer. 

But that doesn’t keep me from thinking making a good argument (i.e lovingly discussing an issue with a view to learn and persuade) is important.  If the tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable that seems to mean you can make it hard or easy to listen to truth by the way you talk.  

Even though I may not always be the best arguer, I know what I don’t like in an argument. Of course, this is like super-personal I’m talking about me listening to someone else, but what I’m saying is I have an idea what doesn’t work very well when someone is trying to set forth their case with me. I try to listen even when these things are happening, but the truth is, these are some of the things that make listening to them for me, more of a struggle. 

I’ll give a couple, perhaps you have a few of your own as well.

1.)  When they say more than they know.  I have a hard time listening when someone often proves that they are willing to speak authoritatively and dogmatically about things that they don’t  have all the facts about.  I’m not talking about when someone says I think this might be true.  Instead I mean when someone talks and acts like they know something is true…they know it with certainty when they really don’t.  We all make mistakes about our facts.  We’re not all geniuses.  I’m not, I know that. But when someone is willing to regularly talk authoritatively about things even they don’t know are true or that they haven’t done much research about, it makes me wonder about their entire argument. 

2.)  When they aren’t willing to listen to another point of view.  I’m not saying when they are not willing to agree to another point of view.  I am saying when they are not willing to listen.  And when I say listen I mean it in the most literal sense.  It’s very hard when you are talking to someone and you can tell from the way they are making their case that they are not listening very carefully to the points you are actually presenting.  A good practice I’ve seen in others which keeps them from doing this is by asking questions, “did you mean?  or am I hearing you right?”

3.)  When the desire to win is more obvious than a love for the person.  I heard a great illustration the other day about one particular apologist who had a debate with someone, and even Christians went away saying that even though he won the argument, he left them even as Christians with a bad taste in their mouths because of his attitude.  Contrast that to an apologist like Francis Schaeffer, I’ve heard that he could turn a formal debate into something that was more like a discussion between friends all because of his evident love for the person he was speaking to. 

4.) When someone speaks with equal passion about minor issues as major ones.  I’m all for a passionate discussion, but for me personally (I’m sure not everyone is like this) but when someone is as passionate about what they think is the right color for shoelaces as they are the inerrancy of Scripture, I tend to go away just thinking that they are opinionated about everything in general. 

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3 Responses to “Making an Argument”

  1. chris September 18, 2006 at 5:13 pm #

    a few others…

    1. people drawing the wrong conclusions or the conclusions that they want in order to be in control right at the beginning of the conversation.

    2. immediately taking offense at another’s view

    3. focusing only on the negative aspects of someone’s view

    4. responding to someone’s view by immediately offering a solution that is their solution only.

    5. not discussing what another person just said but instead, immediately changing the subject to focus on what they think is important.

    6. Not having a Phil. 2:3 attitude which can translate to a “me” based instead of a “needs of others” based conversation

    7. Not being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger

    8. Speaking with a harsh tone to intimidate others to accept their view and solutions

    9. not seeing things from God’s perspective and only interpreting based on sinful desires. If things were interpreted biblically, then things like biblical principles, being motivated by God’s glory, and the santification of others would guide the conversation and be the basis for the solution to the problem.

    10. motivated by the wrong things…approval of man, pride and desire to be in control that comes out in tone of speech, choice of words, body language, and listening instead of the being motivated by the supremacy of Jesus and the gospel

    11. overtalking

  2. joshnmarda September 18, 2006 at 5:50 pm #

    Wow. Right on Chris. I think that’s a helpful list to review before going into a discussion!

  3. Steve H September 18, 2006 at 6:04 pm #

    Please let me know if I ever evidence this. Thanks, brother.

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