By Ron Halbrook
For the truth’s sake, Christians should “earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 3). Debate is a verbal study, answer, defense, discussion. Paul was “set for” it. Peter said to be “always ready” to engage in it (Phil, 1:17; 1 Pet. 3:15). Most people today believe it is not right for the Bible to be debated. We hear gospel preachers should avoid it all costs. We hear Christians should stay away from all debates. Men say that debating is not approved by the “meek and mild” Christ-that the Apostles do not authorize it-that true Christian attitudes forbid it.
Paul said such a time as this would come, and it has!!! “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 to fables” (2 Tim. 4:3-4). People’s ears are itching for easy, soft, smooth teaching. Plenty of preachers supply the compromised, watered-down, lenient teaching necessary to tickle itching ears.
As in the days when Israel mixed human teaching with divine law, the preachers today say, “Peace, peace; when there is no peace,” and “the people love to have it so”! A “gospel preacher” is no longer expected to challenge error in its strongholds and its citadels. Instead, he is expected to grin and play dead like a possum, in the face of sin arid error. It’s “unchristian” to debate. So we must either pretend that issues between truth and error do not exist or else that they do not matter very much. Ignorance is considered bliss to the people, and silence is considered golden by the preachers.
Preachers (all Christians!) who are concerned for the truth and who want to obey the word of Christ, are neither ashamed nor afraid to discuss and debate religious issues honorably. The Lord and his chosen Apostles were not “too good” or “too busy” to engage in such. Most preachers today are weak-kneed “jolly good-fellows” who want the right to teach in public with immunity from public examination. Some have no real convictions, others do not have the courage to match their convictions.
Let us plead for a return to simple New Testament Christianity without human heads and headquarters, human creeds and clergies, human traditions and theologies. Let us oppose false doctrine of every kind, and regard all doctrine not revealed in the New Testament as false. Let us be willing to be examined. If we are practicing things not found in the Bible, or failing to practice things commanded there, we must make correction. The Bible is the final authority for every religious question. It is perfect, all-sufficient, and inerrant as the inspired Word of God (1 Cor. 2:13; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). “For the truth’s sake,” Christians must not be afraid or ashamed of public review, discussion, debate, or examination.
Truth Magazine XXI: 46, pp. 745-746
December 1, 1977