Should Christians bother getting into debates with non-Christians about faith?
Where I live I often see some people enjoying debates. I see these people, mostly men of age, sitting at the city square debating with each other about who God is and what He's like, what He says and what He does. I've seen them do that for years.
When I wasn't a Christian yet, these debates just threw me off. I couldn't believe how certain self-confessed Christians could poke at each other and then be proud of their so-called "Bible knowledge." Seriously. As an unbeliever (at the time) they sounded like the people who would lash out at me for not knowing the Bible.
This brings me to what I want to share with you. Should we Christians engage non-Christians in a debate about faith?
Purpose and reason
Friend, the Bible is clear about many things, and one of these is that God always looks at our hearts. Why do we do things? Why did we say the things we said? It is in this line of logic that I want us to look at debating.
Why would we engage in a debate with non-Christians? Some might say it's to prove to them that God is alive (like in the movie "God's Not Dead). For some, it might be something as simple as to show what they know about the Scriptures. Whatever the reason, God knows it, and He will judge the contents of our hearts.
One concern that I have about it, however, is whether such a thing can lead a person to Christ? Will somebody get to know the Son of God through it? Will the onlookers and listeners be brought to the saving truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or perhaps they'd be turned off by the pride that the Bible-wielding Christian debater has with regard to his or her knowledge of the good book?
Think about it.
Don't Get Involved
Perhaps you think it's OK to engage in a divisive debate. I hope you don't. In Mark 11:27-30 we find religious leaders trying to engage Christ in a debate, but the Lord shut their divisive attempts down quickly. Debates that are divisive are unfruitful and are a waste of time.
That's what Paul said when he gave us a stern warning about debates and arguments regarding the Bible. In Titus 3:9-11, we are told:
"Do not get involved in foolish discussions about spiritual pedigrees or in quarrels and fights about obedience to Jewish laws. These things are useless and a waste of time. If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with them. For people like that have turned away from the truth, and their own sins condemn them." (NLT)
Friend, we are commanded to preach the Gospel to all creation, not argue with non-Christians (see Mark 16:15). If the debate we engage in becomes divisive, choose to shut it down fast. Proverbs 10:19 tells us,
"In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise." (MEV)
I leave you with this final exhortation from Paul. May God grant you wisdom in your dealings with non-Christians.
"So flee youthful desires and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But avoid foolish and unlearned debates, knowing that they create strife. The servant of the Lord must not quarrel, but must be gentle toward all people, able to teach, patient, in gentleness instructing those in opposition. Perhaps God will grant them repentance to know the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will." (2 Timothy 2:22-26 MEV)