A better way to argue
Updated: Dec 13, 2021
What's the last good argument you've had?
I'm guessing that you may be surprised by my question.
Let's face it. Arguing is a fact of life. As a matter of fact, arguing is a part of life with God. It might surprise you, but there are plenty of arguments found in the Bible. Most surprising of all, we even see people argue with God, and vice versa. (Maybe some day I'll teach a class on the topic: "The top ten arguments in the Bible!")
Let me ask you again: what's the last good argument you've had?
I've carefully phrased my question. It's because there are good arguments as well as bad. I'm sure that each of us can quickly think of some bad arguments that we've been a part of, but what about good ones? Do any come to mind?
I've been thinking about the role that arguing plays in our lives for some time now. This started a few years ago when I read the preface to Martin Marty's Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Letters and Papers from Prison: A Biography. While I never read the book, something in the preface struck me so much that I copied it down. Marty quoted a Catholic theologian by the name of David Tracy:
“Conversation is a game with some hard rules: say only what you mean; say it as accurately as you can; listen to and respect what the other says, however different or other; be willing to correct or defend your opinions if challenged by the conversation partner; be willing to argue if necessary, to confront if demanded, to endure necessary conflict, to change your mind if the evidence suggests it.”
We live in an argumentative age right now. Some even call it the age of outrage. It can be tempting in our current environment to retreat to a safe echo chamber of like-minds to avoid the outrage that spews out on the internet and real-life. Honest-to-God discussion is hard. Good arguments are hard. Both are sorely needed right now.
This morning I received an email from the website, Psyche. The email alerted me to some new essays published on their site. One of these was a great article that was about a better way to argue. Here's a link in case you're interested in reading it yourself: