I like to win arguments. I like being right. I like showing people that Iâ€™m smart. I like using my knowledge and proving a point. Itâ€™s fun. I enjoy the rush it gives. And it may be one of the most destructive things I can do as a Christian.
â€œThe defeat of the intellect is not the object in fighting with the sword of the Spirit, but the acceptance of the heart. In this case, therefore, I drew back.â€
– George MacDonald
The mentor of the famous C. S. Lewis shares just what is wrong with Christians fighting, bickering, debating back and forth until there is one winner.
That isnâ€™t the point.
The Bible isnâ€™t somethign we use to defeat or destroy, belittle or beat a brother or sister in Christ. It isnâ€™t a weapon for us to weld to prove how excellent we are at exegesis. It isnâ€™t a stool or an escalator we get on to elevate ourselves above the rest of the Body of Jesus.
If it is, we need to check ourself. Before we wreck a lot more than ourself.
The sword of the Spirit, the Word of God is not for destruction or defeat. While it does pierce through to the heart, dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow (Hebrews 4:12), the end goal of the Bible is not the demise of anyone.
The disciple Peter spoke well to this matter, when asked if he wanted to depart from Jesus,
â€œSimon Peter answered him, â€œLord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.â€œâ€
While this first applies to the words of Jesus, it does extend to all the words of Scripture. They are words of life. They are words that do not destroy or defeat or diminish. They are words that encourage, strengthen, and build up.
â€œAll Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.â€
If we are discussing, digging, debating, theorizing, or theologizing with the intent to win, we have failed. And we need to step back.
MacDonald says, â€œI drew back.â€
Like a retreat, a purpose full pause, a chance to reflect and re-evaluate what he was doing.
I think I need to do that more often. Iâ€™m sure a lot of Christians do, but Iâ€™m thinking about myself for a second.
I am smart, but I know there have been times I have used my knowledge, my wisdom to trounce other Christians, belittle them to elevate myself. I have argued people into corners, made them second guess what they believed just to prove I knew better than they did.
Thatâ€™s not the point. Thatâ€™s not what the Bible is supposed to be used for. And there is nothing about that kind of action or attitude that is Christ like.
I need to draw back a lot more often than I do.
This isnâ€™t an anti-debate or anti-intellectual statement or quote either. The mentor of C.S. Lewis? How could a man that taught one of the greatest Christian thinkers be anti-intellectual?
No. MacDonald saw in himself, and Iâ€™m sure in others, that while debate and figuring things out is of great value, rightness isnâ€™t the end goal.
A renewed mind and an upright spirit are. The repentant heart.
are your conversations, your debates, your theologizing changing hearts or earning you victory points?
One is in line with the heart of Scripture, the word of God.
The other may be the most destructive thing you can do as a Christian.
This article first appeared on Christian Thought Sandbox.