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Monday, July 18, 2016

12 Quotes From Greg Koukl on Theological Discussions

"Loving God with the mind is not a passive process. It is not enough to have sentimental religious thoughts. Rather, it involves coming to conclusions about God and his world based on revelation, observation, and careful reflection...This is not rationalism, a kind of idolatry of the mind that places man's thinking at the center of the universe. Rather, it's the proper use of one of the faculties God has given us to understand him and the world he has made."

"In order to understand the truth of the Bible accurately, our mental faculties must be intact and we must use them as God intended."

"The Bible is first in terms of authority, but something else if first in terms of the order of knowing. We cannot grasp the authoritative teaching God's Word unless we use our minds properly. Therefore the mind, not the Bible, is the very first line of defense God has given us against error."

"A commitment to truth -- as opposed to a commitment to an organization -- means an openness to refining one's own views. It means increasing the accuracy of one's understanding and being open to correction in thinking. A challenger might turn out to be a blessing in disguise, an ally instead of an enemy. An evangelist who is convinced of her view, then, should be willing to engage the best arguments against it."

"Arguments are good, and dispute is healthy. They clarify the truth and protect us from error and religious despotism. When the church discourages principled debates and a free flow of ideas, the result is shallow Christianity and a false sense of unity. No one gets any practice learning how to field contrary views in a gracious and productive way. The oneness they share is contrived, not genuine. Worse, they lose the ability to separate the wheat from the chaff. Simply put, when arguments are few, error abounds."

"Some believers unfortunately take any opposition as hostility, especially if their own view is being challenged. In some circles it's virtually impossible to take exception to a cherished view or a respected teacher without being labeled malicious. This is a dangerous attitude for the church because the minute one is labeled mean-spirited simply for raising an opposing view, debate is silenced. If we disqualify legitimate discussion, we compromise our ability to know the truth."

"When a cherished view is at stake, it's not unusual for people to raise empty objections -- objections that initially sound worthwhile, but simply can't be defended once examined. Questions aimed at undermining the view often reveal a lack of substance behind the bluster."

"When someone forcefully disagrees with you, do not expect him to surrender quickly. Changing beliefs is not easy to do, especially when a lot is at stake. Usually, it is a slow process for someone to admit they are mistaken about something important."

"As a general rule, go out of your way to establish common ground. Whenever possible, affirm points of agreement. Take the most charitable read on the other person's motives, not the most cynical. Treat them the way you would like others to treat you if you were the one in the hot seat."

"When you say something like, 'It's my understanding that...' or 'This is the way it seems to me,' then explain your position and invite a response, you indicate you are provisional in your claims. Yes, you have convictions, but they are open to discussion. This is not only an implicit act of humility, but it also gives you a margin of safety. It may turn out that you have missed something that your friend uncovers in the process of conversation. If you discover that your own ideas are compromised in some way, this could be embarrassing if you expressed them in a dogmatic, uncompromising way to begin with. Furthermore, you have little psychological liberty to adjust your views."

"Always make it a goal to keep your conversations cordial. Sometimes that will not be possible. If a principled, charitable expression of your ideas makes someone mad, there's little you can do about it. Jesus' teaching make some people furious. Just make sure it's your ideas that offend and not you, that your beliefs cause the dispute and not your behavior."

"People who are angry get defensive, and defensive people are not in a very good position to think about whether or not your ideas are good ones. Instead, they are too interested in defending their own turf."

All these quotes can be found in Koukl's book Tactics: A Game Plan For Discussing Your Christian Convictions.

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