Arguing AS Friends – another website

Here’s an interesting site – Arguing as friends – dedicated to civil discourse in the area of politics. I found it by checking if a search for “Arguing with Friends” has yet made it to the first page of Google. It has not. I choose not to be jealous of the fact that this site is on the first page and mine is still on the second!

While Arguing with Friends is about civil discourse in general, presented in the context of sharing your faith, the same principles apply to any significant conversation (as I suggest in my book). The Arguing as friends website, for instance, outlines four basic principles that are imperative to civil discourse:

  1. Exercise humility
  2. Seek to understand
  3. Be respectful
  4. Take responsibility for what you say

I can hardly disagree with that! In this election season in the USA we shall see much of what the author (Michael Austin) bemoans, yelling a lot and shutting up. In other words people will fall into two errors; some will think the message is more important than manners and others will think the message cannot possibly be presented with manners and so refuse to engage. People make the same mistake with respect to religious dialogue as well. May Mr. Austin succeed in his goal of changing that paradigm in the world of politics.

The author of the site also includes a quote from an obvious hero, Judge Thomas B. Griffith. I leave you with the same quote for considering.

Disagreement is critical to the well-being of our nation. But we must carry on our arguments with the realization that those with whom we disagree are not our enemies; rather, they are our colleagues in a great enterprise. When we respect each other enough to respond carefully to argument, we are filling roles necessary in a republic.

My first book review!

It’s not much, but somebody was kind enough to jot down a couple of sentences about my book at (you need to scroll down a bit). In it’s entirety, here it is, unedited.

Lots of good ideas and a different more effictive way of witnessing. This book would be good for small groups and for a Bible School.

They also gave it 4 out of 5 stars. I can certainly live with that. To whoever wrote that, thank you.

Level-headed, deliberate, accurate

On my blog I want to share stories of successes as well as failures, and today’s is a story of success. And, as a self-deprecating Canadian who will readily point out my own failure but is reluctant to highlight my own success, sharing this story is somewhat therapeutic for me. I have plenty of failures and I’m sure we’ll look at some of those in the future (I already shared one previously). This time, though, I did something right!

The person I quote below emailed me in private after seeing how I handled myself in a public discussion. Details have been changed / removed to protect the innocent / guilty. Continue reading

Brian Auten interview

Brian Auten of Apologetics 315 was gracious enough to interview me about my book. The interview went live this morning – you can listen to it here.

He said he would take my picture and make me look like a star. It’s pretty good, but I wish he would have taken my advice and used one of the many pictures found here. Oh well, I can settle for this.

Thanks for everything, Brian!

Open-minded Evangelism

Here’s a concept I want to offer for your consideration; what if we stopped thinking of evangelism as me telling you about my beliefs, and starting thinking of evangelism as the two of us exploring truth together? Does that undermine the very essence of evangelism? Will that work? First off, why would we even consider doing evangelism like this? Continue reading

Religion is offensive?

Some of you may have read about the lady in Nova Scotia who was not allowed to have a personalized license plate because it had a religious theme and therefore may be offensive. This story points to a reality that serves as the foundation for Arguing with Friends; the belief that conversations about life’s biggest questions must, necessarily, be offensive.The interesting twist in this story is that offense might be had before the conversation even starts! Continue reading

Jehovah’s Witnesses meet Grace, Patience

If you’ve poked around at my blog at all then you’ll know that I am always on the lookout for great stories of people interacting with others from which we can learn lessons. This story blew my mind. Frankly this is pretty much a case study in getting things exactly right! This will be a bit of a longer blog post because there are just so many things to discuss and so many wonderful lessons to learn. Grab a drink, sit back and let’s see precisely how these kinds of conversations are supposed to unfold. Continue reading

Confusing the “what” and the “why”

Tim Keller offers some comments regarding how Christians tend to respond to challenges to their Faith. His key point is, “I’ve heard plenty of Christians try to answer the why question by going back to the what.” In Arguing with Friends I describe various mistakes that Christians make. Tim Keller’s comments are remarkably close to one of the mistakes I list. As he describes it, the Christian tries to answer the question of “why should I believe Christianity” by telling the person the Gospel message. This, however, is the answer to the question, “what is Christianity?” Answering in this manner certainly does miss the point and we should be careful to actually answer the question they are asking instead of a question they are not asking.

The mistake I point out is that Christians will often respond to the “why” challenge with their testimony. They will share about all the wonderful things Jesus has done in their life and the impact their Faith has had on them. In one sense this is actually closer to what the skeptic was asking, but it still misses the point. At the same time that Christians may tell of what Jesus has done for them they recognize that Jesus may operate differently in somebody else’s life. Perhaps Jesus cured me of alcoholism, but if the person I’m talking to doesn’t even like alcohol then it seems safe to say that Jesus will not have the same impact in their life. This is just a simple, superficial, example but it is meant to illustrate a point; what Jesus does in my life may be completely different from what he does in somebody else’s life. My reasons for believing in Jesus may not resemble, even remotely, your reasons for believing in Jesus if our respective reasons are primarily connected to his work in our lives.

The root question the skeptic is asking is basically, “why should anybody believe in Jesus?” To answer this with either a declaration of the Gospel (as Keller points out) or some insights into my own personal history with Jesus (as I point out) is to miss the point. The person is looking for objective evidence for a claim, not the claim itself, nor the subjective experience of the claim.

As I describe in Arguing with Friends, there are two fundamental questions every worldview must answer, and these are the “what” and the “why” questions. We have seen that there are multiple ways of incorrectly answering the “why” question, so hopefully we can be more intentional to listen carefully to what people are asking and actually answer their question. Politicians are notorious for their “non-answers” I hope we can avoid that error.

And if you do not know how to answer their question; learn. Here’s a hint, the website with the Tim Keller quote is an excellent place to start!

The Bible says… what?!?!

In Arguing with Friends I elaborate on a rhetorical tactic that I call “False Facts.” Some people will try to convince you something is true that isn’t. I hesitate to call it lying for the simple reason that most of the time when I run across this, the person propogating the false fact actually believes they are telling you the truth! This means they are not lying; they are not deliberately and knowingly telling you something untrue. I give examples in my book, like the false fact that ancient people thought the earth was flat. One incredibly common set of false facts are along the lines of “The Bible says…” followed by some false fact about what the Bible allegedly says. Some examples that I have seen, even recently, include: Continue reading

How do people find my website?

This is interesting. According to the WordPress statistics page somebody found my blog by using the search term, “conversational exchanges involving more than two people less.” When you do that search at Yahoo my blog entry Poached Conversations comes up in the first page of results. I’m not exactly sure what the were looking for, but they found me! So whoever arrived via that highly obscure search phrase, welcome here!

[Another interesting search phrase was, “learn akkadian online alphabet.” Again, I’m not sure what you were looking for, but welcome here.]

Also, as a point of interest, I’ve had over 1,000 visits to my site since I started up (pushing 1,200). Yay!

And, because this is just a “for fun” post I thought I’d leave you with some more Monty Python. This skit illustrates the very important life lesson of making sure we tailor our message to our audience in such a way that they will actually understand what we’re getting at. No, seriously, this is profound stuff!

(It doesn’t really start until 40 seconds in)