How to Win Every Argument | TIME

There’s some excellent advice here. I just wish people would stop using the word “argument” to mean something more like “fight” or “quarrel.” An argument is a good thing, antagonistic dialogue is not.

Otherwise this is a good read.

How to talk to a Skeptic – book review

[I have written two blog entries on this book, the other at the WhyJesus blog. I look at this book from two perspectives in these two reviews.]

When I set out to write Arguing with Friends I made a decision that I second-guessed a lot. In fact, other people also questioned the wisdom of my decision. I wasn’t sure whether to merely focus on the “how” of having these kind of major worldview conversations, or whether to also include some basic data that a Christian can bring to the conversation. In other words, to what extent should I include some of the defence of the faith stuff – arguments for God’s existence, historical defence of the reliability of the Bible and so on – and to what extent should I just explain the difference between conversations you can be proud of and conversations you wish you could redo? I did end up outlining the various subjects that were likely to come up and where the reader could get more info, but I did not provide any answers or any data beyond some resources the reader could look up.

Donald J. Johnson’s book “How to Talk to a Skeptic” looks a bit like what I imagine mine might have looked like if I had spent more time on the subject of defining and defending the faith. Continue reading

Proverbs 24:17 – Loving our Enemies

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,

(Pro 24:17 ESV)

This passage almost certainly applies to general life circumstances about people falling on hard times, or bringing about their own demise. I want to look at it from a different perspective that I think is an equally valid insight from this verse.

Suppose you are having a conversation with a friend on some matter of truth. They disagree with you (taking the position of “enemy” broadly speaking). As you discuss the matter it becomes clear that your friend either has not thought through their views, or their views are not based on good evidence or reason, or in some cases perhaps they are just wrong. For some people the realization that they are at an advantageous position in a conversation is their cue to run the victory lap and celebrate their own intellectual superiority.

Don’t do this! When you have shown that your friends views range from “poorly grounded” to just plain false make it easy for your friend to change their views without losing their dignity. Never celebrate a demonstration of their ill-informed beliefs or your own well-established beliefs. Make every conversation a conversation that everybody can walk away from with their heads held high.

Proverbs 23:23 – The Value of Truth

Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.

(Pro 23:23 ESV)

This is not unlike last week’s Proverb about applying your heart to understanding; it takes effort. In this case the effort may be money. How does one “buy” truth? The commentaries and dictionaries I have access to seem to suggest that “buy” is meant figuratively in the sense that coming into possession of it is costly and worthwhile; it is not literally about money. Truth doesn’t rain from heaven, randomly falling into your lap, but is something you need to work for. But, oh, the reward of your effort. Continue reading

Proverbs 23:12 – Education isn’t Accidental

Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.

(Pro 23:12 ESV)

Notice how we are supposed to “apply” our hearts to instruction. It is not merely a matter of being open to instruction if it happens to fall in our laps, but we should seek it out. It is our responsibility. Instruction and knowledge take effort and we need to put in that effort. That is why I dedicated an entire chapter in Arguing with Friends to listing resources for the interested reader (i.e. the reader who takes proverbs like this one seriously) to seek out their own personal edification in life’s biggest questions. It’s your job, do it! Continue reading

Proverbs 22:01 – Respect or Riches?

It is better to be respected than to be rich. A good name is worth more than silver or gold.

(Pro 22:1 ERV)

Now I don’t for a second think that this verse is about being a people pleaser. Rather the intent is to make a name for yourself by being the kind of person who warrants respect. A people pleaser panders for respect, a person with a “good name” earns respect.

Earning respect is difficult. It requires work. It required consistent integrity. But earning respect will keep friends closer, and gives you leeway in dealing with them. Earn respect, not riches.