Friday, April 29, 2011

Spirit of Debate

Something to Ponder

During our two week trek across the US in our motor home returning to Southern Ontario, we saw and enjoyed many things.  There is one memorable afternoon and evening for me that sticks out.

In the middle of our journey, we were in a Mississippi suburb of Memphis TN.  Interestingly, we camped in an Arkansas suburb of Memphis, along the might Mississippi River the previous night, and went to Olive Branch Mississippi to visit with friends of one of our daughters.  This couple, who are devout Baptist Christians are about our ages, and have a son, who is 48 years of age, and is back living with them. 

Tommy suffers from bi-polar disorder and is heavily medicated to keep the symptoms in check.  As such, he is only alert for a few hours each day, and at that somewhat drags himself around, due to the effects of the medication.  But, for about three hours, we spoke about Our Lord Jesus Christ and about the challenges and joys each of us faces in our daily lives with our own disabilities.

As a born again Baptist, Tommy, and his father who joined us for some time in our discussions, he/they have many misconceptions about the Catholic Church.  However, I have never been asked about my faith in such a respectful manner from a Protestant believer.  I hope that my responses to them were as respectful as their sincere questions were to me.

We shared faith, and knew that we departed as brothers in the Lord.

But, during our discussions, there was a moment when I felt a little on edge, and that maybe I had to defend the Catholic Church.  The moment passed because of something that Tommy said that struck me right between the eyes. 

Tommy spoke about a Spirit of Debate that exists in Christianity, and that is very divisive.  He spoke of this spirit that makes those who are discussing faith matters need to be right.  Hence, rather than just listening to the other, we are formulating our next response to prove our point. 

I have pondered what Tommy said, and believe it to be profound wisdom, and one of the serious lessons that Our Dear Lord wanted to show me during Lent.

I confess that I have engaged in debate over religious matters mainly in commenting on other Catholic or Christian blogs.  I also confess that there was never any real peace to these debates, and very little if any good fruit from it.

Just prior to Lent and during Lent, I felt compelled to not write blog postings, and in fact on the occasions when I attempted to do so, had mental blocks in the middle of trying to compose my thoughts.  I, frankly, do not know what or if I will be posting in the future at this moment in time, but feel the import of not pushing, but waiting on the Lord for wisdom and guidance.

I am grateful for the time that I spent with Tommy, and I am grateful that he shared wisdom that he has garnered in his life journey with me.

It is so easy to debate points of belief over the Internet, with no interpersonal human interaction involved, but to what end?  I knew I was right to begin with. The other party knew that he/she was right to begin with.  We write our proofs, defend our beliefs, criticize the other's position, and go away miserable. 

What's the point?  What is the point?


Anonymous said...

I think that there is nothing wrong with carrying on posting your blog posts. What we have to understand is that we as Catholics cannot defend he who needs no defense. What I mean is we dont defend the faith, we explain the faith. In debates one has to understand that if they are fighting as opposed to listening to each others points then they are not debating but arguing and have fallen right into the devils trap.

So carry on posting and relax :-) Great blog post by the way, one of my favourites. I might write a little something about debating myself in the future.


MBrandon said...

Thanks Stephen.

Happy Easter.


Walker said...

As first Christians we are called to make a defense of the faith period

Do not lament over the situation at hand. Do not become discouraged if you can discern at that moment if the one you are debating comprehends the truth placed before them.

Start off by reminded yourself you are planting seeds and pray that the one listening/reading your replies is fully open to God's grace.

This is all you are called to do and to keep doing. Don't shy away from your calling as a first Christian.