Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Debating - Pastoral Style

When a Pastor engages in a discussion, his candor and approach must be different than the approach one might take in the world. If you are debating in a board room, the focus is to show your idea as being superior, thus getting the bosses to follow it. If you are in a political debate, sucker in more voters and make your opponent look foolish. In a law room, convince the outside observers and the jury of your own position by legal hook or crook.

In the world, debate typically shifts into performance. The goal in the world is to *win* the debate in the public's eye, show your side to be stronger, so that people listening or hearing side with you. In other words, to debate well in the world is to win.

Pastors, though, when they engage in a debate must be different. When a Pastor debates, the focus isn't just upon the crowd, but also upon the person one is debating. A Pastor doesn't simply seek simply to win, to show himself superior, to force the the other into a logically embarrassing fix. Rather, a Pastor ought debate so as to try to convince the person he is debating. We are not simply trying to win the crowds, rather, we are trying to win back to ourselves a brother.

Behold my sweeping critique of too many "Lutheran" Lutherans - be they the Gnesio-Lutherans of the 16th up to the 21st Century Confessional Lutherans. Too often we argue as the world does - seeking to assert the simple dominance of our position rather than winning the other over to ours. We argue to show them wrong rather than trying to teach them to be right.

Yet, we are told not to be debators - Paul can even ask where is the debator of this age, the wise of this world, derisively. Rather, we are teachers, we are instructors, we are to be apt to teach, we are to use the Word not for intellectual dominance but rather correction and reproof - until the day when we will no long have to say, "Know the Lord" because they will.

Pastors! Do not lower yourself so as to just seek to win or prove your point. Seek to convince. Yes, instruct and demonstrate, but as teacher and not as the peddler of a theo-political position.

1 comment:

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

Uh...you might want to proof your heading.