I know a little about dealing with controversial subjects. My last book, Salvation and Sovereignty, presented an alternative to five-point Calvinism, and my current project (with Mark Rooker) is a book about creation and evolution. Calvinism and creationism—two lightning rod topics if there ever were any! I’ve observed that advocates on either side of these two issues have produced an amazing amount of vitriolic polemics. Some of what’s available is well thought out and well written, while other material seems to be literary temper tantrums. All this has set me to thinking about what are the best ways to engage in a debate. With no claim of originality, I have come up with three rules of thumb:I simply enumerate his three points, with which I fully agree and regularly admonish my students to follow.
- Describe your opponent’s position in such a way that he can recognize it.
- Know your opponent’s position well enough that you could argue it for him.
Keathley concludes, "Have I followed all three rules in all of my writings? I must confess that I have not. But I want to. And by God’s grace I hope to 'love my neighbor as myself' even when I’m disagreeing with him."
- Write as if your opponent and you were going to dinner together after you finish.