A prominent feature of the current evangelical landscape is the popularity of debate as a mode of teaching. Some popular teachers, including Dave Hunt and James White, often engage in debates, sometimes with unbelievers, and at other times with those they would acknowledge to be Christians. The debate format is increasingly common as a means of interchange between believers and Muslims.
A lively debate seems a natural way of engaging people’s attention. The entire sports industry is based on the natural attraction of a good fight between skilled adversaries. Isn’t it wonderful that we can take advantage of this inborn interest to draw attention to the truth of God’s word?
Or is it? Just because something seems natural doesn’t make it right. Our natural state is dead in trespasses and sins, and many of our instincts require revision by the Spirit as we grow in Christ. Some exhortations in Scripture suggest that believers ought to be more cautious about engaging in, or promoting, staged controversies on spiritual subjects.