Vol.IX No.III Pg.8
May 1972

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

Before this paper can come to your hands two brethren in an Ohio river city will have met for public discussion of some points of difference regarding the work of the local church in general benevolence. If they meet to try and whip one—another, the cause of Christ in their city may have to overcome another major set­back. If they meet objectively, to fairly determine their exact points of difference, and then to present their respective convictions with the scriptural proofs each feels is appropriate, a major advance in understanding and brotherhood will have taken place. We hope and pray they will take their obligation seriously.

There is nothing wrong with public or private discussion of differences; in fact, they are right. (Gal. 2:11-f. Acts 15: 1-f.) We thus prove all things and give an answer for our hope. (1 Thess. 5:21; 1 Pet. 3:15) We can scarcely justify our claim to objective search for truth in the absence of a willingness to measure our conclusions against those of others, with Gods word as the final rule. But all scriptural justification for such discussion is lost when or if it degenerates into a scrap of wits and polemic tricks. We once read a formula for reasonable disagreement. Next

time you get into a group discussion which threatens to become more emotional than logical, try this little trick: Stop the discussion and ask everyone to abide by the following rule: Each person can speak for himself only after he has first repeated the ideas and feelings of the previous speaker accurately and to that persons satisfaction. The lively pace of controversy may slow down somewhat. On the other hand, the level of communication will probably be considerably higher. (Olds Observer; Vol. 1, No. 6)

Most of us have heard (not to say participated in) discussions when none seemed to pay serious attention to the others. Each spoke his part, then withdrew into himself to think up something to say the next time around. Even error is best defeated when we take time to understand it.

This practice of withdrawing into ourselves, hearing only what we want to hear, can have startling results. One girl to another: Well, we have had a slight argument — a difference of opinions. I would like a big wedding, and he would like to break the engagement.