Saturday, January 16, 2010

Avoiding Theological Arguments

I thought this brief post at Parchment & Pen offered a good reminder about choosing our theological battles carefully. I found it especially relevant in light of Enns' review of Erosion of Inerrancy. The issue, of course, is that we all have different ideas of what are essentials and non-essentials. Clearly for Greg Beale, his view of inerrancy is an essential. I think it's a good example of how apologetics is too much about proving or defending one's position and not enough about openly examining both the position and the evidence.
The more I study and discuss theology, the more I realize that passionate discussions concerning diversities of positions can quickly grow into the necessity of proving the point regardless of the discussion’s redemptive value.   When disagreements abound, I am increasingly asking the question of how significant it is and is it worth proving the point.  This of course is gauged by what is essential vs. non-essential, as Michael’s post here describes.  As I seek to gain discernment regarding picking my battles, I thought of adopting this modification of the Serenity Prayer as a guide in theological discussions
Lord, grant me the serenity to humbly accept the theological inconsistencies that do not make a difference
The courage to graciously challenge the ones that do
And the wisdom and knowledge to know the difference
Let’s learn to pick our battles folks.  Like Kenny Rogers said, “you gotta know when to hold em, and know when to fold em”
Update: Lisa has kindly reminded me to give credit where credit was due. The quoted piece above was originally posted on January 16, 2010 at Parchment & Pen as "The Theological Serenity Prayer" written by Lisa Robinson. Accessed via RSS feed on January 16, 2010.


  1. I like this. Actually, I find that when I actually apply this, I end up talking about nuts and bolts. Not about the nuts and bolts of an argument, but about actual nuts and bolts, like, hardware. They hold my life together in a much more immediate way than theological ideas.

    So I really have to just argue for the fun of it. If I'm out to prove a point, or, worse, to correct someone else's, it doesn't do anyone any good. If it's not enhancing my or anyone else's fun, it's time to "walk away" or "run."

  2. Hi Doug,I seriously don't mind that you reposted my article but it would have nice to properly cite it. Just a courtesy =)

  3. Sorry, Lisa. I guess I thought the link was adequate and it was blocked off as a quote. I will update the post with a more complete citation. I don't usually borrow without proper attribution, so thanks for bringing it to my attention. It was ignorance, not ill intent. I enjoyed your post. Are there guidelines somewhere for what a proper citation would look like?