I was thinking today about my former methods of discussion (rants and arguments really) and began to think about some of my specific mistakes in argument. So I thought I would post these for you in a more positive manner.
1. Never treat an issue in a manner beyond its actual importance. This was a major struggle of mine as an early Christian. I became a theology junkie very quickly but was not yet discerning enough to understand what was an essential doctrine and what was not, so I argued about everything like I was standing before an executioner pleading for life and sanity. If something is essential argue with passion and intensity, but if its not that important save the energy for the tough stuff.
2. Never let your emotions rule the day. It is very easy to get worked up and let the emotions drive the car, but while we should not throw the emotions out of the car we must always drive with our minds. Making logical points, not simply winning the decibel war.
3. Never distort the facts. As Christians we are called to be truth tellers, distorting the facts to make a point or win an argument compromises our integrity and dishonors our Lord.
4. Always appeal to Scripture. Our ideas our bound by our limitations and are quite fallible. We should always begin and end with the timeless truth of God's word. It is the only infallible evidence we have.
5. Always remember that you are speaking to an immortal. (That is unless you are arguing with your pets and I don't have space to get into that). As C.S. Lewis said we are speaking with people who are either going to be so glorious that we would be tempted to worship them if we met them today or such horrors that we would terrified of them if we met them today.
6. Always argue respectfully. Even if you think a person is making a completely foolish argument we must remember that they are people made in the image of God and should be treated with respect.
7. Always argue in such a way that God is pleased and glorified. Do I need to explain this one?
8. Never disagree with someone who says that the Patriots are currently the greatest sports franchise on the planet. Its just not fun to be wrong.
By the way - I am using the word argument very loosely for any kind of meaningful discussion.