Arguments vs. Debates

Here is an excerpt from my sermon manuscript concerning the nature of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 and an observation of the state of the modern American church.  The way we have descended into uncivilized argument rather than spirited debate is symptomatic of what we have become.  We have sacrificed community for individualism.  At least that's what I think :)! 

"The Bible does not specify how long the council met, it says only that there was "much debate (Acts 15:7)."  As unnerving as debate may be to many, it is not unhealthy for the church to engage in debate.  Certainly debate can be unhealthy when its goal is to criticize rather than inform, when it is aimed to divide rather than contend, when it focuses on personalities instead of problems.  In the first century culture, thanks to the Greeks, debate was a way of life and it was borderline entertainment.  It was charged, but it was civil.  The American church, taking cues from pop culture has drunk the poison of individualism.  In doing so we have lost any semblance of civility and along with it the ability to disagree without destruction.   Individuals argue.  Communities debate.  Because the American church has become so individualistic it has become argumentative rather than informative.  Debate airs both sides of the issue and allows the body at large to decide what is right.  Arguments are more about emotion than information and demand that people pick sides.  Arguments decide who is popular.  Debates decide what is right.  The Jerusalem council was a debate, not an argument."


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