Argue Without Being Argumentative

Who likes to argue? Depends what you mean.

Unfortunately, apologists use words which could give people the wrong impression: “Apologetics” sounds like apologizing. “Defense” sounds like training for hand-to-hand combat. And “argue” sounds like the thing you hate doing with your family on the way to church!

Clarifying key terms can help you overcome a few challenges associated with offering apologetics training to your group. First, let’s turn to the Random House Dictionary:

ar·gue (ahr-gue). verb.

1. To present reasons for or against a thing. He argued in favor of capital punishment.

2. To contend in oral disagreement. Senators argued with the President about the new tax bill.

3. To state the reasons for or against. Lawyers argued the case.

I include this definition in my handouts. It’s important to explain early on that when apologists say “argue,” we don’t mean getting into shouting matches. After all, Paul said we shouldn’t be jerks who go around looking for a fight (2 Tim. 2:24):

And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.

But that’s not that same as saying we can’t use arguments like a lawyer does when presenting evidence in a legal case. See the difference?

Now we’re talking about having reasoned disputes about important issues. Paul actually said we should gently instruct those who oppose the faith so they might be saved (2 Timothy 2:25-26):

Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

That’s a great reason to study arguments for the truth of the Christian faith.

Think about it: The ability to argue well is important for rational discussion—even about about spiritual things. And part of loving God with our minds (Mark 12:30) is using our mental faculties to draw conclusions about reality based on Scripture, observation, and careful thinking.

I think it’s actually a good thing to argue for a good cause. Properly understood, good arguments help us discover and clearly communicate truth.



  1. Achilles Heel: Internet Arguments | Christian Apologetics Alliance - December 8, 2012

    […] If we can do this, it’s ok to argue and discuss many issues. Arguing is a good thing, but it must be done properly. We don’t want to be perceived as consistently contrary, but arguing can help tremendously in […]