Let me state, I’m sure that’s hyperbole. I have no idea how many online debate attempts were started on my blog. I don’t know how many attempts at debates were started, it’s just a good way to express the frustration with the “comment policy” that nobody reads. Today’s a little long…
The new people I talked to yesterday should read this one with some interest, because I’m going to discuss what I’ve learned with exchanges.
First, write out your blogs ahead of time. I’m running about 11 days out at this point. I write them in Thingamablog, and then later on I can copy and paste them to the internet. This summer I was just writing them online to save time, but now when I want to go back and look for something, it’s harder. So, to be prepared for online nonsense… write them out in advance, so you can answer people without it slowing down what you’re writing. I wish I’d been doing this, because the Mormons and Roman Catholics were so good at tying up my time that I wasn’t able to get blog articles up every day.
The whole first year, when you see that orange circle with the “4” next to comments on your WordPress admin panel, it’s going to make you sick with worry. I’m past that now. It’s not the fear you can’t answer something, it’s mostly just stress. I understand champion shooters like Todd Jarrett and Jerry Miiculek still get a little tense at shooting competitions. Same thing.
For starters, you can forget putting a rule up online that says, “I don’t do online comment debates. I don’t have the time.” I got that rule from Kent Hovind (I’ve never met him or talked with him personally, but from watching his videos where he mentioned that was his rule).
That rule simply doesn’t work. Activists follow the WordPress blog reader right to your page. They don’t care if you have a comment policy, they have no intention of following it, because in their mind, you opened the door to it, so here they come. Nobody cares, nobody is going to follow it, so don’t worry about getting angry about it – answer and deal.
I think one rule I have (and now I express it right from the beginning) is that I have a limit of two responses. Why?
10 A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Titus 3:10 (KJV)
I’ve lifted that rule in the past and regretted it both times.
Stick to that rule. You can waive it in the case of Atheists (I chose to) because unless they are apostate, they aren’t heretics, they’re just fools. Your choice.
They Won’t Follow the Rules
I found very quickly that any insistence of, “you’ve got to read all the articles in the series, because the chances are good I’ve already answered this…” goes nowhere. They’re not going to read them. They’re not interested in the truth, just in proving you wrong. And yes… almost every question or objection someone’s raised, I had just answered a day or two before – and about 50% of the time it was answered in the very article they were commenting on, they just didn’t like the answer!
One thing that helps is a helper – in the right way. When you are emotionally drained – because a blog like this is a ministry, and you put a lot of love and effort into what you’re trying to do (I don’t love my blog – but rather it is a labor of love, the same way a real Pastor writes a sermon) – NOTHING is better, absolutely nothing… than someone jumping in to help.
In the right way.
What doesn’t help me is to be in a conversation with an Atheist and have someone jump in and yell, “YER GONNA BURN IN HELL FOREVER, YOU SPAGHETTIO-EATING, ILL DRESSED, BAD BREATH MORON!!!!”
That’s not really going to reach anyone. Atomic Mutant, who has a great sense of humor, would probably have loved that if done in the right spirit and timing. I once found myself in a debate not just with a gang of Atheists who I was actually scoring very well against… and a Christian who came on heretic guns blazing. I got wore out just from trying not to hurt any feelings and say… “you’re not helping right now.”
I’m trying to save these people. If you can see someone is being ganged up on by multiple assailants, jump in there and start answering their points. A fact is, most people can only answer one or two points at a time, and so if you write giant book sized comments, 99% of it is wasted. Help them out, and start answering things.
When done in the right way, it;s always appreciated.
I have a usual rule – I take profanity out of comments. If someone writes something that I think will make them look bad, I don’t let it go through. I had an exchange with a Catholic once where I scored a major blow on something, and he hit back in rage, with some offense in his next comment. I deleted it.
It would have made him look bad. Should I have let it go through? If I was trying to be mean, sure. But I stopped it. He apologized in the next comment, and I explained I didn’t let it go through.
If someone is just coming on and trying to slam… you have the choice whether you want it to go through or not.
You have to be ready. I’d never dealt with Mormons before and had no idea what tactics they were going to try, and I quickly found out. I let that exchange go past my usual rule, and discovered that they’ve learned well from the usual JW method of question, question, question but don’t answer. I quickly found the bunion on the toe of their argument and grabbed it and squeezed.
At the time, I thought the series on Mormons was not one of my best – but my comment exchanges were the best. I was careful to utilize rule number one – concede nothing. You have no idea what concession you’re about to make in haste just to get to the point of their argument, may indeed BE their argument. Or in the case of the Mormon missionary (who at first would not tell me she was a Mormon – VERY poor integrity), the concession was that Mormons were Christians.. and that was a concession I was not going to make, because they’re not. I might as well concede a Buffalo is a goldfish. It’s not. With Roman Catholics, to call them “catholics” in your articles is itself a concession. It sounds like a lot of typing, but make sure that each time you are calling them specifically Roman Catholics. They will try to use the word Catholic in response. If you reply with the same word, you’ve conceded it. Don’t. I do not believe in the concept of a Universal Church, because I don’t see the Bible using that terminology. So where do we get this concept? Why, from the Roman Catholics, of course!
If someone is trying their best to get their proof text accepted… assume that IS their argument. Like Roman Catholics, no matter what text you use, they’re going to try to sneak in Matthew 16 immediately. Why? Because in their minds if they can get you to accept that there’s possibly a chance that Matthew 16 is talking about the Vatican, why then… your whole argument (in their veiled minds) will fall apart like a house of cards.
A way to stop proof texts, is simply say, “Uh… we’re talking about Psalm 12:6-7. Why did you suddenly jump to Matthew 16? We’re not done with the topic at hand – please answer the question.” Or whatever verse you’re trying to talk about.
I had no idea that Revelation 2:17 was going to be a favorite for some Mormon apologists. One thing I actually did do (and the attacks promptly got weak after that) was to hit in the Doubt button. “You guys really believe that? With no shred of proof??? Really? The white stone of Revelation is not talking about a seer stone!!! It’s a historically demonstrated symbol of guilt or innocence!” I hit them in the doubt button, and that’s the hard thing for anyone in cults. Every cult member doubts the cult, but is afraid to be proven wrong. Hit them in the doubt, and you’re one step closer to liberating them.
I wasn’t able to liberate the Mormon, but I hit her (I think she is a her) in weak areas that I pray ultimately will shake her loose. The Mormon missionary usually is about as well acquainted with Jews as most Gentiles (I could not get her to concede that Mormons call Jews “Gentiles”). To hear that Jews will NOT write Scripture in any other language than Hebrew was devastating. Once I found that, I kept applying pressure on her until she gave up for her own sake.
One Roman Catholic tactic you may experience is the “talking with my friends” apologist. They sit and talk amongst themselves, dropping the coded talk, and come up with what they think is a devastating argument to use. One of them tried it on me. “Can you tell me where in Scripture you have the right to interpret Scripture for yourself?”
I had two choices. I could present EVERY verse where the Lord asked someone “Have ye not read…” or I could respond with 1 John.
20 But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. 1 John 2:20 (KJV)
I hit him with 1 John, and the response was amazing. He changed the subject. It sounds like a weak response, but remember what the word “Unction” means to a Catholic. “Unction” is a dispensing of grace, usually connected to the Last Rights, in which one is possibly too ill to make a knowing confession. The actual word means “Anointing”. John is telling us we have the Holy Spirit, who helps us to understand Scripture for ourselves. If you’re going to respond with the list of verses, make sure 1 John 2:20 is on the top of it.
The rule with Atheists is this – they can use logic arguments, but you’re a Christian – you’re not allowed. I learned a lot from my exchanges with them, and in some fatigue made some errors. I should have answered the comments the next day, relaxed and ready. But my Atheists series was done early on, and we’d just got done viewing the Hovind videos in Seminary. I was still studying for the tests, and it would help to do the articles. Alas, I ended up getting myself stressed out on the tests, and lost some points making stupid mistakes, because I was still concentrating more on what Atomic Mutant and a couple of the others said. Don’t answer comments while you have a test in 48 hours or less.
I used the mathematical formula of “Anything to the zero power equals one.” One Atheist immediately came on and made fun of it. I responded with their kind of terminology, and it was a mistake. I should have answered – “Uh, you have a scientific calculator, right? Put in any number at all to the zero power. What answer are YOU getting????” When they make a bone headed mistake, and are being mean about it… grab that toe with the corn on it, and squeeze. They’ll stop being mean.
Atheists love to answer with logical arguments. If you’re going to take on Athiests, first, spend a month studying Thouless. He’s the master of bad arguments, and wrote a mind-blowing, often copied analysis of bad arguments. He did so well on it, that it crushed his own reasoning on one issue. A long time ago, when I first found it, I was analyzing a book by Brian McLaren. I was dumbfounded that McLaren seemed to have the same book, but was using it instead on a “How to lie to Christians” primer instead of a tool to analyze poor arguments.
The oft-repeated “flying spaghetti monster” analogy, by the way, is an argument by bad or forced analogy.
Another thing that will drive you nuts is the attempt to re-define words. Atheists love to say, “an atheist is not someone who does not believe in God, we just don’t know.” In that case, you’re using the wrong word – it’s Agnostic. “Well, I prefer Atheist.” Then you’re a dummy. I already told you that you’re using the wrong word, and you’re insisting on getting it wrong.
Roman Catholics also like to redefine EVERY Christian word. You’ll go nuts trying to understand what they’re talking about. They’ll claim to have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ – they mean they’ve gone to Mass. They’ll claim to be born again – they mean being sprinkled as a baby. They’ll try to tell you that the Roman Catholic church does not teach salvation by works – you can dig into the council of Trent, Vatican II, the current Catechism, and lo and behold, they’ll say, “…but that’s not what we believe.” HUH????? Make sure you’ve studied up on what you’re talking about. That way you can ask them the loaded question, Either you disagree with what the RCC is teaching, or you’re lying… which is it???”
Messianics. Here’s the doozy. You are going to be called an anti-Semite when you’re arguing with some Gentile who bought a tallis, a yarmulke, and now thinks he’s Jewish. My answer to that is usually, “*cough* I’m Jewish.” I actually had a Roman Catholic who (I suspect) was using the Replacement Theology mindset to tell me HE was Jewish, and I was somehow offending HIM!!! I answered him in Yiddish, and he changed the subject. Oy, viz mir.
(If you’re not Jewish, don’t try that tactic. Make it clear you’re a Gentile, and the whole “I’m Jewish now” thing is weird.)
Do NOT take on Messianics without knowing Hebrew and Greek. Don’t rely on the same Strong’s Greek the Messy’s rely on – get the instruction. They opened the door to it by claiming we’re deliberately mistranslating the Bible. If you’re going to get messy with the messy’s, you’d better know Hebrew at least, and some Greek. Set ground rules – they can only bring in the Greek if they’ve learned it. Ask them in what classroom setting they had their Greek. I had one say “in Seminary”, but never would tell me which one. I was nice and shouldn’t have been, and let it slide. He was lying. He never learned Greek, or he’d have never been making the elementary mistakes he was making.
JW’s. to debate the Jehovah’s Witnesses, learn to be STUBBORN. Park on a spot, and don’t give up. What’s a good spot? Oh, Hell… that’s the spot. That’s what they’re afraid of. What are they feeling laying in bed at night before they go to sleep? Fear. Fear of hell.
Don’t let JW’s lead the argument. They’ll try to lead you on their merry way, leading you from one Scripture to another. They’ve practiced it. They want to get you to a point where you cannot answer a question. Two audio lectures here are priceless. The “how to answer a cultist” teaching from Charlie Campbell is priceless – it’s better than the “Jehovah’s Witness” lecture, and on the same topic. I’d spend some time listening to a lot of Charlie Campbell before you start your blog, anyway. Remain on a subject, and don’t give up. JW’s are not used to being questioned where their faith is the weakest. Start asking them about the Governing Body, and why “The Finished Mystery” is not present in every Kingdom Hall?
Taking on the cults is frustrating, and very tiring – but rewarding. I STILL get people coming to my Jehovah’s Witnesses pages. nobody has told me that they came out of the JW’s from reading my blog, but all this work may have brought someone ONE STEP CLOSER to leaving. It will be worth it to have someone in Heaven say to me, “your writings helped me to realize something was wrong with what I was being taught. I began to question it, and finally left.”
It will all have been worth it, to hear ONE PERSON say that. And even if not… this work has been a labor of love for the Lord, who Saved me.