Social Issues: Conclusion

Social Issues

Many of the topics we have discussed in this study are controversial and can elicit strong emotional responses from individuals. Because of this, we may be tempted to avoid any type of discussion on these issues, especially if we know there will be disagreement.

However, as we have discussed, there are Biblical principles that apply to these topics. Therefore, discussions on these sorts of issues can provide a way to direct others – especially those who are not Christians – to what the Bible teaches. So we should not avoid discussing these things altogether, but we do need to understand the proper way to discuss contentious topics.Continue Reading

Tolbert Fanning’s Seven Rules for Studying the Bible

Tolbert Fanning: Study upon the Proper Plan

Most religiously-minded people will affirm that reading the Bible is vital. Many of these would also say that studying the Scriptures is important. Yet among those who read and study the Bible, there is usually a wide range of beliefs and practices that often conflict with and contradict one another. Is this to be expected and accepted? Or is that a sign that we should re-evaluate our approach in studying the Bible?

Tolbert Fanning (1810-1874) was a preacher from Tennessee who had a strong influence among brethren in the South. In his book The True Method of Searching the Scriptures, he outlined seven rules for studying the Bible. As we consider these rules, we will see that these are not just one man’s opinion; instead, these are some basic principles we need to apply if we are to understand God’s word in the way He intended us to understand it.

So let us briefly consider these seven rules for studying the Bible.Continue Reading

Rules for Religious Discussions

Bible Study

But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15).

It is incumbent upon all Christians to be ready to teach others. There are many potential ways to do this. The passage above describes teaching that is done in the course of a discussion – someone “asks you.” These discussions take place in different environments – friendly or hostile, public or private, in person or online, etc. How do we make the best use of our opportunities to discuss the Scriptures with others?

On one hand, we are to “contend earnestly” (Jude 3); on the other hand we must speak “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). We are to “demolish arguments” (2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV), but “must not be quarrelsome” (2 Timothy 2:24). How do we strike the right balance? We do so by remembering some rules for religious discussions.Continue Reading

How to Silence False Teachers

Man with duct tape over mouth

When Paul wrote to Titus about the qualifications for elders, one of the requirements for these men was that they have an ability to deal with false teachers.

Holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain” (Titus 1:9-11).

Paul said these false teachers “must be silenced.” But how would this be done? No one expects the elders of a local church to kidnap a false teacher, put duct tape over his mouth, tie him up, and then lock him in a closet to prevent him from spreading his error. Since they cannot use physical force to silence false teachers, how are they to do it?Continue Reading

Good Things to Do When You’re Older

Old man by the water

In a previous article, we discussed some good things to do when one is young. We focused on what young people are to do in order to enjoy life while also pleasing the Lord.

What if we are not young anymore? What responsibilities do we have when we are older?

This is not just about what we are to do when we are “old” (however we want to define that) or at the end of our lives (though it would certainly include that). This is a wide age range, from around 30 years old and up – old enough to influence young adults until death. What does the Bible say about what is good to do when we are older? We will notice six things.Continue Reading

The Sect That Is Spoken Against Everywhere

Paul in Rome

When Paul came to Rome as a prisoner, he was permitted to meet with the Jewish leaders in that city. The apostle used this opportunity to explain why he was there – not as an enemy of the Jewish people but that he was suffering “for the sake of the hope of Israel” (Acts 28:17-20). The Jewish leaders had not heard about Paul, but they had heard about the church.

They said to him, ‘We have neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor have any of the brethren come here and reported or spoken anything bad about you. But we desire to hear from you what your views are; for concerning this sect, it is known to us that it is spoken against everywhere” (Acts 28:21-22).

The church was this “sect…spoken against everywhere.” Why was this the case?

When we study the book of Acts, we find several reasons why the church was “spoken against everywhere.” As we follow the same pattern that they followed, this will often happen to us as well. We will be “spoken against” by others. It is not that we should seek out trouble or conflict. Paul told the Romans, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18). However, we do need to be prepared for this reality.Continue Reading

How to Discuss Contentious Topics

Argument

Most have noticed that the world in which we live has become more divided and contentious in the past few years. Many topics that come up for discussion – both in person and especially online – can elicit strong emotional responses from individuals. Because of this, we may be tempted to avoid any type of discussion on potentially controversial issues, especially if we know (or are reasonably certain) there will be disagreement.

However, for many controversial topics, there are Biblical principles that apply to them. Therefore, discussions on these sorts of issues can provide a way to direct others – especially those who are not Christians – to what the Bible teaches. So we should not avoid discussing such things altogether, but we do need to understand the proper way to discuss contentious topics.Continue Reading