The Come Reason blog addresses the need for Christians to be able to engage non-believers with good arguments:
…when arguing, one must be skilled in providing a thoughtful exchange. One must know the techniques in arguing and how to properly argue. It is tragic that so many Christians today seek to engage those who hold to different beliefs with the truth of the gospel, but offer terrible reasons for their beliefs. I think Christianity has the best arguments, but without an understanding of what comprises a sound argument, many people are coming to a sword fight with boxing gloves, and they will only get themselves skewered as a result.
Yep. All too often, Christians are unprepared to counter-punch against anti-Christian arguments. And this has been on my mind a lot lately, since recently reading through Acts and seeing how much emphasis is placed on Paul’s argumentation skills. Like:
28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews,[a] but they tried to kill him. 30 When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
Ok, maybe sometimes he was too good at arguing. There’s also this:
At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed.
When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,” he said. 4 Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women.
Anyway, suffice it to say that, back in Bible times, debating and reasoning with people was considered an important skill. I think we’ve lost some respect for that skill in the modern church, and I’d like to see us get it back.