Chandler, Horton, Keller on How to Disagree

Before the widespread accessibility of the internet, most theological debate moved at the speed of journal publishing, which is to say, slowly.  There was a time when perhaps two years would pass before an author would see critical reviews of his or her work. Today, controversial books will be dissected by bloggers and Amazon reviewers before most readers even know the book has been released.

This is just one way the terms of theological debate have changed, according to Michael Horton, who talks in this video with Tim Keller and Matt Chandler about how Christians ought to disagree among ourselves and with other theological opponents. You’ll hear them offer several nuggets of wisdom that all Christians would be wise to follow as they call on us to criticize when possible in the context of relationship and state our opponents’ arguments in a way they would recognize and own.

  • James Moon

    Good post. Love these video clips..learning lots. Keep’em coming.

  • Ryan Mahoney

    Maybe we can start by not calling their position, that is different from ours, Satanic? Just a thought for a low bar starting point.

    • James Moon

      Good point.

    • Jerry Brodie

      Oh yea!

    • Jon Coutts

      Ironic that this is video is posted on the Gospel Coalition, where in my experience the blog writers almost totally disregard the comments sections, thus neither holding themselves accountable to their readers nor holding their commenters accountable to the kind of internet conversations that we ought to be trying to promote. GC bloggers need to either disable commenting or take responsibility for the internet ethos they produce.

      This was a VERY good video and I really appreciated it. Let’s remember that the internet is in its infancy/adolescence and we still get to decide how we want to use it. Let’s raise the bar on how we disagree, not by failing to disagree where appropriate, but by doing it well. This video gives us plenty to apply in that regard.

  • James Moon

    Here’s a question. What should our response be if we feel we’ve been on the receiving end of being caricatured and attacked or if we felt we’ve been betrayed? I guess this is where we look to the cross and see Jesus’ response to us when we did something similar to him.

  • Carmen Fowler LaBerge

    Guys, thank you for another very thoughtful and helpful conversation. My particular challenge is sparing with theological opponents in the PC(USA) who espouse beliefs that are genuinely beyond what would be considered consistent with the basic tenets of the Christian faith. I have the personal relationships, I am able to post their arguments as well they can, I attempt to point at the dangers of the slippery slope without assuming it as a foregone conclusion, but both the “taken out of context” and the “medium of discourse” points are challenges. You cannot engage the “whole” of someone’s position when what you’re trying to equip people for is an apologetic on a particular point. Further, although I am more than willing to engage in personal platform debate on the substantive issues we face, no one else is. We have no “juried conversations,” just grossly surface ones. Thoughts?

  • Moses Flores

    This is very helpful. I have actually been discussing issues of salvation with some Reformed brothers who believe that no one outside of the Reformed faith can be saved at all. I hold a different belief than them and for that they go off about how I am not “really Reformed” or I believe a false gospel, etc….the caricatures abound in such conversations and it is very disheartening and almost to a point where “truth” is their idol and being doctrinally correct is the way of salvation rather than Jesus and his work. I like this conversation because it is much needed in our day and age!!!

    • PJ

      Many of those in here are of the reformed bent. I think to us, sometimes separating truth and Jesus is difficult because even saying Jesus and His work is the way of salvation is a truth statement. But yeah, I agree if we proclaim for example that the way of salvation is to agree intellectually with the Apostle’s Creed, elevating it above Jesus and His work, then yeah I can see why it can be a problem.

      I think the importance of what this clip is saying is to really understand their position first. For instance, what do they mean by reformed, and if they mean calvinist, sincerely ask them if they think those with arminian view points will not be saved even if they trust in Jesus.

      I think the point of this video clip wasn’t about reaching agreement, but how to disagree well in a Christ like fashion.

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  • Women Living Well

    Really interesting! Thanks for letting us listen in on this discussion. I posted this as my one of my top 5 favorite posts of the week on my blog here:


  • Steve Cornell

    A deeply rich theology of salvation is the basis for unified relationships in the Church. This is where it gets a little tricky. Too often, we want the gospel to include more than it mandates. The model to follow is the book of Romans. Many mistakenly think the purpose of Paul’s letter we call “Romans” is to expound the doctrine of justification by faith. Yet while the apostle provides the most extensive exposition of this truth, he teaches it to serve the primary purpose of calling for unity between Gentile and Hebrew Christians (chapters 14-15). This unveils the deeper connections between beliefs and unity. If interested, I wrote briefly about it here:

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