By Fred Chay
no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but
as is good for edification according to the need
moment, so that it will give grace to
those who hear."
(Eph. 4:29, NASB)
if your enemy is hungry,
and if he
for in so
doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
(Romans 12:20, NASB95)
In any theological debate - whether
face-to-face, in writing (journals or books) or
even on Facebook, the debaters can easily slide
into "the ways of the world" in their approach.
This last week, I read or heard two different
attacks against free grace in general and,
included in the attacks, each criticized the
Free Grace Alliance. Such attacks are nothing
new. And, like most attacks, the attackers did
not "fight fair". Both attacks made incorrect
statements about free grace theology, both
employed emotional arguments to make their
position sound stronger, both used weak logic in
some of their arguments.
What they said isn't important here, we address
that elsewhere. What I do want to address is,
how do we fight the fight? We will face
theological challenges, some significant, some
less so. But no matter how serious the issue, I
hope this principle rises to the top:
Practice grace when talking about grace (or any
other topic, for that matter).
I know when I am attacked my initial response is
to fight back. The trick is learning to respond
differently; to "give grace to those who hear."
saying harsh words are never necessary, but
usually I jump to such words far too quickly.
How can we "give grace" and "heap burning coals
on their head?
Know your opponents viewpoint. Too often I
am too busy defending my view without
understanding the other's view. I get
irritated when they misrepresent me; it is
no longer a "fair fight" if I misrepresent
them. If you are really brave, summarize to
the other person what you understand their
view to be. You might be surprised by their
Avoid pejorative terms. In the Lordship /
Free Grace debates, those we call "lordship"
often refer to our position as "no Lordship"
or "cheap grace".
labeled the position of Zane Hodge's, et al,
as "the crossless gospel". Such terms do not
promote discussion; they denigrate both the
position and the person who holds it.
Granted, the position may be untenable, but
we still need to avoid pejoratives!
Avoid bad logic! I've had people say, "If
you hold the FGA position, then you believe
x, y, z". They then knock down x, y, and z.
The problem with their conclusion?
don't believe x, y, or z! For example,
"If you hold the FGA position, then
you believe you can do anything you want"!
That's only partially true - I do believe I
can do anything I want without fear of hell,
but I do not believe I can do anything I
want with no consequences, perhaps including
severe discipline from God (Heb. 12). Be
careful to avoid bad logic when debating
someone else's view.