Recently, I read an article on the Kennedy-Nixon Debate that occurred fifty years ago. I have always heard that Nixon won in substance, but Kennedy won in style/charisma. Whether this is the case or not, I do not know. But, what came to mind when I read the article (Newsmax, “The Misunderstood Debate,” September 2010, p. 50) was the importance of debate. Debate forums are good opportunities to allow interested people to learn differences in positions that are contrary to one another. In fact, I think debates are great and encourage participation in them frequently.
When I speak of debate, I do not mean a bunch of people fussing haphazardly in a chaotic and unorganized way. What I mean is a properly organized forum where two participants can present their material over an agreed upon proposition. In such venues, those who listen can learn volumes of information in short order.
Such propositions that are worthy of debates are: 1) I know God exists. 2) The church of which I am a member is the church one reads about in the New Testament. 3) Morality has its basis in God. 4) Water baptism in the name of Christ is essential for salvation. Each one of the propositions is either true or false. A participant can affirm, and then the other participant can deny the affirmation.
Some are uncomfortable with debates because they seem unseemly, especially if one is a Christian. While I understand such sentiment, it is misplaced. The apostle Paul made it a habit to go into the Jewish synagogues and “reason” with the Jews concerning the Scriptures and what they taught. Whatever unseemly notion might be associated with debate will always be connected to the participants, not the forum. Thus, we should encourage formal debates for the benefit of those interested in two contrary and opposing ideas.
A letter to editor submitted to Sullivan News-Progress, 9/16/10