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What Changes Peoples Minds On Doctrinal Issues?

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by Fadingman, Sep 18, 2013.

  1. Christian internet forums certainly don't have a monopoly on discussions over conflicting doctrinal viewpoints, but it seems most of the heat tends to be generated online. I have my viewpoint on eternal security, eschatology, predestination/free-will, whatever, and you have yours. We all seem to get along happily together until one of those hot-topic issues comes up. Then everyone takes sides and the battle is on. It's kinda like a game of capture the flag: each side works to bring someone from the other camp to their side, ...only I rarely, if ever, see that happen.

    When is the last time you saw a debate thread change someone's mind? I hear people saying things like, "I used to believe doctrine X, but now I don't." Did that change of mind happen over a forum debate topic? What does change people's minds?

    Of course, just because I may change my mind on a subject doesn't mean that is a move from error to truth, so using the "I used to believe..." argument doesn't add anything to the discussion. There are people on each side of the {pick your favorite hot-topic doctrine} fence that used to be on the other side. It's just as possible to move away from the truth as move towards it.

    Suppose you take any non-essential but controversial doctrinal subject that you are convinced of. What would change your mind on that subject? For myself, I find it generally happens when I study from both/all sides of the issue.

    For example, I studied predestination and free-will some time ago and looked up as many passages that I could find that appeared to support or go against what I believed. I looked up arguments for and against each side. Knowing that the Bible does not contradict itself, I studied to understand all of the passages in context so I could resolve them with each other. While I never came to understand it all 100%, I now have a pretty good idea of how it all fits together. (I'm not share my results here, because I think it would generate more heat than light, and that is not the purpose for this thread.)
  2. The first thing that has to happen before anyone can change their mind, is they have to have the ability to admit that they may actually be wrong. They must then actually make an attempt to seek truth and understand other viewpoints.

    The problem is that such mentality is extremely rare. The second problem is those who participate in forums either have built a fortress out of their beliefs with walls so high that they can no longer participate in any fellowship with traditional congregations, or they are part of ingrained denominational teaching. Neither is inherently bad, but it is extremely unlikely that people who only know each other through fighting and arguing are going to earn enough trust to actually convince each other to change their minds.

    The real question to me is always, why should they change their minds? If your goal is to get me to change my mind, then your goal is wrong, and should fail. If your goal is to help me grow closer to Christ, then you must first earn my trust. Your words have to convince me that you are interested in my best interests, far more than actually convincing me of the facts of your doctrine. Again, if your goal is to make me change my mind on a doctrinal issue, then unless my stance is apostate, you are not actually seeking my best interests, but simply pushing your doctrines over mine.

    If you believe for any reason that your salvation actually hinges on ANY of these doctrinal issues, then you are already wrong. In the end, most doctrines can stand on their own. Calvinists read the Bible from a certain perspective, and Armenians read it from a perspective the personally speaks to them. We agree on the essentials, we disagree on issues that are often unprovable and not mixable. To attempt to mix them only serves to create confusion and weakens our faith. Free Will and Predestination simply don't mix well. You can try, but you usually end up with a very weak understanding in the end.
    Kurt75 likes this.
  3. Lastly, you have to have a reason or motive for changing your mind. That's an internal thing that only you have control over. What would be your motivation to change your mind? Do you wish to abandon Eternal Security Theology? I doubt it. If it was something that could easily be done simply by showing people the best debate, then we should gather together the greatest denominational minds and let them fight it out until we have a clear winner, and I know some people who are REALLY, REALLY good at that. It's been tried. It never accomplishes much, yet on a daily basis I see an attempt from men and women who are simply not the greatest theologians trying to accomplish that. Every time I see it, I think it's just foolishness. Every time I've tried to get an understanding of what someone else believes and why they believe it, it gets jammed down my throat, and I walk away frustrated because it seems nobody can express their views without trying to make it into a heated debate.
    one past midnight likes this.
  4. I see evidence that either discussion threads are closed by forum administrators/moderators before any agreement is reached or, one or more of the participants either places someone on ignore or maybe just decides to leave the discussion. The sad thing from my persecutive/observation is that where there are multiple participants, a few of which might be open to reasoned discussion a few 'hot heads' force the moderator's hand and then all loose out.
    I can only speak for myself. If I have a firm belief about something, I'm not likely to be influenced by any alternate ideas.
    If I have no particular barrow to push, then I'm likely to follow the back and forth debate and maybe jump into one particular camp.
    But I'd say overall, that what it would take to change my mind is what, or rather who it took to change my mind about Christ Jesus......the Holy Spirit.
  5. As Calvin said, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit can use any vessel / discussion to reveal truth to us.

    In debating, we should look at the example Jesus gave us in the wilderness. How did Jesus speak to the devil? Just scripture. No sugar coating, no personal attacks. With added emphasis on 'all scripture'. As the devil clearly quoted half truths. I like this verse Matt 4:7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.

    Then in verse 8 we see the devil stops using scripture and works on pride. This is when Jesus said I am done, scripture says X. We can't ignore the lesson here as many visitors to Christians sites are driven by the devil.
  6. Problem is when Holy Spirit is claimed by both camps in a theological issue.

    I have changed my mind on a number of theological issues over the years, why, I am not entirely sure, but its re-examining the evidence, listening to convincing points put forward by speakers. Most theological issues have no bearing on salvation or Gods Grace, yet people make out they do.

    IS timing of rapture really that important to your entry into heaven? Some theology is dangerous and heretical but of course the people who follow it will say they are right and everyone else is wrong. Both camps will then use the same verses to prove their point is correct. As long as you do not become so blinded by your theology that you forget about God , Jesus and Holy Spirit and what you were put here on earth to do.

    I am glad we do not have to sit a theology exam to get into heaven as I think non of us would pass it!
  7. #7 LysanderShapiro, Sep 18, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2013
    Agricola is right. There are thousands and thousands of different Christian denominations and each one claims to have had the Holy Spirit draw them toward that denomination. Of course they can't both be the true denomination as Christ only founded one Church.
    If two people are arguing that they subscribe to the true doctrine of Christianity and each differ on doctrine, then at least one of them belongs to a counterfeit doctrine.

    One thing you'll probably never see on a forum is two parties arguing over doctrine and one says "Oh, you're right. My doctrine is absolutely flawed and can't be right." However, provided one is absolutely open to listening to the Holy Spirit and able to think and admit when something is flawed, he may look more and more into why doctrine A may actually be right after all and why his doctrine, doctrine B, may be flawed after all.

    This doesn't take an afternoon or a day. It will most likely take quite a bit of time. It will take an open mind, an openness to the Holy Spirit, a prayerful heart, and also prayer from others.

    While one should be committed, educated, and devoted to their faith, one shouldn't be stubborn, otherwise the truth might be right in front of him and he wouldn't even know it. We should never be afraid of the truth--after all, isn't the love of truth what keeps us devoted to God?
  8. The Holy Spirit is ultimately the one who changes minds, at least for the truth anyway.

    I like to share what I believe and why I believe it, and I look forward to hearing others do the same from other points of view. But I am not a debater. If it the discussion becomes polarized and goes nowhere, I tend to drop out rather than stoke the fire (...even if I haven't "shared" all my theological "ammunition" yet :whistle: ). The body of Christ should be about building up the body, not tearing it down.
  9. Indeed. If we are arguing or defending the faith for the sake of winning an argument (rather than hopefully winning people over to the truth), then there is probably no point at all.

    Sometimes I get caught up in just making my point clear and forgetting about why I am trying to make my point clear. It's an issue of pride. So, yeah--pray for me on that one.
  10. Interesting thread, and I'm happy to see it is going in the right direction.

    In my own walk with the Lord I was saved in a well known domination, when I bought Halley's Bible commentary there was this written in the introduction, "The most important page in the book is pg xxx," naturally I turned there to see what it was and he said the most important thing was for a pastor to teach through the Bible, cover to cover and the congregation to daily read the verses that will be taught the next Sunday, my church didn't do that so I prayed for Father to place me in a church that did and He was faithful to do it, I also heard J Vernon McGee say we should have a Bible reading plan that will take us through the Bible cover to cover in one year, also I heard Barnhouse say that we should examine what we believe like this, take a doctrine, any doctrine and imagine it is a top sitting on it's point, perfectly balanced, then if we find just one Scripture, if it were placed on the top that would cause it to fall over then what we believe is wrong, God is never wrong, man is and we don't know everything today or will we ever, since then I have made my own test that compares what I believe to Scripture and if there is one verse that makes Jesus out to be a liar, then what I believe is wrong,

    ...so to answer the question, using what I've been taught, that is how the Holy Spirit has changed my mind on many things, I have also come to realize, since we are all so diverse in nature, culture and ideology that Father has different churches for His children, some need this to give them peace and some need that to have peace, however the fundamental doctrine we share is Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners and we have received His gift, we are born again children of God, we are called to love ALL the brethren, and so love covers a multitude of sins.


  11. Through the years, I have had to change my mind concerning a number of different issues. One factor was responsible for all of my changes in viewpoints: Scripture. In each instance, after seeing all that the Bible had to say about a topic, I found that my view did not fit scripture. I had to adjust my ideas to scripture rather than continuing to conform scripture to my ideas.
    Major and LysanderShapiro say Amen and like this.
  12. I will agree with Mr. D.

    I have changed my thinking on some things over the years and it was always after reading, and reading and reading the Word of God.

    The great failure I see in today's understanding is when the believer forces the Scripture to say what he wants it to say instead of understanding what is actually said. Some call that "spiritualizing the Scripture" and some call it the "Burger King Theology".
  13. Major,

    I would agree with you, except every time I intend to indulge, I cannot seem to have it done in the way I want. I could read what is in front of me, but even when I hope to have it delivered the way I want it, there always seems to be something that keeps me from getting what I wanted in the first place...

    ...I am, of course, talking only about Burger King. The darned employees keep forgetting that I asked for NO cheese on my Whopper Jr.

    Other than Burger King, I think you are absolutely right.
    Major likes this.
  14. God does.
    The problem is (for us) is that God doesn't choose the good over the bad but chooses the humble over the prideful. We can be living to the best of our ability, walking in the spirit as we understand it and still have errors in what we think is right. Even tho we may be striving while others backslide, God will choose to reveal truth to the humble ones (like the publican) vs us if we lack humility.
    Fadingman, one past midnight, calvin and 1 other person say Amen and like this.
  15. I love this:

    "God doesn't choose the good over the bad but chooses the humble over the prideful."

    Attitude of heart is everything isn't it?
  16. I think the confusion starts when people use of words got mixed up: such as viewpoint, doctrines and teachings.

    IMO, Arminius’s and Calvin’s are not doctrine: they are different viewpoint of the same doctrine.
  17. I'm hearing the Holy Spirit changes minds, God changes minds, God's word changes minds, etc. As much as logic and skillful persuasion appeals to me, ultimately the change of understanding comes from God. He might use logic, persuasion, or even heated arguments, but the increase is always of the Lord, not my skill.

    When we become saved, we still have plenty of doctrinal blind areas. God is the only one I know who can make the blind see. When a discussion becomes a debate, I think we express a subconscious effort to somehow give sight to the blind (make them 'see' the truth by the skill of our arguments). While this mentality appeals to my natural self, it is entirely wrong.

    I think a better way is a seed-scattering and watering approach, i.e. "This is what I see in the scriptures and here's why." This isn't pushy in any way, and leaves me open to other interpretations (which may be needed because I could be sowing darnel instead of wheat).

    God does change minds, but He uses people to do so many times. It's a matter of each of us becoming a submissive tool in His hands.
  18. Seems everyone is on board that it takes a humble heart and a willingness to hear God.
    Major likes this.
  19. I think you really make a very good point and a valuable reminder to be humble in all things.
    Major likes this.
  20. LOL!!!

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