An academic discussion is a theoretical consideration of an issue. Perhaps it’s a debate of values. In the end, the discussion is academic if it takes place in rhetoric and there can be no practical application.
There are debates going on among Christians that I consider to be purely academic. There are many undeniable truths presented in scripture. There are also, however, statements made in scripture that are subject to interpretation. The problem becomes determining whose interpretation is correct. We are given so much that we can be certain about. There is so much truth on which all Christians can agree that I can’t see the benefit in arguing over the things on which we cannot all agree. But let’s be honest, that is our nature. Wars have been fought among believers – literal wars between armies on battle fields – over issues of doctrine. Time believers spend arguing is time not spent in worship, prayer, meditation or reading the scripture. It creates division, hurts feelings, drives some to leave the church, and gives unbelievers valid reason to not listen to the Gospel should we find time to share it. All of these detract from building the Kingdom.
Please bear in mind, I’m talking about things that in the greater scheme of things do not really matter. There are enough things that do matter we must not be distracted by all the others. Being conformed to the image of Christ, sharing the Gospel, making disciples and building the Kingdom; these are the things we are called to. I’m not saying that any discussion should be strictly off the table, but we must keep the important thing the most important thing. Some issues cannot simply be resolved based solely on scripture. I would like to begin a series of posts on issues I consider purely academic. Hopefully some thought provoking discussions will result. You are entitled to disagree with my opinions, but we run the risk of ruining some friendships if we’re not careful.
Academic Discussion #1 – How old is the earth?
Don’t go ballistic here, wait for the next post in the series. In the meantime, consider: Is the earth young (6,000 years) old (4.5 billion years) or neither of those two choices? How do know and how can we be certain which is right? On a practical level, how do we respond to those who disagree?