The other day I wrote a summary of John Newton’s approach to controversy
Today I just wanted to talk about one more rule. This one comes from Archibald Alexander. Tim Keller has done a four part series on this same issue. (Part 1 can be found here)
But in part 2 Keller summarizes something that Alexander had to say. Here is what Keller says:
Perhaps Alexander’s most interesting rule however, was this: “Attribute to an antagonist no opinion he does not own, though it be a necessary consequence” (Calhoun, p. 92). In other words, even if you believe that Mr. A’s belief X could or will lead others who hold that position to belief Y, do not accuse Mr. A of holding to belief Y himself, if he disowns it.
Most of the of time, none of us are smart enough to see all of the pot holes and ditches our various doctrines or interpretations of passages will drop us in. This is why discussion and association with like-minded individuals is important. Others usually can see the problems with our doctrine before we can.
But far too often this rule is broken. We see the logical conclusion of someone’s belief, and we immediately jump to accuse them of that conclusion. If they claim to not hold to a particular error, then no matter how much we think their current beliefs could lead that way, we cannot say that they are already there.
I pray we will be more careful in our discussions.