Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. (2 Tim. 2:14)

I left my theology class feeling great about the discussion that erupted after my lecture. This response didn’t always happen. Sometimes hands were raised, and that sickening question was asked: “Is this going to be on the test?” But after this lecture the atmosphere was electric with questions, arguments pro and con, with individuals passionate about their opinion and position. So I was surprised when I returned to my office to find an email from a student in that class, describing how uncomfortable he felt at all the “fighting and arguing” that had occurred. Even more, the student noted that it was not something that should go on in a Christian classroom.

Certainly we must heed the warning of mere quarreling over words—quarreling that causes no one to grow or to be confronted with the Word of truth. Today, especially, the church must be careful of airing her doctrinal quibbles before a watching, skeptical world. But, in fact, a healthy dissonance often leads us to reconsider our hard-and-fast positions. An argument based around the truth of God will help shape our thoughts to his.

The problem of “preaching to the choir,” where everything that is taught is greeted with a collective “amen,” is that the Christian often mistakes harmony with being right. Most of the Christian journey is made through struggle, and mostly a struggle of the mind.

Monitor your conversations to see whether your words help others to grow.

Rich Eckley is professor of theology at Houghton College and serves on the Women in Ministry Task Force for The Wesleyan Church.

© 2019 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.