Don’t Concede the Premise

Posted on July 12th, 2008 | Permalink

I have a hard time with small talk. Not that I have a problem talking about small things, I just don’t like talking about things that nobody in the conversation really cares about. In fact, a good, deep, mind-twisting argument… ahem, discussion is something I truly enjoy, since to dialog intelligently on a given subject for any length of time, you must either care enough to understand it or care enough to try.

Given the option, I prefer to win said… discussions…, and the easiest way I have found to do so is to change the premise. You say that Dodge diesel engines are better than Ford, and I’ll make you argue about Dodge’s lousy electrical systems instead. Try to convince me that more people like Pepsi than Coke in a one-sip taste test, and I’ll make you acknowledge that more people like Coke after drinking the whole can. If I can’t refute your point, I’ll shift the argument to a point that I can beat you on, and hopefully you won’t notice the change and I will walk away the victor. Better yet, I’ll start the discussion with words of my choosing, and doggedly refuse to let you change the topic until you acknowledge the validity of my position or beat me on my own ground.

This technique is being used quite effectively against us as Christians today. We allow people to frame arguments about evolution, the depravity of man, psychology, and the validity of Scripture, and then try to convince them of the truth within limits that they have established, subjecting ourselves to their standards of judgment. How can we convince an evolutionist that God defines truth when they force us to use their definition of truth, human logic and senses? Try proving to a humanist that the heart is desperately wicked when he believes the concept of wickedness is simply a fabrication of society. By trying to convince them within the confines of their own logic, we have already acknowledged that their logic is the absolute authority on the matter, and lost before we’ve even started.

For the believer, truth defines logic, not logic truth as they would have us believe. The believer knows that God created the heavens and the earth, and breathed into man a living soul, so it makes no sense to think that we are all just animals evolved from basic proteins, just as the unbeliever who trusts only the world he can see thinks us illogical to claim that there is something more. The limit of their evidence is things seen, but faith is the evidence of things not seen, and without that faith, they will never understand our standard of truth.

So don’t let “Does God exist?” become “Does God exist according to my senses?”, don’t be embarrassed when God and faith don’t fit in an argument that presupposes that they aren’t real. Don’t concede the premise. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, and by the grace of God when the word is heard, the faith will be imparted to believe it.


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  1. By Mandy Novotny on August 4, 2008

    I love the blend of sacred and “secular” on your blog, Peter. Glad you’re taking the time to record your ponderings.

  2. By Nathaniel Darnell on September 1, 2008

    Great post, Peter, and well stated it ’twas!


  3. By Dad on September 8, 2008

    An atheist tried to argue with me recently that immorality had no consequences for those who are single and yet he was firm in the need to maintain fidelity in marriage. We had no time to debate but as I thought about it I should not argue the consequences or lack of consequences. The discussion needed to move to a higher level: God, the Creator, has commanded us not to sin morally. That is the discussion, whether a man should obey his creator or not rather than whether immorality had or did not have immediate or long term consequences.

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