He that is not open to conviction,
is not qualified for discussion.
— Richard Whately —
In other words…
If anyone is unwilling to be convinced by clear evidence to affirm a position contrary to the one they start with, they will never be honest enough with truth to engage in productive dialog.
I recently posted an extensive rebuttal to Ted Slater’s blog post about nudity. Mr. Slater had made an attempt to use the Bible to assign shame or sin to all public nudity, with the assumption (or presumption) that such was the perspective of God Himself.
I made a point to contact Mr. Slater personally in order to see if he had had occasion to revise his view, and if not, to allow him a chance to interact with me directly in reference to my rebuttal.
At first, I hoped for a very congenial and open discussion. However, I’m sad to report that while the discussion was friendly enough, he was (in my opinion) never truly open to allowing his view to be honestly challenged. He simply assumed that his position was correct and mine was in error.
He was NOT open to “conviction.”
Three different times in the course of our email dialog, I stated or reaffirmed that I was ready and willing to change my perspective on social nudity if I was shown solid biblical evidence that I was mistaken. At least once, I asked him if he held that same readiness to change his own position if it was shown to be wrong. He never once gave even the slightest hint that he was willing to do so.
I also laid out a series of seven conservative principles of hermeneutics (“hermeneutics” prescribes an objective and consistent approach to Scripture interpretation) as “starting points” for our discussion. These principles had nothing to do specifically with nudity, only with how we approach our study of the Scriptures for any moral issue (Posted HERE).
I asked Mr. Slater to affirm those hermeneutical principles as valid and trustworthy guides to discerning Scriptural truth, but he simply ignored them. I asked him again, and then finally a third time. Each time, he resorted to making comments that had no real bearing on the topic at hand, ultimately only casting aspersions upon my character.
… So he was not qualified for discussion
Finally, he refused to continue the discussion, citing me as the one unwilling to be convinced by the biblical evidence… despite the fact that I had carefully answered every question he had asked me, and responded fully to every objection he raised to my position.
Meanwhile, he did not answer one question that I posed to him, and my entire rebuttal was never given any substantial response. So, in a sense, he disqualified himself from the discussion, for he never truly entered into it.
The truth is not always the same as the majority decision.
— Pope John Paul II —
Those who hold the “majority” view often feel no need to honestly reexamine their position. Rather than address real challenges to their beliefs, they feel that they only need to reject the opposing viewpoint as self-evidently incorrect.
They may also feel justified in making disparaging remarks about the character of the person bringing the challenge. Another tactic that is invoked is falsely aligning the opposing belief with obviously incorrect doctrines or ideas… instead of addressing the real issue head on with a cogent argument.
Perhaps when the evidence doesn’t actually support the majority opinion, such strategies are the only ones left available to its adherents.
The truth is never afraid of a challenge. But those who cling to the “nudity-taboo” sure appear to be.
Honoring my promise…
Everything that I’ve described here is accurate; this is how Mr. Slater responded to my efforts to discuss this issue with him. I have compiled the entire email dialog into a document which demonstrates that fact. However, Mr. Slater seemed to object when I told him that I intended to make it available to my readers, so I promised him that I would not publish it without his permission.
I did ask for his permission to publish the dialog, but he has not returned my emails even to give me a “yes” or a “no.” I suspect that he is now blocking my email address.
Mr. Slater, if you’re reading this and you feel that I have misrepresented your part in our dialog, please let me know and I’ll post the compilation so my readers may decide for themselves. Or if you prefer, give your own version on your own blog; I’d be happy to link to it from here.
Once again… I am reminded that only the Lord’s work in someone’s heart can expose the lies that our culture and the church have embraced regarding the true nature of our bodies; only He can reveal the falseness of the sexualized view of human nudity which empowers pornography and sexual bondage. No amount of discussion, argument, or careful biblical exegesis alone will ever break the bondage.
Once again, I am reminded that I am not smart enough, logical enough, or persuasive enough to convince anyone of the truth in these matters. I think it was an error for me to contact Mr. Slater… if I am really honest about my proud heart, I thought that this time… I might be able to convince someone by reason alone.
Nope. Ain’t gonna happen. Not this time. Not ever.
This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer… (Mark 9:28-29)
So… let us pray.
Lord Jesus, it is Your glory that is at stake, for the image that the church rejects is Your own. It is the beauty of Your Bride that is at stake, for the rejection of Your image in our bodies has led untold numbers of Your followers into all manner of sexual impurity. Please, Lord, shatter the lies that enslaves your people; set them free by truth. May Satan’s first insult of Your image in human flesh be forever rejected by those who confess Your Name. — Amen.
— Matthew Neal
See also: Starting Points for Discussion