The Joy of Glory

Discovering endless joy in the boundless glory of God…

Category: Pride

Letter #15: Don’t Debate…Dialogue

Dear Jonathan,

I understand your frustrations with Bradley. From the way you described the conversation I believe I would have been frustrated too. Sometimes there is a point that just seems so obvious to you and you want for others to see it as well, but they seem blind or close-minded.

For what it’s worth…I agree with what you were saying. However, I do think you are missing the central issue of your conversation, namely, that it wasn’t a conversation. We both know that you were in debate mode, trying to prove your point and win the argument…you were not listening at all to what Bradley had to say.

Now, debate is not always a bad thing, but I wasted so much of my time in seminary arguing with others in such a way that only led to frustration and griping…not to fruitful growth. Jonathan, I would encourage you…

debateDon’t debate…dialogue.

You are surrounded by so many people who think differently than you…take advantage of that! When talking through issues such as baptism, the Lord’s supper, ecclesiology, justification, homosexuality, creation care…or even the “big” one…Calvinism and Arminianism, honestly listen to people with the intention of learning from them!

I’m not telling you to change or let go of your convictions, but to change your conversational restrictions. Be open to discussing things. This will stretch you and bring true growth.

I was so blessed, in the latter portion of my seminary career, to deepen my convictions while also widening my appreciation for people who don’t share them. I wish that had been my approach to conversations from the beginning.

When you enter into dialogue, state your thoughts clearly and concisely…then listen, take in what is being said, and don’t formulate your rebuttal while they’re talking. Wait until they finish, process what they said, and then respond in love. In this way, you not only set the tone for the conversation, but will actually get to a deeper place as your inviting disposition will likely lead the other person to open up and say things they might have otherwise held back.

Extend grace to your interlocutors and you might be surprised what gracious things the Lord will teach you through them. These are just some of the great gifts you receive when you…

Don’t debate…dialogue.

Grace and Peace,


*To know/understand the premise behind these letters please click here.


Letter #7: Pride is a Problem

Dear Jonathan,

So I’m going to dispense with introductory small talk and jump right into something that has been on my heart since I received your last letter. Please don’t think of me as being judgmental, but I have to be honest with you.

Hello-My-Sin-Is-PridePride is a problem…a massively destructive problem!

I encourage you to go back and read your letter again to see if you can catch what I’m talking about. You really seem to be enjoying your theological studies, but you must be very careful as you gain more and more knowledge concerning the things of God. There is a knowledge that puffs up, but the good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way.

In fact, the more we come to know the Lord, the more our hearts should be humbled before him. I think of Paul who eventually grew to think of himself as the chief of sinners (that’s right…he “grew” into this). True knowledge of the Lord humbles us! That is “growth!” If our knowledge builds pride…then we either do not truly understand or believe the things we are learning.

While I was in seminary I felt as though I was on a roller coaster of pride and humility. One moment I caught myself lording my newfound knowledge over my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ (in class and in the church), and the next moment I was in tears before the Lord who was more awesome than I had ever imagined.

I found that the classroom could either puff me up or humble me. It could provide me with intellectual ammunition or internal adoration. Jonathan, what you learn in the classroom should lead you to one place…worship.

If seminary doesn’t drive you to your knees then you are merely gaining more knowledge about God, not actually coming to know more of God.

Oh…one last thing…don’t try to blame seminary for this problem of pride. I used that excuse for the longest time. Seminary is not a producer of pride…our hearts are the pride factory. If you find yourself struggling with pride…the problem is not outside you, but within and that is where the battle must be fought and won.

This battle is fought, not with more knowledge about God, but with knowing more of God. By the power of the Holy Spirit…fight! Fight this battle! It is a battle for your soul! You face many dangers in seminary, but nothing is more soul destroying and ministry neutralizing than pride!

Pride is a problem…a massively destructive problem!

Fight to know God and be humbled before him.

Grace and Peace,


*To know/understand the premise behind these letters please click here. 

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