Jan 14, 2011

Arguing the Gospel

In reading one of George MacDonald's books, I stumbled upon this insightful observation by one of the leading characters - Thomas Wingfold, curate of the local abbey.
The man who is anxious to argue every point will speedily bring a conversation to a mere dispute about trifles, leaving the deeper matter out in the cold. Such a man, having gained his paltry point, will crow like a bantam, while the other, who may be the greater man though maybe even in the wrong, is embittered by his smallness and turns away with increased prejudice. 
Few men do more harm than those who are on the right side but argue for personal victory. And even genuine argument for the truth is not preaching the gospel. He whose unbelief is attacked by argument will never be brought into a mood fit for receiving the truth. Argument should be kept to books. Preachers ought to have nothing to do with it - in the pulpit at any event. Let them hold forth the light, and let him who will receive it do so, and him who will not wait. God alone can convince, and till the full time is come for the birth of the truth in a soul, the words even of the Lord himself can have little potency.
- The Curate of Glaston, p. 92.

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