A few weeks ago, I had an amiable disagreement with Troy, a minister who is opposed to the doctrine of the Hypostatic Union. (The little-o orthodox belief that Christ has 2 natures. In short, it is the belief that Christ’s human nature was added, in perfect union, to the divine, at the Incarnation.)
Let me say, I think our discourse is exactly how you should debate. Too many people today are afraid to debate. Shoot, I passed a church sign this morning which said something to the effect of “You shouldn’t argue, because it creates hard feelings”. Horse feathers. Disagreement does not create animosity– strife does. There are ways to disagree without destroying respect, and you would see exactly that in our exchange.
Asking lots of questions is one of the best ways to disagree with somebody else, and that’s one of the tools Troy and I used in our conversation. For those who, like I, find it difficult to find a question to ask, I recommend the book “The Complete Book of Questions” by Garry Poole.
Another thing to do is to keep things moving, but don’t push things to a close too quickly. As much as possible, leave room for a response.
For example, I asked Troy “Sir, would you consider yourself a Nestorian? If not, how would you distinguish your theology from Nestorianism?” Note how I’m pushing things in a direction (toward the category of Nestorian beliefs), yet I’m giving Troy room to define his own beliefs. If I had simply said, “Ah, so you’re a Nestorian! That’s wrong. The divine and the human are in perfect union in Christ.” I would have put myself on the negative side, because as it turns out, Troy isn’t a Nestorian.
A third thing, and I’ll keep it to these three points, is to be bold, but recognize limitations. Follow the categories of what is of first importance, what is second importance, etc. Troy did exactly this when he said “But, before this goes too much further, I am not dogmatic about it…I could be wrong..just like you could be wrong…but that seems to make the most sense to me.” Troy absolutely did not shy away from defending his position, and he did so well.
The purpose of this post is to lay this groundwork for what comes. Although I have a strong disagreement with Troy, he is no less Imago Dei than I. And even though I believe that Troy has a dangerous Christology, my interaction with him has led me to respect him, to see that he has a respect for me, and give thanks to God that this is exactly the kind of debate opponent anybody would want to have.
Now, with all this said: this is a somewhat esoteric matter, but one with potentially eternal ramifications. I want the reader to take this discussion seriously. Please note, if you can’t make a reasonable defense of the Trinity against both Jehovah’s Witnesses and Oneness Pentecostals, you’ll need to brush up on that, as the Hypostatic Union and the Trinity are very tightly interwoven. I recommend Dr James White’s book The Forgotten Trinity.