106: Debate vs Dialogue

In this episode John and Gregg discuss the difference between dialogue and debate, focusing on a number of distinctions between the two that John found on-line.

John notes that while he generally agrees with the definition of dialogue, he also preferred some of aspects of debate.  Gregg notes that how Christians view and present their knowledge represents an area of weakness in the Christian church and a loss of credibility with those outside of the church.  In other words, Christians typically see themselves as already having all of the answers and so they engage with non-Christians from the perspective of “how can I help you understand this.”

Gregg sees this as ultimately condescending and advocates instead the perspective of Hans-Georg Gadamer, who notes that being involved in a dialogue means trying to bring out the strength in the other person’s perspective.  This is not simply to understand the other’s view but actually to further it.

Yet this also begins with wanting to understand others, and to be understood by them.  Similarly, rather than aiming to teach others “the truth of Christianity” Gregg seeks first to learn from them, regardless of their belief set or worldview.


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