Inflammatory Language Accomplishes Nothing


Inflammatory language is a spark that ignites hatred, disdain and, when the volatile fuel of anger is present, violence. It would be wonderful, in this pluralistic culture, if we could just be considerate as we debate. Christians don’t really have any choice in the matter. While we must be ready to explain why we have hope, we are instructed to be gentle, respectful and to use the seasoned language of grace in the process.

To call another person an idiot, bigot or (fill in the blank) accomplishes nothing but violence at worst and polarization at best. I love a good debate but when we become brutal with each other debate ends and hostility begins. In the atmosphere of hostility, Satan gleefully pursues his goals. Several times now, I have heard about church “business meetings” where threats and even punches were exchanged by enraged brethren. How shameful and embarrassing!

Lately, I have been locked in debate with a few atheists. They have been courteous. As I looked at other atheistic blogs and websites, however, I have seen the opposite attitude. Theists (both past and present) are portrayed as ignorant, deluded, irrational and stupid. It was difficult not to be angered.

I have lived long enough to learn that arrogance and an attitude of intellectual superiority is counterproductive to persuasion. But humility (or growth in that grace) must be real! My life is a history lesson about assuming that one has all the answers. How wrong I have been too often! Humble pie is always bitter. Would I care for another slice? No, thank you very much. Now I assume that I have something to learn in every exchange. Too soon old and too late smart!



Filed under Apologetics, Religion

8 responses to “Inflammatory Language Accomplishes Nothing

  1. phillychief

    There are a lot of theists who are condescending to atheists as with statements like, “well you just don’t understand” or that “faith is too hard” for us. Then there’s the ignorant accusations that we worship satan, are his pawns, or my favorite – that we can’t possibly have morals without a god.

    I know it doesn’t help anything when atheists accuse theists of being stupid or deluded but you have to understand it’s reactionary. We’ve been on the receiving end for a LONG time. I guess part of it is like the old saying, “payback is a b-“.

    Maybe one day we can all get along. To be honest, I don’t think any atheists would care if theists simply went about their business worshipping and doing whatever you do amongst yourselves. It’s the intrusions into our lives and the lives of people who don’t subscribe to your brand of theism that we get upset over. I wish all of you could be like the Amish. I don’t mean go without electricity and belts, I mean worship amongst yourselves and stop pushing it into other’s lives. It’s called mutual respect.

  2. dwhitsett

    I’m in perfect agreement with your comments in the first paragraph. I don’t think, however, that it is a good idea to justify my actions by what was done to others historically. Payback is what drives the violence in the Middle East.
    I also agree that many religionists are pushy and overbearing. We are admonished by the apostle, Paul, to: “…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need” (1 Thessalonians 4:11,12). He also says, “I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:1,2).
    I do, however, believe it is all right for you or me to put our ideas into the marketplace. I think you’ll agree that a blog is no intrusion.
    Mutual respect will keep our debates on a civil level and allow us to consider one another’s viewpoints. We might even learn something.

  3. phillychief

    I brought up those things because you mentioned the atheist blogs. Both sides have people that aren’t the most respectful.

    Blogs certainly are no intrusion. In fact, blogs and the rest of the internet are all we have left. Corporations have taken over every other medium. Until they take over the internet, we should all be saying everything we can as well as reading as much as we can.

  4. JustCant

    I did read your post and wonder how you can say it with a straight face (well, maybe you aren’t) when on the very site it is posted you are calling people “godless jokers”, etc., etc., etc. If name calling is something one should not do (and I agree it isn’t) then why would you do it? And I’m not talking about ancient history, but the here and now.

    Talking a good game is one thing, but you must walk the walk to be taken seriously. I wish you luck.

  5. dwhitsett

    I remember writing that now that you mention it. I just don’t remember which post it was. Shame on me! Talk about getting caught by your own words! I should practice what I preach. I apologize to you and anyone who might be offended. I will try to be more consistent in future.
    It still is true that inflammatory language accomplishes nothing…whether I or anyone else does it.
    Thanks for pointing this out…I’m serious!
    Wow, this pie is awful! What did you call it? Humble pie?

  6. Mike McGee

    Are you serious. Theists believe atheists are going to hell. Their entire worldview is quite literally inflammatory. Being polite is nice, but it doesn’t mean much when you’ve already judged and damned your interlocutor with a theology your interlocutor knows is judging and damming him. Christian theistic cosmology is inherently an insult to those you’re trying to save. Don’t be surprised, then, if atheists respond as if you’ve started an inflammatory argument with them. You have, in the depths of your heart.

  7. After reading through this article, I just feel that I need more info. Can you share some resources ?

  8. Jim Ross

    Hi Dwight,

    I spotted your post when I Googled inflammatory language.

    I am an atheist who could not agree with you more. Its not about what you are, its about who you are and whether you can live at peace with those different from yourself.

    I have included a link in to your post from a comment I made at if you are wondering why there is some action on an old post. It is a local networking site in southern BC just north of Spokane, Washington. Our issue is a logging/native territory dispute but your blog post is good medicine for all.

    If I were a Christian, I would want to be one like you.

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