Just finished reading a biography of Isaac Newton. Newton refrained from publishing most of his works because he did not want to argue about them. In fact, most of his publishing occurred after the deaths of guys who always argued with him!
That cracks me up. Anyway, here is a quote from Newton on the manner in which people argue and what to beware of:
“What’s done before many witnesses is seldom without some further concern than that for truth: but what passes between friends in private usually deserves the name of consultation rather than contest.”
In other words: beware of guys who always argue in public.
Over my years as pastor I have seen this phenomena many times. Guys who are nice to you in private, never argue about anything, are quite pleasant even, will rip you to shreds in front of a group.
When this occurs, know that the one ripping you to shreds is not interested in truth, not interested in getting a question answered, they are up to “other things.” Newton knew it and he was one smart guy.
My pastoral advice for this situation is to not get sucked in. Let them say their piece and discreetly move on. No sense arguing when the point they are arguing has nothing to do with the point they are arguing. It’s an attempt to drag you down.
I figure, let em show their dominance, get it over with and move on. Most observers see what’s happening anyway and will grant you much greater respect for not partaking in the silliness of it all.
It’s too bad churches are filled with this sort of goofiness, but alas, they are. Even so, come quickly.