Sometimes a discussion or debate is perfect for all parties involved. When there is more than one opinion over strongly held convictions, there is no better way to understand one another than to put it all on the table and let the proverbial chips fall where they may.
But not always.
Sometimes the timing isn’t right. The people involved in the discussion are not equally matched or they are speaking at cross-purposes. It may be that one person just wants to talk while the other wants to convince. One needs wisdom to determine where the conversation should go and what is at stake.
In a short one paragraph letter to a Mrs. Halmbacher dated March 1951, C. S. Lewis is heard responding to Mrs. Halmbacher’s pressing inquiry into Mr. Lewis’s faith. Why isn’t he Roman Catholic? With wisdom guiding where the conversation should go and what is at stake Lewis responds,
“The question for me (naturally) is not ‘Why should I not be a Roman Catholic?’ But ‘Why should I?’ But I don’t like discussing such matters, because it emphasizes differences and endangers charity. By the time I have really explained my objection to certain doctrines which differentiate you from us (and also in my opinion from the Apostolic and even the Medieval church), you would like me less.”1
“And though I . . . understand all mysteries, and all knowledge . . . and have not charity, I am nothing.” – 1 Corinthians 13:2 King James Version.
- Walter Hooper, ed., The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963, Vol. III (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2007), 106.