Argument & Debate Quotations

"We are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to
tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it."
--Thomas Jefferson to William Roscoe, 1820.

"Error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to
combat it." --Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural, 1801.

"Error indeed has often prevailed by the assistance of power or 
force.  Truth is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error." 
--Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Religion, 1776.

"Reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against
error... They are the natural enemies of error, and of error 
only... If [free enquiry] be restrained now, the present 
corruptions will be protected, and new ones encouraged." --Thomas
Jefferson: Notes on Virginia, 1782.

"If [a] book be false in its facts, disprove them; if false in its
reasoning, refute it.  But for God's sake, let us freely hear both 
sides if we choose." --Thomas Jefferson to N. G. Dufief, 1814.

"I have learned to be less confident in the conclusions of human 
reason, and give more credit to the honesty of contrary opinions." 
--Thomas Jefferson to Edward Livingston, 1824. 

"What is it men cannot be made to believe!" --Thomas Jefferson 
to Richard Henry Lee, 1786.

"Is uniformity attainable?  Millions of innocent men, women and 
children since the introduction of Christianity have been burnt, 
tortured, fined and imprisoned, yet we have not advanced one inch 
toward uniformity." --Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia, 1782.

"It is surely time for men to think for themselves, and to throw 
off the authority of names so artificially magnified." --Thomas
Jefferson to William Short, 1820.

"Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every 
fact, every opinion.  Question with boldness even the existence 
of a God; because, if there is one, he must more approve of the 
homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear." --Thomas
Jefferson to Peter Carr, 1787.
B.A. Biblical Languages, M.Div.
Argument and Debate of Religious Doctrines
~MUST See Ellen G. White Herein Below~
There are many people who have adopted a false idea about arguing and debating about Bible doctrines. They believe it is wrong to "argue" about anything, nor should we ever debate with anyone, we just need to love one another and accept one another.  When any one starts to argue or question or contradict what another person has said, a typical small group leader is trained to tell everyone in the group to give that argumentative person a hug, every time they begin to say something "negative"give them a hug, and to continue doing so until that person stops their questioning or "arguing."

Also it is promoted that we should never tell anyone they are wrong because everyone's opinion is just as valid as anyone else's opinion.  What is true for one person may not be true for another. What is wrong for one person may not be necessarily wrong for another.  In other words, nobody is wrong. When someone raises a controversial point, or any point even if is obviously wrong, moderators in small group Bible studies have been coached to say "that's a good point" or "that's an interesting point." They will say anything that will avoid controversy or difference of opinion.  

This "spiritual formation" or "spiritual philosophy" of the religious leader is not conducive to the discovery of genuine Bible truth or truth in any matter of life. Rather than allowing for freedom of conscience it is a subtle form of restricting FREE SPEECH and FREE expression of thoughts.  It is a restriction of both civil and religious liberty.  Instead we ought to encourage difference of thought and understanding, questioning the validity or truthfulness of an opinion.  In the United States of America "we the people" believe in the 1st Amendment as given in The Bill of Rights;

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

​FREEDOM of expression is a natural and God-given right and should be protected under the great American principle of liberty of conscience as written in our United States Constitution and The Declaration of Independence.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

In that grand old document which our forefathers set forth as their bill of rights--the Declaration of Independence--they declared: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." And the Constitution guarantees, in the most explicit terms, the inviolability of conscience: "No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office of public trust under the United States." "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." {GC 295.2}

 "The framers of the Constitution recognized the eternal principle that man’s relation with his God is above human legislation, and his rights of conscience inalienable. Reasoning was not necessary to establish this truth; we are conscious of it in our own bosoms. It is this consciousness which, in defiance of human laws, has sustained so many martyrs in tortures and flames. They felt that their duty to God was superior to human enactments, and that man could exercise [BEGIN P.296] no authority over their consciences. It is an inborn principle which nothing can eradicate."--Congressional documents (U.S.A.), serial No. 200, document No. 271. {GC 295.3}

White, E. G. (1911; 2002). The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan; Conflict of the Ages, Volume 5; Great Controversy (295). Pacific Press Publishing Association.

The Biblical Mandate for Christian Argument and Debate

2 Timothy 2:14-16  14 Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. 15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

Jude 1:1-4   1 Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called: 2 Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied. 3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Ellen G. White ~ Counsel on Argument and Debate, 
~ The Benefits of Religious Controversy

"If a brother is teaching error, those who are in responsible positions ought to know it; and if he is teaching truth, they ought to take their stand at his side.

We should all know what is being taught among us; for if it is truth, we need to know it. The Sabbath school teacher needs to know it, and every Sabbath school scholar ought to understand it.

We are all under obligation to God to understand what He sends us. He has given directions by which we may test every doctrine--"To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." But if it is according to this test, do not be so full of prejudice that you cannot acknowledge a point simply because it does not agree with your ideas." {TM 110.3}

White, E. G. (1923; 2002). Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers (110). Pacific Press Publishing Association.

​"We must learn that others have rights as well as we have, and when any of our brethren receive new light upon the Scriptures, he should frankly explain his position, and every minister should search the Scriptures with the spirit of candor to see if the points presented on a new subject can be substantiated by the inspired word."

The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, Search the Scriptures, parg. 08, p. 991.

"When views are presented that do not seem in harmony with your own, it should drive you to study your Bible, and investigate it to see if you yourself hold the right position on the subject

That another holds a different opinion, SHOULD NOT STIR UP THE VERY WORST TRAITS OF YOUR NATURE. 

You should love your brother, and say, "I am willing to investigate your views. Let us come right to the word of God, and prove by the law and the testimony what is truth." " 

Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, 08-27-89, The Test of Doctrine, parg. 03.

"We are on dangerous ground when we cannot meet together like Christians, and COURTEOUSLY EXAMINE CONTROVERTED POINTS. I feel like fleeing from the place lest I receive the mold of those who cannot candidly investigate the doctrines of the Bible." (1SM 411.1; Emphasis supplied)

"Those who CANNOT IMPARTIALLY EXAMINE the evidences of a position that DIFFERS from theirs, ARE NOT FIT TO TEACH IN ANY DEPARTMET of God's cause. What we need is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Without this, we are no more fitted to go forth to the world than were the disciples after the crucifixion of their Lord" (1SM 411.2; Emphasis supplied). . .

"Some have feared that if in even a single point they acknowledge themselves in error, other minds would be led to doubt the whole theory of truth. Therefore they have felt that INVESTIGATIONS SHOULD NOT BE PERMITTED, that it would tend TO DISSENSION and DISUNION.

But if such is to be the result of investigation, the sooner it comes the better. If there are those whose faith in God's word will not stand the test of an investigation of the Scriptures, the sooner they are revealed the better; for then the way will be opened to show them their error.

We cannot hold that a position once taken, an idea once advocated, is not, under any circumstances, to be relinquished. There is but One who is infallible-He who is the way, the truth, and the life."  Testimonies to Ministers, p. 105.2

"Those who think that they will never have to give up a cherished view, never have occasion to change an opinion, will be disappointed." 
Testimonies to Ministers, p. 30.

The truth and the glory of God are inseparable; it is impossible for us, with the Bible within our reach, to honor God by erroneous opinionsMany claim that it matters not what one believes, if his life is only right. But the life is molded by the faith. If light and truth is within our reach, and we neglect to improve the privilege of hearing and seeing it, we virtually reject it; we are choosing darkness rather than light. {GC 597.2}

White, E. G. (1911; 2002). The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan; Conflict of the Ages, Volume 5; Great Controversy (597). Pacific Press Publishing Association.

The position that it is of no consequence what men believe is one of Satan’s most successful deceptions. He knows that the truth, received in the love of it, sanctifies the soul of the receiver; therefore he is constantly seeking to substitute false theories, fables, another gospel. From the beginning the servants of God have contended against false teachers, not merely as vicious men, but as inculcators of falsehoods that were fatal to the soul. Elijah, Jeremiah, Paul, firmly and fearlessly opposed those who were turning men from the word of God. That liberality which regards a correct religious faith as unimportant found no favor with these holy defenders of the truth. {GC 520.2}

The vague (ambiguous) and fanciful interpretations of Scripture, and the many conflicting theories concerning religious faith, that are found in the Christian world are the work of our great adversary to confuse minds so that they shall not discern the truth. And the discord and division which exist among the churches of Christendom are in a great measure due to the prevailing custom of wresting the Scriptures to support a favorite theory. Instead of carefully studying God’s word with humility of heart to obtain a knowledge of His will, many seek only to discover something odd or original. [BEGIN P.521] {GC 520.3}

In order to sustain erroneous doctrines or unchristian practices, some will seize upon passages of Scripture separated from the context, perhaps quoting half of a single verse as proving their point, when the remaining portion would show the meaning to be quite the opposite. With the cunning of the serpent they entrench themselves behind disconnected utterances construed to suit their carnal desires. Thus do many willfully pervert the word of God. Others, who have an active imagination, seize upon the figures and symbols of Holy Writ, interpret them to suit their fancy, with little regard to the testimony of Scripture as its own interpreter, and then they present their vagaries as the teachings of the Bible. {GC 521.1}
White, E. G. (1911; 2002). The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan; 

​. . . As real spiritual life declines, it has ever been the tendency to cease to advance in the knowledge of the truth. Men rest satisfied with the light already received from God’s word and discourage any further investigation of the Scriptures. They become conservative and seek to avoid discussion. {5T 706.2}

The fact that there is no controversy or agitation among God’s people should not be regarded as conclusive evidence that they are holding fast to sound doctrine. There is reason to fear that they may not be clearly discriminating between truth and errorWhen no new questions are started by investigation of the Scriptureswhen no difference of opinion arises which will set men to searching the Bible for themselves to make sure that they have the truth, there will be many now, as in ancient times, who will hold to tradition and worship they know not what. {5T 707.1}

I have been shown that many who profess to have a knowledge of present truth know not what they believe. They do not understand the evidences of their faith. They have no just appreciation of the work for the present time. When the time of trial shall come, there are men now preaching to others who will find, upon examining the positions they hold, that there are many things for which they can give no satisfactory reason. Until thus tested they knew not their great ignorance. And there are many in the church who take it for granted that they understand what they believe; but, until controversy arises, they do not know their own weakness. When separated from those of like faith and compelled to stand singly and alone to explain their belief, they will be surprised to see how confused are their ideas of what they had accepted as truth. Certain it is that there has been among us a departure from the living God and a turning to men, putting human in place of divine wisdom. {5T 707.2}

God will arouse His people; if other means fail, heresies will come in among them, which will sift them, separating the chaff from the wheat. The Lord calls upon all who believe His word to awake out of sleep. Precious light has come, appropriate for this time. It is Bible truth, showing the perils that are right upon us. This light should lead us to a diligent study of the Scriptures and a most critical examination of the positions which we hold

God would have all the bearings and positions of truth thoroughly and perseveringly searched, with prayer and fasting. Believers are not to rest in suppositions and ill-defined ideas of what constitutes truth. Their faith must be firmly founded upon the word of God so that when the testing time shall come and they are brought before councils to answer for their faith they may be able to give a reason for the hope that is in them, with meekness and fear. {5T 707.3}

Agitate, agitate, agitate. The subjects which we present to the world must be to us a living reality. 

It is important that in defending the doctrines which we consider fundamental articles of faith we should never allow ourselves to employ arguments that are not wholly sound

These may avail to silence an opposer, but they do not honor the truth. We should present sound arguments, that will not only silence our opponents, but will bear the closest and most searching scrutiny. 

With those who have educated themselves as debaters there is great danger that they will not handle the word of God with fairness. In meeting an opponent it should be our earnest effort to present subjects in such a manner as to awaken conviction in his mind, instead of seeking merely to give confidence to the believer. {5T 708.1}

Whatever may be man’s intellectual advancement, let him not for a moment think that there is no need of thorough and continuous searching of the Scriptures for greater light. As a people we are called individually to be students of prophecy. We must watch with earnestness that we may discern any ray of light which God shall present to us. We are to catch the first gleamings of truth; and through prayerful study clearer light may be obtained, which can be brought before others. {5T 708.2}

When God’s people are at ease and satisfied with their present enlightenment, we may be sure that He will not favor them. It is His will that they should be ever moving forward to receive the increased and ever-increasing light which is shining for them. The present attitude of the church is not pleasing to God. There has come in a self-confidence that has led them to feel no necessity for more truth and greater light. We are living at a time when Satan is at work on the right hand and on the left, before and behind us; and yet as a people we are asleep. God wills that a voice shall be heard arousing His people to action. {5T 708.3}

Testimonies for the Church, Volume 5. 1855; 2002 (706). Pacific Press Publishing Association

Pastor RPM~It cannot be clearer that WE have a responsibility to make sure that everything WE teach as a Church Body and as individuals is "sound" Biblical "doctrine" and not private independent interpretations.

EGW is not opposed to using "arguments" to defend our fundamental articles of our faith, but only not using those that are "wholly unsound" arguments. Our Church's position of faith must be scrutinized to be sure we have the truth and that they are supported by "sound arguments" and not feeble and weak ones. She even says that we must present arguments that will "silence our opponents."

Please NOTE EGW's call to a most critical examination of "the positions we hold" as a Church, to be searched "thoroughly and perseveringly." No stone is to be left unturned as it were. These positions that we hold as a Church Body she calls "the doctrines which we consider fundamental articles of faith." These Church Doctrines ARE the "fundamental articles of faith" which WE now know as the 28 Fundamentals. There is no problem in critically examining every one of these to be sure we have the truth, that we are sure that we are using sound arguments in defending these fundamental beliefs of the Church.

Ellen G. White ~ Respect for God-appoint Church Leadership & Abstaining from the spirit of Personal Independence concerning Biblical Investigation;

There have ever been in the church those who are constantly inclined toward individual independence. They seem unable to realize that independence of spirit is liable to lead the human agent to have too much confidence in himself and to trust in his own judgment rather than to respect the counsel and highly esteem the judgment of his brethren, [BEGIN P.164] ESPECIALLY of those in the OFFICES that God has appointed for the LEADERSHIP of His people(Leadership~elders/pastors/chief elders-conf. pres.)


God has invested His church with special authority and power which no one can be justified in disregarding and despising, for he who does this despises the voice of God. {AA 163.2} (GC 1990, 1995!)

Those who are inclined to regard their individual judgment as supreme are in grave peril. It is Satan’s studied effort to SEPARATE such ones from those who are channels of light, through whom God has wrought to build up and extend His work in the earth. To neglect or despise those whom God has appointed to bear the responsibilities of leadership (GC World Church representatives and leadership) in connection with the advancement of the truth, is to reject the means that He has ordained for the help, encouragement, and strength of His people

For any worker in the Lord’s cause to pass these by, and to think that his light must come through no other channel than directly from God, (Pastor RPM~"but God has called me into the ministry as a female pastor by the leading of His Holy Spirit") is to place himself in a position where he is liable to be deceived by the enemy and overthrown. The Lord in His wisdom has arranged that by means of the close relationship that should be maintained by all believers, Christian shall be united to Christian and church to church. Thus the human instrumentality will be enabled to co-operate with the divine. Every agency will be subordinate to the Holy Spirit, and all the believers will be united in an organized and well-directed effort to give to the world the glad tidings of the grace of God. {AA 164.1}


The same principles of piety and justice that were to guide the rulers among God’s people in the time of Moses and of David, were also to be followed by those given the oversight of THE NEWLY ORGANIZED CHURCH of God in the GOSPEL dispensation. In the work of setting things IN ORDER IN ALL THE CHURCHES, and ORDAINING suitable MEN to act as OFFICERS, the apostles held to THE HIGH STANDARDS OF LEADERSHIP! outlined in the Old Testament Scriptures. ~Acts of the Apostles p. 96.