I used to think all of these were the same thing.  I used to have a real tough time conversing with someone without debating them, which usually led to argument.  I guess I MADE them all the same thing.

Then along came the emergent theologians with their conversation.  They made me be hospitable.  They asked me to listen if I wanted to be heard.  They helped me to identify when someone had changed a good conversation (ie a friendly, open sharing of ideas that may (or may not) differ) from a debate (where both sides feel that they MUST win!!!).  Debates, I in turn found, were different still from arguments where people must not only win, but must punish the other side for having ever had a different opinion.

I have found that there are a great many valid opinions out there, some of which contradict.  I am reminded of Fiddler on the Roof where Tevye tells two different men that they are right.  The Rabbi’s son tells Tevye, “He’s right and he’s right?  They can’t both be right!”  To which Tevy responds, “You are also right!”  Today, many people who can’t both be right are right.

I guess the basic concept for me comes to this, your side, my side and the truth.  I’ll never have the complete truth about God, about you, or about even myself (a worthy debate!).  The corrollary to this is, neither will you!  BUT, when I share my truth with you, and you share your truth with me, we find a greater truth which is even closer to THE Truth.

But let’s have a good conversation on the way.