I’ve noticed that debates often have certain arguments tossed in that unfairly discredit the opposing side, not because they carry any validity, but because they were “grabbed” first by one side or the other.

For example, when bible debates are occurring, one side will say to the other, “There is a way that seems right to a man but the ends thereof are death!” (when both sides are debating which side seems right). Or something about denying the word of God (when both sides believe they are adhering to the word of God).

Here are some additional slimy argument tactics:

  • Pride comes before the fall! (thereby implying that the opposing side is prideful because it is in opposition to the other)
  • Or the broad way leads to death (although which way is broad is actually the thing being debated).
  • Don’t cast your pearl before swine.
  • Your belief is blasphemous or heresy.
  • The bible says in the end days false teachers will come, and here you are!

Then, there is the option to use anything in their lifestyle to gain leverage in your argument when they say, “You will know them by their fruits”, which is scriptural, but is really an ad hominem attack used to discredit an otherwise sound doctrine. Couldn’t we find good and bad examples of people from any theology? Finding bad fruit in someone’s life is not enough to discredit every belief that person has ever held.

Debating fairly means debating the merits of a topic. It should never include these indiscriminate smack-down verses. Similarly, it should never include ad hominem attacks.