on polemics

I am feeling USA election anxiety today. My loved ones are voting in a state that will likely overwhelmingly support my preferred candidate. Would that their votes could count in a battleground, but such is not the case. We’ll know tonight how it all pans out.

As therapy for my election anxiety, I thought I might do a little meditation on polemics. My postings here could be characterized as polemical, eh?

Dictionary.com gives me these definitions under ‘polemic‘:

1. a controversial argument, as one against some opinion, doctrine, etc.
2. a person who argues in opposition to another; controversialist.

3. Also, po·lem·i·cal. of or pertaining to a polemic; controversial.

Ah, yes, that would be me!

And why would the subjects I post about move me to be polemical? Why wouldn’t I, as a pastor, be more devotional and less polemical? Or maybe, much more devotional? Here is why:

NAU Jude 1:3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.

In our consideration of this oft-quoted passage, we focus on the ‘contending for the faith’ bit. But note the statement of purpose at the beginning of the passage. Note the word ‘necessity’. The Greek word here is ‘anagke‘. Thayer gives us this definition:

necessity, imposed either by the external condition of things, or by the law of duty, regard to one’s advantage, custom, argument

When you consider the state of the broader Christianity today, is there not a necessity for polemics? The external condition of things seems to call more and more for it. Note that Jude’s preference was devotional, but necessity demanded the polemical.

We shy away from the polemical, from the controversy, from the conflict. It appears much better to be full of positive exposition of the Scriptures, building up the saints in the holy faith. The rough duty of polemics seems full of bitter fruit, hot emotion, and jarring conflict. It can lead to bruised and strained relations between family and friends.

But consider the external nature of things! Consider the law of duty! Consider David’s maxim, “Is there not a cause?”

When Christian brothers are full of effusive praise of erring brothers, is there not a cause? When Christian brothers will recommend blasphemers, is there not a cause? When Christian brothers reject admonitions against voting for baby-killers, is there not a cause?

No one need remind me that the cause must be well-fought and strategic blunders be kept at a minimum (at least). If we would win, we should argue well.

But should we not argue? Is there no cause to argue for?

Or should we sink down into fatalistic ‘election-anxiety’, find a hole to hide in, and just wait it out until the Lord returns?


A short USA election-anxiety meditation. I hope it stirs you a bit today.



  1. Rory says:

    Thanks for the encouraging post. The battle for the US Presidency will soon be over, but the battle for Fundamentalism rages on until the return of our Lord…which is a far greater cause in my opinion.

    The Lord may allow the One of Change to get elected to bring many in Americans back to their knees to trust in the Un-Changing One.

    By the way, regrettably, I will be missing to vote in this state…I tried to register as a student residing in this state but never received anything in return.

    Thankfully, we have had a good election back home…I am already in communication with some of my American friends to flee with me to the True North Strong and Free!

  2. Feel free to delete this after you read it.

    I am reading through your series on Romans, but the link for these sermon notes is not working: Given over to Impurity (Rm 1.24-25).
    When I added a “0”, it worked fine:


  3. Thanks for the heads up, Jerry.

    Link fixed now.