“Theological debate must (1) be within the communion of saints and have as its aim the furtherance of communion; (2) magnify the truth of the gospel; (3) have an eye to the catholicity of Christian confession; and (4) trust in the illuminating power of the Spirit unifying the church through Scripture.”
Theological debate is a necessary part of the the church’s existence, unfortunately not every debate is useful, nor carried on with the right motives. John Webster provides 4 purposes for which a theological debate must aim:
Let me add a 5th: Theological debate must (5) be carried on in love and charity with word becoming of Christ and His church.
If more of our theologians, internet armchair scholars and the like would remember these 5 rules, we might find that there are fewer things to debate about and the tenor might be better.
Quote from: John Webster, Domain of the Word (London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2012), p169-170. IN Vanhoozer, Kevin. Biblical Authority After Babel: Retrieving the Solas in the Spirit of Mere Protestant Christianity (Brazos Press: Grand Rapids, MI, 2016).209.