“The way you say something can often be as important as what you are saying. There are ways to discuss criticisms in a judicious manner by qualifying or hedging your language (“It seems that something is the case,” “So-and-so appears to do something,” etc.). You want to avoid inflammatory language that deliberately provokes. Your choice of words matters. For instance, the word failure is more negatively charged than the expression “neglect.” Likewise, to say someone “completely missed” a piece evidence is more negative than noting that he or she “overlooked” or “did not sufficiently consider” some data. There are ways to communicate the same conclusion without overstating your case with an arrogant attitude. Give others the benefit of the doubt; remember the Golden Rule.
The virtue of restraint will help you keep the focus on the evidence and avoid overstating your case. This will affect your choice of language and help you steer clear of logical fallacies. Never attribute to other people sinister motives or otherwise speculate about their motives.
Even if you think you know what motivated another scholar to lodge a particular argument, rarely can you be sure what is driving him or her to take a particular position. Calling your opponent the antichrist, or a blasphemer and heretic, will not win him or her over to your position. Attitude makes all the difference when we are disagreeing with someone.”
Excerpt: Andreas J. Kostenberger, The Character of God and the pursuit of Scholarly Virtues (Wheaton: Crossways Publishing, 2011) 132, 133
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