I found myself thinking things like this: You’re using the name of the view I hold, but you’re not describing anything like my understanding of it. Only an idiot or a monster would hold it the way you describe it. You know you’re attacking a straw man, right?
This line of though led me to wonder whether the controversialists were concerned for me as a brother in Christ. I began to ask whether they loved me, because if they really loved me, they would want to help me see the benightedness of a position they thought was so awful, they would want to liberate me from the bondage of bad ideas, and their desire to help me in these ways would surely cause them to use a different tone of voice and a better method of argumentation.
Such thoughts led to suspicions about such controversialists. I began to wonder whether they were really interested in the truth, or whether they were just rabble-rousers scoring rhetorical points without regard for the Bible, theology, logic, and sound doctrine. I began to question whether they were driven by a need to advance their political position in the theological discussion, and whether they cared about the spiritual state of their hearers. They didn’t seem to care about the spiritual well-being of the people whose views they savaged.
I don’t claim that all my views are infallible (if I knew which ones were wrong I would change my mind!), and please don’t think I speak as one who thinks he has always fulfilled the love command. But in spite of my own failures to live up to the ideal, I can affirm that the desire to engage in controversy should flow from love for God and neighbor. Love for God results in a desire to uphold his truth. Love for neighbor results in a desire for people to enjoy the goodness of God’s truth.
Is it love for God and neighbor that gets you into controversy, or is it a proud desire to strut your opinions, flaunt your learning, and see your enemy discomfited?
Or, are you just a knucklehead who likes to contradict what others say?