"Scholarship is polite argument." — Philip Rieff
Confessions of a Researchaholic
As the editor for the CD-ROM, Jesus, The Man, The Message, The Messiah by Ray Vander Laan, I was chief fact checker. Ray wrote statements that sounded like irrefutable facts about baptism, the mikvah and the Essenes. My two Baptist proofreaders went ballistic. Ray’s viewpoint differed from their theological understandings.
Upon further research regarding the Essenes, I discovered that the scholars disagreed. To alleviate potential unnecessary arguments, I prefaced opinionated assertions by introductory statements:
“Some scholars believe…”
“Based on the author’s research, he thinks…”
“In my opinion…”
“These studies found…”
Who is your audience? What is your writing angle? How will you try to persuade the reader to consider your viewpoint?
If scholars have disagreed about something for hundreds of years, you might consider the following.
* State the conflict between scholars or experts to prevent alienating readers.
* Acknowledge both points of view, and then state your arguments for and against.
* If you feel strongly about a topic, study the subject in-depth. Before writing, become skilled enough to state what you believe and why you believe it. After writing, accept without offense and respect differing opinions from readers.
* You may decide it is best to avoid “pet” or divisive theologies, ideologies, philosophies, or political stances.
* Focus on points of agreement and steer away from explosive issues.