I have had this kind of friend that holds one position no matter what. You can try and tell him he is wrong in a way he understand, but in the end if he doesn't change you have to decide whether you put up with him or not.
Note: update from comments so it is more clear my backing I had a friend that behaved this way in certain topic and I tried similar steps to the ones described. In the end I couldn't make him change his ways, but he understood that I wasn't happy talking about that topic so if he was about to bring it up I would just tell him and he would laugh it up. I also had a couple people that would resort to name calling in arguments and doing something like I describe stopped them in their tracks. They can say you are wrong about many things but not about asking not to use name calling. However take into account that the most combative kind of personalities won't care about anything you say and you may have to stop being his friend.
So I would start with something really simple, show him how illogically he is behaving.
From the dictionary:
having or characterized by a certainty, especially an
unfounded one, that one is totally correct or morally superior.
Ok, so you can see from that definition that your friend is the very definition of self-righoutness. He thinks he is right, and he doesn't hear anyone elses position. He doesn't stop to consider maybe he is wrong and he is being pretty combative and acting like no one knows better than him and basically he is better than the rest.
The first thing I would do is to tell him something like:
John, I am not sure if you are hearing yourself, but no matter what we
say or try to explain you are calling everyone self-righteous, you
don't even consider that you may be wrong and you don't give us space
to have a dialog. The way you are doing it, is like calling us names,
actually it is exactly that. I am sorry but you are being pretty
self-righteous right now.
This is basically like putting a mirror to his face, he is calling eveyrone "ugly". You show him that he is doing what he says the others are doing. Based on the definition of the word he is using non stop, you state and enumerate in facts his behavior and then plain and simple you show him the conclusion, he is text-book self-righteous.
Even if he is super stuborn he has to stop and think to be able to contradict you. In the case of my friend he said "ok", but then went some other way to try to prove his point. Which your friend might do So instead of calling other people self-righteus he may start caling them something else.
So you try to stop him before he has time to think something else to fight you and tell him:
John we are all friends that care for each other, could we hold back
the name calling and godly judgment? We are not god, we don't see and
know everything. Please consider that maybe we are all here acting in
This accomplishes two things. First, you tell him he shouldn't use name calling. No one on earth could reasonably tell you that it is ok to insult others in a discussion. If they do tell you that is because they are being stuborn. But in that case they open the door for you to walk out and they can yell all they want, they know you are right. So basically you tell him an irrefutable truth: name calling is not conductive of healthy discussion.
Second, he is acting above everyone, like he knows everything. Only God knows everything, he believes in god, he won't like acting that way. In the case of my friend that believes himself to be very logical, I would show him the fault in his logic.
In the case of my friend I told him a general logic truth, something it was really hard to argue with, in your case quote something from the bible. Use his way of thinking to show him he is wrong. Like:
Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.
Then try to drive the point home with a simple question that no one could argue with. The point of asking him questions that have only one posible answer, is to show him the contrast with the way he is acting.
Do you think that you are never wrong and 100% right? Isn't it
possible that you are missing something?
At this point, it can happen that he realizes he is way out of line. He realizes he is wrong and he might apologize or stop or diminish his behavior.
Stops: Well you got what you needed. He may in the future fall into this behavior again. It is really hard to change bad habits, but you can repeat this same technique and since you have been already succesful he may realize he was wrong even before you have much to say.
Doesn't stop and starts to argue using the same arguments: Then you have to set limits. I mean some people are going to be stubborn no matter what, it doesn't mean you have to stop being friends, you just need to set boundaries and limits.
Tell him something like:
John we can discuss anything you want, we can dissect someone's action
and we can decide whether or not it was right to do that in that
point. But we can not have a healthy discussion, a discussion that
will lead us to grow as human beings and christians if we are calling
each other names all the time just because someone else doesn't see
things like you do.
And then you tell him the last thing, the ultimatum sort of thing.
If you can not stop yourself from insulting others while we are
departing we can not have a discussion with you. If you are willing to
have a healthy exchange and you will stop calling everyone
self-righteous we can continue. Otherwise I am afraid we will have to
agree to disagree and change the subject and/or disregard anything that
you had to say about it.
And change the subject to something safer. I don't know how you guys handle these discussions but you could have some members of the group continue talking about the specifc thing separate from him, or just change completely.
The trick here is to never let it slide, if he starts with that again, you tell him the same, that is not healthy and you can not continue. Of course other members shouldn't insult him either. Also it is to make him see that this is not about being right or wrong, is about the name calling. That is always wrong.
- He changes technique: Instead of calling you self-righteus, he calls you other names, or doesn't want to listen. You can spin a variation of what I said before. For instance if someone is always talking over you, you can't tell him your opinion. For example, this person kept interrupting me or raising his voice. So I would say:
I can not continue if you raise your voice.
And pressed on that, until he stopped or I would end the discussion telling him I can't not continue.
Or if he keeps talking over you like my friend (btw this conversations happened several times over different media so I used different techniques in the different transgressions). He said I would interrupt him, so I heard him out, taking note of the endless topics of his disertation (your friend could say Bob did X and John Did Z and on and on), so I could answer him afterwards, but in the meantime I took the time he was speaking non-stop.
So when I was finally able to talk, I took the time I was taking too. And not even after 10 seconds he was interrupting me already. At that moment I had hard data of his missbehavior so I told him and he laughted it up, but he took his agression down a notch because he realized he was wrong.
In the end If he doesn't stop this behavior, he will be ostracizing himself. You have to tell him every time that you can not continue in that line of talk and then change the subject. Eventually he will either change or he will leave.
If you don't want to be so confrontational all the time, you can let him talk and then just continue like he said nothing. If he says something about you ignoring him, you tell him he was again calling other people names and such contributions are not appreciated or taken into account.
Don't forget to apply the same rules to everyone, so if someone else starts the name calling, you do the same. So John doesn't feel it is unfairly treated.
As I said I have a friend that has this kind of extreme view and he doesn't hear anything other people has to say, he knows better. I have watched how he has damaged many of his relationships with other friends. I tried everything I have told you but it hasn't worked out to full extent. He wouldn't budge or he would change the subject. However we remained friends and he knows when to back out and he knows things I don't want to discuss and I can tell him openly to stop discussing certaint topics.