Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Importance of an Argument

We have become an opinion driven culture. We are a society where we have been taught that whatever we think is valid. We see in schools where students are asked what they think or what they feel more than they are to simply state fact. We see it on TV News, where random people will be asked for their reactions to events, as though we should give credence to what any random stranger thinks. We see it in our politics, where there is plenty of rhetoric and catch phrases but not a real explanation of positions. Soundbites a sound argument does not make. And of course, we see it in blogs... if you wish to be frightened, simply look at CNN's comment page.

Now, I would guess that this flows out of the idea that Truth is relative and flexible, and what is more important is our perception of events. Everything is focused on what we think, what we feel, what we want.

When it comes to theology, this whole approach is pointless. In theology we are dealing with the confession of God Almighty and His plan of salvation. We are to articulate this clearly and concisely -- our opinions or thoughts or feels about it really aren't the point. "We" aren't the point, nor is our reaction. The point is Christ Jesus.

In the Church we need to speak the faith not in terms of what we think, what we feel, what we would like - but on the basis of the Scriptures clearly interpreted. We need S-E-E - Statement, Example, Explanation. Make a case, give an example, explain how the example shows your statement to be true.

We are losing this. We can assert what we like. We can say that we just "know it" and that other people don't. But we are losing the ability to answer "why". Why do we say X? Why do we do Y? Why should we avoid 1, 2, and 3?

We must explain this. We can't simply appeal to tradition - for we acknowledge that tradition doesn't bind like Scripture, so a naked appeal to tradition will only win over romantics (which many of us are) who long for a simpler day of the past. It will not convince. We can't simply appeal to our authority - for again, my authority is only in thins concerning the Word of God -- so we are to be thrust upon the Word of God. And we certainly can't appeal to our thoughts, feelings, reactions, or ascetics (as we have been trained by society to do) - for what makes your thoughts or opinions better than another? Nothing.

Please, learn to make an argument! Learn to construct and speak directly. Learn to not rely simply upon emotional appeals, but rest and build upon the Word of God, clearly explained.


Jason Zoske said...

Excellent post.

Mike Baker said...


...and learn where your opinions come from. Don't just pick them out of the air without examining what brought them about.

...and take your opinions to their logical conclusion. Have the guts to live with the consequences of what you assert.

*Mike steps down from his soap box*

Anonymous said...

I am jealous of your concise clarity. Great post!

Tom Winter