Clear Thinking

Christians—Our Loyalty Is to Truth, Not Political Party or Brand

Main points:

  1. Only Scripture is infallible.
  2. Truth is more powerful than human leadership.
  3. “Our” sources aren’t always right.
  4. “Their” sources aren’t always wrong.
  5. We should seek genuine understanding, even of what we reject.

In the midst of controversy, it’s often hard to tell what problems have been created and what problems have merely been revealed. Whatever we might say about problems the election and impeachment of Donald Trump has created, it has certainly revealed some!

One of the most serious Trump-revealed problems is that many Christians who claim to revere the Bible lack truly biblical habits for evaluating truth claims. As a result, they also aren’t very good at judging the ethics of situations that aren’t directly addressed in Scripture. This is important, not only from the perspective of citizenship and voting, but for Christian living in general: we face conflicting truth claims about all sorts of things every day.

Those of us who are involved in preaching and teaching ministries have an opportunity to help with this problem. We should teach a genuinely Christian (biblical) view of truth and how to evaluate truth claims. That view includes five principles.

Principle 1: Only Scripture is infallible.

Christians understand that God is completely reliable on the subject of reality, which is what I mean here by “truth”—what actually is.

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Making life-or-death decisions is very hard – here’s how we’ve taught people to do it better

"The resulting delay, which we’ve called 'redundant deliberation,' happens when people take too long to make a choice between difficult options. We’ve found indecision is the most dangerous aspect of a high-stakes situation. " - The Conversation

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Are Conspiracy Theories Really on the Rise?

"A 'conspiracy theory' is a theory that explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot, usually by powerful conspirators.... These conspiracy theories are not simply restricted to a fringe population. At least 50% of Americans believe in at least one conspiracy theory, ranging from the idea that the 9/11 attacks were fake to the belief that former President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S." - Intellectual Takeout

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The problem of living inside echo chambers

"When a person gets all their news and political arguments from Facebook and all their Facebook friends share their political views, they’re in an epistemic bubble. They hear arguments and evidence only from their side of the political spectrum. ...An echo chamber leads its members to distrust everybody on the outside of that chamber. And that means that an insider’s trust for other insiders can grow unchecked." - The Conversation

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Handling Controversy With Rules of Persuasion

"No matter the theological issue, we can be sure that a litany of quick-fire responses often only exacerbate the issue for those who are in need of biblical instruction and theologically nuanced clarity. To that end, I would suggest that the antiquarian tripartite modes of persuasion (i.e. ethos, logos, and pathos) are helpful when seeking to engage in theological controversy." - Church Leaders

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From the Archives – Toward Arguing Better

Conservative Christianity needs more people who argue well. It does not need more people who quarrel well!

Scripture opposes quarreling, along with the behaviors the KJV renders as “strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings” and “tumults” (2 Cor. 12:20). But arguing is something else. Scripture calls us to argue and to do it well. Every Christian is obligated to develop and exercise the skill of thinking and communicating clearly with the goal of persuasion.

With that as a working definition of argue, let’s consider a few basics for arguing better.

Argue for the right reasons.

Why do people argue? Unflattering reasons come quickly to mind. As sinners, we often argue to gain the esteem of others, to defeat someone we don’t like, or to try to win an imagined (or real) competition for loyal supporters. Sometimes people argue because they have a contrarian disposition and enjoy the challenge and repartee. (For these, the question is not “Why argue?” but “Why not argue?”)

But for Christians, the proper goal of argument is to establish the truth or rightness of ideas or actions.

And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth (NKJV, 2 Tim. 2:24–25).

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