WFT- sophistry

26 August 2008

Merriam-Webster's word of the day for Tuesday 8/26/2008 is sophistry:

1 : subtly deceptive reasoning or argumentation 2 : an argument apparently correct in form but actually invalid; especially : such an argument used to deceive

"An argument used to deceive. "  Hmmm... that got me to thinking of the words of the serpent in the Garden:

"Hath God said...?"

The M-W etymology is this:

The original Sophists were ancient Greek teachers of rhetoric and philosophy prominent in the 5th century B.C. In their heyday, these philosophers were considered adroit in their reasoning, but later philosophers (particularly Plato) described them as sham philosophers, out for money and willing to say anything to win an argument. Thus "sophist" (which comes from Greek “sophist?s,” meaning "wise man" or "expert") earned a negative connotation as "a captious or fallacious reasoner." "Sophistry" is reasoning that seems plausible on a superficial level but is actually unsound, or reasoning that is used to deceive.

This brought to mind Isaiah 5:21:

Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight!

Proverbs 3:7

Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.

and Proverbs 12:15

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel.

In a discussion with a friend about the relevance of the Torah in the lives of believers today he continued to rely upon the tradition taught by the Catholic church that the Law is abolished so we no longer have to obey it.  As I confronted him with the words of the Master in Matthew 5:17 where He explicitly tells us:

"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill."

It seemed that the lie of the serpent was appearing once again as the reply centered around dismissing the the literal meaning of the words of the Master.  "Hath God said...?"



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