Subject: America’s Future: Where are the Critical Thinkers?
Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
The Pew Research Center’s article on September 2nd summarized how most Americans are deciding who will be their President in next month’s election: “American voters are generally skeptical that either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump would make a good president…the significant share of voters say their vote is based more on which candidate they are against rather than which one they are for.”
This is in stark contrast to recent election years (2000 and 2008) when there was no incumbent running, where more than 50% of each candidate’s supporters were voting in favor of their candidate rather than voting against the opposing party. Clearly, we aren’t happy with whom we have chosen to represent us.
But we shouldn’t be voting for our next President based on how much we dislike the other candidate. Our vote should be based on the kind of America we want for ourselves and our children. And that requires more critical thinking than we as American citizens seem to be willing to do. What do I mean? We need a history lesson on how to think from two renowned spokesmen – Aristotle and Paul the Apostle.
Back in the 4th century BC, Aristotle wrote his famous treatise ‘On Rhetoric: A Theory of Civic Discourse’, in which he explained how people can be persuaded to adopt someone’s views. Rhetoric, he said, is an art form, where the goal of the candidate is to persuade their audience that their point of view is right. He then expounded on the three methods used to persuade people. He calls them ‘Logos’, ‘Ethos’ and ‘Pathos.’
The first, ‘Logos’, is where we get our word ‘logic’. This form of persuasion is evidence-based, where the depth of the facts presented gives strong reasons for accepting that candidate’s position. The second, ‘Ethos’, is where the speaker’s personal character or their depth of knowledge on the subject persuades us that he or she is credible. The third, ‘Pathos’, appeals to the audience’s emotions. We get the words ‘pathetic’ and ‘empathy’ from it. When using Pathos, the speaker paints a scenario of the positive future results of adopting his or her views, or the negative consequences of following the opponent’s platform.
Back in 55 AD, the Apostle Paul wrote his famous letter to the early church in Rome during a time of intense Christian persecution and cultural conflict, where people were witnessing the beginnings of the collapse of Roman civilization. In our verse this week, Paul exhorts Christians to use their “logos” as their method to follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. When he says not to be conformed to this world, “world” means “the age in which you live, marked by its spiritual and moral characteristics”. “Don’t be conformed” means don’t allow the culture to set your beliefs and values. Instead, be transformed not by renewing your feelings but by renewing your MIND. In other words, “logos” – think critically. Look at the facts.
Are we as Americans focused on the “logos” of the candidates? No. The candidates are appealing to our “pathos”, not our “logos”. We are being bombarded with emotional appeals from each candidate for why we should not vote for their opponent, instead of a fact-based platform on the issues we care about. Let’s examine just three facts behind the candidates’ positions and match it against the Bible’s position.
First, Abortion. The Democratic candidate not only strongly supports abortion, but even partial birth abortion. The Bible dictates that we regard human life as sacred. God considers it murder to intentionally kill an innocent person. Despite the scientific facts that we know the baby in the womb is an innocent, defenseless human being at conception, one party is ignoring the facts.
Second, Marriage. The Democratic party demands the institution of marriage between a man and a woman be redefined. The Bible defines marriage as the first institution God set in history. The collective wisdom of the world’s civilizations defines marriage as between a man and woman. But the Democratic party has decided they can redefine marriage based on feelings – “pathos”. We are ignoring the fact that marriage is much more than how you feel about someone. Again, “logos” isn’t what matters – here it is “pathos”.
Third, Islamic Terrorism. The Democratic candidate, and today’s President, cannot bring themselves to label the Islamic attacks as terrorism, even inventing a new word – ‘Islamophobia’ – to use against anyone who would dare call it like they see it – that the Islamic practices of Sharia Law and Caliphate are anti-American and must be resisted. They still have not provided a plan for how to destroy ISIS.
The election is weeks away. Listen to Apostle Paul – think critically. The candidate to vote for is obvious.