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Sermon illustrations

Fallacies

Fallacies We Experience During Periods of Uncertainty

The more complicated the landscape, the more the wanderer relies on patience. The more confusing the scene, the more tolerant his outlook becomes. He not only has an awareness of his own ignorance, but of his own weakness in the face of it. He knows that his mind will seize on the first bit of data it comes across and build a universal theory around it.

This is the fallacy of anchoring. He knows that his mind will take his most recent experience and try to impose the lessons of that case onto this one. This is the fallacy of availability. He knows that he came onto this scene with certain stereotypes of how life works in his mind, and he will try to get what he sees here to conform to them. This is the fallacy of attribution.

David Brooks, The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement, Random House Publishing.

Innovation or Heresy?

It’s funny how sometimes members of the church can associate anything new with “heresy.” We often make the mistake of confusing technological innovations or scientific discoveries for changes to the gospel. The most famous case of this is probably the prolonged dispute between Galileo and the Catholic church over heliocentrism, that the earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around. The mistake made by the medieval church was to allow assumptions about the world (and really most people at the time) to crystallize into doctrine, assumptions that were formed not by scripture, but by culture and tradition.

This same scenario repeated itself in the late 19thcentury, when at an annual church conference in Westfield, Illinois, a college president proclaimed, “We are approaching a time of great inventions. For example, I believe the day is not far off when men will fly through the air like birds.” A bishop then accused the president of heresy, “The Bible tells us that flight is reserved for the angels! Ironically, the last name of that bishop was Wright. His two sons, Orville and Wilbur, were the first to record a successful powered flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903.

Today we look back at those two scenarios and our first reaction is to scoff: how could they be so foolish? But we do the same thing all the time in the church today. People argue you can’t have coffee in a sanctuary. Others argue you can’t have guitars in worship. Whatever “it” is, we often make the mistake of assuming just because it is new, it can’t possibly be good. Whenever anything new comes along, and knocks on the door of the church, we ought not simply reject it out of hand, but rather engage in a thoughtful, engaging dialogue from a Biblical basis as to whether or not this new element is heretical, or simply something new that we have to get used to.

Stuart Strachan Jr.

Thinking Biblically about Work and Ownership

In modern Western culture we place a high value on work, which is fine, but one of the philosophical assumptions that can come with such values is that we assume that we own what we earn or buy. From a biblical point of view this is extremely problematic. There isn’t any necessary correlation between hard work and ownership. Think, for example, of all the hard work that went into building the pyramids in Egypt.

Most of the workers were slaves, and they had no delusions that because they built the pyramids they owned the pyramids. No, they believed that both the pyramids and they themselves belonged to Pharaoh! In this sense (excepting of course that Pharaoh is not God), they had a more biblical worldview of work than most of us do. Our hard work may be well rewarded or not. It may produce prosperity or not. But until we see all that we receive, whether by earning it or receiving it without work, as a gift from God, a gift we should use knowing who the true owner of the gift is, we will not be thinking biblically about such matters.

Ben Witherington III, Jesus and Money: A Guide for Times of Financial Crisis, Brazos Press.

See also Illustrations on Deception, PerspectiveThought/sWisdom 

Still Looking for inspiration?

Consider checking out our quotes page on Fallacies. Don’t forget, sometimes a great quote is an illustration in itself!

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