I have to reference a podcast I listened to from Apologetics.com on this topic
But I have been thinking a lot on the topic from reading Speaking to Teenagers, oddly enough.
The same ideas about persuasion are followed in both instances, going back to the Greek philosopher Aristotle’s ideas of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. I have been trained on this a lot recently in my Communications and Philosophy classes that I took this quarter at Ohio University.
A very brief overview of these three things is explained well here:
Ethos (Credibility), or ethical appeal, means convincing by the character of the author.
Pathos (Emotional) means persuading by appealing to the reader’s emotions.
Logos (Logical) means persuading by the use of reasoning.
One thing that is difficult for intellectual Christians, like myself, is finding the balance between showing love and doing real evangelism verses studying theology and talking about it. We can get so caught up in learning and studying theology, for a number of reasons: Ranging from us wanting to know the Lord better to wanting to be able to make a strong argument for our faith, or desiring the knowledge in hopes of receiving a Doctorate degree. Let’s focus on using this knowledge to help us make a strong case for our faith.
Studying theology to win intellectual arguments can be a great thing, but it can also be dangerous and a waste of time. Knowing knock-out winning arguments is not true evangelism. God can and will use these on His own time but in our own prideful ways these arguments can be in vain.
1 Cor. 13: 13
So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
My rant :
Showing Christ’s Genuine Love in your life, is the best way to persuade other’s for Christ. Yes, having knowledge about theology can help and I am not saying that you are completely wasting your time by studying theology and “always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope” (1 peter 3 :15) . There is a balance.
Studying theology and knowing these knock-out arguments becomes dangerous when we put them above love and above Christ working through us. It is a problem when we put more trust in ourselves, our arguments in this theology rather than truly loving our friends (and enemies) – or anyone we are explaining this theology to- and depending on Christ and his love.
I am still thinking about this idea of persuasion in our faith. Love and reason.