Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Is the logos more important than the pathos or the ethos?

Although the intellectual component of the Christian faith is important, it is also vital to remind ourselves that the intellectual component does not take precedence over the other aspects of persuasion.

As Aristotle said, there are three means of persuasion - the ethos, the pathos and the logos. Speaking for myself, if I am not careful, I can be easily drawn to the logos (logic, intellectual, etc) to the exclusion of the pathos (the emotional side of persuasion, e.g., for all we know, the person who is resisting the gospel may be having an issue of the heart rather than an issue of the head). Ethos (our integrity, our credibility) too must never be neglected because people are watching our lives as much as our message. It is not just our orthodoxy (the doctrinal basis of our faith) that is important, but our orthopraxy (how we practice our faith) as well.

Ravi Zacharias used to often say:

“...behind every question is a questioner, who brings the context with which they are asking the question. We must answer not only the question, but also the questioner”

I find that I can be quite cold and hard in “winning” an argument to the point of losing the conversation and losing the person. To quote Ravi again, “once you’ve cut off a person’s nose, there’s no point giving them a rose to smell.” How we say it is equally or even more important than what we say. This is my constant struggle, and a constant reminder to me to cool down, and not to say anything than to say anything that I may regret later.

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