Using Other Truths . . . .


Paul Sheppard is an outstanding Bible preacher and teacher.  He is on the level of Tony Evans!  If you have not listened to his preaching, you really need to!

Let me first provide a transcribed portion of Paul Sheppard’s message and then point out where I first heard the “categories” which are used by Sheppard.


So be encouraged, as long as you are in the category of people who don’t know–  but know that they don’t know — be encouraged.


There are four categories of people with regard to knowledge.


There are people who know —  and know that they know.



There are people who know, but don’t know that they know.


You know there are somethings you know, you just don’t realize it.


It’s not in your conscious mind now.


There are many people — if I were to ask you now — How many Scriptures could you quote from memory.


At first glance you probably say – Oh maybe 25, 30 — but I bet you if we take time and I give you a few ideas and examples you’d come up with 50, 60, 70 —  You know more than you think you know — and there are people who know and don’t know that they know.


The third category are people who don’t know, but they know that they don’t know.


That’s a good place to be — cause you know you’re ignorant — that’s good, that’s where you can get the knowledge — I don’t know, but I’m open to hearing — That’s a good place to be.


Don’t be discouraged when you don’t know.


It’s the fourth category you want to stay out of —


The people who don’t know, but they don’t know that they don’t know!


Oh — those are the ones that ‘ll get you.


Those are ones that ‘ll drive you all over the town — in the car — and you sit there as a passenger — saying – oh — that was our turn right there — “No it wasn’t “– drive on — a few blocks later — you say “No – no -no now that we come down here — this is very unfamiliar for me — I’m sure that was our turn”


— ”Look I’ve been going down here  —  how long been going down here  — I know where I’m going.”


That’s the category of people who are dangerous.


They will go astray and take you with them —


Not only in the natural, but in the spiritual


If you don’t know — for God’s sake at least know that you don’t know


and then go find out what you need to know.


— Paul Sheppard — “Are You Listening”


Sheppard uses four categories, which are truly insightful and form the basis of this portion of his message.  These four categories which are “secular” in nature, are also still true when it comes to people in their spiritual lives.

You probably have heard the statement — All truths God’s truth.  That is, everything that is in the Bible is true, but not all that is true is found in the Bible.  There is more truth than biblical truth.  For instance, the sun is ninety-three million miles from the earth.  That is true, but that truth is not found in the Bible.

Likewise, there are other truths that have come from inquiry, investigation, experimentation, observation, quantification, and the like, which are true but not found in the Bible.

Therefore, the Scriptures call upon us to . . . .

“Consider the ant . . . and be wise” – observation and thereby gain wisdom (Proverbs 6:6)


“I went by the field of the lazy man” – observation and lesson – a little sleep, a little slumber (Proverbs 24:33)

“Consider the lilies . . . . how they grow; they toil not” (Matthew 6:28) — There is a reasonable conclusion one can draw from nature.

“Consider the ravens . . . and God feedeth them”  (Luke 12:27) — Again, the conclusion can be drawn that God will take care of you since we are more than the birds of the field.

“He that is first in his own cause seemeth just; but his neighbor cometh and searcheth him” — It is by investigation, by asking questions that one can arrive at the truth (Proverbs 18:17) — This is basis of the court procedure of cross-examination since that is how we seek to arrive at truth.

“In the multitude of counselors there is safety” (Proverbs 11:14) — Seek counsel if you want and need help as to what roads to take in life.

Even the enemies of God’s people can arrive at truth – (Exodus 8:19 & Esther 6:12-14 ).


Likewise, Sheppard calls up a secular principle which actually covers the possibilities of “men’s knowing” — very well!

I first heard this basic statement a good number of years ago.  Donald Rumsfeld called it up during a news conference midst the Iraq war.*


As we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know.

— Donald Rumsfeld


Sheppard takes that concept and applies it to the Christian life and uses it very effectively!  There may be different positions on whether one needs to identify the source of such a concept* — I am inclined to take the position that it would have been wiser for Sheppard to at least lightly “background the quote.”**

Nevertheless, as a speaker seeks to add variety, color, clarity, understanding, application, change, or rhetorical movement to the message, the rhetorical technique exemplified by Paul Sheppard is helpful.

There are other “truths” outside of Scripture that can help an audience understand a biblical concept from various fields of study.  Taking those truths or analytical explanations can be helpful in aiding communication and understanding.

Here are some interesting examples from secular thought that might be useful for a particular introduction / application / explanation / clarification / contrast / etc.:

  • The Children Cookies Study — exemplifying how selfish we are by nature —
  • Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation — The differences
  • Aristotle & The Causes For Wrong-doing***
  • Personality Types: choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic, melancholic
  • Men From Mars / Women From Venus
  • Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
  • Natural Laws of Motion:
    • An object at rest tends to stay at rest unless acted upon by another force.
    • Storing energy in a flywheel & relationships
  • The Stockholm Syndrome
  • Team Spirit
  • Individualism in Early American Life
  • Honor & Shame In Other Cultures
  • The elements of being sacrificial
  • Resources & Will — according to Karl Von Clausewitz “On War”**

*Errol Morris explored that quote in a series of posts on The New York Times.  He indicates that the antecedents go as far back as Keats and Pascal.

**I do understand that Paul Sheppard is using a secular principle and using it to uniquely address how it works in the Christian life and has given it a lot more variation and development.  One might argue that it is no different than using an axiom from the field of science — water seeks its own level — without giving a citation to Pascal.

i.e. “Like water, you cannot get higher than your sin nature.  Unless there is something else acting on the water, or on your sin nature, you will fail to morally or ethically or socially go higher.  It will take something else working in your life.”

I did my Ph.D. Dissertation at Ohio University on a comparison between Military Theory and Argumentation.  Is there a difference in logic or just language.  In that dissertation, I pointed out that one of the concepts that Clausewitz sets forth is that “will & resources:  neither must be zero for an enemy to fight.”  That is an opposing military force must believe that they have either some resources if they are going to fight.  If they lack no resources, they must have some will to fight even without the resources.  If either one is zero, they will not fight.

I could use that principle in a biblical message.  Should I cite the military source of that principle were I to use it?  Or can I say without reference . . . .

“Satan knows this, that we will not fight — we will not put on the whole armor —  if we lack the will to fight.  His aim is to defeat us emotionally if he can. . . .

And if we have the will to fight, Satan’s second goal is to convince us that we lack the resources, the tools, the “ammunition” / “dynamite” to wage war (while in actuality we do) .  Satan knows that if we think we lack the needed power, we will just lay down our arms and give in and give up.”


***Aristotle was known for sitting in the courts of law during his day in order to better understand the actions of men.  He stated that he saw a pattern — Men did wrong for three reasons . . . .

#1) They did not believe that they would be caught.

#2) That if caught that they would not have to pay the penalty.

#3) If they paid the penalty, it was less than the advantage gained by the wrong-doing.

That is a fairly accurate understanding of the “psychology” or thinking of those who engage in wrong-doing.


One thought on “Using Other Truths . . . .

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