“People are doubters, they live in a world of skepticism. Biblical writers prove their ideas from scripture as well as logical arguments. We must do the same.” — Haddon Robinson
Dr. John Mac Arthur makes powerful arguments in his message titled, Testing The Spirits. There is little doubt that he has done his homework! Mac Arthur supports his position and statements with repeated citations, quotations, examples throughout his critique.
Obviously, as he cites the words of those within the movement and describes their actions and behaviors, he is making pointed and strong arguments supporting his critique. By citing the words, and laying out the practices of those who have historically represented the charismatic movement, along with powerful examples of its present-day expression, he is driving home his position as to it biblical nature, or lack thereof.
However, John Mac Arthur also makes some potent pointed explicit arguments in the fullest and truest sense. There are clear syllogistic arguments which Mac Arthur repeatedly avers. As he makes the argument that the charismatic movement is a false expression of the Christian faith, he states . . . .
We were discussing this when we started working on the book.
We couldn’t find a book exposing the charismatic movement for what it is – that had been published, a book of any note at all – that had been published in the last 15 years.
They have been very successful in silencing evangelicalism.
And so, we come back to 1 John, and we are commanded to test the persons espousing anything in the name of God and in the name of Christ who sees whether they are from God.
We’re instructed at the very outset of this verse with these words, “Beloved, do not believe every person, don’t believe it.”
“Because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
So “test the spirits.”
It ought to be enough to convince you of the error of that movement just to know they don’t want examination.
If this was a true work of the Holy Spirit consistent with Scripture, they would be inviting all the scrutiny they could get because they would want the affirmation and the authentication.
Mac Arthur states . . .
“It ought to be enough to convince you of the error of that movement just to know they don’t want examination.”
“they would be inviting all the scrutiny they could get.”
Mac Arthur is making a logical argument in the fullest and clearest sense. That is, it is not an argument of “ethos” or “pathos,” but falls into the third category called “logos.”
There are three basic methods for making an argument or seeking to persuade.
Ethos: Making an argument by identifying or being a credible source. People, in general, are persuaded by credible sources of information, whether they are identified and quoted, or actual credible people who are speaking. John Mac Arthur is well regarded himself as a credible source to his audience.
Pathos: Making an argument by appealing to the emotions. All effective speakers understand the nature of an argument which calls up the emotions of the listeners. Mac Arthur uses emotional appeal as well in his message.*
Logos: Using inductive and deductive reasoning. Many consider this form of argument the most legitimate form of argument because it relies on the mind, not the emotions or the varying credibility of a speaker (which is dependent on the audience’s evaluation)**
Under “logos” is both inductive and deductive reasoning. Under “deductive” is “enthymemes.” Enthymemes are truncated deductive syllogisms. That is . . .
- collapsed syllogisms
- shortened syllogisms
- syllogisms which do not contain all three parts
- syllogisms which have one or two steps missing
- arguments which leave parts unstated
I should state that none of these kinds of arguments are illegitimate. Anyone who does any amount of speaking uses these various kinds of arguments, whether they realize it or not, whether they are consciously or subconsciously plan on making this-or-that kind of argument.
Here is the full syllogism . . . .
Major Premise: False Movements & Error Want No Examination
Minor Premise: The Charismatic Movement Wants No Examination
Conclusion: The Are A False & Erroneous Movement
When Mac Arthur makes this argument . . . .
He starts with and states the logical conclusion — They are erroneous.
He then states the minor premise — They want no examination.
He leaves the major premise is unstated — False religions want no examination — (with an enthymeme, in this case, the audience fills in the major premise).
The syllogism is truncated, it is an enthymeme in which the major premise is unstated and thereby conceded by the listeners. He never makes this statement. That is, he never states the major premise. He does say (the minor premise) that this movement wants no examination, welcomes no examination and that alone should prove (the conclusion) that they are false (assuming you have granted him the major premise).
He does this again . . . . Here is the full syllogism** . . . .
Major Premise: The True Is Marked By Christ As Prominent
Minor Premise: The Holy Spirit Is Prominent, and Christ Is Obscure
Conclusion: They Are A False Movement
If the charismatic movement was being produced by the Holy Spirit, the glory of Christ would prevail everywhere.
It would be Christ-dominated, and everyone in the movement would be bowing the knee to the true Christ – in belief of the true gospel.
The people would be humble.
They would be joyful.
They would be sacrificial.
They would be confessional.
They would be declaring Jesus as Lord and themselves His slaves.
They would be denying themselves, taking up their cross, and following Him wherever He led.
Yet very proudly, a book by Jack Hayford, and a gentleman named Moore, announce that the distinctiveness of the charismatic movement is the preeminence of the Holy Spirit.
I quote, “In the Pentecostal potpourri only one thing is the same for all: The passion they have to experience the Holy Spirit presence and power.”
When the Holy Spirit is the person sought, His work has been rejected.
Christ is obscured, Scripture depreciated, and a preoccupation with counterfeit experiences imagined to be induced by the Holy Spirit, but not having anything to do with Him at all.
In this syllogism, the conclusion is unstated — They are therefore a false movement.
That is not to say that Mac Arthur does not make this statement in his message, but not as part of his argument here. Instead, Mac Arthur goes on to give repeated examples of how Christ is the focus of exaltation in the Scriptures.
We could provide examples throughout the message where “enthymemes” are used (i.e. again @39:12 – see if you can lay out the major, minor, conclusion).*** The point worth grasping is how deductive arguments, syllogisms, or enthymemes work.
- A syllogism is a deductive argument.
- A syllogism has three parts: Major Premise / Minor Premise / Conclusion.
- A syllogism can be fully stated, stating all three parts when making the actual argument.
- An enthymeme is a truncated syllogism – it is missing one of the three parts.
- When one of the three parts are missing, it is believed that it will be assumed or inserted by the listeners — They will mentally insert (consciously or unconsciously) the major premise, the minor premise, and/or the obvious conclusion.
- If you want to go after the “logic,” you have to be able to “reconstruct” the full syllogism.
- What is being assumed (major premise) and is that true.
- Does ____ fit into or is it an example of what is stated in the major premise.
- Does the conclusion then follow? (usually does)
√ Major: Is it true that — False Movements & Error Want No Examination?
If one could show that there are false and erroneous movement which have welcomed examination and critical evaluation, the major premise is questionable. Armstrongism, and even the liberal era of the Southern Baptist were examined and the result was doctrinal and practical change. However, such does not negate the major premise because the major premise states that the false and erroneous “want no” such examination?
OR — one could argue that the conclusion is not always true because there are biblical and true religions and movements want no examination. No one likes or wants a critical examination of what they believe and practice. Nevertheless, the major premise states that false religion or movements clearly wants no examination, and that is the major premise, not the reverse of it.
√ Specifically, does the Charismatic Movement wants no examination?
If one could show that this movement accepts, and even desires a biblical critique of its teaching and practices, the argument is challenged. If they themselves have written books and articles which are critical of some of the doctrine and practices, and those critiques have been welcomed and have changed some of the directions within the movement, then the argument being made has been weakened.
√ If both the above are true, does it follow therefore that they are a false & erroneous movement?
The point is not whether or not you agree or disagree with Mac Arthur or this discussion of ethos – pathos – and specifically of logos. Rather, as you construct and/or listen to a speech or a message, are you better able to understand the nature of the “logical” arguments which are being made?
- Can you detect the assumed major premise?
- What part of the argument is unstated?
- What must the speaker, or you as the speaker, assume will be accepted by the listener?
- Should you bolster that assumption of leave it alone?
- Are you assuming something which your audience does not accept?
- Does your audience not believe that ___ fits into the major premise?
Logos – syllogisms – enthymemes – deductive arguments are all part of logical thinking, speaking, critical listening, and sermonic construction — AS WELL AS the argumentative and logical nature of the Scriptures themselves!
Mastering the fundamentals of logic and language will help make your sermons make sense. To think clearly and express yourself persuasively, be sure of three things:
- Be sure your terms are clear.
- Be sure your premises are true.
- Be sure your logic is valid.
— Barry McCarty, Professor of Preaching At Southwestern Seminary
* The prosperity gospel has no interest in the biblical gospel.
It only offers financial prosperity, physical well-being to desperate, desperate people.
It offers carnal comforts, earthly riches, worldly success to millions of people who literally give up the little that they have to buy it.
It is the worst.
It is the ugliest.
To prey on the sick, and to prey on the poor, and become wealthy by lying to them.
Is there anything more wretched than that?
And then attributing it to the Holy Spirit? And associating it with the name of Jesus?
The peddlers of this perversion stand guilty of selling a false gospel, trafficking in heretical wares.
Prosperity preachers have made Christianity a laughingstock.
One writer says, “The prosperity gospel is Christianity’s version of professional wrestling.”
But on the other hand, spiritual swindlers will one day be punished for their blasphemous conceit, Jude 13.
** There are actually two syllogisms / enthymemes operating. The second is this . . . .
Major Premise: Humility, joy, sacrifice, doctrinally confessional are marks a true movement of Christ.
Minor Premise: Hayford & Moore (leaders in the movement) are proud. (with additional examples of all these missing marks further into his message).
Conclusion: It is a false movement
*** The Syllogism
Major Premise: Any movement which embraces a false religion, is also false movement
Minor Premise: They embrace a false religion (a religion of works- Roman Catholicism)
Conclusion: They are a false movement
In this case, Mac Arthur states the major & minor premise, but he does not state, “Therefore they are a false movement.” Again, it is not that the conclusion is not clearly understood and inserted by the audience, or that he does not state that they are a false movement at places in his message, but that his argument here leaves the conclusion unstated The conclusion is added by the logical thinking of his listeners.
Right before this argument (@38:57) is another example of this form of syllogistic – enthymematic argument — Major Premise: The Holy Spirit (is faithful to the Gospel ) never misrepresents or devalues the Gospel. — However, Mac Arthur never states as part of this argument the minor premise or the conclusion.