Making The Argument #1 . . . .

ethos pathos logos Persuasion

Ethos             Pathos           Logos


Those are the three methods for making an argument.

Ethos: Making an argument based on the credibility of the speaker or the source of the stated information

I remember speaking numerous times and for long periods of time to Mark Gastineau, who played for the New York Jets.  He was part of the Jets’ famed “New York Sack Exchange” defensive line.  He lived in Hamilton, NJ where I pastored for 36 years — it was evident to me as we shared meals, social occasions, and attending various events, that Mark had suffered terribly from his years of playing professional football.  When I read a recent article on him, I was not surprised, but I was saddened that it had progressed much further than when I knew him.

Were I to make such a reference in a speech or message, there is some ethos which accompanies my comments because of the stature of a person such as Mark.


Pathos: Making an emotional argument, an argument which moves and/or persuades because of the emotional content presented via a story or pictures.

Today, the most obvious examples of emotional arguments are the attempts to persuade people to give to various causes based on moving emotional appeals such as seen in the television commercials regarding such organizations as Shriners, Saint Jude / Veterans – Wounded Warrior / SPCA — and this is not to say that such appeals are wrong or all of the same value).


Logos: Making a logical argument, an argument made deductively or inductively in order to persuade the audience that the call for a change in action or attitude is a logical step.


Dominic Smart is building a logical argument.  The argument is an “If-Then” argument.



(@24:43 — Dominic Smart – “Be Like Caleb”)

If Jesus Christ said,  I will build My Church – and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. 


If Jesus Christ is the one King – who we can be truly be said  – of who it can be truly said –   of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. 


If we believe that God grows his church. 


If we do actually believe with our heads – and reckon on the fact that if we preach Christ — God opens blind eyes.


If we really are going to be a  mission-shaped church.


If you believe that why we are here is for the mission of God – not ours but His – and we have participants in it.


If we really do believe that the father’s heart is a fountain of sending love.



These “ifs” are followed by a “then” and/or an implied “then.”


THEN do we not also believe that he can provide the space that we need 


so that we can have the people that we need in leadership and development 


so that we can have the kind of team staff whatever – that we need 


so we can facilitate those things 


[then] do we also [believe that God can] move in our hearts  – so that we can be involved in all this.




The Rhetorical Pattern:

  1. He calls up multiple truths and principles which the audience already holds.
  2. He phrases them all using an “if” clause
  3. He then states that there is a “then.”

Now Smart stacks up “if-s” which is not inherent in an “if-then” argument, but that is what Dominic Smart often does and is part of his rhetorical style.

If we actually believe . . . . (assumed – and we do)

If we actually believe . . . . (assumed – and we do)

If we actually believe . . . . (assumed – and we do)*

Then . . . .


Smart makes the argument by citing accepted truths.  It is followed by a “then” because those truths / beliefs have implications – they have “then-s.” 

He calls up the “if” and argues that they have a “then-s” connected to them.


Once you recognize and quantify the logical “if-then” pattern, you can use the same pattern with messages which are entirely unrelated to what Smart is addressing.   It is understanding and quantifying the pattern which gives you the ability to consciously use the same argumentative pattern at any particular time.


*Now it is possible that the speaker can make a mistake in “logic.”  That is, the speaker can either . . . .

state a “then” which does not follow from the “if”


state an “if” which is not held by the audience.





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