Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Here a statement or argument ignores relevant considerations, oversimplifying what may be a complex issue.
Granted, there is nothing wrong in simplifying a complicated subject—good teachers do it all the time. But sometimes a matter is simplified to the point of distorting truth. For example, you may read: ‘Rapid population growth is the cause of poverty in developing countries.’ There’s an element of truth in that, but it ignores other important considerations, such as political mismanagement, commercial exploitation, and weather patterns.
Oversimplification has resulted in many misunderstandings when it comes to God’s Word, the Bible. Consider, for example, the account at Acts 16:30, 31. There a jailer asked a question about salvation. Paul answered: “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will get saved.” Many have concluded from this that simple mental acceptance of Jesus is therefore all that is required for salvation!
This is an oversimplification. True, belief in Jesus as our Ransomer is essential. But it is also necessary to believe what Jesus taught and commanded, to acquire a full understanding of Bible truths. This is shown by the fact that Paul and Silas subsequently “spoke the word of Jehovah to [the jailer] together with all those in his house.” (Acts 16:32) Salvation also involves obedience. Paul later showed this when he wrote that Jesus “became responsible for everlasting salvation to all those obeying him.”—Hebrews 5:9.
An ancient proverb says: “Anyone inexperienced puts faith in every word, but the shrewd one considers his steps.” (Proverbs 14:15) So don’t fall for fallacies. Learn to differentiate between legitimate attacks on what is said and cheap attacks on personalities. Don’t be fooled by invalid appeals to “authority,” urgings to ‘join the crowd’, either/or reasoning, or gross oversimplifications—especially when something as vital as religious truth is involved. Check all the facts, or as the Bible puts it, “make sure of all things.”—1 Thessalonians 5:21.