Saturday, January 11, 2014

Reasoning vs Reasoning: one word, two meanings

But Jesus, aware of their reasonings, answered and said to them, "Why are you reasoning in your hearts? (Luke 5:22 NASB)

The study of words provides such a depth of understanding that it's worth the effort. That is especially true for this verse. The English word "reasoning" is used twice in this verse, but there are two different Greek words used here. The first use says that Jesus was aware of their reasonings. The Greek word here is "dialogismos" and it means a man's inward thinking or reasoning within himself. This is a personal, private kind of deliberation done while one tries to sort out what is true. The second time, Jesus asked why they were reasoning in their hearts. The word used this time is "dialogizomai". As you can see, they are similar words. This word is the one that can be translated as "revolving in your mind".  It indicates a bringing together of different ideas and is sometimes translated arguing. 

There is a fine distinction between these two kinds of reasoning, and it is important to understand it because our society is filled with this very thing. In the first reasoning (dialogismos), a person is thinking or considering something and trying to sort out what is true. They are pondering. That is a good thing. In the second case (dialogizomai), several people who were pondering have thrown all their pondering together and revolved it around, hoping to bring some truth out of it. What happens most of the time is that the loudest voice, the most eloquent voice, presses their opinion and it becomes the opinion of the group. 

Rather than thinking and seeking truth for ourselves and turning to God for clarification, we turn to our peers in the group. What does that say about our response to the group? In seeking truth from the group rather than asking God for clarity, we have made the group a false god. Whew. That's scary, isn't it? 

This does not mean that all group work is bad, nor does it mean that seeking wise counsel is bad. It means we have to be deliberate and careful in our search for truth. When Jesus said, "Where two or three are gathered together", He certainly was saying that He would be with even a small group, but maybe He was also saying that, at least in times of seeking truth, a small group is, if not preferable, at least powerful. The committee consensus of the scribes and Pharisees that day threatened to lead them away from God all together. In the end, for most of the scribes and Pharisees in Israel at the time of Christ, it did. 

This not-always-perfectly-informed-committee-consensus type of reasoning is encouraged by our nonstop information media outlets and our social networking sites, and can lead us away from truth in very subtle ways. We need to be wise in our deliberations. 

Today, pray that we and our loved ones would think for ourselves, rather than automatically accept the reasonings around us. Pray too that we and our loved ones will turn to God for clarification rather than accept a group consensus about what is truth.