But understand this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of or comes from one’s own [personal or special] interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. 2 Peter1:20,21 (AMP)

Most people recognize the names of Greek philosophers like Plato, Aristotle and  Socrates.  Yet, most in the next generation have no idea what they contributed to Western civilization.

Socrates, for one,  was a Greek philosopher who lived 400 years before Christ. He is known today for his profound impact on western thought and philosophy.  We still use the Socratic Method of teaching. It still is considered one of the best means of teaching critical thinking

It’s a teaching model used by most law schools today.  Instead of dishing out content, its method is to ask questions – one after another – to promote discussion and reasoning.  Unlike the didactic method, which is the lecture model, it requires participation of the group.  

It is also the method favored by the next generation who learn best by collaborationThere is  a trend in schools to use “flipped” classrooms” which mimics the Socratic method. A teacher becomes a facilitator, guiding the discussion rather than handing out information. 

We do the same at MentorLink in our presentations. We use the Bible as the basic text to teach leadership truths but do it by having the participants read the passage and then we ask sequential questions to help them glean the content. It is a continuous Q&A.

We provide an opportunity for small group discussions with each assignment.  We have found this to be the best method for transformation because the students “get it” on their own and it has a more lasting impact. 

Socrates is not just significant because of his method of instruction. He also took on the Sophists of his day who believed that truth was subjective, and one should make decisions by what they felt was “true” inside themselves. 

There was no absolute truth and relativism dominated decisions. Sophists were teachers of thought, not of truth.

Socrates, on the other hand, believed that truth was objective and occurred outside of an individual. You were created with a moral compass and by using rational thought and analysis, you could determine what is actually true and what is not based on facts. 

Does this sound familiar?  We are running into sophists today. Many of them are in the next generation.  They haven’t learned the skill of critical thinking, and most of their decisions are based on their intuition, feelings and emotion.  

Sophists exist in the area of biology today. They turn a blind eye to objective biological reality that sex is determined at birth based on chromosomes and different sexual organs.. Instead, they have determined that if you feel that you are a different gender, Voila!  Totally subjective

The progressive push for being Woke is another manifestation.  While racism has been a problem since the beginning of time, the language used to deal with it is based on emotion.  Real facts or actual history doesn’t matter.  If you are white, you are a racist by definition and you can’t deny it. Oh, and now public roads are racist, too. 

A friend of mine, Jolene Erlacher, said that in meeting with millennials, approximately 80% make decisions based on emotion, not facts, reasoning or objective truth.

former law partner  recently said on Facebook, that it is up to each of us to “determine what is true and what is false.”  Effectively, he was saying  “truth is what I say it is. Period. No discussion, no dialogue, no critical thinking allowed. 

Said differently, subjective truth is not based on reality, facts or reasoning. If you are a sophist today, you get to determine your own facts, your own narrative and your own truth. That’s what Peter was fighting in the early church, and what Socrates fought in the 5th century BC.

Our media has become a classic example of sophistry in action.  Articles distort the facts (or, alternatively, ignore the facts) leading to irrational conclusions. When they are wrong, no one apologizes or corrects their mistakes. 

The death of a capitol police officer on January 6 is a prime example. His death, according to the media at the time, was due to being hit by a protester with a fire extinguisher. The media portrayed his death as the result of violent protesters who should all go to jail forever. Yesterday, the DC Medical Examiner reported his death was from natural causes and that he had no head trauma. That’s what one could call an “inconvenient” fact.

Emotional thinking does not replace critical thinking. If my decisions were based on how I was feeling at the time, I would be making bad decisions on a regular basis.  Deferring to social media for an answer only leads one to asking others for their emotional input and is the blind leading the blind.

it might come as a shock to the next generation that Socrates is alive and well in our culture. Socrates was passionate about having critical thinking replace emotional responses from the sophists of his day.  A world dictated by feelings is a bad idea. 

The challenge here is that the next generation is historically ignorant about philosophers like Socrates who have a continuing relevance today. We, as mentors, can stand in the gap for them.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  One of the skills of a mentor is to ask good questions which requires the mentee to think about why he has an opinion. It is a good start to develop critical thinking.

FURTHER READINGSocrates and the Sophists

The Sophists and Socrates: A Complex Relation –VoegelinView

Devil’s Advocate – Rise of the Modern Sophist  – Jain

How Do We Prepare  for  the Collaboration Generation – Wired

What Does the Bible Say about Sophistry –  Bible Tools

Discovering What is True – Richard Simmons

WORSHIP: What a Beautiful Name – Hillsong

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