Reasoning in an uncertain world – The Enigma Sermons and Straight & Crooked Thinking

When we started we said that we had two key purposes. First, this is a teaching and training hub. Our aim is to help equip people to be better able to serve the Gospel. Secondly, we also said:

“This website is for people living in a messy world.  The evidence of the mess is all around us.  I grew up towards the end of the Cold War and remember the day that the Berlin Wall came down.  We were promised that this would usher in a new era with a peace dividend.  One writer even claimed that we were seeing the end of history.  We seem to be a long way from that day now.  9/11 shattered those hopes so that we now live once again under a shadow of war and terrorism.”[1]

Our aim was to help people navigate this at times messy, chaotic and uncertain world with certainty and hope and our premise for doing that is that what we believe affects how we live, so that to live in this world we need to know the truth about God, Creation, Humanity and New Creation.

That aim seems particularly relevant in a week where hopefully we are coming to the end of an uncertain winter where the weather seems to have changed from day to day and the forecasts from minute to minute, one-minute, barmy sunshine is promised, the next, heavy snow. The uncertain weather seems to reflect an uncertain world with diplomatic tensions with Russia at their worst since the Cold War, the stand off with North Korea and Brexit.  World politics may be uncertain but so too are the lives of many in our communities.

With that in mind, I want to spend a bit of time over the next few months looking at how we think and reason. We are going to be looking at two fascinating sources for this.

  1. The Enigma Sermons. All of our thinking must be rooted in Scripture, so we’re going to be reflecting on a specific book, Ecclesiastes. This is a great example of wisdom literature from the Old Testament. You’ll find out shortly why I’m referring to it as the Enigma Sermons.
  2. Straight and Crooked Thinking. This is an old book about logic, reasoning, argument and propaganda. Mike Ovey at Oak Hill used to take new students through a seminar based around this when they first arrived. We will be using it to help us think about how to reason and argue. As this is a human book – an example of common wisdom we will want to evaluate it against Scripture.

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