Years ago, I was washing up some pots, just before dinner, when all of a sudden a word popped into my head, seemingly out of nowhere. I turned around and blurted out to my kids, who were doing homework around the kitchen table, “Sophistry! The word that keeps coming to me is sophistry.”
Of course, everyone burst out laughing because no one had a clue what I was talking about, or what that word even meant.
The word sophistry describes language and logic used by Satan, in Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost. Sophistry could describe the logic used by a lawyer intent upon persuading a jury to find a criminal not guilty. When the intent of words is not to reveal the truth but to confuse people, the speaker is using sophistry. Sophistry is all too common in our society, from the world of politics to the world of advertising. Modern man uses words to influence people for their own purposes.
Just the other day, the word sophistry popped into my head again because we often resort to sophistry without realizing exactly what we are doing. Words often keep us running in circles and keep us from discovering freedom and truth. Thank God for the power of the Holy Spirit. The word of God cuts through sophistry like a two-edged sword.
My only hope of living in reality, to cut through lies, to see myself and others in truth and to embrace truth is by embracing the Word made flesh.
Sometimes I might think that I am in the truth or that I am ruthlessly speaking the stark truth to another, but if I do not speak with Love, it is still sophistry – a truth without love seeks to destroy.
Only God and those who carry the Love of God can speak a liberating truth that heals and sets free.