Why do math teachers take points off when you get the correct answer without showing your work? I always considered this to be an injustice when a student in grade school. I assume that students in every generation of American history have shared my chagrin. Though I misunderstood the insistence, good math teachers do this, not to be mean, or because they get a kick out of penalizing students, but because they know it matters not just what answer one gives but also why one gives that answer. Means matter. Means are to conform to binding mathematical rules; and, if in other disciplines, they are to conform to binding logical and moral rules.
Christians do not have the luxury of claiming an exemption from this truth for whatever reason, even for fine sounding reasons. A common reason of the day, given as excuse for ignoring laws of logic when thinking, analyzing, and coming to conclusions, is that of compassion. We, however, live in God’s world, not our own, and so we ought never, so we can never, divorce compassion from logic. Compassion is not a bathroom pass to get you out of correct thinking. Both reflect God’s character. Both are to be held by us without trashing either.
In the conversations about race currently happening in evangelical circles, I have heard the following line of thinking articulated by a few Christians. “Institutional racism must be a big problem in America today. Otherwise, so many people wouldn’t be saying so, so many people wouldn’t be upset, so many stories wouldn’t make the news.” The call for “white Christians” to just listen to their “black brothers” is logically connected to this idea, it’s in the same idea family tree, the obvious intent of the “listening” that is being encouraged is to hear anecdotal information from someone who thinks institutional racism is a big problem.
One man’s opinion the truth does not make.
40 million men’s opinions the truth does not make.
“Men must be causing catastrophic climate change because so many high school science teachers are saying so.”
“It must not be murder until labor begins because so many people think so.”
“9/11 must have been a CIA operation because so many folks in the UK think so.”
“There must be more than 2 genders because so many university students think so.”
“Gay marriage must be a constitutionally protected human right, because so many people, including the justices on the Supreme Court, think so.”
“Muhammed must actually be a prophet because millions of folks are Muslims.”
This construction of an argument is invalid. It holds no weight if those involved in the discussion actually have a desire to understand truth and not just experience emotional catharsis.