The subject under consideration is defined by Webster’s Dictionary to simply mean, “(1) deceptively subtle reasoning or argumentation. (2) SOPHISM.” The definition of sophism will shed additional light on sophistry. The word is defined as, “(1) an argument apparently correct in form, but actually invalid, .such as an argument used to deceive. (2) SOPHISTRY.”
From these definitions, we may for sure illustrate sophistry in two words, which would be, “smooth talking!” In turn, there are a number of words very much synonymous with smooth talking: Deceit, guile, lying, trickery, manipulation, flattery, and connivery. Then, take note of various phrases that fit smooth talking: Silver tongued, eloquent arguing, seductive reasoning, alluring speech, and deceptive persuasion. While some of the aforementioned words and phrases are not always referred to in a negative way, such is definitely the case when sophistry enters into the picture.
Sophistry then, obviously, when used, applies in a number of ways: (1) A pedophile seeking his prey, (2) An adulterer/adulteress attempting to fulfill sexual desires in an ungodly way, (3) A job seeker lying by one or more means to obtain employment, such as falsifying an application (4) The politician seeking votes in order to be elected, (5) The gold digger/gigolo after somebody’s wealth, especially of the opposite gender, (6) Someone hunting to rent a house or apartment somewhere, and so, like the previously mentioned job seeker, falsifies the application, (7) A person vying to reach a certain goal through dishonest intentions, and (8) An individual (falsely so) wanting to prove that “the end justifies the means.” More examples could be used, but these given should more than suffice to prove this writer’s point.
Many persons existing who want their way all or most of the time will definitely employ sophistry. This method is also used to seize control of an individual, business, or a sought after position. Sophistry can be applied to part of what the young evangelist Timothy would have to face in the way of “perilous times” (2 Timothy 3:1). Verses 6-8 say of such a breed of people, “For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.” One can easily see by these passages that denominationalism, religious cults, sectarianism, splinter groups, and such like are products of this means known as sophistry. So, this culprit is of no value whatsoever to man’s soul!
There are those lowdown enough to use sophistry on their friends who trusted them to act otherwise, on their own mother and father, on their own children, on their boss, etc. Many will stop at absolutely nothing in the way of sophistry, if they feel such will bring about some sort of gratification, power, material gain and/or notoriety. They will use people as “stepping stones” to achieve their “victories!” One fictitious character remarked, when asked how he managed to live with himself in regards to how he was constantly wronging others, “When you get rid of the honesty and integrity, the rest is a piece of cake.” Another example of sophistry is in the area of retail sales—-or any category of sales, for that matter. Lying, manipulation, and guile are used by some in this area in order to sell that product or service, so one can make that “commission.” Indeed, sophistry can desensitize the conscience, along with making many, many enemies, including some powerful enemies! Meeting early graves, broken marriages, divided churches, dissolved friendships, and closure of businesses have come about, due to sophistry. This sin is most disgusting! You see, like all other sins, nobody likes being struck by sophistry—-including somebody else practicing sophistry!
While there is the possibility of practicing sophistry in any area of life, the category of false teachers must not be omitted here. The good Apostle Paul told the Roman brethren, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17-18). The terms “good words” and “fair speeches” would indicate sophistry as a tool being utilized here. The entire chapter of 2 Peter 2 describes in quite detail sophistry, in regards to a certain brand of false teachers. Please read it and see. Sophistry loathes the complete truth on anything and everything, for this method seeks ill-gotten gain, both literally and figuratively. Therefore, this sneaky method of operation (known in the military as “M.O.”) will be despised and rejected by anyone seeking to live a thoroughly decent, wholesome, and honest life while on this earth. Both the old and New Testaments are listed with examples of sophistry.
Talk about deceit and seduction? While speaking His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:15-20). Gentle reader, don’t underestimate the damnableness of false teachers and their Satanic doctrines! Search the scriptures on your own to see for yourself if what one says about the Bible is true, or if passages have been perverted (Acts 17:11; Philippians 2:12; 2 Timothy 2:15). Avoid their sophistry. Pay attention and listen fully to the Psalmist who declared, “Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet. And a light unto my path (Psalm 119:104-105).
Surely, all of you who read this article can see how sophistry often gains respect from many unsuspecting people, (even the smartest of them!) in regards to unknowingly respecting the one(s) so cunningly practicing this devilish device! Would this fact not also tells us that many a person has wound up in jail and/or prison, due to sophistry? Indubitably!
Sophistry cheats! Gyps! Steals! Robs! Emotionally, mentally, and physically rapes! Deprives! Nets losses of both a literal and figurative nature! The extreme love many have for money has also brought about sophistry (I Timothy 6:10). Sophistry’s prey must often live with its consequences and versatile scars for life! May we avoid committing this dreadful act, along with striving to remain clear of being a victim to this (often) most hurtful menace!