An Anecdotal Fallacy

It is easy to forget about looking at the facts and build a belief system on personal accounts and secondhand stories.  This type of thinking becomes clear when I ask someone about an issue, and they respond by giving me an anecdote from their past. 

For example, I will ask a person what it means to be a good husband, and they will respond by telling me about a time their dad did something nice for their mom.  Another case might be asking someone what it means to be a good person, and they start giving me a tale about a sweet older lady who fed the children free popsicles after school.  

These stories are the foundation of our understanding of the world, and I use them in my sermons to underline the truth of God’s word.  The problem comes when they stand in contradiction to the truth of scripture.  When the story of that sweet old lady is not motivated by faith in Jesus but an effort to earn her way into heaven, we have a problem.  Suddenly we are left to redefine our terms based on the story instead of understanding the Bible.  We shift our thinking, not from sound teaching but experience.  This becomes a slippery slope into weak convictions and blurry moral lines. 

All of us have experiences that mold and shape our thinking.  They cause us to rethink our beliefs and adjust the way we handle other people.  The fallacy is when those stores rewrite the truth of God’s word in our mind to fit our experience.  We are to seek the truth and then notice all the stories that show it to be true. Please don’t take the stories and have them be your foundation of truth and the scriptures secondary. 

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