WISDOM, SCOFFERS, AND SOPHISTRY
Wisdom is the application of knowledge with virtue. Sophistry is using language and arguments as a means to winning a debate, sound clever, and trick others into doing what you want, without concern for truth or virtue. The term SOPHISTRY is derived from the ancient Greek school of the Sophists, who trained people to win arguments. Plato and others criticized the Sophists, because they were not interested in helping others live a wise and virtuous life. The Sophists were very good at arguing, and used wise-sounding words (but fallacious reasoning) to conceal falsehood and persuade others to their side for their own unvirtuous purposes.
Modern day Sophists are any who use sophistry to win arguments and persuade others, but are not interested in reaching the truth or in leading others into wise living with virtue. Sophistry is very similar to the biblical categories of SCOFFER and the FOOL.
Proverbs 18:2 – A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.
Proverbs 28:26 – Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.
Proverbs 29:9 – If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.
Proverbs 29:8 – Scoffers set a city aflame, but the wise turn away wrath.
Proverbs 14:6 – A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain, but knowledge is easy for a man of understanding.
Proverbs 15:12 – A scoffer does not like to be reproved; he will not go to the wise.
I think recognizing the difference between wisdom and sophistry can lead us away from folly. A good question to consider is this: does my worldview lead me into wisdom or sophistry?