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Do not answer a stupid man
in the language of his folly
or you will grow like him;
Answer a stupid man as his folly deserves,
or he will think himself a wise man.
THE SOURCE OF IRRATIONAL THINKING
LOGIC AND THE LAW
THE SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE
THE FOUNDATIONS OF BIBLICAL LOGIC
APOLOGETICS WITHOUT ARISTOTLE
Do you know anyone you feel is irrational? Someone who jumps to conclusions, sticks to his rashly-formed opinions dogmatically, and then renounces the position as though he had never formed it? Or someone who will hold to an idea knowing full well it is wrong, rather than admit his mistake?
I have known people who were irrational. They seem to have trouble thinking sensibly, experiencing all kinds of problems in interpersonal communication because they lack clear, stable thinking.
I notice this most often in non-Christians. I notice it in a lot of those who call themselves Christians, but more frequently in unbelievers. The more closely I can observe them, and the better I get to know them, the more obvious it becomes. Heated reactions to even the insignificant, and grandiose plans and decisions without good judgment. I notice an instability and an inability to think squarely and in accord with reality. Why is this?
There are at least two places in Scripture where this question is answered. Psalm 10:4 says, "The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts." The verse reads more literally, "All his thoughts are, 'There is no God.'" The unbeliever refuses to acknowledge or believe anything that would show forth the existence of an orderly God. He denies life its meaning, order, and coherence; he keeps telling himself, "There is no God; there is no God." He almost believes it.
Romans 1 provides an even clearer description of the unbeliever. Paul says very bluntly that they "suppress the truth in unrighteousness." They know the truth, but by immersing their lives more and more in unrighteousness, or lawless behavior, they try to suppress the truth of God's existence and Law.
Paul goes on in Romans 1 to list the most heinous of sins -- such as homosexuality -- as the end-result of unbelief. Not all unbelievers are homosexuals, murderers, etc, but most of the sins listed in the chapter may be present in one degree or another in most unbelievers. Most of these common sins are sins against truth and language: lying, boasting, exaggeration, arrogant claims, and other such "linguistic unrighteousness."
Language is very important in the life of man. It is one indication that man is created in the image of God; the Lord Jesus Christ is said to be "the Word" (John 1:1; I John 1:1; 5:7; Revelation 19:13, etc.), and man, in contrast to the animals, uses words.
Language is essential for man to carry out the cooperative task of the "Dominion Mandate" (Genesis 1:26-28). Our speaking and our thinking are so inextricably tied together than some have suggested that without a word for an action or an object, you can't reason about it. One non-Christian, by the Grace of God, has seen this and stated, "[T]he whole realm of human intelligence is grounded on the use of language" (Michael Polanyi, 1963).
When God saves us, He saves our language as well (Isaiah 6:5-7; cf. James 3; Matthew 12:37). And when God saves our language, He thereby saves our thinking.
2 Thessalonians 2:10-17 tells us about the destruction of reason in the unbeliever. Verses 10 and 11 speak of Satan, "whose coming and presence is in the sphere of every kind of wicked deception geared to the gullibility of those who are perishing, this gullibility being caused by the fact that they did not accept the love for the truth to the end that they might be saved" (Wuest translation). The passage continues to speak of those who perish: "And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be damned who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness."
Note that verse 10 contrasts unrighteousness, which is a violating of God's Law, with "the love of the truth." Isn't that what we as Christians are really concerned with in our walk with the Savior: coming to, understanding, and walking in, the truth? Again, the contrast is made in verse 12. The truth is contrasted with unrighteousness (lawless deeds). Unrighteousness clearly makes one susceptible to the Big Lie, to Satan's false plan of salvation. To avoid the false, one should submit to God's Law.
In contrast to the unbeliever, and his various degrees of lawlessness, the Bible tells us of the Grace of God to the believer. God puts in the Christian a heart that willingly seeks His Word and obeys His Law. This produces in those who are saved a sound mind. Those who submit to the Word of God, willing to obey everything it says, are given sound reasoning. Submission to the Word of God is the unbeliever coming to his senses; he is enabled to think properly. "Sound words" (logic) are in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 1:13). A "sound mind" is the gift of God (2 Timothy 1:7). "Sound speech" is the pattern of those who are sanctified (Titus 2:8). Titus is told to exhort the young men "to be sober-minded, in all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works, with soundness in doctrine," or as Phillips puts it,
in all your teaching show the strictest regard for the truth, and show that you appreciate the seriousness of the matters you are dealing with. Your speech should be unaffected and logical, so that your opponent may feel ashamed at finding nothing in which to poke holes (Titus 2:6-8).
This is the Christian pattern. Its source? It comes from "sound faith" (Titus 1:13; Titus 2:2). This sound faith comes from an adherence to "sound doctrine" (1 Timothy 1:10; 4:3; Titus 1:9; Titus 2:1). And sound doctrine, as all evangelical Christians know, is found in the Scriptures. Thus, "The thoughts of the righteous are right" (Proverbs 12:5) because he submits to the Scripture, and obeys the Law of God. We will now attempt to put forth a sound argument for the proposition that to think clearly and avoid error in reasoning, one must know the Word of God.
|Logic cannot be taught in a
textbook alone. It flows from good character, which is the habitual
obedience to God's Law.
Jesus was completely, fully, truly human. I am more truly human as I develop Christ-like character traits. I am more fully human as I obey God's Law.
God's Law produces men who are:Accomplished Alert Analytical Available Calm
collected, cool, steady, poised, balanced, serene, Edenic, encouraging Charitable
compassionate, pitying, concerned, caring, solicitous, sorrowful, heartbroken, comforting, supportive, moved, big-hearted, consoling, loving, fond, humane, kind, charitable, thoughtful, generous, liberal, unselfish, bountiful, free, giving, ungrudging, unsparing, lenient, tolerant, agape
absorption, engrossment, fixed regard, intentness, close attention, application, rumination, diligence, devotion, pondering, meditation, deep thought, deliberation, consideration, study, scrutiny, examination
grateful, happy, at peace, satisfied, thankful, appreciative Courage
intrepid, unflinching, undaunted, unalarmed, bold, firm, resolute, unconquerable, staunch, steadfast, unshrinking, plucky, spunky
inventive, imaginative, visionary, inspired, talented, formative, original, ingenious, skilled, crafty, resourceful, clever, enterprising, industrious
discoverer, coiner, generator, initiator, institutor, architect, inventor, devisor, organizer
efficacious, effective, productive, generative, dynamic, competent, fitted, prepared, well-grounded, ready, capable, crack, proficient, adept, experienced, au fait, skillful, dexterous, expeditious, business-like, dominion-oriented, successful, results, hard-headed, fruitful, constructive
the appropriate context)
peppy, energetic, vigorous, dynamic, full of vim and vigor, eager, lively, spirited, animated, vibrant, robust, industrious, driving, pressing on, sprightly, effervescent, cheerful, passionate Expressiveness Faithful Foresight
prudent, careful, discrete, judicious, sagacious, ready, farsighted, circumspect, anticipating, prescient, prepared, sapient, calculating, circumspect, visionary
readiness, future-orientation Frankness Generosity Goal Apprehension
aspiring, hoping, yearning, purposeful, expectant, eager, ambitious, future-oriented, dominion-oriented, enterprising, optimistic
expectant, positive, optimistic, affirmative, cheerful, confident, encouraging, promising, sanguine, assured, secure, convinced, sure, certain, utopian, idealist, visionary, lofty, soaring, grandiose, heavenly
modest, reverential, polite, respectful, gracious, meek, contrite, gentle, lowly, unassuming, unpretentious
Interest in People
recall, recollect, call to mind, have at my fingertips, recognize, aware, retain
law-abiding, peaceable, well-behaved, well-mannered, civil, courteous, polite, disciplined, obedient, self-controlled, quiet, gentle, mild, serene, tranquil, civilized, considerate, thoughtful, neighborly, yielding, peace-loving, non-combative, conciliatory, propitiatory, accommodative, mediatory, calming, tolerant, forbearing, uncomplaining, unassuming, forgiving, intercessory, harmonious, pacific Organization
well-designed, harmonious, symmetrical, methodical, structured, efficient, productive, orderly, fit, systematic, well-managed, under-control, arranged, predictable, attractive, well-proportioned, steward (eco-nomist) Parenting Perfection
prepared, thought-out, ready, thorough, provident, lamps trimmed, wary, equipped
itinerary, design, purpose, objective, end, aim, object, program, project, enterprise, proposal, vision, brainstorm, strategy, blueprint, design, schedule, provision, contingent, agenda, policy, course of action, alternative, option, backup, recourse, substitute, selection, calendar, projection, estimate, probability, plan
budget, consider, contemplate, weigh, count the costs, forecast, anticipate, plan, project, budget, sketch, map, chart, design, arrange Purposefulness
self-control, strength of character, will power, moral fiber, fortitude, patience, endurance, presence of mind, stability, self-command, self-government, self-mastery, work ethic, diligence
develop, work on, refine, polish, perfect, ripen, flower, reconstruct, enhance, enrich, nurture, supplement, augment, advance, promote, progress, become, expand, reinforce, multiply, cultivate
promptness, fervor, zest, liveliness, relish, gusto, verve, vigor, dispatch, willingness, readiness, as unto the LORD, psyched up, kindled, spirited, solicitous, energetic, quick, rapid, expeditious, Johnny-on-the-spot, punctual Sincerity
prosperous, flourishing, booming, wealthy, thriving, rooted, planted, growing, fertile, productive, fecund, fruitful, winning, triumphant, victorious, well-known, fat, abundant, overflowing, abounding, well-supplied, bountiful, plentiful, abounding, abundant, bounteous, cornucopia Thriftiness Touch Virtuous Work for Quality
excellence, distinction, craftsmanship, artistry, superiority, down-deep, genuine, choice, first-rate, foremost, pure, unadulterated, honest, authentic, quality, touch
skill, finesse, savvy, proficiency, ability, adroitness, caliber, command, competence, expertise, forte, knack, know-how, mastery, prowess
Such a person is not "illogical" or "irrational."
Many Christians fail to live up to the standard of prudence and logic set down in the Word and fully obeyed by Christ. These Christians claim to be led by the "spirit" rather than by God's Word.
But their lives are often irrational and unstable. They are not dependable or responsible. They would never even consider carefully studying and diligently working to make their lives ordered and their thinking logical, sensible, and clear. The dominion-oriented, disciplined rationality of the Bible is unknown to them; if known, then rejected. They would be very surprised to find the opening words of John's Gospel translated, "In the beginning was Logic, and Logic was with God, and Logic was God."
Consistency is the mark of the true Christian. Wandering and contradiction are not. These so-called Christians differ little from non-Christians who make no claims to, nor engage in any rituals of, piety. "Ye shall know them by their fruits."
In reaction to these irrational "jesus freaks," some Christians have swung to an opposite extreme. These Christians are very intelligent men, and are diligent to uphold the Scriptures as the inerrant Word of God. They wish to defend "our reasonable faith." They wish to rebuke the mindless flitting-about so characteristic of many modern "Christians." They also wish to guard the Bible against those who claim that supernatural revelation is somehow too infinite for man to understand at all.
To do so, they turn to philosophy in general and Aristotelian Logic in particular. Here, we are told, is a system that reflects the mind of God with amazing accuracy. We can hardly underestimate the significance of that branch of philosophy that began with Aristotle and comes down to us as "Logic." Says one of these Christians, "God is a rational thinking being, whose thought exhibits the structure of Aristotelian Logic" (Gordon H. Clark, "God and Logic," in The Trinity Review, No. 16, Nov/Dec 1980).
This notion has some very important implications. Is it adequate to merely study and apply the Bible to gain sound, rational thought? Or need we also turn to Aristotle? If we as parents and educators are attempting to fulfill Deuteronomy 6:6-9, is it sufficient to give our children a knowledge of the Scriptures, or must they also learn of this secular science called Logic? Is it necessary for us as Christians to learn the fallacies of "converse accident," "the undistributed middle," or "affirming the consequent"? Or is a living knowledge of the Scriptures sufficient to enable us both to avoid "fallacies" in our own speech and thought and to detect and refute error in the everyday language of others?
These questions would seem to be very important, affecting our own study of the Scriptures, the education of our children, and our apologetics (or defense of the faith). These are times that demand a Theonomic View of Logic.
The word "Theonomy" means "God's Law." The current "Christian Reconstruction" movement seeks to bring every area of life under the dominion of Christ as He speaks in the Scriptures. It is not a piecemeal effort, but a quest for a unified "world-and-life view" where all things -- the State, the economy, education, the Family -- operate in terms of God's Law.
This paper seeks to reconstruct "Logic" in terms of God's Comprehensive Law-Word.
We have, up until now, been setting forth the need for Christians to be logical and rational. Because God cannot deny or contradict Himself (2 Timothy 2:13), and never lies (Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2; I Samuel 15:29; Malachi 3:6; James 1:17), we also are to be non-contradictory (I Peter 1:13-16).
But from now on, "Logic" will be for us an undesirable object. For we will be pitting the Scripture, as the all-sufficient rule for our life and thought, against Aristotelian "Logic."
"Logic" means for most people today a secular science, a branch of philosophy. Although the Bible tells us to be "logical" or reasonable, it does not thereby require us to read Irving Copi's Introduction to Logic any more than it required first-century Christians to read Aristotle. If the Bible tells us to be "logical" it means thereby "sensible" and free from error. Henceforth, when "Logic" is capitalized, it refers to the secular science of "Logic" and its canons.
The relationship between Logic and the Law of God is, we believe, quite simple. Logic, as a secular science, is simply a secularization of the demands of the Law. What Benjamin Franklin did for practical morality, Aristotle did for the world of intellectual thought and reason: he secularized and re-formed the ethical norms of Scripture.
But while Mr. Franklin stole many of the laws verbatim (word-for-word), Aristotle removed the Law from its broader personal and practical context in Scripture. In Logic, one studies intellectual thought processes in the abstract, ignoring the broader social and interpersonal dimensions that are inherent in God's Law, and in man, who shows forth the work of the Law written on his heart.
Our thesis is not necessarily that Logic is somehow wrong or sinful; that employing Logic self-consciously ("Let's see, this would be my 'p-term' and this my 'q-term'") is completely contrary to Scripture.
But there is a danger that Logic is exalted above God's Word.
An absolutely crucial point in any discussion of the Christian life must be the Scriptures and their sufficiency as an ethical guide.
All that we need to know about how to walk in the truth and how to deal with the facts of God's creation is found in the Bible. Everything we need to know and do in order to have a standard for sound words and sound thought is in the Scriptures.
Other men have said very wise things, and while they aren't inSpired we may still advance our understanding of the world through them. But to the extent these men are wise, they have themselves learned from God's revelation. If they are unbelievers they have often stolen from the Bible!
Economist Clarence B. Carson, in an article on indebtedness (The Review of the News, Dec. 30, 1981), favorably quoted Benjamin Franklin, who made a very wise statement:
"The borrower is the slave of the lender."
This is indeed a very wise statement, as were many things Ben Franklin said.
This is indeed a very plagiarized statement, as were many things Ben Franklin said. It comes directly from Proverbs 22:7.
Now we must admit that to be a wise man one should be familiar with the proverbs of Benjamin Franklin (especially this one!). But if one is already familiar with the Proverbs of Solomon, which are inSpired of God, then he need not read Mr. Franklin. This is because everything we need to know about wisdom is in the Bible.
The Bible is completely sufficient to give us a "sound mind."
The Bible does more than give us a set of principles or rules of conduct. The Bible exhibits to us a way of thinking.
If we were to thoroughly learn the language of Scripture we would have our minds saturated with the thinking of the Bible. The Bible, it may be said, implicitly commands us to learn our language, and to learn it well, so that we can understand the Bible. In turn, as we learn more of the Bible, we learn the principles of a Godly use of language. Through this somewhat circular or "symbiotic" process by which we learn a Godly use of language, we learn to "think God's thoughts after Him."
Peter tells us that in the Scriptures God "hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and Godliness" (I Peter 1:3). Paul tells Timothy that through the Scriptures "the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Timothy 3:17). If you will listen to the Word of God, "then thou shalt understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path" (Proverbs 2:1,9). Nothing has been left out, Mormons and others to the contrary notwithstanding.
From a Christian perspective, the purpose of Logic should be to get to the truth.
In the Bible there is an interesting relationship between the Law of God, the standard of "righteousness," and truth, which is, after all, the source as well as the object (goal) of clear thinking.
The first thing we find the Scriptures telling us about obedience and the truth is that they are inseparable.
Some people think that there is a difference between "doctrine" and "law." "Law" is seen to reflect only outward behavior, while "truth" or "Doctrine" is something we "believe" in our hearts or minds alone. This distinction is not a Biblical one.
We obey the truth, and we believe the law, as well as the other way around. The opposite of wickedness (acting contrary to the Law) is truth (Proverbs 8:7). To choose the truth is to obey the commandments (Psalm 119:30). In fact, the Law is the truth (Ps. 119:151). To obey the Law is to speak the truth (Proverbs 12:7) because the truth is in the Law (Romans 2:20). Love rejoices in the truth, which is to say, not in lawlessness (I Corinthians 13:6). The truth is a standard of upright conduct (Galatians 2:14). Truth is not merely a noun, it is a verb (Ephesians 4:15). Men who do evil deeds are "destitute of the truth" (1 Timothy 6:3-5), because the truth is "after Godliness" (Titus 1:1). Any commandment of men which turns one from the commandment of God turns one from the truth (Titus 1:14). To convert a man who errs from the truth is to hide a multitude of sins (James 5:19-20). Truth is not mere words to be believed, but is righteous action (I John 3:18; cf. the "commandments" in vv. 19-24). One does not have the truth unless he obeys the Law. We are to do the truth, not just "believe" it (I John 1:6). Paul says we are to obey the truth (Romans 1:5; Romans 2:8; Romans 11:30-31; Galatians 3:1; Galatians 5:7; 2 Thessalonians 1:8), as does Peter (I Peter 1:22). We are to walk in the course charted by the Law (I John 1:7 + Proverbs 6:23) which is to say, we are to walk in the truth (2 John 4; 3 John 3,4; Psalm 26:3; Psalm 86:11).
A clear relationship exists between obedience to the Law and Truth (cf. also Psalm 119:43; Proverbs 14:22; Romans 1:18; Romans 2:20; Ephesians 5:9). If you want to be truthful you have to be obedient to the Law of God.
An excellent illustration of the relationship between obedience and sound thinking is found in our education of children.
To turn a child into a disciplined worker for Christ requires instruction in doctrine and instilling a subjection to wise and Godly authority. A worker is a competent man of self-control, a master of his passions and thoughts. Because he can submit to authority in others, he can direct himself and conquer his frustrations.
As parents, we are required to do more than have our children memorize the catechism. The parents must have their child in control, so that when a command is given the child obeys with all due respect for the parents' authority (I Timothy 3:4, NIV). When the parents give their child a command, the child must be deferent, submissive, and stable. An outspoken "NO!" in response to a command is evidence of a child who is bound for frustration and an absence of self-control. Even when the authority is unGodly and the command unfair, the child must have an ability to submit as unto persecution.
These two aspects -- Doctrine (learning, instruction) and Discipline (correction) -- are inseparable. The Greek Old Testament uses an important word, paideia, to describe both the process and the result of Biblical instruction and discipline. From this word we get our word "pedagogy," meaning the art of teaching. Both discipline and instruction are contained in this word. When referring to its result, it means "mental culture, learning, or education."
The ability to think is contingent not just upon a multitude of facts from textbooks and workbooks (which we might call "doctrine" or "instruction"), but upon maturity, sobriety, and obedience to God's Word. You can teach your 18 month-old son to say "Secular Humanism" or "epistemological self-consciousness," but if he has no fear of God, no respect for Godly authority, or no ability to defer to his elders or family, you will have accomplished very little.
Comparing the NASV and KJV translations of these verses will show the relationship between instruction and discipline: Psalm 50:17; Proverbs 6:23; 12:1; 13:1,18; 15:5,32-33; 19:20; 23:12-13; and in the New Testament, Ephesians 6:4 uses paideia as well as another word, nouthesia, which Jay Adams has shown in full to the brim with implications of obedience to the Word of God.
I Timothy 1:7 says that a sound mind is the gift of God; a result of discipline (NASV). A child (or an adult) who cannot submit to authority is a child that cannot control himself in the short term in order to achieve long-term goals. He will experience continued frustration rather than success through disciplined obedience. And if he cannot control himself, neither can he think. Thinking is work. Thinking requires faith, which is submission to God. The unfaithful man is an irrational man.
The second thing the Scriptures tell us about obedience and truth is that obedience to the Law makes you think straight, that is, truthfully. Obedience to God's judgments brings truth (Psalm 119:43). Obedience brings understanding (Psalm 111:10; Psalm 119:104; Psalm 119:130; Psalm 119:98100). Obedience opens the eyes (Psalm 19:8) and the ears (Jeremiah 6:10). Obedience enables us to understand the sound doctrine that is the source of sound speech and a sound mind (John 17:7).
No mere textbook or home Bible study course is adequate to make one wise; a sound mind is the result of more than just intellectual study. Only by putting into practice the Law of God, by obeying, does one truly understand the Word. And the more you do what the Bible requires, the more you see more of what the Bible requires; and if you continue to obey you will be given still more insight. Paul, in Hebrews 5:12-14, speaks of "them that are of full age, even those who be reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." The word "exercise" is the Greek word from which we derive the English word "gymnasium." The bottom line is this: obey and you will be made wise. The "knowledge" of God is obedience to the truth (Jeremiah 22:16) and all the principles of truth we need to know are in the Scripture.
The Sound Word (i.e., the Scriptures, 2 Timothy 1:13) contains sound doctrine (I Timothy 1:10; 2 Timothy 4:3; Titus 1:9; Titus 2:1), which is the source of a sound faith (Titus 1:13; Titus 2:2), which is necessary for a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). The man with a sound mind in Christ is a man of sound thought (Titus 2:8) and wisdom (Proverbs 2:7; Proverbs 3:21; Proverbs 8:14).
Our conclusion thus far is that logical, sensible, sober, reasonable behavior and thinking is a result of obedience to God's Word. In fact, logical, sensible, sober, rational thinking is commanded by God's Word. Do you wish to avoid being irrational and illogical? Then do it! God commands you this day to become logical, clear-headed, and practical. The man who thinks he is God thinks that he can say anything and get away with it. But the Christian, because he is humble before God, watches his words, is balanced, perceptive, and far-sighted. Gradually, with diligent effort and study of God's word, he attains a measure of the stature of Christ (Ephesians 4:13).
It is not our contention in this paper that one could not gain wisdom in the writings of Ben Franklin, or that one must never ever read a Logic book. Go right ahead.
Nor are we contending that the use of Logic when dealing with an unbeliever has never nor never will lead to conversion.
Our concern is with "professionals" -- often seminary professors or teachers or writers of Christian school programs -- who maintain that one must be taught Logic. This paper will embarrass them with its reactionism and na´vete.
The world wants the Christian to believe that it can't be good if it is not big, impersonal, complex, and macho. Christian Reconstructionists sometimes believe this. But the Biblical world-view is none of these. While Christianity is increasingly universal (Isaiah 11:9) it is no enemy of intimacy (Isaiah 1:9; Zech 4:10). This is because its approach to men is not institutional, but personal, one-to-one, face-to-face; the home is always basic to Christian growth (Acts 2:46; Romans 16:5; I Corinthians 16:19; etc.). It is easy to baffle, fuddle, and impress one's opponent with complexity, but simplicity communicates. The world seems to cultivate distance, aloofness, and the "macho" mystique; loving, sacrificial service of others is basic to Christ's ministry and to the Gospel (Philippians 2:1-8; Romans 12:10,15-16). This perspective on life pervades the Law (Matthew 22:39-40.)
The heart of this paper must not be reduced to a dispute over the technical terms of Logic; we are trying to speak of a way of looking at life.
One could follow Ben Franklin's advice ("Hmmm. . . . Poor Richard's Almanac says that 'The borrower is the slave of the lender.' I'd better stay out of debt.") and do quite well, but he would have only an indirect appreciation of God's sufficient Law. One who self-consciously followed Proverbs 22:7 ("Hmmm. . . . God says 'The borrower is the slave of the lender.' I'd better stay out of debt") sees quite directly how comprehensive God's Law is.
Similarly, if one is trained to apply the Law of God to every area of life, he will know all of the good things that Benjamin Franklin and the Logicians can teach us, but will see his wisdom coming directly from the mouth of God, rather than Aristotle, Copi, or any other man.
Application of Logic rather than a self-conscious application of the Law of God, particularly by Pastors, tends to obstruct from view the usefulness and sufficiency of the Scriptures.
Many Christians already fail to see how rich and enlightening the Bible is. They feel that it is very limited in scope and application, even though their car has a sticker on its bumper proclaiming, "The Bible has all the answers!" Many Christians have been told that the Bible has answers to all their problems, and may even believe it in theory, but they aren't trained to use the Bible to answer all of these questions (Hebrews 5:12-14).
Further, many church members, upon reading the great tomes of theologians who employ so frequently the laws of Logic, or upon hearing those laws so frequently from the pulpit, get the impression that without a knowledge of the "p's" and "q's" or without an ability to correctly distribute their middle term, they cannot understand the Bible and avoid being misled. These sheep become intimidated by the "expert" in the pulpit and assume that theology is a spectator sport. The "clergy-laity" gap is widened; laymen tend to rely on the "expert," trained in Logic, to do their Bible study for them. Those who have studied secular philosophy are more respected than those who know and obey the Bible.
Focus on "rules for argumentation" at the expense of God's principles for life and Godliness, has, in many churches, fostered an argumentative spirit. People tend to reduce the Christian life to the intellectual, and when the broader concerns of Biblical Law are neglected, interpersonal relations suffer.
Finally, time spent studying Logic, especially in an effort to refute the anti-Christian attacks of high-level Humanist intellectuals, is time that could be more profitably spent studying and practicing God's Law.
If we were to view Logic as just about as unimportant in the Christian life as the increasingly-forgotten and uninSpired proverbs of Ben Franklin, we would find a renewed appreciation for the Law of God; that it governs every single facet of our lives (not just the abstract or intellectual). We would avoid error in our own speech and thought, detect it in others, and find some noticeable and favorable improvement in our apologetics, interpersonal relations, and Spiritual growth of our churches.
We do not have the time, nor are we as qualified as we would like to be, to write a Biblical replacement for modern secular Logic books. Such a book would undoubtedly resemble Rushdoony's Institutes of Biblical Law in many ways. Our purpose here is more to defend the Bible against the claims of the philosophers who insist that Christians must learn and venerate the canons of Aristotle in order to bridge the ethical gaps in Scripture.
There are at least three things we as Christians are commanded to do, and the question before us is whether we need to study Logic to do them: (1) Avoid error in our own lives, (2) Detect error in others, and (3) Defend the faith against heresy.
It should go without saying that the Christian desires to avoid error. He does not wish to utter falsehoods. He does not even wish to think them. We wish to "think God's thoughts after Him." The question is not whether we wish to be truthful or not, but how we can best become trained -- disciplined -- to avoid error. From what we've already said, it should be clear that reasoned, consistent thought is a product of Godliness and stability of character. The more wisdom one acquires from the Scriptures the fewer "fallacies" in thought one commits. If one sees the Scriptures as the absolute and detailed blueprint for life's conduct, he uses it as an infallible ethical standard, rather than the shifting, contradictory standards of men and their systems.
Errors have many sources. One source is in our evaluation of the facts. As obedient Christians collect the facts for their task of dominion, they are guarded against erroneous interpretations of the facts.
To avoid such fallacies we can spend some time taking a Logic class at a nearby university. But this should be unnecessary if we have already studied and become practiced in Biblical Law. Christians in Godly humility should not be guilty of forming construction of God's facts that are not in accord with God's world.
Ecclesiastes 5:2 tells us, "Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought. . . . For God is in heaven and you are on earth; therefore let your words be few." Proverbs 19:2 repeats that thought: "It is no use to act before you think: to be hasty is to miss the mark." (Moffat). It is all too easy to believe that we have all the facts and then to make a pronouncement concerning the nature of the facts. But it is not humility, but pride and high-mindedness that speaks without studying (Proverbs 15:28), and such pride is forbidden by the Law of God (Job 38:2; 42:3; Romans 12:3; Psalm 131:1).
Don't think so highly of yourself that you blurt out things that you can't be very sure of; things that you can't guarantee. And don't be so high-minded as to think that you can guarantee all things. If we would just be a little humble we wouldn't "put our foot in our mouth." But the first step in humility is bowing before the Word of God, and in this the Logicians do not encourage us.
We have given far too little study to the practical application of God's Word in our lives, and this is why many are unaware of the sufficiency of Scripture. Logicians will claim a great deal for the laws of Logic, and many church-goers will fall for these claims. Not only does the Bible simply say not to be hasty, but it puts the command in many contexts, and approaches it from various angles. The Bible says not to make pronouncements without sufficient warrant in legal contexts (Proverbs 25:8) as well as interpersonal situations (Proverbs 18:13). We should know not to make a judgment on the basis of only one fact from the dozen or so times the Bible tells us that every matter must be established by at least two witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15, for example).
But the Bible does more than simply focus in on what we say. It also approaches the problem from other perspectives.
Making pronouncements before all the facts are in is to judge contrary to God's foreordaining plan. It is to use one's words as a guarantee or promise of things that will not come to pass. This kind of promise is wrong; as the Westminster Confession of Faith states (xxii.2), one ought "to avouch nothing but what he is fully persuaded is the truth (Exod. 20:7; 2 Chron 6:22; Jer. 4:2)." We should consider our everyday conversation as every bit as serious as a word spoken before God (Matthew 5:34-37; James 5:12), where "I don't know" is a completely appropriate response. Our evaluation or classification of the facts should be governed always by our understanding of the decree of God. The Logician can make guidelines, but the Christian knows that some things have already been infallibly assessed by God in His Word. We avoid errors by keeping in mind God's evaluation of people and their actions, as well as His judgments upon societies and their laws. Unwarranted pronouncements are ultimately a taking of the Lord's Name in vain (WCF xxii; WLC 113). The Bible obviously condemns what the Logicians call "material fallacies" such as "converse accident" (or "hasty generalizations"), but by following a law of Logic instead of turning to the Word, God's Law is secularized and credit given to the Logicians instead of to God.
Another source of error is an unsanctified heart. Pride often causes us to speak out as though we were "experts," not because we have in fact studied long and carefully, but because we seek to impress our acquaintances. Hasty generalizations are often a product of a rash and foolish spirit, about which the Bible has much to say (Ps. 115:11; Prov. 21:5; Prov. 29:20; Eccl. 7:9). Non-Christian attitudes, emotions, and motivations often produce unwarranted constructions of the facts. False claims are often made out of anger toward another (Ecc. 7:9). False allegations against our neighbor or the products of his vocation are surely forbidden (Ex. 20: 16; Prov. 20:14.)
One of the most crippling diseases in the "Christian Reconstruction" movement is the misconception that it is of primary importance that the intellectuals and men of high social status be evangelized and converted. Even worse is the belief that this must be done on their terms. Bus drivers, plumbers, and farmers receive little attention because they are not "influential."
When they are addressed the names and alleged ideas of the intellectuals are expected to impress these uneducated peons.
Failure to abide by God's Written Standard often produces this and other mis-directed appeals; appeals that are directed to some creaturely authority, often against some other person. The Christian is obviously forbidden to engage in such appeals.
When the Logician speaks of the fallacies of ad Baculum, ad Hominem, ad Misericordium, ad Populum, ad Verecundium, he is not complaining because the appeals are to men rather than to God and His Law, and thus ultimately he does not help the Christian. One Logician has even gone so far as to assert that the Bible contains some of these fallacies, and that to appeal to the Bible is itself a fallacy. This is the result of abstracting Biblical Law; of setting down principles to substitute for Scripture without giving due glory to God (cf. Romans 12:16).
Language was given to man so that he might praise God and tell of His Glory. It is a tool. It can be used Biblically or it can be misused. With proper motivation, in accord with the standard of the Scriptures, language affords boundaries of classification and definition which serve as a framework of meaning, helping us communicate honestly and effectively. If God can use language to reveal Himself to us infallibly, then we also can communicate truthfully.
The term "bureaucratese" as been coined to describe a misuse of language which seeks to cover up and obscure the truth, rather than display it. The Christian should never engage in such double-talk, but should always seek to bring out the truth in every discussion (Eph. 4:25,29).
Modern Logic texts are, to their credit, recognizing the importance of language and the need for simple, non-deceptive communication. Communication requires an understanding that language can serve many different functions, and is seldom exclusively dry and intellectual. Our rich language reflects the rich variety of God's creation and our own creation in His Image. But this richness can be abused by wicked men to create ambiguity through equivocation or distortion. Logic books are increasingly aware of the hazards of language misuse. But the Bible has been saying this all along. Familiarization with the language of the Bible will familiarize one with reasonable, clear thinking, since the language of the Scriptures will reflect the thinking of God. The kind of thinking and reasoning evident in the Bible, as well as the use of language, is the best teacher of these principles, and a wise and loving person will avoid misusing our language, because his heart is not froward (cf. Prov. 8:8).
There is, in summary, nothing (of value) that we can learn from Logic that we cannot learn from the Scriptures. Every sound principle of Logic is a principle of Sound Doctrine; every problem that can be solved by Logic can be more effectively handled by the Scriptures. In the Bible we have "all things that pertain unto life and godliness" (II Peter 1:3). If we wish to avoid error we need to learn the Scriptures, for they are able to equip us for every good work (II Timothy 3:17). If we wish to avoid error we must become disciplined, obedient, faithful servants of Christ, with lives filled with the fruits of the Spirit. This obedience is a work of God's grace through His Word. You must not expect to learn a list of fallacies and syllogistic forms from a Logic text and then be able to live and teach an error-free life before men and God if prior to your Logic class you were a loud-mouthed, bombastic, rash, and envious fool! The obedience of which we speak requires diligence!
If we are committed to detecting error in others, to avoid being misled by it, and, as we shall see below, testifying against it, then we need to compare the principles of Logic with the principles of God's Word to decide which will better equip the Christian in his apologetics and interpersonal relations. The scope of Biblical Law is broad and personal, while logic is abstract, impersonal, and intellectualistic.
Logic tends to be narrow in its conception of life. We can see this more clearly if we learn a little about the Greek philosophers in general. The non-Christian Greek philosophers took a delight in the non-practical, gaining a kind of religious, mystical satisfaction from "geometric" and "deductive" truths and proofs. The non-Christian Encyclopedia of Philosophy (III:285), in discussing geometry, notes the Greeks' penchant for the abstract:
Geometry is thought to have had its origin in the practical work of surveying land. . . . [But] the Greeks prized (a) theoretical study of geometry for its own sake, not merely for its useful applications. . . . The Greeks took the decisive step of embracing deduction as their method of discovering new laws, and finding it a delightful method, they began to construct deductive proofs even of geometrical propositions that were not doubtful. . . . Pythagoras and, after him, Plato exalted the intellectual importance of geometry because in its abstract timeless purity it seemed to them to have a close kinship with metaphysics and religion.
Isn't that an amazing admission? And, of course, much of our public school curricula have as their foundation a belief in the abstract as somehow "religiously" important. Most geometry classes have no real practical value. Educators, following the Greeks, believe that it is important for the children to experience metaphysical union with the abstract, and so geometry is required of most students, separated from a dominion context. Logic suffers from this same origin and the same problems. Intellectual methods of thought are abstracted out of Biblical Law and formulated as the laws of Logic. We must be prepared, then, to find quite a difference between Biblical Law on the one hand, and its Greek secularization, Logic, on the other.
The amateur Logician, as he surveys his Logic text, is confident that, armed with the laws of Logic, he can arbitrate all disputes and avoid all errors. He gets this impression from the Logic texts that offer air-tight, contrived, and simplistic examples of Logic in action. But when he gets out into the real world, and has to deal with real people, he finds the situation is more complex, and his Logic less applicable. (This is provided he has some degree of sanctification; without it he may well continue thoughtlessly applying his Logic, oblivious to its counter-productivity.) What is the problem in such a case? One non-Christian writer, in an article for the Journal of the American Forensic Association entitled, "The Limits of Logic," has said,
It is important to note that the examples commonly used in argumentation texts to show the use of variant logics all share one critical common attribute -- the examples exhibit a minimum of linguistic slippage. Yet it is precisely under such stable language conditions where critics can readily prove the workability of almost any logical system. What the real test of logic's relevance must include are the sorts of equivocal and untractable arguments which typify so much public controversy; for it is usually in intricate marketplace dispute where severe problems in translation arise -- mainly because the nature of the inference leap is not made self-evident nor recognizable by the manifest language content.
In other words, before you can test the validity of any common argument that you might run up against, you have to translate it into one of the many different syllogistic forms described in the Logic text. This is one of the drawbacks of dealing with abstract laws, rather than Biblical Law. The Bible enlightens not just the abstract process of reasoning, but the personal situation and the heart of the apologete. Biblical Law can be applied directly to the heart of the erring party (Hebrews 4:12). Too often the heart and the personal situation (motivations, goals, etc. of the erring party) are ignored in Logic texts -- and who could expect otherwise, for "man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart" (I Samuel 16:7). Knowledge of the principles of Logic will avail little if your heart has no knowledge of God. You will not be able to judge righteous judgment (John 7:24), because a froward heart will destroy words in order to accomplish its evil purpose (Proverbs 2:12; 8:13, etc.). Consider this classic textbook example of Logic in action:
If Shakespeare wrote Paradise Lost, he would be a great author.
Shakespeare was a great author.
Therefore, Shakespeare wrote Paradise Lost.
This is most obviously false, but it is also kind of ridiculous, isn't it? It certainly seems to point out "the limits of Logic."
This example is terribly unlifelike. I can't imagine that anyone could be so confused about literature as to argue this innocently. It's too contrived. It would have to be a trick. I smell deception. This is the first cousin to deceptive questions like, "Who wrote Ravel's Bolero?"
But let us assume that someone is actually trying to prove that Paradise Lost was written by Shakespeare, and that they were using this argument to do so. The Logician says he commits the fallacy of "affirming the consequent." But that's too air-tight. If we may be allowed to be as unlifelike as the Logic text, we may poke a little fun by hypothesizing the following:
Maybe this is a new literary theory about the use of pen-names by great authors; with just a little reformulation, this could be perfectly Logical:
If "Shakespeare" (a pseudonym) wrote Paradise Lost, he would be a great author (namely, John Milton).
"Shakespeare" was that great author.
Therefore, "Shakespeare" wrote Paradise Lost.
This argument is unlike the first formulation, in that it is perfectly Logical, but like the first, in that it is perfectly ridiculous.
Another (preposterous) possibility: Somebody is on "What's My Line." Mr X. has already signed in, and our student is trying to piece together the clues. He thinks to himself, "If Mr. X. wrote Paradise Lost, he would be that great author, John Milton." While he ponders this certain truth, Mr. X.'s secret is discovered by another panelist; he is in fact that great author, John Milton. Our student immediately and correctly infers that Mr. X. is the author of Paradise Lost. All of this is perfectly Logical and perfectly useless. It is sheer abstraction to discuss this classic example simply in terms of "affirming the consequent" or any other Logical form.
Let us return to our initial reaction to this scenario. Biblically we can say that the problem with the argument (trying our darndest to pretend that it could really happen in "the real world") is not that it violates a Logical form. The problem is evident from the outset: It's packed with deception. What could it mean to say something like, "If Shakespeare wrote Milton's Paradise Lost he would be a great author?" Why the hypothesis about Shakespeare? Would our conclusion about Shakespeare's greatness be altered by a revelation one way or the other concerning Paradise Lost? Why is Shakespeare's name being associated with Milton's work? This is already implicitly spreading falsehood about one's neighbor. Whoever says such a thing is intending to deceive, not inform.
While the Logician will say that this example is guilty of affirming the consequent, the Theonomist will say that its proponent is trying to deceive and to attack Milton's (or Shakespeare's) good name, a violation of the Ninth Commandment.
As far as avoiding this error in our lives, the Theonomist would not make this error because he avoids being deceptive. His desire is to shepherd, not to deceive. He does not make literary judgments just to impress others when he doesn't know the facts. In real life, if you are of a pure heart, judging according to the Law of God, you will not "affirm the consequent," "deny the antecedent," or leave your middle undistributed.
As far as detecting error in the statements of others, to avoid being misled, the sanctified Theonomist is trained to detect a froward heart, and avoids his error. God does not judge by appearances only, but knows the heart (I Samuel 16:7). As the Spirit perfects the Image of God in us (Psalm 82:6) we are able to avoid judging on the simplistic level of logical form. We can apply the Word directly to the heart of the gainsayer (John 7:24; 2 Corinthians 10:7,4-5).
Our goal as Theonomists is not just to expose the logical fallacies in the form of the question being asked us, it is to move the whole of life closer to God's Standards. This sometimes requires us to ask our inquirer, "Why are you asking this question?" To simply respond, "you have committed the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent" invites an equally irrelevant response from the scorner. You must get back to God's Law: Why is this question being asked? What part of God's Law is being evaded?
Go to Part Two:
Apologetics Without Aristotle
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