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It should be clear that not all men are committed to the Scriptures as an absolute, infallible standard of authority. They seek to deny the faith rather than uphold it.
In our day, many Christians take a lively interest in "dialoging" (if I may resurrect that term) with secular philosophers and intellectuals. The purported purpose of such interaction is an apologetic one; they claim to be involved in defending the faith in the world of ideas. Whether the field is economics, politics, philosophy, or modern theology, these Christians regularly don Saul's armor by employing secular thought patterns, terms, and issues to fight secular thought patterns, terms, and issues. The idea of this paper, that Logic is not a part of the armor of God, will surely strike these men as unsophisticated, naive, or obscurantist. How can we effectively deal with unbelieving intellectuals and those how are influenced by them without Aristotle's laws of Logic under our belt?
There are at least two ways unbelievers can deny the faith They may do this by employing the principles of Logic, or they may self-consciously employ Logical fallacies in an attempt to deceive the Christian. But with a knowledge of Scripture we may detect their errors, avoid them ourselves, and witness against them. There is no man who is immune from the two-edged sword of the Spirit, which discerns his inner motivations. There is no argument or problem which cannot be dealt with in terms of Scripture. Every argument that does not contain an obvious misstatement of fact (an error that can be detected best by a man with a pure heart, but also by Logicians independent of their Logical abilities) will be at odds with Scripture in some way. Its premises may directly contradict Scripture; its conclusion may contradict Scripture (in which case the form of the argument may be irrelevant); it may be a part of a larger and more obviously anti-Biblical argument, and thus evidence of evil motives; or it may be just plain stupid.
Let us consider this last case: the apprentice apologist encounters an the argument is, in terms of sanctified common sense, moronic. It doesn't take a course in Logic to detect these questions.
Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto
Titus 3:9 literally says to "avoid moronic questions."
The Theonomist, concerned as he is with the Word of God as it governs the lives of men, is always alert to an unsubmissive heart as evidenced by lawless behavior or thought.
Sometimes arguments against the faith are better ignored than answered, even if a technically correct answer can be given. Some people will not be persuaded no matter how correct the answer is. They should be ignored.
Instead of nit-picking or engaging in unprofitable debates over words or mere intellectual forms prescribed by a Logic text, the Theonomist is always pushing his neighbor towards Godliness according to God's Word. He sees Logic as unnecessary, because it diverts one's attention from the Word of God to the rules of a man-made game. He always moves the conversation away from trivia and focuses in on a man's relationship to the Law of God.
But what should be our response to the moronic question? Those Christians who support Logic as a necessary supplement to Scripture have a tendency to major on the intellectual and minor on the Ethics of Scripture (i.e., personal Godliness in life and society). This writer is very sensitive to this fact, because an educational background dominated by high-pressure academic debate has fostered a debating spirit in him, and he is even today quick to refute and eager to give his rebuttal in even the most moronic of matters. Those who follow in the steps of the Reformers seem in general to be plagued by this impulse to polemic and disputation. This is strange, since perhaps the greatest Reformer, John Calvin, has written so eloquently against a debater mentality and an intellectualistic indifference to personal Godliness and Theonomic ethics. Scripture makes a very plain and pointed admonition to avoid any and every conversation or argument that is not centered on the Word and capable of producing the fruit of Godliness in the lives of the disputants. It is simply not necessary to refute some teachings, even if they are false. Much less should we argue with these errorists about the form of their argument. We are simply instructed to ignore them, and move on to more profitable ventures. Let us hear Calvin's comments on these important passages of Scripture.
Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than Godly edifying which is in faith. Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: from which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling. (I Timothy 1:4-6)
From this passage Calvin teaches us a principle that few Reconstructionists seem to accept: Not all things which are false are worthy of our refutation; not all things that are merely true are worthy of our attention.
Many Christian scholars are convinced of the need to learn many trifling things in order to get on the good side of the Humanists; to earn their "respect." Calvin says if it doesn't produce ethical change and increase our faithfulness, it isn't worth talking about.
Many Christian scholars feel the need to refute Humanistic assertions or arguments which, even if refuted, have little to do with Godliness. It may display our ability to engage in "cultural critique," but has little to do with the knowledge of God (cf. Jeremiah 22:16):
"In my view he means by fables not so much contrived falsehoods but rather trifles and foolish tales that have nothing solid in them. A thing which is not false may yet be fabulous. Paul includes disputes about genealogies among fables, not because everything that can be said about them is fictitious, but because it is foolish and unprofitable. This is in fact . . . something that, even among men of letters, has rightly been always held in derision by people of good sense. For it was impossible not to regard as ridiculous curiosity that which neglected useful knowledge in order to spend a lifetime examining the family tree of Achilles or Ajax and exhausted its ingenuity in reckoning up the sons of Priam. If this is intolerable in the learning of the schoolroom, where there is a place for pleasant diversions, how much more so in our knowledge of God.
"He judges doctrine by its fruit. All that is unedifying is to be rejected, even if there is nothing else wrong with it, and all that serves only to stir up controversy should be doubly condemned. Such are all these subtle questions on which self-seeking men exercise their abilities. We should remember that this is the rule by which all doctrines are to be tried: those which tend to edification may be approved, but those that prove themselves material for fruitless controversies are to be rejected as unworthy of the Church of God. If this test had been applied over several centuries, then, although religion might have been corrupted by many errors, at least there would have been less of that devilish art of disputation which goes by the name of scholastic theology. For that theology is nothing but contentions and idle speculations with nothing of value in them. The more learned in them a man is, the more wretched he should be thought to be. I am aware of the plausible arguments with which it is defended, but they will never succeed in proving false what Paul says here by way of condemnation of all this sort of thing. Subtleties of this kind build up men in pride and vanity but not in God. So today, when we define true theology, it is quite clear that it is we who desire to restore something which has been wretchedly mangled and disfigured by those triflers who are puffed up by the empty title of theologian, but offer nothing but emasculated and meaningless trifles."
Calvin forces us to examine our hearts to see if we can justify spending long hours learning the intellectual games and questions of secular philosophy. Arguing with fools over moronic questions and issues, and over the rules of the intellectual game, actually corrupts the Church by entangling her in their foolishness (Proverbs 26:4). The Law of God forces issues of ethical Godliness into our hearts, and questions of endless intellectual dispute far from us.
But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of Godliness (I Timothy 4:7).
If anyone is teaching otherwise, and will not give his mind to wholesome precepts of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to Godliness, I call him a pompous ignoramus. He is morbidly keen on verbal questions and quibbles, which give rise to jealousy, quarreling, slander, base suspicions, and endless wrangles; all typical of men who have let their reasoning powers become atrophied and have lost grip of the truth, who think of piety in terms of profit; from such withdraw thyself(I Timothy 6:3-5)
"It is possible not to profess any unGodly or manifest error and yet to corrupt the doctrine of Godliness by silly boastful babbling. For when there is no progress or edification from any teaching, it has already departed from the institution of Christ. But although Paul is not speaking of the avowed originators of unGodly doctrines, but rather about empty and irreligious teachers, who out of self-seeking or avarice deform the simple and genuine doctrine of Godliness, yet we see how sharply and vehemently he attacks them. And it is no wonder; for it is almost impossible to overstate the amount of harm done by hypocritical preaching, whose only aim is ostentation and vain display. And what is this but to reject the sound words of Christ? They are called sound because their effect is to confer upon us, or because they are fitted to promote, soundness.
"Doctrine which is according to godliness means the same. For it will be consistent with Godliness only if it establishes us in the fear and worship of God, if it builds up our faith, if it trains us in patience and humility and all the duties of love. Thus anyone who does not try to teach profitably, does not teach rightly; whatever display it may make, teaching is not sound unless it tends to the profit of its hearers. Paul charges these profitless teachers first with foolish and empty pride. Secondly, since the best punishment for self-seekers is to condemn all the things they delight in as ignorance, he says that they know nothing, though they are puffed up with many subtle arguments. They have nothing solid but only empty wind. At the same time he warns all Godly men not to let themselves by carried away by that kind of vain display but to remain rather steadfast in the simplicity of the Gospel.
"Paul has good reason to mention together questionings and disputes of words, for by the first term he does not mean the kind of question that either springs from a moderate and sober desire to learn, or contributes to a clear explanation of useful points, but rather the kind of question that today is dealt with in the schools of the Sorbonne, to make a display of intellectual ability. There one question leads to another, for there is no end to them, when everybody indulges his vanity in seeking to know more than he ought. . . . [These] contentious disputes [are] concerned with words rather than with anything real, which are, as is commonly said, without substance or foundation. If anyone investigates carefully the kind of questions that are of burning concern to sophists, he will find that they do not arise from anything real, but are concocted out of nothing. In short, Paul's purpose was to condemn all questions which would involve us in sharp disputes over matters of no consequence.
"He adds that by such things men are corrupted in mind and bereft of the truth. It is quite clear that here he is censuring the sophists who have no concern for edification and turn God's Word into trivialities and a source of ingenious discussions. From this passage we should learn to detest sophistry as a thing inconceivably harmful to the Church of God. He does not only forbid Timothy from imitating them, but tells him to avoid them as harmful pests. Although they do not openly oppose the Gospel, but make a profession of it, yet their company is infectious. Besides if the crowd sees us to be familiar with these men, there is a danger that they will use our friendship to insinuate themselves into its favor. We should therefore take great pains to make everyone understand that we are quite different from them, and have nothing at all in common with them."
We must separate ourselves from those theologians who intellectualize faithfulness.
Calvin's mention of training "in patience and humility and all the duties of love" is the heart of a Theonomic apologetic (Romans 13:8-10). The Law is God's expression of the practical manifestations of Love and Lordship, which we call faithfulness. Theonomic faithfulness is the essence of the Gospel, not an intellectual wrangling over words; obedience, not disputation, is Godliness.
Have nothing to do with a factious person after a first and second warning (Titus 3:10).
"A Man that is heretical avoid. He had good reason to add this, for there will be no end of quarrels and altercations, if we wish to conquer obstinate men in argument, for they will never lack words, and they will derive fresh courage from their wickedness so that they will never grow weary of fighting. Thus, having laid down for Titus what form of doctrine he ought to teach, he now tells him not to waste time in debating with heretics. . . . This is the cunning of Satan, that by the wicked talkativeness of such men he entangles good and faithful pastors so as to distract them from their concern with teaching. Thus we should beware not to let ourselves become involved in quarrelsome arguments, because then we shall never be free to devote our labor to the Lord's flock, and argumentative people will never cease to trouble us.
"In telling him to avoid such people, it is as if he had said that he must not spend much effort in satisfying them, for there is nothing better than denying to them the chance to fight they desire. This warning is highly necessary, for even those who would be glad to take no part in verbal battles are sometimes drawn into controversy, because they think that it would be shameful cowardice to yield. But Paul does not wish Christ's servants to be too much or too long employed in disputing with heretics."
This author has long been under the impression that every argument had to be answered, and had to be answered according the rhetorical and argumentative standards of Aristotle and the Humanists. I probably deluded myself into thinking it was in the interest of the purity of the Church, but pride was undoubtedly not absent. It is not shameful cowardice to recognize a contentious spirit, declare God's Word against disputatious pride, and let the Spirit work on his heart with the Law of God you have presented.
Remind them about these things, solemnly calling on them in the Presence of God not to argue about words, since that is of no use and tears down those who listen. Do your utmost to let God see that you at least are a sound workman, with no need to be ashamed of the way you handle the Word of Truth. Avoid all that profane jargon, for it leads people still further into unGodliness (2 Timothy 2:14-16).
Calvin rightly notes that this passage, while it underscores the importance of sound teaching, places greatest emphasis upon the goal of teaching, which is Godly obedience. Calvin contrasts the workman, who handles the Word of God, with the man who uses the pulpit to peddle philosophical jargon:
"Let us notice first that teaching is rightly condemned on the sole ground that it does no good. God's purpose is not to pander to our inquisitiveness, but to give us profitable instruction. Away with all speculations that produce no edification! I wish that this could be taken to heart by those who are always looking for wordy battles, searching out a quarrel in every question and quibbling over single words or syllables. But they are carried away by ambition, which, as I know by experience with some of them, is sometimes an almost fatal disease.
"The source of all doctrinal disputes is that clever men wish to show off their abilities before the world, and Paul here lays down the best and most fitting remedy for this by telling Timothy to keep his eyes fixed on God. It is as if he had said, 'Some men seek popular applause, but let it be your aim to approve yourself and your ministry to God.'
"Erasmus translates, 'that needeth not to blush or to be ashamed,' and I have no fault to find. But I prefer to take it actively, 'that doth not blush or is not ashamed,' both because that is the more customary Greek usage, and because it seems to fit the present passage better. There is an implied contrast; those who disturb the Church with their contentions are so fierce against each other because they are ashamed to admit that there is anything they do not know. Paul on the other hand calls them back to God's judgment and tells them first not to be lazy disputers but workmen. By the word he indirectly rebukes the foolishness of those who wrack themselves in doing nothing. Let us therefore be workmen who build up the Church, and let us set about God's work in such a way that some fruit may appear; then there will be no cause to be ashamed. For even if we cannot compete with talkative braggarts in disputing, it will be sufficient if we excel them in our zeal for edification, our industry and courage, the efficacy of our teaching. In short, he charges Timothy to work with diligence that he may not be ashamed before God; whereas the only kind of shame ambitious men dread is to lose their reputation for acuteness or abstruse knowledge."
It is not that Calvin was weak and unprepared to argue Logic and sophism with "talkative braggarts." Calvin undoubtedly could have out-talked the best of them, reducing them to whimpering puppies in the sight of men. But in so doing he may well have produced nothing but resentment, hardness of heart, and no greater obedience to God's Law, and in fact increased lawlessness by sinking to their level.
I have been admonished by Calvin's comments. My greatest personal fear in evangelism has been that of being out-talked by contentious Humanists. I felt I had to respond to every single point they made, and argue until sunrise if need be to completely refute them. I have often wasted hours on what were clearly moronic questions.
An obedience-centered apologetic relies on the Spirit to change the heart. More than one Reconstructionist has expressed concern that if we simply rely on the Law and neglect to counter Humanistic arguments with Logic, we will be seen as simplistic and naive, and the Humanist will lose respect for us. The simple statement that the Humanist's proposal (for example) to liberalize abortion laws is plainly unethical and immoral, will probably cause him to walk away muttering something about fundamentalists. But if your presentation of the Law of God was done in meekness and fear, rather than a spirit of intellectual machismo, the Humanist might come back -- if he is moved by the Spirit.
It took Calvin's insightful comments to convince me that I am not God. I can't make him come back. I can't save him. Even if I learn all of Aristotle's laws of Logic and point such trivial fallacies in his pro-abortion argument out to him, I still won't be God. It is the Spirit Who changes men, and He witnesses to the Word of God (Isaiah 55:10-11).
The notion of the workman also brings to mind the importance of a Theonomic (Law-Centered) apologetic, because our attention is focused on practical obedience. If we are trying to build up the Church into obedience, and ourselves as well, we simply won't have time for the scholastic disputes of the world's academes. Separation from disputatious persons may be a passive result of obedience as much as an active goal. Consider the impact widespread Covenantal obedience would have on our apologetics: If a good percent of all Americans practiced Theonomic ethics, and were thus continually engaged in works of mercy, love, and faith (Matthew 23:23) with the poor, widows, the elderly, and the fatherless being personally cared for in Christ's Name (Jeremiah 22:16), the great leisure-class and the influential seminary/university caste would be miniscule and ridiculous in comparison. When all of society is freely functioning, prospering, and so obviously ordered and preserved by Christian ethics and Biblical faithfulness, the man who steps up and announces he has "a Logical argument against the Virgin Birth" is met with unanswerable questions: "What? An argument against social order? An argument against property, peace, and prosperity? An argument against civilization? An argument against reality? The infidel would quickly and uncoercively be carted off to a room with pillows on the wall, his insanity would be so blatant. Better still, what would be obvious would be that this man is unproductive, rebellious, and disobedient, and for obvious reasons we just put our hand back to the plow and ignore him; not just because we are to ignore fools and avoid them, but because God has commanded us to be servant-workmen.
Someday, when Christians are united in obedience to God and His Law, there will be this kind of social apologetic; men will believe that Christ is sent of the Father (John 17:21). In the meantime, Godliness is still the best apologetic. When Peter commands us to be ready to give an answer to any who would ask a reason of the hope that is in us (I Peter 3:15), he also commands us to have obedient lives, in spite of the prevailing culture (v. 16). Likewise Titus is told that an obedient life will pre-empt foolish questions (Titus 2:8).
But when Christians are intellectually puffed up and neglect their duties as covenant workmen, there is an inadequate apologetic. A "victory" for Christian Reconstruction on paper or in an auditorium alone is no victory at all.
In an age dominated by profane philosophy, simplicity is seldom a vice. Academic bombast is today the plague of the Reconstructionists, who are far too eager to please the intellectuals:
This is not just a fault of the Pastors and leaders of the movement. Followers have picked up the tendency to boast in the jargon of the Humanists and Logicians. Talk about personal holiness and the power of the Spirit is seldom heard, much less seen. Critique of "(name polysyllabic philosophical/theological trend)" is torrential. The more big philosophical and Logical terms one can employ the surer his place in Reconstructionist circles is felt to be.
O Timothy, keep the securities of the faith intact; avoid the profane jargon and contradictions of what is falsely called "knowledge." Certain individuals have failed in the faith by professing that (I Timothy 6:20).
"The purpose of this admonition is that he should be devoted to solid teaching, and this can happen only if he turns away from all ostentation, for where a desire to please predominates, there is no longer any concern for edification. he is censuring the high-sounding talk and the bombastic verbosity of those who are not content with the simplicity of the Gospel, but turn it into profane philosophy. Thus the vain babblings do not consist of specific single words, but of that swollen bombastic talk which is continually and disgustingly pouring forth from ambitious men who seek applause for themselves more than progress for the Church. Even though they taught nothing contrary to godliness, because their whole teaching is nothing but big bombastic words, since it is completely inconsistent with the majesty of Scripture, with the power of the Spirit, with the earnestness of the prophets and the sincerity of the Apostles, it is therefore an absolute profanation of genuine theology. What, I ask, do they teach about faith or repentance, or calling on God, or human incapacity, the help of the Holy Spirit or the free remission of sins, or about the work of Christ, that can have any value in building up men solidly in Godliness? Certainly anyone endowed with moderate intelligence and impartiality will agree that all the high-sounding terms of (their) theology and all the authoritative definitions of doctrine that make such a noise in their schools are nothing but profane kenophoniai -- and no better term for describing them can be found. It is most just that those who turn aside from the purity of Scripture should be punished for their arrogance by ending in profanation. The teachers of the Church cannot therefore be too careful in avoiding corruptions of that kind and in defending young men from them.
"By oppositions to true knowledge the Apostle means exhibitions of pomp which court and win the world's applause. For ambition is always contentious and leads to disputes, so that those who wish to show off are always ready to draw the sword on any subject. The only thing which on Paul's authority truly deserves to be called knowledge is that which instructs us in the confidence and fear of God, that is, in Godliness."
It is always more tempting to appear knowledgeable and savvy in secular argumentation thus gaining the temporary approval of Humanism's intellectual elite than it is to present the bold but "simple" claims of Christ the King. Giving in to this temptation will come back to haunt us, as Calvin explains:
"God's way of punishing the arrogance of those who for the sake of winning a reputation, corrupt and deform the doctrine of Godliness, is to allow them to lose the soundness of their understanding, so that they become involved in many absurd errors."
This author has seen it happen.
The Word is trustworthy. And concerning these things I desire you to be constantly strongly assertive, in order that those who have believed God may be taking careful thought to busy themselves constantly in good works. These things are good and profitable to men. But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, strifes, and wranglings about the law, for they are futile and purposeless. Have nothing to do with a factious man after a first and second warning (Titus 3:9-10).
"He calls them foolish not because at first sight they seem to be so -- often they deceive us by an empty show of wisdom -- but because they contribute nothing to Godliness.
"He rightly adds strifes, because in questionings the ruling motive is ambition, and the inevitable result is that they at once break out into contention and quarrels, for everyone wishes to be the conqueror. This is accompanied by a rashness in affirming things which are uncertain, and this of necessity provokes conflicts."
Calvin has correctly diagnosed a problem that is tormenting many churches in Reconstructionist circles. Instead of seeing apologetics as a testimony to a persecuting world (I Peter 3:15-16), and instead of seeing interpersonal counseling as an opportunity to foster Godliness and obedience, ambition drives many to "conquer" their "opposition" and to display their own intellectual powers. Many apologists, instead of focusing attention on the Word of God and the doctrines of Godliness, use Logic, philosophy, and Humanistic principles of argumentation as a sword, and in replacing the Sword of the Spirit, they reduce apologetics to intellectual war-games. I have been literally told that Logic is an intellectual weapon used "to silence the errant party" as though through intimidation. "If we are able to destroy our opponent with irrefutable arguments and the laws of Logic he will cower before us. He'll think twice before bringing such flimsy arguments before us!"
Intellectual intimidation is neither valuable nor permitted (Romans 12:16). Whereas Scripture in its broader perspective treats people as people who need to obey the Word of God, Logicians neglect this Biblical perspective, and tend to treat people as arguments.
Our standard is to be the Scriptures, not profane philosophy (2 Timothy 2:16; I Corinthians 2:1; 3:18-19). We must not allow secular philosophers to separate obedience from our apologetics.
"In teaching we are always to have regard to usefulness so that all that is not conducive to Godliness may be excluded. There is no doubt that the sophists in their ranting about things of no worth boasted of them as highly worthy and useful to know, but Paul does not admit any usefulness except in building up faith and a holy life."
A noted Reconstructionist, in asserting that a Christian apologist must take a course in Logic, attempted to demonstrate that one could not confute the gainsayers without a knowledge of Logic. As a former seminary professor, he undoubtedly knew how important Logic was if one was to successfully compete with the schoolmen.
He presented to me an argument which he said could not be dealt with in a Biblical way without the use of Logic. Here is his argument:
We are justified by works (James 2:24).
We are not justified by works (Romans 3-4).
We are justified by works or Jesus married Mary Magdalene ("where the use of the word 'or' demands that at least one side of the disjunct be true").
Therefore Jesus married Mary Magdalene.
Now suppose this were a Humanist professor, and you knew no Logic. Could you deal effectively with his assertion that he had proved with deductive certainty that Jesus married Mary Magdalene?
We should mention is that "to deal effectively" with the professor means "to deal Biblically," not "to exercise your omnipotence and actually convert him through a display of your intellectual prowess."
As we have seen, not all arguments should be answered; rather than waste our time, we should "avoid moronic questions." The applicability of this principle to the professor's problem did not register with the professor himself. A Christian with a measure of sanctified sense combined perhaps with a personal knowledge of the person issuing such an argument may be persuaded to drop this dispute like a hot potato. Some unbelievers (and far too many Christians) would love to get you locked into hours of intricate but unproductive disputation over the laws of Logic or jargon of modern philosophy. Ignoring such an argument is far wiser than attempting to refute his Logic or straighten out his understanding of modern philosophy. Answering his Logic with more Logic would be less productive (Proverbs 26:4).
But still, because the work of the Law is written on his heart, he knows when his arguments are foolish violations of that Law. We should point out to him that he knows better than to be so stupid as he is (Proverbs 26:5). There are at least two ways to do this.
In most every theological dispute, the argument can be brought directly to the bar of Scripture for a decision. It may well be that the argument in question contains for its premises a statement directly contradicted by Scripture, and if so, this should be the deciding factor. The professor's argument turned on a misinterpretation of Scripture which attempted to force the Word to contradict Himself.
If the average Christian is unable to discern the unScriptural premises the principle to avoid moronic questions again directs us. We are to spend our time only with those questions that produce Godliness.
But we need not throw the professor out with the argument. It is necessary to probe beyond this "Mary Magdalene" jibberish, and if we do, we might pose a few questions of our own. What is the significance of this teaching? Why is this argument important to you? It may well be that the professor (that is, the hypothetical role played by the Reconstructionist professor) has devised this argument concerning Mary and Jesus in an effort to justify his living in sin with another woman. Once this fact is known the argument itself (Logical or not) becomes quite irrelevant, and the spotlight of Scripture should be focused on his lawless behavior and the lusts of his heart.
It may well be that we could have refuted the professor's argument with a simple twist of the Logical wrist, distributing his middle or affirming his antecedent. He would have been "silenced." But he may have had (as we speculated) a much larger problem begging to be confronted. Had we become involved in his Logical smokescreen we might have intimidated him into retreat, but we would still be living in sin, and would only go home to formulate some other, more clever justification for his sin. At some point he might become more clever than we, and an opportunity to increase Godliness will have been lost.
Another illustration of intellectual apologetics versus Law-centered apologetics, for those who might feel that seminary professors are unrealistic examples, might come from a popular Logic text. In this example, the errant Peter is being shepherded by Paul:
Peter argues, "All weapons ought to be abolished. All propaganda ought to be abolished too. You can see that propaganda is a weapon."
The text is trying to be fairly life-like, although I've never heard anyone trying to argue this point, much less in this manner. How would you counsel Peter? Here is how the Logician admonishes his brother:
"Paul takes out a sheet of paper and works out the argument, as follows:
S = propaganda
P = weapons
M = things that ought to be abolished. Thus,
All P is M
All S is M
so, All S is P
Paul says, "Your argument, Peter, is simply another example of the undistributed middle as found and diagrammed on p. 142."
This situation was not handled theonomically, that is, according to God's Law. This is not the way the Bible teaches us to avoid error or counsel others.
First, Peter has an important point about propaganda that should not be ignored (Philippians 4:8 + Deuteronomy 27:18b). Spreading falsehood and manipulating others is an obvious evil, as we have tried to affirm in this paper. Something should be done about it, and Peter should be encouraged in his sensitivity to this social problem.
Second, Peter's use of words is imprecise, and our Word-based faith tells us to be very careful with our words (Matthew 12:36-37; James 5:12). Peter's use of the word "weapon" is somewhat sloppy.
Third, this may be the cause of his making statements that could contradict Scripture. 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 + Ephesians 6:11-17 would suggest that not all "weapons" should be abolished.
Or, finally, Peter's argument could be rooted in an ignorance of Biblical Law as it pertains to the State. Peter's problem may be that he is a statist, i.e., someone who advocates more power for the civil magistrate that it is authorized to have by the Law of God. These kind of gut reactions are not refuted by Logic. Logic might silence their outward manifestations, in which case Peter would go back and formulate another argument for State power, but the problem still remains. Peter does not understand that God has given in His Word, both the Old and New Testaments, a complete blueprint for a Godly, just, and prosperous society, and that this blueprint does not call for an expansion of the powers of the State to confiscate arms held by Families not to license to freedom to speak (Acts 5:28-19; but see Deuteronomy 19:18-19). If we wish to avoid Peter's error then we should learn the Law of the Lord. If we wish to increase Godliness in Peter's life, as well as assist him in avoiding similar errors in the future, we should teach him, not Logic, but the Law-Word of God.
1. The Bible is a totally sufficient ethical guide for the Christian. The unbeliever should accept it as well.
2. The teachings of that secular science known as Logic are not needed by the Christian. All good teachings of Logic are taught by the Bible in a richer and more personal way. Those good teachings of the Bible that are taught by Logic are abstracted and all too quickly become a hindrance to the Christian counselor.
3. Pastors who were trained in seminaries or universities need to discard their education to the extent that it teaches that the Bible is not enough to live and defend the faith. Unless the Pastors conditioned in these Humanistic institutions are "deprogrammed" they will continue to appeal to the intellectuals of Humanism, even in their sermons, and the force of God's Law will be diluted.
4. Christian parents, in their obedience to Deuteronomy 6:6-9, need not worry about missing the public school curriculum if they faithfully teach the Word of God.
A Theonomic apologetic, one rooted in God's Law, recognizes the importance of Ethics in apologetics. Armed with God's Word, we avoid the "wisdom of the world" and its ivory-tower rationalizations of lawlessness; we go to the root issue of obedience to the Law-Word of God.
For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
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