By Timothy S. Morton
"Logic" in its basic definition merely means, "correct reasoning," but notice this definition says nothing about logic bringing one to a true and valid conclusion. Technically, one can reason correctly or have "correct logic" but still come to the wrong conclusion when he doesn't have enough information or has the wrong information in his reasoning (examples shortly). Though it sounds contradictory, "logic" that does not bring a valid conclusion can still pass for "logic." We have found this "invalid logic" to be the logic of many who attack the purity of the Bible and other Scriptural truths. Though the logic is correct in its reasoning, the conclusion is false either because the reasoning is based on unproved assumption or lack of information.
This article is not intended to be a "philosophical" discourse on the types or benefits of "logical analysis," neither is it a critical commentary on "logic" itself claiming it is evil or wrong. Logic in itself is simply a "tool" used to help people come to (hopefully correct) conclusions. The problem arises when people trust and promote their "logical conclusions," no matter how derived, as if they are the final word on the subject at hand. From the things they say, some believers apparently trust their "logic" (brain) more than God or the Scriptures.
Before one can come to a "logical conclusion" using a "line of reasoning," there must be a basis for the reasoning called a "premise." A premise is a fact or assumption that is the foundational basis for the argument. For example, the following simple logical argument starts with a premise and ends with a conclusion:
All Fundamentalists are ugly, (premise)
All Baptists are Fundamentalists, (2nd premise)
Therefore, all Baptists are ugly. (conclusion)
Some of you may take issue with my premises and conclusion (we don't want you to become too vain), but the logic is correct. From this one example you may be able to see the inherent weakness in human logic. Everything hinges on the validity of the premise. If the premise is wrong; the conclusion is wrong. And since man is not an omniscient (all knowing) being, even when he is certain he is right, he may still be wrong (Pro. 14:12). [By the way to remove all doubt, all Fundamentalists are NOT ugly, and all Baptists are NOT Fundamentalists.]
This weakness holds true for all forms and uses of logic, even "logical conclusions" that are based on supposed "universal constants." The speed of light and the effects of "gravity" are considered "constant" by scientists, but despite all their tests and observations, they cannot prove these physical "constants" are universal throughout time and the universe. That they are constant and predictable on earth or the known universe still does not prove they have always been constant or are presently constant in every place (In fact, Bible believers know they have not been constant in the past and are not constant in every place now).
Therefore (see, we can be logical), since man only has partial knowledge and sees "through a glass darkly," anything he reasons can be in error even if his system of logic is correct and he believes his premises are correct. Actually, that man has to use such a method as logic to determine things proves that the conclusion can be in error. If man knew everything, he would not need to "reason," everything would already be known. We mention all this because many believers, contrary to what they say, trust their own feeble reasonings above many clear statements of Scripture. They are their own final authority.
From God's perspective (as much as He has revealed it), He does not need to reason or use "Logic." Since He is omniscient, nothing can be discovered by Him or revealed to Him. When the Lord does wish to reason (Isa. 1:18), He is doing it with man for man's benefit (man should not have to reason with God, man should just BELIEVE Him!), trying to persuade him to follow the truth. Furthermore, the Scriptures, which are God's very words and thus inerrant, infallible, and the epitome of truth, don't need to "reason out" or "logically deduce" its most profound truths. The Bible makes plain, clear statements that can either be believed or disregarded, "...Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures...he was buried and rose again the third day according to the Scriptures...and He was seen...." Either believe the Bible's testimony and live or ignore it and perish. Either way "logic" is not needed.
A few years ago we received a letter from a fellow named, Rick Norris, taking issue with our book, "Which Translation Should You Trust" (For the entire correspondence see our website, PreservedWords.com). One of the things he said ("logically" deduced, of course) is,
Can you believe this guy? Does that sound like what we said above? In our letter we simply refered him to Isaiah 55:8-9 where God Himself says, He doesn't THINK like man thinks and His WAYS are not man's ways. We further insisted God is not limited by man's self-defining, parameters of "logic" and listed some Bible examples that indicated this. But this fellow ignored what we said AND the Scripture we presented. He is apparently sold out to "scholarship" and "logic," and any Scripture that does not support his bias toward human reasoning is ignored. In my next letter I responded to his statement with,
That is the essence of the difference in our positions. We contend true logic must be defined with God as the ABSOLUTE standard, but Norris and others treat logic or reason as if they are independent of God, and God and His word must conform to (their view of) it to be "logical" or worthy of consideration. This is a purely humanistic mentality. One will not find talk like this in the Scriptures. Norris and his crowd live in a cold, sterile world of absolute logic and reason, void of any influence from God. This is the same godless world of unsaved scientists and evolutionists. For any god to be acknowledged by them or even "function," he must conform to the humanistic, preconceived parameters of their subjective world. Thus with their arrogant humanistic limitations, Norris and his crowd force the true God of the Scriptures to fit within their "logical parameters" before they will consider any of His concepts as truth.
A perfect example of this is the first quote from Norris above,
"...If God desired to inspire translations, why didn't He just inspire
this first complete English Bible and be done with it?" This is a
question often asked of Bible believers. Look at it closely and
consider what it says. Norris implies if God was going to "inspire"
(or provide a pure) translation, He should just quickly "inspire" the
first English Bible and be done with it. Thoughtless, conceited,
almost blasphemous statements like this are the norm for these
rascals. They love to tell people what to think, how to think, and how
they should do things,
Norris and his crowd, using their precious "logic," imply if God was going to have a pure and inerrant translation the most reasonable and sensible way to do it is the way he described. I can almost hear their feeble minds working now, "God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. He is all power and capable of producing instantly anything His heart desires. It is only logical to conclude if God wanted to give man an "inspired" translation of his word He would give it quickly and efficiently and not go through a series or process...." This all sounds fine and dandy, but it is pure conjecture and assumption. It is so void of any scriptural integrity that it is pathetic. Of course, God is omnipotent, etc., but these clowns are apparently ignorant of the fact that the Lord has a PLAN and PURPOSE for every thing He does (Eph 1:11)! Omnipotence without purpose is chaos. For reasons of his own, God took over 1500 years to have his completed word (in the original languages!) assembled in the first place! Sure, He could have given it all at once, but He chose to start with Moses (Genesis, written @ 1500 BC) and end with John (Revelation, @ 90 AD). There are certainly countless ways God could have given His word to man (translated or not) beside the single way Norris implied, these people have sold the infallible Scriptures out for their own feeble brains.
Since God wrote the Bible and He doesn't think or act like man, it is to be expected the Bible is going to be a different book. The Lord is going to tell man what he wants him to know in the way he want him to know it regardless of how man thinks it should be written. For example, the first question normally asked by anyone when it comes to God and the beginning is, "Where did God come from?" To man this is a "logical" and reasonable question, but the Bible doesn't address the matter. It begins with, "In the beginning God...," ignoring man's logical first question. God doesn't waste space in the Bible explaining matters that man does not now need to know or cannot comprehend.
The same can be said concerning other mysteries man "logically" wonders about. The mysteries concerning the trinity, eternity, the spirit world, the human soul, iniquity, righteousness, etc., are all questions man desires to be answered, but God gives man what He NEEDS, not always what he WANTS. However, what God has chosen to reveal to man does not always follow man's "logical system." Below we will look at some biblical instances where God's ways don't line up with man's logic, and man's logic is used to circumvent God's word and will.
If one followed the reasoning of Norris and his crowd mentioned above, it is completely illogical for God to spend SIX days creating the earth and all that is in it when He could have created it in an instant. Suppose we rephrase Norris' statement to read, "If God wanted to create "creation," why didn't He just create it all the first day and be done with it?" Dear reader, can you see the complete thoughtlessness of such humanly contrived statements? While supposedly exalting God's power they completely ignore His purpose. The Lord spent six days creating instead of one because it fit His PLAN. Man doesn't know God's plan other than what God has revealed and for man to second guess God's methods with phony logic is the height of presumption.
God played another joke on human logic in Genesis chapter 1 that is so far ranging that it has captured the majority of "Bible Believing Fundamentalists," causing them to forsake a clear statement of Scripture for their own" logical" reasoning. In Genesis 1:3 God said, "Let there be light" and of course, "there was light." All is clear in grade school English, God spoke and light came forth, this was God's first creative act on the "first day." The "problem" arises when one comes to the "fourth day" of creation (vrs. 14-18) where the "greater light" (sun) and "lesser light" (moon) are created. Arrogant human logic thinks it sees a contradiction in the passages and feels compelled "reason out" an explanation. Even the otherwise excellent Scofield Reference Bible succumbs to fallible human logic as an authority over the Bible.
The "experts" reason since light was created on the first day the sun must have been created then also and not on the fourth day. They insist the sun was only "revealed" on the fourth day. How is that for believing in the integrity of the Scriptures? These clowns cannot get through the first chapter in the Bible before they must overthrow it with their "logic." If a passage does not conform to their preconceived logical system it must be "corrected" by "systematic and analytical deduction" until it does. Anything but believe the passage.
What is ironic about this whole mess is their "logical conclusion" does not even conform to their own methods of logic. One principle of logic is "if all the impossible is eliminated, whatever is left, no matter how improbable, must be the truth." Therefore, by their not accepting the passages as they stand they are implying it is impossible to take the passages as they stand. But is it really? Let's examine their claims with a little reasoning of our own. Is it impossible for God to create light apart from the sun, moon, and stars (Mark 10:27)? Is it even physically impossible for there to be light apart from the sun, moon, and stars? Is it impossible for God to perform what He says He will do? You know the answer, it is not impossible in any of these cases. God can create light that radiates from nothing if He wishes. In fact, the Bible says, "God is light" (1 John 1:5). That the sun was not created until three days later is no hindrance to Him.
These Bible correctors were not compelled to "explain" or "change" Genesis chapter 1 for the sake of truth or sensibility, they changed it simply because it did not conform to their utmost authority, human logic. Regardless of what they claim, their actions reveal their infidelity to God and His word.
Where did Eve make her mistake? She thought her logic was flawless or at least solid enough to risk her and her husbands life. The only negative concerning the tree was what God said about eating of it, everything else seemed positive. The serpent even said there was doubt about what God said, he insisted, "Ye shall not SURELY die." Notice, the serpent did not tell Eve she wouldn't die, he just told her death wasn't certain! Also, Eve possibly reasoned, "The Lord did not tell me, personally, that we couldn't eat of the tree, maybe my husband misunderstood." Ah, the fallacy of human reasoning apart from God's word, how many has it destroyed over the centuries and millennia, how many has it made out as fools. Eve trusted her heart in her decision, and Adam followed his heart in following Eve (he was not deceived), but the Lord said through wisest man in the Bible, "He that trusteth in his own heart is a FOOL" (Pro. 28:26).
Genesis chapter 3 should send a warning signal to every person who reads the Bible. Pride, envy, rebellion, and human "logic" all worked together to cause the fall of mankind and are still the vices used today to perform or contemplate evil. Eve and Adam had all the information they needed to make the right decision, they had God's word clearly revealing His will; but they were not satisfied with God's reasons for forbidding the tree. Eve, being an unfallen "man," felt she was able to determine what was best for her and her husband. The tree was "pleasant to the eyes," and Eve's eyes told her it "was good for food," and from listening to the "serpent" she reasoned it was "a tree to be desired to make one wise," and she ate. In other words she valued her own opinion of the tree over God's opinion. This same proud, rebellious, humanistic tendency is still very prevalent today.
Much of the book of Job deals with faulty human reasoning and its effects. After Job was stricken with his calamities (Job ch. 1-2), Job, his wife, and his "friends" began to reason as to why they happened. Job's wife was the first to express her opinion. She surveyed the situation, logically deduced the probable cause, and said to her husband, "Doest thou still retain thy integrity? Curse God and die" (Job 2:9)! She "reasoned" God was Job's enemy, and he might as well curse God and get it over with. [Job's wife didn't come to this conclusion all on her own, she had some help from the ancient "serpent," Job 2:5!]
When Job's friends heard of all that had befallen him they assembled together to mourn with and comfort him (Job 2:11). Out of respect they did not say a word to him for a whole week, but after Job spoke and "cursed his day" (birth), his friends could no longer hold their peace. Eliphaz was the first of them to reveal their "logically deduced conclusions." He told Job, "Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off? Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same. By the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of his nostrils are they consumed" (Job 4:7-9).
A little later another of Job's friends, Bildad, adds his "two cents, "If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy supplication to the Almighty; If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous" (Job 8:5-6). And after that Job's third friend, Zophar, sums up their conclusions about Job, "But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, and they shall not escape, and their hope shall be as the giving up of the ghost" (Job 11:20).
All three of Job's friends were convinced they were right in their analysis and conclusions. They considered every bit of knowledge they had access to, from history and tradition to the righteousness and justice of God, and felt their conclusions were logical and beyond reproach. They were honorable, upstanding men and were so sure of their words that they did not hesitate to use them to condemn a man suffering miserably in sores and ashes, adding to his torment. They were certain their words were fitting, just, and honored God, but what did God think about them?
After revealing Himself to Job in Job chapters 38-41, the Lord addressed Job's friends and told them what He thought of their "logic, "And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job, the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. Therefore take unto you now seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you: for him will I accept: lest I deal with you after your folly, in that ye have not spoken of me the thing which is right, like my servant Job" (Job 42:7-8). Those who thought they were undoubtedly right were horribly wrong. They were so wrong, in fact, they had to offer up very expensive sacrifices in the presence of Job, and they would not be forgiven or accepted until Job prayed for them! Obviously, their beloved logic and opinions miserably failed them.
The "logic" of Job's "friends" was based primarily on assumption and conjecture. They "theorized" that since Job has been openly blessed by God all his life and was suddenly stricken with multiple calamities and disease, Job must have grievously sinned to bring these "consequences" about. They used "historical evidence," what they knew about God's nature and attributes, and deductive reasoning to come to their "authoritative position," but they were DEAD WRONG! One can't help but think if Job's friends would have approached him with a more understanding and compassionate attitude, admitting to be ignorant of the cause instead of being judgmental, they would have fared much better.
Though there are many more instances of invalid, faulty human logic in the Old Testament (study the lives of Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Samson, Samual, Saul, David, Solomon, etc., etc.), we will now look at an example or two from the New Testament. Even with their greater revelation, many in the New Testament will rely on their own reasoning rather than the Scriptures.
Probably the most obvious account in the gospels of human logic gone amiss is in Matthew chapter 16. After Peter's great confession of who Jesus was (vs. 16), the Bible says, "From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day" (vs. 21). Christ began to reveal to the disciples His purpose in coming to earth as a man. He came ultimately to suffer, die, and be raised again for mankind, the purpose determined before the foundation of the world. But what was the reaction of His disciples, who had been with him for over two years?
Peter was shocked at these words. The "Christ" was to be a Conqueror and Deliverer, a Warrior that was to release His people from the bondage of Rome, a King destined to reign over Israel and the world, not a carpenter dying on a cross. Jesus' words were completely illogical to him. They went against everything the Messiah stood for in his eyes and he didn't hesitate to tell it, "Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee" (vs. 22). Peter was quick to rebuke his Lord for His words, but what did his Lord reply? "But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men" (vs.23).
This is one of the harshest rebukes found in the Bible from anyone. Not only did the Lord address Peter as "SATAN," He told him he did not "savour..." (doesn't the KJB have a way with words?) the "things that be of God, but [instead] those that be of men." In other words Peter was told he does not "delight" himself in the ways of God but of man. God's will and ways concerning Christ are "tasteless" to him. It's amazing how Peter could be honoring Christ one moment (vs. 17) and be called "Satan" and an "offence" the next, but the same could be true of any believer. Man can be as fickle as the wind.
Peter's (as nearly all other Jew's at the time) attitude, expectations, rational, and "logical" conclusions about the promised Messiah were in error (or at the least premature). He (like Eve and the "tree") had his opinion about the "Christ" and His ministry, and he was convinced of its validity, but God had a different opinion. Even when Christ revealed the details about the purpose of His coming (vs. 21), Peter would not receive them; he adhered to the things "that be of men." Human nature has not changed. As we have repeatedly said, man by nature values his own way and opinion more than practically ANYTHING, and even when God reveals the truth, man will often use "logic" and "reason" to circumvent it.
A large work could be written describing the attitude, mentality, and "logic" of the Pharisees. The Pharisees of Christ's day were considered as superior or "elite" by the general Jewish public. Their upbringing, intelligence, education, righteousness, and devotion to God was thought to be near impeccable. The problem was, the Pharisees thought this about themselves as well! Christ, however, had a different opinion about their devotion, abilities, and reasoning. He called them "blind guides," "hypocrites," "serpents," etc. (Matt. 23), reserving for them the most scathing words from His lips.
Similar to their counterparts today, the Pharisees trusted their own minds and "logic" above God's word. Time will not allow us to document all the errors found in the gospels of the Pharisees, but we can briefly look at a few. One of the first confrontations the Pharisees had with Christ is found in Matthew chapter 12. Their first "concern" was Christ's disciples plucking corn on the Sabbath day (vrs. 1-8). Their "logic" and "understanding" of God's law compelled them to condemn the disciples for doing things "not lawful to do upon the sabbath day." But Christ, referring them to Scripture, showed them the errors of their reasoning. He showed them how David and the priests in a sense "profane the sabbath and are blameless." He went on to tell them that in their presence was one "greater than the temple," and explained how He is "Lord even of the sabbath day." The Pharisees did not have enough information to make a valid judgment, but that didn't keep them from condemning.
In spite of what Christ told them, the Pharisees again accused Him of breaking the sabbath for healing a man with a withered hand in the synagogue on the sabbath day (Matt. 12:10). After Christ, with a profound example, showed them how "it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days," the Pharisees "held a council" on how to "destroy him." That Christ had the ability to heal the man had no effect on the Pharisees. In fact, His healing of the poor man and good answer to them publicly humiliated them, wounding their pride and tainting their "image." One thing a Pharisee (whether 1st century or 20th century) can't tolerate is public correction or ridicule, so they counciled as how to destroy Christ, their new enemy.
Later in Matthew chapter 12, Christ cast a devil out of a poor soul, and the Pharisees had to do some fast thinking to explain the source of the miracle. The common people reasoned, "Is not this the son of David," but using their "superior" training and intellect the Pharisees logically concluded, "This fellow doeth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of devils" (vs. 24). Not only were the Pharisees wrong, their logic turned out to be deadly. Christ told them, "All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men," showing how their reasoning not only failed them, it hopelessly condemned them for all eternity!
Like many today the Pharisees had more confidence in themselves and their abilities than in God and His word. They trusted their own opinion and reasoning about God, His word, and His ways more than the direct revelation of God Himself through Christ. The Apostle Paul, who was once a Pharisee, spoke of this "confidence in the flesh" and how he forsook it to gain Christ,
Paul, however, was a rare exception, the vast majority of Pharisees clinged to their own "logic," reasoning, and "righteousness" and rejected Christ's. But many today who claim Christ and profess to be born again Christians still reason like Pharisees. They trust their "logical conclusions" just as much as the Pharisees trusted theirs. The
Our purpose in this brief article is not to pretend their is no place in a Christian's life for sound reasoning or logic, on the contrary, it is scriptural to "reason" (Isa. 1:18). Our contention is when God, His will, and word are involved, logic cannot always be trusted. How can one come to a valid, logical conclusion when he doesn't have access to all the information he needs to come to such a conclusion? How can he conclude what God is going to do in a situation when the infinite God has not revealed what He is going to do? "For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him?" (1 Cor 2:16). How can one come to a definite conclusion when supernatural miracles are involved? The "proven" and "consistent" laws of physics do not even hold true when God performs a supernatural act. The very definition of a miracle means it "contradicts known scientific laws," so how can one use normally valid science and "logic" to predict or define it? And since God is the source of true miracles, how much more unpredictable is He when He has not revealed Himself?
Of course, God must be true to Himself and consistent with His nature and attributes, but there is a whole universe of things God can do within these parameters. The simple fact is no one can predict what God is going to do in ANY situation unless He reveals it. Thus, when someone uses "logic" to claim God must or should do something the Bible has not revealed (like Norris' statement above), he is simply blowing "hot air." No matter how "intelligent sounding" the reasoning or "high sounding" the rhetoric, the conclusion is nothing more than an opinionated guess. Many times your author has heard believers say (and even say himself), "If God..." this or "God would surely..." that or "What reason could God possibly have to..." and have not one promise from Scripture that God would or wouldn't do any of them. Statements like this are pure human assumption.
Obviously, the mentality or "mind" every believer should have is "the mind of Christ" (1 Cor. 2:16; Phil. 2:5; 1 Peter 4:1). Not once did Christ ever question, doubt, "rationalize," or criticize His Father or His word. Neither does the mind of Christ use "logic" or human reasoning to "determine" God's mind or actions when they have not been revealed. Furthermore, the mind of Christ does not criticize those who believe the Scriptures as God has given them (KJB) and try to convince people the true, inerrant Bible can only be found in the non-existant "originals." One doesn't find talk like this in the Bible; its source is from somewhere else.
If nothing else, we hope this brief article helps a believer realize that in every situation the Bible is ALWAYS right and anyone or anything that differs with it is ALWAYS wrong! Those who profess to be "logical," "reasonable," "scholary," "educated," etc., yet dispute the plain words of the Scriptures have proved themselves to be woefully ignorant or rebellious; those who use "logic" to determine Christian issues the Bible is silent about have proved themselves to be dangerously presumtuous or subjective; those who insist their subjective logic, reasoning, and doctrine are the standard others should follow have proved themselves legalistic or pharisacial. Beware of them and their words, Christian. BEWARE!
Some examples of "logical conclusions" that are merely humanistic assumptions
A Logical Conclusion
Our logic may not be flawless but our conclusion is agreeable.
An agreeable conclusion is all that matters, anyway, right?