Re: BG: Formal logic in Mark 16:16

From: John L. Moody (
Date: Wed Aug 23 1995 - 08:15:12 EDT

>On Fri, 18 Aug 1995, Paul Dixon wrote:
>>I personally have seen the conditional abused repeatedly. Mark
>>16:16 (accept the reading for the sake of argument) says, "He who
>>believes and is baptized shall be saved." Some, of course, have deduced
>>from this that if a man believes but is not baptized, then he is not
>>saved. Scripture, however, never says if a man is not baptized, then he
>>is not saved. It does say, though, if he does not believe, then he is
>>condemned already (Mk 16:16b).
>I personally doubt that there were many cases in New Testament times of
>unbaptized believers, nor were there intended to be. Baptism and faith are
>also associated in Col. 2:12. 1 Peter 3:21 has the audacity to read "baptism
>. . . now saves you," but I doubt if the writer is imagining baptism apart
>from faith.
>Of course, what Paul says above about formal logic is true. Strictly speaking,
>this text (assuming its canonicity; notice I did not say its Markan authorship)
>does not talk about the salvation status of one who believes but is not
>baptized. But formal logic is a two-edged sword. "If not A, then B" does not
>imply "if A, then not B." For example, "if one does not have gas in the car,
>it will fail to start," does not imply, "if one has gas in the car, it will not
>fail to start." Consequently, "the one who does not believe will be condemned"
>does not under formal logic imply "the one who believes will not be condemned."
>Personally, I doubt if we should be using formal logic to try to understand a
>text. Texts are understood using a linguistic logic that is based on unstated
>schemas among other things. One cannot assume that a speaker or writer is
>saying everything that he or she believes on a subject in a given statement.

Actually, I have found formal logic a useful tool in my studies of the
Biblical texts. In this instance, Mark 16:16 makes the propositional statement:

 1. (x) [(F(x) & B(x)) -> S(x)]
(to be read: for all x, if x believes (F) and x is baptized (B), then x
will be saved (S).)

>From 1. this statement can be derived:

2. (x) [~S(x) -> (~F(x) v ~B(x))]
(to be read: for all x, if x will not be saved, then x does not believe or
x has not been baptized.)

Bruce's assertion that Mark assumes that the believer will be baptized can
be stated thus:

3. (x) (F(x) -> B(x))
(to be read: for all x, if x believes, then x will be baptized.)

The combination of 1 and 3 give us:

4. (x) (F(x) -> S(x))
(to be read: for all x, if x believes, then x will be saved.)

I personally agree with Bruce that Mark is assuming the truth of 3. Perhaps
baptism should be regarded in this text as the evidence for the truth of
F(x) -- that is, that baptism is the evidence of saving faith.

John L. Moody ** "Grace to you and peace
                             ** from God our Father
                             ** and the Lord Jesus ** Christ." -- Eph. 1.2

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:37:25 EDT