Re: Logic biblical?

From: Paul Dixon - Ladd Hill Bible Church (
Date: Fri Jun 06 1997 - 12:46:21 EDT

On Fri, 6 Jun 1997, Carl W. Conrad wrote:

> At 4:17 AM -0400 6/6/97, Paul Dixon - Ladd Hill Bible Church wrote:
> >
> >The question then becomes, how do we know logic is trustworthy? Simply
> >because it is biblical. It is used in scripture consistently and
> >throughout. It is assumed there and used there. Thus, we can and should
> >utilize it.
> If Edgar fears the slings and arrows of outraged linguists, I may have
> reason to fear those of outraged philosophers and theologians. Yet I was
> struck by this assertion that logic "is biblical," and wondered whether I
> have rightly understood what is being said thereby. Of course, the
> follow-up sentence says clearly enough, "It is used in scripture
> consistently and throughout." Whiile I think there's a good deal of logical
> argumentation in the New Testament, I think this derives from Hellenistic
> Greek influence, although I suppose there are some who might want to argue
> that rabbinical analysis developed altogether independently; I don't doubt
> there were special developments of argumentation within rabbinical Judaism,
> but I think the Hellenistic influence is there in the background. And of
> course there is inference, reasoning and argumentation of a sort in the OT,
> especially in the prophets (I would think that the wisdom literature
> probably also reflects some Hellenistic influence--by which I do not at all
> mean that it was consciously adopted, but rather that it entered into the
> common intellectual property of every people affected by the spread of
> Hellenism in the wake of Alexander's conquests. Then there is Abraham's
> argument with God over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, which I suppose is
> less a matter of logical argumentation than it is of ageless bargaining
> practices, but the question raised, "Shall not the judge of all the world
> do right?" does assume the imperative of consistency.
> I'm interested in this question partly as a historical matter, but partly
> also, I confess, for theological reasons. Somehow I have long had the sense
> that Jewish theologiansmay well be right to argue that God can be defined
> only negatively, that the implications of "EHYEH ASHER EHYEH" in Exodus
> 3:14 are that God refuses to be definitively and for all time pinned down
> to a particular essence--this is the way Buber reads the passage. Then
> there's that curious passage in Isaiah 45:7 where Yahweh in the oracle to
> Cyrus rejects implicitly Zoroastrian dualism and insists, "I form light and
> create darkness, I make weal and create woe ..." And Yahweh's reply to Job
> from the whirlwind seems to imply the incommensurability of God's creation
> with human powers of understanding.
> What I'm coming to is this: paradox has generally been held to play a
> central role in Christian theology, and I am one who thinks that there are
> at least some paradoxes both sides of which we must espouse. One of my
> favorite passages is Phil 2:12-13: ... META FOBOU KAI TROMOU THN hEAUTWN
> TO ENERGEIN hUPER THS EUDOKIAS. Now there are probably several ways in
> which people make sense of this sequence, and some may prefer a strictly
> predestinarian accounting whereby there is no contradiction between the
> imperative KATERGAZESQE, which seems to imply the capacity and the
> imperative for the believer to effect his/her own salvation, and the
> to be indicating clearly that the initiative in this process is from God.
> While it's easy to say that the imperative KATERGAZESQE would be
> meaningless were it not for the ENERGEIN of God, but the FOBOS KAI TROMOS
> point to a perilous endeavor by the agents addressed in the KATERGAZESQE.
> At any rate, I prefer to read this sequence as a genuine paradox rather
> than as a pure logical proposition.

Carl, what do you mean by paradox? Do you mean by it that the law of
non-contradiction may be justly violated? If so, I would disagree
vehemently. The law of non-contradiction (if A is true, then "not A" is
false) is essential to the communication of language and, of course, to
the interpretation of scripture.

In Phil 2:12-13 Paul juxtaposes the believer's moral imperative with God's
sovereignty, not to introduce paradox or logical contradiction, but to
encourage the saints to humble and reverent faithfulness in view of God's
sovereign working in them. An awareness of God's sovereign work in us is
what ought to cause us, not to become inactive as is the Arminian argument
against God's sovereign work, but to be all the more zealous in humble
faithfulness. There is no logical contradiction.

> Paul (Dixon, that is) says of logic:
> > . . . it is biblical. It is used in scripture consistently and
> >throughout. It is assumed there and used there. Thus, we can and should
> >utilize it.
> I certainly would not want to reject this assertion wholly, nor would I
> want to go the way of Kierkegaard (personally I wouldn't) or endorse the
> stance of Tertulian (was it his?): CREDO QUIA ABSURDUM. But I think there
> are points in our understanding of world-order and God's action that lie
> beyond our powers of rational analysis.

Yes, but this does not deny logic. It just means we may not be able to
understand some things.

Christ was/is the LOGOS of God. He came to exegete the Father (Jn 1:18).
I doubt Christ learn His logic from the Hellenistic Greeks, or the
rabbinic fathers. If we study His dialogues and teachings, we will find a
consistent logic. The other writers of scripture, under the inspiration
of the Holy Spirit, reflect a similar regard and use of logical analysis.

Gotta go. BTW, my server is permanently shutting down soon. Could you
give me the address for subscribing to b-Greek? I seem to have lost it.
Much thanks.

Paul Dixon

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