[b-greek] Re: The Logic of Acts 2:38

From: Glenn Blank (glennblank@earthlink.net)
Date: Sun May 27 2001 - 23:05:33 EDT

>From: "Harry W. Jones" <hjbluebird@aol.com>
>Date: Sun, 27 May 2001 12:38:49 -0400
>Dear Paul,
>You posted:
>> The logic of Acts 2:38 can be expressed simply as:
>> If A and B, then C and D (if you repent and get baptized, then you will
>> have your sins forgiven and you will receive the Holy Spirit).
>> This is all it says. It does not say, nor does it imply the following:
>> If not (A and B), then not (C and D).
>> A conditional does not imply its negation. The negation may or may not
>> be true, but it can not be inferred from the conditional. We know it is
>> true only if it is affirmed to be so.
>> The parallel in Mk 16:16 is illustrative: he who believes and is
>> baptized shall be saved.
>> The significant difference between Acts 2:38 and Mk 16:16 is simply that
>> Mk 16:16b affirms the negation of belief (he who believes not is
>> condemned already). It does not, however, affirm the negation of
>> baptism.
>> Conclusion: Acts 2:38 affirms simply that on the condition of repentance
>> and baptism, then forgiveness of sins and reception of the Holy Spirit
>> are assured. It does not say, nor can we conclude that if both
>> repentance and baptism do not occur, then neither will forgiveness and
>> reception of the Holy Spirit occur. From Mk 16:16, however, we can
>> conclude that if and only if a man believes, then he will be saved. But,


>> it is also true that if a man believes and is baptized, then he will be
>> saved.
>> Paul Dixon
>I found you post very interesting.But I think you have missed the real
>question. The real question is, if(A but not B) then not(C or D)?
>Or maybe stated this way, if(A but not B) then (C but not D)?
>You see Paul, these are the real questions we are interested in.
>Do you think you might be able to help us?
>Harry W. Jones

Harry, I think Paul's same logic applies to the "real questions": a
does not imply its negation in *any of its parts* -- that is [if (A and B)
then (C and D)] does not imply [if not(A and B) then not(C and D)] -- but
since [not(A and B)] is satisfied by [not A or not B], which in turn is
satisfied by
[A but not B], [not A but B], or [not A and not B], it follows that it is
also true that [if (A and B) then (C and D)] does *not* imply [if (A but not
B) then not(C or D)].
In other words, both repentance and baptism are sufficient cause for the
remission of sins, but that does not mean they are not *both* necessary

But the difficulty in this analysis is that Acts 2:38 is not written in a
logical syllogism, but rather in ordinary language, which one would expect
to operate according to principles of communication theory. Specifically,
in the field of linguistic pragmatics, one of Grice's Maxim's is is the
Maxim of Economy: that is, in order to intepret a message, a listener
presumes that his interlocutor will give him all of the information
necessary and *only* the information necessary. So the question becomes, if
baptism is not a *necessary* condition for the remission of sins, why did
Peter bother to mention it, especially since the question prompting that
answer seems a rather urgent plea: "Men, brethren, what shall we do?"

Yours in the search,
glenn blank,
Pensacola, FL

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