Logic and God

I recently found a quote from R. C. Sproul that I would like to share and comment on today.

I hope some of you know the reputation I have, a bad reputation with some, of being an unreconstructed, Aristotelian logician. I get that criticism all the time. I am told, “Sproul reduces the faith to logic.” Actually, I hope people keep saying that about me. I hope it gets worse. I think we are living in the most anti-intellectual period in the history of the church, and I think the most important thing that has to happen on Sunday mornings is a spiritual awakening of the mind.
As downloaded from http://theresurgence.com/r_c_sproul_1993-01_the_recovery_of_worship on 3/21/07.

It is no secret to many who know me that I like R. C. I own and have read every book that he has published, including a couple that are out of print. I own much of my interest in theology to him. He was the first theologian that I ever read who did not shy away from philosophy.

In medieval times, teachers in the church said that God wrote two books: the Bible and nature. Theology studied the Bible, and science studied nature. They believed that science and theology would always agree because God, who cannot lie or contradict Himself, wrote both books. The more I study and think, the more I agree with medievalism.

I am constantly reading books on religion. Living in a small West Tennessee town, I buy many of the popular Christian books on the shelves of our local Wal Mart. The popular Christian books are almost always disappointing. I find myself having to special-order the really good (read unpopular) Christian books I read from our local Christian book store. (This helps keep them in business with Wal Mart in town.)

I find book after book that does not reflect clear thinking. I find that many of the books don’t even ask the questions, much less find the answers. It’s not that I disagree with most of them; it’s that I don’t think they have touched on the subject matter of theology: God Himself. When they do touch on Him, they don’t apply sound reason and logical thinking to the subject.

I hope we will see a resurgence in the near future of a through-going attempt to set out in a systematic, logical fashion who God is. I hope to find that the conversations encouraged by the up and coming generation serves as a platform for this Systematic Theology. I seem to be finding this as I teach High-school age students in a Sunday School class. They are not afraid to ask good questions, and they are interested in frank discussion.

This imperfect generation (and all the generations in history have been imperfect) may well be the best thing that has even happened to our churches. I do not find that they are given over to philosophical relativism. I find them more willing that I was at that age to apply clear logic and reason to the great questions. We must learn to present theology in a winsome, tightly-reasoned way, and it is my prayer that we will.

May God bless R. C.’s ministry and the ministries of others who follow the same path.


Anonymous said...

Nice blog. With the bible being God's word, how do you view the accuracy of the texts? What I am asking is, would it be fair for the bible to have a few small contradictions and stil be considered God's word? Or would the contradictions (or posibly errors) have to be numerous or large before you would start to question its authority? Thank you.

J. K. Jones said...

It sounds like you have already decided that there are errors in the Bible. I guess someone would have to show me one first, and then I would decide. I have found a few passages to be difficult to understand for one reason or another, but I have always found a credible explanation from scholarly accounts.

Until presented with evidence to the contrary, I’ll continue to think that the Bible is the Word of God without error in its original manuscripts. I’ll also continue to think that the translations we have are accurate reflections of those manuscripts.

Further discussion of this can be found at: http://www.ligonier.org/questions_answered.php?question_id=14

Anonymous said...

Thank you for giving a thoughtful response, J.K. Although, if I may ask, why did you feel comfortable writing, “It sounds like you have already decided that there are errors in the Bible.” How did you come to that logical conclusion?

J. K. Jones said...

It just seemed so from the way you stated your comment. It seems like, from your comment, that I only have two choices, for the Bible to have a few small contradictions and still be God's word, or the contradictions to be numerous or large. If you meant it a different way, I apologize!

There is a related question that you did not ask: What if my interpretation of the Bible is wrong? I have had several occasions in my life when I have come to realize after detailed study that my interpretation of a particular Bible passage was incorrect.

That doesn’t bother me at all. I have never claimed that my interpretation is absolutely correct at all times. My interpretation is not inerrant. In fact, I am quite sure that I am still wrong in some areas. If further study or discussion brings these areas to my attention, I will have no second thoughts about changing my views.

Anonymous said...

J.K., thanks again for writing back. I'd now like to compare two of your statements regarding your interpretations of the Bible:

Exhibit A: "I have found a few passages to be difficult to understand for one reason or another, but I have always found a credible explanation from scholarly accounts."

Exhibit B: "I have had several occasions in my life when I have come to realize after detailed study that my interpretation of a particular Bible passage was incorrect."

In Exhibit A, you use teh phrase "a few" and in Exhibit B you say "several occassions".

Could you please give a numerical estimate as to how many "difficult to understand" passages you have found in the Bible so far? (For instance, I'm looking for an answer such as, "Probably less than ten" or "Maybe twenty" or whatever you feel is a good ballpark guess from your personal experience. Something along those lines.)

J. K. Jones said...

Is there a reason you are holding your identity anonymous?

I have never had occasion to count the number of issues I had questions about in the Bible. I have merely studied some commentaries on the passages involved and found satisfactory answers.

Also, I have never had the occasion to count the areas where I have difficulty understanding a given passage. I intended to express that some of my theological views have changed over time. I simply do not have an accurate number to share.

How are numbers of passages I have had problems understanding relevant to the issues at hand? How is it important to identify how many times my theological views have changed?

I want to point out some of the issues I have not had an occasion to question. I am convinced that Jesus was God come to earth in human form. That He lived a perfect life. That He died a death He didn’t deserve on the cross for my sins. I am convinced that He arose from the grave and lives today at God’s right hand.

His life earns righteousness for all who believe, all who truly trust in Him. His death pays for the sins of those who believe what He taught about how to live their lives and trust Him (John 3:12, 16). He offers this payment for sin and credit for His righteousness as a free gift to all who would come to Him in repentance and faith (Romans 6:23; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

He will return to the earth to pronounce judgment on all of those who have sinned, myself included. How would you fare in that judgment? This is really the most relevant topic for discussion. Christ offers to extend His free gift to you and to all. Have you accepted that gift? If not, what stands in the way?

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