Logic is the study of the principles of correct reasoning. To be logical is to think rightly: to draw reasonable conclusions from the available information. Correct reasoning helps us to have true beliefs, and acting on true beliefs tends to have a far better outcome than acting on false beliefs. Clearly, it is to our great advantage to reason correctly. And while all human beings have some capacity to be logical, we can improve our reasoning by taking a class or reading books or articles on the topic, and by studying the Bible. A thorough knowledge of logic can be immensely helpful in our own reasoning, or when reasoning with others. But in addition to any pragmatic advantage, we have a moral obligation to be logical. Thinking rightly is not optional for the Christian. It is something God requires of us.
Logic is the Way God Thinks
To think logically is to think – in a sense – like God thinks. And, by definition, to be logical is to reason correctly. This makes sense when we consider that God always thinks correctly. God is the ultimate standard of correctness. So if you want to think about a particular topic correctly, you must think about it in the same basic way that God does. Some critics respond by asking, “How can you possibly know how God thinks?” The answer is obvious: the Bible. God has told us much about Himself, including (in a general way) how He thinks.
But how can we, as finite creatures, think like God? His mind is infinite, whereas our is finite. Of course, we cannot think exactly the same way He does. God is beyond time and therefore His thoughts are timeless. But our thinking is temporally sequential; we draw conclusions at a later time from information that we received at an earlier time. God’s mind is infinite. He can consciously consider all possible scenarios and all their infinite implications in no time at all. We cannot.
Clearly, we cannot think exactly like God, nor does He expect us to. But we can think in a way that is consistent with His character. Much the way a shadow resembles the object casting it, our thinking should resemble God’s. As one example of this, God’s thinking is self-consistent. He cannot deny (contradict) Himself (2 Timothy 2:13). God does not affirm what He simultaneously denies because this is not faithful to His nature. Therefore, neither should we affirm what we also deny. In faithfulness to God, the things we believe and say should be non-contradictory. As the apostle Paul states in 2 Corinthians 1:18, “But as God is faithful, our word to you is not yes and no.”
All Knowledge is from God
Biblical passages such as Proverbs 1:7 and Colossians 2:3 indicate that all knowledge is contained in God. Most Christians realize that these passages imply that God knows absolutely everything – which of course He does. But they imply much more than this. God does not know things in the same way that we do. We use our senses to explore the external universe, and use our mind to draw conclusions about truth that goes beyond us. We discover truth.
God does not. He does not explore the universe using His senses to discover new truths. Rather, God’s mind determines truth, and there is no truth beyond God. So, the reason that 2+2=4 is because God has determined this in His mind. The reason this truth “works” in the physical universe is because the physical universe is upheld by the mind of God (Hebrews 1:3). So, we discover truth through experience. But God determines truth by His sovereign will. God is therefore the source of all knowledge. We are the recipients of some knowledge. Since all knowledge is in God, we are able to know things only because God has given us some knowledge. He has revealed Himself. And He has done so in a number of different ways.
Revelation from God
Some knowledge God has placed within us from conception. One example is the moral law of God. The Bible teaches that God’s moral law has been written in our hearts (Romans 2:14-15). In the Bible, the heart represents the core of our being (Proverbs 4:23, Luke 6:45, Deuteronomy 6:5, 1 Kings 3:12, Matthew 5:8). The principle of induction by which we are able to learn from past experience also falls into this category, and so do several laws of logic.
God has also given us sensory organs such as eyes and ears, which inform our mind about the external world (Proverbs 20:12). These senses are a gift from God, and therefore what we are able to learn from them is by His grace – it is revelation. We can also gain knowledge through rational deduction. This is part of our nature as God’s image-bearers. God has given us access to His laws of logic, allowing us to think His thoughts, albeit in a limited way. This too is a gift from God. So, whether we are given innate knowledge by God, or learn things by our God-given senses, or gain knowledge by rational deduction using God’s laws of logic, all our knowledge is derived from God. Apart from God’s grace, we could know absolutely nothing. In God’s light, we see light (Psalm 36:9).
Most precious is God’s special revelation – His written Word. The Bible is objective propositional revelation. It is objective because it is the same for everyone, and open to inspection by everyone. So if two people have a disagreement about God’s moral law, they can check the Scriptures to settle the matter. The Bible is propositional because it is composed of meaningful sentences in natural human language, which gives it a special clarity. And most precious of all, the Bible provides us with the Gospel – the message of salvation – not found in other types of revelation.
Critics of Christianity often perpetuate the common misconception that faith in God is contrary to logic or reason. Nothing could be further from the truth. As we continue to explore the characteristics of logic, science, mathematics, morality, and so on, we will find that such things only make sense within the biblical worldview. In other words, to be consistently logical in our world-and-life view, we must have faith in the biblical God. We will cover this in later articles. For now, we simply observe that God does want people to use their mind. He commands us to reason (Isaiah 1:18) and to be ready to give a reasoned defense (1 Peter 3:15). We are commanded not to be like a mere animal which lacks understanding (Proverbs 32:9). Clearly, God is very pro-reason. But if we are to honor God, we must use our mind correctly. And this starts with faith in God (Proverbs 1:7).
Incorrect Reasoning and Sin
Sin is disobedience to God (Romans 5:19). And it is sin to think irrationally. Why? This is because (1) God always thinks rationally, and (2) we are commanded to think like God – to take captive every thought into obedience to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). We tend to think of sin as outward action – and, in many cases, it is. But when we think in a way that is contrary to God’s nature, this is sin. Our mind is a gift from God, and we are obligated to Him to use our mind correctly – in the way that God intends. As God’s image bearers (Genesis 1:26-27), we reflect God’s nature best when we think and behave in a way that conforms to His character. The problem with human beings is that we do not consistently think and behave according to God’s perfect nature.
The Lord describes this problem in Isaiah 55:7-8. In verse 7, God commands the unrighteous man to turn away from his thoughts and his ways. Why? The explanation is given in verse 8, “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways,’ declares the LORD.” The problem with the wicked man, indeed the very thing that makes him wicked, is that he does not think or behave in a way that is consistent with the character of God. The wicked man’s ways and thoughts are not God’s ways and thoughts.
There is a fundamental inconsistency between God’s perfect thinking and man’s sinful thinking that hampers our fellowship. The thoughts of God and man need to align if we are to enjoy God to the fullest. In our sin nature, we tend to think that perhaps God is the one that needs to change His thoughts to match ours. Knowing we would think this way, God explains in Isaiah 55:9, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” God’s ways and thoughts are so superior to ours, it is like the difference between the entire universe and merely the earth. Clearly, our meager thoughts and ways are the ones that need to change, to align so that they are qualitatively (though not quantitatively) like God’s.
So what is the solution? God gives the answer in verse 7, “Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.” God commands us to repent – to abandon our futile sinful way of thinking (Romans 1:21, Ephesians 4:17) and turn to Him. If we do, the Lord will have compassion on us and forgive our sins. Irrational thinking is not simply unwise and impractical. It is something for which we need to repent.
The study of logic is not merely an academic topic. It is an aspect of sanctification: the transformation of our character to conform to the image of God. Of course, there are many other aspects of sanctification as well. Our actions also need to be brought into faithful submission to Christ. A person might be well-versed in logic, and yet stubbornly refuse its implications and act sinfully. Nonetheless, we should not think of logic as something that is independent of theology. To study logic is to learn something about the mind of God. And that is an awesome thought.