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Gospel Gazette Online
Vol.  11  No. 1 January 2009  Page 16                    powered by FreeFind

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Questions and Answers    Louis Rushmore

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Biblical Hermeneutics: Orderly Thinking

By Louis Rushmore, Editor

Orderly thinking is as essential to valid biblical interpretation as orderliness is necessary and observable in the created universe around us. True science depends upon orderliness of the created universe to arrive at tested and reliable laws of nature. Orderliness is logical, and through logical analysis of the orderly universe, knowledge can be discerned and accumulated.

Logic is organized thinking, as opposed to unorganized thinking. Respecting carefully worded statements, “…there is no middle ground between a proposition being true and being false (non-true)” (Warren, “Logic” 21). “Every precisely stated proposition is either true or false” (Warren, “Logic” 44). Given definitive information, one can ascertain truth; Jesus and the apostle John affirmed that truth can be known (John 8:32). Of course, there is no more important truth and no more furthering reaching impact of truth than truth of divine origin—the Word of God—the Bible.

The Word of God must be handled aright, however, before one can ascertain the meaning and application of even divine truth (2 Timothy 2:15). “To be rational, one must draw only such conclusions as are warranted by the evidence which he has” (Warren, “When” 4). Further, “[i]t is not pleasing to God for any man to draw conclusions (in regard to God’s will) for which he does not have adequate evidence” (Warren, “Logic” 91). The basis of the command in 1 John 4:1 to distinguish between truth and error is the fact that biblical doctrine cannot be both true and false at the same time, a principle of sound reasoning or simple logic or orderly thinking.

Sometimes people otherwise capable of thinking clearly in a number of areas, and who use thinking skills all their waking moments daily, vainly attempt to dismiss orderly thinking by appealing to orderly thinking. “One might attempt to deny the need to honor the law of rationality, but the very moment he begins to give ‘reasons’ for denying this law he is, in fact, admitting the truth of it” (Pugh 115). Over and over again, “[t]he Bible honors the law of rationality. …Acts 17:2-3…” (Pugh 115), and the footnote in the NASV for Acts 26:25 reads “Lit., of truth and rationality” (Pugh 116). The Bible is a specimen of orderly thinking, most important because it is divine in origin.

Valid biblical interpretation depends on discerning the message of God in his revelation, though the revelation from God is what it is irrespective of whether mankind handles it aright. However, to comprehend the Word of God, one must bring as much objectivity as he possibly can to the process of biblical interpretation in order to succeed at biblical interpretation. We must concede that “[a]ny interpreter’s work is influenced by his own attitudes, prejudices, and personality” (Flatt 60). However, divine instruction in the Bible is not so vague as to be overpowered by examination by honest hearts. Honest hearts will employ orderly thinking to the interpretation of the Word of God—to discern the message that God conveyed rather than some supposed divine equivalence. We humans need less commentary or more unadorned translation (and application) of the Holy Word of God.

Works Cited

Flatt, Bill. “The Function of Presuppositions and Attitudes in Biblical Interpretation.” Biblical Interpretation: Principles and Practice. F. Furman Kearley and others eds. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1986.

Pugh, Charles C., III. “Logic and Reason in Interpretation.” Biblical Interpretation: An Ancient Book Speaks to a Modern World. Duane Warden, ed. Parkersburg: Ohio Valley College, 1992: 112-123.

Warren, Thomas B. Logic and the Bible. Jonesboro: National Christian P., 1984.

- - -. When Is an “Example” Binding? Jonesboro: National Christian P., 1975.

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