God and Logic

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by Bryan, Jun 13, 2005.

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  1. Bryan

    Bryan Puritan Board Freshman

    I've been discussing this with some Christians recently and it seems I'm in the minority agreeing with the above statment. I don't have an issue saying that God is "bound" by logic becasue I believe it is in his nature to be logical (IE. Following the law of Identity, Non-Contradiction and Excluded Middle).

    But I would like a more learned opinion then my own :D
    If God wasn't "bound" by logic then He wouldn't be able to make any sense to us; we couldn't know anything about Him, right?

  2. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    "Logic comes from God, not God from logic. But when it comes to how we know things, logic is the basis of all thought, and it must come before any thought about anything, including God. For example, I need a map before I can get to Washington D.C. But Washington D.C. must exist before the map can help me get there. Even so, we use logic first to come to know God, but God exists first before we can know him." As John Gerstner said as he began his series of lectures on theology, "œI start Handout Theology with the "˜mind´ because that is where my known life began. I learned later that other things, persons, and God Himself existed before my mind did, but not to my knowledge." Here we see that logic comes epistemologically before God, but God comes ontologically before logic."
    The Two Wills of God, pages 27-28.
  3. Bryan

    Bryan Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks Paul, it is good to know that I am understanding what Frame said correctly.

    To provide a biblical basis for this idea I use the following:

    1. Point to nature. Creation is a reflection of God (although now mared by sin) and as such our thought mirrors the thought of the creator.

    2. God does not lie, God is truth and God does not change. For those statments to make any sense God must be logical.

    3. God as shown in the bible does not violate logic

    Now apparently quantium mechanics doesn't follow the law of non-contridiction (need to do some looking into this one), but I think the second and third points are solid. Have I missed anything?

  4. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Do you mean God "created" logic?

    That would be a contradiction. God would have to use logic to create.

    --That depends on if you're talking temporaly? :up:

    Even so, we use logic first to come to know God, but God exists first before we can know him.

    I'm talking epitemologically.

    Therefore infants know God.

    Innately, yes. Cogntively, no.
  5. Laura

    Laura Puritan Board Junior

    What about...God is logic? Can it get any clearer than John's introduction - declaring the Word (reason/logic) to be God? Have I just :worms:? ;) Here, Clark's essay (which shares a title with this thread - that's what I thought it was about) on this might prove helpful.
  6. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I do not think that the good Dr. was on the mark with his "in the beginning was the Logic...." The word logos is quite propery translated "word", and in this case is certainly to be understood as synonymous with Revelation, as in the revelatory Word of God. It is by the means of Revelation (and not by the instrumentality of Logic) that God is known. He condescends to man, and even more to sinful man, to speak to us about himself, to communicate to us that we might know the inner God, the Personality--his character, his holiness, his righteousness, his will, his love. And after all the written Revelation of the OT, in these last days he has SPOKEN to us by his Son (Hebrews 1), the revelatory Word came, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. God revealed himself in the living Word of revelation, not the living Proposition or Sylogism or Conclusion.

    It is only by asserting that the Revelation is pure, distilled Rationality, and that every relationship (even human relations) are primarily logical (or illogical) and only covered (or slathered) in emotional butter, that one can then take the step of reading back into the language of John 1 the principle of Logic, and equate the Law of non-contradiction with the eternal Mind: "And God was the Logic." This is simply not how the OT was written or comprehended for 4000 years. Man does not live by bread alone, but by every Word (er, Logic? sorry...) from the mouth of God.
  7. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    God is personal, whereas most would not define logic to be personal.
    Paul and I once discussed (actually, I asked a question and he answered) whether logic could be transcendental. I think the two questions are related.
  8. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    If God is love...If Jesus is the truth...why can't we say God is logic? As well as God is justice etc. truth is personal, love is personal etc. (Haven't read Clark just seeking clarification).
  9. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    we're both vantillians, so I will fence with you for a moment. Bear with me. I might be asking the wrong questions?

    Is logic/love/truth normative? Do they compel one to do such and such? Or does something else provide the preconditions for them to be normative? Just wondering
  10. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    Thanks for the syllogism - I see everything clearly now:cool:...:lol:

    Not sure if I have that one by Sproul... will check it out.

    [Edited on 6-14-2005 by crhoades]
  11. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    That was funny
  12. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    Don't fence with me...I might pull out a taser...

    logic/love/truth normative - yes. Compel one to do such and such - no. (my reasoning - law is also normative and it does not compel either) As far as something else providing the preconditions for them to be normative - from a creature standpoint yes. God in His ontoloical being? That's what I'm trying to figure out. Again, if God is love to say that God is the precondition for love throws us back on the horns of the eurythro's delimma...(I think I got that right...):candle:
  13. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I understood everything until now :lol::banghead:

    1. I see and understand on the normative/compelling dimension.
    Would the Creator-creature distinction help out here?
  14. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate


    creator/creature distinction was what I was trying to refer to in my inept theological shorthand:bigsmile: From the creatures' standpoint - yes God is the precondition for the creature to have use of and a foundation for truth, love, logic, being etc.

    From the Creator's standpoint - in the Ontological Trinity - are we asking if God is the precondition for logic/truth/love as if they did not exist at some point in time? What does it mean to say that God is Love? Jesus is the Truth? Was there ever a time when they weren't?

    Which drives me back to is God Logic? From my thinking above, yes. Does that attribute exhaust God? Nope. Is this how Clark defines logic and God? I have no idea...

    I don't think I just furthered the conversation at all but rather tried to restate my thinking or lack thereof...
  15. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    Forgive my soup for brains as I'm recovering from a head cold - at least that's my excuse...(could be because I've never studied this....)

    Here are three statements - are they all true? Have I equivocated? Would both Van Til and Clark agree to them?

    1. Logic is an attribute of God.
    2. God is Logic
    3. Logic is dependent/contingent on God.

    I followed Butler on his treatment of Martin above, but I'm not sure that he was scratching where I'm itching...I know, there's powder for that...
  16. Myshkin

    Myshkin Puritan Board Freshman

    :ditto: It is one thing to say that God is logical, it is another to say He is logic in a woodenly literal sense. God is never illogical nor irrational; His nature is to act and think in a completely rational and logical way at all times. But this is completely different from saying that God is logic itself, or logic incarnate. Paul pointed out above that God is love does not mean He is literally love itself. It means that He is the standard of love, the pure example of love, etc. Pertaining to logic, I think Dr. Clark went to an extreme. When I was heavily involved in his books, the more I read them the more it seemed that to Him Christ was nothing more than a series of logical propositions incarnated. In other words, when we look at Christ, we are looking at logic (i.e. a syllogism, a collection of propositions). The problem with this is that we can't conclude anything about Christ unless we know all the propositions about him, because an incomplete syllogism cannot yield to us a logical conclusion. So he leaves us with the false dilemma of having to know everything about Christ to know Him at all, or else we know nothing about Christ at all. It seems to me that Clark in thinking that Van Til completely separated the creator and the creature (instead of distinguishing), swung the other way and confused the creator and the creature in an absolute Idealism or pantheistic way.
  17. Laura

    Laura Puritan Board Junior

    Hmm, I do see your point, and it is helpful. Thanks for writing that out.
  18. WrittenFromUtopia

    WrittenFromUtopia Puritan Board Graduate

    I think you have to be careful about saying something such as "God is Logic" in the same way we can't just say "God is Love" and be making a universally understood and accepted, truthful, claim. What Love are we talking about? The Postmodern humanistic view of love? The Biblical view of love? What is love exactly? In the same way, we have to understand what is being meant by the term "Logic" in such a declaration as "God is Logic." Otherwise, we'll be in a heap of trouble and missing the mark (as countless individuals do today in evangelicalism when they claim "God is Love" with no qualifications or explanation...).
  19. Jeff_Bartel

    Jeff_Bartel Puritan Board Graduate

    Maybe I\'m just off my rocker but...

    I see no problem with calling God logic in the same sense that we say God is love. The Bible uses this phrase to describe God does it not? Yet whenever we observe what appears to be love, we don't say "There's God!"

    Christ is called the wisdom and power of God.

    1 Corinthians 1:24: ...but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

    1 Corinthians 1:30: But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.

    God is truth. God is love.

    It's important to note that part of the image of God in man is his reasonable soul.

  20. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Innately, the tools are there. Cogntively, no.
  21. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher


    The Apsotle does not say "all men." Not sure where you got that.

    Romans says:

    Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, Romans 1:19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.

    Romans 1:21 because, although they [the "of men"] knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

    Thus, Paul is speaking about "all ungodliness" and "unrighteousness" of "who?" "of men who supress the truth in unrighteouness".

    These are not infants. We do not run to Romans 1 to speak about Psalm 51:7 and being wicked in that manner. Depravity is taught here as a consequence of total depravity, but this is not the same thing.

    Infants are not what Paul had in mind in Romans 1.

    Paul says, "although they knew God" and hwo is those that know in this case? "men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness".

    In this context, how do infants do this, or the mentally disabled for that matter.

    I think you are mixing ideas together that have no warrant.

    These are men who "(Romans 1:22) Professing to be wise, they became fools." Infants do not profess to be wise.

    God, to these men, is "clearly seen" and they "understood" certian things about them. Infants are incapable of this unless you know something about infnats that the rest of the world does not know.

    Also, these "all men" "changed" the glory of God, and thus God gave them up to "uncleanness" which, as you know, is referring to "unclean relationships."

    These men also "leave" the natural use of the body for unnatural.

    Then, if this was not enough, Paul says that these men are "(Romans 1:29-32) filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; 32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. "

    I know we both agree that they are depraved. So I am unclear, Paul - how do infants or the mentally retarded or disabled: "practice such things"?

    Enlighten me. :detective:

    [Edited on 6-14-2005 by webmaster]
  22. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Matt, if the general revelation spoken of in passages like Romans 1 cannot be said in any sense to apply to infants and the mentally disabled, how can such people be considered "unexcusable" as spoken of in WCF.I.I (since, as you said, we all of course agree they are depraved)?
  23. Laura

    Laura Puritan Board Junior

    But neither does the WCF I.I. say anything about *all* men. Its phrasing is "...as to leave men inexcusable."

    [Edited on 6-14-2005 by Laura]
  24. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    If they are not inexcusable without Christ, that would seem to present difficulties for the doctrines of original sin and total depravity.
  25. Laura

    Laura Puritan Board Junior

    All right, I am just confusing things - I happen to be in this exact section of a book on the WCF right now, so I was trying to apply what I thought I just learned. Now I am confused myself. Hah. I would ask the same question, Chris.
  26. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I can completely relate, Laura, both when I was first studying the Confession as well as continuing to study various issues - and thankfully, that's what we're all here for, to edify, learn from, challenge and sharpen each other.
  27. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    If you want "confusing," see Chris Rhoades and me discuss this topic on the last page.:lol:
  28. Laura

    Laura Puritan Board Junior

    No, no. I am joining Chris and you in asking Matt how it is that infants and mentally disabled may be seen as excused from the charge of Romans 1:19-20. I am thinking that Matt is talking about a priori equipment...? If knowledge is the basis of responsibility, then we have to say that mentally disabled people must have sufficient innate ideas about God to be held accountable. Is that where we are?
    Thanks. :)

    No, dear, watch me keep trying to contribute to this thread. You will see the word "confusing" redefined (and "confused" epitomized...). :-/

    [Edited on 6-14-2005 by Laura]
  29. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    And I thought we were flashing brilliance!!! :banana: Actually, I'm still scratching my head.
  30. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Paul, I definitely not being over rationalistic. I'm trying not to be irrational with my application of Romans 1. I'm trying to be exegetical. Paul is not addressing infants and the mentally disabled in Romans 1. There are a host of other places that we would rest on Total Depravity and even Christ's own words. That does not mean that the Apostle does not mean sin has universal affects (and that's his point in this opening preface to the letter). Christ says,

    John 15:22 "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin."

    The Word itself in its spoken form demonstrates that all men are without excuse because of the revelation of God. General revelation has no cognitive affect on a 1 second old conceived / fertilized egg in the womb. BUt we know from Psalm 51 that in "sin my mother conceived me..."

    However, Paul in Romans 1, certainly touching on the universal fruit of wickedness, is doing just that - demonstrating the fruit of wickedness and its consequences. (Something we all see.) Will children who grow up follow in the same footsteps as these Paul is speaking about in the universality and fruit of sin? Certainly. No contention there.

    "...asking Matt how it is that infants and mentally disabled may be seen as excused from the charge of Romans 1:19-20."

    They are not excused from depravity, but I would wonder how they are blamed for not suppressing the truth in their unrighteousness without cognitively doing anything yet. That does not make them without excuse as to depravity, but I can't see how someone who is "not excusable" is not excusable from something they have yet to do?" The Apostle says "they" (wicked men) have done...xyz (the list he gives). Innately, I think total depravity demonstrates very clearly that they will be charged with every offense Adam committed (and he broke every commandment in the sin of the garden that was imputed to "all of us" even infants and the mentally disabled). But again, being without excuse in Romans 1 seems to not focus on the garden (that will be his progression to Romans 5). Rather, right now, he is attesting to the reality of men's fruit and their active oppression of the Gospel by wicked intentions and actions. God, in turn, gives them over to more of their own wickedness.

    How does that destroy depravity?

    Instead of plunging at once into an exposition of the gospel, Paul launches into a lengthy exposure of the sinfulness of man. This is sound procedure, for until men are persuaded of their lost condition they are not likely to be concerned about deliverance. So Paul undertakes to demonstrate in the human situation a grievous lack of the righteousness God requires.

    In Romans 1:19-20 (what everyone seems to be hung up on with the infant) the creation bears clear witness to its Maker, and the evidence is "plain to them." Who are "them?" We have a clue. Here Paul enters upon a discussion of what is designated natural revelation in distinction from the special revelation that comes through the Scriptures. It is a clear testimony set before the eyes of men, as the word "plain" implies. From the use of "understood," the revelation does not stop with perception, but is expected to include reflection, the drawing of a conclusion about the Creator. Acquaintance with it in the former area (general revelation) should prepare men to expect it in the latter (special revelation). But they have failed and are left without excuse. Cognitive ability is essential for Paul's argument to hold ANY water. It is characteristic of man in his sinful state that he knows much more truth than he translates into fitting response.

    Then in the next couple of verses, despite the knowledge of God conveyed to them through the creation (and something they have pondered - I wonder how infants do this?), men failed to act on it. (Again, something infants cannot yet cognitively do in exercising knowledge). They "neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him."

    Then the phrase "God gave them over" becomes a refrain. The same expression is what God does to men in the OT when they are idolatrous and worship other gods openly.

    Then, after those verses, Paul talk about human relationships. I'm really at a loss as how infants are capable of this.

    Remember now, at no point am I saying, in ANY way (and you should know me better) that infants are not without excuse. Rather, I'd just use some better exegetical passages to prove that point.

    One asked, "I am thinking that Matt is talking about a priori equipment...? If knowledge is the basis of responsibility, then we have to say that mentally disabled people must have sufficient innate ideas about God to be held accountable. "

    Exactly. Innately, and by imputed sin, they are already without excuse. There is NOTHING they need to further "do" to be further "without excuse." It seems that Paul (not the Apostle) is trying to say that infants actively and cognitively hate God by employing in a host of ways what the Apostle says is done by men in wickedness. Is that right Paul?

    Paul, you asked, "Do infants have an excuse?"

    About what in particular? Are you asking me if they have committed adultery? Or slept with another of their own gender? Worshiped four footed animals? At what point did they actively exercise covetousness? What exactly do you mean when you say "without excuse"? Is it the same as what the Apostle listed in Romans 1?

    If you want to talk about something be "irrational" - sin itself is irrational once one begins to understand that 1) there is a Maker that will judge them, and 2) they read the Scriptures that demonstrate this apart, even, from general revelation.

    Help us all, though, Paul, how are infants plugged into this passage cognitively? :detective:

    Chris -

    "Matt, if the general revelation spoken of in passages like Romans 1 cannot be said in any sense to apply to infants and the mentally disabled, how can such people be considered "unexcusable" as spoken of in WCF.I.I (since, as you said, we all of course agree they are depraved)? "

    They are inexcusable in Adam. Then they grow up and are condemned and jugded for his imputed sin and then thier actual sin upon pain of death. Does that not make sense?

    That is why WCF 33:1 says:

    I. God hath appointed a day, wherein he will judge the world, in righteousness, by Jesus Christ [1], to whom all power and judgment is given of the Father.[2] In which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged.[3] but likewise all persons that have lived upon earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds; and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil.[4]

    1. Acts 17:31
    2. John 5:22, 27
    3. Jude 1:6; II Peter 2:4
    4. II Cor. 5:10; Eccl. 12:14; Rom. 2:16; 14:10, 12; Matt. 12:36-37

    [Edited on 6-15-2005 by webmaster]
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