"Mere Human Logic?" or
Concept of Logic — and Reason*
For a more complete discussion of this
Faith and Reason More Fully Defined.
“Mere Human Logic." This
phrase seems to be increasing in its use among evangelical
speakers and writers. Unfortunately,
if followed with consistency, Christianity becomes impossible
either to understand or to be coherent.
Review all that has been presented here.
Then, consider. (1) Reason as
logic is the very fabric of language communication, and there is
no other form of communication! (2)
Who structured human language—God Himself!
“Mere human logic” is God’s design for human
language and communication. To
call it “mere” is to deprecate God.
He does not create “mere”; He creates great and glorious.
At least one origin of this claim seems to be
several systematic theology texts.
These theologians seem to have the right intent to take a solid
stand for the omniscience of God and the infinite extent to
which His mind and understanding exceeds that of man.
I have no quarrel to give God his highest glory in
wisdom. However, He has created us
in His own image. God
chose language and its necessary structure for communication.
He pushes His people to understand as much as they are
able with His Special Revelation as the basis and limiting
factor for knowledge and truth (Romans 12:2; Colossians 1:9,
2:2). “The secret things belong
to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed
belong to us and to our children forever, that we
may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).
By this statement, an incredible amount of knowledge is
needed to be able to obey Him! By
this statement, also, an entire system of ethics is named (“this
There would be no hermeneutics,
and thus no interpretation of Scripture, without logic!
In R. C. Sproul’s book, Knowing Scripture,
Chapter Four, he presents ten rules of hermeneutics—none of
which are clearly stated from Scripture.
On my worldview website, I have added 13 more rules, none
of which are clearly stated in Scripture.
In fact, what may be the most important
hermeneutic, the analogy of
Scripture—that Scripture must interpret itself where possible is
not stated in Scripture. All these
are logically derived from Scripture, as the Westminster fathers
designed in Chapter 1, Section 6, of their Confession of Faith:
“The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary
for his own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either
expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary
consequence may be deduced from Scripture.”
So, “mere human logic” should be changed to
“the great logic of God is His image in man.
Oh, by the way, there would be no one word, “Trinity,”
for the three Persons of the Godhead without logic.
Four Senses (Uses) of
The uses of the
word, "logic." "There “are four senses
(definitions) in which the word logic is used: (1) at the theoretical
and symbolic level is a comprehensive term that refers to sets of
axiomatic relationships, ‘an analysis and evaluation of the ways of
using evidence to derive correct (true) conclusions’ (Ed—empirical
inference) (2) in common speech at a nontechnical level is a synonym for
words such as ‘workable,’ ‘reasonable,’ and the like a logical plan may
be a workable plan, an illogical step may be a rash step; (3) (in) a
formal presentation of an argument: that is, people engage in ‘logical
argument,’ whether or not there are fallacies in the steps (that) they
take; and (4) in common speech may refer to a set of propositions or
even an outlook which may or may not be ‘logical’ in the first
sense....for example ... the logic of the marketplace or the logic of
(D. A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies, Baker Academic Books, 2nd
edition, pp. 87-88,)
Ed's Comments: The reader should note that #1
represents logic in its formal sense as inductive inference.
Evidence is gathered, coherence is recognized, and conclusions drawn
about the probability of universals.
A better name for #3 might be "rational" thinking, as it does not
involve the formal steps of logic, but an attempt at clearly drawing one
conclusion from other facts and statements. What is reasonable or
rational may or may not be formally
#2 and #4 may include almost any
kind of reasoning in serious or casual conversations. It is
doubtful that "logic" should be used for this process at all, as it
hides the important use of formal logic. "Reasonable" might be a
better word here.
It is most important that readers understand that there is a
discipline of deductive
logic because it stands in stark contrast to all the other definitions.
Formal logic can start with true statements (premises, axioms,
presuppositions, etc.), and if the process of logic is applied
correctly, then the conclusions are also true.
For example, The
Trinity is common to all those who profess true Christianity, yet
"trinity" does not appear in the Bible. The logical steps are
Only God is
omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent.
Son, and Holy Spirit all have these attributes.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are One God and Three Persons.
"Trinity" is an
arbitrary choice of a word to apply to this conclusion. The word
itself does not make its own concept true. The concept of Trinity
is a logical conclusion from the premises which are absolutes. So,
the conclusion argued logically is as true as its premises. All the
steps, as a whole, is called a syllogism.
The reader may
need to wrestle with this process. It cannot be done apart from
reviewing at least the first few chapters of a book on formal logic.
A failure to understand the use of formal logic will greatly hamper
one's attempts at a Biblical worldview.
The phrase "mere
human logic" shows ignorance of the process of formal logic and its
power to reason to truth from true propositions. For example, what
about "mere human mathematics," as being unreliable and untrustworthy?
*The same comments above apply the word, "reason." I
wrote the article on "logic," but everything said above applies
to "reason." Gordon Clark equates logic and reason.
He also discusses three uses of "reason":
In theology (and I would add, philosophy),
reason has borne several meanings. It can mean
non-revelational knowledge; it can mean knowledge derived by
logic alone; and it can mean and has often meant knowledge based
upon sensory experience. The latter, though it is of
frequent usage, seems to veer a little too far from the
etymological meaning of ratio. (Logic,
For more on the use of logic in the
interpretation of Scripture, see
Logic by John Frame.
Even better, see
Westminster Confession of Faith and Logic.
God and Logic: In the beginning was the ... logic
For the process of
formal logic, see