Sin prejudices us against the law of God for as long as we live, and we have to fight to overcome these basic distortions of the truth of God. But if we love God, not only with all of our hearts, our souls, and our strength, but also with our minds (Mark 12:30), we will be rigorous in our attempts to train our minds.
Several years ago, I was asked to give a convocation address at a major theological seminary in America. In that address, I spoke about the critical role of logic in biblical interpretation, and I pleaded for seminaries to include courses on logic in their required curricula. In almost any seminary’s course of study, students are required to learn something of the original biblical languages, Hebrew and Greek. They are taught to look at the historical background of the text, and they learn basic principles of interpretation. These are all important and valuable skills for being good stewards of the Word of God. However, the main reason why errors in biblical interpretation occur is not because the reader lacks a knowledge of Hebrew or of the situation in which the biblical book was written. The number one cause for misunderstanding the Scriptures is making illegitimate inferences from the text. It is my firm belief that these faulty inferences would be less likely if biblical interpreters were more skilled in basic principles of logic.
Let me give an example of the kind of faulty inferences I have in mind. I doubt I have ever had a discussion on the question of God’s sovereign election without someone quoting John 3:16 and saying, “But doesn’t the Bible say that ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life’”? I immediately agree that the Bible says that. If we were to translate that truth into logical propositions, we would say that all who believe will have eternal life, and no one who has eternal life will perish, because perishing and eternal life are polar opposites in terms of the consequences of belief. However, this text says absolutely nothing about human ability to believe in Jesus Christ. It tells us nothing about who will believe. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44). Here we have a universal negative that describes ability. No person has the ability to come to Jesus unless a particular condition is met by God. Yet this is forgotten in light of John 3:16, which says nothing about a prerequisite for faith. So, John 3:16, one of the most famous texts in all of the Bible, is routinely, regularly, and systematically butchered with faulty inferences and implications.