Logic and Reasoning in reading the Bible

(Theja Tseikha) #1

Hello everyone.
How much or often can we rely on logic and reasoning when we read the Bible taking into consideration John6:63? And also how do we discern between divine revellations and self-interpretation?

(SeanO) #2

@Theja John 6:63 does not imply any conflict between understanding the Bible and reason. We use our reason to understand Scripture, but reason is not enough for us to truly understand the Scriptures because an impure heart will distort the truth to suit its own ends and only the Spirit of God can reveal God - His Spirit testifies with our spirit.

John 6:63, like Romans 6-8 and John 1, is saying that only someone born of God’s Spirit can overcome the flesh, the world and the devil. It is through Christ that we have victory over the sinful desires of our fleshly nature and captivity to spiritual forces of this world. The point is not that reason is bad or unnecessary for knowing God, but rather that our flesh - our body - is sold into sin apart from the redemptive work of Christ and power of the Holy Spirit. So this verse does not mean that we do not need to use reason when we come to the Scriptures.

John 6:63 - The Spirit is the one who gives life; human nature is of no help!

Romans 8:3-4 - For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit

Below are some thoughts that will hopefully help you. In my opinion, studying Scripture is a process that involves our reason and our mind. God’s Spirit awakens our heart’s to accept the truth rather than distorting it and helps guide us into truth through Scripture, the historical Church and brothers and sisters in the Lord. I think we must always remember that we should interpret Scripture in community - always seeking wise perspectives from other believers both alive and already with the Lord.

The Importance of a Pure Heart

While secular scholars may be capable of understanding what an author of the Bible is trying to say at an intellectual level, it requires a pure heart and the Spirit of Christ to truly believe what is being said. And in that sense, some of what is said is impossible for a person with an impure heart to truly understand. I like what George MacDonald said about parables:

“They reveal to the live conscience, otherwise not to the keenest intellect…” George MacDonald on Parables

How do we know if our Bible interpretation is correct?

To properly interpret Scripture we need to take into account:

  • original audience
  • genre
  • context
  • historical setting
  • what the rest of the body of Christ believes the passage to mean (if we are the only ones in history within the Church to have interpreted it that way, we are probably, though not definitely, wrong)

Not all verses are equally easy to interpret. Some, like John 3:16, we can very high confidence that we understand the central implication. Others are harder to understand. Even the apostle Peter admitted that some of the things Paul wrote were hard to understand.

2 Peter 3:16 - He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

we understand the meaning of the words and sentences of the Bible according to the way they were normally used by the speakers of the language, and in their historical context. To do this we must interpret the Bible in light of five factors: its original languages, its historical/cultural setting, its kinds of literature, the principles of communication and understanding, and our own preunderstandings and presuppositions. Each of these factors plays a significant role in good Bible study. By learning how to apply the basic principles of interpretation we can understand and interpret the Bible correctly


(Warner Joseph Miller) #3

Hi there, @Theja!! Great question. Sean’s answer has essentially hit the corners for me! :+1:t6: I’d only piggyback by submitting this.

I’ve often heard Ravi Zacharias say that God has put enough into the world to make faith in Him a most reasonable thing. But He has also left enough out to make it impossible to live by reason alone. Mr. Zacharias’ observation brings to light an holistic balance that we as believers approach God (and by extension, His written Word): reason AND faith. Worship that is inclusive of heart, soul AND mind.

and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul (life), and with all your MIND (thought, understanding), and with all your strength .’

Logic and reason ALONG WITH faith and spirit all have a seat at the table with regard to our worship and love of God and approaching His Word. In fact, they compliment each other! While “without faith, it’s impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6) – faith is also not bereft of reason. Faith and “being sure” are not opposed. The writer of Hebrews says,

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” ~ Hebrews 11:1

St. Augustine wrote,

‘God does not expect us to submit our faith to Him without reason, but the very limits of our reason make faith a necessity.’

What’re your thoughts?

(Theja Tseikha) #4

Thank you @SeanO and @WarnerMiller for your replies. Found it very insightful.
By the way, regarding the use of Reason and Logic(again), can you share your thoughts on-
Proverbs 3:5- Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not to your own understanding.
Does it mean something in regard to the question?

(SeanO) #5

@Theja I think Proverbs 3:5-6 means that even if you do not understand the situation that you are in, obey God’s commands and trust that He will guide / strengthen you. Trust in His name even when circumstances seem to indicate that you are alone in a situation. Trust His heart even when you cannot trace His hand.

(Theja Tseikha) #6

Thanks @SeanO.
Thumbs up to the last line- “Trust His heart even when you cannot trace His hand.”:slight_smile:

(SeanO) #7

Yep - it’s famous preacher saying - not sure where it originated.