Conclusions that are true can be obtained by using deductive reasoning. This is especially necessary in the area of Bible study. It takes but little observation to see that the religious world is hopelessly divided. This is perplexing because all have the same Bible from which they claim to take their distinct and separate doctrines. If the information is the same, how is it that the conclusions are so diverse?

There are several ways to answer this question. Things like personal prejudice, family ties, peer pressure, and friendship explain why division exists. While these are obvious, the root of religious division is faulty reasoning, that is to say faulty logic.

The following is an illustration of faulty deductive reasoning. The goal is to prove why fire trucks are the color red. Faulty deductive reasoning would go about it this way. Fire trucks have four wheels and eight fire fighters. Four plus eight equals twelve. There are twelve inches in a foot. A foot is a ruler. Queen Elizabeth is a ruler. The Queen Elizabeth is one of the largest ships to sail the seven seas. Seas are where fish live. Fish have fins. The Finns fought the Russians. Russians are called reds. Fire trucks are usually rushin' to fires. Therefore, fire trucks must be the color red!

To those with faulty reasoning, they have made conclusive arguments that prove fire trucks need to be red. It does not matter that the minor premises upon which they based their major premise have nothing to do with one another.

Any argument that begins with a supposition of truth is doomed to failure. Doctrinal error exists because it is based upon a supposition of truth rather than truth itself. Another way the search for truth is thwarted is by using true suppositions that are not related. Stringing together a list of minor premises that do not relate to the major premise will not end with a conclusion of truth. Therefore, God warns us to have sound deductive reasoning.

The apostle Paul wrote the young evangelist Timothy and admonished him to reason correctly from the Holy Scripture. "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15). If all who read the Bible must do so with sound logic, how much greater care must the preacher/teacher take to ensure his reasoning is sound?

There is an example in the Old Testament of the preacher/teacher's responsibility to handle the words of God correctly. When Ezra read from the book of the Law of Moses, there were men with him who were to explain the meaning of the reading. We are told, ". they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading" (Nehemiah 8:8). The responsibility to help others understand the scripture is a weighty burden that should not be taken lightly (James 3:1).

Man can understand the scripture if he is a lover of the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10).

By Glen Young

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