Logical Argument in Scripture (Pt.1)
January 27, 2013 § 4 Comments
The following article gives a brief review of some of the logical arguments used in Scripture. What is important to note is that the Scriptures are not only the words of men, but they are also the Word of God. Thus, the Holy Spirit speaks to us in Scripture; and Scripture argues with logical precision; therefore, the Holy Spirit speaks to us with logical precision. To deny that the Holy Spirit speaks to His people in a logically precise manner is to deny what is implied by the proposition “All Scripture is God-breathed.” For if All Scripture is God-breathed, and the various logical arguments of Christ and Paul are Scripture, then the logical arguments of Christ and Paul are God-breathed. Let us begin our short study.
1. Argumentum a Fortiori: This Latin phrase means “Argument from the stronger [reason].” This argument takes two forms, (i.)a maiore ad minus (trans. “from greater to smaller”), and (ii.)a minore ad maius (trans.”from smaller to greater”).
[1a.] form (i): a maiore ad minus (greater to smaller)
[i.] 1st Kings 8:27 & 2nd Chronicles 6:18: “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, s heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!”
Solomon’s argument is that if (A)the highest heaven cannot contain God, then (B)the Temple that he has built, which is much smaller, cannot contain God either. The movement is from the greater (i.e. The highest heaven) to the lesser (i.e. The temple).
[ii.] 2nd Chronicles 32:15: “…Now, therefore, do not let Hezekiah deceive you or mislead you in this fashion, and do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or from the hand of my fathers. How much less will your God deliver you out of my hand!”
Sennacherib’s argument is that if (A)no god has ever stopped him from conquering their peoples, then (B)Yahweh, who is just one God compared to all the others (in Sennacherib’s unregenerate mind), stands even less of a chance.
[iii.] Job 15:15-16: Behold, God puts no trust in his holy ones, and the heavens are not pure in his sight; how much less one who is abominable and corrupt, man who drinks injustice like water!”
Job’s argument is as follows: If (A)the elect and sinless angels, as well as the heavens, are dull in comparison to God’s infinite perfections, then (B)sinful men who are consumed with sin are that much less pure than God.
For more arguments in form (i) (i.e. Greater to lesser), see: Job 25:5-6, 35:13-14; Ezek 15:1-5; Romans 8:32; Prov 19:10.
[1b.] form (ii): a minore ad maius (smaller to greater)
[i.]Deuteronomy 31:27: “For I know how rebellious and stubborn you are. Behold, even today while I am yet alive with you, you have been rebellious against the LORD. How much more after my death!”[ Emphasis added to the phrase "How much more?" in order to help the reader identify the argument being made.]
Moses is presenting form (ii.) of the a fortiori argument. If (A)the Israelites were rebellious while their lawgiver was there to judge them and keep them in check, then (B)how much more will they rebel against God when Moses is dead? Without Moses set over them as judge, the Israelites will have no external restraints placed upon them and will, therefore, be even more rebellious in practice. The argument moves from the lesser (i.e. Israelite rebellion under the judicial watch of Moses) to the greater (i.e. Israelite rebellion in the absence of Moses’ judicial watch).
[ii.]1st Samuel 21:5: And David answered the priest, “Truly women have been kept from us as always when I go on an expedition. The vessels of the young men are holy even when it is an ordinary journey. How much more today will their vessels be holy?”
In this passage of Scripture, David is arguing form (ii.) of the a fortiori argument. If (A)David and his men keep their vessels holy when they are on an ordinary journey, then (B)how much more will they keep their vessels holy on the Sabbath? The argument is from the lesser (i.e. Their “ordinary” practice) to the greater (i.e. Their practice on the Sabbath).
[iii.]1st Samuel 23:3: But David’s men said to him, “Behold, we are afraid here in Judah; how much more then if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?”
This argument is also from the lesser to the greater (form (ii.) of the a fortiori argument). David’s men are presenting the following argument:
If (A)we are afraid in Judah among our own people, then (B)how much more afraid will we be in Keilah among the Philistines?
There are many a fortiori arguments in Scripture that take form (ii) (i.e. From the lesser to the greater). For more, see: 2nd Sam 4:9-11 & 16:11; Job 4:18-19; Prov 11:31, 15:11, 19:7 & 21:27; Ezek 14:12-21; Matt 7:11, 10:24-25, 12:11-12; Luke 11:11-13 & 12:28; Rom 5:9-10, 5:15, 5:17, 11:11-12 & 11:24; 1st Cor 6:1-3; 2 Cor 3:11; Heb 9:13-14, 10:28-29, 12:9 & 12:25.