In an email I wrote in 2010, I shared the foundational presuppositions that guide the formulation of my arguments i.e. the premises upon which I base my positions regarding the Christian faith (which as Jude put it, was delivered once and for all to the saints!)
Firstly, I believe that the Bible alone is the word of God (this does not in anyway invalidate Christ as the Word of God as some would say). I believe that all that is required for life and godliness is either clearly expressed in Scriptures or can, by good and reasonable consequence, be deduced from Scripture. I do not believe that the Scripture is opposed to reason, but rather makes truth statements that we can trust as our premises for the conclusions we draw once we use the right tool i.e. faith and logic
(Please notice that I used the words GOOD and REASONABLE, to show that God is not opposed to the laws of thought (or logic) but rather, has given us the faculty required to establish premises, and draw accurate conclusions based on his Scriptures)
Secondly, I believe that all human beings have a starting point (axiom) from which all their arguments are built up; and that as long as these axioms are faulty (i.e. badly presumed) then, their consequent arguments will be flawed. To this end, I believe that all the truth statements made in Scriptures are without fault (i.e. inerrant and infallible and non-contradictory). It goes without saying that:
- God is True
- The Bible is the Word of God
- Therefore the Bible is true.
This is my starting point, and just like the atheist who would reject this syllogism, I also have a right to affirm it. I do not believe that the authenticity of the Scriptures relies on the credibility of any man, but rather on itself.
Thirdly, I believe and affirm that people can actually know exactly what God intended to say in any verse of Scripture, and that given the existing set of arrangements (i.e. how Scriptures is currently arranged) no verse can contradict itself even if it may say different things under different relationships for example:
- David was the King of Israel is true
- David was the King of Judah is true
- David was the Father of Absalom is true
- David was the Father of Ammon is true
- David was the Father of Solomon is true
- David was the Husband of Abigail is true
- David was the Husband of Bathsheba is true
Notice that it is one David, but different relationships, each one true, but none is mutually exclusive.
However, the Bible does not affirm a position in one place and then contradicts itself in another. E.g.
- David the King of Israel was the Father of Solomon the King of Israel- True (written in Scriptures)
- David the King of Israel was the Son of Solomon the King of Israel- False (non existent an made up)
Bottom line? The Bible has no contradictions whatsoever!
Fourthly, I have come to realize that correct thinking (good logical reasoning) is a skill that can, and must be learned. Unfortunately, a lot of folks do not follow the steps of thinking (proper syllogism) when drawing their conclusions but will rather resort to fallacies (faulty logic) when attempting to draw their conclusions. As sad as this is, it is by far the most popular means employed by people when drawing conclusions for instance:
- Tunji always takes things too personally so, he cannot be right!
- What has Tunji’s disposition to an argument to do with the validity or otherwise of his position?
- Tunji said, “Because I feel strongly about this issue, it must be right!”
- What has Tunji’s feelings got to do with the validity or otherwise of the issue?
- Some people just want to be right at all times; they are not worth listening to!
- While this may be a valid accusation, this assertion does not in anyway take away from, or add to the validity of their argument!
The conclusion of this is that people should endeavor to refrain from personal attacks and rather refute the points been made, by pointing out:
- The faulty premise (which could result from a misinterpretation of God’s Word )
- The faulty Syllogism
- The Faulty Conclusions
Mark 2:7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Putting this in a syllogism, it would read
- This Jesus is just a Man
- Only God can forgive Sins
- Therefore He blasphemes by Saying “Your sins are forgiven”
Notice that the argument is very valid, but the conclusion is wrong because the premise “Jesus is just a man!” is faulty and untrue.
Fifthly, I have also come to realize that people, in defining terms don’t always mean what you think their definitions mean. So, it becomes imperative to clarify meanings when relating with people.
For instance “Bible believing Church” may have a different connotation from its denotative meaning! It is therefore vital to clarify. Also the term “I am a Christian” could have different connotations that have no semblance to the definition of who a Christian really is as explained in Scripture.
2John 1:9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
Please note that this is by no means a glorification of the intellect over a passion for God (as some would assume). As a matter of fact, Jesus taught that a right understanding engenders worship and adoration:
John 4:10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
Notice how her request for living water was contingent upon her knowing who he really was.
John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
Notice also how their joy was contingent upon what God spoke to them
John 17:8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me.
Notice again how the disciples glorifying of Jesus, as sent by the Father, was contingent on their knowledge of “all the words” that God gave to Jesus for them!
A clear and accurate understanding of Scriptures is our weapon , which is mighty through God, to the pulling down of strongholds and every argument that opposes the knowledge of Christ.
2Corinthians 10:3-6 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.
God bless you!