Logic and Rhetoric

Words: choice fruit

Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances. Prov 25:11 (NASB)

A gentle tongue can break a bone. Prov 25:15 (NASB)

A lying tongue hates those it crushes,
And a flattering mouth works ruin. Prov 26:29 (NASB)

The one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from spreading deceit. 1 Pet 3:10

Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. James 3:5-6 (NIV)

A man has joy in an apt answer, And how delightful is a timely word! Prov 15:23


The Christian’s Intellectual Life by Gaebelein

No Christian, however pious, will ever grow intellectually if he feeds his mind on trash, on the third-rate; if he never on his own reads some hard books, listens to some great and profound music, or tries to converse seriously about difficult subjects.

Turning from these th41YWS2AoRbL._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_ings to the greatest Book of all, let me ask, What is the place of the Bible in our lives? Have we the fortitude to maintain inviolate a daily time alone with the Word of God? One may be an intellectual person without the Bible, but one will never be a Christian intellectual without it.

Finally, we grow in intellect in the broadest and deepest sense as we submit ourselves to our teacher. And who is that? As Bishop Stephen F. Bayne, Jr., said in a semicentennial address at the Kent School, “God Is the Teacher.” In the Christian college — and herein lies the inestimable value of a committed Christian college — the living God is recognized as the source of all wisdom and excellence. And how does he teach? Let me say it reverently. God is not a progressive educator. He teaches us daily, as we pay the price of hard thinking. He teaches us through his Word. He teaches us through teachers who in turn are taught by him. He teaches us through the discipline of trial and disappointment and suffering, and through our successes too. But most of all he teaches us through our Lord Jesus Christ. When God teaches us, he is always saying in and through and above whatever we are studying and learning for ourselves, or, in the case of us teachers, what we are teaching others, “This is my beloved Son; hear him.”

The intellectual life at its highest and best is above all else a Christ-centered life. It means having the mind of the Lord Jesus. It has a goal, the magnificent, lofty goal, as Paul said, of “bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Like the high priest of Israel who had written on the mitre over his forehead, “Holiness unto the Lord,” so the Christian student and scholar, dedicated the intellectual life, must have written over his mind, “Holiness unto the Lord,” as he seeks to ponder and dwell on the truth.”[1]

[1] Frank Gaebelein,”The Christian’s Intellectual Life,” A Varied Harvest, p. 97.

Something Rather Than Nothing & the Answer to Everything

“All people in this world are made to give evidence or to signify something.”
Robert Adams, Beauty in Photography, p. 60.

Why is there something
rather than nothing?
Why is A not non A?
Unity and distinction,
differentiation and similarity,
freedom and responsibility,
one and the many,
promise and fulfillment,
signs and symbols,
something and nothing,
divine and human,
man and woman,
Creator and creature,
created and uncreated,
animate and inanimate,
humans and animals,
animals and plants,
comets, asteroids, planets,
names of unity
and distinction,
naming the names of all things,
animate and inanimate,
the Father, Son, Holy Spirit,
unity and differentiation,
without fusion,
without separation,
immanence and transcendence,
Name and Glory,
the Father from whom
all are named
by Adam as distinct man
from Eve,
in unity and distinction,
each one someone,
rather than no-one,
different, yet similar,
free, yet responsible,
human, not divine,
naming all, rather than nothing,
with freedom and identification,
identity, not non-identity,
persons, not non-persons?
This is unity and distinction,
the key to the universe
of all names, knowledge,
and reality, not non-reality,
stars, quarks, neutrinos
are something,
and why A is not non A,
and why something is not just anything.

This is the answer to everything.

As trust is to construct
so sign is to consign
as signify is to entrust
so name is to design
as consider is to know
so compose is to specify
as find is to consider
so testify is to indicate
as acknowledge is to witness
so investigate is to concede
as speak is to designate
so declare is to unveil
as certitude is to signatories
so to allocate is to identify
as to regard one
as well as the other.

As to entitle is to envision
so to uname is to dismantle
as to deconstruct
is to names, signs, and symbols
metaphors, motifs, and allusions,
figures that direct and represent
as one against the other
as not the other.

As to assign is to find
so to unsignify is to disassemble
the one and the other,
as to mask is to obfuscate
so to classify is to unmask
the other
as to see is to discover
the names of all others
so to know is to love
as the apprised true beauty
of those identified
as truly signified.

Names to remember: all.

Precepts on the theory of everything:

The definite article
definitely identifies
the thing it articulates.

The indefinite article is inarticulate,
but definitely identifies the thing as

There is no “thing in itself”
but the thing in relation to others,
in unity and distinction with each other.

The image is a sign
of the thing in relation,
and is not a thing in itself.

The sign is the significance
of the thing itself,
in unity and distinction from all other things.

The whole is not just One
but the unity of the many,
unique in themselves as one.

Dualism (divided fields of knowledge): two story living and some good news

platos_cave_escape_plan_t_shirtsIt is an obvious truism to note that human life is touched by many aspects of brokenness and fragmentation, since the fruits of disintegration touch every aspect of our lives. In order to consider some possible explanations for this, I suggest that it relates most directly to the spiritual/theological/ philosophical makeup of how we perceive reality (God and creation). This is seen especially in the way knowledge and understanding (worldviews) are fragmented into many polarizations of perspective. These then become the modus operandi of world-view development and expression, as well as living in this world.  For example, today there is the widespread belief that secular science provides “facts” while religion only affirms “values.” This is what is called the sacred/secular divide. I suggest that this is a myth born of the devaluation of the concept of truth as true to all that is. Indeed, truth can not only be about “values.” For it to be truth, it must concern total reality. Further, “secularism” is itself a religious world-view governed by disbelief in God and many other philosophical assumptions. Secularists often claim they have no religious assumptions or motivations, when in fact they are driven by deep religious assumptions governed by unbelief. Since such dualities are pervasively active today in the minds of many millions of people, it is helpful to consider them carefully to recognize and evaluate their insidious and often deleterious influence upon perceptions, beliefs, and actions (compiled from various sources, as follows . . .   To read more, click here.  Dualism, divided fields of knowledge, and biblical dichotomies

Biblical Rhetoric and our Beautiful Gospel

The Biblical Ideals of Rhetoric and the Beautiful Gospel

Our ideals for communication should flow out of our Biblical Theology of the Scripture. They should reflect the whole gospel of the whole  Bible, for the  whole person, for the whole world. Therefore, we take the wondrous gift of communication with grave sobriety, matched only by our great joy. We do not often achieve our ideals, but is it not possible to have substantial success? Sadly, we must admit, we too often communicate  in such a way that others might conclude that our God is not worthy of their  admiration or praise. It is, consequently, all the more imperative that we make every effort to rightly represent him as he truly is. To do so, our communication, our rhetoric, should accurately exemplify the character of Christ: that is, he loves perfectly, and communicates his love perfectly. As God, he loves the truth perfectly, he loves his creation perfectly, and he loves his people perfectly. As God, he communicates perfectly his character and his purposes. He communicates his holiness to unholy creatures perfectly.

Nevertheless, unlike God, in our sinful state, we can only humbly strive to represent him in our character and communication, praying that he will give us sufficiency and strength of character beyond our ability. One important aspect of our representing him in our love for him, his truth, and his creation, is that our rhetoric in all aspects should be beautiful. When our rhetoric lacks beauty, it is of course ugly. Though this is an “unscientific” assertion, lacking completely objective  definition, it can be fair to say we all know when we are being unkind, unloving, uncivil, ungracious, unforgiving, impatient, insulting, discourteous, harsh, cruel, close-minded, arrogant, pompous, cynical, and ugly. Consider even the most severe judgment texts in the Bible: they are never demeaning, degrading, insulting, impatient, or arrogant, etc. In fact, they are written in the most beautifully exalting prose and poetry known to humankind, in language that expresses all of the beautiful perfections of God’s character. Importantly, the Scriptures are the only perfect place to find a model for rhetoric, since God has given us there the most extraordinary, and perfect, balance of love and holiness, of mercy and judgment. Even where the prophets, and Christ,  most strongly excoriate there is never any degrading or demeaning of the audience/recipients since God always communicates from his holy, loving, and glorious nature. His communication is therefore always perfectly loving and perfectly just. We, on the other hand, recognize that in ourselves we are unjust and unloving, and our communication is so often corrupted by our sinful hearts. Therefore, we must all the more give careful attention to our rhetoric as a matter of obedience to Christ. In this way, we pray to be affirming, complimenting, encouraging, humble, kind, gracious, patient, courteous, civil, forgiving, gentle, open-minded, long-suffering, and loving, and thereby approximate a modest representation of his most beautiful character.

It is also true that perceptions vary from one culture and generation to another. For example, in what might be regarded as harsh at one time might be perceived  as witty and persuasive at another time. What might be insulting to one generation might be received as a powerful polemic to another. This does not mean that our biblical ideals are relative, but that we must attempt to understand our own generation to discover what best exemplifies biblical standards of rhetoric so that our communication presents Christ and his gospel with as much love and beauty as is humanly possible (by the help of his Spirit). Knowing how often we fail (when we do not depend on his help nor follow his example), should incline us to even greater humility, patience, kindness, gentleness, and love as we fervently pray to better communicate the beauty of his holiness. In our desire to follow Christ our King, whose teaching and rhetoric was unparalleled in every aspect, we must work especially hard to best communicate in our rhetoric so as to proclaim, to demonstrate, and to teach the glories of his truth with the immeasurable
and unmatched beauty of his love.

In so doing, we present him as he truly is, as the one most worthy of all love and praise.



An Epidemic of Unreason and Nonsense

“For ordinary Americans, including those not naturally disposed toward the irrational, the menu of junk thought is as broad and accessible as its offerings of junk food. Junk thought is state of mind that is hard to avoid. Press the remote, point and click the mouse, open the newspaper, and the worlds of anti-rationalism open up.”[1]

[1] Jacoby, American Unreason, p. 212.

“There is no greater threat facing the true Church of Christ at this moment than the irrationalism that now controls our entire culture. Totalitarianism, guilty of tens of millions of murders, including those of millions of Christians, is to be feared, but not nearly so much as the idea that we do not and cannot know the truth. Hedonism, the popular philosophy of America, is not to be feared so much as the belief that logic–that “mere human logic,” to use the religious irrationalists’ own phrase–is futile. The attacks on truth, on revelation, on the intellect, and on logic are renewed daily. But note well: The misologists–the haters of logic–use logic to demonstrate the futility of using logic. The anti-intellectuals construct intricate intellectual arguments to prove the insufficiency of the intellect. The anti-theologians use the revealed Word of God to show that there can be no revealed Word of God–or that if there could, it would remain impenetrable darkness and Mystery to our finite minds.

Nonsense Has Come

Is it any wonder that the world is grasping at straws–the straws of experientialism, mysticism and drugs? After all, if people are told that the Bible contains insoluble mysteries, then is not a flight into mysticism to be expected? On what grounds can it be condemned? Certainly not on logical grounds or Biblical grounds, if logic is futile and the Bible unintelligible. Moreover, if it cannot be condemned on logical or Biblical grounds, it cannot be condemned at all. If people are going to have a religion of the mysterious, they will not adopt Christianity: They will have a genuine mystery religion. “Those who call for Nonsense,” C.S. Lewis once wrote, “will find that it comes.” And that is precisely what has happened. The popularity of Eastern mysticism, of drugs, and of religious experience is the logical consequence of the irrationalism of the twentieth century. There can and will be no Christian revival–and no reconstruction of society–unless and until the irrationalism of the age is totally repudiated by Christians.”[1]

[1] Robbins, Christ and Civilization, pp. 51-52.

Language, truth, logic, theology, and civilization

orwell_-truth-1s2npq3Truth, and the process of discovering truth, must of necessity relate to language, the use of reason, and the quality of our rhetoric. The question is whether reason always leads to truth, or whether it can ever lead to truth.

Certainly, I think most of us can agree that the loss of dignity in language, its debasement, leads to personal and national debasement and decline, since it includes a loss of logic and truth. The loss of sound reason and good rhetoric also leads to the same consequences, since they go together with the debasement of language. If language and reason and rhetoric are debased, then even the concept of truth will be questioned (precisely what we have in our Postmodern context). On the other hand, in stark contrast to that, we propose that reason guided by revelation can and will lead us to know truth. The question of truth is paramount here, and the sources of truth, the maintenance of truth, as it relates to the employment of language and reason to communicate truth. All of this concerns the very stability of our civilization.

Therefore, the role of theology in this situation is particularly critical, for we must have dignified language (that is logically reliable and trustworthy) in order to have theological discourse adequate to describe the reality of God and of his universe. In order to have such discourse, we must also be able to properly (logically and truthfully) define our terms (a much maligned concept in our Postmodern context). Further, as those called to bear witness (with language) to the truth, it is vital to recognize that the foundation of the church is most logically its biblical theology. Our gospel must be presented in language that is truthful, logically following the flow and contexts of biblical history, as well as rhetorically reasoned. As such, it presents more than just hope for the stability for civilization, but so much more than that in the hope of its coming renewal: the re-creation and restoration that Christ will bring at his return. Nevertheless, there is also the corresponding promise of judgment coming, a purging and removal of all that is unholy in the world that hates God and desires his banishment, even from our discourse. These are truth-statements, even though some may hate us for stating them plainly.

Therefore, if the church is a witness-bearer to the truth, and is thus the salt of the earth, then “If the salt loses is saltiness . . . .”