Why Expositional Preaching and Teaching Demand Good Biblical Reasoning–Part 2: What is Good Reasoning?

One of the common verses relating to an apologetic defense of the truths of scripture and salvation is 1 Peter 3:15 which says “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (KJV).   In this context, “reason” devries from the Greek concept of “a cause for something.”  1   It’s an affirmative statement that clearly and strategically describes the logical basis for making a claim.

This begs the question:  What is good reasoning?  

In the context of expository preaching and teaching, I define good reasoning as the process of evaluating scriptures through the lens of deductive and inductive reasoning in order to properly observe, interpret, and apply Biblical truths.
Evaluating Scriptures  
Good reasoning includes an evaluation process that includes at least one premise and argument.  A premise is an assumption someone makes, whether true or false.  An argument is a statement or claim someone makes based on one or more premises.  Arguments fall into two broad categories:  valid and invalid. Whereas a valid argument involves a claim and conclusion based on the truthfulness of someone’s premises, an invalid argument involves a claim and conclusion based on the untruthfulness of one or more of someone’s premises.   

Deductive Reasoning

Deductive reasoning involves starting with a general statement (hypothesis) and applying it to form a conclusion (thesis).  It’s focused on empirical information rather than experience. 
A famous example of deductive reasoning by Aristotle is:  “All men are mortal. Socrates is a man. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.”  We can also apply deductive reasoning to 1 Corinthians 11:1 where Paul says “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (KJV).  A deductive statement drawn from this verse might read: Christians are followers of Christ.  Paul follows Christ. Therefore, Paul is a Christian.

Inductive Reasoning

Inductive reasoning involves starting with a conclusion (thesis) in order to form a general statement (hypothesis) whether valid or not.  It’s focused on experience rather than empirical information.
An example of inductive reasoning is:  My next English class will be interesting.  This statement starts with a conclusion (thesis) based on premises such as My past English classes have been interesting and I just enrolled in a new English class.  2

We can apply inductive reasoning to 2 Timothy 3:16-17 which reads “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (NASB). 

Christians accept this scripture as true because it’s one of the most powerful inductive reasoning statements in all of scripture, and the basis for expository preaching!  In fact, expository preaching is inductive Bible study because of the inductive premise of 2 Timothy 3:16-17, namely God inspires all of scripture.  I discussed this in more detail in a blog entitled  Bible Study 101–Part 1:  Text without Context is a Pretext.   
I’ll conclude with George Zenmek’s observation that “Genuine textual exposition, above all, must be inductive, i.e., the biblical passage itself should provide all the components of a message.”  3
So far, I’ve discussed what expository preaching and teaching are and what good reasoning involves.  In the next blog, I’ll provide more details and examine several scriptures that help reveal about how good reasoning helps us become better expository preachers and teachers.
1  Swanson, James. Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) 1997.  Digital.
Adapted from Woolman, Michael. Ways of Knowing: an Introduction to Theory of Knowledge. IBID Press, 2000. 60.  Print.
Zemek, George J. “Grammatical Analysis and Expository Preaching.” Rediscovering Expository Preaching. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1992. 158. Print.

Leave a Reply