Why Expositional Preaching and Teaching Demand Good Biblical Reasoning–Part 3: How Do Apply Good Reasoning?

In my last blog, I explained how premises and arguments play a vital role in distinguishing between deductive and inductive reasoning.  Today’s focus is examining several scriptures that reflect both types of reasoning and how Jesus refuted the so-called logic of the Pharisees who denied His deity.
 
Example of Deductive Reasoning
Recall that deductive reasoning starts with a general statement that leads to a conclusion.

Matthew 7:28-29 reads: “When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes” NASB.   These verses concluded Jesus’ teaching about judging others, the importance of prayer, and spiritual maturity.
 

Let’s review the premises and conclusions to the crowd’s comparison of Jesus with scribes.

  • Premise 1:  Jesus teaches them as someone having authority.

     

  • Premise 2:  Jesus does not teach as their scribes do.  

     

  • Conclusion:  Their scribes do not have authority. 
 

Is this a valid argument because all of the premises are true?  Yes.  In fact, in a portion of the Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew 5:17-48, Jesus states His authority surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees because He repeatedly says to the crowd, “You have heard it said…but I say unto you.”

Example of Inductive Reasoning
In contrast to deductive reasoning,  inductive reasoning starts with a conclusion that leads to a general statement.

An example of inductive reasoning is found in Matthew 12:22-29, which records Jesus’ rebuking the Pharisees after He heals a demon-possessed man.  
 

Let’s assess the validity of the argument by starting with the conclusion, followed by the premises.

Conclusion:  Pharisees do not believe Jesus is the Son of David–the Messiah (Matthew 12:22).  

 

Premise #1:  Pharisees believe that Jesus has the power to cast out demons  (Matthew 12:23).

Premise #2:  Pharisees believe Jesus’ power to heal comes from Beelzebul, which is often referred to as a title for pagan god or demon  1 as well as a name for Satan  2  (Matthew 12:24). 

Is this a valid argument because all of the premises are true?  No, it’s invalid!  While the Pharisees’ Premise #1 is true, their Premise #2 is false.  Scriptures such as Mark 1:9-12, Matthew 3:17, and Matthew 17:5 point to God declaring that Jesus is His Son and not an agent of Satan.  
 

Example of Jesus Using Deductive Reasoning to Refute Inductive Reasoning

Jesus uses valid deductive reasoning to refute the Pharisees’ invalid inductive reasoning in Matthew 12:22-29.

Premise #1: Jesus healed a demon-possessed man (Matthew 12:22).

Premise #2:  Satan’s kingdom is divided and can’t stand or survive if demons are cast out by Satan’s power (Matthew 12:25-27).

Conclusion:  Jesus’ power to heal does not come from Beelzebul (Matthew 12:28-29).  The Pharisees are wrong: Jesus is the Son of God. 

Is this a valid argument because all of the premises are true?  Yes.  Jesus is in fact, the Messiah He claims to be.
 

Why Does Applying Good Reasoning Matter?

The age-old battle between faith and reason is flawed because it assumes an either/or rather than a both/and approach.  The Gospel is Good News, in part because it contains good reasoning.
 
1   Swanson, James. Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) 1997:  Digital.
 
Thomas, Robert L. New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries: Updated Edition 1998: Digital.

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