God is logical; truth is propositional

Truth is propositional. This is a hard one to wrap our minds around, but simple propositional form is the unavoidable way of all coherent thought and action, for both God and men. There is a big move today to say, “No. Truth is relational.” But whatever that is supposed to mean, it never seems to be said in anything but propositional form.

Subject, Object, Copula. “God is good.” This is what communication demands, because, everything is relational. And every truth is thought in the form of a relation between something and something else or something and itself. There just isn’t any other way for things to be. So of course Jesus is logical, because to be illogical is to be confused, or ignorant, or just wrong about something. God, in Christian Theology, is an eternal mind. He thinks. He is personal (in fact, tri-personal). But He is not confused about either what He thinks is true or what He thinks is false or the relationship between the two. He knows that He exists instead of not existing. He knows the difference between Himself and the things He created. He knows what He loves and what He hates and what time of the day it is, and all of these are logical distinctions. Logic is just our little name for the way God thinks. We think the way we do, and think well when we do, because He thinks the way He does, and we are created after His image and likeness.

The implication of this being that that which is irrational, is ungodly. Eastern religions tend to prize irrationality; perfection in thought and rationality are peculiarly Christian ways of understanding the Creator. The irrational, sub-rational, super-rational (or wherever you want to go with it) identify something as being fallen, and dark, and ultimately brutal. There are some philosophies that explain everything in terms of an ultimate Personality with intent, and order, and reasons expressive of the perfections of the Divine nature, and then there are those that reduce everything to an ultimate irrationality, chaos, and mindless accidental causation. Really, these are the only two big philosophies: God, or the void; everything else is details.

God is Good. And because God is good He is also Truth, and truth neither lies nor errs. Logic is not some eternally existing Platonic thing outside of God to which He looks for verification as a principle. Properly, there is no “thing” called logic. Logic is a primary personal attribute that doesn’t exist ‘outside’ of persons at all. What some people derogatorily describe as “mere human reason”, is the imago Dei, the image of God. At worst we should call it Divine reason subsidiarily expressed. We call our Christian ethics the works of God’s good moral will, why not the thoughts that are true the lesser reflections of His Holy intellect? These are really the only ways that we can be like God. To do the good that pleases Him and think His true thoughts after Him: morally and thoughtfully. When the Westminster Shorter Catechism says that we were created in “knowledge and original righteousness”, that’s what it means. In thinking true thoughts and willing true goods. The ability to think true thoughts about God, the self, and the world and to reconcile those thoughts in a true understanding so that we might see the face of God in Jesus Christ demands that our thoughts be reasonable.

If someone wants to disagree they would need to do so without using propositions or without using logic and so without using words, because the use of any word presupposes the identity and meaning of the word used as opposed to an infinite series of other possible meanings. So, no words, no numbers, no images, pictures, symbols, or representations of any kind because all of these presume the laws of identity and non-contradiction. We simply cannot speak, not even to object, without using them.

This in itself tells us things about the Eternal God who raised us from the dust and breathed life into us, bringing forth children from the clay. Logic itself is not something He created, because if it were, He would have had to have not created it before He created it, and that is a logical distinction.

Getting beyond the object-subject distinction is the rage in the halls of philosophical confusion right now. Theo-babble is on the rise. The thinker’s flavor of the week. But the Christian should not allow themselves be confused by these kinds of pious sounding words without intelligible meaning. There is a God, and we are not Him, and that is a logical difference. To fail to reason well is to succeed at reasoning paganly. To begin with true premises and end with false conclusions is the beginning of suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.

And since we who know Him long to be like Him, let us think as He thought and do as he did.

Christopher Neiswonger

10 thoughts on “God is logical; truth is propositional

  1. Amen! I love reading articles like this, so few of those in ministry seem to know what is going on. Right when you mentioned “propositional truth,” I thought of Douglas Groothuis’ Truth Decay, an excellent book that I read in seminary. What do you think of the postmodern influence on truth?

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    1. I don’t understand when you say that God didn’t create logic, if He has 7 spirits and one of those is logic. And if we were made in His likeness then we are also logical because He is. Are you saying that He didn’t created it because He is and therefore we are, or can you explain what you mean? Thak you.

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  2. Can the greatest commandments have a greatest meaning for God as a propositional truth?

    God the Father loves each and every one of his children as he loves himself.

    Can God love us more than he loves himself?

    In a way, God loves us more than he loves himself, because he was willing to do what was good for us but not good for him (send his Son to die). In a sort of contradicting way, God loves himself more than us, because he knows that he is the greatest being in the universe and retains the power of heaven or hell over us. When you ask the question; why did Christ say they are the greatest commandment, can it possibly be because God can do nothing greater?

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  3. I think propositional truth and logic are fine things and are sometimes derided or neglected. I think you’re over-correcting though. We know about God propositionally but we are also meant know God personally and directly by His spirit; and the God who we know personally has claimed to be the Truth. Personal knowledge of Jesus is involving of our whole selves (not only the intellect).

    Jesus says He is the Truth. If truth were exclusively propositional, Jesus would be a proposition. If He is more than a proposition, than Truth is also more. Knowing the Truth then, may be more like knowing the love that ‘surpasses knowledge’ or the peace that ‘passeth understanding’. It cannot be differentiated from the knowledge of God Himself which exceeds knowledge and (as in John 15) is not a strictly propositional connection.

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  4. Jesus said, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you”. (John 15:7). This seems to indicate to me that in order to truly know God we need to know him propositionally (my words abide in you) and personally or relationally (if ye abide in me). Both are equally important and intertwined. To know God personally we must “confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead,” (Romans 10:9) This is a propositional truth. Therefore, propositional truth is the foundation of relational truth. However, logic cannot prove truth, only support it. To accept that propositional truth we must receive an efficacious call, which is a form of relational knowledge. Therefore relational knowledge is, in turn, the foundation of propositional truth.

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  5. Anonymous 7/26/14 nailed it with that post! Adding onto what was said in that response about Jesus declaring Himself as the Truth I ask; is the person of Jesus logical?

    The cornerstone truth/proposition of Christianity is that God became human: Jesus was/is all God/divine AND all man/human. 100% divinity AND 100% humanity at the same time in the same Being.

    Line up the attributes/definitions/propositions of “divinity” and “humanity” side by side and determine if you can truly be intellectually honest with yourself in believing that human logic can truly define Jesus….truly define truth.

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