I had a friend ask me about a deductive logical argument (called a syllogism) that an atheist had posted on his blog.
The argument goes as follows:
P1. God is Love (1 John 4:8)
P2. Love keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5)
P3. God keeps records of wrongs (Ecclesiastes 12:14)
I’d say that is very clever, but dishonest! Verses should not be taken out of context. Once they are, they can be misused in any manner of way, as demonstrated by this atheist.
There is missing information in the stated premises if we take biblical context into account.
P3 states God keeps records of wrongs as a paraphrase of Eccl. 12:14 which states, “For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” Of course this is true! Yet per Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Also, Romans 3:21-25a says, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” 1 Peter 2:24 says, “He (Jesus) Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness; you have been healed by His wounds.” Lastly, Hebrews 8:12 says, “For I will be merciful to their wrongdoing, and I will never again remember their sins.” Thus, God will bring every deed into judgment as Eccl. 12:14 states. But for those who have placed their trust in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1), their sins have been judged at the cross. As their sins are given to Christ in faith, they receive His righteousness and forgiveness. Their sins for which they should have been judged are no longer remembered. But, those who are not in Christ Jesus will be judged at the Great White Throne per Rev 19:11-15, “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
P1 and P2 are good. It was by God’s love for us, that while we were still sinners (Rom 5:8), the record of wrongs was erased by Christ dying for us! Hallelujah, Amen!
The following from Ephesians 2:1-9 demonstrates this further: “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Lastly, the flaw was not in the logic, but in the understanding of the premises. The meaning of the premises was misrepresented in order to be cute. I presume the atheist knew better than that and was just trying to be a wise guy. But then, maybe the atheist just doesn’t have good insight into the things of God. I quote the following verse from 1 Cor 1:18-15, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’ Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” And 1 Cor 2:14, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”
And I close with this from Romans 1:16-22, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools.”
Bottom line: while Christian faith is rational, it is made known through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit inspired the words of all of Scripture (2 Tim 3:16-17). It is folly to twist and ignore portions of the Scriptures, to misrepresent and to take out of context the Scriptures in order to justify a rebellious heart. The best thing to do, rather than make cutesy syllogisms, is to seek the face of the Lord who gives wisdom to all who seek it (James 1:5); to ask, seek, and knock (Mt 7:7-11), “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” In Acts 2:37-38 it says, “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ And Peter said to them, “Repent (which means to turn from devotion to self to devotion of and trust in Christ) and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”