« When Did We Get the Bible? | Main | Jesus the Logician »

August 06, 2007

Comments

"In the beginning was the Logos and the Logos was with God and the Logos was God" or, "In the beginning was the Logic and the Logic was with God and the Logic was God" Doubt me? "en arche en logos kai logos en pros theos kai logos en theos"

If anyone cannot see that the world is ordered by logic, in face made by logos, they are seriously blind.

Brad

Brad,
I've always been told that "logos" meant word, not logic. I think it is taken from Greek.


It should be pretty obvious that much of logic is discovered and not simply invented by white men. After all, many animals seem to be quite skilled with logic and we assume that it’s not because a white man taught them.

But folks might want to check out the famous Wason selection task - which does a pretty good job at revealing how HORRIBLY illogical we humans can be.

http://coglab.wadsworth.com/experiments/WasonSelection.shtml

I have a questin...

In the article JP Moreland said the following:

"He [God] cannot both love and hate Jesus Christ"

My question has to do with how God feels toward sinners.

With what Moreland said in mind, how can we reconcile these two verses?

"You hate all workers of iniquity." Psalm 5:5b

"But God demonstrated His own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

Thanks

Brad:

The primary meaning of logos in Greek is "logic". It also is used as "word". I was never quit sure why "word" became the standard translation in John. When translated into Spanish, most Bibles will use "verbos" or verb. I always like the idea that the "word" was a word of action and/or being.

Opps! My comment should have been directed at Louis. This demonstrates why I usually lurk rather than post.

"The primary meaning of logos in Greek is "logic". It also is used as "word". I was never quit sure why "word" became the standard translation in John. When translated into Spanish, most Bibles will use "verbos" or verb. I always like the idea that the "word" was a word of action and/or being."

To my way of thinking, "word" seems to fit a bit better than "logic." The reason I say this is that Jesus(The Word) was highly concerned with communications as He clarified many things regarding the nature of God, man's condition, the comming kingdom, old testament law..etc. I know, that His most important mission was the redemptive work, but it is clear that he accoplished more than that. Now there is no question that He communicated in a logical fashion and I think that logic is essential to clear communication, but without the use of words in some form, it would be difficult to share the concept of logic or reason if you will and certainly God wants us to come and reason together.

Any one?

AC, D.A. Carson has written an excellent little book that may answer your questions. It is called "The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God". You can read about it at amazon.com

-deborah

Hi Louis, I can appreciate your reasoning and logic in defending your position, but I disagree with you still. I believe that JF is correct, and wanted to give you a definition that I think stands under scrutiny. Let me know what you think.

Logos - Longer definition: The Greek word logos (traditionally meaning word, thought, principle, or speech) has been used among both philosophers and theologians. In most of its usages, logos is marked by two main distinctions - the first dealing with human reason (the rationality in the human mind which seeks to attain universal understanding and harmony), the second with universal intelligence (the universal ruling force governing and revealing through the cosmos to humankind, i.e., the Divine).

Further, I'd add this from the same source:

In the New Testament, the phrase "Word (Logos) of God," found in John 1:1 and elsewhere, shows God's desire and ability to "speak" to the human. The Christian expression of this communication is evidenced in the Christ, who is the "Word become flesh." In these three biblical words, Christianity points to the possibility of union between the human and the divine, or the personal and the absolute. God's logos, which the Christ represents, acts as a bridge between the human's inner spiritual needs and the answer proclaimed by the Christian message.

Because it is highly philosophical, the logos doctrine has caused some of the more orthodox theologians of recent times to claim that it should not be used in theology, while other theologians claim it is absolutely necessary to a doctrine of God. According to the philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich, "He who sacrifices the Logos principle sacrifices the idea of a living God, and he who rejects the application of this principle to Jesus as the Christ rejects his character as Christ." In other words, without an understanding of God's love, will, and power as a living and active force in the world - through the logos in the Christ and through our participation in the logos with our reason - the Christian message becomes a lifeless and inconsequential set of doctrines which can be accepted or rejected without bearing on one's life.

Brad

AC,

It is an interesting question, one I'll start thinking about. Sorry I didn't see it sooner, and left you waiting so long for a response. This is the kind of stuff I love to think about.

Initially, I would make a very careful application of the law of non-contradiction. Let's look at what the seeming contradiction is between the two verses you quoted, adapting Moreland's phrasing:

God cannot both love and hate sinners.

Now, the above proposition presents a problem for those two verses only if it is true, and it is true (necessarily, in virtue of the law of non-contradiction) only if hate equals non-love - in other words, "hate" must mean "not love" in exactly the same sense as "love" is used in that statement.

I see no reason why this must be the case. It is reasonable to love someone in one sense and hate them in another, it seems to me. So, at least initially, I would say that it is entirely possible for God to love someone in one sense and hate them in another. Does this make sense?

The interpretation of Logos in John 1:1 as "logic" is highly anachronistic. Was John a closet Aristotelian philosopher? No, he was a common Jewish fisherman. F.F. Bruce said it best:

"No doubt the English term 'Word' is an inadequate rendering of the Greek logos, but it would be difficult to find one less inadequate... But if logos is not completely meaningless to an ordinary reader, it probably suggest something like 'reason', and that is more misleading than 'Word'. A 'word' is a means of communication, the expression of what is in one's mind...

"The term logos was familiar in some Greek philosophical schools, where it denoted the principle of reason or order immanent in the universe, the principle which imposes form on the material world and constitutes the rational soul in man. It is not in Greek philosophical usage, however, that the background of John's thought and language should be sought. Yet, because of that usage, logos constituted a bridge-word by which people brought up in Greek philosophy, like Justin Martyr in the second century, found their way into Johannine Christianity.

"The true background of John's thought and language is found not in Greek philosophy but in Hebrew revelation. The 'word of God' in the Old Testament denotes God in action, especially in creation, revelation and deliverance."
The Gospel of John: Introduction, Exposition, and Notes, 29.

The use of John 1:1 as a proof text for the necessity of logic is silly.

Hi Aaron and AC, the verses cited are not in tension with each other because they are talking about two distinct groups of people. All are sinners, but the phrase "toward us" has to be interpreted in light of who the "us" is. The previous verses denote that the letter is to the saints, those who are under God's special affection, those whom he foreknew [read foreloved]. And yes while we were yet sinners, God loved us, he never knew some who even worked miracles in His name. He hates the workers of iniquity and He's angry with the wicked all the day long.

This is the reformed position, I hope it helps even if you disagree with it.

Brad

Hi Kevin, suprisingly I dont really disagree with your post all that much, because I think that the intent of the word I morphed into the word "logic" was to make a point that does in fact agree with your statement here:

"The 'word of God' in the Old Testament denotes God in action, especially in creation, revelation and deliverance."
The Gospel of John: Introduction, Exposition, and Notes, 29."

This statement would suggest that in Jesus, we saw the actions of a man who posessed the logic of God in it's purest expression. "Those who have seen Me have seen the Father" could only be true and logical if Jesus possessed the mind of the Father compelling Him to "be" in accordance with His nature and free choice to act as He would.

Brad

p.s. because something is called "Aristotelian" or even it is "Aristotelian" doesn't necessarily mean it's inconsistent with the revealed truth. Like Greg Koukl's article about the trinity says, "the trinity isn't the problem, it's the answer". But we'll not agree on that anyway since it's Aristotelian. :)

Brad,

My issue is with the anachronistic interpretation. Even your supposed agreement tries to 'slip in the back door' a notion that John, as far as I can tell, would not agree with or at least would not understand. One must import an alien worldview into the scriptural text in order to get to the interpretation Moreland is trying to impose on John 1:1. It's as if authorial intent is no longer important, that we can throw words into John's mouth because they are "true"!

"Logic" is not in scripture any more than the Trinity is and forcing such on the text is doing it violence. Accept it for what it is: an extra-scriptural imposition on the worldview of the Hebrew and early Christian writers. My issue is not with its Aristotelian basis (I love Aristotle and think he has a lot to teach us still), but with the imposition of an Aristotelian notion onto a writer who would not understand his words in an Aristotelian way. It's a question of good exegesis, not the genetic fallacy.

Correction: "It's as if authorial intent is no longer important, that we can throw words into John's mouth because they are 'not inconsistent with revealed truth.'"

Hi Brad,

Actually, I'm pretty thoroughly Reformed, at least in my soteriology, so I don't disagree with much of what you said. However, I don't think your solution works at all. Consider:

"You hate all workers of iniquity" is making a universal claim - in other words, there are no workers of iniquity (sinners) that God doesn't hate, so all members of one class are included. More clearly put, all workers of iniquity (X) are hated by God (Y). The notation would look like this:

All X are Y.

Now, we as objects of God's love and mercy are clearly members of the class X (otherwise, mercy would be superfluous). So the rub comes in that, if the Psalm 5 statement is correct, then we who are loved by God (per Romans 5) are also hated by Him. Given our common Reformed understandings, the Romans verse could be rephrased as, "some of those who are sinners (X) are those to whom God has shown His love (Z)" and would look like this:

Some X are Z.

Do you see the problem? You can't say that Romans is referring to a different group of people, because all people, barring Christ, are in category X. It is to some of those - the sinners, all of who God hates - that God has shown his love (I understand a non-Reformed person would put this differenly, but I am arguing using our common understanding here). The only solution then, it seems to me, is that God hates all sinners in a certain sense that allows him to love some of them in a different sense, which seems reasonable to me. I am capable of loving and hating the same person in different senses, so God certainly is capable of this, as well.

Kevin,

I agree that:

1) John was not a closet Aristotelian philosopher

2) "logos" as "reason" (as understood by some strands of Greek philosophical thought, and as modern readers here are understanding it) may not communicate exactly what the author of the fourth Gospel was trying to convey, and

3) Bruce is mostly correct when he says, "The true background of John's thought and language is found not in Greek philosophy but in Hebrew revelation. The 'word of God' in the Old Testament denotes God in action, especially in creation, revelation and deliverance."

However, it is my studied opinion that a closer look at both the cultural and textual context reveals a fuller understanding of John's use of "logos" in his gospel than you or Bruce (who I fully admit is a much more qualified scholar than myself to speak on this) seem to be suggesting. Don't take that humble admission too far, though - I do have other scholarship on my side here, and am not pitting myself alone against Bruce.

The gospel of John was written during the time that the early church was dealing with the rise of proto- and early Gnosticism. (As I'm sure you know, Gnosticism varied greatly, but the basic belief was one inherited from Platonism - that all matter is evil. Consequently, according to the Gnostics, Christ did not "come in the flesh," or have a real body - since bodies are matter, matter is evil, and a divine being could not be joined to such an evil thing - but instead his appearance as a man was an illusion.)

In any event, this notion was in play when John wrote his gospel. In fact, the epistles attributed to the apostle John, who is also traditionally credited as writing the fourth gospel, where direct attacks on Gnosticism in its early form at it began to sway the first century church (2 John 1:7 - "For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.").

Within this context, then, it is important to perhaps look at the *prologue as a whole* to understand just how the author was using "logos". If one were a Gnostic reading it, one would be happily trucking right along and have no problem with the first thirteen verses. Suddenly, though, verse 14 hits:

"And the Word (logos) became flesh (sarx)"

What? says the Gnostic. The divine logos could NOT become flesh! (Bear in mind that sarx was the equivalent of dung, or an even stronger term perhaps, to the Gnostic mind. Furthermore, in the Greek these two terms are situated right next to each other, so the juxtaposition could not have been sharper.)

I think this textual and cultural context gives amazing insight into John's usage of "logos". He was certainly aware of the Gnostic claim, and also how they would understand in some fashion what he was talking about when he applied "logos", a term they were probably quite familiar with and to which they had tied certain associations. That he used this term, then stresses that the "logos" became flesh, became matter, argues powerfully that he had this sort of polemic in mind when writing his gospel. I see verse 14 as being the key to understanding John’s point of using logos – to incisively cut down the Gnostic view of Christ, something he would be keen to do, given that he had lived with the man for three years and was witness to both his divinity AND his humanity. I think we don’t give John, or the other apostles for that matter, enough credit when we call them merely common Jewish fishermen. These guys certainly encountered the philosophies hostel to Christianity that were circulating in the ancient world of the first century, and had adequate tools with which to combat them – not only that, but an empowerment by the Holy Spirit to do so. I see John 1 as evidence of that, though really the New Testament is full of more.

Now, I actually do think that later, more Greek-oriented thinkers (such as Justin Martyr) probably took the Logos doctrine farther that John intended. But I don’t think that an understanding of the Greek usage of the term was totally missing from the author’s mind or intent when he wrote his famous prologue. I actually think he was using the enemies own ideas against them – attempting to impale them on their own sword, so to speak.

By the way, there you go again saying Aristotelian, when the understanding of "logos" you are critiquing had nothing to do with Aristotle. It had much more to do with Plato.

Correction to my long post - this:

"In fact, the epistles attributed to the apostle John, who is also traditionally credited as writing the fourth gospel, where direct attacks on Gnosticism in its early form at it began to sway the first century church"

should have read:

"In fact, the epistles attributed to the apostle John, who is also traditionally credited as writing the fourth gospel, WERE direct attacks on Gnosticism in its early form at it began to sway the first century church"

Sorry!

Aaron,

The mere fact that the Gospel of John and his epistles are attacks on Gnosticism does not mean that he is sharing their view of Logos in a philosophical sense. We do not need to look to philosophy when the Jewish tradition is full of, indeed founded on God's revelation, God's "word" as an active participation in the life of Israel and its people. Perhaps his use of that term is in fact a 'corrective' of the philosophical understanding by referring to the religious history of Israel, thus exalting said history and its truths above "philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ" (Colossians 2:8). Again, the mere pairing of Gnosticism to the intent of John's writing does not mean that he is sharing their understanding of Logos anymore than the early Church Father's use of Plato or Aristotle means that they accept (or even understand) those views.

On the issue of my use of "Aristotelian," I believe that in the development of the Christian tradition Aristotle plays a bigger role than Plato, particularly in Aquinas. But even in the early Church, with neo-Platonism, it must be admitted that neo-Platonism itself is an attempt to reconcile Plato and Aristotle, though the former is awarded the title of the new thought. But as most of our discussions lately have been about the Trinity, yes, Aristotle plays a bigger role than Plato.

Kevin,

>>The mere fact that the Gospel of John and his epistles are attacks on Gnosticism does not mean that he is sharing their view of Logos in a philosophical sense.

Yes, I agree. Read my last paragraph again. My only point is that you can't say an understanding of this view was absent from John's choice to use the term. I don't think John was a humble Jewish fisherman, unaware of the philosophical thought behind "logos", who chose the word simply because he was trying to find a Greek term that would best express his Jewish, OT worldview. I think this sells the apostle far too short. I essentially see him as taking this thought captive to Christ (2 Cor 10:5) and saying, "Okay, you guys take Christ to be this sort of divine Platonic ideal? Well, you could think of him as the logos in a certain sense, but you can't have your Gnosticism in light of the fact of the incarnation." He wasn't simply searching for a word and got tangled up in the philosophical musings of the Greek world. He knew exactly what he was doing - polemics, and very pointed polemics at that.

Again, though, this is as much a caution as you are giving for not taking the logos doctrine too far, just one that I think is more informed by authorial intent.

>>On the issue of my use of "Aristotelian," I believe that in the development of the Christian tradition Aristotle plays a bigger role than Plato, particularly in Aquinas.

Well, of course Aristotle played a huge role in Aquinas' thought and the development of Christian theology from the Scholastics on. But this happened over a thousand years after the time period we are discussing! You can't bring the spectre of Aristotelianism to bear against the interpretation of John to which you object, when that interpretation is founded on Platonic thought, not Aristotelian.

>>But even in the early Church, with neo-Platonism, it must be admitted that neo-Platonism itself is an attempt to reconcile Plato and Aristotle, though the former is awarded the title of the new thought.

It is my studied opinion that this is incorrect. Please show me specifically how and in what areas Plotinus was influenced by Aristotle, such that your above description would be correct. No offense intended here, but it seems to me you're towing the Heideggerian line in laying Western thought at the feet of Aristotle. This doesn't always work when you're dealing with historical specifics.

Now, in the area of logic, Aristotle was certainly studied in the West all the way up until his rediscovery by (mainly) Aquinas. Is this what you keep referring to when you label certain views of the early church as "Aristotelian"? If it is, such a label is usually misplaced, as most of those ideas you criticize are not of this nature. Aristotle had little to no *metaphysical* influence on Christian thought until Aquinas, which leads me to ask:

Does your statement here refer to the application of Aristotelian logic or metaphysic in relation to the development of the Trinity?

>>But as most of our discussions lately have been about the Trinity, yes, Aristotle plays a bigger role than Plato.

Hi Aaron, thanks for the thoughts, initially I'd disagree with the assertion that the workers of iniquity is universal in the sight of God. Born again ones, often called saints are not ever called workers of iniquity. In 1st John, it is stated:

1Jo 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.


1Jo 3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

The special love that God bestowed on the elect seems to have taken the sin and iniquity out of the ones under cover of the blood of Jesus [as far as their standing before God]. This is consistent with forensic justification which is a Reformed
distinctive.

What do you think?

Brad

The comments to this entry are closed.