Some Christians are frustrated when using arguments of logic and reason, such as from nature, to prove the existence of God or convince a person to become a Christian. The problem with this approach is that it does not take into account the corruption of our faculties, including our reasoning faculties, by sin. Our reasoning abilities don’t exist in a vacuum. Because of the polluted root at the base of our reasoning, our arguments will be co-opted by the flesh and not formed on purely logical grounds. Let’s see some examples.
Let’s say that a young person has a troubled life and has questions about God (“If God is loving, then why…?”). He can’t find satisfactory answers, so he concludes that God doesn’t exist. From then on, all reasoning starts from that standpoint. A bias has been set that skews every line of inquiry.
One person is constantly encountering difficult people. He will be changed by his experiences. He may become suspicious of other people’s motives and spend his last decade of life as a suspicious, bitter old man. How will that shape his logical foundation? Some lines of inquiry he will simply dismiss, no matter what logic is employed, if it goes against the conclusions of life that were formed by his bad experiences.
Others will not judge based on logical facts, but on what should be or what feels right. False allegations are hurled about us in social media everywhere. We are not predisposed to check our facts before passing them on. As soon as a rumor is told, we quickly pass it into the Internet, where it automagically achieves the standard of truth — with an animated gif to help it along.
Many of us do not really think things through; we don’t double-check to see if we are wrong. We are quick to pass on sketchy information, adding our two cents to the mix, further warping an already-distorted rumor. We don’t let facts get in the way when we feel strongly about something; we believe that our strong emotions are proof enough that we are right.
We will reject logic and reasoning if it goes against our personal cause or threatens to dislodge us from our comfort zone. We can dismiss a line of reasoning that leads us to uncomfortable truths about ourselves (“I am overweight/addicted to drugs/have a dangerous temper, and need to get into a program.”) We don’t like to hear about theories and arguments that deflate favorite ideas we hold, which we received because of convention, personality type, habits of thinking, cultural exposure, or personal advantage.
Our minds are frequently manipulated by our drives and desires. Advertisers know this. They create desire, then the infomercial provides reasons to help us justify the purchase. for many of us, the desire is enough, and we make snap judgments based on the want of the moment. We don’t think the decision through; it’s enough that we want it now.
And so our wills are held captive by what we like and don’t like; our wants push our wills around so we don’t stand for what’s right or evaluate any facts and figures. As it says in Romans 1:28, because they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, they found substitutes.
Most church-goers cannot use logic to reason themselves into spending more time in prayer, study of the Word, and in praise and worship. Their reasoning faculties have been co-opted by sin and the world’s conditioning to put other things first. Reason alone can’t lead them into a deeper relationship with God. Only the indwelling Spirit can lead us there.
God saw the predicament of sinful humanity, how sin has warped every faculty and hides His glory from us, and did something about it. He sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins, be buried, and rise from the dead. The all-knowing God saw no way out of our predicament than to apply the cross. The Cross shows us the horrible depravity of ourselves, that there is no way to redeem us through logic. We can’t be redeemed through religion, self-help, hard work, positive thinking, meditation, good deeds, or anything else we do. It is all polluted inside. Our sinful self must lie down in the grave with Jesus and rise up with Him as a new creation by the power of God, and allow God to change every aspect of our being as He reveals each issue in the Word.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God that results in salvation. God uses the “foolishness” of preaching to save those who believe. The Holy Spirit uses the word of God as a vehicle to drive conviction of sin into the hearts of the hearers. Use the scriptures reasonably and in context, but use them. Through them God speaks and changes. The Book is not just one of many tools in the toolbox of evangelism, it is the only one; everything else can be used alongside to support it, but can never replace it. God’s remedy is the cross. Through it, God gets right to the meat of the matter with the searching heart.
You can use logic to win an argument, but only through the gospel can we point their faith to Christ for salvation.