One of the objections to Christianity is that believers are expected to abandon logic and resort to a “faith,” which is little better than wishful thinking. Another objection is that God, far from being logical, is arbitrary.
Good people die young; bad people live long lives and often become wealthy. Is God himself a logical deity and does he expect his followers to behave logically?
What Is Logic?
Cambridge English Dictionary defines logic as “a particular way of thinking, especially one that is reasonable and based on good judgment.” This definition leaves the idea of logic wide open to interpretation. A “particular way of thinking” can seem sensible to anyone, but what makes it so?
The word logic is derived from logos in the Greek meaning “a word, speech, divine utterance, analogy.” Strong’s Concordance defines the Greek word logikos (logical) as “reasonable, rational.”
John 1:1, in the Greek, says, “In the beginning was the Word” or logos (My italics). The Word of God is Jesus in this instance. Jesus is logic, reason. He brings understanding to the people. His life sheds light on the nature of God.
Logical Questions, Logos Answers
His life also answers questions, which is the purpose to which one applies reason according to dictionary definitions of “logic.” Christ’s life sheds light on oft-asked questions including “why am I here?” and “why is there suffering?”
We are here because we are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light,” wrote Peter (1 Peter 2:9). In other words, our purpose is to have a relationship with God, but also to glorify him.
If we are royalty, why do we suffer? Jesus taught his disciples “in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Suffering is of the earth and the earth is broken. Jesus came to fix that, but suffering will remain until he returns.
Rejection by the people, threats from religious leaders, and a brutal death show us that Christ experienced suffering in every way. There is no escaping it on this side of Heaven, not even for God’s anointed One.
Why should Jesus suffer but not those who are adopted into the Kingdom of God? We are anointed but not yet appointed to a Heavenly role, where all pain is gone.
What Does God Say about Himself?
“God is love,” according to 1 John 4:8. He is “the Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4). In Exodus 3:14 he tells Moses “I AM WHO I AM.”
We read in Numbers 23:19 that “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”
Consider these statements first of all. Does God represent love incarnate? One might argue that a loving God would not permit suffering, yet it is also impossible to truly love someone if we are not free to choose.
If Adam and Eve did not have free will, they could not have really loved God but would have only obeyed him. A slave can obey his or her master without loving him. God wanted more than that from his people: “I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6).
The Logic of God’s Wrath
Another argument is that a loving God would not send his Son to die a horrific death to pay the price for our rebellion, but Jesus is God, so God Himself came down.
He did not appoint a mere man but came in the flesh to fully and perfectly resist temptation and demonstrate full obedience to the Father. He did what a good parent or king does: lead by example.
It makes no sense to argue that God is illogical if one does not believe in him. To characterize a fictional deity is dishonest. The fact remains, and is widely documented, that a historical figure named Jesus of Nazareth engaged in three years of ministry and died to fulfill the will of God.
If one is willing to suspend skepticism for a moment and say “alright, Jesus was God and he did die for the sins of man,” one might still ask “but was God’s wrath logical or an example of long-simmering bad temper?”
D.A. Carson argues that if God was without holy wrath, “then there would be no judgment and no consequence for sin of any sort. And that doesn’t make God out to be more attractive or more holy. It makes him out to be morally indifferent.”
Either there is a right and a wrong, or morality is an illusion. If there is a God, then he has given us moral commands. If Jesus is God, then he is not distant but personal, and Jesus died to pay a penalty, which had to be paid because God is holy.
If this God is powerful, we owe him our allegiance. If we withhold it, this is at our eternal cost. One can no more deny the logic of God’s wrath than deny the devastating reality of gravity on a falling object.
The Consistency of God’s Character
One test of logic is consistency. If one’s character is consistent, observers will typically say that he can be trusted to act in character. God says of himself “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” (Numbers 23:19).
John Ritenbaugh wrote, “God is the supreme Judge of all the earth, and if He is unjust, there is no hope that justice will ever prevail. […] He refuses to show partiality. There is no respect of persons with Him. He never acts out of ignorance. He never makes mistakes.”
Ritenbaugh was speaking of Abraham’s negotiations with the Lord over Sodom and Gomorrah; the hope that 10 good people would be found. They did not exist in Sodom and Gomorrah, so the Lord removed those who were obedient to him (Abraham, Lot, and family) before destroying those cities.
While it seems that God allowed Abraham to sway him, “Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” (Genesis 18:23), Abraham knew the answer and had seen the Lord’s mercy; experienced the miraculous fulfillment of God’s promise to make him a father.
In his mercy, Yahweh walked Abraham through his own reasoning. He did not seek to destroy people on a whim: Yahweh takes no pleasure in destruction (Ezekiel 18:23). He is consistent, however, and in Genesis 18-19 he was following through on his promise to punish the wicked.
The Lord showed mercy on those who repented of sin, and wrath against those who rejected him and polluted his creation with their flagrant debauchery.
Both in discipline and love, God’s character is reliable. He promised to send one who would save us from our iniquity. “He poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12).
The Almighty kept his promise, not merely sending a Savior, but coming himself, willingly, in the flesh.
The Consistency of God’s Word
John Oakes describes the number of people involved in writing Scripture, the inspired Word of God — people from numerous cultures and walks of life who lived centuries, even millennia apart.
Yet there is an “astounding unity of theme and message: the relationship between God and man […], his grace, and his judgment on those who will not acknowledge his sovereignty. In both books, one can see God’s overwhelming desire for a relationship with man, yet the unbending nature of his ultimate justice.”
Another example of God’s consistency is the agreement between prophecy and reality. Scripture alludes to Jesus in Genesis, Psalms, Isaiah, Hosea, Micah, Exodus, and more. “I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old” (Psalm 78:2).
Isaiah 8:14 says of Jesus that he “will be a holy place; for both Israel and Judah he will be a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall. And for the people of Jerusalem he will be a trap and a snare.”
Jesus is the thread binding the entire Bible as a whole. The resurrection takes us back to God’s statement in Exodus 3:14, where God identifies himself as the source of all existence. He is life, and Jesus reminded us of this fact at the resurrection.
Death had no power over Christ who is “the way, the truth, and the life,” (John 14:6). Today, death cannot separate disciples from the life of Christ that is in them by His Spirit. Jesus unifies Scripture.
A Logical God
Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 1:18 that “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.” God is, by nature, logical. Scripture makes total sense of the world.
The problem is often with how God is portrayed by Christians. Tim Keller said, “only if someone’s imagination is captured will most people give a fair hearing to the strong arguments for the truth of Christianity.” The logic is there, and it does not come from people. That logic is God.
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Candice Lucey is a freelance writer from British Columbia, Canada, where she lives with her family. Find out more about her here.