THE IMPORTANCE OF LOGIC IN CHRISTIANITY
FOR SOUND DOCTRINAL, SPIRITUAL & MENTAL LIFE
The 6 logical fallacies of the Jehovah’s Witnesses with respect to John 17:3
#2: Begging the question
The chief “proof” text the Jehovah’s Witnesses use in attacking the Trinity and full deity of Jesus Christ is John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.”
I have chosen to introduce our study of logic by pointing out six logical fallacies that the Jehovah’s Witnesses commit in this one passage. While there are hundreds of other passages that can be used to refute the heretical views of the Jehovah’s Witnesses (J’sW), the point here is that solely through the recognized laws of logic the J’sW can be refuted in and by their own “proof” passage.
The J’sW commit six logical fallacies in their teaching of John 17:3. Three are informal (equivocation, begging the question, undesirable results) and three are formal (Illicit Major, Illicit Minor, and Weaker Premise). In the last two DDR’s I touched on the informal fallacy of equivocation as they change meanings by converting the statement that “Father is only true God” to “only the Father is true God.” In the informal fallacy of equivocation the meaning of a word, term, or phrase is changed or understood differently by the two parties. The informal fallacy of equivocation is very common. Another example of this is in creation-evolution debates. The evolutionists will often proclaim that evolution is true because we can see things change before our eyes. The problem here is in the equivocation with the term “evolution.” No one doubts microevolution (changes within species). It is macroevolution (one species evolves into a totally different species) that is under debate. Of the billions and billions of fossils that have been unearthed no intermediate links between species has ever been found. The evolutionist is using the fallacy of equivocation in his use of the word “evolution.”
Let’s move to the second logical fallacy the J’sW commit in regard to our passage. It is known as begging the question or Petitio Principii. What happens in the logical fallacy of begging the question is that the conclusion is sneaked in the premise. Some people figure that the best way to win an argument is to cheat. So they design their reasoning in such a way that they can’t lose. Just like a card player who stacks the deck, some debaters lay out the argument beforehand so that no one else has a chance. In this fallacy of circular reasoning the idea is “to accept this conclusion as true because the premise from which it comes is true.” It is like asking, “Why is the sky blue?” and being told, “Because its blueness makes it look blue.” You end up having to beg for an answer.
Note this fallacy of question begging as employed by the prominent evolutionist Paul Churchland :
The important point about the standard evolutionary story is that the human species and all of its features are the wholly physical outcome of a purely physical process. . . . If this is correct about our origins, then there seems neither need, nor room, to fit any nonphysical substance or properties into our theoretical account of ourselves. We are creatures of matter. And we should learn to live with that fact.
In other words, this objection claims the following: Since human beings are merely the result of an entirely physical process (the processes of evolutionary theory) working on wholly physical materials, then humans are wholly physical beings. To put this in modus ponens terms: if humans are merely the result of naturalistic, evolutionary processes, then physicalism is true. Humans are merely the result of naturalistic, evolutionary processes. Therefore, physicalism is true. This type of bogus “thinking” begs the question and simply does not obtain.
Back to the J’sW. Just how do they beg the question in John 17:3? They actually do this in two fundamental ways. For one, the equivocation which we have examined assumes precisely what is being proven. This is no dispute as to the Father being the only true God. The question is, if only the Father is in the category of “True God.” However, if it is already assumed in advance that one person alone belongs in that category, then of course no other person belongs there. The other way of circularity is also a result of the underlying equivocation. The J’sW have a theological bent in favor of Unitarianism, which assumes that if X is one being, then necessarily X is one person. In their minds, the idea of more than one divine person in one being (i.e. the Godhead) is just inconceivable. Therefore, such a unipersonal view of God is assumed a priori every time a J’sW reads a key biblical passage like John 17:3. Only if one assumes the J’sW view of God that one arrives at the impossibility of more than one person in one God. But what gives special place for Unitarianism and not for other views, such as the Trinity? What warrants an a priori assumption in its favor and arbitrarily dismiss the Trinitarian view? The J’sW begin with reading John 17:3 as excluding Christ from being “true God” in the absolute sense of the word. This is due to their prior commitment to rejecting any possibility that the Godhead might be shared by more than one person, which thus begs the question. Their argument does not obtain! It is a logical fallacy!
When Christianity first burst on the scene we had great mean like the Apostle Paul who used logic and philosophy as tools to destroy all of the human false arguments before the world (cf. 2 Cor 10:5). In church history when Christians learned philosophy and logic they were able to engage and destroy the false views of fallen man. It was when Christianity got away from logic and philosophy that it began losing in their arguments with the world and subsequently retreated into fideism (i.e. blind/irrational faith) which resulted in the loss of all credibility before the world—what a shame when all along Christianity is the only valid and defendable philosophical system. Are you a philosopher? Christ was. The Apostle Paul was. What is a philosopher? Look at the term etymologically: philo=love + sopher=wisdom. Are you a lover of wisdom? Are you a seeker of truth and wisdom? Most Christians are not. Most Christians have stopped really seeking Truth (Bible doctrine) because deep down they have become skeptics at heart with regard to absolute Truth. They simply continue going through the motions because Christianity makes them feel better in some way (they have become like Immanuel Kant). They do not even realize just how blasphemous such an idea is. We at Faith Bible Church are truly blessed to have so many who are really serious about the Word of God, but let us never become complacent; let us keep pressing on being lovers of wisdom—fully able to destroy the speculations of the world even with their own weapons. That is what Christ and Paul did as the two greatest philosophers (lovers of wisdom) of all time.
2 Corinthians 10:5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,
Christian doctrine matters!