Starting With A Conclusion And Reasoning Backwards

When learning the scriptures, we have to be careful not to start with a conclusion and reason backwards. Meaning we shouldn’t force an interpretation upon any passage so it will be consistent with our presupposition (Eph 3:3-4).

A classic example of this is the Once Saved Always Saved issue. Though there is a passage or two on practically every page of God’s book that proves it is possible for a Christian to “fall from grace” (Gal 5:4), and no scriptures to support the opposing position, many want Once Saved Always Saved to be true so badly that they can’t look honestly at any passage that teaches otherwise. In this case, “wishful thinking” drives their interpretation of God’s word instead of honest and forthright study.

Another example is the Personal Indwelling Of The Holy Spirit (I Cor 6:19, Acts 2:38) issue. It seems many take their position on this issue based less upon scripture and based more upon what would help us contend with the Pentecostals better. For example Bruce Curd wrote in Faith And Facts in defense of his position “… more importantly, this understanding of the statement (Acts 2:39) offers not one scintilla of support for the egregiously false blunderings of Pentecostalists and their supporters.” My first response to this is that a doctrinal point is either true or not true based on its own merits. We should never believe something because it may make it easier to answer a particular false teaching. I like how Mac Deaver put it: “I am not going to surrender one God-given truth in order to make it easier on any of us in our debates with Neo-Pentecostals and Calvinists. That is not the right approach.” Secondly, the charge is simply not true. The “personal indwelling” view does not effect the discussion of passages that tell the duration of the gifts, like I Corinthians 13 and Zechariah 13. To the contrary, my experience has been that it is far easier to debate Pentecostals when they don’t sense that we are just dodging the obvious meaning of the indwelling passages.

My third example is the Vicarious Atonement Of Christ issue. It seems many reject the plain meaning of scripture because they think accepting those texts for what they say would be Calvinism. Examples:

· Maurice Barnett – “It is said that Jesus took every sin of mankind into Himself on the cross … I deny that any … scripture says such a thing but to the contrary the scriptures deny it.” (Gospel Truths, July 2010)

· Jesse Jenkins – “Jesus took our sins upon Himself … It is plain Calvinism.” (Feb 21, 2014 email).

· Gene Frost – “To the Calvinist that means … they were put on Him … Where is the passage that says that God put the sins of the world on Jesus?” (March 2000 sermon, Louisville, KY).

How about Isaiah 53:6c? – – the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all

Calling Isaiah 53:6c Calvinism should bother us. In effect it is saying Calvinists hold the scriptural ground, and we must try to get around it. It’s never right to reject a doctrine simply because some false church believes it. That is a most ungodly reason. Should we reject what the scriptures teach on the:

· virgin birth of Christ – Isaiah 7:14

· deity of Christ – John 1:1

· resurrection of Christ – I Cor 15:4

just because John Calvin and many denominations also accept those truths? Then why should we reject Isaiah 53:6c just because John Calvin might have agreed with it?

My last example is the Covering issue. I Cor 11:15 teaches the woman ought to be covered with long hair all the time (and I mean long, not medium or short), and in addition the woman ought to be covered temporarily when she prays or prophesies (verse 5). Some disagree, taking the long hair only view, the custom view, or the spiritual gifts view. Some may do this honestly, but some may be just dreaming up any excuse not to believe the truth on the subject. I heard one preacher say the covering is not binding today, because hair is the only thing talked about in the passage and it was just a custom anyway and it only applied during the days of spiritual gifts. Well, surely it can’t be all three of those positions at one time! It seems this preacher had started out with the conclusion he wanted (no covering today), and then reasoned backwards – he said anything that was out there that might lead to the no covering today position.

Conclusion: It is never the right thing to do to start with a conclusion desired and then try to force scriptures to fit our presupposed conclusion. Instead we should be honest enough to accept whatever the Bible verses actually say on any topic, and let the chips fall where they may (John 8:31-32).

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