Principles of Interpretation: The Law of Rationality
Yesterday, we noted the importance of properly classifying actions. Today, we will consider this principle of Bible interpretation: We must abide by the law of rationality; that is, we must only draw conclusions that are warranted by the evidence.

It is undeniable that human reasoning is necessary to draw proper conclusions. I Thessalonians 5:21 teaches - "Test all things; hold fast what is good." A similar thought is found in I John 4:1 - "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world."

Can God's word, the supreme authority for mankind, be understood and obeyed by each person without him using his God-given reasoning power to draw correct conclusions? Absolutely not. We cannot simply embrace everything we are taught--even when those who teach it claim that it is truth. We must have good and honest hearts that are willing to examine the evidence and draw conclusions that are warranted by the evidence (cf. Acts 17:11). We must think for ourselves and not follow anyone blindly.

Let me emphasize that I am not trying to exalt human reasoning or logical thinking above the authority of God's word. Rather, I am affirming that we need to be logical, rational, and consistent as we examine the evidence of the Scriptures and apply it to our lives.

We must always remember, however, that logic is merely a tool. It does not provide content. The Bible is--and always will be--the content.

Let me briefly share a practical example on these points. A gospel preacher was once asked the following question in a debate: "If, through your system of logic, you arrived at a conclusion contradictory to a plain Bible statement, which would you accept as truth, the Bible statement or the conclusion of logic?" The response of the gospel preacher was exactly right: "Correct reasoning, based upon correct information, cannot lead to a conclusion which contradicts the Bible."

Proper humility will cause one to compare his thinking with the thoughts of other Bible students. He will be willing to learn from others, and he will be cautious before pushing radical conclusions.

I believe that the law of rationality encompasses all of the principles we have considered in this series of lessons on Bible interpretation. If a person is only going to draw conclusions that can be supported by the evidence, he must first gather the total evidence (i.e., "the whole counsel of God"). He must then consider the evidence while handling it properly (i.e., he must meditate on God's word, have a proper attitude toward it, and respect the context and original languages). Finally, he must draw rational conclusions based on the evidence and live in harmony with those conclusions to the best of his ability.

We will conclude this series on Bible interpretation tomorrow.