Thursday, October 22, 2009

Religion & the Fallacy of Affirming the Consequent


I'm preaching this Sunday on John 14:15-17:

Jesus said: "If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you."

This week I'm marinating in the teriyaki sauce of these Jesus-words. Here's one thought...

"If you love me, you will obey what I command," is a conditional statement. Like, e.g., "If it rains, the ground gets wet." Both these statements are true. But note this: this statement is not necessarily true - "If the ground gets wet, then it's raining." In logic this is called the fallacy of affirming the consequent. So also this statement is not necessarily true: "If I obey what Jesus commands, then I love him." Maybe. But not necessarily. One could obey, e.g., like the Pharisees obeyed; viz., in some religious sense. The Jesus-idea here is that when one dwells in Jesus (lives within the perichoretic triune-Godhead), then it inexorably follows that one will "obey" what Jesus commands. This is huge, it being all the difference between relationship with God and religious law-abiding duty.