Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 12, 1970
NUMBER 31, PAGE 1-2a

"Come Let Us Reason Together"

Gordon Wilson

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith Jehovah; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword; for the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it." (Isaiah 1:18-20)

Man is a reasoning creature. Alone among the inhabitants of the earth, man has the gift of rationality; he can reason from premises to a conclusion. Not one of the animals, wild or domestic, has this power. Animals move by instinct, by natural wisdom, by sensory perceptions. They share with man an element of sentimental feeling, and possess the power of will - some animals can be stubborn! But they cannot reason as we reason. This points to the origin of man as an act of unique creation. If man reached his present status by an evolutionary route, where did he get the gift of rationality? Did he bring it alone from his animal background? Natural selection is the retaining in an organism of characteristics favorable to the survival of that organism. But retained from where? No "animal ancestor" ever possessed the ability to reason. Moreover, rationality is not favorable to biological survival, though it certainly is to social survival.

These are other human characteristics of which the same things can be said. The moral nature of man - his capacity to know right from wrong on the level of the conscience -is something which sets humankind off from animals; and it could not have evolved by a process of natural selection. This is true of aesthetics the ability to appreciate the beauty of whatever is objective in art. It is likewise true of the desire to worship; the longing for immortality; and of free will. All of these point to man as a divinely created being, rather than a highly evolved and overly developed anthropoid.

Not only do animals not possess the power of reasoning as man does, but man himself is incapable of inventing a mechanical means of reasoning. Reason is limited to the mind. Men have invented very specialized computers which can do much of the work of the mind, but they cannot do it all. A computer has to be programmed before it can produce any results. Information has to be fed into it from an external source. If the information is false, or even illogical, the results produced by the computer will be false. The computer can never discover and correct its own errors until it is re-programmed The mind of man also has to have information fed into it before it can compute. Moreover, if the wrong information is received by the mind, it will produce wrong conclusions. However, the difference between a computer and the mind of man is this: the mind, acting solely within its own resources, and often even without new information, can reason, argue with itself, and frequently discover and correct its own mistakes. How unique, and how wonderful is the gift of reasoning!

The power of reasoning imposes great responsibilities upon man. It requires of us that we use our minds aright. It obligates us to use our minds, period. Of course, there are those of less intelligence than others; but we all should feel the need to exercise whatever faculties we possess for profitable purposes. Thinking can be painful, but it ought never to be dull. Learning to think logically and to reach correct conclusions about the great issues of life ought to be stimulating and rewarding. It is, indeed, tragic when men possessed of this marvelous gift fail to employ it properly.

In our text it is God who is speaking. It is He who says, "Let us reason together." One of our former Presidents was fond of this passage and quoted it frequently; but he misapplied it. The text does not speak of human beings in conference, but of God's invitation to men. We need to understand that God is not inviting men to come and argue with Him, or to attempt to change the unchangeable God. The idea is expressed best: "Let us resolve the matter," or "Let us settle our differences." In the verses prior to verse 18, the Lord had accused Israel of grievous sins. Their offenses were so serious that God would no longer accept their sacrifices of their assemblies for worship. But He did not turn away from them to reject them utterly. Instead, He said, "Let us see what can be done to resolve the matter." What marvelous mercy! What infinite grace!

For men to reason aright, then, they must take God into account. The most unreasonable thing that a reasonable man can do is to leave God out of his reasoning. If we reason out of accord with God's will, the results can never be good. But if we reason in tune with Him, the results are blessed. Indeed, God-attuned reasoning can bring forgiveness of sin. "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."

Forgiveness of sins is conditioned upon obedience: "If ye be willing and obedient..." Failure to meet this condition brings disaster: "But if he refuse and rebel..." When the mind of man assesses and weighs the evidence, the conclusion of such a rational process is to learn and to do what God wants us to do. "Let us reason together" -that is, let man reason with God. This is the proper role of reason; this is why the gift was granted us.

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