Thursday, January 21, 2010

Either/Or

One of the common logical fallacies one often encounters is what is known as a false dilemma. It's when you make an issue an either/or when is reality it is both/and. So for example sometimes in theology people argue in God's grace either righteousness is imputed or it is imparted.

Now in justification by faith righteousness is legally imputed to us--it is credited to us apart from being formed in us. As to our understanding of justification by faith it is either imparted or imputed--for justification by faith cannot be both. But Protestant reformers--indeed all good evangelicals--acknowledge that God's grace also brings transformation. So that while justification is a legal verdict, God grace also forms habits of progressive holiness in us: sanctification. When it comes to God's grace we see a both/and--that flows from our union with Christ not either/or. While justification and sanctification are separate aspects and distinct from each other, they are also indivisible in that both flow from the grace of God. The believer never has one without the other.

This morning, my wife had a more humorous experience of a logical fallacy, which she posted on her facebook status:
Elizabeth [who is almost 4] was learning about frogs today and how they are a type of amphibian. Anyone who knows our Elizabeth and how she thinks of things differently. She now is telling me they are not frogs, they are just amphibians. They can't be both just one.(emphasis on every word) So now there are no such thing as frogs.
Just a bit of confusion of categories. There is a danger to being adamant about either/or when it is both/and.

It is so easy to see with the childlike illustration that amphibian is a larger category and frog is a subset. So too, God's grace is a larger category and justification is one aspect--the legal, forensic aspect.

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