Symbolic Logic? Why?

As it turns out, the methods you learned in symbolic logic class can be applied to your Bible studies. If you would grant me a little interpretational liberty and if you go back and brush up on symbolic logic, I think you might find this method of Bible study a helpful way of determining the author's line of thought. Here's my analysis of a portion of 1 Corinthians 15:


Paul is recording an early NT creed in 1 Corinthians 15 and he is affirming the importance of the resurrection to the doctrine of the early church. There were apparently some that had denied that men could be raised from the dead. However, Paul argues against these claims and simultaneously gives us an argument for the centrality of the resurrection of Christ to NT church doctrine (along with the necessity of the resurrection of believers). In showing that the resurrection is central to NT church teaching, he assumes, for the sake of argument, the opposite of what he is affirming. He assumes that there is no resurrection of the dead at all and then draws a conclusion on the basis of that claim.

1 Corinthians 15 

Here are the terms (some are assumed by implication):

There is resurrection of the dead: R

Christ has been raised from the dead: C

The apostles' preaching is useless: P

The apostles' faith is useless: F

The believers are still left in their sins: S

Believers who have died are gone forever: G

The apostles are liars: L

1) ~R                              (assumption for the sake of argument)

2) ~R > ~C                     (verses 13, 16)

3) ~C > (P · F)           (verses 14, 17)

4) ~C > L                  (verse 15)

5) F > S                     (verse 17) 

6) S > G                  (implication)              / G (verse 18)

7) ~C                      1, 2 Modus Ponens

8) P · F            3, 7 Modus Ponens 

9) F · P            8 Commutativity 

10) F                        9 Simplification

11) S                        5, 10 Modus Ponens

12) G                       6, 11 Modus Ponens

Thus, if we grant premises 1-6, then we are lost in our sins (conclusion).