House Church Talk - Inductive and deductive methods of logic

Bruce Woodford bwood4d at
Sat Mar 13 19:19:08 EST 2004

Dear brother David,

Thank you for your appeal for a clear understanding of how we use the terms 
"deductive" and "inductive" relative to the study of scripture.

I can only say how I have understood the terms and maybe I need correction! 
So here is how I have understood them:

Webster's New World Dictionary defines the verb "deduce" in this way: "to 
infer by logical reasoning:  reason out or conclude from known facts or 
general principles."

It also defines the word "infer" in this way: "to conclude or decide from 
something known or assumed; derive by reasoning; draw as a conclusion."

So I have understood "deductive Bible study" as that which starts with 
certain facts which are stated in scripture and by deduction arrives at 
conclusions not stated in scripture.  In this way faulty conclusions are 
often arrived at and taught as scriptural doctrines!

Where did the process go wrong? (1) By failing to take into account OTHER  
facts of scripture bearing on the subject, (2) By ASSUMING certain things to 
be true which, in fact,  were not true at all.

Here is a prime example:  Scripture states two facts:
(1) The fact of justification by faith in Romans 5:1.
(2) Scripture also states the fact that we are NOT justified by the works of 
the law but by the faith of Jesus Christ. Galatians 2:16.

Now, well meaning folks have taken those two facts of scripture , and made 
two assumptions:
(1) They believe that all works are works of the law.   (This is a false 
(2) They  also believe that justification must be based on EITHER faith OR 
works.   (This is also a false assumption because scripture clearly teaches 
that justification is based on much more than either of these options 

When folks believe that justification must be based on faith OR works and 
scripture clearly states that we are not justified by the works of the law, 
they feel very justified (by logical reasoning) to conclude unequivocally 
that THE SCRIPTURES TEACH  that justification is BY FAITH ALONE!

Thus, by deductive reasoning, they have arrived at a faulty conclusion!

I have thus understood that the practice of such a "deductive approach" to 
scripture leads people to say, "Scripture SAYS this (i.e. Romans 5:1 and 
Gal.2:16) but what scripture ACTUALLY MEANS is this :  "WE ARE JUSTIFIED BY 

My understanding of "inductive Bible study" as that which seeks to get into 
one's understanding as many facts of scripture regarding the subject of 
consideration as possible, observe those facts and not go beyond them. i.e. 
simply let scripture SAY WHAT IT SAYS,  and thus judge or evaluate what MEN 

Webster's New World Dictionary defines the word "induce" in this way: "To 
draw a general rule or conclusion from particular facts."
For example: Re. the subject of justification, scripture clearly states that 
justification is "by Christ", "by His blood", "by faith","by grace", "by the 
Spirit" and "by works".  So from these particular facts of scripture I draw 
the conclusion that  "justification is by faith alone" is not a scriptural 

But I can see that  the dictionary definitions of "deducing" and "inducing"  
can be very easily confused and even  made to mean identical things!   i.e.  
"Induce" (to draw a conclusion from particular facts)   and "deduce" (to 
reason out or conclude from known facts)  can mean the very same thing!!!!

So "inductive" and "deductive" may not be very good terms to use as they can 
easily mean the very same thing, or they can mean different things to 
different people!

So I prefer to let such scriptural statements as Psalm 12:6; Proverbs 
30:5,6;  I Cor.2:13 and Acts 17:11 guide my approach to scripture!

So brother David, have I brought any clarity to this subject or "muddied the 
waters" more than ever??

Your brother in Christ,

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