John 5:23 – Scripture & Logic

Honor the Son

John 5:23 (LEB)

The one who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

This is a double negative. As in some cases this could indicate a contraposition or the last two premises of a Modus Tollens.

The point to remember here is that a negative meaning of a term can only exists if the positive form of the term exists first. Injustice exists, only if there is justice first. You cannot rationally negate something that does not exist to begin with.  When God created, there was nothing. Thus, there was nothing to negate.  Most negatives applied to God’s creation are defects and deviations caused by sin, whether ontological or ethical.  Unrighteousness is a corrupted or defective righteousness.  All metaphysics dealing with defects such as “unhealthy,” (physical, spiritual, mental) were not created that way.  There are a few excepts, for example when dealing with temporary specific moments.  A farmer might say in context, “anything not wheat, pull it up and burn it, nor any non-wheat, put it up.” Without context a “non-wheat,” is merely a logical abstract concept.

The way this is stated by Jesus to his audience is that it is meant to test them. They are to apply (or that is make an inference from the premise) this true claim to themselves and see how it looks.  The broad subject term here is simply human being, which is stated as “the one.”

A contraposition is a reversed double negative of the original premise. It is called an immediate deduction, for a categorical statement about metaphysics.

For example

Original:  All ethics are God’s commands.
Contraposition:  All non-God’s commands are non-ethics.

I believe the argument works best as a proposition one, which is more about ontology (i.e. necessary connection, rather than necessary category), yet the conclusion states a metaphysical one.

What I will do here is put this into a truth claim, like Jesus did, and then show how this works when one puts themselves into it as an argument. The systematic theology behind this “necessary connection” (that is between the antecedent and consequent) is that Jesus is the exact image of the Father. Since all truth claims must start, at the most rudimentary level with positive terms and not the negative ones, then it is often a good practice to see what that looks like first (not always). This means we need to see what the metaphysic or ontology is when stated in is most positive form.  For this I will start with a modus ponens.

Persons who honor the Father are those who honor the Son, because the Son is His perfect image.

M.1. (P) If a person honors the Father, (Q)then they necessarily will honor the Son.

M.2.  (P) Johnny honors the Father

M.3. (Q) Johnny will honor the Son.

The second valid argument is a modus tollens, and this is where I believe Jesus double negative comes into play from the last two premises.

O.1. (P) If a person honors the Father, (Q) then they necessarily honor the Son.

O.2. ~(Q) Johnny does not honor the Son.

O.3. ~(P) Johnny does not honor the Father.

If you notice the last two premises gives what we saw Jesus say: “does not honor the son, then does not honor the Father.” In my experience a double negative with the intention of putting an individual into it for an argument, will often mean a contraposition or modus tollens is being used. With a double negative, think about the positive forms of the terms being used.

Unlike the fallacious Socratic Method and the fallacious scientific method of affirming the consequent, the Scripture gives truth premises without all the irrational foundation. Thus, Scripture can take these premises and use them in many valid methods, and produce sound arguments.