The word “logos” keeps popping up. It’s a bit funny how I can get myself into so much trouble over a single word. I haven’t yet forgotten the epic melt down over the word “in.” I feel like I should issue a trigger warning with this post in advance, just in case.
So in philosophy, psychology, rhetoric, religion, “logos” is simply a word derived from the Greek meaning “ground”, “plea”, “opinion”, “expectation”, “word”, “speech”, “account”, “reason”, “proportion”, and “discourse.” Clear as mud right?
In faith it gets even more complicated, “logos” means word, but not just any word, The Word, as in Jesus Christ. John 1:1 tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Psalm 33:6 tells us, “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.”
Logos is nearly impossible for us to define and explain properly and fully. The closest I can come to it is actually “aloha.” I greet you with peace, love, compassion. Aloha is a word that really means “the breath.” It is the creative breath of life spoken into existence. That’s really the essence of the word “logos,” too.
The heavens were made by the breath of His mouth. He does bring light to the darkness, order to our chaos, logic to our confusion, but “logos” and “logic” are not really the same thing. It is far bigger than that.
In 1902 along came Gordan Haddon Clark, Calvinist, expert on apologetics, and a big fan of pre-socratic philosophy. He stated that all truth is prepositional and uses the laws of logic. His theory of knowledge is sometimes called “scripturalism.” He is pretty much how we Western Christians came to equate “logos” with the word “logic.” It is not entirely his fault, there have been others too, but in the modern West I would call him the father of “logos” equated exclusively as “logic.”
In my opinion, we have come to equate “logos” with “logic” far too much, because we’ve lost the very essence of the word “logos,” the part about being spoken into existence, the creative breath. “Logic” is too often equated with “reason.” That’s problematic because God is love and love is simply not always logical and reason based.
I myself step back from defining “logos” purely as “logic,” and I deviate from Clark’s scripturalism where he believes that “all truth is prepositional and uses the laws of logic.” I believe The Word is a person. The Truth is a person, the personhood of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ did NOT say, “greater logic hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” He said love.
Logos is the creative breath of love.
I don’t wish to imply there is no logic in our “logos,” or that our faith is not well-reasoned and evidence based. I often call the Lord, the Lord of all Common Sense. Truth does have a kind of logic and reason to it and some of that innate moral law is actually written on the tablet of our hearts, even the hearts of many unbelievers.
The problem I have is that we are such linear thinkers, especially in modern times, especially in the Western world. So if logic is perceived as “good,” than reflectively, anything not related to logic becomes “bad.” Worse, we begin to think “logic” is of God, whereas everything else must be of the devil.
Feelings, emotion, art, music, absurdity, laughter, intuition……love, anything that does not fall under the heading of “logic,” than becomes suspect, perceived as deceptive, potentially deceitful, untrue, false. Then paradoxically we have this miraculous faith which proclaims the Lord spoke the world into existence, availed Himself of talking donkeys, disembodied hands and burning bushes, caused the sick to be healed, the Red Sea to part, and the dead to rise.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”-John 3:16-17
To me those scriptures extend beyond logic, beyond reason. In fact, that’s downright crazy. Irrational. It defies all reason. I don’t have a logical argument for why God did not just wash His hands of us long ago and be done with it. I can’t explain why He has chosen me, pursued me, made His presence known to me. It is simply not rational to save a wretch like me. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…. that totally defies all reason in a way that leaves us just helpless, left trying to cling to the lyrics in songs or the imagery in a painting, babbling rather incoherently about things like the sweet fragrance of our prayers or the aroma of our praise music.
In my opinion, the way we have defined logos in the West, has become almost like worshipping at the altar of our own reason, which has given birth to the worship of Scientism as religion, which has created the cult of neo-atheism. It has also contributed to a lot of bloodless, lifeless Christians, who don’t really believe in miracles or in the Holy Spirit or in any of that “woo” stuff. To “test the spirits” now means to push away anything that might be perceived as spiritual. That’s really problematic because God Himself is Spirit.
I don’t believe you can really come to know God on an intellectual level alone, or reduce Him to a word we have so narrowly defined in modern pop culture. I’m also a bit concerned by the way we sometimes try to call Jesus Himself Logos, as if to say, sacrificial love logically made a rational decision to die in the most tortuous manner possible for the sins of mankind. Why? Are we cute or something?
We are so not cute.
The truth is sacrificial love is not logical at all, it is Divine. It defies logical explanation, it messes with our capacity for reason, it exists beyond the realm of logic. The things human beings have rational-lied, reasoned, logically justified, bear the historical mark of some real horrors. Our own understanding of “logic” is not always so pretty. In fact, it can be downright dark and ugly.
Those who believe logic wins the day, that it somehow denotes authority, well most of us today are familiar with the words to “Amazing Grace,” but few of us even know who Gordan Haddon Clark was. Our hearts can hear the tune to Amazing Grace with far more authority than we can recognize the argument in favor of Logos as logic. Love conquered all on the cross and that love can still be felt and known today.
Myself, I’ve spent a great deal of my life arguing logic with the Lord Himself, so I say this with all good humor and some well-earned wisdom. The Lord is the Lord, it is not that He is illogical, it is that the human capacity for logic is too small to contain Him. We tend to have this worldly view that wants to place logic on a pedestal as if it were a hierarchy, as if logic always wins the day.
And than the Lord just laughs and hands you a talking donkey.