I have been working through Willard’s article more today (see Pt 1 of series for a copy), and he has begun to expound further upon what he means by calling Jesus a “logician.” He does not mean that Jesus developed or taught logical theories, but rather is referring to his use of logic and the insights he gained from logical thinking when he spoke with people.
Jesus’ goal, according to Willard, was not to win battles. He didn’t listen to the pharisees and point out the inconsistencies in their thought just to prove them wrong (although he did do that), but rather to teach them about the Kingdom of God.
He did this by trying to help his hearers gain insight into his teachings internally on their own. Thus Jesus’ use of logic is always enthymemic, which is a fancy way to say that his arguments were always “missing” a premise or a conclusion, like most ordinary conversation does.
Jesus talked like this because he wasn’t about forcing the Kingdom down anyone’s throat. He wanted them to have that “eureka moment” on their own (with the aid of the Spirit), so that they would willingly choose to follow him. In short, he wanted people who had ears to hear.
Jesus’ style of argumentation is good food for thought for those who wish to evangelize. While Jesus’ mind was razor sharp, he was kind and wanted others to understand and choose to believe, not be pinned down and forced. Whether we are witnessing to someone with a PhD or someone who is more experience-driven, we should be alert to how we are presenting the Gospel. This is b/c how we present the Gospel is itself a moral act. This point brings us to the connection between logic (good thinking) and morality, which is the subject of the next post.