Science in Christian Perspective



Deduction vs. Induction: Understanding Differences Between Biblical Christians
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Stanford University
Stanford, California 94305

From: JASA 37 (December 1985):

Why is it that different groups of Christians, each committed to faithful biblical exegesis, so often disagree? Is this caused by an "anything can be argued from the Bible" situation in fact? When many of the peripheral reasons for these differences have been understood and put aside-such reasons as historical, political, economic and ethnic-a prominent reason remains. It is the thesis of this paper that differences between equally committed and equally biblically knowledgeable Christians arise from the choice of a hermeneutical perspective: whether that of deduction of biblical truth from specific passages, or induction of biblical truth from the Bible and experience as a whole. Once one of these two perspectives has been chosen to the practical exclusion of the other, the conclusions of exegesis are inevitable and completely predictable. Examples are given from the areas of biblical inerrancy, creation and evolution, slavery, and the role of women. Only a position in which both deductive and inductive hermeneutics are integrated is adequate for reliable biblical understanding.


One of the doctrines of the Christian faith is that Christians are led into a knowledge of truth by the guidance of the Holy Spirit as they study and apply the revelation of the Bible. Differences between conservative Christians who take the Bible as normative and more liberal Christians who regard the Bible as an inspiring historical record only are understandable because of the fundamental difference in attitude toward the Bible. But the cause of differences between two groups of conservative and evangelical Christians, both openly dedicated to sound biblical exegesis and acceptance of the Bible as the Word of God, is more difficult to understand. Such differences are commonly an embarrassment to evangelism and apologetics for they appear to undermine the fundamental evangelical faith in the final authority and sufficiency of Scripture as a guide to faith and life. They appear to lend support to the common complaint that the Bible is such a complex book that it is possible to derive any doctrine one wants from it, and that therefore in the final analysis biblical doctrines are really subjective rather than the objective revelation of God.

There are, of course, a variety of reasons why even evangelical Christians committed to sound biblical interpretation often disagree. The interpreters are after all human and are subject to the common failings of human nature. They are not only fallible, sinful creatures, but they are also participants in an historical situation, a specific culture, an ethnic heritage, a political and economic milieu, that shapes their understanding of Scripture almost without their recognition of that fact. There is another reason for such disagreement between biblically committed Christians, however, and it is so prevalent and so f orcef ul in its ef f ect, that it is the one that we discuss in this paper. It is the a priori choice of one of two hermeneutical perspectives to the exclusion of the other: a deductive perspective as contrasted with an inductive perspective. The conservative Christian traditionalist leans heavily on the deductive perspective and this choice already shapes the conclusions to be reached even before examination of the Bible begins. Another valid approach exists, however, that of an inductive interpretation; in the hands of evangelical, biblically committed Christians, it also leads to a particular conclusion frequently different from that traditionally derived by deduction.

We illustrate the practical consequences of these choices of hermeneutical perspective by considering the specific topics of biblical inerrancy, creation versus evolution, slavery, and the role of women. We argue that only an integration of deductive and inductive approaches is adequate to obtain an authentic understanding of the biblical revelation.

Deduction versus Induction

The deductive approach to understanding starts with the acceptance of a basic principle and then seeks to deduce by logical analysis what the consequences of that principle are in other aspects of life. If a is always twice b, and if in a particular case we know that b is three times c, then we may deduce that a is six times c. We started from the general principle relating a and b which is always true, and then in a specific case we applied the laws of logic to deduce the implications of the general principle in the specific case.

The inductive approach looks at a variety of specific evidences and attempts to draw from those evidences the general principle. We might, for example, consider the following sets of data relating a and b to c:

   a                                  c                           b                            c

   6                                   1                           3                           1
   12                                 2                           6                           2
   18                                 3                           9                           3

From the regular pattern of these observances, we might inductively conclude that because of the relationshp that both a and b have to c, it appears that a is always twice b.

Such an example, of course, is the simplest of all possible cases. When we step outside of the area of elementary mathematics into principles and conclusions that are far more complex and intrinsically ambiguous, the stages of analysis are less well defined.

It is admittedly simplistic, but nevertheless perhaps useful, to realize that the development of modern science from pre-Galilean science was in large measure a shift from the deductive approach to what should be called an inductive/deductive approach. Aristotelian science functioned largely in the deductive mode. Because rest was the natural state of a body (general principle) one could deduce that a moving body would eventually come to rest. Because a circle was a perfect geometrical shape (general principle) one could deduce that the shape of planetary orbits is circular. One major change introduced by Galileo and others was to shift from attempting to deduce truth about the universe from general philosophical principles to identifying truth by the more inductive process of the accumulation of data and observation. Instead of asserting that

Richard H. Bube received the Ph.D. degree in Physics from Princeton University. From 1948-1962 he was on the technical staff of the RCA Laboratories in Princeton, New Jersey, and since 1962 he has been on the faculty of Stanford University as Professor of Materials Science and Electrical Engineering. From 1975 to 1986 he served as Chairman of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Dr. Bube is the author of books both on photoelectronic materials and devices, and on the interaction between science and Christian faith. From 1969 to 1983 he served as Editor of the journal of the American Scientific Affiliation. He has been a speaker on science and Christianity on many college and university campuses.

we know what the universe must be like a priori on the basis of general philosophical (or theological) principles, the modern scientist attempts to identify the properties of the universe by exploring the universe itself, by building up a supply of observations and data that lead to the formulation of an apparently valid general principle. Then the integration of induction and deduction manifests itself, because this "general principle," formulated from the combination of inductive data and human creativity, is then tested experimentally to see whether its predictions will continue to conform to tests of the real world in other situations beyond those used to establish it inductively in the first place. Established and accepted principles, originally developed by a largely inductive process, thus become the basis for deductive applications to probe still further.

Examples of both of these approaches can also be seen in Christian apologetics concerning the divine inspiration of the Bible. For example, if we start from the general principle that we can reliably understand the Bible concerning what it teaches, we deduce from passages in the Bible that speak of its being divinely inspired the prima facie evidence for biblical inspiration. If, on the other band, we start from the effect of the Bible on people's lives, on its beauty and lofty expression of language, on its amazing consistency between diverse authors and times, and on its unique role in the history of much of the human race, we induce from these data that the Bible is a divinely inspired book that can be trusted in what it teaches.

Difficulties arise when we desire to go further and decide what it is that inspiration ensures and what is not essential to the consequences of inspiration. Then it is necessary to decide whether the specific Bible passages that teach about inspiration are sufficiently clear, specific, detailed, complete and relevant so that we can deduce from them the full consequences of inspiration, or whether we must look at the actual substance, pattern, model, and example of biblical authors themselves to enable us to decide what inspiration means. Are the teachings clear and evident, such that the proper course is the deductive one of interpreting all biblical phenomena in terms of the teachings, or is a sure insight into the meaning of the teachings to be gained only by an evaluation of the phenomena in an inductive approach?

In view of the historical background and developments of recent centuries, it is not surprising that Christian scientists today generally regard a purely deductive approach as inadequate in both science and biblical interpretation. This is one reason that evangelical Christian scientists today frequently find themselves in disagreement with the conservative Christian traditionalist who frequently operates in the same mode as did Aristotelian science. By considering four well known and typical examples, we hope to demonstrate the inadequacy of adopting either a deductive or an inductive approach exclusively, and the importance of allowing insights from both approaches to be assimilated and integrated.

Each of the four following illustrations of the critical nature of a deductive versus inductive approach has been treated at great length in many places previously. Here we do not try to present exhaustive cases, but simply to point out the way in which the choice of deduction or induction dominates the process of biblical exegesis.

Biblical Inerrancy

The issue of biblical inerrancy deals with the relevancy, the reliability and the truthfulness of Scripture.1-6 "Deduction starts with a handful of passages that appear to teach directly about the nature of Scripture and deduces from these passages the answer to all questions in this area and the context in which all other

In view of the historical background and developments of recent centuries, it is not surprising that Christian scientists today generally regard a purely deductive approach as inadequate in both science and biblical interpretation.

biblical and non-biblical evidence must be evaluated. Induction recognizes the existence of these teaching passages but in order to understand their full extent and domain insists that it is necessary to look at the pbenomena of Scripture themselves so that the teaching passages may be rightly understood. Deduction subjects the interpretation of the significance of all other phenomena, whether biblical or extra-biblical, to the supposedly clear understanding of those specific texts that deal with the inspiration and character of Scripture. Induction subjects the understanding of these specific texts to an appreciation of the actual phenomena of Scripture with which it is assumed that they must be consistent. Deduction regards phenomena of Scripture that do not appear to agree with the understanding of the teaching of specific texts as problems; induction regards understandings of specific texts that are inconsistent with the phenomena of Scripture as eisegesis rather than exegesis.

The question of the nature of the biblical revelation itself is a classical example of this methodological dichotomy between deduction and induction. Advocates of a deductive approach center on such passages as 11 Timothy 3:16 and 11 Peter 1: 16-2 1. The deductive argument is straightforward. Considering 11 Timothy 3:16, for example,

(a) The Scriptures teach that Scripture is God-breathed.
(b) Since God is omniscient, omnipotent and all-truthful, it follows that Scripture itself must partake of these same qualities.

Often in our own scientific age, these arguments are then extended as follows:

(c) A standard of truthfulness is scientific accuracy.
(d) Scripture must therefore be scientifically accurate in whatever it proclaims.

The advocates of deduction therefore assume that they know the full and complete implication of these and other specific texts dealing with the character of Scripture.

Advocates of induction follow a somewhat different approach. Not being sure of all that is included in the "inspiration of Scripture," they argue that the way to find out is to look at the phenomena of Scripture themselves. They call attention to other biblical teaching on the purpose of revelation7 and suggest that the effects of inspiration should be consistent with the purposes for which the revelation was given and probably not with others. They recognize the obvious fact that every word in the Bible does not express in itself a basic truth of God,8 and they trace the progressive revelation concerning the identity and coming of the Messiah9 as an example of the mode of revelation. They note that the demand for total scientific accuracy would force an interpreter to believe that the Bible was not factually accurate,10 and that a number of well known examples exist of apparent discrepancies.11 They observe that the New Testament use of Old Testament "prophecy" is not always obvious from the Old Testament text itself, 12 that the use of numbers in the Bible has a clearly symbolic aspect as well as a literal aspect," and that demand for historical accuracy between differing accounts of the same events would again force an interpreter to conclude that the Bible is lacking.14

Simple deduction leads to the conclusion that the Bible is a perfect, totally accurate, scientifically exact text and that simple explanations for all of the above " problems" are in principle possible without violation of this conclusion. Simple induction leads to the conclusion that the Bible is shot through with variations and cultural influences that prevent it from being considered the inspired Word of God. It is only by combining deduction with induction that we can arrive at the biblically faithful witness to its own character. Then inputs from induction keep us from reading our concepts of logic and scientific accuracy into the biblical revelation, and inputs from deduction keep us from failing to see the divine Word of God presented to us in a way that faithfully preserves and communicates God's purposes in Jesus Christ.

Creation and Evolution

A bibliography on the subject of creation and evolution would run to hundreds, if not thousands of volumes. 2,3,15-18 Students of the debate agree more and more unanimously that the issue is decided by presuppositions and not by factual evidence. There is a strong ingredient of deduction versus induction present in these presuppositions.

Advocates of a deductive approach argue that the opening chapters of Genesis provide us with a clear, scientifically accurate account of the events involved in the origin of the universe, the earth, living creatures, and human beings. The only mechanism active in all of these origins is the fiat act of God, forever impossible to describe in terms of scientifically understandable process, and active in history for all of these origins for not more than about 10,000 years. Those making these deductions assume that they know the full implications, purpose, and context of the Genesis text, and to them it is clear that this text provides the same kind of news as that given by a newspaper reporter observing the events, and the same kind of information as would be given by a scientific attempt to describe these events.

Inductionists, who also revere the Bible as the revelation of God, are Dot convinced that the Genesis text can be given this simple interpretation if one is to be faithful to all of the revelation that God has given to us, 19,20 and even if one is concerned to be faithful only to the biblical record itself.17 They reject the thesis that the creation versus evolution debate is a critical frontier in the defense of the faith. It is not a conflict between the Bible and science, for the true set in which the conflict must express itself, if there is one, is between theology (a human interpretation of the Bible) and science (a human interpretation of the natural world). It is not a conflict between Supernaturalism and Naturalism because God's action in nature must not of necessity have only a supernatural description. It is not a conflict between Design and Chance because this confuses scientific "chance" with philosophical "meaninglessness" and fails to see that "chance" can be the method of design. Finally it is not a conflict between atheism and theism because a theist can readily accept evolution as a working hypothesis for our description of God's activity in history.

The creation versus evolution debate, on the other hand, can be seen indeed as an example of the conflict between deduction and induction, since deductionists claim that the Bible alone can be the source of all knowledge in this area. It is a conflict between human interpretation of God's Word and God's Work, by those who would discount the latter in arriving at the former.

Inductionists separate the profound biblical doctrines based on Creation from the possible mechanisms by which creation was expressed. They note the symbolical elements in the Genesis text associated with events on different days being apparently not chronological but polemical, with references to a tree of life and a tree of the knowledge of good and evil, as well as to a speaking serpent and to the use of the number 11 seven. " They recognize the basic biblical teaching that sets forth God as our Creator and Redeemer.21 They strive to appreciate the practical purposes behind the existence of the two creation accounts in Genesis I and 2. And they are forced to take seriously all of the extra-biblical data and evidence concerning the age and natural history of the earth, which they regard as God's revelation through the things He has made.

Simple deduction leads to the conclusion that Genesis gives us a complete and scientifically relevant description of the mechanisms for various origins, and that all internal or external evidence to the contrary must be dismissed as mistaken and fallacious. Simple induction leads us to believe that the universe and the human beings in it came into being by a long series of meaningless events over a long period of time, and that we have no long-time purpose, meaning or relevance. Once again, it is only by combining deduction with induction that we can understand the truth of God's creative activity and its significance for our lives, while at the same time retaining an openness and integrity in matters suitable for scientific investigation. It is by combining deduction and induction that we know that as Christians we must always say, "Yes," to Creation quite independently of the validity of evolution, while we can suggest also a tentative "Yes" to evolution and an openness to future developments.


Christians today may find it hard to realize that little more than a hundred years ago in the United States the biblical teaching on slavery was a critical issue for Christians. Today one would have to search far and wide to find a single Christian willing to make a public defense of slavery on the basis of the Bible. What is the cause of this rapid change in attitude?

The biblical treatment of slavery has similarities to
its treatment of the two illustrations we have just considered, but there are also significant and marked differences. In the case of biblical inerrancy and of creation versus evolution, an argument could be advanced that deduction focussed on a few specific texts and that induction focussed on many general phenomena within and outside Scripture. Slavery does not follow this pattern exactly. Here one can argue that a major portion of the direct, and particularly the indirect, teaching of Scripture assumes slavery as a vital and continuing institution. It is only in a few general and "visionary" passages that expficit expression is given to what Christians have now come to see as a fundamental expression of Christian living and concerns, one that is at serious odds with the institution of slavery. Yet it is these few prophetically interpreted passages examined inductively, supported by the unspoken but always present perspective of Scripture, that Christians today would champion without reservation in spite of the much larger collection of passages that form the basis for deductive interpretation with respect to slavery.

Throughout the entire Bible the institution of slavery is accepted as self-evident, and major models of Christian living are based on it by the biblical authors. In particular the Bible teaches that the slave/master relationship is a type of the Christian/God relationship-in much the same way that the husband/wife relationship is presented as a type of the Christ/Church relationship. One can construct an excellent case that to reject the institution of slavery is to reject a basic biblical model. And yet the Bible reaches beyond the years of culture and commonly accepted usage and may be seen as beginning to point to something else: an inevitable consequence of the continuing witness of the Holy Spirit to His people.

From the time of Noah in Genesis 9:25-27, slavery is described in the Bible. This particular passage was used very recently to defend the slavery of black people in the United States. All together there are about one hundred references to slaves in the Old Testament.

By their remarks, the authors of several New Testament books make it clear that they view their relationship to God as that of slave to Master: they were slaves of sin; they were bought by the precious blood of Christ; now they are slaves of God.22 Jesus used the institution of slavery as the background for many of His teachings,23 and Paul followed His example.24 In I Peter 2:16, Peter expressly exhorts Christians to live as slaves of God. In a key teaching on the Incarnation in Philippians 2:7, Paul speaks of Jesus taking the form of a slave. In at least three places Paul teaches explicitly about the roles of slaves, exhorting submission of slave to master.25

To cite particular biblical passages that point the way to the present attitude toward slavery is not an easy task. Perhaps three New Testament passages might be cited in this connection. In both I Corinthians 7:20-22 and Galatians 3:28 Paul affirms that in Christ the relationship of slave to free person is done away as a statement of human reality. He clearly does not teach that slavery should be abolished, but he does emphasize that in Christ the slave is free and the free person is a slave of God, so that all intrinsic distinctions related to the social status of each is irrelevant in Christ. And in the tantalizing passage of Philemon 16, Paul seems to be urging Philemon to give expression to the unity between his slave Onesimus and himself by accepting him as an equal brother. But certainly these few passages cannot be treated as a deductive basis for a Christian stand against slavery. Rather it is the overwhelming inductive evidence from the total biblical teaching on the value of the human being, every human being, made in the image of God that has led to the end of slavery. It is in a Christian context the outworking of the basic unity of all believers in Jesus Christ that in the course of time has led to the abolition of slavery and to the present unthinkability of any Christian's "owning" another person made in the image of God and part of the body of Christ.

Any simple deductive approach to the subject of slavery must lead to the conclusion that slavery is a divinely approved institution that models many basic human/God relationships. Although the Bible does not explicitly teach that slavery is approved by God, its total use of slavery as a viable and illustrative institution can lead deductively to few other conclusions than that slavery is acceptable for the child of God, both as slave and as master. It is only when one builds on the total 11 analogy of Scripture" with historical guidance from the Holy Spirit (which includes all those political, economic and social factors that led to the abolition of slavery), that one is enabled to inductively respond to the few prophetic passages that speak of a reality that transcends contemporary social practice and culture.

Women's Roles

When we come to the question of women's roles, particularly those involving the allowable roles for women in the offices of the church and the roles suitable for women in society, we come to a topic that combines all of the features of the previous three questions together with a dynamic social movement. Here there are key passages that can be interpreted deductively to set the boundaries of women's activities, as in the case of biblical inerrancy and creation versus evolution. Here there is the assumption of a cultural and social practice in the biblical teaching with use of these practices as illustrations and examples, as in the case of slavery. Here there is finally an underlying biblical perspective that comes to light in a few prophetic and "visionary
11 passages, as in the case of slavery. The interaction of deductive and inductive approaches is perhaps more complex than in any of the other three examples we have considered."26-38

It is by combining deduction and induction that we know that as Christians we must always say, "Yes," to Creation quite independently of the validity Of evolution, while we can suggest also a tentative "Yes" to evolution and an openness to future developments.

If we turn to the actual descriptions and activities of women in the Bible, we see first that in the Old Testament by law women had a limited position that often bordered on their being treated only as possessions.39 Only men bore the sign of the covenant; only men could divorce their spouses; only men could refuse a leviratic marriage; only a man could make an unbreakable vow. In the tenth commandment wives are linked with house and household slaves or servants. The biological functioning of women was associated with ceremonial uncleanness, and sexual access to women captives in war was considered a right (although it is certain that Jesus dealt with this issue differently according to Matthew 5:28). Clearly the revelation of the Old Testament comes to us out of the context of a patriarchal society, just as the treatment of slavery comes to us out of the context of a slave-owning society. The question is whether this patriarchal character is normative or incidental. A deductive approach inevitably favors the former. An inductive approach can be used to support this conclusion, as for example when the above Old Testament illustrations are considered normative, but an inductive approach also provides considerable evidence for a different approach to the question.

The deductive approach claims some nine New Testament passages from the practical teaching of Paul as the foundation for the development of biblical propositions about women's roles.40 It can even claim that Paul himself provides the model for the deductive approach in I Timothy 2:12-14:

(a) Adam was formed first, then Eve.

(b) Adam was not deceived, but Eve was deceived.
(c) Therefore women who carry on the line of Eve are allowed neither to have authority over men nor to teach men, but are to remain silent and submissive.

A similar example is provided by I Corinthians 11:8,9. In keeping with a deductive approach, it is emphasized that if we wish to know what the Bible teaches about women's roles, we must look primarily at those passages that teach on this subject. When this is done, it is claimed that the passages in I Corinthians and I Timothy clearly forbid the ordination of women. Women are expressly forbidden to hold any teaching/ruling office in the church, for timeless reasons grounded in creation, the Fall, and God's purpose for men and women. Similarly Ephesians 5:22-33 is seen to be the foundation for a deductive conclusion emphasizing an authority hierarchy in the family.

Clearly the revelation of the Old Testament comes to us out of the context of a patriarchal society, just as the treatment of slavery comes to us out of the context of a slave-owning society. The question is whether this patriarchal character is normative or incidental.

The position developed by deduction can be summarized as follows. The woman is subject to the man because the man, as created first, is directly in the image and glory of God, whereas the woman, created after the man and for him, is the glory of the man. Because of her lesser endowment (presumably) she was deceived by the Tempter whereas the man was not. Therefore she should never aspire to teach the man, but always learn from him in subjection and quiet humility. This means that the woman is subordinate to the man in the family and in the church. This does not imply that the woman is inferior to the man, but that in following this subordination she fulfills the order of creation as intended by God. The woman is complementary in leadership, but subordinate in government.

AD inductive argument can also be offered in support of this position, although it is definitely secondary to the deductive argument. The whole biblical record, it is argued, testifies that the male predominates in Scripture: Old Testament patriarchal society, Jesus Himself, the twelve disciples, the office holders in the early church. In keeping with this inductive evidence, the symbolism of God's relationship to His people requires a male office holder in the church and a male authority in the home. The male/female hierarchy is only one step in the whole "chain of authority" that extends from God to men to women to children.

Inductionists ask the fundamental question: Are the practical teachings of Paul sufficiently understood in terms of their local context that they can be unquestionably advanced as the normative guidelines for all times? Is the patriarchal pattern of the Bible intended to be normative, or is it a cultural framework from which the Holy Spirit may bring something more complete as in the case of our understanding of slavery?

In order to answer these questions, inductionists look at the actual roles described for women in the New Testament. Here there is a great wealth of material not usually considered by deductionists, some of it admittedly difficult to evaluate." An examination of the Gospels, the Acts and the Epistles shows that women played a consistent and prominent role in the life of the early church from its very beginning. Sometimes it is not easy to identify the exact nature of this role, since offices and roles were not clearly defined. it may also be noted that Jesus broke traditions concerning women in several instances in order to more clearly define the intent rather than the practice of the Old Testament law. He revealed His most profound mission to the outcast Samaritan woman at the well, whom His disciples would not even have spoken to. He did not sanction the killing of the woman taken in adultery. He welcomed Mary into the most intimate relationship and chided Martha for not understanding this. He moved to oppose frivolous divorce practices that threatened women's welfare. He accepted the attentions and love of the woman who was a former prostitute. He taught several times using parables or expressions in which men and women were parallel actors, and even used women in parables to represent God. He taught that in the resurrection any distinctions that might presently exist in the marriage relationship would be done away with since marriage itself would be done away with.

Furthermore inductionists note that it was to a woman that Jesus taught most clearly about the resurrection. It was to a woman that Jesus first appeared after His own resurrection. It was a woman who was the first convert in Macedonia. It was a woman, who, with her husband, taught Apollos a more complete basis for his preaching. It was a woman to whom Paul sends his first greetings at the end of the letter to the Romans, a closing that indicates, by the way, that at least one-third of "the leaders" in the church at Rome were women.

In dealing with the Genesis record, inductionists note that Genesis 1:26,27 recounts how God made man, male and female, in His image; man and woman consitute a fellowship of equals as in the Trinity. In Genesis 1:28 they are given joint responsibilities. The subordination of woman to man comes only after the Fall, as one of the "curses." But in Christ there is a new creation, superseding the Fall as described in Galatians 3:28. Through faith, by grace, the equality of male and female in human relationships is restored (Note I Corinthians 11:11,12.). Maleness and femaleness are complementary aspects of the image of God. In Christ women, like men, are called to responsibly exercise all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in mutual submission, one to another in the church and in the family. The whole recorded history of women in the Gospels, Acts and the Epistles suggests that in actual fact men and women were treated equally with the same opportunities to use their spiritual gifts. No roles are forbidden to the woman a priori, but she is free to respond to the gif ting of God in whatever way these gifts may lead. Furthermore she is responsible to exercise these gifts to the fullest for the glory of God and the witness to Christ. Inductionists draw a common theme from the New Testament record: under Christ, every person, male and female, should have the opportunity to develop and use whatever gifts the Holy Spirit has given.

Inductionists note the close parallel between Christians' response to slavery and their response to the role of women. Passages that call for the submission of women to men parallel passages that call for the submission of slaves to masters. What has happened in the case of slave/master is seen as a type of what is happening in the case of female/male. Their combination in Galatians 3:28, together with the Greek/Jew relationship is seen as the most significant insight the New Testament provides. It is evident that Paul fully realized the meaning of the Greek/Jew situation (Galatians 2:11-14), although its outworking caused much concern in the early church. In relation to slavery or to women's submission inductionists see Paul as still at the stage of his times in terms of everyday practical advice designed to avert criticism and persecution of Christians. But what he taught by inspiration leads inevitably in God's providence beyond that situation to the full realization that all men and women are made in God's image, that in Christ all men and women are called to be mutually submissive and mutually supportive in the regardless of whether these questions are relevant to the
exercise of their gifts, and that there cannot be an purpose of the biblical revelation or not; that the
ordained and inflexible hierarchy into which all men universe came into being some 10,000 years or less ago,
and women must fit. 


We have examined four quite different areas of interpretation concerning which conservative evangelical Christians have in recent years been in wide disagreement. This disagreement can be traced in large
measure to the choice of an approach to biblical exegesis, whether one of a deductive or an inductive
nature. Once strong commitment has been made to one or the other of these two types of approach, a wide
divergence in conclusions and commitment is inevitable. Authentic understanding of the biblical message
can be obtained only from a combination of deductive and inductive insights.

Traditional conservative Christianity has often been based heavily on a deductive approach to Scripture. In
this sense such Christianity has followed the pattern of science before Galileo and Newton. It has emphasized specific passages in the Bible, assumed to give a clear and easily understood teaching on the matter; all other descriptions and events, whether biblical or extra biblical, must then be interpreted to fit the deductions made from the selected passages.

Recognizing the essential role of induction in the development of modern science, Christian scientists in
particular are sensitive to the need for an inductive component to the approach to biblical interpretation.
While recognizing the value of the specific selected passages of the deductionists, inductionists seek to fit
these passages into the total context of descriptions and events with which they deal in order that the overall
meaning of the selected passages may be understood in a totally biblical context.

These differences come to light in the examples we have considered. Is the meaning of the biblical inter
pretation to be gained by the passages that teach on biblical inspiration and "inerrarncy" regardless of the
kind of book the Bible actually is-or is the meaning and scope of the teaching passages on inspiration
enlightened by seeing what kind of book the Bible actually is? Or again, is the question of the role of
women in the church settled by the passages that directly teach on women's roles in specific New Testament churches-or is this teaching understood only when we take a close look at the total experience of
women in the New Testament?

A simple deductive approach leads inevitably to the conclusion that the Bible is a supernaturally perfect
book that conveys correct answers to all questions and that all the answers suitable for a scientific descrip
tion of origins are contained in the Genesis record; that slavery is a God-approved institution mirroring for our edification great truths of the Christian faith; and that women are ordained by God's will to be hierarchically subject to men in church and family.

Christians who see the necessity for induction as well as deduction regard these conclusions as inadequate and as failing to convey the true nature of the biblical revelation. They see instead that the Bible is a divinely inspired book designed to convey God's revelation according to His purpose, but one that will lead to confusion and apparent error if answers are demanded to questions inconsistent with that purpose; that demanding a choice between creation and evolution is an inappropriate procedure, since all Christians must believe in God as Creator and Redeemer of His people, and may or may not believe in the mechanisms of evolution according to their current understanding of scientific insight; that slavery is an institution rooted in the fallenness of human nature that has existed for many years, and, like other existing social structures, can be used to illustrate divine truths, but is contrary in its essence to the biblical doctrines of both creation and redemption; and that women's subjection to men also has its root in the fallenness of human nature but by the grace of God can and must be overcome in and through Jesus Christ.

The choice of a deductive versus an inductive approach (or better yet an integrated inductive/deductive approach) occurs at such a primary stage of biblical interpretation that it is almost reduced to an elementary faith choice. No inductionist can convince a deductionist that his/her way is faulty by direct argument, any more than a deductionist can accomplish the same ends with an inductionist. Nothing less than a change of paradigm is required; nothing less than a kind of "conversion experience" is adequate. And in such cases there is not much one can do except witness, love, and wait for the Holy Spirit.


1R. H. Bube, "A Perspective on Scriptural Inerrancy," journal ASA 15, 86 (1963)

2R. H. Bube, ed., The Encounter between Christianity and Science, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan (1968)

3R. H. Bube, The Human Quest: A New Look at Science and Christian Faith, Word, Waco, Texas (1971)

4R. Maatman and R. H. Bube, "Dialogue: Inerrancy, Revelation and Evolution, " journal ASA 24, 80 (1972)

5J. Rogers, ed., Biblical Authority, Word, Waco, Texas (1977)

6S. T. Davis, The Debate about the Bible, Westminster, Philadelphia (1977)

7 John 20:30,31; 1 John 5:13; Acts 10:42,43; 1 John 4:14; Luke 1: 1-4; 1 John 1: 1-3; IT Timothy 3:15-17; Romans 15:4; Romans 4:23,24.

8IT Samuel 11:15; Jeremiah 20:14; Psalm 137:9; Ecclesiastes 9:4,5.

9Genesis 3:15; Genesis 9:26,27; Genesis 12:3; Genesis 49:10; Psalm 89:19,20; Micah 5:2, Luke 1:31.

10Psalm 931; Matthew 1:7-13 vs. I Chronicles 3:11-19.

11IT Samuel 8:4 vs. I Chronicles 18:4; 11 Samuel 10:6 vs. I Chronicles 19:6; II Samuel 10:18 vs. I Chronicles 19:18; 11 Samuel 14:9 vs. I Chronicles 21:5; IT Samuel 24:24 vs. I Chronicles 21:25; 1 Kings 4:26 vs. 11 Chronicles 9:25; 1 Kings 6:2 vs. 11 Chronicles 3:4; 1 Kings 7:26 vs. IT Chronicles 4:5.

12Deuteronomy 18:15-19 vs. Acts 3:22; Isaiah 7:14 vs. Matthew 1:23; Malachi 4:5 vs. Matthew 17:10-12.

13Consider, for example, the number "40": Genesis 7:4,17; Exodus 16:35; Exodus 24:18; Exodus 26:19; Numbers 13:25; Numbers 14:33; Deuteronomy 25:3; judges 3:11; 1 Kings 6:17; IT Chronicles 244; Ezekiel 29:11,12; Ezekiel 41:2; Jonah 3:4; Matthew 4:2; Acts 1:3.

14 Matthew 27:3-10 vs. Acts 1:18,19; Mark 14:24 vs. Luke 22:20; Matthew 26:69-75, Mark 14:66-72, Luke 22:54-62, John 18:15-27; Acts 9, Acts 22, Acts 26.

15R. H. Bube, "Science and the Whole Person. Part 12. Creation (A) How Should Genesis Be Interpreted?" journal ASA 32, 34 (1980)

16Origim and Change: Selected Readings from the Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, ASA (1978)

17 R, M. Frye, ed., Is God a Creationist?; The Religious Case Against Creation-Science, Scribners, New York (1983)

18J. L. Wiester, The Genesis Connection, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, Tennessee (1983)

19D. A. Young, Creation and the Flood, Baker, Grand Rapids, Michigan (1977)

20D. A. Young, Christianity and the Age of the Earth, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan (1982)

21pSalru 90:1,2; Psalm 145:5,6; Psalm 89:11-15; Isaiah 40:28--31; Isaiah 43:1-13~ Isaiah 44:24-26; John 1:1-12; Colossians 1:15-20; Hebrews 1:2.

22I Corinthians 7:23; 1 Peter 1:18; Romans 6:17,18.

23Matthew 20:27,28; Matthew 10:24,25; Matthew 24:45; Matthew 25:14-30-, John 8:34; John 15:15; Luke 17:10.

24I Corinthians 9:19; Galatians 43; Romans 8:15; Galatians 5: 1.

'25Ephesians 6:5; Colossians 3:22-4:1; Titus 2:9,10.

26S. B. Clark, Man and Woman in Christ, Servant Books, Ann Arbor, Michigan (1980)

27E. Eliot, Let Me Be a Woman, Tyndale Press, Wheaton, Illinois (1976)

28S. T. Foh, Women and the Word of God, Baker, Grand Rapids, Michigan (1979)

29G. Hunt, Ms. Means Myself, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan (1972)

30J. B. Hurley, Man and Woman in Biblical Perspective, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan (1981)

31P. Jewett, Man as Mate and Female, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan (1975)

32P, Jewett, The Ordination of Women, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan (1980)

33G. W. Knight, III, The New Testament Teaching on the Role Relationship of Men and Women, Baker, Grand Rapids, Michigan (1977)

34K. T. Malcolm, Women at the Crossroads, Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois (1982)

35V. R. Mollenkott, Women, Men and the Bible, Abingdon Press, Nashville, Tennessee (1977)

36L. Scanzoni and N. Hardesty, All We're Meant to Be, Word, Waco, Texas (1974)

37K. Stendahl, The Bible and the Role of Women: A Case Study in Hermeneuties, Fortress Press, Philadelphia (1966)

38D. Williams, The Apostle Paul and Women in the Church, BIM Pub., Van Nuys, California (1977)

39Genesis 17:9-14; Genesis 12:10-16; Deuteronomy 241; Deuteronomy 25:510; 1 Samuel 1:3-11; Ruth 4:5; Exodus 20:17; Numbers 30:1-15: Leviticus 12:1-5; Deuteronomy 21:10-14.

40I Corinthians 11:2-16; 1 Corinthians 14:33-38; 1 Timothy 2:8-15; Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18,19; Titus 2:1-10; 1 Peter 3:1-7; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9.

41Women in genealogy of Matthew 1; Matthew 8:14,15; Matthew 9:20-22; Luke 15:8-10; Matthew 25:1-13; Luke 18:1-8; John 16:21; Matthew 19:3-9; Mark 12:41-44; Matthew 15:22-28; Matthew 24:40,41; Matthew 26:6-13; Matthew 9:18-26; Luke 13:10-13; Luke 1:5ff; Luke 2:36-38; Luke 8:1-3~ Matthew 27:55,56,61; John 4:7-42; John 8:3-11; Luke 10:3841; Matthew 28:1-8; Matthew 22:24--32.

References in Acts: 1:14; 2:17,18; 5:7-11,14; 8:1; 9:2,32-43; 12:12,13; 13:50; 17:4,12; 16:14,15; 18:2,24-26.

References in the Epistles: Romans 16:1,3,6,7,12,13,15; 1 Corinthians 16: 19; 11 Timothy 4:19; Philippians 4:2; Colossians 4:15; 11 Timothy 4:21; Philemon 2.