Recently, a public post on Facebook used Paul’s statements in 1 Timothy 6:4-51 to teach a “difficult truth” about the effect of God’s word. In the passage1, Paul makes a simple deductive argument (if A, then B) where “A” is false teaching and “B” is its result (“envy, quarreling, slander, evil suspicions, and constant disagreement”).
The post goes on to make a general observation: “This world is filled with envy, quarreling, slander, evil suspicions, and constant disputes. This is a hallmark of modern culture, and, as is so often the case, God’s people are impacted by culture more than we might want to admit.” True enough! The world is filled with the same characteristics that Paul in 1 Timothy attributes to the effects of false teaching. The post then draws a conclusion: “When we see this [the envy, quarreling, slander, etc.] then we know that somewhere along the line our teaching has not been sound or we have simply ignored what Scripture teaches about how we are to treat one another (or both).”
Well, maybe, but there is an inherent logical fallacy in this conclusion. If A produces B, we can’t assume that anywhere we witness B, it must have been produced by A. That’s the argument being made. In other words, if any teaching has been done (true or false) and envy, quarreling, etc. results, then the teaching must have been “a different doctrine.” While it doesn’t hold with human logic, let’s test that conclusion about the effect of God’s word further with Scripture.