Why not to be discouraged when you can't do it all

  • 15 January 2016

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them... (Romans 12:4-6 ESV)

In a section of John Frame's "The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God" where he is listing various logical fallacies, or bad ways to think and reason, he outlines what he calls the "Division Fallacy". 

Here one argues that what is true of the whole (or the collection) is also true of the parts (or members). Thus one might argue that since a car is heavy, it must have a heavy cigarette lighter. Or because a grove is thick, each tree in the grove must be thick. One might mistake predicates of a class for predicates of individuals, as in this specious argument: “American Indians are disappearing; Joe is an American Indian; therefore Joe is disappearing.”

Theological examples include... “Christ commands his church to evangelize the whole world; I am a member of the church; therefore Christ commands me to evangelize the whole world.” Much grief is wrought by pastors who take commands in the Bible that are intended for the church as a whole and impose them on individuals, as if each individual had to do the whole job himself. Thus individuals are led to think that they must pray all day, evangelize their neighborhoods, become experts in Scripture, Christianize the institutions of society, feed all the poor in the world, and so forth. No! These commands are for the church as a whole, and individuals contribute to these purposes in accordance with their particular gifts (Rom 12; 1 Cor 12-14).