The Negative Inference Fallacy
A reader asked “How would you refute this article on mark 16:16?”
(The reader is referring to an article by Dr. Linda Smallwood from the website http://www.aocibibletraininginstitute.org. That article is copied below, with Ron Daly’s comments following)……..
The “Negative Inference Fallacy“. “Those who try to use Mark 16:16, and other passages , to teach that baptism is necessary for salvation commit a fairly common grammatical mistake that some refer to as a “negative inference” fallacy [false belief or incorrect reasoning]. The “negative inference” principle declares that if a statement is true, then we can assume that all opposites of that statement are also true, whether expressed or not. Examples: Here is a simple illustration. Statement: “A dog with brown spots is an animal.” This sentence is completely correct. The negative inference, however, is, “If a dog does not have brown spots, it is not an animal,” which we know is not true. In much the same way, “he who believes and is baptized will be saved” is 100% true. The negative statement or inference, “he who does not believe and is not baptized” is an assumption not born out or supported by any other Bible teachings about salvation. A second illustration: “Whoever believes and lives in the U.S. will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” This statement is 100% true. All Americans who believe in Jesus will be saved. However, we cannot say that only believers in America are saved and if a person does not live in the U.S., then they cannot be saved. To do so would be an example of the “negative inference fallacy”. While the second half of the passage in Mark 16:16 affirms the negative “he who does not believe “, it does not affirm the negative supposition for baptism. It does not say, “he who is not baptized will not be saved.” For us to infer such is an unwarranted assumption with no Scriptural support. The passage states a fact that baptized believers will be saved. It says nothing, however, about believers who have not been baptized.
Condition vs. Requirement. In looking for answers to whether baptism is required for salvation, we must be careful not to confuse a condition of salvation with a requirement for salvation. The Bible clearly teaches, and we can say with absolute assurance, that belief is both a condition and a requirement. However, we cannot say the same about the act of baptism. Nowhere in Scripture does it say if a person is not baptized, then s/he is not saved. While we can attach any number of conditions to the requirement of faith, the person is still saved whether they meet any one or more conditions that relate to salvation. As such, no one can state with absolute assurance and authority that baptism is necessary for salvation.”
Comments by Ron Daly are below–
The so-called “negative inference fallacy” is really no fallacy at all when one considers both the positive and negative implications of sacred scripture. Apply this to other topics.
John 4:24 “God is spirit.” Luke 24:39 “a spirit does not have flesh and bones.” Therefore God does not have flesh and bones. The positive is true, so the negative is also true because scripture implies both the positive and negative aspects.
If she is correct that the first part of the sentence is true, “The one who believes and is immersed will be saved,” then both conditions are essential to salvation. So, we ask , why then does the second part of the verse not say, “but the one who does not believe and is not immersed will be condemned?”
Because the absence of faith is enough to condemn. Why is the absence of faith enough to condemn? Because faith precedes immersion! So, if that which precedes is absent, it is unnecessary to repeat that which follows in the second part of the sentence. Her dog with “brown spots” won’t hunt.
It is also strange that she admits, “The one who believes and is immersed will be saved” is a correct statement but he denies it in practice. She affirms, “The one who believes and is NOT immersed will be saved.” Directly contradicting what she admits the text correctly says!
The writer goes on to say, “Nowhere in Scripture does it say if a person is not baptized, then s/he is not saved.”
It is not necessary to “say” that in her words. God has implied it in his own words. God says when a person is immersed, he is immersed “into” Jesus Christ and “into” his death. Romans 6:3… Can an accountable person be saved OUT OF Jesus Christ? Can an accountable person be saved OUT OF the death of Christ? 1 Peter 3:21 says “immersion DOES also now SAVE us.” Can a person be saved without undergoing the VERY THING THAT saves? Furthermore, where in scripture do we read, “if a person does not repent , then s/he is not saved?” Where do we read in scripture, “if a person does not believe s/he cannot be saved? Where do we read in scripture, “if a person is not cleansed with the blood of Christ s/he cannot be saved?” The point is: scripture does not “say it” in her words, but scripture implies it in God’s words!
Likewise, scripture implies that immersion is a condition of salvation for accountable people. Her dog with “brown spots” will not hunt, he won’t even come out of the dog house!