Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 24, 1949
NUMBER 29, PAGE 1,6b

False Arguments And Scripture Perversions

R. L. Whiteside

Sometimes what is meant for an argument shows so little thought and consistency that it cannot be called an argument. No man, especially no gospel preacher, should make an argument or even a statement that is neither logical nor consistent with itself.

Ever since I first heard brethren discuss baptism, I have heard them say that the Greek words baptizo and baptisma means immerse and immersion. And they have correctly argued that if the Greek words had been translated, instead of giving them an English spelling, we would have "immerse" and immersion" where the Greek words occur, and the words baptize and baptism would not be in the New Testament at all. But one of the strangest and most senseless things is, that some brethren have attached a mystic significance to baptize and baptism that they do not attach to immerse and immersion. And so you sometimes hear this expression: "He may have been immersed, but he was not baptized." That is the same thing as saying, "He may have been immersed, but he was not immersed." Or, "He may have been baptized, but he was not baptized." No, there is no meaning in baptize that is not in immerse.

All speculative teaching is wrong in principle, and is most likely to be wrong in its conclusions. It is wrong in principle, because it violates Paul's injunction to "prove all things; hold fast that which is good." (I Thess. 5:21.) It is an evil. The next verse requires that we "abstain from every form of evil" If you cannot prove what you are putting forth, you are indulging in speculation, and you cannot know that you are right. By your speculations you may entertain some people who have speculative minds, but you do not teach them anything. You will, however, convince many that you are not a solid, reliable Bible teacher; and you thereby lose influence with thoughtful brethren.

It is a peculiar twist or quirk of mind that likes to speculate. People of that bent of mind like to engage in operations in which there is a possibility of winning or losing. They do not like to keep their feet on solid ground—that is too prosaic, too dull, no excitement. Such a spirit leads some to lay wagers on all sorts of games, and anything with an uncertain outcome. And it leads some to speculate on futures on grain, cotton, or stocks. But when a man with that speculative bug in his blood becomes a Christian, or professes to become a Christian, his speculative propensity leads him to speculate on things in the Bible, or supposed to be in the Bible. And if you engage in speculating on Bible subjects, or what is supposed to be Bible subjects, you are in no position to object to any other man's speculations. A good rule, though likely none of us adheres to it perfectly, is never to write or preach something that cannot be proved. Another good rule is, never be so anxious to make a point that you will see things in a passage that are not there, or fail to see something that is there. Both these rules, if you will allow me to call them rules, are often violated in the pulpit and in the press—even in the Gospel Guardian occasionally. And when a person sees a thing in a passage that is not there, he fails to see what is in it. A good example of this is the usual treatment of Hebrews 10:25.

Read so carefully and attentively Hebrews 10:25 that you really see what is in it: "... not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh." I do not recall that I ever read an article or heard a sermon in which this verse was brought forward for discussion that the writer or speaker did not begin at once to talk about "neglecting the assembly." Now, why is this? Do writers and preachers pay attention to the meaning of words? Or do some think they can make a word mean anything they want it to mean? Neglect and forsake do not at all mean the same thing. To forsake is to abandon, to quit, or leave entirely, to desert. A man may on occasion neglect the assembly without forsaking—abandoning—it, just as a man may neglect to provide for his wife and children as he should without forsaking them. Certainly no one should neglect the Lord's day worship; for frequent neglect, with the attendance growing farther and farther apart, may cause a person to become so indifferent that he will forsake the assembly entirely. But when the letter to the Hebrews was written, the Hebrew Christians were subjected to great pressure and persecutions. They could escape such bitter persecution by forsaking the assembling of themselves together. That meant that they had given up their faith in Christ, and it seems that many did so. Do not neglect the Lord's day worship, and do not pervert Hebrews 10:25, as is generally done. Both are bad, and likely both are due to ignorance.

A few years ago somebody hatched up the notion that if a member of the church failed to attend any meeting of the church, no matter what day or what hour or why the meeting was held, he violated Hebrews 10:25; he neglected the assembly. Well, a man who does not know any more about words than to think "forsake" means "neglect" should not attempt to build a theory on a word.