Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 29, 1951
NUMBER 30, PAGE 14-15a

More About "Fallacious Arguments"

. L. Winborn, Anthony, New Mexico

An article by the writer bearing the caption, Fallacious Arguments, appeared in the Firm Foundation, July 81, 1951. In the Gospel Guardian of October 4, 1951, Vaughn D. Shofner, under the same caption offers adverse criticism of that part of my article that dealt with Rom. 1:16.

To me it is passingly strange that brother Shofner did not send his criticism to the Firm Foundation in which my article appeared. Not that I have objection to the Guardian as a medium, but those who read the Firm Foundation know what I wrote. Again: Since he writes to a paper that did not carry my article, why does he not quote fully and accurately that portion of what I wrote to which he objects?

Concerning Rom. 1:16, I said, "Often we hear sermons in which an argument is based on some word, phrase or clause, the conclusion being drawn from what the English apparently teaches. Some examples: 1) 'The gospel is the power (not a power) of God unto salvation.' It is well known to students that the article 'the' is often supplied in the English when it has no counterpart in the Greek, and though supplied is not written in italics as are most supplied words, it being judged necessary by the translators to a smooth translation into the English. It should be borne in mind that though the Greek has the definite article only, the indefinite article 'a' is often supplied when the article is lacking in the Greek text. A case in point: 'God is a Spirit.' (John 4:24). The margin, American Standard Version reads, 'Or, God is Spirit.' Literally the part of Rom. 1:16 under consideration would read: 'For Power (Gr. dunamis) of God it is unto salvation.' (Interlinear Greek New Testament). Obviously any argument based on 'the' in Rom. 1:16 or 'a' John 4:24 is fallacious."

Brother Shofner comments thus: "From their earliest existence the Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists and all other denominations which add to and subtract from the word of God to support their creeds, have tried to leave out certain parts of the Bible. Their greatest eraser is the sky-high intellectuality attained by their leaders. They learn so much about Greek and Hebrew that they can prove baptism is not in order to salvation and that it is not really baptism anyway, but is a sprinkling or pouring."

To whom have they so proved? To brother Shofner? Certainly they have not proved such to this writer.

Hear him further: "I guess every generation has seen some with like mini in the church of the Lord. It is obvious that there are several in the church in this generation. Under the above caption a brother 'proved' (quotes Shofner's) by the Greek that the gospel is not 'the' power of God unto salvation, and 'any argument based on 'the' in Rom. 1:16 is fallacious." (Firm Foundation, July 31, 1951, quite naturally.)

His "guess" about other generations is no better than any other. Why does he not name the "several" in the church in this generation? In what way is it "obvious" that such there are? Does he mean to imply that I am one of the "several"? For that matter why does he refer to me as "a brother"? The article appeared under my signature. I am not ashamed of, nor afraid to defend that which I have written. Why not give his readers my name?

Again we quote: "Many of the things he stated in this article we believe and accept, but we have no disposition to believe his statement about 'the' of Rom. 1:16. We not only disbelieve and deny it, but we urge every gospel preacher under heaven to preach the gospel of Christ as 'the' (not a) power of God unto salvation."

I have been unaware that belief was the result of disposition." Rather I entertained the idea that it was the result of evidence. What is it that he does not believe about "the" of Rom. 1:16? Does he believe that is has a counterpart in the Greek? Let him supply an accepted Greek text where found. Does he question that the Interlinear Greek New Testament reads, "for power of God it is unto salvation"? Let him supply a different reading from that authority.

I invite attention to that part of the above that purports to be a quotation of part of what I wrote. As punctuated by him, just what did I write? What does he mean by the last two words in parenthesis, "quite naturally"?

Note his statement: "Under the above caption a brother 'proved' that the gospel is not 'the' power of God unto salvation . .." I neither proved, attempted to prove, nor said anything about the gospel not being the power of God unto salvation. I said," Obviously any argument based on 'the' in Rom. 1:16 or 'a' in John 4:24 is fallacious." in the language of the Holy Spirit in both places the article is lacking in the Greek. You cannot base an argument upon that which does not exist. You cannot deny a self evident truth. It is foolish to argue against a demonstration. The article is not there, it is not a part of the word of God and no argument can stand that is based on that which is nonexistent. You may argue that "the" is correctly supplied. You may argue that the gospel is "the" power of God unto salvation, but you cannot prove it by "the" in connection with power in Rom. 1:16.

Next our brother gives us a lesson on the new birth (John 8:8-5), the word of God as that by which born (1 Peter 1:23), the word as the Corinthians were saved (1 Cor. 15:1-4), the damnation resting upon one who preaches another (Gal. 1:7-9), and the charge to keep the same. (2 Tim. 2:2). Familiar passages all. Space does not permit full quotation and discussion. They have nothing to do with the statement I made on Rom. 1:16.

Hear him further: "Surely if the gospel is a (not 'the') power unto salvation, at least one example of salvation by other means would have been given. Now we request that the wise of this world show us another power unto salvation. If the gospel of Christ is but 'a' (not 'the') power of God unto salvation, surely one so wise as to he able to detect this, understands about and can explain some of the other powers of salvation. Being but a power, there must be at least one other. What is it? If such a person is unable to prove that Christ's gospel is 'a' power by showing another, then let him silence his prattle."

If brother Shofner is interested in finding "a" power of God unto salvation, let him proceed. I said not one word about the gospel being "a" power and not "the" power of God unto salvation.

He admits that what I said about the Greek is true, hear him: "Grant it that 'it is well known to students that the article 'the' is often supplied in English when it has no counterpart in the Greek,' and that 'the Greek has the definite article only'; this falls a million miles short of proving 'any argument based on 'the' in Rom. 1:16 is fallacious'."

If indeed the Greek has the definite article only, if indeed the indefinite article is sometimes supplied where the article is lacking, if indeed the article is lacking (and it is) in Rom. 1:16, then the translators could have supplied either "the" or "a" and any argument based on "the" in Rom. 1:16 is false and cannot stand.

Will brother Shofner rush to the defense of the word "the" before the word "righteousness" in the next verse, Rom. 1:17? We have here exactly the same situation as in v. 16. The article is lacking in connection with "righteousness." The Authorized Version renders it, "the" righteousness of God. The American Standard Version renders it, "a" righteousness of God. Which do you accept my brother, and why? Had the Greek article (always definite) been there you could contend for "the," it not being there "the" or "a" is supplied according to the understanding of the translators. Again I say, you cannot base an argument on that which does not exist.

Doubtless it would be interesting and instructive to have brother Shofner define the word "gospel" as used in Rom. 1:16. What does it comprehend? Has it limitations?

I have never met brother Shofner. He is no doubt a faithful and able preacher of the gospel. Nevertheless I question his ability to teach me concerning the purity, content, humility or power of the gospel.

To me it seems that he might well profit by some lesson in logic, clarity of expression and ethics becoming the Christian character, before he again attempts to distort the words and insidiously impugn the motives of one whose only "pride" is in preaching the gospel of Christ to a lost world.