Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 2, 1956
NUMBER 38, PAGE 1,12-13a

"Round And Round The Mulberry Bush" Or Thomas B. Warren's "Monkey Business" (III.)

James W. Adams, Beaumont, Texas

The good brethren who are advocating "centralized control and oversight" in general evangelism and benevolence have, from the beginning of the controversy over such matters, tried to prejudice the issue by linking those who oppose them with what they call "the Sommerites," with those who oppose "Sunday School," and with those who may oppose the "located preacher." Too, these good brethren have insisted that to oppose centralized control and oversight is to oppose all cooperation of any kind.

An Appeal To Prejudice

Brother Thomas B. Warren spends much time seeking to convince his readers of his deep sincerity and complete objectivity, then finds it impossible to write five and one-half pages in the Gospel Advocate without an appeal to the same sort of prejudicial tactics. Our brother may deny that he made any such direct charges. Perhaps, he did not. The direct approach seems hardly to be his style. No, his is the devious approach to the matter. He simply raises the question, "Could it be?" This is our brother's manner of seeking to impress the reader with the fallacious idea that the controversy is over the choice of expedients in the accomplishment of that which is authorized.

From the beginning of the controversy, it has been assumed by centralized control advocates that "cooperation" is authorized, yea, commanded. In the meaning which they attach to "cooperation" — the pooling of the resources of many churches under the oversight and control of a single congregation for general evangelism and benevolence — they assume the very thing they are obligated to prove. We deny that there is a single statement of Holy Writ commanding, authorizing, justifying, or permitting such "cooperation." We further contend that such is subversive of the equality of bishops and congregations, is destructive of the autonomy of local congregations, and is, therefore, an indictment of the all-sufficiency of the divine organization of the church of God. Brother Warren, instead of seeking to slip in a hypothetical possibility through what he thinks is a crack in the back wall of the issue, needs to address himself to the task of presenting from the scriptures the authorization for "cooperation" in the sense of that expression as it is used by him and other advocates of centralized control and oversight. The word "cooperation" is not used in the scriptures. The manner in which New Testament churches operated in accomplishing their divine mission with reference to one another is clear. We heartily endorse and seek to practice the manner of operation of congregations of the one body of Christ with reference to one another as they were directed by inspired menthe record of which we have in the New Testament. Brother Warren defends a practice which he himself — by the very nature of his argument — admits was not employed by the churches of the New Testament. A plurality of churches did support Paul in general evangelism, but directly, not through a centralized control and oversight arrangement. This, Brother Warren will not deny. Yet, he insists that a centralized control arrangement is scriptural.

Since it is admitted by Warren that the "cooperation" which he defends is without New Testament precedent, and since he will not deny that there is a New Testament example of a plurality of churches supporting a common work in the field of general evangelism, hence a New Testament precedent for the direct rather than the centralized control arrangement, he was left with no alternative but to induce a series of hypothetical possibilities with the hope that they would give scriptural respectability to "our" brotherhood promotions. Before our brother implies that those who oppose such promotions do not believe in "cooperation," let him show that what he means by "cooperation" is worthy of belief. "Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God." (Rom. 10:17.) Let our brother show by the word of God that "cooperation" in the sense in which he uses that term is authorized, then, and only then, will the charge that those who oppose centralized control and oversight "oppose all cooperation" — have any meaning.

Brother Warren is probably anti-infant baptism. He is probably anti-denominationalism. He may even be anti-missionary society, unless under an eldership. But what would that prove unless these practices can be proved to be authorized by the word of God?

That Syllogism Again

With these prefatory remarks, let us again address ourselves to that potent syllogism ( ?):

1. Major Premise: All total situations the constituent elements of which are scriptural are total situations which are scriptural.

2. Minor Premise: The total situation described in the above proposition is a total situation, the constituent elements of which are scriptural.

3. Conclusion: The total situation described in the above proposition is a total situation which is scriptural."

The major premise of the above quoted syllogism was discussed in last week's article and was shown to be untrue as Brother Warren uses it and demands that it be answered. The refutation of the major premise destroys the argument, but there is more wrong with the argument than the major premise. We could grant the correctness of his major premise without conceding the truth of his conclusion. His minor premise is not true.

By means of the evasive wording of his proposition, Brother Warren thinks he has simplified his task. We have shown that our brother evades the real issue before the churches in the wording and explanation of his proposition. The proposition is:

"The scriptures teach that one church may (has the right to) contribute to (send funds to) another church which has assumed (undertaken) the oversight of a work to which both churches sustained the same relationship before the assumption (undertaking) of the oversight."

To expose the fallacy of Warren's minor premise it is necessary that we likewise expose the ambiguity and the verbal gymnastics characteristic of the proposition. We have shown that what Warren actually argues is:

"Any work over which a church assumes oversight, without regard to the inability of the church to sustain such a work, becomes the exclusive work of that congregation." (Article No. 2.)

Brother Warren, in his proposition and explanation, uses three terms: (1) "need;" (2) "work"; (3) "field." His use of these terms is illegitimate and confusing. He uses "need" and "work" synonymously. He uses "work" in at least two different senses, and he uses "field" in a geographical sense, and by implication, in a limited categorical sense. These terms have been used often in the discussion of present brotherhood centralized control arrangements. Brother Warren does not use these terms in the sense in which they are generally used. This has the practical effect of helping him to make his argument more plausible by confusing the issue. Note the "ELEMENTS IN THE PROPOSITION":

1. " The existence of a need (a work to be done) in a field to which the two churches sustain the same relationship.

2. Congregation 'A' assumes the oversight of the accomplishing a this work. This involves the right of congregation 'A' to act in such fashion.

3. This work then becomes peculiarly and exclusively the work of congregation 'A' — congregation 'A's' own work.

4. The total accomplishing of this work exceeds the ability of congregation 'A.' Congregation 'A' is unable to do its own work.

5. Congregation 'B' may contribute to (send funds to) congregation 'A' to be used by congregation 'A' in the accomplishing of that work.

6. A congregation may have the right to do a work for which it has no specific obligation — that is, it may not be obligated to do this work in just this specific particular way, but at the same time it may have the right to do so."

If we know anything about logic, Brother Warren breaks all the rules in his use of terms. Fundamental to sound reasoning is the precise use of all terms employed. A term or terms cannot be used ambiguously in the proposition and argument without invalidating the conclusion.

The "work" of the church is to preach the gospel to the lost, edify the saved, and care for the needy. Brother Warren uses the term "work" in this sense. He also uses the term in a specific sense involving in its meaning a particular activity of a congregation in performing the general work of preaching the gospel. Brother Warren can hardly use the term in both senses and reach valid conclusions. His use of the term, "field," is likewise confusing. He uses it in a geographical sense — a church purchases a lot on which to build a building in a "field to which all churches are equally related." Churches are equally related to the preaching of the gospel to the lost. This is the use of the term, "field," in the controversy over centralized control and oversight. Each congregation is equally related to this "work" or "field." The activity of a congregation in this "field" is determined by her ability. No church, in this "field," has the right to assume the control and oversight of the funds of other churches and spend them. The scripture that would give her this right would at the same time deny that other churches were equally related thereunto. Her right to assume the control and oversight must grow out of a peculiar relationship which she sustains to the "work" or "field." By implication — since Warren is defending such things as Herald of Truth — he also uses the term, "field," in a limited categorical sense; namely, network radio programs. To our brother, network radio programs objectively speaking are a field to which all churches are equally related. The assumption of oversight of a particular network program, according to Warren's logic, makes that program the particular work of Highland church in Abilene regardless of her inability to sustain it. Therefore, he argues that thousands of churches may send money to Highland church to perform "her own work." Brother Warren, is the "field" the preaching of the gospel to the lost, or is it network radio programs? You cannot use the term legitimately in both senses. As we have previously stated, our brother is an adroit juggler of terms. Herein lays the fallacy which has so confused him and produced his change. Terms cannot be used generically and specifically in the same proposition and argument without confusing the issue and reaching false conclusions.

These fallacies in our brother's proposition have been noticed because they affect the validity and potency of his minor premise. His constituent elements are designed to establish certain facts concerning the elements of a proposition the terms of which are themselves ambiguous.

This fact vitiates any conclusion which he may reach.

A Word About Our Next Article

Next week, we shall address ourselves to the constituent elements of the minor premise. A word or two about the inductive process is probably in order. The process of induction is a valid process in the province of reasoning, but it is a process often abused and perverted. To establish any fact by induction, the chain of elements must be complete. An insufficient number of links destroys its validity. Too, the chain is no stronger than its weakest link. A respondent does not have to deal with each link in order to establish its unreliability. He can invalidate it by the simple process of destroying one of its links. Also, the elements or links of an induction must be properly joined together. They 'cannot be isolated. They must be joined together so as to be cumulative in their effect. This last fact, Brother Warren ignores in his demand that the "constituent elements" of his "total situation" be considered independently. More next week about this. We will see you then.