Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 16, 1956
NUMBER 40, PAGE 1,9b-10

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

James W. Adams, Beaumont, Texas

By now, the reader is probably getting dizzy from so much "chasing around the mulberry bush." Do not think about it too much, or "total situations" and "constituent elements" along with congregations "A and B" may send you to the psychiatrist's couch. Of all the arguments it has ever been the privilege of this scribe to read, Brother Warren's is the most involved, 'evasive of the issue, and generally confusing. Surely the question of whether or not a single congregation has the scriptural right to assume oversight of all of the preaching of the gospel to the lost in all the world and solicit, receive, and disburse the funds of all the congregations in the world for the accomplishment of the task is not that difficult of solution.

Continuing A Study Of Brother Warren's Constituent Elements

"4. A congregation (through its elders) has the right to oversee the accomplishing of a work, the total accomplishment of which exceeds its financial ability." (G.A., Dec. 1 1955, p. 1139.)

In element number three, discussed last week, Brother Warren attempted to show that a church could by the assumption of oversight make any activity in a field to which all churches are equally related exclusively its own work. He avoided the question of whether the church could assume oversight of such an activity regardless of its inability to sustain it. That, 'he says, belongs to another element, and each element must be discussed, "a single point at a time." Herein lies the great fallacy of our brother's reasoning as we have pointed out several times. Under element number four, Brother Warren seeks to establish that elders of a church may assume oversight of (or undertake) activities that the congregation does not have the financial ability to sustain. In doing so, note the type proof he offers:

1. He introduces the assistance sent to Jerusalem for the care of the poor saints by the churches of Asia Minor, Achaia, and Macedonia. (2 Cor. 8.)

2. He introduces the need for a building in which to worship God of a group of saints in New York City and the right of this church to undertake (with the help of sister churches) the buying of a lot and the construction of a building.

It has never been denied that churches (plural) may help a church (singular) perform "a work" which is peculiarly its own. The elders of the church in Jerusalem were the overseers of the saints at Jerusalem. If the saints at Jerusalem are to be helped in their hour of need, to whom would the help logically and scripturally be sent? Why the elders, of course. If the church helps a needy family, to whom is the assistance given for distribution but to the father (the head) of that family? To do otherwise would be to indict the wisdom and/or character of the father and to presume upon his prerogatives. The Jerusalem matter involves that which was exclusively the prerogative of the elders of the Jerusalem church. The construction of a building in which the group of saints in New York City will meet to worship God is an activity belonging exclusively to that congregation, and all decisions relative thereto are logically and scripturally the prerogative of the elders of that church. That sister churches may help in the construction of the building we believe none would deny. Such help to this needy group would be sent to the elders of the church. Brother Warren links element four to element three in his inductive chain. In this, he greatly errs. Neither of his examples has to do with "a field" to which all churches are equally related. These incidents have to do with: (t) benevolence among the "flock over which the Holy Spirit had made them (the Jerusalem elders, JWA) overseers"; (2) provisions for the edification of the "flock over which the Holy Spirit made" the elders in New York City "overseers." Neither of these groups "assumed" oversight of anything. The elders are divinely authorized to exercise the oversight in both cases and simply did those things which were their respective duties. Under elements three and four, our brother must adduce proof of a New Testament church through her elders attempting a "work" in a field to which all are equally related which is beyond her financial ability. In these elements, Brother Warren's argument collapses. His inductive chain is broken. The link of his chain which is missing is simply the proof that the assumption of oversight (regardless of the inability of the church to perform an activity or "work") makes the activity or "work" the exclusive "work" (her "own work") of the congregation assuming its oversight. As we have repeatedly shown, Brother Warren's logic sums itself up in the proposition that a single congregation may assume oversight of all the preaching of the gospel to the lost in all the world and solicit, receive, and disburse the funds of all the congregations in the world for the accomplishment of the task. Warren cannot logically or scripturally isolate elements three and four. He cannot use examples of activities which are specifically the prerogatives of a single church and its elders to establish the scripturalness of a procedure in activities involving that which is general in its nature.

We shall discuss Brother Warren's four remaining "constituent elements" briefly, but they are anti-climactic. Each involves some error either implied or stated, but the truth of Brother Warren's minor premise is dependent upon elements three and four (particularly No. 3). If they cannot be established, his chain of inductive proof is severed and his conclusion invalidated. We are willing to resolve the whole issue on the basis of the truth or falsity of these two elements. Brother Warren's Gospel Advocate articles utterly fail to establish the scripturalness of the "constituent element" of the "total situation" (Herald of Truth etc.) involved in elements three and four. Keep in mind that, in the use of the expression "elements three and four," we mean that which is included in these elements as they are related to the question of "centralized control and oversight." Brother Warren's devious type of argumentation implies more than it specifically avers. All that he argues must be understood in the light of that which he attempts to defend — the present brotherhood cooperatives that are the source of wide spread controversy.

1. "One church may help another to meet a want." No one has ever denied that churches (plural) may help a church (singular) in need with respect to that which is specifically her responsibility.

4. "A church's own work (which another congregation may help it do) does not necessarily have to involve a catastrophe." No one has argued that it does, only that it is based on "inequality" or "want." Brother Warren uses two illustrations to seek to tie this link to his chain of proof: (1) Jerusalem's sending Barnabas to Antioch to assist in teaching the word of God; (2)- congregation A sends her preacher to congregation B to help in vacation Bible school continuing his support ($75) while so doing. Brother Warren assumes too much in the case of Barnabas. He does not know whether Jerusalem supported him or not, but suppose she did. What of it? We can give him a better example than this. Churches supported Paul while he labored in the service of the

5. Corinthian church. (2 Cor. 11:8.) The help was sent directly to Paul, not to Paul via the elders of some sponsoring church, or even the church at Corinth. Brother Warren says that to send a preacher and support him is the same thing as sending money to be disbursed for that purpose by an eldership. This is by no means true. Brother Warren can hardly prove things by simply saying they are so. Was the want at Antioch comparable to "Herald of Truth"? A child or a simpleton would know better. Is sending a worker to help a local church in a vacation Bible school the Lubbock plan or a brotherhood benevolent society? Brother Warren has a ridiculous conception of that which constitutes an analogy. Surely a cause is hard pressed when it depends on such for its support. Paul taught the Corinthian church and preached the gospel to the lost of that city at the same time. Churches cooperated in his support while doing this work. Contributions were sent directly to Paul for his support. This is a divine example for such work. Paul had originally gone out from Antioch in Syria. Was that which Paul was doing Antioch's "work"? Was it Corinth's "work"? The preaching of the gospel among the lost by Paul was the "work" of every church that helped him to the extent of the degree of that help. Whatever service he rendered the church at Corinth was certainly done in strictest conformity with whatever right of oversight she possessed in the matter, yet he was supported directly. Why is Brother Warren interested in establishing some other manner of doing such work? Does this justify such as "Herald of Truth"? Our brother seems to think so.

6. "Evangelism as well as benevolence may be involved." If Brother Warren means by this that an example of churches (plural) helping a sister church (singular) care for her own poor authorizes their sending funds to her with which to preach the gospel to the lost generally, it is not true. There is not even an example of churches helping a church in general benevolence. Our brother assumes entirely too much. Too, he and Brother Guy N. Woods certainly will disagree on the proposition that whatever may be done in benevolence may be done in evangelism. In the recent Woods-Porter Debate at Indianapolis, it is reported that Woods took the position that some things are right in benevolence that are wrong in evangelism. He refused to take the position that such an organizational arrangement as he defended for the benevolence of the churches would be scriptural for the evangelism of the churches. Again, we have Gospel Advocate scribes against themselves.

7. "A church may have a right to undertake a work for which it has no specific obligation." Here again Warren is confusing in his use of the term, "work." His explanation shows he is talking about a specific medium employed by a church designed to assist her to accomplish her God-given work. He uses songbooks as an example. Songbooks, Brother Warren, are not a work. He then skips to the right of a church to have a radio program. No one has argued that a church does not have the right to have a radio program if she can sustain such. No one has argued the obligation of the church to have one. This has no relation to the controversy except in Warren's and his colleagues' minds.

No Summation And Application Of Warren's Argument

If some of you wondered what we meant (I do not think you did) when we said that Warren's approach to the discussion of the present brotherhood issue over "cooperation among New Testament churches" was both timorous and evasive, the heading to this portion of our review is a concrete example. Not only does Warren fail to address himself to the proof of the thing which is actually being done (occasioning the present controversy), but after making his argument, he neither summarizes nor applies it. Why? Well, if he summarized it, he would have to show the relation of his constituent elements to one 'another and to his proposition thus ruining his demand that each must be considered as "a single point." If he had applied it, he would have had to show how his argument relates to what is actually being done. Come, come, Brother Warren, everybody can tell what your purpose is, so why not just come out on the matter? Specify what you are attempting to justify and show how your argument sustains it.

Next week, we 'shall bring our series to a close by summarizing Warren's argument as well as our review. Too, we shall make some observations on our brother's attempt to evade an affirmative relation to the issue by a cross examination of the negative. Until then ponder the following which came to me in a letter from an outstanding preacher of the gospel; he said, "When I had finished reading that first article (GA., Dec. 15), I turned to my typewriter and on the spur of the moment (humorously) wrote:

"Since, 'All total situations the constituent elements of which are true are total situations which are true.'

"And since, 'The total situation set forth in the above is a total situation the constituent elements of which are true.'

"Conclusion: 'The total situation set forth in the above is a total situation which is true'."

As Brother P. G. Wright of Northern Mississippi once said at a Freed-Hardeman College Lectureship when asked to solve some confusing problem concerning a church and her elders, "Well, all I can say is, that'd be a bad sichiashun'." Television certainly has no monopoly on comedy. To this fact, Brother Warren's argument bears testimony.