Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 23, 1956
NUMBER 41, PAGE 1,10b-11

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

James W. Adams, Beaumont, Texas

As we come to the last in our series reviewing Brother Thomas B. Warren's Gospel Advocate articles (Dec. 15, 29, 1955) on "Cooperation Between New Testament Churches," it is with a distinct feeling of disappointment and heaviness of heart. That we should see the day when our brethren (who have so long prided themselves on their ability to give a "thus saith the Lord" for everything they do in religion) turn to such devious and puerile reasoning as is characteristic of Warren's effort is sad indeed. With no more scriptural justification than this for their activities, are Brother Warren and those who stand with him going to continue to press their cooperative promotions to the disruption of the peace of the church and a possible division of the body of Christ? We hope not. The strongest claim that Brother Warren is willing to make for "our brotherhood" cooperatives is that they are scripturally permissible. When there is opposition, respectable in character and sizeable in degree, throughout the membership of the churches of Christ to these cooperations, do Brother Warren and his colleagues propose to (1) force them on the consciences of their brethren, or in the face of the unwillingness of faithful brethren thus to stultify their consciences (2) press them to disruption of fellowship? We shall see.

Warren's Questions

Warren poses "18" questions which he is very, very anxious to have answered. Actually, there are about 60 of them when one considers their subdivisions and their subordinate and contingent questions. These questions highlight a number of noteworthy characteristics of Warren's efforts: (1) his unwillingness to face the issue squarely — instead of facing up to that which is being done in the brotherhood and defending it, he asks questions to seek if possible to find some inconsistency in the attitude of the opposition to prejudice the issue; (2) his unwillingness to assume without equivocation the affirmative relation to the controverted matter which is logically his; (3) his effort to justify huge brotherhood promotions by hypothetical, borderline possibilities; and (4) his uncertainty as to the strength of his own position. The men who have instituted "our brotherhood cooperations" are obligated to affirm that they are scriptural. Unless they are able to sustain them in this fashion they should abandon them. Those who oppose them are obligated to examine all affirmative arguments from the Scriptures and show that they are invalid, hence do not sustain such cooperatives. If they cannot do this, they should cease their opposition. Brother Warren's attempt to place those who sustain a negative relation to the question in the affirmative by asking questions is a trick as old as controversy. Satan first used it in his discussion with mother Eve over the question of eating the forbidden fruit. Said he, "Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of any tree of the garden?" (Gen 3:1. In the "Life of John S. Sweeney" (Sweeney's Sermons), there is a letter from this venerable debater of days long gone (pgs. 58, 59) setting forth his views regarding debating. His sentiments on the matter of refusing to occupy anything but one's logical relation to a question in discussion should be read by every preacher who proposes to debate. Hear him:

"Do you ask me what is to be gained by being thus particular to have the issues clearly stated? There is a good deal to be gained by it. In the first place, the man who affirms a negative, or affirms on an issue to which he practically and logically sustains a negative relation, always puts his cause at a great disadvantage in debate. All experienced debaters understand this . . . . I have had men of large experience and great ability as debaters to insist on my affirming in a discussion of their practice, just that we might have an equal number of affirmatives in a proposed debate. I shall never do that again (I have done it), without my mind undergoes a very great change."

Brother Warren believes his "Total Situation" argument resolves the issues now confronting the churches. It is either so, or it is not so. He either proves his point, or fails to prove it. His attempt to put the negative in the affirmative through questions is but an admission of the weakness of his argument. This is our answer to Warren's questions.

Summation Of Warren's Argument Divested Of Camouflage

Laying aside the complicated and confusing discussion of "total situations" and "constituent elements," Brother Warren's argument may be summed up as follows:

Major Premise: Any work over which a church assumes oversight regardless of its inability to sustain the work and the relationship of sister congregations to it becomes the exclusive work of that congregation.

Minor Premise: Churches (plural) may help a sister church (singular) do her own work. Conclusion: Therefore, a church (singular) may assume oversight of the evangelism of the entire world and all other churches may send her their funds for the accomplishment of this task.

Brother Warren has (as previously stated) accepted the logical conclusion of his contention before many reputable witnesses. Despite all the talk involving the purchase of a lot by a church, her inability to finish paying for it, and the right of sister churches to come to her rescue, the real issue lies in our analysis of Warren's argument. The issues in the brotherhood are over such huge promotions as those of Broadway Church, Lubbock Texas, Highland Avenue, Abilene, Texas, and Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee. The programs of these churches involve a general evangelism to which all churches are equally related. The right of these churches to become centralized agencies through which all the churches function in fulfilling their divine obligation to "preach the gospel to the whole creation" is the issue. That Warren utterly failed to touch top, side, or bottom of the issue, we need not tell you. Let him address himself to the proof of the syllogism given above.

Summarizing Our Review

We could have answered Brother Warren's argument in one short article by showing that he failed to establish a vital link in his chain of the whole. We trust that wading through the slush of so much of Warren's sophistry has not wearied the reader. The following is a summary of the points made:

(1) Warren's proposition is evasive of the issue. It does not present the "total situation" endangering the peace and unity of the church of God.

(2) The major premise of Warren's base syllogism is not necessarily true in the realm of the philosophical or moral. I am in receipt of sort of an open letter from Brother Roy E. Deaver (co-framer of Warren's argument) accusing me of denying the mathematical proposition, "The whole is equal to the sum of all its parts." Since Brother Deaver has delegated his argument to Warren for presentation to the brotherhood, he should be content to allow him to prosecute its defense. Brother Deaver apparently reads very carelessly. I have not denied that the "whole is equal to the sum of all its parts." In mathematics, it is true that "the whole is equal to the sum of all its parts." However, as Deaver and Warren adapt this principle to a philosophical argument it is not necessarily true. Too, they overlook three words in the proposition: (1) "whole"; (2) "sum"; (3) "all." They refuse to recognize the force of "sum." They demand that each part be considered separately. They do not have "all" the parts. More about this later.

Levi Hedge ("Elements of Logick") divides evidence into two classes, "moral" and "demonstrative." (Pg. 70)

"The evidence employed in reasoning, is deductive, and is distinguished into two kinds, which are, moral and demonstrative. Moral evidence is that species of proof, which is employed on subjects, directly or indirectly connected with moral conduct . ... Demonstrative evidence is that, by which we trace the relations, subsisting among things, in their nature immutable, like the subjects of geometry and arithmetick."

Warren proposes to subject a moral matter to demonstrative proof. He bases his entire contention on a mathematical proposition. This may sometimes be done, but more often, it may not be done. A mathematical formula is not always valid in the moral realm. In mathematics, the subjects involved (number, quantity) are susceptible of exact measurement and definition. They are never variable. In moral matters, this is not true, hence our objections to Brother Warren's major premise.

Since Warren has submitted his contention to demonstrative proof by employing a mathematical proposition, he is obligated in the development of his argument to recognize and submit to the laws governing the presentation of such argument. Levi Hedge says further:

"In every process of demonstrative reasoning, the proofs are framed into one coherent series, each part of which must have an intuitive agreement with that, which goes before, and with that, which follows it. The longest geometrical demonstration is but one uniform chain, the links of which, taken separately, are not regarded as so many arguments; and consequently, when thus taken, they prove nothing. But taken together, and in their proper order, they form one argument, which is perfectly conclusive." (Elements of Logick, p. 73.)

For this reason, we have throughout our review ridiculed Warren's demand that his "constituent elements" must be considered separately, "a single point it a time."

(3) The proof of Warren's premise has many glaring fallacies. We have cited: (a) his ambiguous use of terms; (b) the fact that a vital link in his chain of inductive proof is wanting; (c) his constituent elements as they relate to things which he actually defends but neglects to affirm in his proposition are not true. The fallacy of inductive evidence generally lies in some fact (?) which is suppressed or understood. Warren's induction is no exception to this rule. The link he suppresses is simply: Whatever work a church assumes oversight of becomes its own exclusive work without regard to its ability to perform it or the relation of other churches thereto. The only attempt Warren makes bordering on the proof of such is the presentation of an inadequate hypothetical possibility. He offers no scriptural proof either by command, example, or necessary inference. This link is the one thing that "centralized control and oversight" advocates have never been able to establish. It is the thing they have always assumed to be true without scriptural proof. Warren does the same. For this reason, we have insisted from the beginning that Warren's argument is not new. It is simply a camouflaging of the old with a new dress of many words.

In a few words, we can analyze Warren's argument in this fashion: (1) It does not present nor does it affirm the "whole," "total situation." (2) It does not contain "all of the parts," "constituent elements," of the "total situation." (3) The "total situation" is not the "sum" of all its parts, for the parts are never properly joined together. They are considered only "a single point at a time." We, therefore, chose to call this series, "Round and Round the Mulberry Bush or Thomas B. Warren's Monkey Business."


We cherish the hope that Warren's articles and this review will rivet the attention of thinking brethren upon that which is involved in the "cooperation controversy." When a thinking "brotherhood" sees the logical import and irresistible conclusion to which "centralized control" advocates are forced, it will rise in opposition to such. We have contended from the beginning of this controversy that, had the Lord intended for congregations to pool their resources and act as one through a single agency, he would have provided the organization through which thus to act. The absence of such an organization in the New Testament is prima facie evidence that such is not the will of the "Head of the church." We have further contended, and yet maintain, that the organization inheres in the right thus to act, hence if the Lord commands us to "cooperate" in the sense of pooling resources and acting as one in general evangelism and benevolence, any righteous and feasible organization devised by the cooperating parties to expedite the work is acceptable in the sight of God. This was the argument made by Campbell, Lard, McGarvey, Milligan, Pendleton and others, and it is perfectly logical. Our brethren who accept what they call "cooperation" today as a thing commanded of the Lord have no logical or scriptural basis for an objection to the MISSIONARY SOCIETY devoid of its abuses.