Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 29, 1956
NUMBER 46, PAGE 10-11a

Brother Warren's Human Reasoning And Professor Dungan's Hermeneutics

Bill Cavender, Cooper, Texas

To the present time the readers of the Gospel Advocate have been treated to two treatises by Brother Thomas Warren entitled "Cooperation Between New Testament Churches." Everything but the New Testament is found in them. By a sophistical system of involved human reasoning, Brother Warren has proven (?) it scriptural for the elders of a local church to be the agency through which, all the churches in the world may work in the fields of evangelism and benevolence. Churches everywhere may send their monies to this one group of elders and these elders have the right to "oversee" all phases of the work being done. He even concludes that one eldership could "oversee" all evangelists in all the world in their work. All of this proves that there is something new under the sun. Gospel preachers have taught for years that only Christ is the head of the universal body, that the universal church has no human organization on the universal level, that every local congregation of the universal body has its own elders, is equal to, and independent of, every other local congregation and that the elders of each local congregation can oversee only the work of the congregation of which they are elders. (Col. 1:18, ph. 1:22-23; Acts 14:23; 20:28; I Peter 5:2) Faithful brethren have argued that there is no agency on earth through which the universal body might act. Digressive brethren argued years ago that it could be done through the Missionary Society, and still be nothing but the church doing its work. Look where they are now! Now Brother Warren tells us that the universal church can act through a local eldership, and still be nothing but the church doing its work, but he doesn't quote any scripture or produce any approved Bible example. He assumes his point to be proven, and then on this assumption, he proceeds into a system of human reasoning that puts J. B. Briney and Isaac Errata to shame! 'Brother Warren has gone farther along on the road to Rome than any other Advocate apologist so far, and I, personally, hope and pray that it is still not too late for him to see the terrible consequences of departure and apostasy he has begun. And to top it all off, in both his articles he boldly asks brethren to answer and reply to his system of reasoning, when he knew at the time that the editor of "Old Reliable" would not dare to print any reply from anyone who would take issue with the Advocate's favorite hobby!

Years ago Professor D. R. Dungan wrote a book on Hermeneutics. This book is used as a text-book in some of the colleges operated by brethren. Hermeneutics is the science of interpretation, and sacred hermeneutics is the science of interpreting the Scriptures. In the book, Professor Dungan has somewhat to say concerning the system of logic (?) that Brother Warren has used to establish his proposition, the system of "the wish being father to the thought." In chapter 3, "Things Which Hinder A Right Interpretation of the Scriptures," and section 18. Professor Dungan says. "Using the Bible to prove doctrines is a great source of misunderstanding. The Bible is not a book with which to prove doctrines: It is the doctrine itself. Almost anything can be proven to the man who wants to find the proof. It leads to a wrong use of the Scriptures, so that, instead of searching them for whatever they may contain, the doctrines have been first assumed, and then the Bible is compelled into some sort of recognition of the position. (See Dogmatical Method.)"

In chapter four, "Concerning Methods," Professor Dungan deals with the Dogmatic Method, the kind employed in Brother Warren's reasoning. In section 34, he says, "(1) This method is noteworthy for two things: first, it assumes the doctrine to be true; and second, it regards it as certainly true by being proven. It proceeds by assumption and proof. We have found more or less of this in all the methods yet considered. It has been the rule that that which was desired to be found, was looked for, and, the conclusions reached were those that were desired at the beginning. Men have been able to find what they have looked for." He continues by pointing out that this method was begun by speculators and Christian philosophers during the Dark Ages, that it has been kept alive by the same power that brought it into existence. He says, "(3) ... But men and parties hold and teach doctrines nowhere found in the Bible, and they must do something to support their theories. To go to a plain reading of the word of the living God would be ruinous; hence, resort must be had to what is known as proof. The assertion is made, and then something is found that sounds like the position already announced. This is satisfactory to those who want the theory sustained." He points out that this method was begun in Catholicism and is continued in Protestantism. He also says, "(5) Truth has been found in this way .... in opposition to the method, rather than by it. A very honest mind will sometimes see that the proposition, though made by himself, is not sustained by the facts, and turn to that which is true; but it is the exception, and not the rule. He who has taken a position and made it public, is in a poor condition to see that his affirmation is not correct. He may see it, but he is not likely to do so ... Wishes and previous conclusions change all objects like colored glass, and convert all sounds into the assertions which the mind prefers to have made ... When Moses and Joshua went down the hill together and heard the children of Israel in their frolic around the golden calf. Joshua thought he could recognize the sound of battle in it. for he was a warrior. Moses had a different thought about it. They reached different conclusions, not because they heard differently, but because their minds were on different topics. So it is with most of us. If we start out to find some particular doctrine or dogma in the scriptures, we shall probably find it. It may not be there: there may not be anything on the subject; but we can find a hundred things that comport with that thought and hence conclude that it must be true."

He points out that by this method of interpretation a man may prove anything he wishes it exalts traditions and speculations of men to an equality with the word of God and that this method greatly hinders the unity of the Lord's people. ... We say that 'The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments furnish the only and sufficient rule of faith and practice so that whatsoever is not read therein. Tor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of anyone to be believed, or thought requisite or necessary to salvation.' It may not be 'read therein,' but if it can be proved thereby,' then it is to be continued in the church. Hence it will be continued, beyond any possible doubt. If proof is desired, proof will be found, and the doctrine will continue to be taught, and those who prepare themselves for the ministry will have to run the gauntlet of this doctrinal test. The Bible may know nothing about the doctrine, but it is kept alive by this method of assumption and proof."

"(9) The Bible is not a book of proof for doctrines, but is the doctrine of God itself to men. We are to go to God's book, not in search of our views, with the intent to find them in some way or other, but to go to it for what it has in it for us. Many of the interpreters of prophecy are prophets first, and then they go to the Bible to see if they can get the old prophets to agree with the new ones. Of course they always succeed. The man who fails to make out his interpretation, should be regarded as wanting in common genius. I am hopeful of overcoming this method, notwithstanding its strong hold on the people. All works on Hermeneutics of recent date condemn it.... The doctrine is assumed, or presupposed, and then everything is bent to give it support."

"(12) Liberalism is just as dogmatic as the most orthodox creed. They who boast of their liberality are, many times, the most narrow and unreasonable bigots. They are liberal while they differ from the old church authorities, and are perfectly willing that you should join them in their new views of inspiration, or of obedience to Christ, but they are unwilling that you should differ from them. Hence it is plain that they have reached their views without the tedium of the introduction of facts and the uncompromising use of logic, but have simply jumped to their conclusions without any such examination, and are determined that the rest of the world shall adopt their views of liberality. And those who are not able to do so are denominated 'legalists.' They may adopt as many forms as any others, and those too, that are not known to the scriptures? But when others fail to adopt their liberal ideas and still cling to the word of the Lord and the ordinances as they were first commanded, they are denominated bigots by those who are continually advertising their extreme liberality. This is the way dogmatists deceive themselves quite commonly. With them, the world is perfectly illiberal, because it will not adopt their dogmatic opinions. Dogmatism here is just what it is everywhere else, only the points assumed at the beginning, differ from those which have generally been regarded as orthodox; but the manner of maintaining them is just the same."

The Advocate writers cannot agree among themselves on just how to justify the sponsoring church promotions. May I suggest that they all get out their old sermon outlines, shake off the dust that's on them, and preach again those they used to preach on "the organization of the church." "...the all-sufficiency of the church," "walking by faith, and not by sight," and "according to the pattern," etc.

If brethren can learn again to not go beyond that which is written, to walk in the old paths, to demand and give a "thus saith the Lord," book, chapter and verse for every point of teaching, we can be one again as we were before these brethren introduced their sponsoring church arrangements.