By Wayne Greeson
In the July 9, 1985 issue of Firm Foundation, under the paper’s question column, Roy C. Deaver responded to the following request submitted by a reader, “Would you please discuss Galatians 6:10 and 2 Corinthians 9:13 in relation to the ‘Saints Only’ doctrine? I am enclosing some material for you.” Deaver’s response involved a lengthy review of the material sent to him, although the author of the material was never named. Throughout his article, Deaver jousts with this unknown author in an attempt to prove that Galatians 6:10 and 2 Corinthians 9:13 support the proposition that the church may provide benevolence to those who are not saints. This article endeavors to expose the false reasoning and unsupported arguments used by Deaver in his attempt to support his doctrine.
Setting Up A Strawman
Deaver begins his review by charging his anonymous opponent with failing to either set up an “argument” or proving his case that “Galatians 6:10 is addressed to the individual saints and not to the church.” However, it appears from those portions that Deaver quoted and by his lengthy refutation that both an argument and proof were offered. The reason Deaver makes such a charge is apparently due to his fascination with “formal arguments” in syllogistic form. In his writings and in his debate with brother J.T. Smith, Deaver persistently presents his arguments in syllogisms. Apparently, Deaver concludes that any argument that is not set forth in a syllogism is not an “argument,” and neither true nor “proved.”
Deaver exalts form over substance. An argument does not have to be in the form of a syllogism to be a valid argument and its conclusion true. Likewise, simply putting an argument into a syllogism does not make its conclusion true. Jesus did not have to argue in syllogisms to make a valid argument of truth (see, Mt. 22:15-46). What must be examined to determine whether or not an argument is true is its substance, not its form. And God’s Word is the final court of appeal for truth in matters of religion. This was always Christ’s criteria in examining arguments. Christ’s response to a lawyer trying to test Him was “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” (Lk. 10:26)
Once Deaver denies the writer he is reviewing had “set up an argument,” he proceeds to set up the following syllogism for the writer and then he reviews the syllogism he creates!
Major Premise: All passages which authorize the performance of acts, and which passages make specific reference to individual acts to be performed exclusively to individual Christians, are passages which authorize the indicated acts to be performed exclusively by the individual Christian – not by a church.
Minor Premise: Galatians 6:10 is a passage with authorizes the performance of acts and which passage makes specific reference to individual Christians.
Conclusion: Galatians 6:10 is a passage which authorizes the indicated acts to be performed exclusively by individual Christians – not by a church.
With a strawman argument of his own making set up, Deaver concludes summarily that “The major premise is false! Therefore, the conclusion is not demanded by the premises.” Deaver is right. His syllogism is wordy, cumbersome, ambiguous and a mere strawman, a false argument which misrepresents the position he proposes to review.
Deaver’s major premise is false! Because a New Testament passage of Scripture authorize individual Christians to perform certain acts, the same passage does not necessarily preclude the church from performing the same acts. Other New Testament passages may provide authority for the church to perform the acts. If the remainder of the New Testament is silent concerning the church performing these acts, then the church is not authorized to perform these acts. The New Testament passages which authorizes individual Christians to perform certain acts do not preclude the church from performing those same acts; the silence of God precludes the church from acting!
For example, while 1 John 3:16-17 authorizes individual Christians to provide for other Christians in need, it does not preclude the church as a collective to provide for Christians in need. There are several other New Testament passages which authorize the church to perform this action (Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-39; 6:1-6; 11:27-30; Rom. 15:25-31; 1 Cor. 16:1-2; 2 Cor. 8-9; 1 Tim. 5:16). If the New Testament did not contain these passages then the silence of God would preclude the church as a collective providing for Christians in need.
Deaver devotes one of his two arguments beating the straw out of this strawman. Deaver quotes the writer he is reviewing as supporting the view that Galatian 6:6, “Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches,” instructs individual Christians to support preachers. Deaver goes on and argues, “Then, amazingly enough, the writer says: ‘Other scriptures teach the collective (emph. mine, RD) may do so.’ Note again: ‘Individual support of preachers. Other scriptures teach the collective may do so.’ Then, it is clear that authorization of individual action does not exclude or preclude authorization of congregational action! And, this gets to the very heart of ‘antiism.'”
In actuality, Deaver’s argument gets to the very best of his false major premise and reveals the argument he sets up as a strawman. If Galatians 6:6 authorizes individual support of preachers (this writer does not believe that is the subject of consideration), then it does not preclude the authorization of church support of a preacher, since such authority is clearly found in several other passages such as 1 Corinthians 9:1-14 and Philippians 4:10-18.
Because Deaver’s statement of the “anti” argument is a strawman of his own making with a false major premise, I propose a valid and true statement of the argument:
Major Premise: A New Testament passage which authorizes individual Christians to act does not authorize the church as a collective body to act.
Minor Premise: Galatians 6:10 is a New Testament passage which authorizes individual Christians to act.
Conclusion: Galatians 6:10 is a New Testament passage which does not authorize the church as a collective body to act.
The True Heart Of The Issue
Deaver’s arguments do not deny that the minor premise above is true, that Galatians 6:10 authorizes individual Christians to act nor does he deny that Galatians 6:10 is an instruction on individual responsibilites. Deaver writes, “The Book of Galatians is addressed to ‘the churches of Galatia’ (Gal. 1:2). Certainly, it is the case that congregational responsibilities will include individual responsibilities. I, therefore, will expect to find in the book certain reference to individual responsibilities. However, such references do not mean that these references have no application to congregational responsibilities.”
Deaver admits that although Galatians is addressed to “the churches of Galatia” that certain passages in the letter instruct on individual responsibilities and by inference he indicates that Galatians 6:10 is one such passage.
While Deaver agrees that Galatians 6: 10 is an instruction to individual Christians, he asserts that Galatians 6:10 also provides authority for the church as a collective body to act. The major premise above sets forth the very heart of the argument and Deaver’s article. Deaver argues for the exact opposite of the major premise and pronounces the following “rule”: “All passages which authorize the performance of an act – based upon the peculiar grounds of one’s being a Christian – are passages which apply with equal force both to the church and to the individual Christian. . . . If Galatians 6:10 authorizes individual Christians to render physical assistance (benevolence) to a deserving, needy, non-Christian, then Galatians 6:10 authorizes the church to render physical assistance (benevolence) to a deserving, needy, non-Christian.”
Deaver appears to reason that since passages which authorize certain kinds of individual action do not preclude authorization of congregational action, then those passages do provide authority for congregational action. Deaver’s conclusion does not follow from his premises. Because a pasasage does not preclude congregational action, it does not follow that the same passage authorizes congregational action.
Deaver’s argument is the equivalent of those who seek to use instruments of music in worship of God. The Christian Church preacher can truthfully argue that Ephesians 5:19 authorizes singing and does not preclude instrumental music. But it does not follow that Ephesians 5:19 provides authority for instruments. While Ephesians 5:19 does not preclude the use of instruments in worship, the silence of God in the New Testament concerning instruments in worship does preclude them.
Likewise, while Galatians 6:10 authorizes individual Christians to act, Galatians 6:10 standing alone does not preclude the church as a collective body from acting. But neither does Galatians 6:10, a plain instruction to individuals, provide any authority for the church to act. God is silent in the New Testament regarding the church providing beinevolence to non-Christians and this silence is authoritative in precluding the church from taking such action.
Guardian of Truth XXX: 5, pp. 144-145
March 6, 1986