By Myke Morris
When every other argument has failed those who defend unscriptural practices and the truth has them pinned to the wall so that in their hearts they know their error, there is one last resort which they state with confidence and so salve their consciences. “Common sense tells me . . .”; and so ends the discussion. This fiiaal “argument” has solved their problems because it is indeed without a logical answer!
I say it is an “argurnent” because this is how it is used. In reality, it is no argument at all but a premise. Webster defines a premise as “a proposition antez;edently supposed or proved as a basis (emphasis mine, RMM) of argument or inference . . .” A premise, therefore, is something that need not be proven because it cannot be proven! It is the basis of proof for an argument.
An argument is the logical process of proving a point. Given a premise we make an argument to establish that our conclusion is the truth. There is nothing wrong with argumentation or logic if it is done correctly. It is nothing more than the reasoning process every thinking creature employs. Paul used it on Mars Hill (Acts 2:2223) and before Felix (Acts 24), and it is used in every instance the gospel is righteously proclaimed.
In reasoning from the Scripture, we must adopt a premise. Our faith in the Living God provides all that is needed in this regard. If we believe that God is, we do so because of the special revelation of His Word. That the Bible is the truth is not therefore a premise but a logical conclusion based on the premise of God’s existence. From this one premise we reason “all things that pertain to life and Godliness.” In any Scriptural argument we make on any subject, the “premises” that we begin with are in fact logical conclusions arising from this one. Isn’t this the reason Paul defined faith as he did in Hebrews 11:1?
What are some of the “‘premises” that are in fact proven horn the starting point of our faith? “The Bible is sufficient in all things” (cf, 2 Peter 1:3); “Speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent” (cf u 1 Peter 4:11); “There is only one way to be saved” (cf. John 14:6). ‘These statements, and others, that sectarians would refer to as “the basic premises of Campbellism” are really nothing more than conclusions that are demanded by the logical process. True, we accept them because they are found in the Bible, but remember, we look to the Bible for what to believe because of our faith (our only real premise).
Now where does “common sense” fall in the list of premises? Is it proven by that one basic premise that we all accept? Beloved, it is proven false! “Common sense” originates with man. Its flaws are proven in that the “common sense” of the Watchtower Society says that God could never condemn men to eternal punishment! That of the Roman Church says that the church of God must have a universal head on Earth; that of the Baptists says that immersion in water is because of the prior remission of sins. And on ad infinitum! “Common sense” cannot be one of the good and perfect gifts mentioned in James 1:17! Isn’t it what the prophet condemns in Jeremiah 10:23?
There is one other reason that “common sense” is cited by the defenders of sin. It enables them to fling one last barb at the faithful child of God. I implies, “If you don’t agree with me, you don’t even have common sense.” Such prejudicial innuendos have no place in sound reasoning from the Scriptures!
Are any brethren guilty of this resort when they are stuck for an answer? Are there any among us whose religion is based in the crude, human trap of “common sense” rather than in the sound reasoning of the Word of God? Let us always strive, as did the apostles, to use the good gift of reason rather than the reproachful barb of “common sense”.
Truth Magazine XXI: 6, pp. 93-94
February 10, 1977