By Ron Halbrook
Though it has not been called to our attention, we ourselves have just noticed an inadvertent misquotation from Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon which occurred during the recent Holcomb-Warnock) debate (see review in 6 & 13 March 1980 Truth Magazine). While pressing for the artificial covering on 4 December 1979, Holcomb presented a chart on 1 Corinthians 11:14 attempting to –show that “nature” (phusis) always means a “natural ‘instinct” which is “in us when we’re born.” Warnock protested that such an argument overlooks the diversity of applications for the broad term “nature” and leads to Calvinist views of such passages as Ephesians 2:3. The scholars testify to the breadth of meaning by listing several definitions and by expressing their judgment as to which passages fall under which of several definitions.
To show that Holcomb’s use of the scholars ignored this diversity, Warnock referred to Thayer’s list of four definitions. Explaining that “the word phusis doesn’t always mean the same thing,” Warnock quoted Thayer as saying, “what is learned by instruction and accomplished by training or prescribed by law . . . the native sense of propriety” (taken from tape; see also 6 March Truth, p. 11). The book was handed to him to read with those words hurriedly underlined in ink to help him find his place quickly, which may explain how he omitted the first words of the quotation. Adding the words which had not been underlined, the quotation reads:
nature, i.e., natural sense, native conviction or knowledge, as opp. to what is learned by instruction and accomplished by training or prescribed by law . . . the native sense of propriety (Thayer, p. 660).
We are sorry for the error and glad to get this correction before the public on our own initiative.
Please observe that (1) this correction does not materially affect our argument. Recognized scholars including Thayer show that “nature” is a broad term with several applications, and the scholars must exercise judgment as to its exact application in any given passage. For instance, Edward Robinson’s Greek English Lexicon uses the same words as Thayer – “native sense of propriety” – as follows: “a natural feeling of decorum, a native sense of propriety, e.g., in respect to national customs in which one is born and brought up; 1 Cor. 11:14” (p. 771). (2) We all need to exercise mutual acceptance and forbearance with mutual respect while we continue to study such questions from time to time. The caution flag must be waved before brethren who are so dogmatically sure about these matters of personal conscience that they call for discipline and division. (3) Publication of this correction on our own initiative proves that debates can be conducted while keeping the interests of truth and accuracy preeminent. Just as advanced copies of the original review were sent to Holcomb, so is a copy of this correction. Debaters need not aim to “score” on each other “by hook or crook” and we do not intend to ever be guilty of such skulduggery. Let us all keep open minds and open Bibles with respect for debate as a tool of open, honorable discussion!
(Garry Halcomb says the no-class Fox Glove church in Nashville, Tennessee, where he was preaching during the debate, is not also one-cup. The report of Gary’s having taken the no-class position was correct.)
Truth Magazine XXIV: 15, p. 249
April 10, 1980