By Greg Gwen
During the recent Nashville Meeting, our institutional brethren frequently attacked the very basic hermeneutical principles upon which we have interpreted and understood God’s word. Specifically, they substantially rejected the concepts of approved apostolic example and necessary inference as being authoritative.
We want to deal with their rejection of necessary inference and its usefulness in the comprehension of God’s will. During the meeting in Nashville, our liberal brethren often asked the question: “Necessary inference: necessary to whom?” We believe that question can be very simply answered.
The American College Dictionary says that to “infer” is to “derive by reasoning; conclude or judge from premises or evidence. ” It further states that “inference” when used in matters of logic is “the process of deriving the strict logical consequences of assumed premises. ” In other words, when we discuss “inference, ” we are talking about drawing conclusions from available information or evidence.
The dictionary also defines “necessary” as “that which cannot be dispensed with.” In the realm of logic, and pertaining to propositions, we are told that “necessary” carries the idea “that the denial of the proposition involves a self-contradiction; that it is impossible for the premises of an (necessary) inference or argument to, be true and its conclusion false.” So then, “necessary,” when used in this sense, suggests something that is absolutely essential, unavoidable, and which cannot be denied.
So then, there you have it. The answer to our brethren’s question is easily answered by nothing more complex than a look at the dictionary for some simple definitions. “Necessary inference: necessary to whom?” The answer is; necessary to anyone who has a logical mind, who can read God’s word and use rational thought processes to reach conclusions. Simply put, necessary influence is necessary to everyone!
Multiplied examples of necessary inference can be shown from the Scriptures. For instance, Matthew 3:16 says, “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water.” Note that nothing is said about him going down into the water, but we necessarily infer, and rightly so, that if he came up out of the water he must have previously gone down into the water. This is simple, but it is necessary!
Other cases of necessary inference are more to the point. We have long taught that the authority for a church building is established by necessary inference based upon the command to assemble (Heb. 10:25). If saints must assemble, then there must be a place for such assemblies. Therefore, the command to assemble authorizes a meeting place – a private home, a public place, a rented facility, or an owned building. Such a conclusion is necessary, and anyone with a logical mind will not deny it.
It is rather amazing that our institutional brethren would even question us in these matters. Their arguments are actually self-condemning. These brethren use the Lord’s money to purchase church buildings – elaborate ones in many cases. If necessary inference is not authoritative, then how can they justify these?
It would be interesting, but rather sad, to see any of these brethren in a debate with a qualified denominationalist. Their own arguments against the concepts of approved apostolic example and necessary inference would explode in their faces. Of course, there is little reason for these brethren to engage in such debates, because the doctrine t ey teach is rapidly losing all distinction from that of the religious world in general.
Let us be sure that we are well grounded in all the concepts of Bible authority, and let us “speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11).
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 6, p. 179
March 16, 1989