Let’s Start at The Very Beginning!

Hello yet again, dear Internet family!

 

After having dealt as best as I could with this past week’s midterm exams at Palomar Community College, I have returned to engage in the Blogosphere! 🤠

 

Without further adieu, please allow me to set the stage for what this post is gonna be about…😉

 

Ok, so…

 

Earlier this semester, I got hold of a copy of this book!

 

New Essays in Philosophical Theology

 

(Sure, yeah, valid point…it was originally published in 1955 & is currently 64 years old– but I’m still very excited about it 😁 )

 

While reading that book, I was pretty recently reminded that one of the dudes mentioned just below that book’s title (i.e. Dr. Antony Flew) once participated in the following set of debates:

 

 

  • and which you can also watch via YouTube!

 

 

Recently, I entertained myself by re-watching some videos within that series of debates & was reminded that I happen to have a copy of one of Dr. Thomas Warren‘s books–

 

Voila!

 

triumphant bible only book pic

 

(And, just for good measure, 

 

Farther back Bible only book

 

there’s one more pic 😉 )

 

Now,

 

being one who likes to listen (in contemplative prayer mode) to theology and philosophy related podcasts/videos/and-so-on when I take evening walks with my family’s dog Maddie,

 

I suspect that it’s in large part because I recently worked through all 15 well-crafted videos of

 

 

that I’ve been inspired to give my ol’ college try at doing a chapter-by-chapter review and analysis of that aforementioned book from Mr. Thomas B. Warren– “The Bible Only makes Christians Only and the Only Christians”.

 

As the book itself is divvied up into 11 parts & contains a cumulative amount of 37 chapters, here’s what I’m thinking (my tentative plan)–

 

  • this here will be the introductory post (I’ll tell you a very brief version of my history with this book & with being cognizant of its author, I’ll tell you some quick things that seem important to know about the space-time matrix of the book & its author, and lastly I’ll tell you some of my initial thoughts on the title of this book); 
  • then, in the next post, I’ll provide a quick(ish) memoir of my relationship to the Bible (so that you’ve got a better idea of where I’ve come from with regard to Christianity, where I’m at with regard to Christianity, and where I hope to travel toward in my Christian journey);
  • and then, I’d like to try to challenge myself to keep to a limit of but 1 post per each of the 37 chapters of Mr. Thomas Warren’s book (this project might take me a while 😂, but I hope you’ll enjoy whatever new posts I can–time permitting–produce on this subject 😇).

 

Now, before we proceed with the content of this introductory post, lemme rewind a bit to  share this pic with you that I shared with my Instagram fam a lil’ while ago:

 

Screen Shot 2019-10-11 at 11.51.55 PM

 

Moreover, lemme queue up the latest dank tune from the fantasmagorical Electric Light Orchestra (a single from their soon-to-be-released new album!!!):

 

 

Ok, we’re all set– you buckled up & ready to rock-n’-roll? 😎

 

A Very Brief Version of My History 

with This Book & with Being Cognizant of Its Author

 

I forget when exactly I got hold of my copy, but I’ve had it for about as long as I can remember…

 

Maybe I picked it up from someplace within my MeeMaw & PawPaw’s bookshelves during some past vacation in Texas?

 

(The aforementioned couple were my maternal grandparents– splendid saints, both of them. To my recollection, PawPaw was one of those really rare great salesman who would ask his prospects to lunch and did his best to get to know you so that he might be able to better serve you…rather than burden you with things you didn’t need. And MeeMaw…MeeMaw was a retired public school teacher, a mother of 4, and an eventual grandmother of 9– Dougie, Mikayla, and Gracie; Hunter and Bee; Sam & Dylan; plus my younger bro Josh and I. One of my favorite collection of memories with MeeMaw? Sitting outside the oldest house of MeeMaw & PawPaw’s that I recall during rainy afternoons– we would sit in the porch outside on a rocking bench and listen to the pitter-patter of the glorious rain atop the tin roof…and she made such fine chocolate cookies too! But I digress 😂😉)

 

Now, if I were going to draw up a Super Duper Quick Summation of Church History (which I did! drumroll please),

 

My Summation of Church History

 

both my maternal and paternal sides of the family share in a religious background which can be traced back to the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement.

 

I’m speaking about “churches of Christ” (sometimes referred to as “CoC” or “CofC”)– like unto the Duck Dynasty clan 🤠😎

 

Except that,

 

whereas the Duck Dynasty clan’s congregation happens to permit such practices as musical instruments in corporate worship sessions & drinking alcoholic beverages,

 

I happen to have grown up within another sub-church-of-Christ congregational style that most often gets described as

 

“non-instrumental / acappella-only” (which, to say the least, has become for me–as one passionate about music–a situation which has helped me become a good sight-reader…but also has inspired me to ask questions like “Why do congregations divide over musical instruments?” & undertake years of prayerfully studying the perennial debate over whether to use musical instruments in corporate worship sessions is an ok, a good, or a bad thing to do)

 

and “non-institutional” (that is to say: although the various rationales will quite likely differ depending on who you ask, those within this CofC tradition typically don’t agree with congregational funds being allocated to support parachurch organizations [e.g. colleges, organized mission efforts, orphans’ homes] and typically also oppose the construction of fellowship/dining halls & gyms/recreational-spaces within church buildings).

 

Oh yeah, and this congregational style is also known for using grape juice (a reflection of a deeper commitment to abstain from alcoholic beverages) and crackers (rather than using leavened bread) during weekly Lord’s Supper (a ritual which has also been nicknamed, e.g.: Communion, Breaking of the Bread, Drinking of the “Wine”, Eucharist, and/or Mass) observances every Sunday morning– moreover, rather than opting for using but one cup/container for everyone to drink from during Lord’s Supper observances (as some CofC traditions do), I should probably also mention that this CofC tradition I’ve grown up within likes to go about distributing the grape juice within multiple plastic cups.

 

All this has been said to unpack what I meant a few moments ago when I said that

 

both my maternal and paternal sides of the family share in a religious background which can be traced back to the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement.

 

As well, I had thought it was fitting to paint a picture for you about my family’s religious background so that this bit from earlier–

 

I forget when exactly I got hold of my copy, but I’ve had it for about as long as I can remember…

 

Maybe I picked it up from someplace within my MeeMaw & PawPaw’s bookshelves during some past vacation in Texas?

 

–would hopefully make a bit more sense.

 

And now, to touch on the “being cognizant of [the book’s] author” bit from the title of this section…

 

I’m wracking my brains to recall…but I’m thinking I had begun to read this book from Mr. Thomas Warren back when I was 12 or 13, with occasional spurts re-visiting it just about every subsequent year– and I’m now 22 going on 23 (my goodness, time doth fly!).

 

Even though I’m not related to him (at least, as far as I know), I think it’s safe to say I’ve liked to think of Mr. Thomas Warren as a great-uncle or a grandfather type of figure.

 

To date, I haven’t read much else from Mr. Warren except this one book in question– but, to my recollection, I have at least looked at the Wikipedia article named after him a bunch of times & I have watched at least watched through the Flew-Warren debate a couple of times in the past.

 

And ooh!

 

Come to think of it, here are:

 

Some Quick Things That Seem Important to Know About

the Space-Time Matrix of The Book & Its Author

 

To begin with, “The Bible Only Makes Christians Only– And The Only Christians” emerged into copyrighted form as of 1986 (i.e. 33 years ago, from my space-time context in 2019) by an Arkansas Corporation known as “National Christian Press, Inc.”.

 

Let’s consider some praise for the book, shall we?

 

During October 10th of 2013, Mr. Weylan Deaver (a grandson to Mr. Roy C. Deaver, who was one CofC preacher to whom Mr. Thomas Warren had dedicated his book) wrote this article in which he expressed– for instance, that:

 

  • “Thomas B. Warren was a premier Christian philosopher of the twentieth century, and his influence in apologetics is still felt. More than a theologian and philosopher, he was a gospel preacher. And what happened when he turned his logician’s mind to the subject of the church was a book titled The Bible Only Makes Christians Only and the Only Christians. In this case, the title really does say it all, and serves as the book’s central thesis. Its focus is neither the existence of God, nor the deity of Christ, but, rather, an all-out defense of the uniqueness of the Lord’s church.

 

  • With a rare combination of facts, force and feeling, Warren demonstrates concern for souls while marshaling the muscle of Scripture to wield his thesis with the subtlety of a sledge-hammer.

 

  • “With an arsenal of logic and hermeneutics, he operates as a biblical surgeon, severing denominational from divine doctrine, cutting away the cancer of religious creeds, exposing the healthy tissue of a body nourished by Jesus’ blood because it is governed by naught but the simple New Testament.”

 

  • “Warren did not intend his thesis be refuted, and this affects the style with which he wrote. His arguments and analysis benefit from verbal precision, repetition, and the inclusion of numerous Scripture citations. Those same qualities can also be tedious (chapter 35 repeats much of chapter 26), but, in this case, with Warren treating a topic so vital to us all, we affirm unhesitatingly that the tedium is worth the trouble. This is not light reading before bedtime. Nor is it for the spiritually spineless who cannot abide the staunch claims of Scripture. But, for the reader truly interested in discovering or defending the church about which the apostles preached, then this book is a veritable tour de force on the composition and uncompromising stance of the church of Christ.”

 

And, while we’re beginning to brew on such praise, let’s also consider some information about the author himself (Mr. Thomas Warren), shall we?

 

Screen Shot 2019-10-13 at 2.45.31 PM
(a snapshot taken by my computer from https://warrenapologetics.org/new-page

 

Here are 17 quick bulletpoints about the timeline of St./Dr./Mr. Thomas Bratton Warren:

 

 

Whew!

 

And now, let’s address some bulletpoints about some paradigms of thought to which St./Dr./Mr. Thomas Bratton Warren subscribed, shall we?

 

 

 

(For those of you who might be unfamiliar with the C.E.Ni. approach to Bible interpretation, and if you’re an Internet Surfer like me, you might like the following resources!

 

Here are a couple articles arguing in full support for C.E.Ni.– “CENI– A Biblical Hermeneutic” & “Rejecting CENI“.

 

Here are a couple articles proposing pros & cons of this way to interpret the Bible– CENI: Is It a Scriptural Hermeneutic? & Adapting the Churches of Christ to a World that Has Changed: How Do You Replace CENI?.

 

Lastly, here are some articles reasoning against using C.E.Ni.– CENI: Introduction, THE PLAGUE OF PATTERNISM, CENI: a hardline Church of Christ approach to Scripture, & “CENI: The Laws Behind the Curtain“.) 

 

  • Factoid #3/4: Mr. Warren was rather rigorous and solemnly strict when it came to his passion for the aforementioned Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement– he was the kind of guy who subscribed to the idea that non-instrumental (acapella-only) churches of Christ followed the firm and fixed New Testament “pattern” for Christian teaching, worship, and practice, whereby any divergences from the “pattern” would automatically expel an individual or entire communities from being legitimate followers of the Christ. To reiterate: he was inclined to think that loyal members of non-instrumental churches of Christ were the only legitimate Christians living within this earth.

 

  • Factoid #4/4: Mr. Warren was quite fond of brainstorming logical traps to use in his debates– for instance, once upon a time, Mr. Warren challenged Mr. Flew by asking “Which came first, a human mother or a human baby?”. Although Mr. Flew struggled with having been asked that question, Mr. Wallace Matson (a Philosophy Professor for the University of California at Berkeley)–when asked a similar question while debating with Mr. Warren at Florida during September 11th and 14th in 1978–cleverly countered by asking “When did Latin become French?” Therefore, one had to be “on the edge of one’s seat” when debating with St./Dr./Mr. Warren.

 

In sum, perhaps I might not be far off in suggesting the analogy that this man has probably been to (e.g.) the CofC tradition what St./Dr./Mr. Thomas Aquinas has been to (e.g.) the Roman Catholic tradition.

 

At least, that’s the sort of impression I seem to get from reading more about him– especially from those who are stringently committed to the non-instrumental and non-institutional CofC sub-group’s principles.

 

And now, it’s probably high time for me to try and address…

 

Some of My Initial Thoughts on The Title of This Book!

 

“The Bible Only Makes Christians Only & The Only Christians”…

 

Well, I’ve gotta hand it to Mr. Warren– that’s quite a bold thesis!

 

As a thesis, it certainly does feel like a powerfully thudding downbeat of a thought-provoking proposition!

 

Speaking about downbeats, this is just in– now I’m listening to this dank tune 😎:

 

 

It really is superb– I highly recommend music from these folks 😎!

 

But, at least within my own mind, it also seems to beg several questions…

 

For instance:

 

  • “The Bible”— I can make a few guesses as to how he would maybe define it, but I’m also curious about this: how would he go about trying to justify his definitions?

 

  • “The Bible Only Makes Christians Only”— I can also make a few guesses as to how he would define what it is to be a Christian, but I’m also curious: how would he go about trying to justify his definition of a Christian & how would he justify this claim? Because, just for one example, I can imagine some voice interjecting & asking questions like these: “Is the Bible one of the most important series of documents that have been produced in history? Totally! But what about tradition? What about reason? And what about experience? Don’t such things also play key roles in the lives of Christians?” As well, I can imagine another voice asking: “Well hey now– I’ll grant that the Bible is quite likely to be of tremendous importance in the life of any given Christian, but wouldn’t it be more proper to suggest that it is God that makes Christians?” In addition, another voice is going: “Ok, I can imagine that (using a figure of speech) the Bible can ‘make’ a Christian…but by the same token, by the same figure of speech, couldn’t it also ‘make’ an atheist, an agnostic, an ignostic, and so on? How could the claim that the Bible ‘makes’ Christians only be justified…at all?” And the thing is– the “voices” in my head are just getting started chattering away 😂

 

  • “The Bible Only Makes Christians Only & The Only Christians”— now, hearkening back to earlier (where it was discovered that Mr. Warren seems to have frequently argued that the only legitimate Christians are those who are loyal members of the oft aforementioned ‘non-instrumental’ and ‘non-institutional’ CofC sub-group), how might Mr. Warren go about trying to support his claim with warrants (again: that the only legitimate Christians are those who are loyal members of the oft aforementioned ‘non-instrumental’ and ‘non-institutional’ CofC sub-group)? Or wait: will there be any warrants at all? If so, how convincing will they be?

 

Now, because my plan for the next post in this series is to spend it being forthright about my journeying with the Bible, I don’t wanna make this post any longer than it needs to be…

 

So, I’m gonna wrap up this post with this announcement:

 

in future posts throughout this series, I probably will try to actually get into analyzing the logical structures and validity of the arguments which I expect Mr. Warren will provide along the way– and I hope to get into such details and communicate my findings well enough so that I can improve upon the skills which I’m learning in a Philosophy 200 Critical Thinking (aka Logic) class which I’m taking this semester.

 

To those ends, I’ll be drawing upon the works of Palomar College’s Professor Bruce Thompson– and, more specifically, I’ll be trying to work with the systems he outlines and explains within his composition on “Critical Thinking” & within his “Fallacy Page“.

 

So, in the future, be forewarned that I’ll probably be talking about all sorts of logic-y things like premisses and conclusions (as well as various valid and invalid forms these can take); middle terms, minor terms, & major terms; different kinds of valid and invalid syllogisms; and so on 🤯🤪

 

And the thing is that, because Mr. Warren seems to have been very much into logic, I must say that I feel obliged to look into the logic of what he says if I am to review his book with the respect it deserves– so, there’s my 2 cents on that matter 😉

 

Hope you’ll enjoy this series!

 

P.S. Oh yeah! You may have guessed where I got the idea for this post’s title– and if you guessed this…

 

 

you’d be correct (with flying colors)! 😉

 

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

 

As always,

  1. thank you for visiting;
  2. if you think people you know will like it, I’d be honored if you’d share it with them;
  3. may the gracious and peaceful force of God be with you always & may the odds be ever in your favor 😇🙏😎🖖

 

 

Yours sincerely,

— Weston (or: Gastun, your friendly neighborhood Christian Dudeist Priest)

 

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “Let’s Start at The Very Beginning!

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