Friday, April 03, 2009

NECESSARY INFERENCE, Prof. D.R.Dungan

Dungan says in his book on Hermeneutics that "Inference may be used, if legitimate." On page 91, he writes, "This is done by associating the whole number of things which are known, as to what else was done or said at the time, or in connection therewith...." A "necessary inference" cannot be properly arrived at by leaving out important information.

Dungan gives a number of examples from the Old Testament where certain things are ascertained by looking at all of the information given on the matter. Now this interesting because by you can determine that Lot followed Abraham into Egypt when Abraham went down from Canaan into Egypt. The Scriptures don't mention it, but it is inferred because the Scriptures do say that "So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, he and his wife and all that belonged to him, and Lot with him" (Gen. 13:1) According to the facts, we see that Lot went down and followed Abraham into Egypt. That is a "necessary inference".

When it comes to deciding the worship to offer to God that is pleasing to Him, we must consider:
1. Is it Old Testament or New Testament worship.
2. Is it offered to God according to the Truth.
3. Is it offered to God in the right spirit.
4. Does it add or take from God's Word.
5. Is it literal or symbolic.

Let's look at this one at a time. First. The New Testament is a new covenant and the Old has become obsolete with all of it's ceremony (Read the Hebrews letter, 8:6-13). You have to have a specific instruction from God if something from the Old is to be introduced into the Church. Second and third, John 4:23,24 says God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. If worship is introduced into the Church that cannot be established in the New Covenant, it is not "Truth". And if someone is offered "Truth" worship in the wrong spirit, it is still not pleasing to God. Fourth, singing in the Church does not add to the Word. Partaking of the Lord's Supper does not add to God's word. Taking up a contribution does not add to God's Word. Preaching from the Bible does not add to God's Word. Praying to God through Jesus Christ does not add to God's Word. But to add instruments DOES add. A lamb at the communion table does add. Preaching a Papal bull or human creed as inspired or equal to Scripture does add.

On binding "necessary inferences". When the church necessarily infers from God's command to "assemble" that it may meet in rented quarters, meeting in rented quarters is not bound on the Church. The church may also arrive at the conclusion that it may meet in a home. That would be fine too. Or the church may have donated to it (through member contributions) a building of its own. That is fine too but it cannot be bound on the church that it must meet in a purchased building. When the church necessarily infers from God's command to sing spiritual songs that it may compile and print a book of songs, it may not be bound on the Church that it must have a song book. It may instead determine that memorization of a few songs is God's will. That's not a problem but the memory method should not be bound on the rest of the Churches. There are often times many a number of ways to accomplish what God has implied be done. They may all be acceptable as "necessary inferences", but they cannot be bound so as to suggest that all other options are unbiblical.
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6 comments:

  1. Anonymous12:49 PM

    DM,

    Regarding Hermeneutics. The Church of Christ does not believe in eternal salvation. I listened to the teaching and rationale behind this teaching by the use of Hermeneutics. They base their position on the Greek logic called Hermeneutics. I have visited a Baptist church and they believe in enteral salvation. I listened to the Baptist preacher lay out his position by using Hermeneutics. Even the Greeks did not agree on the definition and use of Hermeneutics. There was more than one school of thought regarding this approach to logic. So even Dugan's discussion is suspect. Thanks for the authority but I have to question his orientation and his agenda as well.

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  2. As a former Baptist, one who was raised, educated, and deeply immersed in Baptist doctrine I can say that anyone who can read with understanding should see that their position on eternal salvation is wrong.

    It is true that many in the church misunderstand God's grace and constantly fear losing their salvation but that can be corrected by growing in grace and faith. That is, by coming to the understanding that works as merit are worthless, God just wants us to love Him, be led by His Spirit, and let his grace cover us when we sin. For the person who has partaken in God's grace and then turns to darkness, willfully spurning the Spirit there is great danger. Verses which clearly state this point are all throughout the Bible. This is why I say all one needs is the ability to read with understanding.

    On the other hand is the misundertanding of grace that says once you've been given God's grace you keep on gettin' it no matter what. The more you sin the more it abounds - eternal salvation.

    This can be corrected only by stepping away from the teachers and experts, who've used their greek and scholarship to make your head spin, and actually just accepting what it is you're reading with your own eyes. I can remember thinking that I could never be a Bible scholar like those Baptist professors and preachers because I would read these verses and not know how to explain them the way they did. I mean, it says on thing - clearly - but they could make it mean something else. I respected their ability until I finally came to the realization that I should just believe what is actually writtten.

    The truth is knowable, I think mostly it's just having the courage or humility to accept it.

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  3. Dear Quintin,
    The Baptist that bases his doctrine of "eternal salvation", "eternal security", also called "perseverance" has a poor hermeneutic. He does not follow the rules he claims to believe. As Duncan pointed out, to draw proper inference, you have to examine "the whole number of things which are known.” Sure Jesus says in the Gospel of John that no one can snatch the sheep from. His hands, and Romans 8 says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. These and other passages used by the Calvinist and others who believe "once saved, always saved,” do not imply that the sheep cannot remove himself from the grace of God. Sheep stray, remember. Dogs return to eat their vomit, remember. And remember, pigs return to the mud. The whole of God's Word shows that Israel, God's covenant people, turned away from God. And the whole of God's Word teaches that Christians do the same. There is another aspect of this to consider in the "whole" of God's Word. That is to say that "falling from God's grace,” yes the Scripture’s use those very words, is not easy. John says in 1 John 1 that sinful Christians are walking in the light and because they confess their sins, the blood of Christ continually cleanses them. And in 1 John 2, he says that we have an advocate with the Father when we sin. So it isn't a sin that separates us from God's saving grace. It is the wholesale turning away from God, the losing the first love, growing cold, shipwrecking our faith, that cause there to be "no longer a sacrifice for sins" (Heb. 6). See, Quintin, the Hermeneutic that you claim you heard from the Baptist preacher did not consider all of the facts. I wish you well. - Dan

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  4. Anonymous8:36 AM

    I don't think the Baptist would see it that way. And that is the problem. The Presbyterians, Catholics, Methodists, etc. all have their approach the Hermeneutics (the art of interpretation). Men of good faith doing their best but coming up with different answers. Since Hermeneutics is man's attempt to understand the will of God, we have to understand that there is a chance that someone is wrong. Of course, I am sure it is the other guy. Some humility is called for since we are not perfect. Or are some of us perfect and without error? Remember, the Hermeneutic (the art of interpretation) is a convention of man not of God.

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  5. Dear Anonymous,
    I don't think you can say that Hermeneutics is a convention of man. It is God who created the mind and language. Clearly there are rules to communicating and to being understood. So we are not going to give up on Hermeneutics because you say so, and because you seem more bent on defending those who are not following what the Scriptures say. It goes without say that we need humility here, but the facts are the facts and the facts show that the Baptist who believe in eternal "security" or "perseverance" are themselves leaving out some facts. Their Hermeneutics may be fine, but as Dungan said, the "whole" of what the Scriptures say must be brought into the mix. Thanks.

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  6. Anonymous,

    You said, "Regarding Hermeneutics. The Church of Christ does not believe in eternal salvation."

    You are incorrect. The churches of Christ certainly do believe in eternal salvation. I've never heard of one that doesn't. However, it sounds like you probably have an incorrect definition of the terms.

    You continued, "I listened to the teaching and rationale behind this teaching by the use of Hermeneutics. They base their position on the Greek logic called Hermeneutics."

    Concerning "Hermeneutics" the word is a derivative of the Greek mythological character, "Hermes,"(Mercury) the messenger of the gods and the interpreter of Zeus (Jupiter). He was said to make things clear. Through the years there have been a number of Bible scholars who have taken the time and effort to set forth, in writing, a systematic approach to the study and interpretation of the Scriptures. Actually, there are a variety of different hermeneutical approaches as you seem to alude to later. It is not something "owned" by the churches of Christ.

    The churches of Christ do not hold their positions on Scripture based on any man's hermeneutics. Instead they hold to a certain hermeneutic based on the position of the Scriptures. The Bible is THE guide to forming a proper hermeneutic.

    You continued, "I have visited a Baptist church and they believe in enteral salvation. I listened to the Baptist preacher lay out his position by using Hermeneutics. Even the Greeks did not agree on the definition and use of Hermeneutics. There was more than one school of thought regarding this approach to logic. So even Dugan's discussion is suspect. Thanks for the authority but I have to question his orientation and his agenda as well."

    You need to know that not all Baptists agree on the concept of eternal salvation. Your brush in this case is too broad.

    And concerning Dungan (Not Dugan), you may certainly question his orientation, or agenda, or however you put it. But that is really a waste of your time. His works stands on its own merits, and you are additionally in no position to question his agenda. You are not God and do not know his heart. And since he has long passed away you cannot ask him.

    Read his book all the way through and then see if you are able to biblically disagree with any of it. Perhaps you can then come back here for a worthy discussion.

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