Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 5, 1950

Logic According To James D. Bales

Roy E. Cogdill

The prolific writer who heads the Bible Department of Harding College at Searcy, Arkansas, informs us that he is writing a book—another one—on "You Can Think Logically" and I am anxiously awaiting its publication. It happens that with a family to support and other obligations which must be discharged, I do not have the Opportunity to enroll for his instruction in logic at Harding and maybe the book will be a solution to my problems. Of course, I have Hedge's Rules of Logic, and McKelvey on Evidence but brother Bales has about convinced me that these authorities are about out of date or perhaps never were any good. I suggest that the title of his new book should be "I Can Think Logically" since his brand of logic seems to be peculiar to anything else that ever has been recognized and since he thinks no one knows anything about logic but him.

The position which he so completely demolished in his first reply to my article some months ago will not stay demolished and he has been put to the trouble of writing one or two articles every week to try to keep it demolished until it appears that even his brand of logic would compel him to see that he didn't do as good a job the first time as he promised to do and maybe thought he did. In almost every issue of the Firm Foundation he is still working devotedly at the job of demolition.

In the Firm Foundation of August 29, 1950, in an article headed, "Establishing An Error By An Error," brother Bales offers this:

"There is a perfectly legitimate form of argumentation wherein an individual takes something in another persons position and establishes his own position by the same principle which that other person has used. When an individual does this he is not maintaining that the particular position, in the other persons argument, which he uses is wrong. Instead, he grants that it is right, and upon the basis of a point or principal which they both hold in common, he goes on to show that the position which he holds—but which is contested by his opponent —is also right."

He gives two examples of this method of proof—Matt: 9:12, and Matt. 12:10-13. But neither the method which he describes or the illustrations of it he has selected is parallel to the attempted use by brother Bales. The method of proof is all right but his attempted use of it, if that is what he had in mind, is ridiculous.

In his first article he argued that it is all right for one congregation to gather funds from all the churches with which to do evangelistic work under their own oversight and control when they are no more responsible for that work or obligated to do it than any other church. He was attempting to "demolish" the proposition that one church cannot assume or be delegated the control and oversight of a program of work for all the churches when the Lord's will is that they should be equal in their responsibility toward it. He wrote in denial of the proposition that no church can delegate its responsibility for oversight of a work it is obligated to do to another congregation and simply become a contributing congregation.

In his articles he offered in support of his contention two instances of this particular method of proof which he is now discussing, he claims 1) the music hall meeting which the Norhill church held in Houston, her own city, in which other congregations of that city contributed; 2) Lufkin supporting brother Luther Blackmon at Rusk, Texas.

There is no possible parallel between either of these incidents used by brother Bales to justify his position and the method of proof he claims he was trying to use. His reasoning goes wild again in this latest attempt to justify himself.

The principle is: there is New Testament authority in approved example for other churches having fellowship with one church in a program of work in its own community (among its own members) and under the supervision of its own elders. Other churches contributed to the work of the Jerusalem church in relieving the need of its own members. I Cor. 16:1-2. II Cor. 8 and 9.

The music Hall meeting was a work by a church in its own community under its own eldership in which other congregations had fellowship. It therefore comes within the scriptural principle.

The work of Broadway in Lubbock and other like congregations in soliciting funds from all of the churches everywhere to enable them to do a work of their own community and for which they are no more responsible than any other church is wholly without scriptural authority and therefore wrong. There is no example for it in the New Testament and the only effort brother Bales made to find one he has abandoned, viz., the "diocesan" oversight of the Jerusalem elders over the whole program of benevolence for the "brethren in Judea". We have offered to let him affirm his position in a written discussion with brother James Adams and try to prove that it is scriptural and we will print it in the Gospel Guardian but I predict that he will not undertake the job even with all the advantage he has in "logic".

Where is the parallel then? It doesn't exist. There is none. He is left once again with the facts that he tried to justify an unscriptural practice by one that he thought was just as unscriptural, if neither was, but that even he was mistaken.

He is no better off in the instance of Lufkin supporting Rusk. He presumed a parallel here because he was not careful to ascertain the facts. When we pointed out to him that Lufkin exercised no control or oversight of brother Blackmon's work in Rusk but simply supported him just as Philippi supported Paul, he was not fair enough to admit his misrepresentation of this point but still seeks to justify himself and leave the wrong impression about it. The fact that he leaves the names out in his reference to it in the last article does not make it any more logical or honest, neither of which it is.

The very first rule which he needs to emphasize in his own logic and in his new book as well is—be honest and fair with even an opponent.


In a second article in the Firm Foundation of September 5, 1950, headed "A Strange Syllogism" we are treated to the Bales brand of logic again. (I can hardly wait for his book to see what class this belongs to.)

In this article he quotes from my article of May 11, 1950, in the Gospel Guardian and accuses me of illogical thinking. Well, I do not pretend to be a professor in logic and have not contemplated writing a book about it as if I were, but when it appears that I can't beat what brother Bales does, I will quit trying. If I am not logical, and I am not discouraged just because of brother Bales' charge, at least I can fairly represent an opponent and he seems to have a hard time doing even that. His article reads in part:

"The writer is at work on a book entitled "You Can Think Logically". Examples of illogical thinking are being gathered. These examples are being taken from various publications an on several different subjects. Religious papers furnish one sometimes with examples of illogical thinking. Here is an example. Let us learn from it to check carefully our own thinking, as well as .the thinking of others.

"He also believes that it is right for the elders to contribute out of the church treasury to any cause which they deem to be righteous'. That certainly includes the missionary society. According to brother Brewer there isn't any need for the Broadway elders or any other eldership to try to act as a missionary society for the whole church, rather let them organize a missionary society and relieve themselves of the burden." (Roy Cogdill, The Gospel Guardian, May 11, 1950, page 9, column 1, paragraph 1).

In examining the logic of another it is sometimes very helpful to reduce the argument to a syllogism * * * Thus the syllogism is as follows:

It is right to contribute out of the church treasury to the missionary society.

The missionary society is a righteous cause. Therefore, it is right to contribute out of the church treasury to any righteous cause.

Now, whose conclusion is this? Is it the conclusion which is endorsed by the one who quotes Brewer or by Brewer? To settle that point you will have to determine who it is that maintains that the missionary society is a cause which is deemed to be righteous. Did Brewer say that it was a righteous cause or one that they ought to deem to be righteous? Who said that it certainly includes the missionary society? Not Brewer, but the one who quoted him. Does he deem it to be a righteous cause? If so, then could he contribute to it without going through the church treasury?"

Brother Bales should be able to beat that before he even writes the introduction to the book which he is preparing on logic. His "sillygistic" reasoning is astounding. Maybe I can help him even as illogical as I am. Let me try.

1. Brother Brewer affirms that it is scripturally right for the elders to contribute out of the treasury of the Lords church to any cause which they (the elders) deem to be righteous.

2. The elders of the Lord's church could "deem" even a missionary society to be a righteous cause.

3. Therefore according to brother Brewer it would be scripturally right for the elders of the Lord's church to contribute out of the treasury of the church to a missionary society, if they "deemed" such to be a righteous cause.

Now, even brother Bales should be able to see whose conclusion it is that was reached. Neither brother Brewer or brother Bales would have any right to raise a question about such a contribution being scriptural if the elders considered it righteous. This is Brewer's proposition and that the missionary society cannot be ruled out of it is evident. The power to decide whether or not it should receive a contribution lies with the elders according to the proposition. Does brother Bales endorse this position? Will he defend the right of the elders to determine what is right or wrong and bind himself to their authority. If he is going to defend Brewer, he will have to defend this position because Brewer signed it. If he doesn't believe it, what is wrong with a man who will not say so when he writes about it?

Brother Bales is not competent to write a book on logic or what the New Testament teaches on these matters either that would be worth reading. If so, he has utterly failed to demonstrate it. He reads carelessly, thinks crooked, and is unreliable in his representations. He needs to correct all three before he writes another book on anything or does much teaching also.