By Weylan Deaver
[Editor’s note: This review originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of Sufficient Evidence, the journal of the Warren Christian Apologetics Center].
The Bible Only Makes Christians Only and the Only Christians. By Thomas B. Warren. Glasgow, KY: National Christian Press, 1986. 217 pp.
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. It is an honor to review, in part because my grandfather, Roy C. Deaver, is one of the preachers to whom the book is dedicated.
As an accomplished debater, Warren knew the power of precision. His terms and propositions are sharply defined. His arguments are cogent and unambiguous. 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. Those used to hearing anemic religious claims may be shocked at his vigorous writing, ignited by his understanding of just how high the stakes are: Every reader will spend eternity in heaven or hell, based on his relationship to the church of the New Testament. Warren wrote to win souls, not to entertain.
The book is composed of eleven parts which are divided into thirty-seven brief chapters. It ranges over epistemology, ecclesiology and soteriology. Firing both barrels at the denominational concept of the church, Warren leaves it unable to give more than a dying gasp. 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. Those who agree with Warren will applaud his contribution. Those who disagree will find precious little with which to defend themselves against the relentless case he builds. None will have difficulty seeing exactly where he stands.