We Must Watch Our Language
(Firm Foundation, June 23, 1959)
We recently heard this statement, and later saw it in print: "We do many things for which we have no Bible authority nor do we need any." This statement was not made by a Roman Catholic. It was made by one of the brethren.
We feel that the speaker did not intend to imply all that this statement implies; nevertheless it is a loose statement, and one unworthy of the restoration principle. Since the statement is being repeated, and printed, we feel it incumbent to speak a word of caution.
It is generally agreed that there are three ways of proving a practice scriptural: (1) Direct command; (2) Necessary inference; and (3) Apostolic example. In the past it has been universally accepted among us as right that if a thing could not be proven to have the authority of the Scriptures under one of these three rules it had no place in the work and worship of the Lord's church.
Though not specifically mentioned, the use of a baptistry is justified upon the basis that an arrangement for baptizing is inherent in the command to baptize. The use of a Bible school arrangement is justified because it is inherent in the command to teach. The use of song books is justified through the command to sing, etc.
One of the cardinal slogans of the Restoration Movement was: "Where the Bible speaks we speak: where the Bible is silent, we are silent." While this slogan has admitted limitations, it effectively set forth the intent of brethren to go back to the New Testament for every rule of faith and practice.
We feel that it is a repudiation of this principle to say that "we do many things for which we have no Bible authority nor do we need any."
If the church is at liberty to do anything for which it has no Bible authority, then it may with reasonable grace do everything with no Bible authority. The Bible is either our only rule of faith and practice, or else it may be disregarded altogether. If we need no Bible authority for doing a single thing, then we need no Bible authority for anything we may want to do. If this be the case, why have a Bible anyway? There can be no Halfway Ground.
Are we reaching the place where "tradition and the voice of the church" may dictate what we may or may not do? If so, then we are no better off than are the Roman Catholics. We believe that God's word is still the plumb-line, and men do not bend the plumb-line to fit the wall; they straighten the wall to fit the plumb-line. Our only right to existence as a religious body rests squarely upon our willingness to accept the New Testament as our only rule of faith and practice. If it is true that we may "do many things for which we have no scriptural authority, nor do we need any," then we might as well give up any effort to get others to give up their practices for which they have no scriptural authority.
We feel that the above mentioned example is a token of our greatest present danger — that of opening the flood gates to every questionable practice in an effort to prove that we are not too legalistic or creed bound. We do not believe that any such language is in harmony with either the teaching of the Bible or the spirit of the Restoration.
Are The So-Called Christian Colleges Church Schools? Pryde E. Hinton, Dora, Alabama
In the minds of thousands of Christians they have been church schools — "our schools" — for many, many years. I called attention to this as much as 20 years ago. No matter what they actually were then, thousands of church members called them "our schools" in the denominational sense.
On April 26, 1946 the Board of Trustees of Alabama Christian College, Montgomery, Alabama, adopted the following policy:
"It was unanimously decided that the board change its ruling on accepting unsolicited donations from congregations. It was decided that the school accept any unsolicited donations from churches. It was emphasized that no donations be solicited from any church at any time." This is the way Brother Rex Turner quoted this adoption to me.
I am not able to understand why it is wrong to solicit donations from congregations, if it is all right to accept unsolicited donations from churches. If it is right to accept donations from churches to build and maintain such a school, it is right to not only solicit those donations, but to teach all the churches to do that which is right.
It is sad to see men who once stood squarely for a "thus saith the Lord" in all things become so entangled in circumstances that men of power become essential to them and their work.
When the men from the King of Moab came the first time to Balaam, he knew he could not go with them, and still please God. But he entertained them a second night, and said: "that I may know what the Lord will say unto me more". That "let the cat out of the bag" — when men want the Lord to say "MORE" than His Word says, they need to pray David's prayer in Psalms 19:12-14. We all need this prayer, every day, every hour. Jeremiah 10:23 would help, too. Also, try 1 Cor. 3:18.