Faith And Expediency
Faith is based upon testimony, upon the word of God. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Rom. 10:17.) Matters of faith are those things upon which God has spoken. There can be no faith where there is no word of God. In this manner God controls and God's word regulates. God's word sets forth all the essentials in a perfect system to the extent that a Christian "may be complete, thoroughly furnished to every good work." (II Tim. 3:16, 17.) If the word of God is followed, the inevitable result is unity. One is not permitted to set aside God's word and apply human judgment in its place. Those who perverted the gospel brought upon themselves the anathema of God. (Gal. 1:8, 9.) This would be true concerning God given doctrine or example.
The gospel plan of salvation is plainly revealed in the New Testament. The same may be said about the church. In work and service, in administration and government, in setting up and carrying out its own program, the church is local — not universal. To go against this God given plan is to pervert the word of God. The acts of worship, among which is congregational singing, are given in the New Testament. Singing is a specific word and excludes the use of mechanical instruments of music in the assembly of worship. To insert the instrument into the worship, even as an aid to singing, is to violate the word of God. Duties of the Christian life are clearly revealed.
Connected with the meaning of "kingdom" is rule. But there can be no reign of God where there is no law. The New Testament is "the perfect law of liberty." (James 1:23.) The application of human reason in place of and instead of God's law is nothing less than treason against God.
The Bible completely gives all the essentials, but all things are not matters of faith. Certain decisions and activities fall into the realm of expediency. Thayer defines expedient in his Lexicon as follows: "To bear or bring together . . . . To bear together; to carry with others; to collect or contribute in order to help, be profitable, be expedient." (pg. 597.) The whole idea is a concerted effort and act (all, together) to attain and bring about that which is most profitable, beneficial and advantageous for those involved.
Matters of expediency include those necessary things about which God has not spoken but has left to human judgment. A quotation from Alexander Campbell is in order here: "The scriptures clearly define the articles of faith, acts of worship and principles of morality. However, there are many things left to the discretion of the congregation. They are not to take the place of nor determine the meaning of the articles of faith. But many things which are circumstantial to the gospel and of vital importance to the well-being and prosperity of the kingdom are left to the laws of expediency. Such as the multiplication of the copies of the apostolic writings and their distribution.... Printers and book binders were unknown to the apostolic writers, as were mail service, railroads, steam engines and telegraph. The New Testament gives no precept or precedent for building or renting buildings or meeting houses, baptistries, the Lord's table and many things of equal value, such as the time of assembly on the Lord's day for worship.... But the question arises, who shall ascertain these? The law of expediency is the law of adopting the best present means of attaining any given end. This is a matter which the wisdom and good sense of individuals and communities must decide. It cannot be a standing revelation. All must be one in decision in faith but men will always disagree in matters of expediency.... The law of love must prevail." (The Christian System, pp. 97,99.)