Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 18, 1957
NUMBER 49, PAGE 8-10a

Authority For Expediencies Again

Marshall E. Patton, Birmingham, Alabama

The reader is referred to "Expediency Again" elsewhere in this issue before reading this article. The reader is also referred to another exchange of articles between Brother Haddow and me which appeared in the December 6, 1956 issue.

In my former article I pointed out that "our primary difference is over HOW to establish authority for matters of expediency." The difference remains the same. Brother Haddow's current article, however, evidences some progress. It also shows his confusion and misunderstanding of truth to be greater than we first thought. However, as long as he evidences the spirit that is characteristic of his articles thus far, we shall try to be patient, repeat, emphasize again, and elucidate further. I do believe that a lack of understanding respecting generic and specific authority which involves a study of authority for expediencies is the cause of many of our ills today.

The following quotation from my former article shows the basic difference between us and at the same time affirms the truth on the matter under study:

"His mistake is revealed by his effort to establish `some other authority' for expediencies. His article affirms that authority or, to use his term, the 'right' to use expediencies is established by whatever human judgment deems expedient. He affirms a 'Law of Expediency' and explains it to be mere 'human judgment.' Hear him: `God allows human judgment the right to select the best available aids or enabling means, which of course. are not sinful in themselves.' THIS IS NOT SO! Human judgment on the part of many people says that the piano is an aid. The piano is not sinful in itself. Thus, his 'Law of Expediency' would permit the piano in worship as an aid. What is wrong with his 'Law of Expediency'? It makes human judgment the criterion. It does not recognize ALL divine limitations! According to Brother Haddow the expediency establishes the law. Just the opposite is true. The law establishes the expediency. His statement is true ONLY when 'human judgment' is exercised WITHIN an authorized realm. Whatever is used as an expediency must first be established by authority. Not all things deemed expedient by human judgment are lawful. Whatever expediency is used, even though it be not sinful of itself, must first be authorized — it must be lawful. (I Cor. 6:12; 10:23.) The expediency must be WITHIN the particular realm authorized. Any thing deemed expedient that is outside the particular realm authorized is without authority. To use such is to act in an 'Area of Silence.' As I have shown in my former article. this is sinful! Human judgment in service to God is circumscribed and bounded by the law of faith. When will we learn that we walk by faith every step of the way? (II Cor. 5:7; Rom. 10:17.)"

In the above quotation I pointed out that Brother Haddow's "Law of Expediency" will permit the piano in worship as an aid. He made no effort to reply on this point. In his current article he affirms the same thing all over again. Does he not see that his position allows instrumental music in worship? Tell us, Brother Haddow, do you believe that instrumental music in worship is sinful? Do you believe the piano is in the realm of expediencies? If not, then tell us why? In my former article I gave my reason for rejecting it: "Instrumental music cannot be expedient because it is not in the realm of 'sing.' It is in another realm of music, and there is no authority for any other realm of music in worship." Your only reply was, "Is that the reason an instrument cannot be used?" Since you reject my reason, I insist that you give one. I press this point because until we learn that unless we establish scriptural authority — something more than "human judgment" — for expediencies we will have to accept many consequences that I do not believe my brethren are prepared to accept.

Nature Of General Authority

Brother Haddow fails to understand clearly the nature of generic authority. Paragraph three of his article shows that he has learned that specific authority is exclusive; that there is a definite distinction between the two realms, "material" and "tools," with reference to building the ark, and that specific authority for one does not apply to the other. He was greatly confused concerning these matters in his former article. Hence, some progress has been made and his confusion has cleared somewhat. Now, if we can make clear the nature of generic authority, perhaps we will see more progress.

Generic authority is inclusive. Remember, according to Webster, general authority includes each and all of the class, kind, or order under study, though not precisely stated nor revealed. Generic authority and specific authority are established in the same way — expressed statement, approved example, and necessary inference.

For the tools Noah used in building the ark we have scriptural authority. It is established by the word of God which says, "make thee an ark." (Gen. 6:14.) Thus, the word of God necessarily implies something with which to do the making. That something we call tools. Thus, the word of God authorizes the use of tools in building the ark. HOW? Not by approved example; not by expressed statement, but by necessary inference. Since this necessary inference comes from the word of God, we have Bible authority for it. This authority is generic because it includes everything that is within the particular realm under consideration, namely, tools. In this way, in my former article, I gave Bible authority for Brother Haddow's "oak mallets," "pine ladders," etc. The only authority Brother Haddow gave was "human judgment." I have shown, however, that "human judgment" is limited to — must be within — the particular realm authorized in the word of God.

In paragraph four Brother Haddow, perhaps unwittingly, admits this very thing when he says the expedients in the realm of "tools" were "chosen solely by Noah's own judgment," and then immediately adds, "he had the right to do just that." Brother Haddow, where did he get this "right"? Who gave him this "right"? Does not his "right" to use his judgment equal authority to use his judgment? When you establish his "right" to use his judgment you will have established authority to use his judgment. This "right" or authority is established by general authority in the statement "make thee an ark" by way of necessary inference. Furthermore, you circumscribe and limit the use of "Noah's own judgment" when you say "he had the right to do just that — and nothing else — in this whole realm of expediency." Thus, you limit the use of "Noah's own judgment" to "this realm of expediency." What realm of expediency? The one authorized of course, namely, tools! Thus, you admit that "Noah's own judgment" was limited to the particular realm for which he had divine authority. If, however, you mean by the expression "solely by Noah's own judgment; and he had the right to do just that — and nothing else — ," to exclude the Bible authority for the use of tools by way of necessary inference in Genesis 6:14, then you are wrong. The "right" or authority to use his judgment comes from this verse. Furthermore, his judgment was limited to "this whole realm," namely, "tools," as you have admitted. This is what I have affirmed from the beginning, namely, the use of human judgment in matters of expediencies must be restricted to the particular realm authorized. This is also the meaning of I Corinthians 6:12; 10:23 as I shall show in another section of this article.

A failure to recognize the inclusive nature of general authority accounts for Brother Haddow's confusion in paragraphs eight and nine of his article. He says, "if he means Noah may select only an 'authorized' tool, of 'authorized' wood, etc., he has me confused again. If he leaves this to human judgment, it is clear." I have shown that every tool used by Noah was authorized by generic authority in Genesis 6:14. No tool was specified, but every tool used was authorized! The whole realm of tools was authorized. There is a difference between "specified" tools and "authorized" tools. All specified tools are authorized, but not all authorized tools are specified. If the tools had been specified the authority would have been specific, and, therefore, would have excluded everything except that specified. Instead, the authority was general, and, therefore, included any and every tool human judgment deemed expedient. Observe, however, that whatever tool human judgment deemed expedient was first authorized. The exercise of human judgment was within an authorized realm. Thus, we establish Bible authority for "tools." This authority, like all authority for expediencies, is general, and, therefore, inclusive.

On every point that involves a consideration of general authority, Brother Haddow confesses confusion on his part. Perhaps it would help to clear his confusion, if he would define for us "general authority." Explain its nature! Tell us how it is established! Give some Bible examples of such! It seems that the only Bible authority Brother Haddow recognizes is specific. In this his position is like the "Antis." On the other hand he affirms a realm of action for which he recognizes only human judgment as authority. In this his position is like the "digressives." The truth lies between the two extremes. Bible authority is both specific and generic. There must be Bible authority, either specific or generic, for all that we do. (Col. 3:17.)

In paragraph ten he asks, "Is the waving of the song director or the blowing of the pitch pipe, "in the realm of sing"? Yes, Brother Haddow, it is! Just as "make thee an ark," by necessary inference, authorizes "tools," so "sing" on the part of a group, by necessary inference, authorizes both "pitch" and a "director." A group cannot sing together unless someone pitches the song, indicates time, etc. Since both "pitch" and "director" are authorized, and nothing respecting each is specified, all that is within each realm may be used at the discretion of human judgment. This, however, does not authorize human judgment in an unauthorized realm. For example, Ephesians 5:19 says "making melody." This can be done by singing or by playing. The same verse specifies singing, and, therefore, excludes any melody not made by singing. Thus, we have established Bible authority for "pitch" and "director" and all that is in each realm. In the same way general authority can be established for the other things mentioned by Brother Haddow.

Expediencies — Matters Of Faith

Brother Haddow fails to recognize expediencies as matters of faith. This is evident throughout his article, but especially in paragraph two. That expediencies are matters of faith is evident from Paul's statement "All things are lawful." (I Cor. 6:12; 10:23.) Brother Haddow seems to think that the expression "All things are lawful" means that anything deemed expedient by human judgment is lawful. (See paragraph nine of his article.) This is wrong! Paul taught no such thing. In fact, he taught just the opposite. Brother Haddow missed Paul's point entirely, reversed his meaning, and consequently reached false conclusions.

Some things are lawful and some are unlawful. The "All things" under consideration here were "lawful." That means there was law for them. The "All things" under consideration were within the province of law; otherwise, they would have been unlawful. Whatever was expedient was IN the "All things lawful." Whatever was expedient among the "All things lawful" was determined by human judgment and that which "edified." Since whatever was expedient was IN the "All things lawful," it was of faith. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Rom. 10:17.) Things not of faith are outside of "All things lawful," or the word of God, which makes things lawful. Yes, Brother Haddow, Paul did add "if authorized." Not in these words, but that is the meaning of "All things are lawful." The only things under consideration were lawful, hence, authorized. For you to imply that the "All things" in I Corinthians 6:12; 10:23 included something unauthorized is to imply that which is false. Expediencies must be of faith authorized in the word of God.

The tools used by Noah in building the ark serve as a good example of this. Remember, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Rom. 10:17.) Since I have shown scriptural authority for the whole realm of tools by way of necessary inference from the Bible statement "make thee an ark," every tool in the authorized realm may be used by faith. That is what I meant in my former article when I said "When will we learn that we walk by faith every step of the way?"

Matters of faith divide themselves into two classes — general and specific. In the general class we exercise human judgment or choice. In the specific class we exercise no judgment — we have no choice. Until we learn that human judgment is limited to the realm for which we have general authority and that expediencies are of faith, human judgment will continue to run wild, false conclusions will be reached, and innovations will be all the more in evidence. Brethren, we must have Bible authority for expediencies!

Organization — Not Method

Brother Haddow fails to distinguish between an organization and method. In paragraph six Brother Haddow denies that God has "specified the how, as to the care of orphans" implying that this is an issue. If so, I am unaware of it. Furthermore, I challenge Brother Haddow to name the fellow or fellows who affirm an exclusive method or how for the church in caring for its needy! Such ought to be identified and "marked." To imply that the issue is over church methods is to misrepresent the issue. On this point I quote from my "Answers" to "Some Questions" in the January 31, 1957 issue of the Gospel Guardian:

"The issue is one of organization. Is the church all-sufficient? Can not the church of today do what 'the church at Jerusalem' did in caring for the widows of Acts 6, namely, select their own method? Or must such widows be cared for by another organization? Remember this other organization with its overseers (board of directors, etc.) must do the same thing that God's overseers must do, namely, select some method of care. Both organizations use methods! If the human organization is used, is it not a reflection upon the all-sufficiency of God's institution? Cannot God's overseers select a method that will be just as good as that selected by the overseers of the human institution? We must be careful to distinguish between methods and institutions.

"The `Digressives' argued that the missionary society was only a 'method' by which the gospel was preached. However, the board of directors of the missionary society had to do exactly the same thing that God's overseers had to do in executing the great commission, namely, select methods. Those acquainted with the digression of a century ago know that the great burden on the part of gospel preachers was that of showing our digressive brethren that their auxiliary organizations, societies, institutions, etc., were not methods. These like the church, had to select methods for executing the work under consideration. 'It hurts me beyond expression' to see otherwise faithful gospel preachers of today pressing upon the brotherhood organizations that are dividing the church of our Lord and seeking to justify them exactly as the "digressives of old — calling them methods. Perhaps many are unaware of this similarity, but it is true, nevertheless."