Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 17, 1961

Authority In Religion --- A Review

J. Wiley Adams, Fairmont, W. Va.

Having read the editorial in the Bible Herald, March 1, 1961 issue, I wish to comment on a point or two with which I am at disagreement with the editor. The fact that we disagree should not mean and does not mean that there is personal animosity between us. To quote the statement on the back of the issue mentioned above, "Brethren may differ through our columns, but they write about ideas, not about one another." Therefore, I wish it to be fully understood that this disagreement is not about brother Inman but is rather concerning a disagreement of "ideas."

The particular part of the editorial under consideration is this: "But what about Acts 20:7? Does not this example bind the first day of the week observance upon Christians? No. No one could learn his obligation to keep the Lord's supper from Acts 20:7 alone."

This statement alarms me very much. First of all it would seem that there is a question raised as to the day of the week on which the Lord's supper is to be observed. Then, it would seem on the other hand that a different question is under consideration, namely, whether or not we have an obligation to keep the Lord's supper. These are not the same question. Surely, Acts 20:7 is not an exclusive reference as to whether or not we are obligated to keep the Lord's supper. There is an abundance of scriptural references that establish that obligation. It takes all of these references to give us God's complete revelation on the matter of the obligation of observing the Lord's supper. However, the real point at issue in the editorial is not made clear. If it is meant that the obligation to partake of the Lord's supper is not limited to the information in Acts 20:7, we will agree on that point. If it is meant that the day of the week on which we carry out the obligation is not exclusively indicated in the passage, we will not agree. In fact this may be regarded by anyone who reads this as a challenge to produce one, not two, but just one passage other than Acts 20:7 that teaches a Christian on what day the Lord's supper is to be observed. There is none. You will not find it. This passage (Acts 20:7) indicates that it was the practice of the church to "break bread" on that day, the first day of the week. We may need to resort to other passages to fully comprehend the meaning of the expression "to break bread" but that is not the case with the phrase "on the first day of the week." There is no other passage to which we may refer. Of course, in 1 Cor. 16:2, the first day of the week is mentioned but there it has reference to the giving of one's means. The Lord's supper (breaking of bread) is not under consideration.

Once in talking with a preacher of the Free Will Baptist Church, the matter of the communion came up. That church, of course, observes the supper four times a year. This is done at their quarterly meetings at which time they also practice foot-washing. In maintaining the position that we are obligated and restricted to the first day of the week as the time of observance of the Lord's supper, I used Acts 20:7 as my one and only passage to prove it. That sectarian preacher did not regard Acts 20:7 as being exclusively binding either. He resorted to 1 Cor. 11:26 and said it didn't matter which day or the number of times a year but "as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup" that we were to do it with the right intent of heart. His position was at least consistent. The consequence of his rejecting Acts 20:7 as exclusive authority as to the day led him to accept any time as acceptable on the basis of 1 Cor. 11:26. We also used this reasoning when I was in the Christian Church and practiced Thursday night communion. But the consequence of the position taken by brother Inman is that Acts 20:7 is not binding exclusively but he believes that we are bound to take the Lord's supper on the first day of the week and does not give another passage to prove it.

This position strikes a blow at the very principle of Bible authority. To ignore or to discount the authority of such verses as Acts 20:7 in the absence of additional passages on the same subject is to give equal right to ignore or discount the authority of other passages of scripture. Such right does not exist. To presume to have that right is a sin of presumption. Such reasoning shows a basic change of attitude toward the Word of God and the authority of His Son. Such a position was taken by a very brilliant young preacher of our own number not too long ago and his position on Acts 20:7 was one of the several changes in his thinking that led all the way to the Modernists' camp. He is now preaching for the Unitarians.

Inasmuch as Acts 20:7 is an approved example (shown by Paul's failure to censure it) of the disciples at a particular place "breaking bread" on the first day of the week and since this is not a specific command, nor a necessary inference, then it must follow that an approved apostolic example is binding and in this case exclusively so because there is no other passage to which we may refer concerning the observance of the Lord's supper on the first day of the week. If there is such a passage, where is it? If there is none, the passage is the exclusive authority for the practice.

The editorial continues a little later on with the statement, "by all means I believe that observing the Lord's supper on the first day of the week is bound upon us...." May I ask upon what other passage or passages the editor bases this belief? I believe that statement also, but I believe Acts 20:7 is the sole basis for such belief. We cannot both be right. Would the Bible Herald editor be so good in his next article as to give us the book, chapter and verse for his belief? "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God...." (I Peter 4:11a)