Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 29, 1962
NUMBER 30, PAGE 4,12b

Respect For Silence Of The Scriptures

Robert C. Welch

Brethren need to learn again the proper respect for the silence of the Scriptures. When a division among the Lord's people occurred about a century ago, those who formed themselves into the sect which denominated itself the Christian Church had lost respect for the silence of the Scriptures. In their departure into a multiplying number of scripturally unauthorized practices, they searched for a dialectic answer against the scriptural opposition which brethren made to their departure. They came upon a piece of sophistry which tickles the itching ears of their sect.

R. M. Bell, president of Johnson Bible College, Kimberlin Heights, Tennessee, in his paper, The Blue and White, states their position well. In the January-February, 1962, issue he replies to a letter in this fashion:

"You refer to the many differences between the Church of Christ and the Christian Church, and then add, 'but it all boils down to respect for the silence of the Scriptures.' You are right. That is the problem that will have to be solved before we can have unity again. The Restoration pioneers solved the problem by agreeing that 'where the Bible speaks, we will speak; where the Bible is silent, we will be silent.' As long as that principle was observed, everything went along beautifully, and the Restoration Movement swept forward like a conquering army. Then somebody decided to speak authoritatively where the Bible is silent. The Bible was silent on the use of instrumental music, but someone spoke up and said, 'You shall not have it.' The Bible was silent about missionary societies. Someone else spoke up and said, 'You shall not have them.' The Bible was silent about Easter and Christmas. Someone said, 'You shall not have them.' It was that tendency to speak with authority where the Bible is silent that sabotaged the Restoration Movement."

Those who coined and first used that slogan to which he refers never had any idea of using it in such a way as these modem digressives are using it in their sophistry.

They never had any idea of its meaning that they were to remain silent without any opposition to practices which were unauthorized by the Bible. If so, they would have made no opposition to the practice of sprinkling.

If that had been their theory they would have made no opposition to the proud clergy system of that day. To them it meant, go no further than the Bible says go, do nothing which the Bible does not authorize. That was a man made slogan, however, and that is one of the troubles with anything which man may devise, no matter how correctly stated. These modern digressives have made a play upon its wording, as if such a perversion would justify their deeds. At the same time they are still unable to answer the scriptural opposition to their practices.

The Bible continues to say: "Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God: he that abideth in the teaching, the same hath both the Father and the Son." (2 John 9) And there is not one of these modern perverters of the above mentioned slogan who can get his instrument, society, Easter and Christmas around this passage. Bell tries to ride it in piggy-back on the meeting house. He conveniently forgets to mention the fact that according to the Bible, the church met, and that when it did so, It frequently met in a house. Hence the Bible does authorize the "meeting house" or "church house."

Many of those of his sect formerly tried to argue that the instrument and the society were authorized in the Bible. They failed, of course, but they realized at that time that it was essential to find authority for a thing in the Bible in order for it to be righteously practiced. Their half-hearted clinging to scriptural authority, however, has been repudiated by these modern leaders of the apostasy.

Brethren who are spearheading the present divisive movement are using precisely the same sophistic dialectics. They first tried to contend that the things they were instituting were authorized in the Scriptures. They are rarely ever, or no longer, attempting that now. The majority of them are saying that there is no New Testament pattern concerning the things they are doing, and that we have no right to speak out in opposition to their innovations. We readily agree, yea boldly contend, that there is no Bible pattern for their practices, and that it is for this reason we refuse their practices, condemn them, and try to persuade the people to cease the practices. Our opposition is not on the basis that the Bible specifically names the Herald of Truth, Gospel Press, Boles Home, etc., in its condemnation of the church's support of them. But our opposition is on the basis that such church supported systems are not contained in the "teaching of Christ," and that because of this those who practice such do not have God. These men who have their instruments, societies, benevolent homes, etc., are neither abiding in the teaching of Christ in practice nor vocally silent about that which they admit is not in the scriptural pattern. Both the century old digressives and the modern transgressors have violated the will of Christ as revealed in 2 John 9.

— 1102 N. Mound St., Nacogdoches, Texas