Vol.XV No.IX Pg.5
November 1978

God's Word Needs No Human Additions

Robert F. Turner

(continued from previous page)

And because application of scriptural sufficiency may be painful, we sometimes paint our motto upon the wall, then seek ways around it. "This is expedient (profitable)," we say. We may judge that infant membership makes for "ties" that will profit the church in the long run. Or, the use of an organ will draw larger crowds, and prevent our being thought a bit "strange" or unusual. We can "do more for the Lord" we judge, if we develop an organizational structure better "suited to this age." In all these matters, human judgment is presented as superior to divine wisdom. If God has spoken on the subject for baptism (and He has — Mk. 16:15-16) then we may rest assured that only the taught who believe are fit subjects. To speak where God is silent (re infants) is presumptuous sin. And if we can see that point on infant baptism, why can we not see it on music in N.T. church worship, or church organization?

Expedience is no law. A thing can be considered expedient only if it is first proven lawful; and there are things lawful which are not expedient (1 Cor. 6:12). Surely human judgment is not equivalent to divine mandate. God has not abdicated His throne.

Another effort to negate God's silence is to seek shelter under some generic command. It is oft cited, and true, that a generic (general) command such as "go" or "teach" also authorize methods of carrying out that command. God does not specify that we must "go" by mule, etc., so we are free to "go" by plane, auto, etc. We have no quarrel with this. But "go" authorizes methods of locomotion. "Go" authorizes methods of travel. It does not even authorize preaching, or handing out tracts; when you get wherever you are going. Authority for that must be found in "teach." And neither of these generic commands are authority for church organization. We have long conceded that "teach" does not authorize a separate "Sunday School" organization; what makes some think it authorizes a separate Benevolent Society, or a combine of funds and executive functions under some "sponsoring church"? God has spoken on the matter of church organization: independent, autonomous local churches under their own elders, and operating within their ability. He is silent regarding any other organization, and we must respect His silence.

Then when someone says, "He didn't say NOT to do it;" you know this person has flatly repudiated the principle of "Silent Where the Bible is Silent." To be consistent they would have to expect God to say, "Do not" to every wrong possible in the universe. On this basis, when they send their child to the store for a loaf of bread, they would have to say, "Don't get onions, catsup, candy, etc " naming every item in the store. But the parent who speaks with authority can name what he wants, and that is it. Should we expect less of God?

The wise respect God's authority. They have confidence in the completeness and adequacy of His revealed will. If He has spoken upon a matter they seek to learn what He has said, and abide within this boundary. They believe, "The Lord is in His holy temple —" and they keep silence.