The motto was “speak where the Bible speaks, be silent where the Bible is silent.” Its has a long history in my church tradition. It became a rule for interpreting the New Testament which was viewed as though it was a legislative law establishing a once-for-all fixed pattern for the way the church was to worship and be organized. I don’t know about you but I find it a bit ironic that this motto–which can be found no where in scripture and yet calls for silence where the Bible is silent–has held such sway over the way the Bible was read.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Christians who believed this motto was biblical, did so because of their love for God. But the truth is, this motto and the form of legalism it created has helped effect much division and that for a movement which began in pursuit of unity among all Christians. Instrumental music in worship, Bible schools, multiple communion cups, orphan homes, paid/located preachers, and so on…
All of these issues have been the catalyst for division in churches and among Christians. In each case, the opposing side claimed that those supporting ________ had no biblical authority to do so because ________ was found nowhere in the New Testament. All because of a motto that became a rule.
So given the fact that this motto cannot be found in scripture, where should we place it? Among human traditions? I’m afraid so and it’s time to call it what it is, a “…deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this word rather than on Christ” (cf. Col 2.8).* And indeed it is since it has been this motto more so than Christ which has determined the way Christians served God.
Here is a video of Rick Atchley, Preaching Minister of The Hills Church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX demonstrating the fallacy of this motto and the hermeneutic of silence it instructs:
My intention with this post is not to be unnecessarily critical but to stand up for freedom in Christ! “Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: ‘Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!’?” (Col 2.20-21).
* All scripture is taken from the New International Version, 2011.