Errors of the Church of Christ (16) – Hermeneutical Principle’s


Traditions of Men vs. the Word of God

“I, like most in the churches of Christ, was raised up on the notion that we must “restore” the first century church to present day America. It was something I never questioned, and just assumed (like most) that it was a biblical concept and goal. However, some years back I began a personal quest to confirm my beliefs, and I soon learned that many of my cherished convictions came more from my forefathers in the faith than from my Faithful Father! This notion of restoration of the first century church is one of them, in my view.”   —-Al Maxey

We have been told by a CC preacher that what unites the Church of Christ is hermeneutics (method of biblical interpretation) more than anything else. The formula used is “specific commandments, approved apostolic examples, and necessary inferences.” This is further clarified by the rule of “inclusions and exclusions.” This means, as we understand, that anything that is included in the New Testament must be obeyed; and anything that is not in the New Testament must be avoided, except those things which are deemed to be required or avoided by necessary inference. When they see other groups who fail these tests as they define them, they accuse them of practicing things that are “traditions of men rather than the word of God.” But are these formulas themselves traditions of men rather than the word of God?

1. Is there such a thing as Church of Christ doctrine? Here’s a testimony of a Church of Christ preacher who after for 40 years changed his mind on this: Church of Christ Doctrine.

RT- No, there is no such thing as a “church of Christ” doctrine. There might be in the minds of some people, but there is nothing to the terminology with which I have been associated. The only doctrine associated with the Lord’s church is that which is taught in the pages of the New Testament.

2. How do you know that biblical silence is prohibitive rather than permissive? Maxey on Silence. In this article, Maxey discusses the three most used Bible passages that are used to prove the “Law of Silence.” Your thoughts on this would be appreciated.

RT – I have no use for what Al Maxey says. If he is correct in some sentiments, that is great, but I will not read his words on this matter. To answer your question I offer the following: the nature of presumption. One presumes that God will accept something that He has not expressly said. For instance, can you KNOW that God will accept the use of the mechanical instrument in worship since God has not expressly said it is authorized? The question is: can you KNOW, not what you think. Another question: can you KNOW that God prohibits the use of prayer beads and prayers to Mary since the New Testament Scriptures do not address the issue, that is, expressly having forbid it? When the Lord instituted the Lord’s Supper, He followed the pattern as revealed in the Old Testament; in the New Testament, the disciples followed the pattern of the Lord. There is no prohibition against other elements pertaining to the Lord’s Supper; thus, since you inquire about silence and prohibition, what elements would you use? Why?

3. What about the so-called “Law of Silence” or the “Principle of Prohibitive Silence“—that is, not doing what the Bible is silent on? Isn’t this actually a fallacious  principle, as pointed out by Church of Christ preacher Al Maxey: Isn’t Maxey on to something when he insists that in the areas in which God has said nothing, that this is NOT PROHIBITIVE? Where in the Bible is this “law of silence” enumerated?

Could you give us a list of truths that God has revealed to his people by saying absolutely nothing about them?

RT – In things that pertain to God (religious worship and teaching), if the Bible is silent, by what hermeneutical principle do you have authorization to do what the Lord never addressed Himself on? You call it “fallacious”, but you did not say why. I will wait for you to tell me (us). 

4. Consider this example. Let’s say that a father has prescribed list of things for his children to do and not to do to honor him. He is insistent that he is to receive a greeting card on his birthday. They are to kiss him good night each evening. They are never to speak ill of him. But let’s say his daughter loves him so much that one day she picks a bouquet of wildflowers and gives it to him—an act that is not on the father’s list. Is she to be condemned or chastised for this act of love? Aren’t there nnumerable ways to honor God out of our love which are not specifically mentioned in the Bible (chapter 15, Worship by Demand)? Maybe, just maybe, playing beautiful instrumental music in church might fit into this category! Did you know that there is in fact NO pattern to worship in the Bible (chapter 26 beginning on page 91, Sickness).

RT – The failing in your scenario is that you are asking the wrong person! Should not the father be asked? From the outside your answer might seem reasonable, but from the outside the father of the daughter is not seeking an answer. In your follow up “beautiful music” remark there are way too many people answering for the Father of glory. Are you sure there is no pattern to worship in the Bible? You probably meant to say the New Testament, but since you did not, I will show that you are mistaken. Read Leviticus 1; is there a pattern there, and is it associated with worship?