Archive for the ‘Silence of the Scriptures’ Category


A Proposal For Unity Part 4: Silence of the Scriptures

August 12, 2007

The only source of divine authority available to the church today is the scriptures. Topics on which the scriptures are silent are inherently disputable matters, since there is no final word from the Lord to settle a dispute on these topics. Therefore no authority can be inferred from the silence of the scriptures.

Thomas Campbell’s fifth proposition addressed the silence of the scriptures. He held that no mortal man is authorized to make rules or to implement requirements in the church which are not found in the scriptures. Further, he insisted that nothing should be accepted into the practice of the church “that is not as old as the New Testament.”

That last part is where the greatest difficulties arise. In effect, he was saying that scriptural authorization is required for every single thing done in the church. Where the scriptures are silent, therefore, the church would be prohibited from acting.

I have written previously here and here and here about the silence of the scriptures. I will not rehash that ground here. Instead, I want to take a historical look at the doctrine of silence.

The notion that silence prohibits did not originate with Campbell. At least as far back as Huldreich Zwingli (1484-1531), in the Swiss Reformation, the prohibitive nature of silence was a fundamental tenet. In contrast to Martin Luther, Zwingli believed that not only the faith but also the practice of the church had become corrupt, and therefore need to be restored. Luther focused on the spiritual realm, particularly on the process for receiving forgiveness of sins. So Luther made relatively few reforms in the outward practices of public worship. Zwingli, on the other hand, removed the statues, relics, pictures, altar equipment, priestly vestments, and audible music (both instrumental and vocal) from the church. He held that Christians were to make melody “in their hearts” and not their mouths. (Discovering Our Roots — The Ancestry of the Churches of Christ, p. 27)

However, Zwingli stopped short on one topic: infant baptism. The relationship between church and state brought with it a relationship between citizenship and church membership, which made it difficult to postpone church membership waiting for an adult believer’s decision. But the Anabaptists, who lacked the state’s sanction, had no conflict of interest on the subject, and challenged Zwingli on his inconsistency. These Anabaptists held an even more fervent commitment to the prohibitive nature of silence, and soon brought their views into America, becoming the Amish and Mennonite churches.

The Puritans found their way into America in the 1600’s, bringing with them their belief in the prohibitive nature of the silence of the scriptures. Here they sought to coerce Baptists, Quakers, and others to conform to Puritan doctrine, by methods including imprisonment and public whippings. These are the same Puritans who, before the end of the century, executed twenty people and imprisoned nearly 200 in the Salem witch trials.

The Baptists emerged from English Puritanism in the early 1600’s, with similar views on silence. They brought those views to America. One important branch of this movement was known as the Separatist Baptists. They sought to restore the New Testament pattern in their worship. They held to

“nine Christian rites”: baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the love feast, the kiss of charity, anointing the sick, laying on of hands, dedicating of children, and the right hand of fellowship. They also appointed elders, deacons, and deaconesses, believing these offices to have precedents in the New Testament. Their writings were filled with appeals to scriptural “precedent” and to the “primitive Christians.” One writer claimed that, upon examination, people would find the Baptist Church “exactly corresponds with the rule and line of the Gospel in every part of it.” (Discovering Our Roots — The Ancestry of the Churches of Christ, p. 67-68).

These Separatist Baptists rejected all creeds, claiming to follow the Bible “without note or comment.”

The Stone-Campbell movement emerged from the same communities where these Separatist Baptists had taught for generations. Many of those early converts came from a Separatist Baptist background. The strong views in the churches of Christ on the silence of the scriptures can be traced through these separatist Baptists, through the Puritans, all the way back to Huldreich Zwingli. Along the way, hundreds if not thousands of well educated, zealous and sincere men have been imprisoned, tortured and burned at the stake rather than renounce their conclusions drawn from the silence of the scriptures. Indeed, these were true believers.

So what is the point of all this historical review? Simply that all these devoted men, who proved that they loved God more than life itself, could not agree on their interpretations of scripture. Zwingli, the Puritans, the Anabaptists, and the Separatist Baptists all came to different conclusions based on the silence of the scriptures. Collectively, they demonstrated that the doctrine that prohibits based on the silence of the scriptures leads to division and strife.

Of all people alive today, surely the churches of Christ ought to understand this point. Has any group in history divided more often, over more doctrinal controversies, with more acrimony, than the churches of Christ? Can this possibly be what Jesus had in mind when he prayed for our unity? Does the world really believe God sent Jesus, because they see our unity? Do they recognize us as disciples of Jesus, by our love for one another?

Five hundred years of history has proven that the doctrine of prohibitive silence is divisive. No wonder the inspired scriptures command us not to pass judgment on disputable matters!

Any proposal for unity among Christians must address a topic that has led to so much division in the past. So here is Proposal #4:

Proposal #4: Topics on which the scriptures are silent are inherently disputable matters. Therefore authority cannot reliably be inferred from the silence of the scriptures. So we must not draw lines of fellowship over such matters, and we must not quarrel over these topics. Instead, “whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.” (Rom 14:22)


In the Name of the Lord

December 28, 2006

Col 3:17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

What does it mean to do everything “in the name of the Lord Jesus?” A simple Google search confirms that many people in churches of Christ understand that phrase to mean “with the authority of the Lord Jesus.” In other words, they hold that we cannot do anything which God has not specifically authorized in the scriptures. Therefore, if the scriptures are silent about a practice, it would be forbidden. This is a key passage used to support their belief that the silence of the scriptures is prohibitive.

It is evident that “in the name of the Lord” can mean “with His authority” in certain contexts. Throughout Acts, we read of Peter and Paul preaching “in the name of the Lord.” In those contexts it does seem that the phrase carries the idea of authority from God. Certainly, in our teaching we must not claim to speak with the authority of Christ unless our teaching comes directly from scripture.

But in other contexts it is clear that “in the name of Jesus” did not necessarily imply by His authority. For example:

Mar 9:38-41 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.

These people were driving out demons in the name of Jesus. But they had not been sent by Him and had not been authorized by Him. If by saying “in the name of Jesus” they were claiming to have an authority from Jesus, they would have been in the wrong, because He had not authorized them. But Jesus had nothing bad to say about what they did. They were not specifically authorized to do what they did, but that did not make it wrong. They appealed to the name of Jesus, and God honored their appeal, and the demons came out.

Note that John apparently thought that the lack of specific authorization implied that their deed was prohibited. But Jesus corrected him. Even though they were not specifically authorized to cast out demons, they were permitted by Jesus to do so! So silence was not prohibitive. And in this case, “in the name of Jesus” apparently did not mean they had specific divine authorization.

There are many deeds referenced in the scriptures which are to be done “in the name of the Lord.” Some examples include: baptism, preaching, healing, casting out demons, appealing to the church (1 Cor 1:10), assembling together, giving thanks, anointing the sick, even believing “in the name of the Lord.” Finally, Col 3:17 teaches us that “whatever you do, whether in word or deed” is to be done “in the name of the Lord.”

If we are to live up to Col 3:17, we need to understand what God meant. Fortunately, He proceeded to explain it in the subsequent verses:

Col 3:18-24 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Doing everything “in the name of the Lord” means “as is fitting in the Lord.” (verse 18). It means doing what pleases the Lord (verse 20). It means doing it with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. (verse 22). It means doing everything as for the Lord rather than for men (verse 23). It means doing it as service to the Lord (verse 24). In other words, it means doing everything in a manner worthy of one who calls Jesus Lord.

Note that none of these explanatory verses even suggest that silence is prohibitive. On the contrary, verse 17 tells us that “whatever you do, whether in word or in deed” is to be done in the name of the Lord Jesus. The broadest possible language is used to describe what we might do. That includes the things that are specifically mentioned in the context, and also the things that are not specifically mentioned (ie the things on which the scripture is silent). The phrase “in the name of the Lord Jesus” simply tells us the manner in which we should do any of those things.

This understanding is consistent with 1 Cor 10:31:

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

And also with 1 Peter 4:14-16:

If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

I do not believe Paul was thinking about whether silence prohibits when he wrote Colossians 3:17. Neither would his first century readers have been thinking about that when they read this. The passage cannot mean something today that it did not mean when it was written. It means that we are to do everything in a manner worthy of those privileged to be in Christ.

I think that when people today teach that silence prohibits based on Colossians 3:17, they are conforming the scripture to fit their belief. Instead they should conform their belief to fit the scripture.


Thoughts on Silence

September 13, 2006

1 Cor 4:6 Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not take pride in one man over against another.

Back in January I posted an article about the silence of the scriptures. Today I want to make a few more comments on the topic.

What did Paul mean in 1 Cor 4:6 when he referred to the saying “Do not go beyond what is written?” In isolation, that saying could be taken to support the prohibitive nature of silence. In other words, if something is not written in scripture, don’t do it. But from the context of 1 Cor 4, that is not what Paul was saying.

From the first chapter of the letter, Paul was addressing the divisions over different leaders (Paul, Apollos, Peter). These three men were quite different personalities. Paul was a brilliant and well educated Jew, but apparently not a great speaker, nor did he have an impressive presence. Apollos was apparently a powerful speaker and dynamic leader. Peter was a converted fisherman. There were undoubtedly differences in the style and approach each took to the ministry. As a result, factions were forming around these diffferent leadership styles. In chapter 3, Paul explained that there could be differences in how different builders chose to build, and that it would be God who would test the quality of each man’s work. And he admonished them to recognize that they did not know as much as they thought they did about which way was better (or whether all three were equally acceptable).

Then in chapter 4 he said:

1 Cor 4:4-7 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not take pride in one man over against another. For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

The Corinthians had been inappropriately judging Paul, Apollos, Peter, and their followers, and taking pride in one man over against another. They had formed opinions about how things should be, and how they should not be, in areas that were not spelled out by God. And they were forming factions around those opinions. It was in this context that Paul called on them to learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” They needed to stop forming factions over issues that were not written in the scriptures.

Like the Corinthian church, we also need to stop forming factions over subjects on which the scriptures are silent.

1 Cor 3:16-23 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple. Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness” and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

We need to be foolish enough to admit we don’t know everything. We don’t know what God thinks on a subject unless he has told us. We need to focus our attention on obeying what he has told us.

Deut 29:29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.


The Big Squeeze: Silence and CENI

February 28, 2006

The hermeneutic known as Command, Example, and Necessary Inference (CENI) contains its own controversies and grey areas, but with a little discretion it can be a quite reasonable way to understand scripture. However, when the examples and inferences are considered binding, and when that is combined with a belief that the Silence of the Scriptures is binding, we have a volatile mix which has frequently resulted in divisions in the church.

The principle of Silence holds that we must have authorization in the scriptures for every practice of the church. From CENI, that authorization can be in the form of a direct command, an example approved by the apostles, or a necessary inference. Remember that the principle of CENI, as used in the churches of Christ, makes all those commands, examples, and necessary inferences binding. So we are caught in a vise. On one side we are prohibited from doing anything not authorized in scripture. On the other side we are mandated to do everything that is. There is no room for a grey area, no room for differences of opinion. Every practice is either mandatory or prohibited.

Unfortunately, as we discussed in previous articles, the principles of CENI are not cut and dried. There is room for difference of opinion regarding which grammatical commands are intended as mandates for us. We saw that the examples in scripture have not been applied consistently. And we saw that we have not been very rigorous in our determination of which inferences are truly necessary. Further, we noted that Thomas Campbell had argued against the binding of inferences on those who have not come to the same conclusion. Inferences are inherently based on human reasoning as well as scripture, and there will always be differences of opinion.

To illustrate, if we agree that there is no example nor inference of a kitchen in a church building in the scriptures, the rule of silence prohibits us from having a kitchen in ours today. (For now let’s ignore the absence of an example for the building itself!) But someone might reason that there is a “necessary inference” that there must have been a kitchen, since according to the examples of scripture there was a full meal with communion. So wouldn’t the kitchen become mandatory for those who reason like this? We have certainly made matters mandatory on less evidence than this. So if the kitchen is prohibited for one honest brother, and mandatory for another, does it follow that these two honest brothers cannot take communion together? Our hermeneutic has us trapped in a big sqeeze. If our hermeneutic leads to that conclusion, there must be a flaw in the hermeneutic itself.

If every practice is either mandatory or prohibited, and if we cannot agree on which practices are which, unity becomes impossible. Given the priority that the scriptures place on unity, the impossibility of unity is an untenable position. So there must be room for difference of opinion in the church. And we must not divide over every difference.

Save the strong lose the weak….Never turning the other cheek
Trust nobody don’t be no fool….Whatever happened to the golden rule
We got stranded….Caught in the crossfire
We got stranded….Caught in the crossfire
We got stranded….Caught in the crossfire
Stranded….Caught in the crossfire
Help me — Stevie Ray Vaughan

Click for the complete series on Restoration Hermeneutics


Silence of the Scriptures

January 12, 2006

Note: Click here for the complete series on hermeneutics of the churches of Christ.

One central issue that has divided Restoration Movement churches has been this: What conclusion can we draw from the silence of the scriptures? When the scriptures explicitly command or authorize something, or prohibit something, the required response is obvious. When we see an example in the Bible of a first century practice which was allowed by an apostle, we can reasonably conclude that it is allowed for us as well. The difficulty arises on subjects that are not addressed in the scripture–that is, subjects on which the scriptures are silent. I touched on this topic in my comments on Thomas Campbell’s fifth proposition from the Declaration and Address of 1809. I would now like to examine the question more thoroughly.

Ninety-four years after the Declaration and Address, J W McGarvey addressed this subject in answering a letter concerning the introduction of an organ into a church. He wrote:

I think you put the question in the proper form. If the “strong points of the argument” will not convince, it is certain that the weak ones will not; and it is well to save words by discussing the former alone. I begin by arguing that the practice belongs to a class of things expressly condemned in the New Testament. Jesus said in reference to certain additions which the Pharisees had made to the ritual of the law: “In vain do they worship me, teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men.” In these words he propounds the doctrine that all worship is vain which originates in human authority; or, to put it negatively, that no worship is acceptable to God which he himself has not authorized. Paul echoes this teaching when he condemns as “will worship” the observance of, ordinances “after the precepts and doctrines of men.” (Col. 2: 20-23, R. V.) The Greek word here rendered “will worship” means worship self-imposed, as distinguished from worship imposed by God; and the practices referred to in the context are condemned on this ground, thus showing that all self-imposed worship is wrong in the sight of God.

Now it is universally admitted by those competent to judge that there is not the slightest indication in the New Testament of divine authority for the use of instrumental music in Christian worship. He who employs it, therefore, engages in “will worship” according to Paul, and he offers vain worship according to Jesus.

Here McGarvey was presenting what he considered the strongest case for prohibiting the use of an organ in worship. Thus it is a central argument to consider for our discussion.

I have the utmost respect for the scholarship and integrity of J. W. McGarvey. However on this subject I believe he is mistaken in his use of the scriptures, and therefore in his conclusion. He presents two scriptures in support of this argument, which I will examine one at a time.

First, he refers to Mark 7, where Jesus rebukes the Pharisees for imposing their own rules on the people. The passage describes several rules created by the Pharisees which were not from God:

Mark 7:3-4 (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.)

Jesus goes on to describe a particularly gross example in which the Pharisees’ rule actually prevented people from following one of God’s rules. He quoted from Isaiah, and stated that the passage was a prophecy about the Pharisees. Their worship was in vain because they taught as doctrines the rules of men.

Note the examples of such rules that we are given in the passage:

  1. Do not eat until you have given your hands a ceremonial washing.
  2. After returning from the marketplace, wash before you eat.
  3. Rule requiring the washing of cups
  4. Rule requiring the washing of pitchers
  5. Rule requiring the washing of kettles
  6. Give what you would have given to your parents, to the temple instead.

One thing was wrong about all of these rules: They were not found in the scriptures, but instead were created by men. These rules may have had the appearance of making a person religious, and may have been consistent with certain biblical rules, but they were extensions created by men and therefore of no value. In fact, those who taught these rules (the Pharisees) were worshipping in vain. Note that this is not said of those who practiced the rules, but of those who taught them.

Each of the rules above specified something they were to do, in a particular way. People were expected to comply with the rules in the prescribed manner. The implication was that this was required in order to be in good standing under the Pharisaic rule of the Old Covenant.

This is a curious passage for McGarvey to choose to support the rule of no instruments in worship. It seems that this passage would prohibit McGarvey’s rule in exactly the same way that it prohibited the examples in the text. His rule, like theirs, is not found in the scripture. While his rule may be consistent with other things in the scripture, it is an extension created by men and therefore is of no value. His rule specifies that music in worship must be done in a particular manner (without instruments). And his rule clearly has been advanced as a test of who is in good standing under the New Covenant. His rule stands or falls along with the washing of cups, pitchers, and kettles.

The second passage advanced by McGarvey to support the rule of no instruments is Col 2:20-23:

Col 2:20-23
Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

Earlier in the same context, Paul said:

Col 2: 16-17 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

In this context Paul admonishes the Colossian Christians against imposing additional rules and regulations beyond what God had delivered. He illustrates with quite a few sample rules:

  1. Rules on what to eat
  2. Rules on what to drink
  3. Rules on religious festivals
  4. Rules on New Moon celebrations
  5. Rules regarding the Sabbath
  6. Do not handle
  7. Do not taste
  8. Do not touch

These examples are rules that someone might think of imposing on the church, but which are not stated in the New Testament. Included in his examples are rules on worship, which are not written in the scriptures. He acknowledges that such rules have an appearance of wisdom. But he categorically denies that they have real value, and admonishes the church not to follow such rules.

Again, this passage seems to argue against the rule McGarvey wants to support. McGarvey’s rule of no instrumental accompaniment to singing in worship is not written in scripture. Without question men like McGarvey can make a case that these rules have an appearance of wisdom. Nevertheless that rule has no more value than Paul’s examples.

In the above two arguments, McGarvey attempts to support the rule of no instrumental music based on the principle of the silence of the scriptures. He offers the strongest argument he knows to support that position. However, the passages he uses actually seem to prohibit the rule he wants to support. We are not authorized to add rules based on the apparent wisdom of men. If the scriptures are silent, we must not step in to supply the supposed deficiency (Thomas Cambell’s fifth proposition).

After arguing from these two scriptures, McGarvey provides an argument based on the history of the use of instruments in worship. I will not dwell on that argument, since it hangs upon human reasoning and non-biblical history.

In the second letter at the same link, McGarvey addresses the question of conscience:

In Rom. 14: 23, R. V., he teaches that he who doubts the right to eat is condemned if he eat; and as you doubt the right to worship with the organ, you will be condemned if you do it. They, in trying to force you to do it, are trying to bring you into this condemnation. In regard to meats he teaches (verse 20) that all are really clean, but that it is evil for him who eats with offense; and, therefore, even if the use of the organ were innocent, it is evil to him who uses it with offense. He says (verse 15): “If because of meat thy brother is grieved, thou walkest no longer in love.” Therefore it must be equally true that if because of thy use of the organ “thy brother is grieved, thou walkest no longer in love.” He says (verse 19): “Let us follow after things which make for peace, and things whereby we may edify one another.” Tell them that you would gladly do this by consenting to the use of the organ but for the fact that you believe it to be wrong, and insist that as they do not consider it wrong to sing without the organ, this precept requires them, for the sake of peace and edification, to desist from their purpose.

On this point I agree wholeheartedly with McGarvey. We should dispense with instruments or any other nonessential that would otherwise divide brothers. However, that does not address the question of the silence of the scriptures.

What does this mean for me today? I must not draw lines of fellowship which are not drawn in scripture. If God has adopted a man as his son, he is my brother. It is not my choice whether I like that or not. God made it so. As long as a person is a son of God he remains my brother.

Rom 14:13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.

The urgent need of the church today, in order to bring about unity, is to eliminate the walls of division based on things not found in the Bible.

Click for the complete series on Restoration Hermeneutics


Proposition 5: Where the Bible is Silent

November 9, 2005

Thomas Campbell’s fifth proposition states:

That with respect to the commands and ordinances of our Lord Jesus Christ, where the scriptures are silent, as to the express time or manner of performance, if any such there be; no human authority has power to interfere, in order to supply the supposed deficiency, by making laws for the church; nor can any thing more be required of christians in such cases, but only that they so observe these commands and ordinances, as will evidently answer the declared and obvious end of their institution. Much less has any human authority power to impose new commands or ordinances upon the church, which our Lord Jesus Christ has not enjoined. Nothing ought to be received into the faith or worship of the church; or be made a term of communion amongst christians, that is not as old as the New Testament.

This proposition addresses how Campbell felt we should handle the silence of the scriptures.

1) If the scriptures are silent about precisely how to perform some command or ordinance, no mortal has the authority to legislate the missing specifics and bind them upon anyone.

2) No mortal has authority to create new commands or ordinances which are not specified in scripture.

3) Nothing outside the New Testament may be introduced into the faith or worship of the church

4) Nothing outside the New Testament may be made a term of communion among Christians

Items 1), 2), and 4) are fairly non-controversial at face value. Item 3) hints at a class of practices that have divided thousands of congregations. Examples of items that have been introduced into worship which are nowhere mentioned in the New Testament include pianos, organs, and the like; individual communion cups; incense; statues and images; creeds; and probably many other things. The results upon Christian unity have been catastrophic.

There are a couple of ways one could view this. One might consider that these situations prove the wisdom of Campbell’s proposition. If the non-biblical items had not been introduced, the churches might still be together. Or, one might point to these situations as proof that the proposition was fatally flawed. By saying we may not introduce anything new into worship, perhaps we paint those who do so as heretics–in effect, setting up a man-made rule which is destined to lead to division. But introducing such a rule actually would be in conflict with item 4) since it makes the “introduce nothing new” rule a term of communion among Christians.

Often Mark 7:1-13 is used as a proof text for the “introduce nothing new” rule. However, if the new things being introduced are not “rules” (ie not mandated, but introduced as discretionary) does Mark 7 apply? Is there any other passage that would support “introduce nothing new” in a discretionary matter? Does the New Testament truly teach that we may not introduce anything new into the worship service? I wonder.

The entire series: Comments on the Thirteen Propositions of Thomas Campbell