And The Walls Came a’tumblin’ Down

Over at, I’ve been having an interesting conversation with a reasonable-sounding Church of Christ person who goes by the handle, “Nova”.  This is dealing with the CofC doctrine, “Speak where the Bible speaks, be silent where the Bible is silent”.  

Nova’s thesis is this:

“In (Joshua 6:1-5) God commanded the people to do certain things. Do you find anywhere where the Lord told the people NOT to make any noise at all in verses 1-5)?Notice what Joshua said in (Joshua 6:10)-

10 And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout,( nor make any noise with your voice), neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout. 

Notice that the opposite of what the lord commanded was restricted by God. He had not commanded them to shout any other time than on the seventh day.Would it have been wrong for any of the people to talk during the first to the six day while walking around Jericho? Yes it would be wrong.

Did the lord at any time command the people to be silent in (Joshua 6:1-5). No, He did not have to. He just commanded what he wanted to be done. He did not have to state the negative.”

My Thesis is this:

“To the issue of using the voice, God ONLY commanded that the Israelites shout on the 7th day – it is all we have from Scripture. So, FROM SCRIPTURE, we have Joshua assuming God wanted silence, and adding to God’s original command. You say Joshua interpreted what the Lord said, and I agree – and we can assume from the conclusion of the episode that God was pleased with Joshua’s interpretation; his assumption; his addition. 

There are other things that God also did not “not command”, and Joshua didn’t speak on these – he didn’t interpret, assume or add. For example, God didn’t say, “Don’t speak” – but he also didn’t say “Don’t eat!”, but Joshua didn’t add it. God didn’t say, “Don’t sleep!”, but Joshua didn’t add it. There were good reasons for this.

Or, to put it another way, Joshua used his God-given common sense to add to God’s specific instructions. Not sleeping or eating would have been counterproductive to a fighting force about to take part in a seven-day siege. But silence? Why silence? Perhaps Joshua knew that the Israelites would be more focused for the task at hand if they were silent. Maybe Joshua knew that they might start grumbling again if they talked, and then then the whole operation would fall apart. We just don’t know. 

All we know is God said to shout, and Joshua added to be silent (or interpreted God’s word to mean silence; or he assumed God wanted silence), and the result? God was pleased – and the walls came a’tumblin’ down.

It doesn’t take away from the glory of God – it adds to it, because it says that God’s grace extends to trusting His people to make good decisions. And while sometimes we screw things up, from time to time, His trust is proven.”

There’s a lot more to the conversation, but that’s the gist of it.



22 thoughts on “And The Walls Came a’tumblin’ Down

  1. These guys know that this “speak where the bible speaks” isnt what they claim. They know the places where this can be used against them such as:

    The fast of the fourth month — in remembrance of the day when the city walls were breached (2 Kings 25:3-4; Jeremiah 39:2).

    The fast of the fifth month — in remembrance of the destruction of the house of God by fire (2 Kings 25:8-10).

    The fast of the seventh month — in remembrance of the assassination of Gedaliah the son of Ahikam (2 Kings 25:25; Jeremiah 41:2).

    The fast of the tenth month — in remembrance of the day in which the king of Babylon laid siege to Jerusalem (2 Kings 25:1; Ezekiel 24:2).

    It should be noted that these four religious fasts were seemingly not commanded by God, but were established by men for the purpose of helping the people to remember a traumatic time in their history. Now that the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem was almost complete, and people had been restored to their homeland, the question arose among some of the people as to whether the time had come to annul these fasts.

    A delegation was sent to the priests and prophets of God to determine if indeed these fasts should continue (Zechariah 7:1-3). The answer of the Lord God is interesting. “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘The fast of the fourth, the fast of the fifth, the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth months will become joy, gladness, and cheerful feasts for the house of Judah; so love truth and peace'” (Zechariah 8:19).

    Notice that God did not say it was wrong, only that it would be a joy. Per the “speak where the bible speaks doctrine” I would have expected God to say, “Stop. I never said anything about it.”

    So much for Nova’s claim!

  2. Dont leave this one out “Nova”

    There is no question but what the synagogue, and the activities associated with it, were an “innovation” or addition of men. I’m not suggesting it was either good or bad, merely that it was not “ordained of God” via the Law of Moses or the inspired OT documents. In other words, the Scriptures are completely “silent” with respect to this “synagogue system.”

    The question to be posed to those who view the silence of Scripture as prohibitive, therefore, is this: Does the synagogue system violate the so-called “law of silence?” Is this whole system therefore “unauthorized?” If it IS “unauthorized” (prohibited by virtue of this “law of silence”), is any participation in this synagogue system thereby wrongful or sinful? Can one participate in that which is “prohibited” and “unauthorized” and not be guilty of sin? This may seem like a rather ridiculous question to some, but it actually goes to the very heart of this “law of silence” principle so firmly proclaimed by some of our brethren. I also believe it exposes the inconsistency of this so-called “law of silence.”

    The proponents of the “prohibitive nature of biblical silence” insist that any manmade addition to the written revelation of God constitutes an unlawful innovation, and that such is therefore “unauthorized” and sinful. This is exactly the situation with the synagogue system!!! The OT writings do not “authorize” it; it is an addition to the Temple system, and it was conceived and created by man. Indeed, in some locations it even came to replace the Temple system among the local Jews. “Why go to the Temple? We have the synagogue!” By this assumed “law of exclusion,” therefore, it must automatically be characterized as a “sinful system,” and all who engage in it or endorse it by their use of it are engaging in that which is “unlawful” before their God. This is the logical conclusion of this “law of silence.”

    Now, here is the problem: JESUS embraced this synagogue system! In fact, He did so regularly. The gospel records tell us He freely engaged in this “unauthorized innovation” and never once condemned it in any way. Indeed, Luke 4:16 tells us that He had developed the habit of participating in this synagogue system!!! “He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was His custom.” This is the Greek word “etho” which refers to that which is done routinely, habitually. Jesus, who was still living under LAW, was routinely and habitually participating in that which had NO AUTHORIZATION in the Law. Jesus participated in a manmade innovation, and never once condemned it. When He stood up in the synagogue to proclaim Truth, why is it that He never once condemned their “departure from the pattern” by their “unauthorized innovation”? Why didn’t He condemn their transgression of this so-called “law of silence”? He had many opportunities to do just that, and yet there is no record that He ever did. Why not?! And why did He join them in this so-called transgression of the “prohibitive authority of silence”?

    Tell Nova he forgot about this one too. I am amazed that these man leave these out and trust me, they know about these too…if I do….surely they do too.

  3. Exodus 12 presents the biblical teaching on the establishment of the Passover. After specifying when it would be celebrated, and the various elements of the meal itself, the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste — it is the Lord’s Passover” (Exodus 12:11). Just three verses later the people of God are informed that it was to be celebrated “as a permanent ordinance.”

    The Lord God was very specific as to what He wanted included in this memorial feast. Interestingly enough, however, God never mentioned anything to drink. In fact, the Passover was constantly referred to in Scripture as a feast during which the celebrants would EAT the meal; they are never urged to DRINK anything. The Bible is SILENT with respect to drinking anything during this feast. In other words, God said EAT the Passover, He didn’t say EAT & DRINK the Passover. Thus, if one were to apply the so-called “Law of Silence” to this situation, one would have to exclude and forbid as sinful any form of drink being added to the Passover feast. After all, since “silence” supposedly excludes and prohibits, is God not suggesting by this silence His disapproval of any form of drink? Such would be the obvious conclusion of this hermeneutical device, if carried to it logical conclusion. After all, the proponents of this “law,” using the same rationale, are quick to point out that cornbread and buttermilk are “unauthorized” for inclusion at the Lord’s Table, and their use would constitute an “abomination.” Would not consistency require the same conclusion with regard to this addition of cups of wine to the prescribed elements of the Passover feast? If not, why not?!

    But let’s not stop here. In addition to the command of the Lord God Himself with respect to the Passover, and what should be included or excluded, we have several biblical examples of the Passover being celebrated by God’s people. We find it being observed, for example, in Numbers 9:1-14 and Joshua 5:10-12 and 2 Kings 23:21-23. In none of these biblical examples of Passover observance is there any mention of anyone drinking anything, or of the use of cups, or of the consumption of wine. The Bible is completely SILENT about any such additions to the prescribed elements of the feast. Even in 2 Chronicles 30 (in which the people of God “ate the Passover otherwise than prescribed” — vs. 18) there is still no mention of cups of wine being consumed. In short, there is not a single, solitary word anywhere in the Old Testament writings that speaks of cups of wine, or of the drinking of any liquid, being connected in any way with the Passover. All that exists in the biblical record on this matter is a deafening SILENCE.

    By the time of Jesus Christ, however, things have changed with regard to the prescribed observance of this God-ordained commemorative feast. Rather than being eaten “in haste” (Exodus 12:11), it had become customary for the participants to eat it while reclining at a table. “Now when evening had come, Jesus was reclining at the table with the twelve disciples” (Matthew 26:20; see also: Mark 14:18; Luke 22:14-15).

    Another innovation was the addition of drink to this Passover feast as part of the religious ritual. Four cups of wine had been added by the rabbis to the Passover celebration. These were not just for the purpose of “washing down the food,” a mere “incidental,” as a few have feebly sought to suggest, but these cups of wine were specially and purposefully added for their spiritual significance to the feast itself. The Jews themselves admit that these cups of wine were “a Rabbinic tradition,” with a specific religious purpose, and thus were not originally part of the divine directive, nor were they merely “incidental to the Passover itself.” “By New Testament times the Passover observance had features ADDED to those already SPECIFIED in the Old Testament

    Looks like Nova left out some things regarding silence

  4. These mouth slogans such as: “We speak where the Bible speaks, and are silent where the Bible is silent.” Several generations have now been taught this haughty and arrogant philosophy and instead of remaining “Christians only,” they have evolved into the “only Christians.” [This is the quote Milliner used.] In other words, according to these people, unless one is taught by one of their preachers and baptized in one of their pools, then he could not possibly be a member of the church belonging to Christ. People like this are no longer interested in the need for a continued emphasis on the restoration of New Testament Christianity. They are absolutely and totally correct in every facet of their work and worship together. After all, they speak where the Bible speaks, and are silent where the Bible is silent. Consequently, how could they possibly be wrong? Such thinking has caused these people to become narrow and bigoted, steeped in traditions and practices which, in turn, have become the acid tests of orthodoxy. The man-made slogan, “We speak where the Bible speaks, and are silent where the Bible is silent,” has progressed to the inevitable, “You must do it the way we do it or you are wrong” syndrome. When this attitude becomes prominent in a people, the only objective standard for determining orthodoxy (i.e., God’s Word) becomes secondary to group consensus and is, therefore, quite irrelevant. Among such people, what the church teaches and practices is much more important than what the Bible says or doesn’t say.
    One thing you will notice about Nova, Heath and the guys here is they all think they have it all right and everyone is is wrong……that is pure pride and I feel bad for these men.

  5. randy,
    dont know if these are your studies or if you found
    them in a book………….either way simply brilliant.
    keep it coming friend.

  6. Oddly enuf, these come from the Church of Christ. There are many men/preachers, who do not adhere to the legalistic teachings of some within the church of Christ i.e., Carl Ketcherside, Cecil Hook, Leroy Garrett, Daniel Sommer, Al Maxey, Alan Rouse, Dallas Burdette and many others. I simply am stating/pasting what I have learned from others in the Church of Christ. Some of these men use to believe as the guys here, but they repented and have exposed their teachings they once taught. I love reading history and you may want to read some on Carl Ketcherside and Daniel Sommer’s history….very interesting !!! Check out this site/blog and the other men listed above can be found on the net as well.

  7. Just thought I’d add another one where a man established a festival without God’s prior approval or latter disapproval

    Esther 9:20-26
    The Festival of Purim
    20 Mordecai recorded these events and sent letters to the Jews near and far, throughout all the provinces of King Xerxes, 21 calling on them to celebrate an annual festival on these two days.[f] 22 He told them to celebrate these days with feasting and gladness and by giving gifts of food to each other and presents to the poor. This would commemorate a time when the Jews gained relief from their enemies, when their sorrow was turned into gladness and their mourning into joy.

    23 So the Jews accepted Mordecai’s proposal and adopted this annual custom. 24 Haman son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews, had plotted to crush and destroy them on the date determined by casting lots (the lots were called purim). 25 But when Esther came before the king, he issued a decree causing Haman’s evil plot to backfire, and Haman and his sons were impaled on a sharpened pole. 26 That is why this celebration is called Purim, because it is the ancient word for casting lots.

  8. I hope I am not commenting too late regarding this post and the silence of the scriptures discussion. I don’t intend to argue every point made so far…and Randy, you have made some good, valid points. I think I can find scriptural “authorization” for the synagogue system in Deut. 6:4-9…unless of course you consider how some replaced the temple with synagogue, which would be wrong, I think, especially in light of Jeus’s discussion with the woman at the well about the correct location of worship (under the old covenant) being at the temple. Anyway, all of these points would take some time that I don’t intend to give.
    I would like to suggest something that I think is important. There are some pretty good points to be made about situations where violating the silence was not an “abomination” to God. On the other hand, there are times where the silence principle is used in scripture to make a point. For example, look at Hebrews 7:14 where the writer’s point is to say that Jesus could not have been a priest under the old covenant. This was not because those from the tribe of Judah were specifically prohibited from serving, but, as the writer points out, because Moses said nothing about priests in connection with that tribe. So, the point is Jesus is a different kind of priest.
    So, it is clear that the silence principle is used. It also may be that Randy’s examples are clear indications of when the silence principle is violated. Where do we go now? If it is used sometimes, and not used other times, how are we to know when to use it? I suggest, rather than spending time discussing why the opposing view is wrong, that we spend our time finding a reconciliation.
    Is anybody on the same page?

  9. cthoward,

    Your comment is measured, thoughtful, and appreciated.

    I would dearly love it if the men about whom we write would be willing to find reconciliation with Christians outside of their particular doctrinal system, but the big problem is that they don’t believe we ARE Christians, and so to them, the only way we can be reconciled is if we abandon our beliefs and adopt theirs.

    My beef is not with “Churches of Christ” – and I’ve met some wonderful folks in the Churches of Christ who have agreed to disagree with me, but not pretend that they sit on the judgement seat rather than the Lord. My beef is with these men, who are unwilling to admit that there are faithful, committed Christians in all different churches (Baptists, Presbyterians, Churches of Christ, etc) many of whom have different interpretations of Scripture than they – but who are still saved.

    If they would be willing to say that, I’d be willing to change the tone of this blog altogether.


  10. The passage that is dragged out most frequently by the “Law of Silence” proof-texters is found in the epistle to the Hebrews. It is a verse pertaining to something Moses didn’t say, and from which an unwarranted conclusion is drawn.

    Hebrews 7:14
    For it is evident that our Lord was descended
    from Judah, a tribe with reference to which
    Moses spoke nothing concerning priests.

    The proponents of the so-called “Law of Silence” declare this is “proof positive” that “silence excludes and prohibits.” Moses was silent about priests coming from any other tribe than Levi, therefore all other tribes are excluded by silence. Is this a logical, rational, reasonable conclusion to draw from this passage? Let’s use the brains God gave us and think this through.

    Was God silent with respect to which of the tribes would be the “priestly tribe”? No. God SPOKE. God SPECIFIED. The tribe was to be Levi …. and only Levi. “The Lord set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to serve Him and to bless in His name until this day. Therefore, Levi does not have a portion or inheritance with his brothers; the Lord is his inheritance” (Deut. 10:8-9). See also: Numbers 3:5-10; 8:5-26; 18:1-7. “Thus you shall separate the Levites from among the sons of Israel, and the Levites shall be Mine” (Numbers 8:14). “They are wholly given to Me from among the sons of Israel” (Numbers 8:16). “I am giving you the priesthood as a bestowed service, but the outsider who comes near shall be put to death” (Numbers 18:7).

    God had made it very, very clear that no one from any tribe other than Levi would ever be allowed to serve in the priesthood. God had SPOKEN. God had SPECIFIED. He was NOT silent. Thus, the tribe of Judah was excluded from serving in the priesthood NOT because God was silent about Judah serving as priests, but rather because He had specified that only those from Levi could serve as priests.

    This brings us to the Hebrews 7:14 passage. Judah was a tribe “with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests.” Why was Moses “silent” about Judah with reference to priests? Because God had SPECIFIED the tribe of Levi. There was no need for Moses to say anything about Judah for the simple reason GOD HAD SPOKEN. God had specified. Judah is excluded from the priesthood NOT because Moses was “silent” about them serving in that capacity, but rather because God had specified that priests would come solely from Levi. Thus, it is NOT silence that excludes or prohibits, it is specificity. This passage has nothing whatsoever to do with “silence,” much less any so-called “Law of silence.” When God has SPOKEN, there is no silence.

    The proof-texters have only succeeded in proving their own ignorance and inability when it comes to sound biblical exegesis. Their wresting and manipulation of this text in a failed attempt to prove an untenable theory is a prime example of the “dogmatic model” of biblical interpretation. It is deplorable, and it is rejected by reputable, responsible scholars of the Word.

    Noah and the Ark

    Another example of a complete failure to properly perceive the significance of a biblical account by these “Law of Silence” dogmatists is the narrative of Noah and the ark (Genesis 6-9). God commanded, “Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood” (Gen. 6:14). “Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did” (Gen. 6:22). “By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household” (Hebrews 11:7).

    You might wonder, after reading the above passages, how someone could find validation for their so-called “Law of Silence” from this account. They are indeed creative, however. They maintain that since God was silent about any type of wood other than gopher wood, that His silence therefore prohibits and excludes all other types of wood. Thus, if Noah had chosen mahogany instead of gopher wood, he would have been in violation of the “Law of Silence.”

    But, is that true? Is it God’s silence Noah would have transgressed, or is it God’s specificity? It is obviously the latter. It is not God’s silence that excludes mahogany as a suitable wood for the construction of the ark, it is God’s specificity that excludes mahogany. God was NOT silent in this example. He had spoken. He had specified. This narrative has nothing whatsoever to do with “silence.”

    Now, if Noah wanted to use PINE to make a scaffolding to aid him in the building of the ark, that would have been acceptable. After all, God said nothing about scaffolding. If Noah had wanted to use mahogany to build a table for the ark, that would have been a matter of indifference to God. He was silent about tables that might accompany the ark as it floated upon the flood waters. Things that might be used as aids or accompaniments to this venture were left unspecified; God was silent about them. Thus, they were left entirely to the responsible judgment of Noah himself. They were neither proscribed nor prescribed; genuine silence does neither.

    The “Law of Silence” dogmatists point to this narrative as “proof positive” that instruments of music in the public worship of the church are a soul-damning abomination. How? God said SING …. God said GOPHER …. thus, His “silence” about anything else excludes it. What these proof-texters fail to perceive, however, is that specificity excludes and prohibits only that which would negate, replace or invalidate that which is specified. It does not prohibit or exclude anything which would merely aid or accompany one’s compliance with that which is specified. This is pure common sense, as well as a valid principle of interpretive logic.

    Men use a great many things biblically UNspecified to aid them in their singing of songs, hymns and spiritual songs. Song books with musical notation are held in the hands and before the eyes of those singing. Thus, they are singing and reading at the same time. Is reading excluded because God was silent about it? Some say so. After all, they argue, God never said “sing and read.” As bizarre as it may seem, there are actually a few who insist our singing must be from memory (from the heart and mind), and that reading from song books while singing to God is “unauthorized” by the “Law of Silence.” A few make the same argument with respect to song leaders, four part harmony, PA systems to amplify the voice, pitch pipes, Power Point projection of songs onto a screen, tapping of the feet during singing (which constitutes a percussion instrument, in their thinking), moving the head in time to the rhythm (which they say constitutes dancing), or instrumental accompaniment of any kind to aid those singing. In all of these cases, however, singing still occurs. The command is NOT negated or replaced or diminished or invalidated in any way.

    The ark was built of gopher wood, and whether or not Noah used a PINE scaffold or placed a MAHOGANY table in the family quarters in no way altered his complete compliance with what God specified. The same with the specification to sing. Aids or accompaniments in no way change the fact of the full compliance of those who sing. The argument of these so-called “Law of Silence” dogmatists is completely invalid. Is it any wonder the world mocks when they behold the degree of competence (or incompetence, more correctly) of some professing to be “sound scholars” of the Word?!

    Nadab, Abihu and “Strange Fire”

    Yet another narrative from the Old Testament writings that is often held up as “proof” of the validity of the so-called “Law of Silence” is that of the tragic deaths of two sons of Aaron — Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10).

    Leviticus 10:1
    Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron,
    took their respective firepans, and after
    putting fire in them, placed incense on it
    and offered strange fire before the Lord,
    which He had not commanded them.

    They made an offering unto the Lord God which He had not commanded them. Well, there you have it. Proof positive that silence prohibits. God had not commanded this particular offering …. He was silent about it …. thus, when they transgressed this “Law of Silence,” God zapped them. So, those who choose to sing with instrumental accompaniment had better beware. “You’re next!” …. or, so suggest these dogmatists.

    Are they correct? Was the sin of Nadab and Abihu that they broke the “Law of Silence,” and they paid for that violation with their lives? I believe the answer is NO. Once again, “silence” has nothing to do with this narrative.

    Nadab and Abihu were truly favored men. They were sons of Aaron (the first High Priest of Israel) and nephews of Moses. They were also direct descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Exodus 24:11 lists them as being among the “nobles of the sons of Israel.” Their names even appear prior to the Elders of Israel. God asked for them by name to come and commune with Him on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 24:1), and they “saw the God of Israel” (Exodus 24:10). Few men were as truly blessed as they.

    However, their sin was multi-faceted. Through exegesis of the biblical text one can determine several fatal errors committed before their God. These were:

    Unauthorized entry into the Holy of Holies to offer incense.
    Failure to show proper reverence for the Lord God.
    Offering “strange fire.”

  11. During the exile, the Jews had established four commemorative fasts for the people to observe before their God. These were:

    The fast of the fourth month — in remembrance of the day when the city walls were breached (2 Kings 25:3-4; Jeremiah 39:2).

    The fast of the fifth month — in remembrance of the destruction of the house of God by fire (2 Kings 25:8-10).

    The fast of the seventh month — in remembrance of the assassination of Gedaliah the son of Ahikam (2 Kings 25:25; Jeremiah 41:2).

    The fast of the tenth month — in remembrance of the day in which the king of Babylon laid siege to Jerusalem (2 Kings 25:1; Ezekiel 24:2).
    It should be noted that these four religious fasts were seemingly not commanded by God, but were established by men for the purpose of helping the people to remember a traumatic time in their history. Now that the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem was almost complete, and people had been restored to their homeland, the question arose among some of the people as to whether the time had come to annul these fasts.

    A delegation was sent to the priests and prophets of God to determine if indeed these fasts should continue (Zechariah 7:1-3). The answer of the Lord God is interesting. “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘The fast of the fourth, the fast of the fifth, the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth months will become joy, gladness, and cheerful feasts for the house of Judah; so love truth and peace'” (Zechariah 8:19).

    An individual on an Internet Bible discussion group, with regard to this incident in biblical history, made the following observation:

    Notice that God did not say it was wrong, only that it would be a joy. I would have expected God to say, “Stop. I never said anything about it.”
    After all, some might reason, were these four fasts not “innovations” …. “unauthorized additions” of mere men? Would not God condemn such as “false worship,” and demand that these fasts be abolished altogether as “sinful” and unwanted and unwarranted? Such is far too frequently the reasoning today of the ultra-conservative patternists among us.

    Is it not interesting, however, that God did not condemn these fasts?! Rather, He indicated that in the future they would be transformed into occasions for joy and gladness. The obvious implication is that He approved of their continuance, or, at the very least, He did not disallow their continuance. His only point was that they would no longer be times of sadness, but of great joy.

  12. The so-called “law of silence” (a phrase which, by-the-way, is never found in Scripture) is extremely inconsistent and subjective in its application by it proponents. And it is easily demonstrated to be so. Men have circumvented this “law” for generations by conveniently labeling as “expedients” or “aids” those “unauthorized innovations” that they themselves choose to utilize and approve. If something appears on THEIR list of aids and expedients then it is approved by God; if it appears on MY list or YOUR list, however, it is “unauthorized” and condemned by the “law of silence.” Men have become very creative at explaining how this “law of silence” in no way whatsoever applies to THEIR list, but rather applies perfectly to the lists of OTHERS.

  13. The patternists and legalists simply must not … they dare not … acknowledge that the synagogue system was of human design. They must find some way to make this system “of God,” otherwise we have Jesus Christ, and the apostles, taking part in (and not condemning) an “unauthorized innovation of man,” and doing so without sin! This would mean these patternists would have to acknowledge that we can embrace some things about which Scripture is SILENT, and do so acceptably! They simply cannot allow that to happen, as it would undermine their entire legalistic, patternistic theology. That is why this reader from Alabama is so persistent about trying to prove the word “synagogue” exists in Psalm 74:8. He MUST find a way to get this whole system INTO THE TEXT of the OT writings. Failing to find a way will result in the defeat of his precious patternistic theory. He faces the same problem with our Lord’s use of four cups of wine in the Passover celebration.

  14. When I speak out against “patternism,” one should not assume that I thereby deny any type of legitimate pattern specified in Scripture. I do not, as I have noted above. What I deny is the so-called “authority” of human assumptions and inferences, and the elevation and imposition of such upon others as if these deductions were declared, decreed and delivered directly by God Himself to the minds of these rigid religionists. They were not. The horrendous division that has occurred within the church of our Lord Jesus Christ has come primarily from these countless assumed patterns, about which our God in Scripture specified little or nothing at all.

    Legitimate patterns I support; legalistic patterns I do NOT! What is the difference between the two? GOD specified one, MAN assumed the other! I will submit to the former, but I will not yield for even a second to the latter.

    The message of God’s grace, and our freedom in Christ, demand nothing less from those of us devoted to promoting Truth over tradition. The type of patternism I oppose is nothing other than a return to LAW, and an inferior form of law at that, for it is merely an assumed law. Aside from the inevitable splits, splinters and schisms, with which we have almost become desensitized by their vast number, such return to law (legalistic patternism) has an even more deadly result — it severs its adherents from Christ and causes them to fall from grace (Galatians 5:4).

    As Forest Gump says “thats all I have to say about that”

  15. Randy,
    Again, you make some very good points. And, again, for space and time reasons (my own time constraints), I will not address all of them. However, your discussion of the Hebrews passage and others is interesting.
    The thing is, those who do not adhere to the silence stand would say that anything not specifically (or perhaps principally) prohibited is lawful. But, a major part of the silence stand is maintaining just what you have argued for in regard to Hebrews 7: if something is specifically authorized, then all else different is not. This is the crux of the silence argument. God does not have to explicitly prohibit Judah or Simeon or any other tribe from priestly service when he specifically authorizes the tribe of Levi. He is “silent” concerning these other tribes.
    I agree, God is not really silent. He has spoken concerning the other tribes when He specifies Levi. None-the-less, this is an inference. We are using human reasoning to reach a conclusion that God has not specifically stated (until Hebrews). I think we agree that it is the right conclusion…but it is still an inference (you might even call it “necessary”…but that is probably a four-letter word around here).
    But, certainly we can just take scripture’s statement in Hebrews 7:14. The writer says that Moses “spoke nothing” regarding Judah serving as priests. That sounds like silence to me.
    You are probably not going to like me for this; I would like to apply the reasoning of the Hebrew-writer to a “hot topic” simply to make a point regarding how important this is…but I’m sure I don’t take the stand of the “fundamentalist cofC preachers” often referred to on this blog…though I don’t pretend to think I can express myself clearly enough in a short period of time to convince you…
    What if we took the Hebrew-writer’s statement (whether you consider it a silence argument or not) and applied it to other areas such as instrumental music as worship? We could say, Some Christians use instrumental music, a practice with reference to which God spoke nothing concerning new covenant worship. And, the reasoning should apply because God has specifically authorized singing as musical worship (in the same way He specifically authorized Levi, and excluded all other tribes).
    What about the Lord’s Supper (an issue I have noticed has been brought up on this site)? The Bible spoke nothing regarding another food item except bread and fruit of the vine. Using the Hebrew-writer’s reasoning, all other food or drink items are excluded.
    What about the day the LS is taken? The Bible spoke nothing concerning any day other than Sunday (unless you take a certain position concerning Acts 20, of course). All other days are excluded.
    And the reasoning continues with all sorts of interesting topics.
    Ok…so I must address the synagogue issue briefly (if that’s possible). The Bible spoke nothing regarding the synagogue system in and of itself…but certainly in principle. The people of Israel were commanded by God to study and learn His laws and teach them to each other. The priests were actually berated by the prophets for not fulfilling their duty of teaching. The synagogue was designed (as far as I can tell) for this purpose. Since God did not specifically authorize any particular method of teaching, Israel was free to adopt any method they chose (as long as it did not violate other laws of course).
    This is similar to the Great Commission, in which Jesus commands us to “Go,” but does not specify how we go…and to teach, but does not specify the methods we use. The only thing specified regarding teaching is the message: we must teach all that Jesus commanded.
    Call me legalistic. Call me fundamentalist. Call me patternistic. I’m just trying to honestly pursue God’s will using God’s word. And, in the mean time…I want everyone to know that my point is not to condemn anyone, but to simply find the truth. Though I don’t think any of the topics I have discussed are “salvation issues” (although anything can be a salvation issue if our heart isn’t right), I do think we need to actively seek God’s will, and lovingly help one another do the same.
    Well…I have rambled enough. I just want to return to my original encouragement. Let’s find constructive solutions to the issues…no matter what other people are doing. Our duty to act and speak in godly manners is not dependent on what others do. Even if these “fundamentalist” cofC tv preachers aren’t pursuing maturity and good-will, we ought to.
    In Christ,
    Clint your friendly neighborhood fundamentalist cofC preacher Howard

  16. Every issue you brought up has been addressed on this blog and other blogs. I am sure you know the argumants already on these issues from both sides as do I. Your statement “Call me patternistic.” I haven yet met anyone that is able to provide such a detailed pattern list…least not in the 25 sects within the church of Christ. You guys all have diff patterns and thats why not one will make such a list.

  17. churchesofChrist,

    I agree, there is not a single, detailed list or pattern that could be constructed from all of the practices and doctrines maintained within the churches of Christ. But, certainly there is some kind of list. Certainly God has an opinion concerning most, if not all, of the issues. There are some parts of the list we can be less sure of, and some parts that are vital that we understand. I will dare to make a list based on this understanding: the “ones” of Ephesians 4:4-6 (on the reasoning that if there is only one of each of these, then that excludes all others…there is one baptism, church, hope, and faith just as much as there is one God, one Lord Jesus, and one Holy Spirit). There must be some kind of pattern because God said there was (Romans 6:17; 2Timothy 1:13).
    My point is…often God’s position is not at one extreme or another. We cannot say there is no pattern, but we dare not say that my pattern is God’s pattern, 100%, no doubt about it, all those outside are destined for eternal damnation (and I understand that this blog is focused on those who take this second extreme position)…unless of course God has told us that certain elements are necessary for our salvation. Even faith, the universally accepted condition of salvation (among Christ-followers), would have to be considered a pattern since it is a certain kind of faith with a certain Object of our faith who saves. I like what Randy said along these lines: “Legitimate patterns I support; legalistic patterns I do NOT! What is the difference between the two? GOD specified one, MAN assumed the other! I will submit to the former, but I will not yield for even a second to the latter.” Although, Randy, I do think you have underestimated the role of human reasoning in determining God’s will…as I discussed in my previous comment. Some things that are “obvious” and “common sense” are still inferences…no matter how necessary, they still require human reasoning to determine.
    Likewise, perhaps the “silence rule” is applicable, but has flaws. We cannot let ourselves be tricked into thinking it is the end-all rule of interpretation, but we cannot completely disregard that which seems to serve us well at times (as Randy has pointed out, though he doesn’t regard it as silence…I’m not sure what he would call it…maybe he doesn’t want to call it anything for fear of making it dogma, which I completely understand…but some people find it helpful to systematize biblical interpretation…would he be content with “necessary inference”?…or, I think he called it “common sense”…although I think you’ll find that common sense is not all that common, and often must be taught).
    So, here we are. There is some kind of pattern, so what should be included in “the list”? There is some kind of silence/necessary inference/common sense used by inspired writers themselves, so when and how does it apply? These are the points that I believe we should focus on. Let’s find solutions. Let’s find ways of serving God better. Let’s avoid the extremes, and just find God’s will.
    One more thing. It is certainly not only the churches of Christ that have the problems you guys bring up. It is a human problem. Again, to quote Randy: “The horrendous division[s] that [have] occurred within the church of our Lord Jesus Christ [have] come primarily from these countless assumed patterns, about which our God in Scripture specified little or nothing at all.” Think of all the creeds, catechisms, and confessions that, however well-meaning (and I believe nearly all of them are), are not Scripture, but are held on to by believers as though they were. Think of all the “sacraments” and traditions that are treated similarly in all denominations. Think of synods, popes, and boards that, to many people, are the final word of authority (and here I am not so much criticizing the existent of these authorities as those who put them in positions of authority that do not belong to them…it may be they are the very ones who do this, and it may be the people who view them that way). The churches of Christ are a narrow playing field for these admonishments to be tossed around on. Do we need them? Yes. But, no more than any other group out there.
    I appreciate your pursuit of Truth. I appreciate the sincerity that drives all of you to speak out and seek God’s will. Thank you for tolerating a church of Christ preacher to comment.

    In Christ,
    Clint Howard

  18. answeringchurchesofchrist,

    You said, “My beef is not with ‘Churches of Christ'”. Have you considered, then, changing the name of your blog, which seems to indicate otherwise? I’m sure you can understand what kind of feelings might stir in a church of Christ preacher when he is grouped with those you really are opposing, men who I believe are in error, just as you believe (and the major error I am thinking of is proclaiming that all those outside the churches named “Church of Christ” are doomed).

    In Christ,
    Clint Howard

  19. I’ve talked with others about this before – and at this point, I just try to put disclaimers as noticeably as possible. Like the pix on the front page, and the sub header in the banner. Hopefully a Church of Christ preacher that happened upon things here would understand that if he spent a little time here.

    I couldn’t think of a succinct way to name the page – as you can tell by the longness of the title, anyhow. “ seemed a bit too long.

    Out of curiosity, what percentage of Church of Christ preachers would you say are like these men? If you don’t know exactly, just ballpark it.


  20. My guess, from attending churches in Arkansas, Colorado, New Jersey, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, California, Arizona, Georgia, and other states…and I am limiting it to the “church of Christ members are the only ones going to heaven” view for now…you might ask specifically about other views: perhaps 10-15% of preachers. The 15% would be the max. But if you ever did a survey you would have to be careful how you ask the question. Just asking, “If you do not belong to the church of Christ are you lost?” will not cut it because most would reply in the affirmative, but from the understanding that they are talking about Christ’s church, not churches with the name church of Christ….but I’m sure you’ve met with that confusion. I think it is biblical, the way they explain…it just doesn’t solve anything, and makes people confused. Yes, yes…we know you have to be a part of the church that belongs to Christ…but which and how many churches constitute the one church? Anyway…there’s my opinion, for what it’s worth.
    Also, I think this percentage is dwindling…rather quickly. As old preachers die off or retire and are replaced by younger preachers, the tide is turning.

  21. Out of curiosity, what percentage of Church of Christ preachers would you say are like these men? If you don’t know exactly, just ballpark it.

    Good question Nathan!

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