SEEKING TO BE “BIBLICAL”
Have you ever heard the statement, “We must be biblical”? Or maybe you have stated, “That is not biblical.” These are common statements that are made in reference to our efforts to be obedient, or lack of obedience, to the word of God. But these statements can often reveal a great misunderstanding, if not, inconsistency on the part of the one who makes them. For instance, we seek to establish the authority of God in our lives by doing what we believe God requires of us. But in our zeal, we often misunderstand the authority of God in our lives by developing our own conclusions to what is “biblical.” By stating that we are “biblical” in doing what we believe God requires of us to do in obedience to His word, we are often revealing inconsistencies on our part in our judgment of others who also claim that they are “biblical.”
In being “biblical” it is assumed that we are “doing Bible things in Bible ways.” But in the realm of our obedience to the word of God, doing Bible things in Bible ways sometimes leads us into being somewhat inconsistent, if not ignorant of the freedom by which God expects us to have in reference to our obedience to the principles of His will. A legalist may try to convince himself that he is being “biblical” by attaching a supposed prooftext to everything he does. But the reality of his response to the word of God reveals something very different. What does he do religiously when he has no prooftext? His legalistic approach to obedience leads him into all sorts of contradictions, if not hypocritical behavior in reference to his claim to be “biblical.” For example, one might claim to be “biblical” in reference to using a songbook to carry out the mandate to sing and make melody in one’s heart (Ep 5:1). The singing from the songbook is “biblical,” but the use of the songbook is nowhere found in the Bible, and thus, there is no prooftext. We are doing something “biblical” by using something that is “unbiblical.”
Another example may help. Suppose we seek to build for ourselves a building in which to assemble. The assembly of the saints is certainly “biblical,” for we read about such in the Bible (Hb 10:24,25). But the building of a facility for assembly is nowhere found in the Bible, and thus, the building of such an edifice would be “unbiblical” according to legal thinking. There would be no Bible verse to build a church building to carry out the mandate to assemble. And so for the legalist who needs his prooftexts in order to be “biblical,” he is stuck with a theological inconsistency, if not hypocrisy, if he accuses others for not being “biblical” in the absence of prooftexts.
So do Christians have the freedom to use “unbiblical” songbooks to sing and “unbiblical” facilities for assembly? Certainly. Doing such is in the realm of freedom, regardless of the lack of “prooftexts” for doing such. Christians have the freedom to do that which is “biblical” in principle by using “unbiblical” things or means in order to carry out the “biblical” principles. Simply because either songbooks or church buildings are not mentioned in the Bible does not make them “unbiblical.” Since there is silence in the Scriptures concerning both, then we correctly conclude that Christians can work in the area of freedom to use both, and yet be in obedience to the word and will of God. Silence of the Scriptures on many things allows freedom, not condemnation.
We would suggest, therefore, that one be very careful about condemning something with which he may not agree on the basis of it being “unbiblical.” If one does, he will find himself playing the part of a hypocrite. Upon close examination, he will be found to be doing several religious things in his own life for which he has no “biblical” authority. In his “unbiblical” behavior he will be found to be a judge and lawgiver of those he believes are doing “unbiblical” things or methods according to what he judges to be “biblical.” However, he himself would be judged “unbiblical” by his own standards by which he judges others. And because he makes arbitrary judgments, he will be the one who causes division over differences that he has made matters of faith. Simply because someone does something religiously that is not found in the Bible does not mean that he is “unbiblical.”
Simply because someone does something traditionally, does not mean he is “unbiblical” if he has no prooftext for his traditional way of doing something religiously. We can count numerous things we do traiditionally for which we have no prooftext. Are we “unbiblical” to do things traditionally for which we do not have a Bible verse? Certainly not! As long as we do not bind as law that which we do traditionally, then we can carry on with our traditions, for we are all humanly traditional in almost everything we do.