Chickens Home to Roost
What purpose does it serve to write about the flagrant abuses of scripture by those in other churches? If all churches are, as we believe, independent and autonomous, why discuss what another church is doing, even if we believe it is wrong? Isn't that just being divisive?
It is certainly not our attempt to further divide the body of Christ. However, it is our duty to teach others, and if others are in the wrong, we are obligated to tell them. This does not, though, answer the fact that many of what we would call "liberal" or institutional churches want no part of our fellowship or our tradition (their term). We are left, then, with three groups of people. One group claims no need for Bible authority for what they teach or practice. One claims a need for Bible authority in all they teach and practice. And finally, one claims a need for Bible authority for innovations others practice (and with which they do not agree), yet continue to practice many things themselves which are without scriptural authority. It is this last group (conservative liberals?) which urges us to return to this subject, so often debated in times past, and to look at the disaster wrought by their own blatant disregard for God's silence.
That the Bible appeals to silence as a source of determining authority is unquestioned. The silence of the Law of Moses necessitated a change of the priesthood under the new covenant (Hebrews 7), because "It is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests" (Heb. 7:14). If God (through inspired writers) is willing to argue for the authority of His silence in this area, are we willing to challenge that authority in other areas? Indeed, one of their writers, in a book which vehemently attacks many who are leading people even further away from the Bible as a pattern for the church, makes a major appeal based on the lack of authority found in silence:
"THE QUESTION IS: 'Is There Authority In Biblical Silence'? The Old Testament answers 'No.' The New Testament answers 'No.' Therefore, from the totality of the Book, I conclude 'the answer is 'NO.' ' (Behold the Pattern, Goebel Music, pg. 376, c 1991 by Goebel Music Publications)."
The problem is, while vilifying some for teaching and practicing that which is not authorized, this group fails to see their own unauthorized practices and, more importantly, that it is their practices and teachings which have brought on what they now see as the current heresy. What has happened, to use an old farm term, is that their chickens have come home to roost. Whenever man has been willing to participate in things not authorized (i.e. Missionary Societies, Benevolence Organizations, church supported Colleges, the sponsoring church arrangement, etc.), further unauthorized activities have not only followed, they have been defended using the previous unscriptural practices. Whatever these conservative liberals are up in arms about, they need look no further than the mirror to find the root cause of the problem.
In Biblical terms, the example is found in the history of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. When Jeroboam became king, he quickly served up the innovations of new worship places in Dan and Bethel, as well as the images of the golden calves ( 1 Kings 12:28-30). He also appointed priests who were not of the tribe of Levi ( v. 31). These innovations were to haunt the kingdom of Israel forever. Ten times the Lord says about a king in Israel, "And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, as his fathers had done; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin." Over and over, the kings of Israel added to the innovations of Jeroboam, until they were finally unrecognizable as the people of God. When that was finally true, God destroyed their nation in the captivity of Assyria ( 2 Kings 17).
It is time, brethren, for those who are so concerned with the state of the "mainstream" church to come clean. It is time for them to come home. Not to us, but to God. They owe us no particular allegiance, except as we both strive to serve God. The allegiance they owe is to God, and the repentance for past innovations is due God. The fact that some have gone so far as to embrace denominationalism is, at this point, beyond us. Our request is not for people to leave congregations they love, but for congregations to give up practices which they cannot support with scripture. If those congregations refuse, it may eventually be necessary for some to leave, but that is not our hope. Once a "book, chapter and verse" people, we ask only for that heritage to be recalled and returned to.
Some will think us presumptuous to ask for entire churches to repent, but this is no attempt to say, "Look at us!" Like the tax-collector of Luke 18, we trust in God's mercy rather than in our own abilities and deeds, but we cannot help but see the destruction wrought by those who act without authority, and that destruction requires us to call for repentance.