Discussion on Where the Bible is Silent, Let the Holy Spirit Lead

Two days ago I posted on the Church of Christ/Christian Church slogan "Where the Bible speaks, we speak. Where the Bible is silent, we're silent." It has received some negative feedback on the GLCC Alumni Forum. I have yet to hear one positive feedback in person or from anyone online, so maybe I am a little off on this one.

Here is the discussion that happened on the forum. I tried to get Kevin Greenlee's permission, but he didn't respond to my request. Since his thoughts were posted on a public forum, I doubt it is unethical to transfer them here. FYI, I always ask people if I want to post something I have received in a personal email. An email to me is safe from being posted on this blog.

Kevin Greenlee posted:

I would have to say that on the whole I cannot agree. (although I don't use the slogan cause, well, slogans are lame) I appreciate the thought you are coming from but there are terrible pitfalls when you go down this road. I quote your blog "Our lives are complex and different. The only way to cover how God wants each one of us to live was to remove the law from the books and place the law in our hearts. This does not excuse us from being faithful to the teachings of the Bible, but it does demand more than being faithful to the Bible. " This would seem to be saying that God wasn't bright enough to make a bible that would be applicable to our modern lives. I completely disagree. One does not have to twist the bible in order to make it apply to things not specifically mentioned. e.g. you mentioned abortion. Scripture is actually very articulate on this topic though most are unaware of it, but let us suppose it was not. the basic principle is murder and that is of course mentioned once or twice. When one goes down the road of following the "law of their hearts" (which I do not believe is what Roman's 2:14-16 was reffering to, that was the conscience given all men despite the fact that they may lack the written law) Then each individual gets to be God. It is no different than the examples of Jeremiahs couple that are living together (although that one is pretty well mentioned in scripture) All one has to do is say "Well God laid this on my heart therefore it is right and I don't care what you say". it is the ultimate in cultural relativism, it is individual relativism. "What I beleive is right for me because God told me so." It is a much more clear cut situation to take the core principles of scripture and apply them to modern situations which may not have been specifically mentioned. But I don't mean to be harsh and appologize if I have urinated you off, that's just my thought. If God told someone else different who am I to disagree with that.

I replied:

You haven't offended me in any way whatsover. I enjoy trying to hammer through my ideas and get at the truth.

If only the Bible were so clear on how to apply the principles to modern-day life, we wouldn't have so many divisions in the church.

I am not saying throw out Scripture and its principles. (Mike Fabian and I had a rather lengthy conversation over this post today.) I keep the Scriptures as the first part of the slogan. I just add that we are not limited to only what the Scriptures address.

There are many general abstract concepts laid out in the principles in Scripture. We seem to get fuzzy and disagree a lot when it comes to living those principles out in a concrete way, and many try to use the Scriptures as a weapon to enforce the unwritten concrete ways of living out the principles.

I also would say that the Spirit would work in the body of believers and not just individually. I strongly believe in being involved in a body of believers that helps to keeps one's "leadings" in check. Being Spirit-led should not be done in isolation.

I agree that it is very dangerous. But I also believe that it is what God intended. He intended for us to be led by his Spirit in discerning how to apply the principles we learn in Scripture. Being dangerous doesn't make it wrong.

There are terrible pitfalls when you go down any road. For instance, when you go down the road that this slogan proposes you wind up with non-instrumental churches, one-cup communion, etc. We need to place equal focus on being led by the Spirit and knowing the Truth through Scripture.

And we can throw out the Romans passage. That is fine. We are still left with the Jeremiah passage.

Kevin replied:

That would be where the "In non-essentials, liberty" part comes in. Although I don't use the slogan generally, your discussion is on the slogan. I don't care if people use music or not or if they use one cup or not. They are free to decide on such trivial matters because that is what they are, trivial. On what things are important it would be foolish to try and impose "Well the spirit leads me this way" on other people. As for me, I will stick with scripture and apply the basic principles as best I can and count on the Holy Spirit to slap me up side the head if I am manipulating scripture for my own purpose.

I replied:

I wonder what role the Holy Spirit plays then. Is he only disciplinary and never guiding?

Are we left only to be rational beings in trying to decide the best route for our lives and our churches outsides of the essential areas? Because most of my life really does exist outside of the essential areas. I know I am to be loving, but I don't know exactly how I am to love the kid that comes to my store whose father just died. I know I am to be part of a church that is a glorious example of the kingdom of God, but I just don't know exactly how that will look in today's culture. God knows what kind of love that kid needs. I don't. It makes sense that a loving God would share that with me, so that I can love him in the most effective way. God knows what our culture needs in terms of a church. I presume to know, but I probably don't. Doesn't it make sense that God will guide people to bring about His will here on earth?

Am I supposed to just do what my rational mind thinks I should do and then depend upon God for discipline? Or should I depend on the Holy Spirit to guide me when it comes to issues that aren't in Scripture like these?

As I said to Mike in our conversation yesterday. The Bible seems to mainly deal in abstract principles. It's when it comes to making the abstract practical that we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I don't want to just do what I want. I want to do what God wants.

Kevin replied:

first off I believe that you are mistaken when you say that these issues are not in scripture. I can think of biblical situations for all of the above. (give me a day or so to look them up) Purely disciplinary? No, but it would seem to be a role he plays. Primarily though the Holy Spirit would be convicting us of the moral right and wrongs that we already know from scripture. How should you love them? How about the examples laid out by Christ? how should a church be if the world looks at it strangely? I don't really care. I would look at what we see in scriptue and shoot for that. I would argue that most of your life does not fall outside of what we have in scripture, you just think it does. Something may "Make sense" that God would do such and such, but is there anything in scripture that tells us that God will do such and such? I do not believe in further "direct revelation" as many more charismatic churches teach. Please see the following book as I can't spend 300 pages quoting it. "Decision making and the will of God A biblical alternative to the traditional view" by Gary Friesen. PS none of the above is written sarcastically or "in your face" Just from a different perspective (that by the way, I once shared the perspective you seem to be supporting).

I replied:

I tried to phrase the following to not be rude. I hope it doesn't come across that way. This conversation would work much better in real life.

Please tell me the words or loving action I am to say or do for the boy next time I see him. I'm really at a loss on what I should do besides say that I am sorry, which I have already done. If explicit principles that can be translated into explicit concrete actions are in the Scriptures, I would love to see those Scripture verses. I really don't think it is in there, but maybe I am mistaken. Maybe my way of interpreting Scripture is skewed.

Also, please tell me exactly how the church should be structured. Should the congregation elect the leaders? Should we invest all this money into buildings? Should we pay a minister to do what elders in a church should do? I see disagreements in our churches all over the place.

I am a big proponent of house church. I even think it is pretty clear that the early church met in houses and shared meals together. Heck, other churches don't even think you're a legitimate church if you meet in a house and don't ever plan on having a building. I'm not going to make being house churches a law because it is Scirptural and the early church practiced it. I believe the Spirit will lead churches to be the way they should be.

Like you, I could care less if the world looks at us strangely; I want to be what God wants us to be. He knows how a church in Antwerp, Ohio would most effectively reach its community. I do believe that it might be different for a church in Lansing, Michigan.

I guess we might just have to agree to disagree. I do believe in further "direct revelation." I believe God is constantly at work guiding us and making us more of what he intends for us to be. That seems to actually be the root of our disagreement. All of the other stuff is irrelevant next to that.

I will check out the book in the next couple of months.


That is where it stands as of now. I wonder if I am going insane. Maybe it is the illness.

What role does God play in our lives if he isn't guiding us to be who he wants us to be? It seems rather silly to me that God knows the best path for our life, but he wouldn't reveal that path to us. Does He want us to use our rational minds, study his Scriptures, and come up with the best conclusion on our own?

Using our minds in study of the Scriptures and being led by the Spirit are not at odds with one another. They should work together. When we seperate one out of the equation we wind up in big trouble.

Does anyone know of good verses that relate to this subject matter?

Anyway, tomorrow I plan on dealing with more Church of Christ slogans if nothing else comes along.

Watch out for the potholes.