Silence of the Scriptures

As almost any parent will attest, when there is silence in a house full of playing children, that is usually a sign of trouble! As children become teenagers, they sometimes give their parents “the silent treatment.” This, too, is not usually a good sign. Well, the Bible is also silent in some areas and when people begin to manipulate that silence, it is not usually a good thing. Silence within the Scriptures is a common argument many like to use to justify various doctrinal beliefs. It is essentially the idea that if the Bible does not explicitly prohibit something, then it must be permissible. This faulty thinking can be easily exposed as error with just a few, rather simple, logical refutations and examples.

Perhaps, the most popular example of using silence of the Scriptures as permission is in connection with worship. It has often been stated, “The Bible does not prohibit the use of musical instruments in the worship of the church, so there is nothing wrong with having them.” While this is a true statement, we must remember that the Bible doesn’t specifically prohibit the use of cake and milk in the Lord’s Supper either, but no one would suggest that should be acceptable. Jesus clearly stated what should be used. If God tells us what he wants, then it is not necessary to list everything and all that He does not want. To do so would be extremely difficult just in the printing alone for it would require thousands upon thousands of pages to be added to the Bible. God says very clearly what His will is and that is sufficient. That is why Noah only used gopher wood to build the ark and not pine, or cedar, or some other type of wood (Genesis 6:14). God did not say he was prohibited from using other wood types, He simply stated what the only acceptable material would be, gopherwood.

We certainly understand this kind of thinking. To say otherwise is rather foolish. Consider an everyday occurrence where this same logic can be applied. Suppose a mother gives her child money to go to the store to buy milk and bread, what is that child supposed to do? Buy milk and bread. Does he understand that he can buy only those items and nothing more? Does that child have the right to buy anything extra that they want, because after all, mother did not say they couldn’t? You know the answer. You also know that the child would suffer consequences if they disobeyed by not following the mother’s commands to the letter. Or, what about a waiter in a restaurant? Does a waiter have the right to change your order since you didn’t say he couldn’t? You order steak and potatoes and he decides to bring you beef jerky and chips. They are the same thing, just in a different form. Do you see where we are going with this? Silence, or the lack of explicit prohibition does not equate to permission. Silence of the Scripture does not equate to Permission!

The Bible states very clearly that singing is to be used among Christians and examples are given (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 14:15; Matthew 26:30; James 5:13). The question of does silence equate to permission can be answered by looking at the Bible itself. God has not been silent regarding the silence principle. In Deuteronomy 4:2 and Revelation 22:18,19 He said, “You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” – TS