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Gamaliel's Desk
Friday, October 25, 2002
Sola Scriptura
I have been in a wide-ranging e-mail discussion with a “brother” who accuses me, in his final analysis, of not believing the Bible. Just to set the record straight, Pharisees are the denomination who originated the statement, “The Bible is our sole rule of faith and practice.” Another way to phrase our belief is, “Where the Bible speaks, we speak; where the Bible is silent, we remain silent.”

My accuser claims that I do not in fact practice either of these beliefs based on some of the things I have written about in this column. For example, he says that smoking is not in the Bible so I cannot scripturally take a stand against smoking. I don’t know if this brother wants to justify his own personal sin or if he was raising the point strictly for argument’s sake but it is easy to see how the Bible is against smoking. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:19) and smoking is harmful to the body. Therefore, smoking is a sin because it defiles the temple of the Holy Spirit. What could be plainer?

This dear brother is apparently unclear on the use of logic to understand the Bible. Just because something is not mentioned in the Bible, doesn’t mean that the principle for it is not found there. For instance, there are no church buildings mentioned in the Bible, yet we build them anyway. Why? Because Hebrews 10:25 commands us to worship and we need a place to do so out of the rain and snow so we build a building. Next he will be telling me that using a car do drive to church is unscriptural because they aren’t mentioned in the Bible either.

This brother’s ignorance or obstinacy (I am not sure which) knows no bounds. He says that the Bible teaches in I Corinthians 11 that women are commanded to wear veils to church and that they are allowed to pray and prophesy in public. Once again, he fails to understand that Paul was speaking to a culture that was different than ours and that these verses only apply to us in principle not in practice.

The list would be too long for me to cite with regard to particulars but let me summarize. There are truths that are not mentioned specifically in the Bible and we are given liberty through the Holy Spirit to deduce them by the use of logic. Just because God gave us a Bible doesn’t mean he took away our brains. There are other things mentioned in the Bible that no longer apply to us in our day and age. Once again, just because it is in the Bible doesn’t mean we don’t use the brain God gave us. The final criterion is that we, as discerning spiritual Pharisees, are obligated to read and obey the Word of God as we interpret it.


“And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? . . . Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hears are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’ “
Matthew 15: 3-9 (NIV)

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