The Reversal of Argumentation
Gospel preachers of past generations were willing to go into any neighborhood and begin to plead for the old paths. They would issue challenges to false teachers, and genuinely plead for a "thus saith the Lord" in all matters of doctrine, organization, morals, etc.
We have grown because we have continually demanded that God's word must authorize every action; in other words, a passage of scripture had to authorize before an action could begin. This is a good stand for it is encompassed with scripture (Jude 3; 1 Pet. 4:11).
Gradually over recent years, the plea of preachers has somewhat changed. Preachers have become more educated. Congregations have demanded certain changes take place. Preachers have been willing to tickle their ears, thus yielding ground to their unauthorized whims. This generation has been reared with institutionalism almost inseparably connected with it. We practice because we have always practiced . . .!
Whereas, tradition has never "authorized by God" any action!
Now, the old denominational argument (forever ridiculed by some gospel preachers) has become the clarion cry of some brethren: "It is nowhere condemned in the scriptures." The Christian Church preacher for his instrument makes this argument. The Catholic for his beads in prayer makes it. If people limit themselves to this principle, they will open the door to all kinds of innovations!
I did not think I would ever hear among "Church of Christ" preachers a like argument made. But when one begins to press for scriptures for the present innovations into the church work; viz., Herald of Truth, Orphan Homes, Old Folk Homes, Fellowship Dinners, all forms of entertainment, etc., this is their argument: "It is nowhere condemned in the scriptures." But that is not the issue at all, but "Where is it authorized in the scriptures?" I know of no one who is so biased that he would not accept when presented scriptural proof of the "right" of these things as operated to exist, but where is the scripture? It is distressing to see brethren pulling themselves away from New Testament teaching, but remember, "They went out from us, but they were not of us: for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us" (1 Jno. 2:19).
Brethren, let us all hold to the truth, demanding scriptural authorization for every action that we do. One can know this is right!
TRUTH MAGAZINE X: 10, p. 1a July 1966