Scriptural, Unscriptural, Anti-scriptural

By Luther Blackmon

These are some terms that are often used, but I fear little understood even by members of the church. Let us take them in reverse order and examine each one.

Anti-scriptural: means “against” or “opposite” the scripture. When one commits murder or adultery, for example, he is acting in violation of a direct prohibition of the scriptures. Such things are anti-scriptural. Some people seem to think that this is the only way the scriptures forbid anything. But let us look to the next word, “unscriptural.”

Unscriptural: means “lacking scriptural authority;” not a thing specifically forbidden by the scriptures. This would be anti-scriptural But a thing not authorized in the scriptures, either by direct statement; approved example, or necessary inference, is unscriptural. Instrumental music in worship falls into this category. W e are often asked why we do not use instrumental music in worship. When we answer that it is not authorized by the New Testament scriptures, we are saying that it is unscriptural. To this answer we usually hear the objection, “Well, the Bible doesn’t say not to have it.” Those who offer this objection labor under the impression that for a thing to be wrong it must be anti-scriptural. Not so. The sons of Aaron “offered strange fire before the Lord” and were killed by a fire that “went out from the Lord and devoured them” (Lev. 10:1,2). God had not forbidden them to offer this particular fire. He had told them what fire to offer and that made the use of any other fire wrong. It might be well for us to meditate upon some of these Old Testament cases and see what God did to those who impiously acted without His authority in such matters. A lot of otherwise good people think nothing of presuming to add to what God has authorized in the worship and organization of the church. These same people would feel horrified at the thought of committing murder or adultery. Well, let me tell you something, neighbor. If you will read your Old Testament, you will find that God has always been more tolerant of such things as adultery and murder than He has of those who presumed to add to His arrangements. If you think this isn’t so, look at David. He committed adultery with Uriah’s wife and then had him killed, but God forgave him. Then look at the sons of Aaron, look at Korah, Dathan and Abiram (Numbers 16). Look at Uzzah (2 Kings 6). They were careless and presumptuous with the things of God, and they died for it. How do you come to the conclusion that it is wrong to kill or commit adultery, but a small thing to add to the word of the Lord? Of course, murder and adultery are wrong, but I would just as soon take my chances of going to heaven guilty of these as to try to get there while disregarding the authority of the scriptures in some matter pertaining to the name, worship, doctrine, organization or function of the church.

Scriptural: means authorized by the scriptures, or having scriptural support; not merely mentioned in the scriptures. Many things are mentioned in the scriptures that could not be called scriptural. As stated above, a thing is scriptural when it is authorized by command, approved example, or necessary inference.

Truth Magazine XIX: 51, pp. 809-810
November 6, 1975