“We Do Many Things That We Don’t Have Authority For”

By Edward O. Bragwell, Jr.

Sometimes brethren will suggest that the church engage itself in some questionable activity or claim that there would be nothing wrong with the church taking certain actions. Conscientious brethren, as well they should, immediately ask for authority for such actions. All too many times when asked for such authority the response is, “Well, we do many things that we don’t have authority for.” This they believe justifies them doing whatever they wish.

What should be our response to such dangerous reasoning? First of all, one who makes such a statement should be asked to give examples where we act without authority. If he is unable to cite any examples then his assertion can be assumed to be false. If, however, he does cite examples then we need boldly to answer his charges and show him by what authority we do the things we do. If, in fact, his charges are correct and we do not have authority for our actions, then we must cease the unauthorized practice at once.

What if it is true that “we do many things that we don’t have authority for”? That does not justify doing other things for which we have no authority as many brethren would like us to think. Instead, it means that we must cut those things out and not do them anymore. We, indeed, would encourage anyone to point out any unauthorized practice that we are engaged in so that we might correct the matter. We want to do all things by the authority of the Lord (Col. 3:17).

Most of the time when brethren make such claims, they are just trying to shake our confidence and justify their own unauthorized actions. Don’t be rattled by their tactics. Instead, “be always ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15).

Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 14, p. 437
July 19, 1990