The Bible Doesn’t Say, “Don’t Do It,” Does It?

By Wayne Jackson

Solomon once wrote that “there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Certainly that saying is true with reference to the arguments that a swelling “progressive” element within the church is employing in defense of the idea that the use of musical instruments is permissible in Christian worship. Or at the very least, they allege, the issue is not one that should prevent fellowship between churches of Christ and denominational groups that use the instrument.

Professors in several colleges are attempting to argue this case, and a number of churches already have begun incorporating the instrument into their services. An even greater number contends that the matter is of no consequence, and there is little doubt that these will have the instrument in the not-distant future.

It once was the case that those who advocated the instrument attempted to make arguments that were at least remotely related to the biblical text. But those arguments proved to be so baseless that most of them have been abandoned. The mantra now appears to be that stale quip, “The Bible doesn’t say, ’don’t do it.’”

One cannot but believe that with some of these folks it would not matter if the Bible explicitly stated, “You must not use mechanical music in Christian worship.” They would do it anyway, for they are “will-worshippers” (Colossians 2:23) who are enamored with carnality, rather than truth.

Imagine for a moment the following scenario. A man takes his car into an automotive repair shop. He informs the proprietor that the vehicle is not running smoothly and he wants a tune-up. When the customer returns the following day, he is presented with a bill for more than $2,000. In addition to the tune-up, the repairman installed new brakes, a muffler, a carburetor, a fuel pump, and a new set of tires. The customer is enraged and protests: “I did not authorize these extra expenditures!” “I know that,” the mechanic responds, “but you did not say not to do it.” Suppose the case is taken to court. How do you reckon a judge would rule?

The issue is one of authority. While we recognize that there are many laws in the Bible that are explicitly negative, one may not draw the inference that everything is permitted that is not specifically condemned.

In the table of the Ten Commandments, the Lord said regarding “graven images,” i.e., idol gods, “you shall not bow yourself down to them” (Exodus 20:5). But what if some renegade Hebrew simply “stood” before an idol and prayed? Do you suppose that if he had done such, and made the defense, “He said, ’don’t bow’; he didn’t say, ’don’t stand’”? Do you suppose the Lord would have been impressed with such a depraved defense?

Can reasonable people not mentally anticipate the logical consequence of this type of reasoning? It throws wide open the gates of apostasy. Consider the following questions that surely could be posed by modern innovators.

  • Why can’t we pray to Mary and the saints? The Bible doesn’t explicitly condemn it.
  • Why can’t we observe communion on Saturday? The Bible doesn’t say not to.
  • Why can’t we have Pepsi and pizza for communion? The Bible doesn’t forbid it.
  • Why can’t we baptize babies? The New Testament doesn’t censure it.
  • Why can’t we smoke marijuana in worship? No text prohibits it.

It has become increasingly apparent that not only do we see a new generation emerging that knows practically nothing about the Scriptures, largely it is a people that cannot reason. Logic, to them, is a like an alien language.

For many, their entire religious emphasis (under a leaky umbrella they call “spiritual”) is one of feelings, self-centeredness, and an appeal to the carnal.

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.