No. The Bible Doesn’t Spell It Out

Does the Bible have to state everything explicitly? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I spent some time engaged with a Sabbatarian in *cough* debate, if you can call it that. It’s really amazing when you catch these guys in an error proven in what they say and then say in their next post they’re not going to admit anything wrong and go on and act like it didn’t happen and then they go and do just that. Anyway, the main line that kept being used was “Tell me where the Bible says that the Sabbath was changed from Saturday to Sunday.”

One of my favorite responses I like to give to these people is to say “Oh! That’s right next to where the Scriptures tell us to gather books together and call them the New Testament.” That’s not in there either. Also on this point, a lot of these people don’t care what the church fathers said, you know, the ones that oversaw the text and helped us figure out what was and wasn’t canon?

The real problem is that a lot of people do have this idea that the Bible has to spell everything out, when it doesn’t. If you don’t have a specific chapter and verse, well then we just can’t go with it. There are a number of statements Scripture doesn’t speak on and we have to make decisions on them without that. We can look to other sources, like philosophy and the Fathers, but there is no one chapter and verse.

There are a lot of doctrines Protestants reject, whether rightly or wrongly, that are in this category. Nothing in the text tells you to pray to Mary explicitly or that she was a perpetual virgin. The RCC takes a strong stance on birth control, which I understand, and while they could be right, there is no chapter and verse on this.

There are some people who think the only argument that could exist for the Trinity is that verse in 1 John not found in the oldest manuscripts and remove that, and there’s no Trinity. (Atheist Frank Zindler actually argued this.) Sure, it would be easier if we had such a verse, but we don’t. Many doctrines are systematic in the sense that you take all the verses and references from all of Scripture and put them together. There is no one verse of Scripture you should go to to get your doctrine of salvation or of the end times, for instance.

So what about Sabbath issues? The question I kept asking was “Why should this show up?” Let’s suppose that the case is correct, which I think it is, that the Sabbath was moved to Sunday because of the resurrection of Jesus. Which verse needs to say that? None. If there is no indication that this was a debate going on in the Christian community, nothing needs to be said about it.

One reason is because of a high-context society. In this society, background knowledge is assumed. Here in America, if you go back and read the Federalist Papers, they’ll talk about events in Greek and Roman history casually. They never explain them. Why? They assumed that any educated person would know about that and would understand. Today, many of us reading them would need to look them up.

Today, imagine watching a news report and the report tells about a bomb that went off in Tehran. The reporter might say “the capital of Iran” to explain that. That’s because we live in a low-context society. Background knowledge is not assumed.

The problem when we come to Scripture is we treat a high-context book as if it was a low-context book. It doesn’t explicitly state some things because A. It expects you to figure them out or B. They just don’t really matter.

So where does Scripture make the claim about the Sabbath? Nowhere. Go through the rest of the New Testament though and you will see the first day of the week emphasized quite a lot. The writers expected you to figure it out.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

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