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)

I Affirm The Virgin Birth

Why is it that we affirm the virgin birth, which I do affirm? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you follow me at all on Facebook, you know one of the running themes on my page and wherever I go on there is to have people state that they affirm the virgin birth, which I do affirm. A lot of people wonder how this all got started and why we do it. While it is humorous, there is actually a point to the regular affirmation of the virgin birth, which I do affirm.

Over a year ago, a friend of mine and I were engaging with a skeptic on the Unbelievable? Facebook page. He kept using the same kind of argument that if Paul believed in the virgin birth (Which I do affirm) surely he would have mentioned it. We tried to point out that this was a high-context society and the oral tradition would cover that and it would be assumed that the listeners had a background where they were already familiar with the message of the Gospel and the letters of Paul were to clarify matters of debate and unless there was no debate on the virgin birth (Which I do affirm) there was no need to mention it.

To give a contrast, we pointed out that in our churches, our pastors believe in the virgin birth (Which I do affirm), but they don’t have a need to mention it constantly. Then, in a bit of humor, it started becoming something that in every post we made, we stated we affirm the virgin birth. (Which I do affirm) The humor moved on from that post and now there is even a Facebook page called “I affirm the virgin birth.” (Which I do affirm.)

While humorous, it’s important to note that if it looks ridiculous to you, that’s to make the point. Christ mythers, for instance, are the worst in this category stating that everything had to be explicitly stated unless of course, it’s in the Gospels which just don’t count. (And they do affirm the virgin birth, which I also affirm) The argument from silence just really doesn’t cut it for historians. It’s meanwhile one of the favorite arguments of Christ mythers.

When you go to a church service, it’s normally assumed a sort of background beliefs so they don’t need to be explained every sermon. Now, of course, a pastor could teach to someone assuming they have no background knowledge, but that does not mean he’ll give an exhaustive account of everything that he believes. After all, at most churches I’ve been to, I’ve rarely heard the pastor state explicitly that he affirms the virgin birth. (Which I do affirm)

Of course, there are times the argument from silence has some validity. For instance, Muslims like to point to the Gospel of Barnabas as a testament of Jesus. Unfortunately, we have no manuscripts or mentions of the Gospel of Barnabas and strangely enough, it seems to coincide well with Islamic doctrines. Where silence is expected though, the argument from silence is weak. Thus, we are not surprised when we have no explicit statements from Paul that he affirms the virgin birth. (Which I do affirm)

Humor is a great teacher and I prefer to use it whenever I can. This has been going on for a year and I see no sign of it stopping and hopefully, the point will be made to Christ mythers and others that Paul doesn’t have to explicitly mention something like the virgin birth (Which I do affirm). Silence does not mean as much as it is thought to mean.

And by the way, just in case you don’t know, I affirm the virgin birth.

In Christ,
Nick Peters