A PLEA FOR CONSISTENCY

Neal Griffin

Consistency is recognized as being necessary to maintain respect for authority. It is generally accepted, in counseling circles, that parents who say "yes" and mean "no", or who say "yes" at one time and "no" the next cause insecurity in their children. Consistency is necessary to maintain respect for character. A worker who is always on time for work will be regarded as a punctual person dependable. On the other hand, a worker who is often tardy will be regarded as inconsistent undependable. Consistency is a Christian characteristic that fits beautifully under that "royal commandment" that "golden rule" "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". Consistency is also indicated under the precept of 2Corinthians 4:2 in relation to handling aright the scriptures.

Are there inconsistencies in the way some churches enforce patterns? One church professes to speak where the Bible speaks and to maintain silence where the Bible is silent. But does it? Is it consistent?

The New Testament is silent on the use of instruments in singing praise. This pattern is vehemently enforced, in some churches, to the point of excluding "church fellowship" to violators. The Bible is silent as a tomb on using auditorium type cathedrals in worship, but these same churches have vast real estate holdings. Why is not the silence injunction invoked here? Is this not inconsistent? But, "auditorium type cathedrals are necessarily implied in the command to assemble." Are they? They were not necessary for the first Christians. What is it that makes them necessary for Christians today? Is it pride? Isn't it, rather, just wishing to be like the denominations round about? Early Christians met in homes. This we know. Auditorium type cathedrals were not introduced until about 300 A.D. This we know from secular history. If the church is going to enforce the silence injunction, shouldn't it be enforced here? Shouldn't it be enforced consistently? Handle aright the scriptures!

The Bible is silent on "locally supported pulpit ministers". On the other hand, the Bible is very vocal on SENDING OUT evangelists and SENDING to their needs. The pattern is for SENDING OUT and SENDING TO, and not for BRINGING IN and KEEPING IN. Is this inconsistent? Shouldn't the silence injunction be invoked here? Handle aright the scriptures!

Early Christians did not try to give their fellowship tangible identity. They never referred to their kinship in Christ with denominating, proper names. They were called "Christians", a term that tells what they were (of Christ) and not who they were. They were not members of any organized, institutional entity. They were, instead, members of Christ. Such terms as, "kingdom", "body", "temple", "flock", "family", "assembly", and "called out" are all spiritual terms without earthly, institutional implications. They did not "give to" a church, "belong to" a church, or "go to" a church. To borrow an expression: If you can give to "IT", belong to "IT", or go to "IT", you won't find "IT" in the New Testament. Now, how does this compare with today's institutionalized churches? Is there any comparison at all? Why is not the silence injunction invoked here? Handle aright the scriptures!

It is not the observance of New Testament patterns that is being questioned here, but rather the INCONSISTENT observance of patterns. Handle aright the scriptures! Let us truly speak where the Bible speaks and, also, be consistent where the Bible is silent.