SILENCE AND AUTHORITY
Believers in the Bible must decide: (1) Does God permit everything which He has not specifically condemned, or (2) is all that He has not specifically authorized forbidden?
Silence limited in the Old Testament: (1) Moses was commanded to kill a red heifer; silence excluded ant or horse (Num. 19:2). (2) Noah was commanded to use gopher wood; silence excluded oak or pine (Gen 6:14). (3) Nadab and Abihu were commanded to get altar fire; silence excluded any other fire (Lev 10:1-2; 16:12). They got other fire and God killed them.
Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli (cir 1500) struggled with this question. Zwingli said that practices “not taught in the New Testament should be unconditionally rejected.” In the American movement to restore New Testament Christianity, the same question arose. (1) When the Bible authorized immersion of adults as the act of baptism, siience excluded sprinkling or pouring of babies. (2) When it commanded singing in worship, silence excluded playing mechanical instruments. (3) When it commanded bread and fruit of the vine in communion, silence excluded water and ham.