A Plea to Reconsider: What’s Not Religious?

angelharp1.jpgOn page 89, Miller begins to set up the classic “gopher wood” argument —

But does that mean that we must have authority for everything we do in religion? Everything? What about the many things we do that the Bible does not mention? For example, where is our authority for church buildings, pews, lighting, carpet, television programs, songbooks, and communion trays?

Did you notice it? The subtle change in argument? Miller is playing three-card Monte. While you’re not watching, he hides what’s really going on.

You see, the argument that he began with regarding Col. 3:17 was that “whatever we do in word or deed” must be authorized. Now Miller has slipped in a qualifier: “in religion.” Evidently, we don’t have to have authority except in church — particularly, worship and church organization.

But his proof text is not at all limited to matters of religion! In fact, as we considered two posts ago, the context of Col. 3:17 is living Christianity in daily life. But Miller has to slide this limitation in while you’re not watching, because it’s just so absurd to imagine that we have to have Biblical authority for every single thing we ever do.

And this is where the argument becomes particularly destructive. You see, I was taught from childhood that my Christianity extends to my entire life — 24/7. I was warned not to be religious on Sunday mornings and irreligious the rest of the time. In fact, I was told that even my lifestyle is a part of my worship. I’m supposed to serve Jesus all day long wherever I am, whatever I’m doing.

But this deep and powerful truth is inconvenient for Miller’s argument. So he divides our lives into “religious” and “not religious,” and he applies his authority argument only in the “religious” sphere of our lives.

But just where does the Bible say that we need authority for religious matters and not anywhere else? And just where is this religious/not-religious line to be drawn?

Consider this parallel passage —

(1 Cor 10:31) So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Now, Paul was not talking about eating and drinking in church. He was talking about grocery shopping and going to the restaurant — or the First Century equivalents. The First Century Christians often had to deal with being invited to meals where meat dedicated to idols would be served, or going to the market where meat so dedicated was sold to the public. These were very mundane, everyday things. And yet Paul considered them “religious” enough to write chapters about the topic.

Just so, consider —

(Prov 3:5-6) Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

There is no distinction. It’s all religious!

And this brings us to the gopher wood argument. It’s responded to here — Expressio Unius.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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