Let’s take a moment and ponder the Law of Inclusion and Exclusion. A typical statement is found in this quotation from Dub McClish —
Respect for the silence of Scripture, involving the “law of inclusion and exclusion,” is rooted in Scripture itself. Simply put, when God specifies what He wants man to do or how He wants man to do a certain thing, He simultaneously includes what He wants and implicitly excludes every other thing in that class. We naturally and unconsciously use this principle every day.
When a song leader says, “Please turn to number 100,” he implicitly excludes every other song by including the song specified.
He then goes on to talk about gopher wood and such.
Now let’s consider how real people really use real language. Consider this example.
A family’s grandmother invites all her children and grandchildren to the house for Thanksgiving. She assigns to each child something to bring. One is to bring cranberry sauce, another her famous dressing, and another the bread.
On Thanksgiving Day, the children all arrive with grandchildren in tow and arm loads of food. The child asked to bring the bread also brings butter, jam, and her beloved chocolate chip cookies. The child asked to bring the dressing also brings a pumpkin pie.
Are these gifts accepted? You bet they are! Thanksgiving is a feast of sharing good food. There’s no harm and much good in bringing extra. No one complains. In fact, everyone celebrates.
However, the third child, who was supposed to bring cranberry sauce is partially deaf. She thought the grandmother said, “horseradish sauce,” which is what she brings. Her nieces and nephews, who love cranberry sauce, are disappointed, but she is nonetheless welcomed. After all, she’s family. And anyone with family knows that brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles are always less than perfect.
On the other hand, the family has a fourth child who has a malicious streak. He brings a live cobra! And the grandmother tells him that he can’t come inside until he puts the cobra safely away — or better yet, kills it. Grandmothers don’t like snakes!
Now, under Br. McClish’s interpretation, all of the first three children should be banned from the meal. They all violated the “law” of exclusion and inclusion. When the grandmother said “dressing” she excluded bringing anything extra at all.
But common sense tells us that they the offerings were welcomed. Some extra things (mmmm … pumpkin pie) are welcomed. Some extra things (ugh … cobras) are not. Under his standard, as pies are part of the same class as the other food items specifically requested, they are wrong, but because the snake is of a different class, it’s okay!
Well, that’s just plain ridiculous. The way real people really make real decisions is this:
* Real commands must be obeyed.
* If a command is silent on some point (and they all are), the silence is filled by resort to some principle other than the command and the silence.
Hence, the grandmother was silent on pumpkin pie. Her daughter reasoned that the pie would be welcomed because, well, that’s just the nature of Thanksgiving.
On the other hand, had she been invited to bring dressing for a hospital for diabetics, she’d have been quite wrong to bring the pie.
The cobra was wrong, not because it wasn’t commanded, but because it’s dangerous. However, if his grandfather were a herpetologist who loved snakes, it may well have been a welcomed gift.
You see, you just can’t answer the question by some supposed law of exclusion. The answer has to come from somewhere else.
Hence, the whole rubric of authority, silence, and such is wrong. It’s all built on false assumptions — indeed, assumptions easily shown to be false in many ways. You just have to take a step back, clear your head, and use a little common sense — and not get caught up in all the argumentation.
We’ve taught this so often and so loudly that we’ve lost our perspective. We take these false teachings as axiomatic — as too obvious to require proof — when they are in fact not true at all.