There are as many proof texts and arguments in support of the Regulative Principle as there are Church of Christ preachers, it seems. I’ve addressed most in previous posts, but I thought it might be helpful to accumulate them here and to fill in a few blanks I’d not gotten to yet.
“If anyone … does not bring this teaching …”
(2 John 1:9-11) Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. 11 Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.
The argument based on this passage is answered here. As the linked post explains, the command is actually to condemn those who reject the pure, simple gospel of Jesus.
They worship me in vain
(Matt. 15:8-9) “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9 They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'”
This passage actually says that it’s wrong to bind laws that God hasn’t bound. It’s explained here.
(Col 2:20-23) Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
“Self-imposed worship” is translated in the KJV as “will worship.” The Greek word is ethelothreskeia, which Strong’s Dictionary translates as “voluntary (arbitrary and unwarranted) piety, i.e., sanctimony:–will worship.”
In context, just as in Matt. 15:8-9, the passage is speaking of commands imposed by men to honor God that aren’t really commands. The Colossians seem to have been imposing restrictions on themselves “just in case.” Paul condemned this — and yet many of our teachers claim this passages supports making all silences into prohibitions. It really says quite the opposite.
If anyone adds anything …
(Rev 22:18) I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.
This passage is cited as proving that it’s sin to add practices to Biblical practices. But it actually condemns adding words to the book of Revelation — a very different thing. And even if it refers in principle to all the Bible, the sin would be to add a command that God didn’t make. You see, it condemns adding to the “words” of the Bible. Hence, silence must remain silence.
You see, it’s just as wrong, perhaps worse, to make a command God didn’t make as to deny a command that God made. These three passages plainly condemn imposing commands that God didn’t impose in an effort to please him.
These passages certainly tells us to be silent where the Bible is silent — and not by binding uncertain prohibitions.
A different gospel
(Gal 1:6-9) I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!
Now, Paul certainly speaks very harshly of teaching “a different gospel”! But what was it the Galatians were doing that put them at risk of eternal condemnation? Well, they were imposing a command that God didn’t impose — just to be safe. They made circumcision a requirement to be saved — and were standing on the edge of damnation for trying to honor God in this way.
What on earth would cause us to think that God wants us to issue commands he hasn’t? I mean, no one suggests that God ever actually said not to use instruments! Why then add a command to the Bible in the teeth of these dire warnings?
The Regulative Principles contends that God prohibits anything that’s unauthorized. We’ll consider the proof texts for this argument in the next post.