I occasionally move a comment I wrote to the main page, since most readers (I suspect) don’t read all the comments — and I’m bad to write too-long comments that I should save for posts.
“The problem with this is that “CENI” is NOT a hermeneutic. It is not a way of interpreting scripture. It is the foundation to all communication.”
(“CENI” in Internet lingo for Command, Example, Necessary Inference.)
My wife just left to go to the grocery store. I told her, “Please bring me some Diet Cokes.” If she brings back something in addition to Diet Cokes, has she acted in rebellion against me her husband? Or does the answer depend on something else? If so, what else?
Under a CENI approach, silence is a prohibition. I was silent on bananas. Does she have authority to buy bananas? Or are bananas necessarily inferred by “Diet Coke”? I don’t see how. So what’s the answer?
Ponder this long and hard, and you’ll find that the answer depends on the nature of my relationship with my wife and the nature of my own character. What kind of person would I have to be and what relationship would my wife and I have for “Diet Coke” to deny authority to buy bananas?
And so, you see, CENI omits quite a lot when it comes to human communication. In fact, to claim that humans can only grant authority by these three means is to take a very legalistic and unrealistic view of how humans relate to each other.
Here’s the reality. I don’t have to “authorize” my wife to buy groceries at all. We love each other. We trust each other. And if she wants to buy bananas, she doesn’t need my approval or authority — by command, example, or necessary inference. Her authority comes from our relationship and trust. In fact, while I suppose there’s an element of authority there, we never ever think or talk in those terms. It’s not a particularly useful concept in defining what to buy at the store.
Occasionally, she makes a mistake and buys something I don’t like. I divorce her when that happens, of course, because she should have acted based on clear authority!! And that, of course, is sheer foolishness and obviously so.
I don’t care when she makes a (very rare) mistake because perfection has never been and never will be the standard. I judge her heart and know she was trying to please me, and therefore I continue to love her and remain happily married even when by mistake she buys food I hate.
If you are in a loving relationship with someone else — a wife, a child, a parent — then this should be beyond obvious. You do not relate to someone you love based on CENI authority. You’d wind up at each other’s throats over trivialities! And who would want that kind of a relationship?