CENI: Is CENI a Hermeneutic? A Question from the Contact form

CENI is to hermeneutics as McNuggets are to fine dining. (Couldn’t resist…) (Ceni is evidently a world-famous soccer goalie who will endorse any product at all.)

A reader posted an anonymous question in the Contact form. (Which is fine, but I’d really prefer that comments on posts be posted in the comments to that post — even if you think your comment will make me look stupid. It wouldn’t be the first time. And it would probably be good for me.)

The reader wrote (his words are in italics and indented) —

I came across an article by you entitled “Is CENI a Hermeneutic?” 12-12-13. In your comment regarding your wife buying bananas, you stated,

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?

What you seem to be ignoring is the relationship between you and God is one of Master and servant. In your statement above where it says “wife” replace wife with “God” and read it again.

[JFG: Okay. Let’s rephrase this in God-Christian terms, quoting my earlier post but changing the characters have you’ve suggested:

I just left to go to the grocery store. God told me, “Please bring me some Diet Cokes.” If I bring back something in addition to Diet Cokes, have I acted in rebellion against God my Master? Or does the answer depend on something else? If so, what else?

Under a CENI approach, silence is a prohibition. God was silent on bananas. Do I have to have authority to buy bananas? Or are bananas necessarily inferred by “Diet Coke”? I don’t see how. So what’s the answer?]

Do you desire to be faithful to, obedient to your God?

[JFG: Of course.]

It would seem that you have placed yourself on the same level as God.

[Because I had the audacity to buy bananas without authority? But God IS my Master. Right now. And I just bought bananas from the grocery store. So where is my CENI authority? Where does God command me to buy bananas? I can’t think of any example of bananas being bought in the NT. Nor is there an obvious necessary inference. After all, “necessary” means that the scriptures necessarily authorize bananas.

Aren’t there cases when it would be wrong to buy bananas? Such as if it were illegal. Or if I was going to give them to a person I know to be allergic to bananas. Or if the bananas are being sold to support human sex trafficking. Or if my potassium is elevated and eating them could damage my health. So the inference is hardly necessary.

It seems to me that authority is irrelevant to the question. Sometimes it’s okay. Sometimes it’s not. And the tipping point isn’t authority but broader principles, such as “Love your neighbor” and the fact that my body is a temple for the Holy Spirit. And those principles will suffice to find the right answer without ever getting to the question of authority at all.]

That you can decide for yourself what God wants.

[You assume, as we lawyers say, a fact not in evidence. Why assume that anything I buy is necessarily for God? Why can’t I buy bananas for me? or a friend? Is that forbidden for lack of authority? And maybe God doesn’t care either way. Maybe he gave me a brain and a heart so I could make some decisions on my own? Obviously, those decisions have to be guided by his will for me (“love your neighbor”; body is a temple for the Spirit), but who says his will may only be communicated by granting or withdrawing authority? I don’t see that in the Bible.]

Is that not “will” worship?

[Not remotely. You’re referencing Col 2:23 —

(Col. 2:23 KJV) 23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh. 

Let’s try that in modern English and in context —

(Col. 2:18-23 ESV) 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind,  19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.  20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations —  21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”  22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used) — according to human precepts and teachings?  23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

Notice that Paul was condemning certain ascetics who insisted on the commands “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch.” They were imposing restrictions on Christians that God didn’t impose. They were adding commands to the Bible. This is what the KJV calls “will worship.”

Without divine “instruction” we wouldn’t know anything.

[Obviously God communicates to us in many forms. Some of those communications are indeed commands. Some are metaphors, poetry, apocalypse, parables, proverbs, stories … indeed, nearly every form of written communication known to man. The Bible contains far more poetry than law. And it’s all important. So, no, we have much, much more than instruction. And only a small piece of the foregoing addresses authority as such. Indeed, if you read the Bible looking for authority and nothing else, you’ll skip some of the very best parts. I mean, how much time will you spend in Isaiah or Jonah or the Revelation if you’re only interested in what is authorized?]

Was it not Jesus Himself who said, “If you love Me, keep my commandments?”

[Of course. Do you really think I doubt this? Remember, in my story I bought the Diet Cokes. That was never questioned. I kept his commandment. Really and truly. The question is whether I can buy bananas — about which God said nothing. Hence, there was no command to violate.

You are assuming — utterly without proof — that his silence as to bananas carries the same weight as an outright command, which defies good sense and logic. A silence is not a command.

To call a silence a command is to add to God’s word. If you have nothing else to base your rule on, it’s looking a lot like will worship or self-made religion. After all, the rule didn’t come from God but from your assumption about how to interpret God’s silence.]

Who are those who are going to heaven? Is it not those who “do” the will of God? How can we do it if we are not told?

[He told me to buy Diet Cokes and I bought them. He said nothing about bananas, my doctor wants me to increase my potassium intake, and so I bought the bananas. How is that disobedience? How can I disobey a silence?]

The Old Testament was written for our learning, we can learn how not to treat God, to listen to His “commands” and follow them. And we will hear, “Well done thy good and faithful servant, enter in to the joy of heaven. “

[Again, I obeyed the only command given in the example story. I bought the Diet Cokes. (How is this hard?) Where on earth do you get the notion that a command to buy Diet Cokes equals a command forbidding bananas?]

So, yes, your answers in your article does indeed show your relationship with God almighty.

[Correct. I don’t add to his word because he is clear that I should not do so. And that really is a command (not a silence). In addition to the passage you alluded to, there is–

(Mk. 7:1-8 ESV)  Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem,  2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed.  3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders,  4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.)  5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”  6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;  7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’  8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” 

Notice that the Pharisees required their followers to wash their hands before eating, for fear that some dirt or dust from someone or something unclean might be consumed by accident. (My mother would approve of washing before eating!) But they bound it as a command, and Jesus rebukes them for adding a command not made by God. Indeed, Jesus very plainly condemns binding a human tradition not made by God.

I would add that the Jewish synagogue was a manmade tradition, utterly without OT authority. The cups taken at the Passover are not found in the OT. Both are additions by man, and both were approved by Jesus. In fact, he adopted the Passover cup as part of our Lord’s Supper — a human addition. Silence does not always imply a prohibition.

Now, it’s easy to overstate a case. There are, of course, grammatical constructions and situations in which silence implies a prohibition. But not all silences do. And sometimes the inference is not found in grammar but in relationship.

If my employee goes to the store and I ask her to bring some Diet Cokes, she may well have authority to buy whatever my office needs. I have staff members who’ve been with me for 30 years. They know what the office needs better than I do. They have discretion to take the business credit card and buy what we need to do business. Even if I ask for Diet Cokes and am otherwise silent. Yes, if we need bananas, she may buy bananas, and I thank her for not bothering me to ask. I trust her.

She’s a valued employee for that very reason: because I don’t have to instruct her on every detail. And if she makes an occasional error, I overlook it, because that’s the nature of our relationship. I judge her heart. And because her heart is to be the best employee she can be, most of the time, she gets things right. And I don’t sweat the small stuff, because nothing would make me a bad employer more quickly than nitpicking her judgments when she’s trying her best to please me.

But if order Diet Cokes on Amazon.com, I don’t expect the fine people at Amazon to know what else I need and charge it to my card. We don’t have that kind of relationship.

So … am I to God a good and faithful servant who can be trusted to make wise decisions based on the years we’ve spent together? Or am I like Amazon, a total stranger with a purely commercial relationship?

Both relationships are commercial. But one is also personal and based on faith and a life of commitment and service — time spent together to learn the other’s needs and wants. The other has none of those things. It’s purely economic and not personal at all.

And the relationship answers the question about authority.

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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91 Responses to CENI: Is CENI a Hermeneutic? A Question from the Contact form

  1. Eddie says:

    Jay said, “There are, of course, grammatical constructions and situations in which silence implies a prohibition.”

    Can you give an example?

  2. laymond says:

    “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? ”

    Jay, it would say a lot about your relationship, if you only had money for one, or the other.

  3. Dwight says:

    Much of this has to do with the Regulative Principle, which is just a principle and a very limited one at that (it isn’t law). The Regulative Principle is paramount to saying “cows are brown”, which is true, but what isn’t true is that not all cows are brown and not only cows are brown.
    The RP seeks to use a limited statement in regards to worship to strictly cover everything. While God did regulate worship, he didn’t regulate all worship and he also regulated the Jews in life in general, but not in everything. God’s regulation allowed man to actin conjunction with the regulations God made.
    There are actually many cases where God said to do one thing and then man did that and more. In II Chron. the Israelites came back to their land from their captivity. They reinstituted the Law and accordingly at the appointed time had their Passover (commanded). Then they had another one. A duplicate Passover (not commanded). God wasn’t upset that man did more than what he asked as long as man did what he asked without altering or not doing the command.
    Queen Esther instituted another feast day, along side of God’s commanded feast days.
    David created musical instruments that were used alongside of God’s commanded instruments.
    The argument that one could not bring back something else besides what was commanded is wrong, as long as what was commanded was brought back.
    This is admittedly a strange entry, but let’s consider Matt.5:38-42 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.” This is about giving more past what was asked in the first place, without the asking of the person for more, which shows love.
    Let’s apply this to God. If God ask for something, the Godly thing would be to give him what he ask and more, either of the same or of the type at our discretion.

  4. Jay Guin says:


    I have already offered a situational case: when I order Diet Coke from Amazon.com, I don’t want them charging me for and delivering bananas. The relationship is purely commercial and I do not trust them to make decisions for me. And Amazon does not want to be responsible for making any decisions on their own.

    Grammatically, if I’m in the office and meeting with a client, and I call my receptionist and ask her to bring me a Diet Coke, and really don’t intend for her to also bring me a banana as well as a Diet Coke. It would be rude for me to eat in front of my client, and she should not assume that I wish to be rude to a client. On the other hand, if I were diabetic and needed something for my blood sugar, I’d hope she’s bring me a banana even if it would be rude. If she see symptoms of low blood sugar, she should bring the banana now!

    Obviously, her authority as to bananas is governed by many things, including my physical needs, cultural expectations, and enough sense to know what’s important and appropriate and what’s not. There is no grammatical RULE that can answer the question whether she is authorized to bring me a banana in addition to a Diet Coke. Silence is a factor, but it’s far from decisive either way. Rather, silence simply opens up the question. It doesn’t answer it.

    Perhaps more to the AC vs IM point, does my request for a Diet Coke authorize a glass, ice, and a coaster as “aids” to my consumption of a Diet Coke? Of course. What about a Sprite? No. A Sprite is no aid to a Diet Coke.

    Now, when it comes to IM, it’s argued that IM is not a mere aid but an actual means of worship, as somewhere in the Psalms, we are urged to worship “with” various instruments.

    But ice is a thirst quencher just as is Diet Coke. In fact, it’s very common for people to either “eat” ice or let it melt and then drink the water with the remaining ice. So like IM, ice can be both an aid (makes the Diet Coke cold) or a thirst quencher all by itself, just as IM can aid singing or be a separate means of worship. And yet it was sure easy to see that authority to bring a Diet Coke to me in my office implies authority to bring me ice as well — even with complete silence on the ice question.

    Hence, in common usage, authority to do X implies authority to do those things that aid in doing X, even if sui generis (of the same category) as X.

    Therefore, the notion that silence necessarily implies a prohibition is simply not true. In very particular circumstances it might be true, but there is no rule either way.

  5. laymond says:

    Dwight, unless I am mistaken the last part of your statement is also true.

    “The Regulative Principle is paramount to saying “cows are brown”, which is true, but what isn’t true is that not all cows are brown and not only cows are brown.”

    “but what isn’t true is that not all cows are brown and not only cows are brown.”

    I believe it is true, that not all cows are brown.
    I believe it is also true that not only cows are brown.

    Since I have owned a few cows, I know this to be a fact.

  6. Dwight says:

    Laymond, what I meant was “not true of regulative principle” in this regard. IT is true that not all cows are brown and not only cows are brown. My point is that the regulative principle should not be used as a law or command. It says just a part of the whole and thus isn’t true in its broad sweep.

  7. Kevin says:

    It seems to me that adherents to the RP conflate “singing” with “music.” Have you ever noticed how the argument is usually phrased? “God specified that kind of music that He wanted.”
    Did He really? Or did He rather give us broad guidance, i.e. sing, and leave the details of how we sing to us? We can sing with IM; we can sing without IM. Still singing either way.

  8. Dwight says:

    Yes, Kevin, much of the argument is based on the wrong paradigm of the father giving the money to his son and telling the son to get an apple, and then the son brings back a banana, when the paradigm should be the father telling the son to go get an apple and then the son brings back an apple and also brings back a banana or another apple, which the father approved of once before. The child did what the parent wanted and more of his own initiative.
    For some reason giving God what the wanted and then giving God more from us to God is wrong, but then again I used to think this way as well.
    What it really says is that we will give God just what he asked and no more of us, because we think he just wants only that. This is also the problem derived from a “command is exclusionary” instead of a command is a command and doesn’t exclude more, but rather less. We should sing to God, but that doesn’t exclude other types of worship. David danced before God, without God telling him to dance and there being a precedence for it. And David was a man after God’s own heart.

  9. Dwight says:

    From what I understand “will worship” (within the context of Col.2) is where man through a force of his will decides not to do certain things “do not taste, do not touch, do not handle” and regards the fact that he didn’t do these things as worthy of salvation and the reverse being worthy of damnation and imposing this concept on others. Worship was praise towards God, not depriving oneself of things, which were not inherently sinful. The Encratites taught against eating meat, drinking wine (only water) even during the Lord’s Supper and marriage (or sexual union) with one’s wife as ways to being righteous before God.

  10. Andrew says:

    How did Noah build the ark? I’ve heard people say, “God said build but he didn’t say how to build so tools are OK but we can’t substitute a different kind of wood”. Agreed (even though there is a slight subject change in that reply from how to what but whatever works) Back to the building question…tools? Check! What about scaffolding? Did Noah have scaffolding? We don’t know. I infer that he did unless he could levitate. Would scaffolding have been legal? God didn’t say build scaffolding he said build an ark. For that matter, he would have had to build to tools too! There was no Home Depot at the base of Mt. Ararat then. (Not sure if there is now either but whatever works) So, doesn’t the command to build an Ark come with inherit authority/responsibility to get the job done in a way that was practical to Noah as long as the ark was the right specifications? I cannot imagine God saying, “Great job on the ark there…but…I didn’t say anything about scaffolding..I said build an ark not scaffolding and tools!”

  11. David says:

    The Regulative Principle of Worship found in the Calvinistic Creeds was aimed squarely at the Catholic Church which had turned the Christian assembly into a series of rituals the hierarchy had mostly dreamed up. If the Protestant reformers were already in the mode of thinking of the Christian assembly as a series of rituals, it is understandable that, to them, man made rituals, not commanded by God, would be anathema. Of course the Calvinistic reformers’ error was in continuing to think of the assembly as rituals performed, similar to OT rituals concerning sacrifices.

    Thomas Campbell, in one of his celebrated writings paraphrased the Principle as stated in the Westminster Confession of Faith and said the NT was the constitution for the church, the same as the OT was for Israel. In one writing he promised that, in the near future, he would publish the exact formula for how a church assembly should be conducted. The exact formula was never published. He never said why he didn’t publish it. It seems that Alexander Campbell took the Principle with a grain of salt.

    My main point is that the Regulative Principle is not just Calvinistic, but a mixture of two opposites, Calvinism and Catholicism.

  12. Dwight says:

    The irony is that Calvin who was largely behind the RP, also was fond of the liturgy concept, placing in line those things that had no direct command behind them in form.
    The Ark is a good example of a command and a bad example of exegesis. Noah was commanded to build an ark, but not commanded to build a table to eat on while building the ark. Noah could have carved toys for his children during this time that had nothing to do with the ark. Noah could have made tables and chairs out of other wood that went on the ark. The point being that one command didn’t stop Noah from dong things in relation or that had no direct relation to the Ark itself. As long as Noah built, he was good.

  13. John F says:

    “does my request for a Diet Coke authorize a glass, ice, and a coaster as “aids” to my consumption of a Diet Coke? Of course.”

    How could you POSSIBLE DILUTE that which is commanded? That would be like ADDING water to the ONLY APPROVED Lord’s Supper non-alcoholic Welch’s grape juice because too many people showed up and you were afraid you would run out :).

    And yet Saul thought he could “go beyond” what was required / requested and as a result occurred the wrath of God and lost his kingdom. (1 Samuel 15)

    So apparently buying bananas may not be such a good idea.

  14. Alabama John says:

    There were construction specifics. Gopher Wood for the Ark is one. Oak wouldn’t be accepted.

    One story I heard was Gopher Wood was not from around there so it had to be cut and brought to Noah.

    So, others helped in the construction. Who knows, Noah might of had a whole construction crew doing various construction things. He and his family might of been the GC or Prime Contractor and only did the paperwork (Sheep skin) buying, subcontracting, quality control, and over all supervision.

    Like today, no matter how many are involved in the construction process, the GC or Prime gets the trophy.

  15. Alabama John says:

    Gopher Wood is found only in Eastern Asia and North America, mainly Florida. Long way from Noah. But, God could of laid them at Noahs feet all cut to length and ready to be put up. Noah was to build it, not create it.

  16. Jay Guin says:

    John F,

    Actually, I do prefer my Diet Coke straight up. That must be why.

    One week many years ago, an older member — a man — volunteered to prepare communion. Being unfamiliar with the finer points of grocery shopping, he bought Welch’s Cran-Grape Juice by mistake. The members were quite upset. Some thought it might be wine. (Some had never tasted real wine in their lives.) Boy, were they relieved to learn it was Cran-Grape!

    Yep. They preferred something clearly not used by Jesus to exactly what Jesus used.

  17. Jay Guin says:


    Thomas Campbell’s Declaration and Address repudiates the RP as a test of salvation/fellowship. Alexander Campbell’s The Christian System would reach the same result. But A. Campbell likely considered it good hermeneutics. He made similar arguments in his Search for the Ancient Order series — but carefully made the point that we must not divide over inferential truths, no matter how true.

  18. Jay Guin says:


    As I understand the RP and CENI, having read Thomas Warren and others at length on this subject, the scaffolding would be no problem, it being an aid or an expedience. The problem would be lifeboats. If Noah had built lifeboats, even out of gopher wood, he made something without authority that is of the same class as the ark.

    If you read the Puritans on the RP, you find the same argument stated in Aristotelian terms, distinguishing the “essence” and the “accidents” of singing. Because IM can be an act of worship by itself, it’s not just an aid but also of the same essence as singing. Unlike a song leader or pitch pipe, it’s not a mere accident.

    Of course, as soon as we find that we need Aristotle to interpret the scriptures, we’ve messed up. And the identical thought process appears in Warren and other advocates for this teaching because they’re trying to impose an Enlightenment/Western/Greek perspective on ancient/Eastern/Jewish writings. I mean, can you imagine Jesus responding to questions about essences and accidents in interpreting the Torah? the same Jesus who took Passover wine, celebrated the Festival of Lights, and attended synagogue all without scriptural authority?!

    I think he would have something pithy like,

    (Mic. 6:7-8 ESV) 7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” 8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

    I mean, the prophetic mindset was so very different …

  19. John F says:

    Jay, Your Cran-Grape group could not have been MORE upset than when i used WHITE grape juice and spoke of how on the Oregon Trail they often squeezed juice from raisins, after all, fruit of the vine is fruit of the vine (we only used it once, and I was shown mercy — apparently I had acted in ignorance).

  20. Dwight says:

    If Noah knew how to build the ark, chances are he knew how to build boats. It is possible that was Noah’s trade, so to build a boat wouldn’t have been sinning, even if a boat, as it was his commerce.
    What would have been sinning is for Noah to not build the boat or for Noah to build the boat out of some other material or in some other dimensions or to build two Arks, otherwise Noah was open to doing what ever he wanted to.
    Knowing that the boat was specifically for him and the animals to survive the flood Noah wouldn’t have built another ark. There were at least four rivers in the area and chances are people had boats of some sort, but they wouldn’t have survived the flood at God’s will.
    I don’t know of a scripture where something is initially sinful, but becomes not sinful upon being useful, which is the argument against IM and for things like hammers for the ark, but then IM was sometimes used by God for praise, even with out singing, so would singing be the addition then.
    There is a biting irony in that we will draw lines over unleavened or regular bread, but are comfortable using grape juice, which wasn’t available during the time of Christ, unless during the harvesting season. And yet the scriptures clearly allude to wine during the feast.

  21. laymond says:

    Jay said; “If Noah had built lifeboats, even out of gopher wood, he made something without authority that is of the same class as the ark. ”

    Not only without authority, but without faith in God, and his boat. everything comes down to faith in God.
    I will venture to say if Noah had built lifeboats, the whole thing would have sunk.

  22. laymond says:

    I absolutely believe we would not be here today if not for Noah’s faith in God.
    The end would have been then instead of in the future. we owe Noah more than we can ever repay. If not for Noah, there would have been no need for Jesus. yet we barely mention what Noah did. His faith saved humanity. religion was saved by the faith of Noah, worship of God on this earth was saved by Noah. the bible was written because of what Noah did. all animal and human life that now exists are because of Noah’s faith.
    God trusted Noah with all his creation, as we know it.

  23. Alabama John says:

    laymond, You are so right and I love you including that last part, “creation, as we know it”.

  24. laymond says:

    Thanks John, I don’t know any other way to see it, The two men who get all the credit for human salvation Moses, and Jesus would not have any humanity to save if not for Noah. Moses only saved the Jews, and Jesus only saved the Christians, Noah saved all of humanity.

  25. Andrew says:

    My wife and I were discussing this CENI-S stuff, your analogy, and other roads this thinking will lead you down. I realized something – thinking like this wears me out. Having a legal relationship with God was exhausting and I’m glad He and I aren’t like that anymore. It still irks me when I hear people say the phrase – “New Law”

  26. Jay Guin says:

    Andrew wrote,

    My wife and I were discussing this CENI-S stuff, your analogy, and other roads this thinking will lead you down. I realized something – thinking like this wears me out.

    Amen! I can’t get into CENI but every so often. I derive sheer joy from exegeting the text of scripture. I have to make myself wade once again into the muddy waters of CENI.

  27. Jay Guin says:


    Regarding Noah and faith, then why was God okay with David picking up five stones when he only needed one to kill Goliath? God blessed his chutzpah in attacking Goliath even though David had a fallback plan.

  28. Dwight says:

    Laymond, there are some huge problems with your statement, “Moses only saved the Jews, and Jesus only saved the Christians, Noah saved all of humanity.”
    First, Moses didn’t save the Jews, God did;
    Second Noah didn’t save all humanity, he only was a small representation of humanity and even then God saved him and his family;
    Thirdly Jesus came to save the world and gave himself for the world, which neither Moses or Noah did or could do and Jesus didn’t save Christians, he saved people who recognized themselves as Christians. So all in all God saved people and still does, but now through Jesus His Son.
    Jesus was not a peer of Moses or Noah or even the angels, but of God himself.

    God didn’t tell David that it would take one stone or two or three, but David had faith that he would defeat Goliath even if it was one or two or three or even five with God’s help. And even then, the stones didn’t outright kill Goliath, as a sword helped.

  29. laymond says:

    Jay, I don’t see anything analogous in the two stories. I believe God designed the ark, and without lifeboats.
    I don’t remember God having much if anything to do with how David killed Goliath. David seemed to have faith that God would protect him, but that is the extent of God’s participation as far as I remember. I don’t remember God telling David how much ammunition to carry.

  30. laymond says:

    Dwight, if you want to be picky, God saved the Jews through the man Moses, God saved the Christians through the man Jesus, God saved humanity through the man Noah. and if God had not saved humanity through the man Noah, there would not have been a man named Moses, nor a man named Jesus.

  31. laymond says:

    Dwight said ; “Jesus was not a peer of Moses or Noah or even the angels, but of God himself.”

    It seems to me that Paul, and the Hebrew writer disagree with you.

    1Ti 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

    Heb 2:10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.
    Heb 2:11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,

    It seems that you are saying Jesus was a peer, or on equal standing with God. If that is what you are saying how do you explain the following statement. ” to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. ” are you saying God is not perfect. For you cannot make anyone perfect, who is already perfect, through suffering or any other manner. perfect is perfect.. The Hebrew writer seems to be explaining to us how the man Jesus Christ was made perfect.

  32. laymond says:

    Dwight you say Jesus had no peers on this earth, only in heaven.You are right when you say Jesus had no equal while here on earth, because God worked only through “one man” but when Jesus was preparing to Go to The Father he told the twelve apostles, this.

    Jhn 14:10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.
    Jhn 14:11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.
    Jhn 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

    Seems to me, Jesus told the apostles that God would work even greater works through them than he did through him.

    Mat 19:28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
    Luk 22:29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;
    Luk 22:30 That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

    Gen 3:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
    Gen 3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

    Seems that Jesus does have peers, brothers and sisters, many. You might be right about Noah, and Moses. but I doubt it.

  33. laymond says:

    Mat 17:3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

    no peers, nothing said about anyone bowing down to Jesus. I would have loved to hear this conversation.

  34. Jeff Richardson says:

    You stated, “I just left the grocery store, God told me, please bring me some Diet cokes, If I bring back something in addition to Diet Cokes, have I acted in rebellion to God my Master.? The answer is YES!! Don’t you remember Uzzah? Nadib and Abihu? Were they all not condemned for not following God’s instructions? How many times did the children of Israel get chastised for the same? Without instruction man would have no idea of what to do to please God, we would be groping in the dark. Noah was found to be faithful, why? because he followed God’s instructions to the letter. Jay, with your reasoning, Noah could have built the ark however he wanted and God would have been pleased, really? Our relationship with mankind is not the same as with God. He is the Master, we don’t question Him, we don’t add to or take away from His will. We were warned about that weren’t we? Jay lets say your “god” in your law office. You have given your workers some authority. How did they get that authority? you gave it to them didn’t you? What happens when one of them goes beyond their authority? Do they say, well, I’ve worked here along time, I think I know what Jay wants. How far does that fly Jay? Your quote, ” So am I to God a good and faithful servant who can be trusted to make wise decisions based on the years we’ve spent together”? No!! Jeremiah 10:23 says, “It is not in man to direct his own steps”. Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God, Romans 10:17. So if we can’t hear it from God, we can’t have faith in it. Why does 2 Timothy 3:16,17 inform us that God’s word is all sufficient , it’s all we need to be complete in God’s sight. Peter tells us that God has GIVEN us all things that pertain to life and Godliness. Paul told Timothy to guard that which was delivered, to hold fast to the “pattern” of sound words. Paul told him if he instructed the brethren in these things, he would be a good minister of Jesus Christ. James 1:22, we must be doers of the WORD, James 1:25 “he who looketh into the perfect LAW of liberty and continues there in……shall be blessed.” We want to follow Jesus? we had better know what He taught, so we can know HOW to follow Him.

  35. Dwight says:

    Jeff, go back and you will see that your paradigm of Nadal and Abihu have little in common with Jay’s proposal. Jay isn’t suggesting not doing or replacing what is to be done, but rather doing it and more. There are actually plenty of examples of this. In 2 Chron. Hezekiah not only did the Passover on the optionally commanded day, but held a second Passover (nothe commanded). Queen Esther instituted another feast day, Purim, along side of the already commanded feast. And the more we look the more we seexpect man doing the commands and doing more than what was commanded. Even Daniel ritually prayed three times a day…not commanded. God didn’t micro manage all worship or all life, but did expect certain things by command to be done.

  36. Dwight says:

    Laymond, Jesus was perfect in all that He did, which surpasses all others, even the apostles. Jesus wasn’t in a contest to do greater miracles and his comment in John 14 had to do with the fact that Jesus was leaving and had a limited time for miracles.
    Phil.2:6 “Jesus…who being in the forms of God, did not consider it robbery to be equploaded with God….came in the likeness of man.”

  37. laymond says:

    Yes Dwight I understand what Jesus was saying, you can do the same work I did but for a longer time.

  38. Monty says:

    Jeff said,

    “. So if we can’t hear it from God, we can’t have faith in it.”

    BY your own definition of what constitutes true faith, if I find one thing you do in your church(s) practice, not authorized, according to your own conclusions, you’ve fallen from grace? Do you have Sunday morning Bible class? If so, please give where God specifically authorized it. Do you have Wednesday evening Bible class?(Same as above) Do you ever lift your hands when you pray of greet one anther with a holy kiss? If not, then why not, it’s authorized and we can “have faith in it.” Do your women(in your congregation) cover their heads when praying?(Same as above) Better yet, what happens if on judgment day you did something you shouldn’t have done or left out something God wanted you to do? By what standard will God judge you by? You missed something and you flunk? You got it mostly right? What does being saved by grace really mean to you? Saved by my works or Jesus’ death on the cross?

  39. Charlie M. says:

    After Aaron’s sons are destroyed for their lack of heart-workshop, doesn’t Aaron’s other sons then also get it “wrong”? Why doesn’t God zap them, too? Is it because their hearts were right even if the execution of the ritual was not perfect?

  40. Charlie M. says:


  41. Dwight says:

    The biggest issue I have with Jeff statement is that it is only applied to worship, even when God had commands for many things within the life of the Jew. God didn’t tell man what he had to eat, only that animal he couldn’t eat. God had laws on cleanliness/purity, but allowed man to wash or not wash his hands before or after eating. It was the Jewish leaders that sought commands in the silence, when there was allowances. Man was allowed to do many things alongside of God’s commands as long as he didn’t change or replace or remove or go against the commands.

  42. Jeff Richardson says:

    Dwight, What did Nadib and Abihu do? Did they not ADD something that was not authorized? They offered strange fire, they got their fire from a source that was not authorized by God, they paid with their lives. Were there not specific instructions concerning the moving of the ark? What did they do Dwight? They changed and added too, the instructions, Uzzah paid with his life. Monty, faiths definition is not mine, it’s God’s Roman 10:17. Do you reject what God has said? Heb 11:1 “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the EVIDENCE of things not seen”. There is evidence to be seen, how do we see it? “faith comes by hearing, hearing by God’s word”. Romans 10;17 Our faith is based upon what God has revealed, we have “faith” in it. If we base our “faith” on anything else, it’s nothing more than “blind” faith that is empty, meaningless. Look at it this way, a crime is said to have been committed. The police come to investigate. What are they looking for? Evidence right? If they find no evidence, they have no direction to go, they don’t know what to believe. The evidence leads them in the right direction. God’s word leads men in the right direction, if they are willing to accept the evidence as truth. If the police or a God seeker, rejects the evidence they find at the crime scene or God’s word, the truth will not be found. God has given us commands to be followed. We are to teach God’s word, we know that the first century church came together on the first day of the week to do just that among other things that are specific to the first day, such as the Lord’s supper., we know they were about teaching every day. If we also teach on other days have we gone beyond that which is authorized? Not at all, we are obeying the command to teach. Now if we teach a false doctrine, we have gone beyond what is authorized. Your example of lifting hands and a holy kiss, should as well be holy hands. The emphasis should be on the holy part. What makes anything we do a holy act? Is it not obeying the will of God that makes us holy? Yes I was saved by grace. Who’s grace? God’s grace right. He loved us enough to have a way for us to be redeemed. He left for us a “pattern of sound words” for us to follow and we too can become heirs of the throne. Are you implying that there is nothing more for you to do. There are works of God that need to be done. Do you realize that to “believe” is a work of God. It’s works of men that should be avoided, they can never save you. As a Christian I have the right to approach God’s throne when ever I need to, to ask for forgiveness, for those things I don’t or neglect to do. John 12:48 says that the word of God will judge us all in the end.

  43. Dwight says:

    Jeff, Nadir and Abihu went against an explicit command by replacing the commanded fire with a “strange fire”. It had nothing to do with adding to in what they did. They were not told to sing while doing the incense, but they could have without going against the command.
    The scripture we need to keep in our head is Num.29:29 “the secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things that are revealed belong to us and to or children forever, that we may do all the words of the law”. Which means that God’s will was expressed through the law, not through silence. We cannot make laws for or against something base on lack of God’said expressedo will.

  44. Andrew says:

    It’s kind of Ironic isn’t it? Some say, “Don’t go to the Old Testament to find instruction on worship!” (often in the context of IM) However, the same 3 people (Uzzah, Nadab, and Abihu) always pop up to defend their doctrine on worship. Hey, I thought I wasn’t supposed to go there? Is it ok to use the OT only if it supports my ideas? If you throw David and his harp out because it’s OT then I think you should kick Uzzah and Aaron’s kids out too. Or, a better option, keep things in their proper context.

    BTW – it appears as though Uzzah violated a direct command. Only the Kohathites were permitted to carry the ark and only the Priests could touch it. Even if it could be shown that Uzzah was a Priest, which I don’t think you can, the ark was being moved improperly (supposed to be on poles, covered up, and no carts involved). Why did God not strike down all the people and the oxen when they first started transporting the ark improperly? If the sin was simply making an addition, they all should have died the instant they took their first step. It seems that God allowed, though. However, he also allowed the consequences – oxen aren’t as good at moving as many men using the prescribed poles. It fell..Uzzah touched it…Uzzah broke the law…Uzzah died…for the sin of addition? Hardly, he died for the sin of irreverence of God’s EXPRESS COMMAND. It would be the same as Jay asking for a diet coke and his secretary bringing him a sprite.

  45. Dwight says:

    An interesting thing is that God commanded a certain incense recipe for burning in the temple by certain people, but in 1 Kings 9:25 we are told that Solomon burnt incense to God there times a year on an altar that he built for the Lord, this was ritually done in addition to what he was commanded to do in observance in the Temple. His personal worship was fine as long as he did it to God, as opposed to 1 Kings 3:3 where he did it to another diety.
    Uzzah didn’t add, he went against a specific command which stated that only a Levite could touch the ark.

  46. Larry Cheek says:

    Suppose as Jay went to the store to get diet cokes he noticed that the gas tank was low and passed a station which had an exceptionally low price for gas, so he bought gas there on the way home. Did he not perform his duties well? Or did he disobey the directive of his wife?

  47. Jeff Richardson says:

    This is all a perfect example of why their are so many different beliefs and practices. When God gave us His instructions for what He wants, men and their wisdom do as they wish. Dwight your right God’s will has been revealed through His law, the new covenant, the perfect law of liberty. God has always told His people what He wants and expected of them. He has always demanded obedience. Nadib and Abihu disobeyed when they got the fire from a different source, they disobeyed a direct command, yes. Who said anything about singing? It’s when we go beyond or fall short of God’s will is when God is displeased. And Andrew, The old testament is for our learning, we can see God bring people to His Son, we can also learn what God instructed and what man did and how God reacted. And why wouldn’t adding to a direct command not be irreverence to God? All sin is. Regardless they disobeyed and paid the price. When did God change His mind regarding obedience? Paul reminded the Ephesian’s in 5:19 to understand the will of the Father. 2 Thess 1, Paul reminds us that those who do not obey the gospel of Jesus Christ, destruction is coming. I guess this all comes down to, are we willing submit to God’s will, or will we continue to lust after the flesh? In other words, “putting words in God’s mouth”, or ignoring the “thus sayeth the Lord.”

  48. Alabama John says:

    Uzzah loved the law and especially the ark. God gave a command to not touch but to see Gods ark falling and possibly all the insides, precious things, scattered to get possibly dirty on the ground he grabbed for it to keep that from happening. Where were the ones that could steady it? What punishment did God do to them?
    I hope I would of done the same as Uzzah.
    Imagining standing before God and trying to explain your standing there watching Gods precious things all over the ground.
    But you said…. seems pretty lame.

  49. laymond says:

    Larry said, ” Or did he disobey the directive of his wife?” first of all the wife is supposed to get
    bananas for her husband, I think the bible said wife obey your husband, what happened to the man is head of the woman. bunch of wimps, stand up for your rights. . Man I hope my wife don’t see this 🙂 🙂

  50. Jay Guin says:

    Jeff R,

    As other readers have already pointed out, Nadab and Abihu and Uzzah both were in violation of express commands. They were not violating a prohibition implied from a silence.

    How could Nadab and Abihu have used “strange” fire if there wasn’t a correct fire to use? In fact, God commanded that fire from the altar be used — a fire lit by God himself (Lev 9:24; 16:12; Num 16:46). There is, of course, a world of difference between violating a command and violating a prohibition implied from a silence based on a human hermeneutic.

    The same is true of Uzzah. The ark was kept in the house of his father (or grandfather; the Hebrew is ambiguous) and he was responsible for its transport (2 Sam 6:3). The Law required the ark to be carried on poles (Ex 24:14-15) and to be carried by the sons Kohath (Num 4:15). Uzzah irresponsibly, and in violation of the Torah, had the ark carried on a cart by the wrong people in the wrong way.

    (1 Chr. 15:11-15 ESV) 11 Then David summoned the priests Zadok and Abiathar, and the Levites Uriel, Asaiah, Joel, Shemaiah, Eliel, and Amminadab, 12 and said to them, “You are the heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites. Consecrate yourselves, you and your brothers, so that you may bring up the ark of the LORD, the God of Israel, to the place that I have prepared for it. 13 Because you did not carry it the first time, the LORD our God broke out against us, because we did not seek him according to the rule.” 14 So the priests and the Levites consecrated themselves to bring up the ark of the LORD, the God of Israel. 15 And the Levites carried the ark of God on their shoulders with the poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the LORD.

    The scriptures are quite clear that God’s punishment was for violating his plain commands. Moreover, Uzzah was no bystander. He was the brother (or son; the Hebrew is ambiguous) of the person charged with keeping the ark (1 Sam 7:1), and lived in the same house with him, and so should have informed himself regarding God’s wishes on his job.

    In both cases, God’s anger was kindled by violation of an express command. Now, these examples of God’s punishment for “unauthorized” actions go back to Calvin and Zwingli, who invented the Regulative Principle in the 16th Century. Evidently, those who argue from these examples have now gone 500 years without bothering to check Calvin’s and Zwingli’s conclusions against the text — which flatly contradicts the argument.

    Whoever taught you these examples did not bother to search out the scriptures to determine if what he was taught was correct. It took me less than 10 minutes to look all this up.

  51. Jay Guin says:

    Jeff R wrote,

    Jay, with your reasoning, Noah could have built the ark however he wanted and God would have been pleased, really?

    I neither said nor implied any such thing. We should, of course, obey God’s commands. I’ve never in my life suggested otherwise, and I’d appreciate it if you’d not accuse me of such things. I’ve said that silence is not necessarily a prohibition. And God was not silent regarding Noah’s choice of wood. It’s just not the same thing.

  52. Jay Guin says:

    Jeff R wrote,

    Jeremiah 10:23 says, “It is not in man to direct his own steps”

    And? Again, I certainly agree that we should follow God’s directions. The question on the table is what to do when God is silent. God may be silent as to whether we should, for example, have Sunday school classes. Some argue this implies a prohibition, as there are scriptural examples of classes being taught to the entire church at once. But the better rule is to apply God’s larger principles — one of which is that both adults and children should be taught God’s will. Experience shows that Bible classes are a better way to teach people of differing ages and life experiences. Hence, we are allowed to use our own wisdom and experience to determine how best to honor God’s commands when he has not specified otherwise, Jer 10:23 notwithstanding. Any other reading leads to absurdities.

    Under your reading of Jer 10:23, since my son cannot direct his own steps, not only must I ask for Diet Coke, but I need to tell him which store to go to, how to get there and whether to walk or drive. And, I suppose, whether to turn on his left-turn signal 100 feet or 200 feet before the light. You seem to assume that he must not be allowed to make a single decision, he is so incredibly foolish.

    In reality, Jeremiah’s point is not that we need detailed instructions on every tiny particular, but that we must follow the instructions we have. The passage is dealing with Israel’s idolatry — in violation of numerous specific commands (e.g., Jer 10:11).

  53. Jay Guin says:

    Jeff R wrote,

    Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of God, Romans 10:17.

    Amen. But what is “faith”? In the NT, “faith” is faith in Jesus. You’re ignoring the context.

    Remember that in the Greek “believe” is the verb form of “faith” —

    (Rom. 10:9-17 ESV) 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

    Repeatedly we are told that this faith/belief is “in” the person Jesus. Paul is not talking about faith in a cappella singing or no fellowship halls. “Faith” is not any doctrine taught or that is true. “Faith” has an object: Jesus. “Jesus is Lord” is the content of the faith Paul is discussing.

    If you make anything else the object of “faith,” you’re guilty of idolatry, and then Jer 10:23 (and surrounding verses) really does apply.

  54. Jay Guin says:

    Jeff R wrote,

    Why does 2 Timothy 3:16,17 inform us that God’s word is all sufficient , it’s all we need to be complete in God’s sight.

    Hmm …

    (2 Tim. 3:16-17 ESV) 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

    Notice that significant parts of the NT were not written at the time Paul penned this verse. He was referring to the OLD Testament – the Tanakh. Now, by your logic, this makes the NT of no value, because the OT is sufficient.

    When we read the passage in historical context, we realize that it is certainly not saying that all silences are prohibitions. The OT is sufficient to equip us to do good works, and indeed, the prophets especially are highly instructive on that question.

  55. Jay Guin says:

    Jeff R wrote,

    James 1:22, we must be doers of the WORD, James 1:25 “he who looketh into the perfect LAW of liberty and continues there in……shall be blessed.”

    Yes, and to do the word is not the same as treating silences as prohibitions. Obviously, silence is NOT the word.

    And obedience to God’s law is, of course, required. But to pretend that a human inference from silence is the equivalent of God’s command is pretty audacious. I mean, where do we get off speaking for God? Adding to his word? Deciding that obedience to what is written isn’t good enough?

  56. Dwight says:

    It is sad how we mix paradigms to get what we want as an answer or just ignore certain fact or scriptures. We are guilty in applicant our biases.
    Applying the RP to the scripture is an example of deciding rules before we read all of the bible.
    According to Deut.29:29 God is not vague, meaning that if God wants us to do something and if he doesn’t, he tells us. God is not vague.
    If it wasn’t for God saying who could only handle the ark, everyone could have.
    If it wasn’t for God stating the ground was holy to Moses, it wouldn’t have been holy to Moses by God’s command. But otherwise Moses could have declared it as personally holy to himself.
    Hezekiah declared a second Passover (not commanded) , but only after the commanded one was done. There was never a command against giving to God more than he asked, but there was for less than was asked or none at all or something different.

  57. Dwight says:

    One of the problems with CENI is treating all of the initials as equal in authority. The command is the only authority. Now it is possible that an example might be the result of a command, but not always and people are wishy-washy about what they accept or don’t accept in example, but it is not a command. Implications might reflect a command or not. But only a command is a command.

  58. Dwight says:

    The Pharisees only enforced what the Rabbis had concocted from the Law. Now when the Pharisees saw Jesus not washing their hands before they ate or after, they were angry and Jesus argued that this was not law. They in fact had created a new law and in doing this had done some bad things. 1.) people were being condemned; 2.) people were condemning others; 3) the Pharisees were condemning the people, 4.) the people and the Pharisees were condemning Jesus, the Son of God; 5.) the Pharisees took on the role of God as only God could make Law an enforce it as law.
    Now imagine if they would have said, “Hmmm, there are all these laws on ritual cleansing, thus to wash and cleanse one’s hand is sinful, they are additions. God made commands on cleansing and then was silent, so to wash one’s hands is sinful.”
    Is this any better than the other argument? No, just as bad.
    Silence was just silence and didn’t dictate an action for or against doing something. Man was at liberty in the silence.
    We think that washing of the hands was maybe silly, but to Jesus it was very serious, because of points 1-5.
    Jesus basically made the point by not washing his hands, that it was not sinful to not wash one’s hands, as there was no law to make it sinful or righteous. But it wouldn’t have been sinful to wash one’s hands either. Silence doesn’t form a law for or against, but allows for man’s decision making to work, as long as it doesn’t go against God’s stated commands.

    When David danced, sang and played before God, he did so of his own accord, without prompting or command from God and yet he was called a man after God’s own heart. Strange. Perhaps we might learn something from David. And we might learn something about God. God doesn’t reject worship from man, unless the worship is against God and his voiced commands.
    Would God have condemned Moses if God had not told Moses the ground was holy and Moses stepped on the ground. Why? Should Moses have guessed God’s will and made the presumption. Moses could have himself considered it holy and tread lightly, but he could not have argued that it was holy from God’s standpoint and placed this on others, unless God said so. Until God’s vocal word to the contrary, it was just common ground.

  59. David says:

    There are instances where silences are meant to be prohibitions, but usually those instances are immediately recognized by common sense or by the format in which the instructions are given. Examples would be chemical formulations, instructions for assembling or disassembling mechanical things, certain rituals, of a religious or cultural nature, directions to a destination, and many other instances. Even with these examples, people commonly make judgements as to whether or not harm will result if they add steps, ingredients, or actions to the procedure.

    Actions of the US government are supposed be to limited by silences of the Constitution, but it is so stated in the Constitution itself. In the military, one is not supposed to exceed his orders, but that has been understood for centuries.

    As far as God’s instructions are concerned, the only really clear instances where silence limited or prohibited was in the place and procedure for offering sacrifices. After the building of the Temple, God said Jerusalem was the place to offer sacrifices. It seems that that meant Jerusalem only. And when God said offer such and such animal for such and such occasion, I would think that meant such and such animal only.

    It has already been pointed out, that Nadab and Abihu’s sin was not so much exceeding authority, as it was in making a poor substitution, unholy fire for holy fire, but it would still seem to me that adding prodedures and objects to the rituals would be prohibited . Some have claimed that Heb 7:14, in which the writer says ” Moses said nothing about the tribe of Judah”, establishes a NT principle of silence for the church. The main trouble with that is that Judahites were excluded from the priesthood, not by silence, but by God saying, “no one else except the tribe of Levi”. But then, again, I would think Judahites would be excluded if God hadn’t said that.

    If today, in the new covenant, we had holy places of worship, holy objects, and holy priestly positions, then the “authority principle” would be a serious consideration. But we don’t. The authority principle assumes that we do.

  60. Jay Guin says:


    Thanks for your thoughtful comments, but in a couple of places, I think you concede more ground than you need to. For example, Although Judahites can’t be priests, David was a priest after the order of Melchizedek — as was Jesus. David offered sacrifices in Jerusalem even though the tabernacle was not there and even though he was no Levite. Same for Saul. But both has the Spirit of God — which changes our relationship with God. Today, it makes us temples. Maybe it did then?

    (Ps. 110:1-7 ESV) A Psalm of David. The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” 2 The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies! 3 Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours. 4 The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” 5 The Lord is at your right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath. 6 He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter chiefs over the wide earth. 7 He will drink from the brook by the way; therefore he will lift up his head.

    (Heb. 7:14-17 ESV) 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is witnessed of him, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”

    The point of the Hebrews passage is that Jesus, despite being of Judah, became a priest. Indeed, all Christians are part of the priesthood of believers by being in Christ — after the order of Melchizedek. The Hebrews passage actually says the opposite of what is argued by the CENI advocates – who seem to rarely bother with context.

    Regarding cult objects and such, the Jews added to what the law prescribed. The Passover celebration instructions are silent as to drink. By the time of Jesus, there were four cups, and Jesus plainly not only approved of the unauthorized cups, he adopted the cup into the Lord’s Supper. He drank of the cup!

    The Torah gives a very precise set of feast days to celebrate. The festival of lights was added by the Jews without authority in honor of the Maccabbees’ defeat of the Antiochus Epiphanes and celebrated by Jesus, as recorded in John 10:22.

    The synagogue was a human addition, invented during or shortly after the Babylonian Captivity — and Jesus attended the synagogue.

    For that matter, the entire system of rabbis was a human invention, adding to the offices created by Torah — and Jesus accepted the title “rabbi.”

    The rabbis and priests created the Gentile/women’s/Jewish courts at the temple. These aren’t specified in the Tanakh. Jesus never complained and God received worship there.

    Indeed, the Jews only honored the temple as a place to “worship.” But the Torah addresses this question:

    (Deut. 12:10-14 ESV) 10 But when you go over the Jordan and live in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to inherit, and when he gives you rest from all your enemies around, so that you live in safety, 11 then to the place that the LORD your God will choose, to make his name dwell there, there you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution that you present, and all your finest vow offerings that you vow to the LORD. 12 And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your sons and your daughters, your male servants and your female servants, and the Levite that is within your towns, since he has no portion or inheritance with you. 13 Take care that you do not offer your burnt offerings at any place that you see, 14 but at the place that the LORD will choose in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I am commanding you.

    Torah plainly prohibits sacrificing (worshiping) anywhere else. And once the temple was built in Jerusalem, the Jews stopped building other altars — or if they did, they were later demolished by a reform-minded king. Except for the Spirit-filled David and Solomon, who violated this command and whose worship was plainly accepted by God.

    As I have said earlier, I agree with you that some forms of communication require the absence of addition. Directions would seem the obvious choice, but sometimes it really is okay to violate your GPS’s instructions and eat lunch two blocks off the path. And there are often alternative paths.

    In truth, the law (I’m a lawyer) sometimes prohibits by silence, but it’s no automatic decision. The principle is called expressio unius exclusio alterius, that is, if you say one thing, you exclude the other. But even lawyers aren’t as rigid and legalistic as most of our preachers. In fact, I believe the roots of CENI are found in law — particularly the law of statutory construction. When a city is chartered, its powers are limited solely to those expressly given, necessarily implied, or established by approved court precedent. Sound familiar? But that’s ONLY for statutes. And the NT has not a single statute in it, except when it quotes Torah. It’s a totally different genre.

    So we’ve taken a First Century Jewish document and assumed that is a statute enacted subject to the British common law system, which only goes back to Henry II.

    Sorry for babbling on. Insomnia.

  61. Jay Guin says:


    PS — (2 Cor. 3:17 ESV) 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

    (Gal. 5:1 ESV) For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

    (1 Pet. 2:16 ESV) 16 Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

    This doctrine of “freedom” has to mean something. I think it’s along these lines,

    (Gal. 5:18 ESV) 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

    Which seems to very adequately explain God’s acceptance of sacrifice by David and Solomon — as much as it bothers my brothers to imagine our having such freedom, but “not under law” is pretty plain. Of course, the Spirit holds us to a higher, more difficult standard. No longer is it about how to slit a lamb’s throat and what day to offer a sacrifice. Rather, it’s about loving neighbors who are our enemies. Picking up a cross — voluntarily — every day. Being willing to die for Jesus. Living faithfully when confronted with persecution. Suffering for the sake of Jesus is a major NT theme.

    We’d rather fight over fellowship halls because it’s just so much easier and less costly. I can go my entire life and never once worship God with an instrument. Easy as pie. But “judge not,” well, that’s hard. Therefore, I want my salvation based on what I don’t do rather than what I do. I don’t want to be judged by my good works, but my skill at not doing the unauthorized. It’s lazy Christianity.

    In fact, it’s skinflint Christianity. Have you ever noticed that most of our CENI fights are really about money — whether to support missionaries through a mission society, whether to build a fellowship hall, whether to hire a youth minister, whether to support Christian colleges from the church treasury, and on it goes, fighting over not spending money and wrapping our greed in arguments over silence to make it sound noble. It’s just not.

  62. Jay Guin says:


    Good thoughts.

  63. David says:


    Well, you have just about shot down all the instances in the Mosaic law I could think of, where silence might prohibit. The one concerning Judahite priests and the Spirit was especially insightful. Thanks.

  64. Jeff Richardson says:

    Jay said, “they ( Nadib, Abihu, Uzzah) were not violating a prohibition implied by silence.” When God gives a direct command or a implied command it needs to be carried out as given. Instructions were given, the instructions were not followed. All other fire sources are prohibited by God’s silence, thus we see the action taken by God. God has given us a command to teach the gospel. The command is to go teach. The how we accomplish this command has been left up to us. We can go by car, train, plane, face book, twitter, any of them would accomplish the command to go teach. The how to transport and carry the ark was given, God’s silence prohibits other modes of handling the ark. It was not to be touched by human hands. Mans wisdom thought he was doing the right thing when it toppled, going beyond what was instructed (don’t touch) in an effort to save it. In Uzzah’s mind he was doing the right thing, God was not pleased and it cost him his life. It seems to me that all this talk is about finding loop holes in the law of Christ.

  65. Dwight says:

    Jeff, Nadir and Abihu were condemned because they went against a stated command, not because they went against an implied command. God is not vague. When Jay said, “they (Nadab, Abihu, Uzzah) were not violating a prohibition implied by silence” it is true because God was not silent. They went against stated commands.
    We must ask…why did God make laws against things, after all if silence is equivalent as a command, the God should have only stated what He wanted and everything not that would have been sinful. The reality is that God made laws for some things and against some things and allowed man the ability to freely function within His expressed will. Uzzah wasn’t supposed to touch the ark because God explicitly said who could only touch the ark.
    This goes back to: Did Hezekiah sin for having a second Passover? Did Esther sin for creating another feast added into the feast rotation? Did Paul sin for having Timothy circumcised and for being purified? Did the Jews sin for including wine in the Passover meal when it was clearly excluded? Did Solomon sin in offering sacrifices and burning incense on his altar to God even while there was a tabernacle there, even though his weren’t sin offerings and he wasn’t a preist? Etc. The list goes on. Man worshipped and did many things alongside of God’s commands.

  66. David says:


    The command was to go teach, and as you say God has given us flexibility in carrying out the command. Would it be a violation of the command to teach the world by radio, TV, internet, or mail? In other words, to teach, but not go? Or would this be making a loophole in the command to suit ourselves?

  67. Kevin says:

    Jeff wrote:

    “When God gives a direct command or a implied command it needs to be carried out as given. Instructions were given, the instructions were not followed. All other fire sources are prohibited by God’s silence…”

    This is not a true statement. On the contrary, all other fire sources are prohibited because of God’s specifity.

  68. Kevin says:

    Jeff wrote:

    “This is all a perfect example of why their are so many different beliefs and practices. When God gave us His instructions for what He wants, men and their wisdom do as they wish.”

    In my opinion, this perfectly reflects why there are so many splits and fractures in Churches of Christ. We have split over water fountains, orphan homes, multiple cups, fellowship halls, using the name “Church family” (because that is the language of Ashod you know), located preachers, applauding at baptisms, baby dedications, and an endless list of other asinine reasons. This is what CENI leads to. It might as well be called the Breach of Fellowship hermeneutic. Ironically, the justification is almost always that of Jeff’s second sentence above: “When God gave us His instructions for what He wants, men and their wisdom do as they wish.” We always accuse those who have a different opinion about the meaning of a text with just “doing what they want to do even though the truth is clearly my position.” It’s just ridiculous. The people to the right of Jeff R accuse him of just doing as he wishes.

    The hermeneutic adopted by far too many in the COC is fundamentally broken. It is a false, and it is cancerous. Not only has it led to split after split, it has also led to a biblical worldview that has seduced far too many into embracing a different Gospel. And we know what Paul has to say about that. So very sad and tragic. I thank my Lord and Savior that I am no longer in the clutches of this utterly false hermeneutic.

  69. Dwight says:

    We often sing, “thy word is a lamp unto my feet””, from psalms and is reflective of Deut.29:29. We don’t sing, “thy word which we implied from your word is a lamp unto my feet”.
    God is not vague.
    But for some reason we think that a God who could tell man exactly what type of animal by hoof type that is unclean could not tell man directly that other things are sinful.
    And then when we get to silence, we are asked to believe that all things are sinful that are not spoken, unless they are an aid.
    So I guess if adultery can be an aid, then it isn’t really sinful in that instance. What? We don’t follow the logical conclusions of what we put forth. Things just don’t switch from sinful to not sinful based on if they are useful in doing something God wanted to accomplish. The ends don’t justify the means if the means are wrong.

  70. Jeff Richardson says:

    Kevin, our we gagging on nats here? Exactly, when God specifies, His silence prohibits, true.

  71. Kevin says:

    Jeff, no. The two methodologies are fundamentally different. CoCs have taken the concept of silence to its extreme, hence all the splits over the last 150 years. Many (most) of the splits hinge on a false application of silence. There are those in the CoC who disfellowship you based on the same argument from silence that you have used here.
    Do you use more than one cup in communion? Disfellowshipped. No authority based on silence.
    How about a located preacher? Disfellowshipped. No authority based on silence.
    Send your children to a separate location during the sermon? Disfellowshipped.

    The list could literally fill an entire page. The silence argument has caused CoCs to so focus on cracking the biblical code about absolutely everything…because a mistake at any point along the way will damn our souls like using multiple cups in communion…that we have neglected the weightier matters. We have become petulant children who stomp our feet when anyone disagrees with us. Just read an issue of Defender or CFTF. That’s where silence leads.

  72. laymond says:

    Dwight said; “And then when we get to silence, we are asked to believe that all things are sinful that are not spoken, unless they are an aid.”
    It seems to me that silence on a subject implies that it is not a sin. unless it is against your conscience, then it is a sin against yourself.

  73. Dwight says:

    Laymond, this should be the case and it was the argument of A.Campbell, but to the conservative coC mind if there is silence, then it is automatically sinful unless an aid (ex.Noah’so hammer), which just doesn’t bear up to the scriptures.
    Jeff, I used time think like you, but I ran into scriptural opposition. Hezekiah was allowed a second Passover, Esther was allowed another feast, etc. God wasn’t against more worship, but against altering a command or not doing a command.
    The truth is that we prohibit, like the Pharisees, where God doesn’t.

  74. Dwight says:

    Now having said this, I don’t think (and I think others here understand this as well) that when God was overtly specific about what went into something(like a building), this was unique and not to be duplicated. The Temple, that held the ark was this kind of unique structure and was seen that way, as was the Ark itself. God specified the ark to him and the Temple to him for that ark to dwell in and his presence to be in.
    But now jump to the NT times where many are called a temple of God, a preist, and are to be a living sacrifice. So there are to be many living and breathing temples for God to be in.
    The reality of our argument based on the Temple thought should thus change with the times.

  75. Jay Guin says:

    Dwight and Jeff R,

    I bring to both of your attentions Bobby Valentine’s excellent recent post regarding Paul’s adherence to the Temple rituals long after becoming a Christian apostle: http://stonedcampbelldisciple.com/2016/02/23/acts-a-jewish-story-james-pauls-animal-sacrifice/

    If silence is a prohibition, why was Paul offering a sacrifice at the Temple late in his apostolic ministry? It’s not about rules imposed on the text to turns silences into laws. It’s about the narrative flow of scripture, understanding where God is coming from and planning to take us.

  76. Dwight says:

    Yes, I agree with Bobby V., it appears that Paul and the other apostles remained Jewish even when they were Christian, without sliding back to the old law as a way to salvation.

  77. David says:

    My first suspicions about the authority principle surfaced when I was a young man. On one Sunday I would hear a sermon condemning those churches who were lax in applying the principle. On another Sunday I might her a sermon condemning those who were so zealous in applying the principle that they were divisive and cantankerous. Now if following the authority principle makes you a true church, how could you be too zealous? In my mind, I named it the Goldilocks principle. To be the true church, you must not be too hot or too cold, but juuu..st right. But how do you determine what is juuu…st right?

  78. Dwight says:

    David, Deut.29:29 was the rule for the OT and I think it holds in the NT, after all II Tm.3:16 applies retroactively to the OT and to the NT as well, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
    IT is therefore the Word of God that is the Word of God and guides us. The examples or implications might be indicators, but they are not the Word.

  79. Jay Guin says:


    I that’s very insightful. The other guys are “ultra-conservative” or “liberal.” They’re going to hell even though they apply the identical hermeneutic but come to differing conclusions regarding the church treasury or kitchens in the church building. We judge our CENI conclusions based on what seems extreme, based on our life experiences, and this becomes the test for salvation. But no one can explain why fellowship halls is a damning issue and hiring a youth minister is not. We truly turn our scruples into idols.

  80. Kevin says:

    Bobby V’s article is interesting & I agree to a point; however, I am having a bit of trouble reconciling it with Jewish dietary laws, cleanliness laws, social norms, and identity markers. I realize some of these aspects of the law had been warped by the Pharisees & some had been changed by Christ, but keeping the broader law would seem be inconsistent with the fellowship of Gentile Christians.

  81. Dwight says:

    Acts 15 “Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law”—to whom we gave no such commandment— it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.”
    The gentiles were not asked to keep the Law, but just few basic things, but then again the Jews were not under the law, but allowed to keep it.

  82. Kevin says:

    Dwight, I agree. But I don’t think I articulated myself very well. It would seem that Paul and James didn’t voluntarily keep the law in total. Rather, they kept portions of the law and scrapped other portions of the law, particularly those aspects that defined table fellowship, social norms, and food laws.

    But Acts 21 states, “…and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs.”

    “Walk according to customs” would seem applicable to table fellowship, social norms, etc. So, how can Paul advocate for walking according to Jewish customs on one hand and rebuke Peter for refusing table fellowship with Gentile Christians on the other?

  83. Jay Guin says:


    I agree that some elements of Judaism are inherently contradictory to Christianity, such as the “boundary marker” laws designed to separate Jews from Gentiles. Of course, that doesn’t mean circumcision is now wrong, just that’s it’s now indifferent. It’s about what you make of it.

    And when God allowed the Romans to destroy the Temple, obviously some practices ended because God intended them to end.

    I don’t think Bobby intended to lay out a comprehensive theology of the changes made in Judaism by Christianity — just to open our minds so that we escape our traditional dispensational mindset — that is, we need to stop thinking of the Law as “repealed.” The truth is more subtle.

  84. Jay Guin says:

    Kevin and Dwight,

    I agree with Kevin that Paul did not keep all the Jewish customs, or else he’d have been a very poor Christian. He did not separate himself from Gentiles or refuse table fellowship with them, because common table fellowship is at the core of the gospel.

    Exactly where Paul drew the line isn’t given to us. We know he underwent a cleansing ritual to be able to go to the Temple after his travels, and paid for the sacrifices others had to offer for a Nazerite vow. He evidently kept some or all of the Jewish feasts. Whether he ate kosher, we aren’t told. We know that he insisted that what we eat (or don’t) and what holy days we honor (or don’t) shouldn’t be tests of fellowship or salvation. But my guess is that he kept the Passover and Sabbath, while not expecting Gentile converts to do the same.

    It’s important to realize that Paul was accused for not walking according to Jewish customs (Acts 21:21). But it seems unlikely that he advocated for obedience to the customs. That is, he likely honored Jewish practices to the extent consistent with following Jesus, but he did not preach Judaism. When he preached to Jews, he focused on Jesus as Messiah, not on urging the Jews to give up their ancestral customs — except to the extent contrary to the gospel.

  85. Dwight says:

    I agree, it appears Paul kept the law where it didn’t contradict the concept of Jesus. And he didn’t do it by compunction either, he wasn’t forced or didn’t do it because he had to. But this opens up the fact that Paul did it because it 1.) he could 2.) wasn’t bad to do 3. was good to do (it was worship. It was neither condemned nor commended for salvation sake. He was at liberty to be Jewish within the context of being a Christian, much like one can be an American within the context of Christianity. I know people that would have a hard time with someone burning incense to God, but not with someone pledging allegiance to the flag.

  86. Jay Guin says:


    Quite so. Part of where we get stuck is, of course, CENI. Where is the NT authority to engage in Judaic worship practices? Surely they are forbidden since all but the Five Acts are forbidden. Worse yet, the Jews used instruments and choruses at the Temple. If that was okay (and in Acts, apostles clearly went to the Temple to worship regularly), then our opposition to instruments is undercut.

    In fact, the very notion of an optional form of worship undercuts CENI entirely. In CENI, it’s either mandated or prohibited. There are no optional worship practices. Discretion as to how, yes, but not as to whether. Hence, it’s very common when someone argues that psallo permits instrumental worship, for the traditional person to respond that this means instrumental music must be mandatory.

    Unfortunately for the CENI advocates, Acts does not lend itself to such a binary reading.

  87. Kevin says:


    What you describe (“…we need to stop thinking of the Law as “repealed”) is probably a better way of thinking. It fits nicely with the whole “I came not to destroy but to fulfill.” Somehow, however, we in the CoC have desperately seized on the “nailed to the cross” passage and interpreted it as being destroyed / done away. We all would do well to study the concept of fulfillment and what that means as part of narrative theology. Lots to learn on my part from such a study.

  88. Dwight says:

    Yes, I think our adherence to CENI and the Regulative Principle as a law undercuts the freedoms we have in Christ. We have a tendency to apply a value of sin to everything we don’t comprehend.. Sometimes unscriptural just means its not in the scripture, but doesn’t mean it sinful. Planes are not found in the scriptures, but not sinful. Many things are found in the scriptures that we don’t follow as well. I’m for one glad we don’t do crucifixions.

  89. bcampagnolo says:

    Jay, we started a ‘gospel’ meeting this week at our home congregation with some one from Florida College speaking. They used a word that sounded like ’emeritus’ when introducing him. My heart is breaking listening to our lessons. Sunday AM and not a word about Jesus and and our condition. We have had a lesson that used the words “new hermeneutics” (the dangers thereof) and things like inference (with a heavy modification of ‘necessary’ to clarify).
    I was struck that this is why the US election is where it is. It’s this ‘insider’ ‘party establishment’ that has voters looking to both Sanders and Trump. We got a message today that the Denomination (church) Establishment wants us to think a certain way, simply because that’s the way the church is. The reasoning is circular and depressing.
    I was heartened to hear other members expressing concern at the message. Like, is this small congregation in danger of going crazy, that we needed an entire meeting on CENI?
    Love your site, it keeps me studying and praying and grounded.
    (I am listening to Chris Tomlin and Crowder as I write this). 😉

  90. Jay Guin says:

    bcampagnolo wrote,

    (I am listening to Chris Tomlin and Crowder as I write this).

    It’s all about the background music. (I’ve been enjoying Crowder quite a lot lately.)

  91. Jay Guin says:


    I’m still working on the covenant/new covenant/Acts 15 thing. I’ve figured a lot of it out (I think), but it remains a challenge. The hardest part is finding a way to explain it that’s simple. I figure you don’t really “get it” until you can explain it simply. Which means there’s still a lot I don’t get. But the process, at least for me, is always from complexity to simplicity. And I’m not there yet, but working on it.

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