A while back I was invited to a secular function by a coworker. I politely declined the invite because the function was sponsored by his church. I carefully explained to the coworker that my declination wasn't because of him but was because of my misgivings I had about the event sponsor. I ended by offering to study the subject with him if he was willing. He was gracious about the whole situation and said he might take me up on the study. I realized afterwards that I would have had a hard time explaining my misgivings about church sponsored secular events on the spot.
On a different occasion, a brother in Christ came to me with a question (I have permission from the individual to share what follows). He was driving with his co-workers when they drove past a copper topped mega church. He just knew that something about the size/opulence of that building was wrong but had a hard time verbalizing/explaining it to his coworkers.
It can be hard to explain in a moment’s notice the misgivings we have with a church sponsoring secular events, having an opulent building, having a sports center, supporting secular ministries, uses instrumental music, etc.
We share many beliefs with some of these groups that participate in the aforementioned things. Many of these groups are from the Restoration movement, many of these groups believe baptism is required for salvation and many of these groups believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. So what is our issue with these churches? Is it just arbitrary? Are we just being unkind by declining to go to events they sponsored? Are we just jealous of their nice buildings or the crowds they draw?
What follows is a simple challenge that I believe illustrates the difference between our beliefs and theirs: Open your bible and look for verses authorizing the New Testament church to have/support opulent buildings, pastors, secular ministries, secular events, schools, sports facilities, instrumental music, social events, etc. You won't find any.
Herein lies the difference: If we find a commandment, an approved example or a practice derived from a necessary inference in the Bible we can be sure that said commandment/example/inference is authorized. If a practice lacks this authorization, we choose not to take part in it. Put another way: there is complete safety in doing what the Lord has commanded and inherent danger/uncertainty in taking liberty in biblical silence. After all, the scriptures contain everything we need to be pleasing to God (2 Tim 3:16-17), why would we do anything else? This decision is anything but arbitrary as the bible has a lot to say about this:
"Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil" (Proverbs 4:27).
"Therefore, you shall be careful to do as the LORD your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. You shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you shall possess" (Deuteronomy 5:32-33).
"Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it" (Deuteronomy 12:32).
In summary, we choose to treat biblical silence with the reverence it demands.
This is my ask of the reader: be prepared to discuss this concept with others. We will encounter members of these groups and should be prepared to give an answer when asked about our beliefs (1 Peter 3:15).
I leave the reader with this:
“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:5-6)