Paul’s Example on How to Deal with Silence in Scriptures
December 15, 2011 17 Comments
What would happen if you used the Command, Example and Necessary Inference hermeneutic to help us understand how to deal with scripture’s silence on a given issue? As hard of a time as people give necessary inference, coming to logical conclusions on issues through the study of scripture is something we all have to do. That is true on issues scripture is clear about and on issues scripture is silent about. Necessary inference is just that, necessary. The problem we run into is how much authority we place on the conclusions arrived at via necessary inference. I think Paul gives us a clue about how we present our conclusions on issues of silence in 1 Cor 7:10-12 that help us keep things in perspective and present them fairly,
“To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. 12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her”
Paul gives his take on the issue but says very clearly that he has no direction from the Lord. I am sure Paul prayed on this one, studied up, etc and this is the conclusion he reached. Yet he still says this is just Paul talking and not something that is directly from the Lord. Paul knows how to distinguish between the things that have been revealed to him by God and the things that have not. Obviously we don’t have the same inspiration Paul had but the principle is the same, we must be very careful when speaking on issues scripture is silent about and be up front about that when we present those issues that these are our opinions and why we have them/what scriptures we have based those conclusions on. I do believe God wants us to wrestle with issues scripture is silent on and I do believe the Bible is still our guide in those cases but we must have the humility and clarity of Paul to make the distinction of which things are clearly from God and which things are our own conclusions in these areas of silence. We get ourselves in trouble when we have an issue that scripture doesn’t directly address but we give our opinion as if it is scripture. We need to follow the example of Paul and be humble enough to say that what we are about to say is our own opinion on an issue but that scripture never addresses it.
Take home point – we need more people who are willing to say, “This conclusion is from me, not necessarily the Lord…” when we discussion issues of silence.