Is it wrong to use a slogan?




I am a member of the Lord's Church assembling with the saints.  The sign out front reads "Church of Christ."

I find your website very refreshing in that you say very little about the Restoration Movement, nor do I see you using the slogan "Speak where the Bible speaks, silent where the Bible is silent." I am on a campaign to try to get Churches of Christ to quit using that slogan, and quit saying that the Church of Christ descended from that movement.  I refer to that as "embracing the restoration movement."

I can see where some good came out of that movement, but many denominations have also grown out of that movement.  Search for "Church of Christ" on the Internet and you will get literally thousands of websites.  But you really have to read each one carefully to determine if they are really following the doctrine of Christ.  I have found very few that don't embrace that movement. 

It is not something that should cause a split, but I do see it as a detriment to the savings of souls, especially in the converting of those who are members of denominations. Our brother and sisters in Christ seem to have the idea that the movement's slogan is saying the same thing as I Peter 4:11, but it is not!   We have a tendency to quote only the first part of that Scripture.  But the last part of it is also important to read and understand.  When one has an option to quote from man and quote from God, God should come first.  Why? Because it gives glory to God through Jesus Christ.   When we quote from man we are giving man glory.   When we quote from Scripture we are giving God glory. And even more when denominations hear us quoting from that movement that immediately places us in the same category with denominations.  That makes it difficult to convert people who are in denominations.

The Restoration movement in the early 1800's is an interesting bit of history, but it doesn't define what is the church. History doesn't have to be denied and it is very useful to see how men in the past studied themselves out of denominational thinking. But as all Christians ought, I focus on teaching the Bible to others. That is my duty as a preacher.

The slogan "Speak where the Bible speaks, silent where the Bible is silent" is not inaccurate, even though it is not found in the Bible. You are correct that I Peter 4:11 says, "If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen." But the statement also reflects other statements in the Bible. Paul warned, "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ" (Galatians 1:6-10). Thus we must teach all that God has commanded and we must not alter it in any way, such as by adding additional ideas to it. So long as the slogan does not become a creed, but merely remains as a reminder that we need to follow the Bible completely and accurately, I see no harm in it. Actually, I find it more reflective of God's warning to the Israelites, "Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it" (Deuteronomy 12:32).

While we know men of the Restoration Movement are not inspired, the idea of quoting the ideas of others is not wrong in and of itself. Their words don't make something right or wrong, but at times someone will beautiful capture an idea and express it better than I might myself. In such cases it is proper to give credit to the one who determined the wording. Paul once quoted an uninspired source to make a point with an audience who would not be easily swayed by the Scriptures. "For in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring'" (Acts 17:28). The poets' statements did not establish the truth, but they did show that the concept was not alien to their thoughts.

Paul even used the words of a Cretan prophet against the people of Crete. "One of them, a prophet of their own, said, "Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons." This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth" (Titus 1:13-14). Though the statement came from an uninspired source, the source did not make it any less true -- harsh though it was.

Therefore, "Speak where the Bible speaks, silent where the Bible is silent" doesn't create truth, but it might (and I believe it does) express a truth. It should not be used as proof, but it can be used as an explanation.