Thomas Campbell: “Where the Bible Speaks, We Speak; Where the Bible Is Silent, We Are Silent”

Thomas Campbell: "Where the Bible Speaks, We Speak"

Thomas Campbell (1763-1854) was one of the leading figures of the Restoration Movement that began in this country in the 19th century. He, along with men like Alexander Campbell (his son), Barton W. Stone, and Walter Scott, sought to unite believers by abandoning the creeds and denominations of men. In a speech delivered in 1808, Thomas Campbell set forth an idea that became a motto for the movement.
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By What Authority?

Matthew 21:23

Matthew recorded an occasion in which the religious leaders questioned Jesus about the things He was doing. After Jesus rode into Jerusalem receiving praise from the people (Matthew 21:1-11), drove the money changers and those selling animals out of the temple (Matthew 21:12-13), healed the blind and the lame who came to Him (Matthew 21:14-15), and then performing a miracle that caused a fig tree to wither (Matthew 21:18-19), the chief priests and elders confronted Him.

When He entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him while He was teaching, and said, ‘By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?’” (Matthew 21:23).

This was actually a very good question. It is one that we need to ask ourselves and ask of others regarding the things that are done in service to God. Yet many are not at all interested in this question. They simply want to do what they have always done, what seems right to them, what their preacher says, or what their family has always done in religion. But it is important that we appeal to the proper source of authority.
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The Silence of the Scriptures

Bible Text

Does God’s silence authorize or prohibit? This question has been discussed for centuries. Some believe that a thing is wrong only if there is a specific prohibition against it. This reasoning is used to defend such practices as the use of instrumental music in worship and taking money the church has collected and using it for recreational purposes.
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