Occasionally I hear this question asked by someone who desires to know the church’s position on a certain issue. It is asked as if the church formulated a specific doctrine that addresses the querist’s concern. A better question would be, “What does the Bible teach?” The only position the church should take on any subject is that which is revealed in the Bible. The church has no authority to formulate doctrine. That belongs only to God.
Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Mt. 28:18, emphasis mine). We are told “…not to exceed what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6). The apostle Peter further exhorted, “Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God” (1 Pet. 4:11). The only way to accomplish that is to have a “thus saith the Lord” for everything that is taught.
The Lord’s church has no creed book that guides our actions or formulates our doctrines. If we did, we would be no different than denominations. That which distinguishes us from the religious world at large is our respect for and adherence to the Bible. We are not attempting to be different just for the sake of being different, but we are different because the Bible is different from man-made doctrine. Truth and error are no more compatible with each other than water and oil. It is God’s word that will be used to judge us at the Judgment (Jn. 12:48), not the words and doctrines of men. In the name of religion, man has devised many practices and teachings that are not approved of God. For example, adultery, alcoholism, instrumental music in worship, homosexuality, exorcism, and premillenialism are just a few that can be named.
The restoration leaders had the right idea when they said, “Speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent.” We believe what God says.