Norman Sewell

We often use terms like “liberal” and “conservative” to describe attitudes and ideas in the political realm, and similar attitudes in regard to the Bible. We generally understand their meaning, especially in politics, but it seems they are not always understood in matters regarding scripture. And different people use such words as “conservative” in a relative sense. They refer to themselves as conservative simply because others are more liberal than they are. Just as the term “anti” was used years ago to refer to those who were against certain practices, liberal and conservative are sometimes used more to prejudice than to accurately describe a person's stand.

Could there be a better way both to understand, and to express our concerns over practices we think to be wrong? And, what makes certain practices wrong in religious matters? What makes a practice right or wrong is whether it is approved of God or not! This should be the only concern - does God accept this action or does He reject it? If any action is accepted by God we should be able to determine that easily and quickly. All that would be required would be for us to find some reason in the Bible to do the thing suggested or planned. Failing to find some Bible reason (generic or specific) to do it we should then consider it not approved by God. Only by what God has revealed can we possibly know what He wants.

Scriptural is not really a term found in the Bible, yet it describes an important principle. Webster's Dictionary says of the word, “pertaining to or contained in the Bible” and then adds the words “scriptural authority.” For a thing to be scriptural it must be found in the scriptures in some way. If we can't find that thing described in scripture in some way we can honestly say it is “unscriptural” or without scriptural approval. While words like "liberal" and "conservative" are sometimes prejudicial and open to definition, “scriptural” and “unscriptural” seem more clear.

Problems may still be encountered in the process of determining what is approved and what is not, but each thing can be tested by comparing it to SCRIPTURE. Some will always want to argue, “The Bible doesn't say not to,” but the test still stands. Can we find it in the scriptures or not? Paul wrote that “no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11b). Any attempt to claim we know what God approves apart from what the Spirit has revealed fails by the same test. If the Holy Spirit didn't reveal it, in some form, then we have no way of knowing that God approves.

So, as we try to convince friends that their religious practice is wrong, wouldn't it be better to use a term like UNSCRIPTURAL, meaning, you can't find it in the Bible?