The Law of Specifity and The Law of Exclusion among Churches of Christ

By Eusebio Tanicala

The Law of Specifity supports the rule of “Go Back to the Bible” and the Restoration Movement’s slogan, “Speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where it is silent.” The “Law of Specifity” means that what is specified is what the Lawgiver wants to be followed. To subtract from it, or to add to it or to substitute it with another item insults the Lawgiver especially if the Lawgiver is the Creator God, the all-wise God, the all-knowing God, the all-powerful God, the God who is the Judge of the Universe.

Related to this law is The Law of Exclusion which means that what is specified necessarily excludes any other item in the same category. When the Philippine constitution specifies that a President, a Vice President and 24 senators are the national government officials to be elected, the specific law necessarily excludes electing a King or electing a Queen.

The Law of Specifity and the Law of Exclusion are based on the axiom of logic which states: Expresso unius excluso alterius. Roughly translated it reads, “That which is expressed excludes any alteration.”

Among mainstream Churches of Christ, building Noah’s ark is a good example in biblical interpretation. We submit that the gopher wood material is specific and to substitute it with another kind of wood would have been unacceptable. The boat’s measurement was specified. To change the dimension would have been unacceptable. The Book of Leviticus specifies several kinds of sacrifices and offerings. Altering the specified kind of animals and altering the prescribed offering procedures would have been unacceptable. Do you think any Hebrew or priest had the audacity to change what Yahweh prescribed? Did not the prophet Malachi condemn the priests who did not follow the prescriptions about the tithes? An expressed prohibitory statement is not needed to define limitations.

Among Churches of Christ, the specified basis for divorce is fornication in Matthew 19:3-12. There’s general agreement that what is specified remains the exclusive basis for scriptural divorce. An expressed prohibitory statement saying, “Snoring during sleep shall not be a basis for divorce” is not needed.

Among Churches of Christ, the specified elements of the Lord’s Supper are bread and fruit of the vine. We oppose the Roman Catholic Church’s decision of withholding the cup from the people because such doctrine destroys the authority of Christ. All serious Bible students oppose the introduction of fried chicken, lechon, pizza, bibingka, pineapple juice in the Lord’s Supper because we all believe that what is specified would exclude other items in the same category.

Among Churches of Christ, we believe that Ephesians 5:18-19 “singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;” Colossians 3:16 “singing with grace in your heart to the Lord;” Hebrew 2:12 “in the midst of the congregation will I praise your name;” and James 5:13 “Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise” (ASV quotations) specify the instrument in making the music of Christian worship: the heart or the spiritual person. Adding the mechanical instrument of music we abhor because we believe in the validity of The Law of Specifity and The Law of Exclusion.

When we in the Churches of Christ interpret the woman’s veil or else her head be shorn in 1 Cor. 11:4-6, we should be consistent in the application of The Law of Specifity and The Law of Exclusion. During the time of the Apostle Paul, the two areas or two activities that were specified when a woman should wear veil are “praying” or “prophesying.” But among Churches of Christ there are five identified worship activities: Praying, Singing, Listening to the Exhortation (Sermon-Bible Exposition), Participating in the Lord’s Supper, Collecting contribution from the members.

To be consistent in applying the two laws cited above, we should agree that there were only two areas when a woman in Paul’s time was to wear veil: when praying or prophesying. Not in other activities.

Also to be consistent in applying the two laws cited above, we should recognize that the specific voice of the two verbs “praying” or “prophesying” is in the active voice. Meaning, a woman had to actually do the act of “praying” or “prophesying” to feel obligated to wear the veil.

To require a woman to veil herself while she listens to the lesson presented by a male teacher during the Bible Study hour or during the sermon which is delivered by a male preacher is to violate the two Laws cited above. To require a woman to veil herself in other areas of church worship would be violative of 1 Cor. 4:6 warning in “not to go beyond what is written” or Revelations’ warning not to add to nor subtract from what is written.

The appeal here is to observe the two Laws cited above or else there would be no limitations in religious activities. Also observe consistency in the application of hermeneutical dogmas so that what is applicable in one area should also be applicable in other areas given the same situation.

(In another article we shall explain that the acts of “praying” or prophesying” among women have expired with the cessation of the miraculous and direct operation of the Holy Spirit in distribution spiritual gifts)