But for the sake of anyone reading who may be unfamiliar yet interested, I have a few points I'd like to highlight for possible discussions in your gatherings. When I've looked closely at all the controversies on the subject of Extra Biblical Revelation, an understanding left me the better for it. I hope this dialogue serves you - for the better - as well.
At the onset of this discussion it warrants saying, that the authority of Scripture is not up for debate. His Word must never be reduced to second rate authority as some practicing religious faiths demonstrate in our modern day times. It must remain our measuring stick for spiritual matters. However, God has not stopped revealing Himself in our times.
I think we can all agree that any purported revelation coming as a new revelation, must never contradict the Scriptures in order to be considered "valid." One of the reasons we reject the Book of Mormon, for an example, is that it denies the Divinity of Christ - a clear violation of biblical teachings.Having said this, what about the things we do teach that do not contradict the Scriptures but yet, cannot be found within it's pages either?
Discussions get a bit sticky at this point because we all have a tendency to interpret Scriptures dogmatically. An example might be in the case of infant baptism which our Catholic friends say it teaches such and such while refer-ring to passages that show entire families were saved (i.e. Noah and his family covered with the ark, and possibly an infant or two on board) and applying this picture to water baptism. On the other hand, those who insist that only believers are eligible for baptism arrive at their conclusions from Biblical material as well. Could it be that, both positions are Biblical? With these viewpoints the way is now clear to discuss some interesting points on "Extra Biblical Revelation."
Whether we realize it or not, all of us have arrived at conclusions based on Extra Biblical Revelation. That is, revelations not specific to the Scriptures but yet do not contradict Scriptures in any way. For one, the word Trinity is not anywhere in the Scriptures but we believe in the Trinity because early Bible expositors all came to an agreement that there were three persons in one God and defined them as the Trinity. It took years of debates and council meeting with Bible expositors discussing the essence of three persons in one God, and to then give this agreement a definition and identity. This process would be considered: Extra Biblical Revelation.
Another example might be that the New Testament has 27 books in all, no more and no less, and, the Old Testament has 39 in all. I don't know about you, but even if we are not told anywhere in the Bible that it contains 66 Books in all, I still believe in the Cannon of Scripture just as much as I believe in the Divinity of Christ.
It is important to recognize that our doctrinal cannon of Scripture has come about through "extra biblical revelation" for it was by a majority vote that the early Christian doctrines became official. It was decided by revelation - not an easy road for the early Christians who endured much persecution for keeping some books and eliminating others. However, it was through extra biblical revelation that some of our doctrines have endured throughout our time.
Other examples might be those holidays that a majority of Christian churches celebrate. We have no problem celebrating Christmas and Easter, and yet, there's nothing in the Bible commanding that we should do this. Are we sinning because there is no chapter and verse to tell us we should honor these days, and, if one does not celebrate these holidays as a believer, are they violating Scripture? Of course not! Should we make it an issue either way? Absolutely not, because there is nothing in the celebrating of these holidays that contradicts the Scriptures. Even Easter - which some concerned believers argue has it's roots in paganism with the word Easter pertaining to the goddess Estar, has been Christianized with a Christian agenda that worships our Risen Lord. Nothing in celebrating this holiday, or Christmas, contradicts in any way Biblical teachings. It would, however, be considered Extra Biblical Revelations.
Along the lines of slavery, most of us would agree that God abhors slavery and that advocating or tolerating slavery in any way, is a form of social injustice. Yet, in both the Old and New Testament, slavery was a culturally embedded social institution, and nothing in the Bible condemns this social institution of slavery. Therefore, our current persuasion of the abolition of slavery is Extra Biblical.
Some might say that our present day acceptance of the abolition of slavery is a new revelation, when it really is nothing of the sort. Since it pertains to cultural and social practices and how these issues are handled, the abolition of slavery does not distract from the spiritual principals of Scripture.
Regarding Sunday School: No where in the Bible do we find the mention or practice of Sunday school, but, we all know it is a gift from God and accept that growth is a result of Sunday school as well. We accept that it is not a contradiction to Scripture in any way. But, because we are not commanded to have Sunday school with an order of sort to follow, Sunday school is Extra Biblical. Further, most of us would not be opposed to local churches having their own houses of worship, yet, nothing in the Bible commands we do this. The usual practice was meeting in homes, and so, a church building as a place of worship is considered Extra Biblical. Would it be considered a new revelation of some kind, to pursue a building project even though nothing in Scripture teaches we should do this, or, even instructs with a blueprint like the building of Noah's Ark on how to go about such journey? It certainly does not contradict the Scriptures in any way, thus, growth of all kinds is encouraged in Scripture with an increase of measure.
Growth for the sake of image that says, we are bigger and better, or for the sake of outdoing others, might find a building movement at a screeching halt. However, growth to magnify Christ and for the benefit of strengthening His Body would be a definite "Go."
Musical instruments in the Scriptures are not spoken against or taught to be used. They were certainly not a known practice of the Apostles, and yet, they do serve to draw us into the presence of God in worship. This, again, is extra biblical but not contradicting any clear teaching of Scripture. Weekly offerings are taken regularly by most churches and is an appropriate ecclesiastical practice. Even though nothing in the Bible commands us to, or even suggests we collect these offerings weekly, his too, is Extra Biblical.
Are we sinning in accepting women who rise to the call in revealing the very Person of Jesus Christ, and, who strive to confirm and defend the Gospel? ''As [Christ's] energy so powerfully works within us" - within men and women both, the Word of God goes out to heal, strengthen, comfort, and empower that which is weak, dormant and dying.
If one should be concerned about anything at all, treading dangerous waters is this: To not receive (or recognize) those who God has prepared and equipped for a given time and mission. Whether they be male or female, in Christ there is no difference.
However, I suspect that most of us would agree the Elder and Pastoral roles in a local body are intended as: Role Models. These models are equipped to teach on marital and family matters as well as every sort of problematic immaturity that distracts from God's greater plan. Though these positions must be equipped it would be Extra Biblical if all or some of these positions found a decon / elder "unmarried?" Scriptures counsel that these must have their families in order. What if these have no spouse or children? Do strong leaders defy Scripture for singleness?
Would it be a new revelation or contradiction if an Elder or Pastor was only sumwhat well-studied but not containing or endorsing "the deep Truths of the faith" as the Scriptures address? Distinct character standards are required of these leaders, therefore, it becomes obvious that not everyone qualifies for these "role model" positions. Although this statement is not written, Extra Biblical Revelation applies.
The original standards designed by God to protect the Body against divisive teachings now invading our churches, require a strength of character that not all applicants confirm. Most of our churches today have gotten away from the high standards originally set in place, while we constantly hear defenses like: "No one would qualify if we upheld God's original order of requirements for leadership authority." While seeking the high standards of Scripture (which are really basics only), and, that we never should have strayed from to begin with, we conclude that God simply has not provided for a given church body if there exists no qualified Pastors and Elders (some local bodies are now referring to these as their "leadership teams"). Leadership teams are fine as long as these standards of excellence thrive, otherwise a standard of mediocrity sets the bar low and Jesus will never be magnified in a lesser standard of direction.
Either the timing is off for a local assembly to identify itself, or God has another plan altogether. Getting back to the Truth of God's order is not Extra Biblical but it just might be: Revival in the making.
Having steered away from the Life-Giving Spirit of God's Word for much too long, breaking through the fog of deceptions merely breaks the spell of human intentions that have been governing many of our churches as well.
Getting back to the place of women in the church and their authority to minister by the Holy Spirit, the pre-Mayo China era women were ill-studied, and in fact, they were not even permitted to learn. Yes, when the Apostle Paul said: "Let a woman learn in silence," this was an earth-shaking revolutionary endorsement of women. It is not written and cannot be supported by Scripture, but, I would venture to say that if Paul were evaluating our churches today he would be compelled to preach against many of the wrong judgments regarding women serving as "overseers" in our churches.
If one is supernaturally gifted with God's Wisdom in leading, or if the Apostolic and Prophetic ministries that are just as much needed today as ever, happen to find some proven and tested women on board, what are we going to do with them? Are the male leaders of a church body going to restrict them just because of gender issues when the Wisdom of God through these anointed ones edifies and strengthens the church? I think it is about time we use "right judgments" in our goal to unify and start upholding the highest standards of God's Word.
If Christ is magnified through man or woman are we eagerly receiving their authority as leaders? The big question remains: Are we going to let a church body starve to death just because there are few or no qualified males to edify and strengthen the whole? Of course not! If the Holy Spirit is not in the agenda, most of us would agree: We don't want it!
Whether coming through the hands of male or female, there will always be: Extra Biblical Revelations.
In Christ, however, there are no differences. Qualified leadership of Divine skill and standards is not only Biblical, but sought after. It boils down to: What is God's plan and mission for a given local body? As all concerned leadership fervently seeks God while focused to agree -synchronized in the Spirit as the Greek translates, His Will for a local church body becomes clear. This evaluation calls for Divine Wisdom and may result in: Extra Biblical Revelation.
Today, many women are well-studied - far more equipped than some of the men filling positions of authority and clearly called by God for what we do. It's really very simple: One cannot do what they have not been given (Jn. 3:27). Extra Biblical Truths enter in at this point as we decide what to do with women who clearly have God's anointing and Word. Careful handling of the Scriptures with these matters so as not to bring unnecessary divisions in the church, employ the Double-Edge Sword of the Spirit as vital. Timothy was told by the Apostle Paul to be a "Wise steward of the Word, rightly dividing the Word of Truth." The fact that this command remains for Pastors and every church authority today, might be viewed as: Extra Biblical Revelation because it was spoken to Timothy and not to our current day pastors. However, what nonsense this would be to not accept this counsel for leaders today as well.
Is there new revelation today, new Truths, or new doctrines of Scripture that might have been missed along the way or carelessly disguarded? The Apostolic ministries along with the Prophetic who work in tandem, do not come with new Truths but rather to meet the need of the hour. We may have been silent for a time while covertly functioning but our positions of authority are not new teachings nor have these ministries ceased. We are very much alive today while we evaluate our church foundations. We are equipped to rebuild, repair, and establish an excellence that pleases the Living, Breathing, and, very-much-caring God.
Extra Biblical questions thrive again while looking at the ongoing questions that ask: Are the Apostles and Prophets today Extra Biblical? I think we would agree: NOT. These ministries are needed - needed more today than ever "until we all reach unity in the faith... (Eph. 4:13)." Will the unity that is called for in Christ ever happen? Likely not. However, unless we pursue God's view of unity concerning the five-fold ministries - synchronized, we can be assured that unity will never happen. Since this statement is not documented anywhere in the Bible this Extra Biblical Revelation, nonetheless, is true.
Our work is a different work - set-apart as the Scriptures teach and this s not Extra Biblical Revelation. There are no commands either way for the gender specifics of Apostle and Prophet in Christ. We are validated by what we do and know who we are in Christ. We are not self -appointed, but rather, are called and ordained by God.
In summing up, if we are not commanded to do something and yet it benefits the church with growth and increase of measure (containing the perfect and pleasing will the Lord - Rom.12:1,2), are we not entering into what some would call: "New Revelation?" And yet, it may be not much more than what we would identify as: Extra Biblical Revelation.
God is always revealing Himself, yet the key is to know the difference between building upon a weak foundation instead of that which is intended to magnify Christ. Correct handling of Scripture was an issue in the early church era, and it is the same today. God calls for "correct handling" of Scripture and He will never be magnified in the Hagar spirit of the flesh. Never.
If we sincerely seek to magnify and please the Lord, we must seek the Spirit of the Law above all else. We must. And further handle the Law of sin and death correctly and not as radical adherents to a law so designed for pagans, and not for The Church filled and led by The Spirit least we empty the cross of Christ of it's power and full purpose.