Letters to the editor: February 2006
Concern that church interacts with denominations
Shame on the Magnolia Church of Christ that chooses to diminishChrist’s church by intermingling with denominations. I refer to theMagnolia church in Florence, Alabama who chooses to be a part ofdenominational organizations who do not preach and teach all the truthsof Christ. I wanted to write directly to that church and its elders,but I found two magnolia churches of Christ in the internet.
What does the Methodist church and the First Baptist Church teach aboutbaptism? What do they teach about church organization? What do theyteach about faith only and Calvinism? What do they teach about presentday miracles? What do they teach about the very basic elements of trueChristianity? I dare say they are false teachers regarding the elementsabove mentioned.
Now, what does the Bible teach about such false teachers? Has God notalways taught his people to come out from among the deceivers and haveno common part with them? In Old Testament times did God not exhort hispeople time and time again not to intermingle with the idolaters, falseprophets and lying tongues? (And much more.) In the New Testament doesChrist not warn us that there are deceivers, false teachers who try totear the church apart? Does Paul in Galations 1:8-9 not tell us thatthose who teach any other gospel than what Paul preached are to beaccursed…even if preached by an angel?
My study of the Bible tells me the church of Christ should NEVER becomea part of this false teaching. Not expressly and not by association. Areason given by the Magnolia church is that “the world needs to seeChristians united.” Let me tell you that mingling the church withdenominations is not teaching the world what Christ taught. Further,how can one call false teachers “Christian”? Are false teachers trulyfollowers of Christ? Christ taught us that His church is one of unityin Spirit, oneness with God, and the church of Christ is a “peculiarpeople”. Mingling in denominational matters, meetings and doctrine isnot setting the church apart as a peculiar people. Rather, this actionby the Magnolia church degrades the Church of Christ into somethingthat only Satan approves. I pray fervently that the elders andministers of this very ugly and sinful practice come to a betterknowledge of the Scriptures, and repent of this practice of publiclymingling and taking part in denominational affairs. Christ’s churchwill grow stronger without this deviant association and subversion ofthe gospel of Jesus Christ.
Please read Romans 16:17-18; 1Cor. 1:10, 13
Appeal for balance
The recent article on the passing of Proposition 2 in Texas waswell-written, but terribly one-sided. While I have no doubt that themajority of voting members of Texas Churches of Christ voted yes onProposition 2, there were still some in our congregations who thoughtthat Proposition 2 was unnecessary (Texas already banned Gay Marriageprior to this amendment), or even morally wrong. Though a minority,this side of the story should also be told, and opposing voices to theProposition should have been interviewed. Bobby Ross’ article “ManyChurches Change Approach to Christmas” mirrors this balanced approach.
We all know how divided our nation is right now over political issues. These divisions have crept into our churches, causing Christians todemean and ignore fellow brothers and sisters in Christ because theirpolitical ideologies may differ. This practice is wrong, no matterfrom which side of the political aisle it may come. Though theChronicle article was not inflammatory, the omission of the “other sideof the story” can leave many assuming that members of Churches ofChrist are monolithic on this issue, and anyone who opposed thisproposition was either non-Christian or not a true member of Churchesof Christ.
Truth be told, there are members of Churches of Christ–and some evenin Texas–who are in favor of the legalization of gay marriage, or atleast opposed to the extra prohibitions on gay couples that Proposition2 promises to bring. Some of these people still believe being gay iscontrary to the will of God, though not all do. A balanced article onthis subject should spend time interviewing these minority voices, sothat the depth and variety of our diverse tradition can be heard. Sucha balanced article would be a small step in healing the political riftthat threatens unity in our churches.
See: Texas lawmaker, ministers applaud gay-marriage ban
Christ and Christmas
“Many Churches Change Approach to Christmas” written by Bobby Ross wasexcellent and timely. The changes taking place in congregationssupporting an emphasis on the birth of Jesus at Christmas are a welcomesight for our family. Having both grown up in “conservative” Churchesof Christ, we began to feel something spiritual was missing at thistime of the year. This resulted in further study, and we now feel bothBiblically correct and good about being able to celebrate Jesus’ birth.
Space doesn’t permit all the Biblical reasons that we now feel thisway, but one scripture in particular might sum it up. In writing toChristians in Rome, Paul said: “One man considers one day more sacredthan another, another man considers every day alike. Each one shouldbe fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special,does so to the Lord…You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or whydo you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’sjudgment seat….Therefore let us stop passing judgment on oneanother…” (Romans 14:5-6a,10,13). Whatever our convictions are aboutChristmas or Easter, it’s fine. As a people who claim that eachcongregation is autonomous, there is no room to judge the practices ofbelievers in other congregations. And, based on Paul’s words, there’sno room to judge the opinions of other believers who sit beside us inworship.
In a time when groups such as the ACLU attempt to take away the rightto express our faith and when so many are attempting to “X” Christ outof Christmas, our family wishes to stand with those who want to keepChrist in Christmas, as well as the other 364 days of the year.
See: Many churches change approach to Christmas
Stan and Lisa Cook
The Pope said that homosexuals and divorcees should not be givensecular marriage licenses in Spain. As a result both types of marriagelicenses are now allowed in Spain. Should we not be just as honest?
It never ceases to amaze me how those in the brotherhood want to beentangled in the ways of the world. He uses Rom. 14:4-7 to make hispoint. Those verse are to those who have come to a full knowledge ofChrist, warning them to be patient with the weaker brother, one whodesires to continue in the old law observances. Observances that theywere once to do. No where in the new testament will you find anythingconcerning the observance of the birth of Christ. Thus to do so wouldbe adding to the scripture. We are told what to observe, that excludeseverything else we might think of.
Why put a stumbling block before a weaker brother with a christmascelibration, when he can’t find authority for it in scripture.
Certainly the article regarding Fairfax’s changes to shall we say,”Adjust to the times” raises a LOT of “issues” or “perspectives.”
Adding an “instrumental” service on Saturdays with the extrapolationthat instruments will be added to Sunday services in the not toodistant future; is NOT an unrealistic projection. Your paper hasreported several “non-instrumental” congregations ADDING an”instrumental” service to their “repertoire.”
WHY!!!!???? Well, in the past few weeks have attended some VERYUNINSPIRED services!!! While uninspired or poorly prepared/deliveredsermons; poorly conducted “Bible Class” discussion were contributingfactors…
the POOR congregational singing simply ADDED to the DEPRESSIVEATMOSPHERE of the service!!! SO, I suppose THEY (Fairfax) thinks that”POOR SINGING” can be overcome by adding “instrumentation”!!! It SEEMSlogical!!! BUT, from my observations the adding of instruments just”drowns out” the poor singing. From what I observe, the “oldermembers” simply “bob their heads” to the beat; “younger” members mostlyWATCH and LISTEN as they “have NO clue” how to blend/add their voicesto THE NOISE!!! In an analogous manner; the “non-instrumental”congregations have the “songleader”
singing a SOLO and by using the microphone he can easily PROJECT abovethe congregation. SO, “older members” find it “futile” to try “adding”a “part” to the music. And, of course, the younger members have neverHEAR of “singing a part” so they just mumble along like the “footballcrowd singing the National Antheum.”
At a recent (non-instrumental) service, the leader selects, “AllCreatures of Our God and King”!!! Well, he had a “notion” of how thetune/rhythm went… and it is apparently NEW to the congregation… soit was kind of a hodgepodge!!!! On another occasion, the leader(different) announced that he had heard “O Beautiful Star of Bethlehem”a few days ago… so…
Again with NO clue of it’s being in 12/8 time with an eighth notepick-up; he “launched into it”!!! He had the “melody” MOSTLY correct;BUT, since nobody else knew the melody…WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE!!!
After all, isn’t HIS melody just as good as the melody “in the book”!!!
So what is THE answer??? Don’t know that “I” have “THE ANSWER;” but”AN ANSWER” that I would propose PRACTICE!!! YEARS ago attended Sundayservices at the National Road congregation in Wheeling, WV. Canremember that they had a dozen or so “numbers” on the wall!!! GEE, arewe going to sing ALL these, I thought??? When the announcementsconcluded, and they were BRIEF; the “young person” who stepped up todirect the singing approached in a “very professional” manner. INTERESTING, I thought!!! He used a “pitch pipe” and made sure thecongregation “had the pitch”!!
WOW, I thought further. Then when we began singing, I felt like I wasin a choir!!! (Had never sung in a choir; played French Horn in HighSchool and College Bands.) Can remember “pausing” at the end of aphrase like in “regular church;” BUT, they kept going; “following thedirector;” he was NOT singing ABOVE us; they were simply watching hisdirecting!!!! By the way, we did NOT sing ALL the songs. A “reader”read passages between the songs; when we reached “X” time, the ministerdelivered the sermon!!! On “checking into this;” it turns out one oftheir elders was “very interested” in music. SO, they practiced everySunday evening!!! From my observations, they must have REALLYpracticed!!! Have not returned to that church in about FORTY years;suspect that THAT elder is deceased; I “often” wonder IF they have beenable to maintain that level of singing.
Regarding “practice,” several years ago was asked to “sing with agroup” for a funeral. This seemed to be a “Mixed Funeral” as BOTH “Church of Christ” and a “Baptist” ministers were going to speak!!! About a dozen “Church of Christ members” showed up to “form thechoir”!!! We met in a room at the funeral home; with this PERSON whowas to be our director. The first song was a DISASTER… I’m thinking”Have I lost my mind”!!! Well, the director THEN explained WHAT hewanted, HOW he was going to give us the pitch; the beat pattern(s) hewas going to use… we were TRANSFORMED!!! It was like we were goingto sing with (but mostly FOR) somebody who KNEW something aboutmusic!!! We sang “Amazing Grace,” “How Great Thou Art” (I suggested tohim that we sing it in “C” rather than “Bb”!!!), and a couple other”funeral-type”songs.
PRACTICING for thirty minutes, at the most, we sounded “quite good”!!! The Baptist minister remarked, “GOOD SINGING”!!! as he walked past ourgroup on his exit. Have related this on several/many occasions as anexample of HOW with “a little practice” singing can be dramaticallyimproved.
Among other experiences, about five years ago accompanied my son to SanAntonio for a Law School interview, we attended the Oak Hillcongregation; good sermon by Max Lucado. The singing (using a “PraiseTeam” of perhaps twenty) really added NOTHING to the service. Thecongregation just, sort of, accompanied the “Praise Team.” While thepraise team was somewhat “animated;” they were more like a “group” ofpeople singing “at the same time.” It came across that they paidminimal, if any attention, to singing TOGETHER and blending theirvoices. Was not overly surprised when I read that Oak Hill is addinginstrumentation to some of their services. IF they engage a DIRECTORfor the instrumentalists; perhaps, he/she can share some musicprinciples to help them “sing” together; just as the violinists,flutists, (French Hornists) have to MATCH their sounds!!!!
Certainly PRACTICE is NOT foreign to music groups, orchestras, choirs, athletes…
Perhaps we should GIVE IT A TRY!!! Not the “once a month” (or once aquarter/fifth sunday) just “sing through something” type of “practice;”but, REAL PRACTICE!!!
See: Thriving congregation finds ways to expand outside Bible Belt, inside Beltway
Buford E. Rowe
I wrote you a letter on May 12 of this year regarding the”Affirmation” published as an ad in the Chronicle. I challenged anumber of issues in the ad. I sent copies of response to about 10 ofits signers. I pointed out that one of the more glaring mistakes madein the ad was its claim that “300 million Eastern Orthodox memberscontinue to sing a cappella.” This statement misled readers to believethat all Eastern Orthodox Churches sing a cappella. Incidentally, thismistaken claim can be heard in most of our pulpits and classrooms everytime we talk about music in the church. I pointed out that mostEastern Orthodox do sing a cappella but that many do not. I listed twolarge congregations in America as illustrations of those who do not. It was my belief that these Christian scholars would have correctedthis false and misleading claim in the next issue of the Chronicle. Why? Just to simply be accurate in making claims that the brotherhooddepended upon. I even assumed, that the Chronicle would correct thisfalse claim in order to keep unsuspecting brethren from continuing tomake the claim, if these brethren refused to make a correction. Isearched the following issues of the Chronicle for a correction butfailed the find one. I find it disturbing that not one of these men,who are in positions of influence in our brotherhood, took it uponhimself to correct their error. More disturbing is the fact theeditors of the leading publication of a cappella Churches of Christ letthe error stand after being informed by about the error. I thought wewere about “Truth!”
I hasten to add that these same leaders who signed the “Affirmation”seemed to have grossly missed their claimed number of Orthodox Churchmembers who sing with or without instruments. These scholars whosigned that affirmation stated that there were “300.000.000 members ofEastern Orthodox Churches who sing a cappella.” I don’t know wherethey got this statistic or who threw it in the “Affirmation” but thatnumber is even more distorted than the above mentioned false claim. According to the Desk Reference Book of the New York Public Library(1989 edition), in its list of “The World’s Major Religions,” statesthat the total number of members “of its many denominations,” theEastern Orthodox Church is 158,000,000. The “Affirmation” signed bythese scholars apparently missed the number of its members by ONLY142,000,000. Now that is a confidence builder! Maybe this referencebook is wrong.
If our “leading” brethren can be so far off in just two claims in onesentence in their “Affirmation,” would not we worry their other claimsthat they believe are the “essential norms” for all true and faithfulchurches? I hope that these men, who are training our future churchleaders, will do a better job of research before they write the next ora revised version of their “Affirmation.” I would also hope that theChronicle staff itself, would have the character, the courage and theforesight to make the corrections on statements published in its pageswhich are at best misleading and at worst, simply not true.
Robert H. Rowland
Having searched your website, it appears that you are missing thegreatest news story to emerge in the brotherhood for some time. TheGospel Broadcasting Network is a new satellite television service basedin Chattanooga, Tennessee, and under the oversight of the elders of theHighland Church of Christ in Dalton, Georgia.
The Executive Director is Barry Gilreath, Sr. The Program Director isJim Dearman. GBN broacasts the gospel in various forms of programing24/7. Programing includes accapella singing and devotionals, personalevangelism videos, in depth Bible Studies from World Video BibleSchool, church history programs with emphasis on the restorationmovement, studies issues specific to restoration movement churches, andother programing dealing with the Restoration Movement, as well as,standard preaching programs.
Having been a radio and TV news director and anchor, I know that somegreat stories slip by without being noticed, but I’m surprised that youmissed this one. Their website is http://www.gbntv.org and includes streaming video of the programing.