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Letters to the editor: October 2006

When reduced to its essential argument, the “Dialogue August 06) with Alan Highers can be summed up in one quote, “If the absence of New Testament authority applies to one it applies to the other.” He was referencing the absence of authority for instrumental music and infant baptism. The conclusion by brother Highers was, “If the Bible is silent on one, it is silent on the other and you can practice neither.”
However if we apply that rule across the board, the Bible is silent on owning church buildings, pitch pipes, tuning forks, four part harmony, Christian Colleges, multiple cups, Sunday Schools, located preachers, sponsoring churches, journals, etc. Sects, calling themselves the true Church of Christ, have sprung from nearly every one of these using the “silent” argument. Brother Highers apparently supports all of these in spite of Biblical silence. It seems that the silent rule does not apply when Scripture is silent of our traditional practices.
On the other hand, there are many clear New Testament practices, commands and apostolic examples which brother Highers arbitrarily overlooks and refuses to make mandatory for the church. He doesn’t practice foot washing, greet brethren with holy kisses, appoint deaconesses, call conferences to settle disputes, nor does he allow women to preach and pray in the assemblies. All were clearly taught a practiced in the New Testament church and which the New Testament is not silent about.
If he, or we, take the liberty to set aside these commands and examples and also violate the silent rule in numerous ways, way would we draw the line of fellowship on those churches that use instruments. Does Gods grace only cover our omissions and additions?
Robert H. Rowland
Corona, Calif.
I appreciate the Dialogue with Alan Highers (August, 2006). It seems that the ones more interested in “family” than in “truth” are going to win over the Universities and larger congregations. The ecumenical cry of the sixties was “forget doctrine and stress love.” When the unity adherents take over, the rest of us will be out on the street, to start all over, as we had to some one hundred years ago. If the Chronicle cares about the rest of us, may I suggest you indicate in your ads for universities, book stores, etc. their position. I can’t afford to buy books, help causes, and attend lectureships when I don’t know what i’m getting into.
It is strange to my ears to hear of congregations offering to bail out denominational churches who have defaulted on their multi-million-dollar buildings. Why should Christians want to assist those who teach error to carry on their works for the devil?
Luther D. Martin
Daingerfield, Texas
The interview with Alan Highers in the August 2006 issue of Christian Chronicle gives credence and relevancy to the Biblical position on the current avalanche of promotion toward unity with the Christian Church. The Scriptural solution is 1 John 1:7. If the Christian Church wants unity, it may come back to where it left and caused the division over a century ago. More Biblical articles are needed in the Chronicle.
Alan Highers, evangelist, editor and jurist, stands tall in the church and is a reasonable successor of such stalwarts as N. B. Hardeman, G. C. Brewer, and Joe Warlick.
E. Claude Gardner
Henderson, Tenn.
There is no record of Instrumental Music in worship for about 400 years after Christ. If Instrumental Music was commanded or implied its was never used.
If Instrumental Music in worship was immaterial, forcing it upon worshipers who know that it was never commanded or implied is sin, then division, which is also sin occurs. Rom. 14:14-23
We are restricted by what the Bible does not say as well as by what it does. Can we be required to furnish Potato Chips for those who don’t like unleavened bread? The Bible doesn’t say you can’t!
All are welcome to worship together without Instrumental Music. We can have unity! There is no way that true Christians can worship with or unite with those who practice or teach the use of Instrumental Music because it was not a part of New Testament worship! I Thess. 2 :14
Compromised Truth is Sin!
Leonard Black
Peck, Kan.
The CHRONICLE pictured MINISTERS EXCHANGING BIBLES as they discussed unity and fellowship of brethren who use instrumental music in their worship, and those who do not. Loving concern is good, but exchange of Bibles is no substitute for learning what the Bible says.
At least 30 Olde Testament places tell of instrumental music used by Jews under the law. 2 Chronicles 29:25-28 tells of singing and using many instruments at the time of burnt offering. However, people today are under the New Testament, revealed by Christ’s inspired men, whom the Holy Spirit guided into all the truth. (John 16:13; Eph. 3:3-5; Heb. 1:1-2 & 10:9-10).
The New Testament tells Christians to sing and gives examples of Christians singing, but never once mentioned using instrumental music. Therefore talks of unity by people who profess “New Testament Christianity” should include discussing worship authorized in the New Testament. Let us truly “sing and make melody in our hearts to the Lord.” (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16)
Charles F. Scott
Monteagle, Tenn.
I see that you are doing the healthy thing and allowing contributors to address unity and the instrumental music question. I do hope you will allow rebuttal to the last issue of your magazine which dealt with the “sin” of instrumental music. In “A New Look At Unity” by M. L. Daniels, I have circled some of the things that are apropos to answering that opinion. You may quote any of the attached paper that you think would be an honest rebuttal.
M. L. Daniels
Austin, Texas
I read your articles on a cappella. In worship a cappella is the only way to worship in song. The Bible says nothing about singing and playing music in worship. The Bible says SING and MAKE MELODY IN YOUR HEART TO THE LORD. I cannot concentrate on the worship service or God with that horrible plink, plink, thump thump while I am singing. There is nothing more beautiful or fulfilling than to sing to the Lord. Al those beautiful voices blending in is true worship. I will not go to a church for worship that has a bunch of instruments banging away in the background drowning out all those beautiful voices and words. If instruments are played in church services it is a sin. A true sin (Rom. 6:23) We must do as the Bible says to do, not as we want to do. Read that Bible again. I am shocked at Jeff Walling being on both sides of the fence. He should read his Bible more thoroughly.
Everyone in all churches are not going to Heaven. The gate is wide and the way is narrow. My advise is stay in the church of Christ. It is correct with the Bible.
Wyba Nienstadt
Modesto, Calif.
While I appreciate the life, work, and opinion of Brother Highers (“A Conversation with Alan Highers,” August, page 22), I believe we are off track by our excessive use of the man-made doctrine called “silence of scripture.” If we take this doctrine seriously, items such as Sunday Schools, church buildings, hymnals, women’s fellowships, and host of other acceptable forms of congregational life would find no “New Testament authority.”
And what about things specifically addressed by the New Testament like “greet one another with a holy kiss” (Rom. 16:16); or “when you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation.” (I Cor. 14:26); or “I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath or dissension.” (I Tim. 2:8). How can we speak of the silence of scripture when we don’t practice what is specifically authorized – even commanded? And if we say these things are only cultural expressions, why are they cultural and instruments not?
In the interest of communicating accurately the two sides of the instrument/silence of scripture question, perhaps we should hear from a New Testament scholar from the opposite side, i.e., that instrumental music in worship is NOT a sin or salvation issue.

Charlie Robinson

Columbia, MD
In response to “Conversation with Alan Hughes:”
I disagree with the idea that young people don’t favor a capella music because most of us “have never even heard the arguments against
instrumental music”-I have heard them all of my life. While teaching youth Sunday school this summer, we studied praising and worshiping the Lord like in Psalm 150. One eighth grade teen talked about how playing basketball with a good attitude was worship to God. It was encouraging to me that she recognized that we worship when we give our bodies and lives to Christ, not just when we enter the sanctuary of a church building. My time in college and abroad has shown me Christianity unbound by definitions of what worship is. It’s sad to think our time is spent on determining whether a piano or clapping is acceptable, while people live and die without ever knowing Him. Can we really compare the issue of instrumental music in worship to “sprinkling babies” and “praying to Mary?”
Blair Wrangham
Charlotte, NC
On page 29 of the august edition of christian chronicle jeff walling is quoted as saying, “that grace, not perfect doctrine ,saves Christians.” i think the bible teaches that obedience to the commands of God is what saves us. the bible no where authorizes the use of instrumental music in worship. nadab and abihu were destroyed because they did something which was not authorized. can we expect any less under the perfect law? alan highers in his article on page 22 says that “sin is a salvation issue.”
Romans 6:23 says, sin is what causes people to be lost. the bible speaks of when we add to, “the plagues will be added to us.” the teaching that instrumental music in worship is approved by God is adding to what the bible teaches.
Marvin Gentry
Prattville, Ala.
Just in case you might publish it, I’d like to submit one more comment.
It Must be the Profit. Legal or not, immigration means a very substantial profit. The people and the country of origin of immigrants profit plenty from it. Though they risk their lives and freedom, ilegal immigrants profit from it. Employers who hire immigrants, legal or not, profit from it. Attorneys whose services are retained for immigration matters profit from it. Perhaps nothing else makes a difference when profit is the only thing that matters.
A. G. Figueroa
National City, Calif.
Unity. This word seems to be a real thorn in the side of the churches of Christ. Christ wants unity for all baptized believers,(sorry, this is not limited to just the churches of Christ).The a capella vs. insrumental music debate would test the patience of Job !Singing from the heart is a real, real stretch to make a biblical mandate from. Singing from the heart means sincerity, not a lack of instruments. Not fellowshipping with people because they do not attend a church of Christ is a mockery of what Jesus taught,( as in love your neighbor).Silence of the scriptures is a dangerous game to play, especially when you are selective about the silences you are refering to. I attend a church of Christ that is not bogged down by narrow-mindedness. The traditions we follow are by choice, not because certain people make them into law. When others reach out to you, don’t spit in their hands. Besides , if you think they are wrong read James 5:19,20.
John Dhyne
Lawson, Co.
I read with interest the 31 letters to the editor in the September online edition of The Christian Chronicle. By my count 12 of the readers were positive about the Bible exchange at the North American Christian Convention while 19 had negative reactions.
That a simple exchange of Bibles as an expression of good will could cause some to be “disgusted,” “dismayed,” “disheartened,” and “stunned” was stunning to me. That such an act could be demeaned as being merely a “Bible exchange thing” or “absurd” was disheartening in itself. That men’s sincere tears (front page photograph) could be mocked is beyond belief. That the mere reading of the front page article in a church could cause “disbelief” and “palpable grief” is incredible. That brothers for whom Christ died could be dismissed as “apostate” and “instigators” is sad indeed. That the biblical doctrine of unity could be impugned with terms like “fad,” “error,” and “absurd” is shocking. That ignorance of who the nondenominational fellowship of Christian Churches and Churches of Christ are (“a denomination,” “an off-shoot of the Churches of Christ”) is appalling. That Christian Churches “do not believe in the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures” crosses the pale and borders on blasphemy. That the NACC stands for “North American Christian Churches” rather than the North American Christian Convention reveals simple ignorance. That coverage of the historic event could be deemed a “whitewash” is nonsense. That the use of instrumental music could be considered a “salvation issue” is audacious.
Victor Knowles
Joplin, MO
I enjoy the Chronicle very much. I am writing this to you after reading Bro. Highers article. I am from the old A.C.C. of the 1940’s and we all had a different outlook then than now. I am not a writer to any of our papers but thought maybe these ideas would be useful to a struggling soul. You can let someone else write the article if you think the idea is worth printing.
Back several years Mac (sic) Lucado wrote saying his elders had investigated and studied the subject of Instrumental Music and after much study found there wasn’t any prohibition to using it. I then penned this article but never sent it beyond the local congregation I was preaching for at that time.
The Holy Spirit did not write letters to Churches to tell them the prohibitions concerning a subject. We were taught many years ago the Holy Spirit told us what God wanted, not what God did not want. The Old Testament is an exercise in telling man what not to do. Man will find a way to circumvent the command.
God told us what we had to do to be saved. “Repent and be baptized everyone of you.” God did not have to say something on the order of ‘if you are not baptized you will not be saved’. He told us what to do…not what not to do.
Let’s see now; is counting beads on a rosary, as Catholics do when they pray, wrong? I cannot find any prohibition in the New Testament saying it is wrong, therefore, since there isn’t any prohibition we can do it, right?
The oft used argument about instruments of music is ‘David used them in the temple so we can use them in the Church.’ Well, David didn’t use them in the temple because it was not built during his lifetime and he, being from the tribe of Judah, was not allowed in the temple. He played to King Saul but notice carefully it was in Saul’s palace not in the tent where the tabernacle dwelt in in David’s time.
Let’s go through a little role playing here.
It’s Sunday morning and when you arrive for Bible Study you notice strange things have happened. There on the platform is a B-B-Que pit. Standing beside it is a table all ready for cutting meat. Nothing is said and you go into the worship hour. Soon after it begins a man walks in with a lamb and he takes the lamb to the table and slaughters it. He then lights the fire and is about to offer a lamb as a sacrifice. By this time you can’t stand quiet so you ask, “hey, what’s going on?” He replies, “I am offering a lamb for a sacrifice for my sins.” “But,” you reply, “Jesus is our lamb that was sacrificed for our sins.” “yes, I know that but there isn’t anything wrong with me doing this after all King David offered lambs for sin’s forgiveness. There isn’t any prohibition by the Holy Spirit so I can do it.”
Joseph Smith when he set the Mormon Church up when it came to the Lord’s Supper since it did not forbid water in place of fruit of the vine, he put water and cookies on the Lord’s table. No prohibition in the Bible against it.
The Church of the Brethren use coffee and soap. No restrictions so it’s O.K. We, both the Christian Church and my brethren, have said that sprinkling was wrong for baptism. But, friend, there isn’t any prohibition in the New Testament against sprinkling.
The Holy Spirit did not say one could not put a human name on the Church. So, why tell the denominational world they are wrong for all their names other than Christ? If it had been important the Holy Spirit would have prohibited it.
Well, now let us see what the Holy Spirit did say about names. Colossians 3:17 “And whatsoever you do, whether in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
This eliminates all other names.
And about sacrifices for sin, listen: Hebrews 10:9-10 “Here I am, I have come to do thy will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
No more sacrificing of lambs. Jesus paid it once for all.
You can go back as far as Babylon in about 550 BC and trace the synagogue worship by the Jews. You can go back to the days of our Savior when He went to the Synagogue to worship and they always sang. They had what was called a cantor who led them.
The Christian Churches in our area have stopped baptizing for the remission of sins; have started addressing their preacher as Reverend. There isn’t any prohibition against this, they say.
Leslie W. Grant
Escanaba, MI
After years of reading the Letters column, I finally had to write to express my frustration at some of the hard, sometimes critical, attitudes about unity efforts and different opinions on acceptable public worship. I feel qualified to express myself as someone whose family as been part of the restoration movement for 3 generations.
As one letter writer stated in the September edition, “we accept that the Bible is the inspired word of God” and “we accept that the apostles were God’s inspired teachers, yet many people do not want to accept the patterns of worship that the apostles set in place.” I agree, but not on the patterns this letter writer is concerned about. The Church of Christ has made a big deal on instrumental worship, and yet avoided the teaching of these inspired apostles and Christ himself in other areas. While there is very little written on instrumental vs acappella worship, there is an acceptance of large mega-churches knowing 1st century churches met in homes. While teaching to “pray without ceasing” there is a disregard of the vast teaching and demonstrations by Christ himself on the posture for such events as praying to our Holy Father. How wonderful it would be to kneel in prayer! Can the church continue to overlook Luke 5:8, Luke 22:41, Acts 9:40, Acts 20:36, Acts 21:5, Romans 14:11, Ephesians 3:14 and Philippians 2:10? Worship, prayer, meditation, confession, all require a contrite heart. As stated in Amos 5 – “I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
22Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them.” Is there an illusion that the church has it right? God does not want “right” worship. He wants true, authentic worship from the heart; from those who know he is King of Kings. What is of first importance is to enter His presence with a clean heart (Matthew 5:23-24). I don’t win because I did it right.
I win because, out of humbled respect, I honored Him [proshuneo] – unable to look on His face and served [latereuo] Him with reverence and respect.
Campbell, Stone, Scott, Lispcomb, Harding, all cried out for unity among Christians (not uniformity). This is not unity among denomination, but a unity of individuals. I am very proud of those I serve with in Enumclaw Washington. We have members with backgrounds from the Church of Christ, Instrumental Church of Christ (Christian Church), Assemblies of God, Nazarene, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Catholic, Greek Orthodox; but most of all, the un-churched. Are they not the ones we are to be reaching anyway! Please put down the weapons of words. Urging unity in worship based on a cappella music only makes this a salvation issue. We must acknowledge our need to constantly study and pray, and that it is God’s grace and the cross that is my salvation. Thank you to those of you who say this worship style is your tradition and preference. Instrumental worship is not for everyone, neither is raising holy hands in prayer, or kneeling in prayer, or covering ones head (my grandmother would never go to church without a hat) or attending a church that is 1000 members strong. Do you take care of the unwed mother that just walked in, or the stranger who asked what do I need to do to be saved? Do you feed the hungry? Do you study to understand the direction God is taking you? Are not these the things that are truly important?
Jim Winkelman
Enumclaw Community Church
Two observations:
1) It’s interesting to note that people who put the Republican Party on the same level as Christianity fail to realize that Jesus Christ’s twelve apostles represented the full spectrum of that political world. Simon from the Zealot party was ultra-conservative; Matthew was extremely liberal to dare to make his living as a tax collector for the hated Romans.
2) People who insist that singing a cappella is the only way to heaven fail to notice that our Lord Jesus sang without any instruments in the synagogue, and he sang with the musical instruments in the temple. He never talks about it. It wasn’t important.
Jacqueline L. Williams
Springfield, Tenn
I am writing in regards to the Editorial in the September 2006 Christian Chronicle. I am an elder at the Echo Meadows Church of Christ in Oregon, Ohio. I also work for a large regional insurance company. We have storm teams set up to work on a rotational basis so we can react when a catastrophic loss occurs. I worked in Mobile, Alabama both in 2004 and 2005 in response to hurricane losses. My assignment was to manage the storm office.
I’m extremely offended by your statement “Insurance companies may have relied on fine print to shirk their responsibilities”. The following comes from a standard homeowner’s insurance contract. Yes, I said contract. In case you are not aware, an insurance policy is a contract and both the insurance company and policyholder are bound by the terms of the contract. I find nothing small or fine about the print copied from the contract.
Exclusions Applicable to Coverage A – Dwelling, Coverage B – Other Structures and Coverage C – Personal Property
The following exclusions apply to Coverage A – Dwelling, Coverage B – Other Structures and Coverage C – Persaonal Property:
4. “We” will not pay for “physical loss” resulting directly or indirectly by any of the following. Such “physical loss” is excluded regardless of any other cause or event contributing concurrently or in any sequence to the “physical loss”. These exclusions apply whether or not the “physical loss” event results in widespread damage or affects a substantial area.
c. Water Damage, meaning:
(1) Flood, surface water, waves, tidal water, overflow of a body of water, or spray from any of these, whether or not driven by wind;
The fact people who live in known flood planes failed to buy flood insurance (which is not available from private insurers) should not taint your opinion of how reputable insurance companies operate. SHIRK THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES; no, I don’t think so. Apply standard contract law; yes. The insurance company cannot make up coverage where there is none, nor can it decline coverage where the policy says it applies.
It’s a shame that such a good Editorial was used by you to air your personal dislike of insurance companies.
Yes, I and my family are mission minded. I’ve been on two mission trips in Mexico. I have children that have been on mission trips in Haiti and Honduras, along with a trip to the 7th ward of New Orleans. Our congregation sent a work crew to Mississippi this summer.
Robert L. Long
Clay Center, Ohio
I was very disgusted by the front page of the August 2006 regarding the church of Christ and the Christian Church. Jeff Walling “exchanging Bibles” with the Christian Church preacher brought “tears” of sadness to my eyes. As if exchanging Bibles makes us Brethren. How can we be Brethren when our “Brethren” add to the worship? Just because someone likes instrumental music and thinks it adds to the worship, does not make it right! Why can’t we leave the silence of scriptures alone?? There is more argument over what the Bible does not say than what it says. Just because it “does not say” we can’t”, doesn’t mean we can. God told us what He wanted and it is very plain. In Col. 3:16 we are told to sing: 1 Co. 14:15 sing and pray with the spirit and understanding. Why don’t we have instrumental music during prayer? Some may like that. 1 Sam. 15:3, God told Saul to kill the Amaleks. and not to spare them. He was to kill men, women, children and all the animals. Saul brought back Agag the king, and the best of the animals and all that was good. Samuel told Saul he did not obey the voice of God. Saul said he brought Agag and the best of the animals to sacrifice to God. Saul just added what he liked. Samuel said “to obey is better than to sacrifice”. God did not tell Samuel NOT to bring back the best to sacrifice to Him but told him WHAT to do! Why can’t we just do what the Bible says??? I greatly enjoyed the dialogue with Alan Highers. His dialogue explains the issue on instrumental music very well.
Dorothy King
Dallas, TX
Oct. 1, 2006

Filed under: Letters To The Editor Staff Reports

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