Letters to the editor: September 2006
I was disgusted to read about the exchange of Bibles at the recent NACC. Don’t my apostate brethren realize what they are doing? In essence they surrendered the principle of Biblical authority (Col. 3:17) for the false doctrine of “the silence of the Scriptures”. Long ago the Christian Church and their denominational colleagues embraced this unbiblical position for the clanging of cymbals and the clatter of mechanical instruments of music in worship. But God is not applauding this disrespect of His word.
Roelf L. Ruffner
Has the Christian Chronicle looked into the origination of the Church of Christ/Christian Church Unity Movement? If you have not, is it in your area to investigate such events?
In the Project 133 pamphlet distributed at Summer Celebration they give David Faust, president of Cincinnati Christian University, and president of NACC (I believe that is North American Christian Churches) a special thanks for his vision and leadership and hard work toward promoting unity within the body of Christ.
The Project 133 pamphlet also thanks Crossroads Christian Church in Grand Prairie, Texas; Sherwood Oaks Christian Church , Bloomington, Indiana; Valley Mills Christian Church, Indianapolis, Indiana; The Church at MT Gilead, Mooresville, Indiana, Crossroads Church, Portland, Oregon 3 Christian churches,
David Faust the instigator of the unity movement? Are we experiencing another situation where a denomination started something and members of the CoC jumped on the bandwagon? Is this just another fad like the JOY Bus type thing? I believe it came from Indiana also.
Acceptance by some church leaders, as used in the article, seems to say that those who continue to practice error by use of mechanical instruments of music in worship are in good standing with God. There is a great difference in continually practicing error without repentance, and one who commits error of which he repents. Loving those in continued error should always be a characteristic of our lives, and demonstrated in our actions to guide them to truth. But, any proclamation of acceptance on any man’s part will not change their spiritual relationship with God. Rather, it may give them a false sense of spiritual security. That would be disastrous.
I am praying for the Stamford Church to return to the gospel once for all delivered to the saints. Women are serving in positions not authorized by scripture. Why? What does I Corinthians 14:34-35 say? There are enough Christian works for all women to serve the Lord without being an Elder, Deacon, or leading in the public assembly. Do we want to change God’s word to suit ourselves, or change ourselves to suit God’s word?
In a congregation I attended for many years some members decided they wanted women to have a more active role in the public assembly. It split the church. When they couldn’t take over the church they left and publicly stated they were no longer affiliated with the church of Christ. This and the Stamford movement are as much of an apostasy as the Catholic and denominational movements.
I read with interest about the “unity movement” between the acapella and instrumental churches. We hope that good comes from these efforts.
Lamentably, the churches of Christ/Christian church split over the issue of the mechanical instrument, although not one verse in the N. T. discusses the use or non-use of the instruments in the assembly.
Ironically, while instruments continue to be the source of much discussion, the churches of Christ will hardly even study a topic that is on virtually every page of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments!
That topic is eschatology, i.e. the end times.
Many will gladly debate the instrument, yet will not discuss eschatology.
Why debate an issue not even discussed by inspiration, but refuse to debate/discuss an issue that permeates the inspired text?
Are we not, indeed, majoring in minors?
Don K. Preston
I was dismayed and disheartened after reading the front page story in your Aug. issue, “Ministers exchange Bibles at Convention.” But I kept reading and was encouraged by the “Conversation with Alan Highers”. By the time I had read the editorial, “Refocusing on Kingdom business,” I knew someone else understood and I was revived. I sat down and readied three lessons to be sent for World Bible School and wrote letters to six men who had recently been baptized at Granite, Okla. Prison.
Small groups, coffeehouses, etc., sound like great places to teach the lost. Preachers have been telling us that for years. But Jesus adds to His church baptized believers who in turn, grow and organize with elders, deacons, teachers, etc.
With regard to “44 people who moved into a building and lost their momentum” – it seems a little strange to me that we have raised up a generation whose allegiance to God depends upon the aroma of coffee, the sight of food, and the casualness of a living room, instead of the smell of catacombs, the starkness of a plain auditorium, or the authoritarian feel of an organized group.
Maybe we are more “self-centered” than “Jesus centered” and are just deceiving ourselves.
Rose Ann Haun
Is there evidence anywhere that our Lord changed his mind? I fail to find that. Alan (Highers) says we should respect the fact that there was no instruments in the early church and follow that example. But, suppose there might have been a reason, a reason which does not exist today? We often hear it said that “Circumstances alter cases”.
In view of II Chron. 29:25, to say that anyone who uses the instrument in worship in the HOUSE OF THE LORD will not make it to heaven seems a bit far fetched.
Are the scriptures really that silent? Look at Acts 2:42-46. They did not even sing, so we should not sing, right? And, they were continuing steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers, but, minus the singing! And, to top it off, it says they were following the apostles’ doctrine! Neither do other scriptures seem to give the command to sing in the assembly! So why do we – are we not adding to the silence of the scripture?
Speaking to YOURSELVES in psalms, hymns, etc. and making melody in YOUR heart in Eph. 5:19, most often used, does not necessarily indicate an assembly. Col. 3:16 teaching and admonishing ONE ANOTHER, (not necessarily a group situation). James 5:13- Anyone merry? Sing psalms – (when washing the dishes, etc.). I Cor. 14:15 (You- should) Sing with the spirit, and sing with the understanding!
It might be of interest to know the reason why there was probably no singing in the early assemblies. In Acts 2:42, about the only assembly mentioned in the Bible, they met in an upper room. Why? Look at John 20: 19. The doors were shut for fear of the Jews! I believe all the apostles were finally killed by the Jews. Do you think they would have been attracting attention by making a lot of noise singing, let alone playing loud instruments? I think the early singing that is mentioned must have been done privately so as not to attract attention and thereby risk their lives. I do not think God intended to change his mind and call instrumental use sinful. As for me, I am not interested in a two-faced God!
Oklahoma City, Okla.
I received the August 2006 issue today and I have one question–Why did you not put the excellent Dialogue: Alan Highers on Instrumental Music on the front page instead of page 22? What brother Highers has to say is much more important than “Ministers exchange Bible at convention”. There is actually some real spiritual meat in Alan Highers answers; whereas, the toleration of adding to God’s word as is indicated in the Bible exchange thing is misleading to say the least toward true unity. The printing of John chapter 17 would have been a better choice to have occupied that space.
Oh well, to Alan Highers, thank you and I strongly encourage you to keep up the good work for standing for the truth–God’s word! Union, which is a far cry from unity, is the best that can come from the Bible exchange thing and that is all other than division, which we all know that God hates.
R. D. McDaniel
I was stunned by a statement attributed to Jeff Walling, a minister of the church of Christ who supports unity with the Christian Church, on page 29 of the August 2006 issue. With regard to using instrumental music, he is reported to have said that grace, not perfect doctrine, saves Christians. I agree that we are saved by grace. This does not mean that we accept or tolerate sin or fellowship those who do. The New Testament is the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25). I am reminded of the Apostle Paul speaking in Romans 6:1-2 –“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”
Harrison City, PA
With all the recent activities surrounding the “unity” of the Church of Christ with the Christian Church one can almost forget that the a cappella churches have experienced divisions over both the profound and the inane. Divisions are over pre-millennialism, pacifism, congregational cooperation, Bible classes, the use of multiple communion cups, the construction of kitchens and bathrooms in church buildings, the indwelling of the holy Spirit, charismatic gifts, hermeneutics, women in public leadership, choruses, and worship teams, cell groups, prayer partners, over/under discipling, and the nature of total commitment, etc.
Based on Jesus’ prayer, recorded by John, the world is not going to believe that the Father has sent Him. The church needs to rethink our responsibilities and put aside our egos. Our actions show we would rather let the world enter eternity with no hope than to find ways to get along with our brothers and sisters. And we should make no mistake, anyone who has obeyed the Bible’s teaching on what they must do to be saved are brothers and sisters. Is it any wonder the church is not effective?
Alan Highers and others speak of instrumental music “in worship.” Worship is not something we are in. It is something we do. The liturgical concept carried over probably from Roman Catholicism is ingrained within protestant churches, even Churches of Christ. Highers seems to think that worship is a certain limited number of items done in a “worship service” — a term not even found in Scripture. Paul doesn’t express worship in this way (Romans 12:1). Is this speaking where the Bible speaks, a slogan often appealed to in order to support our 200 years of tradition? One other point, pianos don’t worship. Pitch pipes don’t worship. People do. God doesn’t hate music. The psalms, which Paul told us to sing, were mostly written to be accompanied by instruments of music. To put down the unity efforts among Restoration congregations based on this issue is disheartening.
Steven Clark Goad
Our Yucaipa, CA pulpit minister, Jim Laws, read your “Ministers Exchange Bibles” article during a sermon on the uniqueness of the church of Christ. In the nearly-seventy years that I’ve been old enough to comprehend sermons, I don’t recall anything that left the audience sitting in such silent, stunned disbelief. Their grief was palpable.
Margaret Horton Swaim
The article by Alan Highers on a cappella music in worship is an excellent article. His statement that many have never heard a sermon on the subject is right on. And that can be said for a host of other sins. Too often we hear from many in the brotherhood that all we need to do is preach the truth. You can preach the truth without ever addressing a specific sin. I don’t advocate a steady diet of “hellfire and brimstone” preaching, but if all that is ever preached is “God‘s love and forgiveness” then it’s no wonder that many have never heard that instrumental music in worship is sin. God has always been specific in stating how He wants to be worshipped. Never has He given us a menu from which to pick and choose. If instrumental music is to be used in worship, then worship without the instrument is vain worship. And here again I guess that God is so indifferent that He didn’t even specify the instrument to be used. Is that what the Christian church would have us believe? Unity is desirable and we are admonished to strive for it but it can never be accomplished by compromising the truth. To do that would mean that we are not in unity with Christ.
Jerry B. Waskom
Thank you for providing your readers with the interviews with Alan Highers and Cecil May, Jr. It is refreshing to hear from members of the church of Christ who reflect the views all members held prior to 1980. I suspect that many of your subscribers saw for the first time why we as a body of people have worshiped God without instruments of music. More from the silent majority would be appreciated.
Sun City West, Ariz.
My unqualified love and respect for brother Alan Highers is not abated in the least by the fact I disagree with him on the subject of instrumental music–because I am united with him in Christ, not by conformity and agreement on matters of doctrine!
My tradition and preference is acapella. Many of my background, however, have been very selective indeed in using the “silence of scripture” argument as basis for our practices. Please show me scripture for things such as Bible Classes, congregational singing, pulpits, sermons, clergy (we call them “our Ministers”), etc. Though unbiblical, we do not call these “sinful practices..” What is clearly sinful and strongly condemned is separating and dividing on matters of interpretation and opinion! May God be praised for His matchless grace which saves us from having to get all things “right.”!
The Chronicle’s front page article in August, ”Minister’s Exchange Bibles At Convention” interested me, yet I could not understand the real intent of exchanging Bibles. One said “They are exactly the same. They are the same translation. They are the word of God.
It seemed to me that discussion of what the WORD OF GOD says about singing and instrumental music would have helped all to understand what has caused the division and what those who want to please God should do in order to truly stand united.
Others at that convention also exchanged Bibles. Surely every Bible there said essentially the same thing, if they were Bibles translated by a large group of scholars. This spring when friends of mine were discussing singing and instrumental music, I took the eight Bible Translations in my office and read afresh what was said about singing and instrumental music. All mentioned animal sacrifices, burning of incense and instrumental music in Jewish worship in the Old Testament. For instance: 2 Chronicles 29:25-29 “And he set the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, with psalteries and with harps according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the King’s seer and Nathan the Prophet: for so was the commandment of the Lord by his prophets. And the Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets. And Hezekiah commanded to offer the burnt offering upon the altar…and all the congregation worshipped, and the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded until the burnt offering was finished” About 30 other places in the Old Testament show that instruments of music were used, I Chronicles 15:16; I Chron. 23:5; Psalm 33:2; 71:22; 144:9; Psalm 150:3-5.
When I looked afresh at the New Testament to know for certain what was done, I looked at eight New Testament translations. I looked at all commands or examples of any man on earth worshiping God in Heaven with any kind of music. I know God promised that his inspired men who gave us the New Testament writings were promised the Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth. (John 14:26; John 16:13; Eph. 3:3-5, 2 Tim. 3:16-17) What is the truth about the kind of music God authorized in the New Testament. Surely all of us who want to practice New Testament Christianity want to know. I found only nine places in the New Testament that tell anything about man on earth worshiping God in heaven with any kind of music. They are: Matt. 26:28-30; Mark 14:26; Acts 16:25; Rom. 15:9; I Cor. 14:15; Eph. 5: 19; Col. 3:16; Heb. 2:11-12; James 5:13. In all nine places the word sing, sung, singing, etc. are used. There was no mention of any kind of instrumental music. If any of those who exchanged Bibles had a New Testament that tells of man on earth worshiping the Father in heaven with any kind of instrumental music, will you please tell the rest of us.
In discussing any issue, it is certain that all of us need to “Speak the truth in love” and to “Love one another with pure hearts fervently.” But sincere love for each other should make us all want to help all those we love realize that it is still important to WORSHIP GOD IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH, and to realize that Jesus once said “In vain you do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” True love for each other will cause us all to want to help each other know the truth which can make us free. (598)
Charles F. Scott
Thank you for the interviews with Alan Highers and Cecil May that present what I believe is the conviction of the vast majority of Churches of Christ. Not everyone who attended the North American Christian Convention agreed with the views of the prominent men you featured on the front page in the last two issues. I spoke for thirty minutes in a workshop attended by five hundred people on who we are as Churches of Christ. In my message, I kindly and lovingly urged unity in worship based on the New Testament practice of a cappella music only. Anyone may read my address at our church’s web site www.sjcc.us. My address went beyond the music question and encouraged us to “refocus on kingdom business” as your editorial did also.
Many of us (who are not college Presidents, preachers, or elders) have always believed that members of the Christian church are our brethren. Yes, they are in error in my opinion (as am I on other issues in their opinion).
However, I have a question. What was so important about introducing instruments all those years ago? Why were those brethren willing to accept division as the “price paid” for having instruments? Exchanging Bibles and crying (while in themselves irrelevant) may be the first step toward genuine humility before God. A thorough discussion of scripture (hopefully including Romans 14) would be welcome.
Suzanne Moore Chappin
While House, Tenn.
I congratulate you for publishing the interview with Alan Highers in your August issue. He is, as usual, “right on”!
While I respect the experience and beliefs of Alan Hughes, I would like to respond to the “Conversation with Alan Hughes.” As a member of the Providence Road Church of Christ, I support the efforts of Jeff Walling and others in uniting Christian churches with our own. I disagree with Mr. Hughes when he says that young people don’t favor a capella music because most of us “have never even heard the arguments against instrumental music.” I am 20 years old and have heard arguments against instrumental music for all of my life. I have been blessed to teach Sunday school this summer to the 7th and 8th graders in my congregation, and last week the topic was praising and worshiping the Lord. We read Psalm 150 and talked about how we should worship the Lord in every part of our lives. One eighth grade teen talked about how playing church basketball with a good attitude was worship to God.
It was so encouraging to me that at her age, she was recognizing that our spiritual act of worship is when we give up our bodies and lives to Christ, not just when we enter the sanctuary of church building on Sunday mornings. My time as a college student, in mission work and studying abroad have shown me Christianity unbound by definitions of what worship can be and can’t be. I lived in Spain for a semester, where over 95% of the population is Catholic, and few have real relationship with Jesus. I spent a summer in the jungle of Peru and saw people believing in witch doctors and living secluded from the world and God.
I attend UNC Chapel Hill and see lost people every day on campus that fill their lives with sin instead of truth. It hurts me to think our time is spent on determining whether a piano or clapping is acceptable, when people die in places like Spain, developing nations, or even our own USA without ever knowing Him. Can we really compare the issue of using instrumental music in worship to “sprinkling babies” and “praying to Mary?” I think it’s time to recognize that much of the discomfort felt over instrumental music is rooted in tradition and preference, not the scriptures.
I was happy to see the conversation with Alan Highers. We accept that the Bible is the inspired word of God. 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. Instrumental music was not used in the early church. It was added to please man, not to please God.
Thanks very much for the interview with Brother Alan Highers. It is long past time for those of us who believe instrumental music to be in error to stand up and be counted in this debate. I must say that it is disappointing to read of our college presidents who speak of acapella music as merely “our tradition.” For countless past and present generations, a cappella music is the music found in the New Testament, approved and accepted to God as no other is and not merely someone’s tradition that we stumbled into. Thanks again.
It seems to me that Managing Editor Bobby Ross Jr. whitewashes the causes of division between churches of Christ and the Christian Church. Certainly he is knowledgeable of the fact that there is far more to the division than the issue of instrumental music in worship as he makes it seem to appear in the lead article, “Ministers exchange Bibles at convention.”
Ed Allard Jr.
Alan Highers states that “[t]he Scriptures say nothing about … usinginstrumental music in the worship of the church” (p. 22, August 2006).Yet Eph. 5:19b advocates “singing and psallo-ing with your heart to theLord.” At least until the time of Lucian in the 3rd century A.D., theGreek word psallo (and its cognates) meant “play a stringed instrument”(A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early ChristianLiterature, 2nd ed., p. 891).
Since the most popular stringedinstrument at the time–the lyre–was normally played with a striking(i.e., strumming) motion, Eph. 5:19b is best translated as “singing andstrumming with your heart to the Lord.” Modern translations tend toobscure this reference to instrumental music by interpreting”psallo-ing” as “making melody.”
Thank you, Christian Chronicle, for the Allan Highers’ interview. It offered refreshing clarity and insight concerning, what was to me, the “absurd” subject of “unity” and instrumental music in worship services.
It is very disheartening to me to even think of one musical instrument corrupting the pure, beautiful vocal harmony in ACU chapel, or of any worship service.
It is very sad to me to learn of a few leaders in the Church who are supporting the fad of “unity” and seem to think that adding “a few musical instruments” into worship services is only…”a trivial and minor matter…” This DISunity could be discouraging to church members, including impressionable Christian college students…. and could, in itself, cause many to fall away.
Thanks to those mighty men and strong Christian disciples, leaders, and preachers (such as Mr. Highers) who courageously and unerringly
continue in teaching the simple truth of God’s Word.
Some A Cappella (Non-Instrumental) Churches have under gone a program to unite with an off shoot of the Churches of Christ called the Christian Churches. These Churches worship the same as many Churches of Christ, as in preaching, partaking of the Lord’s Supper on Sundays, giving and prayer. The only thing different is that these Churches have introduced the use of instrumental music in their worship. Since these Churches have elected to ‘add to’ what God’s word proclaims, they have made themselves into another denomination and are not right with what the Holy Scriptures teach. The problem here is that the Churches that are reaching out to the Christian Churches are not condemning the use of instruments of music in these Churches worship.
It is considered a ‘tradition’ that Churches of Christ does not use instruments of music in worship, yet as the above states that this type of worship is not authorized. This implies that it is not a tradition, but, a command concerning our worship. Another example of the non use of mechanical use of music is the fact that in the Old Testament it was directly stated that the Israelites were to use the ‘lyre, timbrals and harps’ in their worship to the Lord. If Jesus, being God made flesh, wanted the use of these things in worship, wouldn’t it be logical that he would have expressed this in his New Testament that he wished the use of instruments of music in his worship?
True the New Testament does not for bid the use of musical instruments, but, do we, as mere mortals, have the right to add to God’s word? Revelation 22:18-19 tells us that we do not have any right to do so, so how can the Church justify something that is not commanded? To do so is will worship, worship conceived by man, not of God and if our worship is not of God it is vain worship and not acceptable. If the Churches of Christ that are fellowshipping with the Christian Churches feel that what they are doing is not wrong then those Churches become guilty of not living according with the teachings of the New Testament and their worship is in vain as well.
There are many ‘traditions’ that have been utilized by the Churches of Christ down through the ages, such as partaking of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week. Are we to believe that if our elders in the Church were to say, “from now on we will only take the Lord’s Supper once a month and on Wednesday and instead of unleavened bread and fruit of the vine, we’re going to use cake and milk,” that this would be acceptable worship? Our worship is not conducted to be popular like most denominations. Our worship is designed to bring back the first century method of worship that the apostles of Christ used, based on divine scripture.
To conduct any other form of worship, weather we, as mere human beings, feel would best glorify God, is not a factor in the equation. We, as Christians, are to follow the Bible, especially the New Testament, with all our heart, body and soul. To do other wise is to make a mockery of Christ’s word, even in the so called ’little things’ such as what kind of music we are to use in our services. Sin is sin, no matter how small it may seem. A ‘little white lie’ is just as wrong as murder. ’Adding to, or Subtracting from’ the word of God means just that. It doesn’t matter what it is that is added or subtracted from God’s word, it still is sin and sin will prevent us from entering God’s Kingdom.
Many say “We’ve got to keep up with the times” and that “In New Testament times, they lived by a different standard.” If Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, then so is his word and no one has the authority to change anything pertaining to that word.
The apostle Paul said, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed.” (Gal. 1:8). We do not use mechanical instruments in our praise and worship to God because such is not authorized in the New Testament. The New Testament makes it clear that the Christian is to offer vocal praises to God by ‘singing’ (Col. 3:16) and ‘making melody in his heart’ (Eph. 5:19). One does not find the use of mechanical instruments in worship to God anywhere in the New Testament.
We have no direst command, necessary inference, nor apostolic example for such use of instrumental music.
Because instrumental music in praise and worship to God is glaringly excluded from New Testament examples of worship, we feel that the use of such would be wrong and sinful. The Bible tells us, ‘Whatsoever you do in word and deed, do all in the name of Jesus…’ (Col. 3:17). ‘In the name of Jesus’ means by his authority.
We have no scriptural authority to use mechanical instruments in our praise and worship, so such could not be done in the name of Jesus Christ. Also, using instruments could not be done in faith, for ‘faith comes by hearing the word of God’ (Rom. 10:17). Mechanical Instruments were never used in worship to God in the first century church. Such instruments were introduced by man centuries later.
‘Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in you hearts to the Lord (Col. 3:16).
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord’ (Eph. 5:19).
And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. (Col. 3:17).
So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God’ (Rom. 10:19). (1,017)
Paul C. Kerr
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it does not know Him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
“This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything”
“And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey His commands live in Him and He in them. And this is how we know that He lives in us: We know by the Spirit He gave us.”
The passages come from I John 1:1-3, 19-20 and 23-24. Nothing about how we sing or even about our interpretation of spiritual Israel vs current Israel. Now we see in part. Then we shall see and understand fully. I read the comments by Mr. Quek on simple church movement and that of Mr. Highers and considered their views in view of the writing of John. Christian Chronicle is to be commended by letting discussion take place.
I just read the interview (on Page 22 of the latest edition) with Minister Alan Highers, which focused on the issue of instrumental music in worship. The biggest error he has committed is linking instrumental music to a person’s salvation. When asked if music is a salvation issue, he states “Sin is a salvation issue…Sin is what causes people to be lost.”
That is true, except that once you are a Christian, your sins are forgiven. Committing sins does not make us lost again. If that were true, none of us would be saved. If you can link music to your salvation, then why not divorce? Why not gossip and cheating on our taxes? These things happen daily in the church and they are not addressed either. They are also good examples of sins that Jesus forgives continually.
This is just as example of why the church of Christ is not growing. When we focus on what divides us, we cannot be unified. It is perfectly fine to prefer a cappella worship, but please do not tie it to my salvation. And please do not set yourself up as the only ones who are doing Christianity perfectly.
If the churches of Christ were truly a 1st century church, then why not have all of the believers sell their possessions and share amongst themselves? Why not meet daily in the “temple courts”? If you are going to pick an choose, at least be honest enough to admit it.
Michael C. Morris
This music controversy is a sympton of a larger issue, which is: Can we discover what the NT church was like, how it was organized, what it taught, how it worshipped by reading only the New Testament? Did the restoration movement have it right?
Brethren, the restorers DID get it right about the New Testament church. They DID get “how can I be saved” right! They did understand the structure, worship, work, and leadership of the church. Then SATAN went to work and started to divide the church. He had the denominations. He had to stop the restoration movement as it swept the country–and he did. He did it then, just as he is doing it today–with issues of will worship which undermine the Word of God as our only authority.
We need meetings and debates on ALL the issues the restorers tackled– starting with the inspiration, authenticity, and sufficiency of the Bible. That is the real issue. I tell you frankly from talking with some of the dividers that they do not believe in the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures.
For all of my life and more one of the distinguishing traits of the Churches of Christ is the use of acappella music in the public worship. The Church of Christ has an official position that instrumental music is not used in corporate worship.
The justification for this position is that it is sinful to use any music in public worship other than the human voice. The Church of Christ has taught and continues to teach that the use of instrumental music in the public assembly is sin and that anyone or church that uses instrumental music in corporate worship is sinning and cannot be in fellowship with the Church of Christ.
The basis for this position is not found in any command or any word from Jesus Christ or any statement in scripture that it is wrong to use instrumental music in the public worship.
In order to reach this position the Churches of Christ rely solely on an assumption. The assumption is that the first century church did not use musical instruments in their assemblies.
This assumption is based on the fact that musical instruments are not specifically mentioned in New Testament references to the corporate gatherings. Since musical instruments are not specifically mentioned they are not authorized and therefore sinful.
Additional reference is made to the history of the church in the first centuries for support that instrumental music is wrong but, of course, there can be no authority from history to define sin.
Charles B. Kirklin
How can churches of Christ expect to be successfully united with Christian Churches when we can’t even rise above the backbiting and mistrust among our own brotherhood? We need to concentrate on strengthening our own relationships first.
I had tears in my own eyes when I read the lead story on page one of the August 2006 edition. The picture of the Abilene Christian University Bible professor, Jerry Taylor with tears in his eyes after exchanging his Bible with Steve White of Plainfield Christian Church makes me wonder what is being taught at ACU, is it acceptable to fellowship with error?
The statement in the 5th paragraph “The great thing about these Bibles is that they are exactly the same. They are the same translation. They are god’s Word” I wonder if Ephesians 5:17-20 is in either Bible?
Further, the dialogue ‘A Conversation with Alan Highers’ would have been a much more appropriate lead article for the magazine, not buried on page 22 of the magazine. Brother Highers summarized the root of the problem with the following paragraph:
“Sin is a salvation issue. The question people should be discussing is whether it is a sin to bring instrumental music into the worship, sin is what causes people to be lost.” (Romans 6:23)
William A. Clayton, Jr.
Lake Alfred, Fla.