Quail Springs Minister “Disfellowshipped”

quailsprings.gifI’ve previously mentioned that Quail Springs Church of Christ, in the Oklahoma City area, recently added a second Sunday morning service that includes instrumental music. Of their 900 members, some 300 members left.On Feb. 6, 2008, some of the congregations in the area ran a full-page ad in the Oklahoman, the major local paper. A .pdf of the ad may be found here.

There are countless reasons why publishing this ad is very wrong. Here are some of them —

The ad

Here’s a selection from the bottom, right-hand corner — the ad’s conclusion —

Backbiting

Notice that the congregations that so courageously “marked” this minster didn’t have the courage to list their own names! They very publicly denounced this man and yet hid their own identities. They certainly had room in a full-page ad to have done so!

(2 Cor 12:20) For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, [backbiting], gossip, arrogance and disorder.

The word in brackets is the KJV translation, rather than “slander” as in the NIV. Barclay says backbiting “describes the open loud-mouthed attack, the public vilification of some person whose views are different.” He could not have described the ad more aptly.

It is wrong and just plain dishonorable to speak ill of a brother in Christ anywhere — especially in a public forum — without having the courage to put your own name on the charges. If you don’t have the courage to use your name, you shouldn’t have the courage to make the accusation.

Now, the ad does name the authors of the three sections, Gil Yoder, preacher for the Richwood Church of Christ in Richwood, Texas (near Houston), Brant Stubblefield, preacher for the Lindsay, Oklahoma church of Christ (south of Oklahoma City), and Rick Popejoy, a missionary for the Lindsay church of Christ. The phone number is for the Lindsay church of Christ. (There are actually two Churches of Christ in Lindsay, both of which call themselves simply “church of Christ.”)

The ad doesn’t name their congregations (I found them via Google) and doesn’t name any congregations that support its publications. Who are these “congregations across Oklahoma and Texas”? Just these two? I don’t know.

Public airing of disputes

Jesus offers guidance as to how to confront sin —

(Mat 18:15-17) “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

Where does it say to go public? Where does it say that the fight should go public when the other side has gone public? The plain statement is that the dispute is to be resolved by “the church,” not the readership of the Oklahoman!

Taking disputes before non-believers

(1 Cor 6:1-2) If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases?

Why on earth would Christians put their disputes before non-believers? Why air our dirty laundry this way and bring shame and dishonor on the church Jesus died for?

The quoted passage is speaking of litigation, but the reasons for the teaching apply equally well to the ad. We don’t take our disputes before the world because they are not our judges and because those in the church are far better, wiser judges. Isn’t it obvious?

I can see publishing such an ad in, say, the Gospel Advocate, to warn others away from what these congregations consider sin. But why place the ad in a secular paper — other than to embarrass Quail Springs? And how can Quail Springs be publicly embarrassed without bringing shame on the entire church?

(Col 4:5) Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.

To think that this ad somehow speaks well of the Kingdom and of Christ is to be severely out of touch with reality.

Violating congregational autonomy

Did I miss the meeting where we surrendered this principle? Don’t we deny that any congregation has any authority over any other?

As G. C. Brewer wrote in The Model Church (1919), “There is no organization in the church of God larger than the local church, and every church is independent of every other church and has its own bishops and deacons.”

Just how independent is the Quail Springs congregation if other congregations — and individual Christians — are authorized to sit in judgment over their preacher’s soul and announce a verdict in disagreement with that congregation’s own eldership? That’s not autonomy. That’s anarchy.

And why these churches? And these individuals? Were they ordained arch-bishops, cardinals, or popes? No, so far as I can tell, they’re not even elders of their own churches. So what gives them the authority to judge a Christian who is subject to another eldership?

(Rom 14:4, 10) Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. … You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.

Misinterpreting Rom 16:17

The churches and individuals who published the ad believe they are honoring the command of Romans 16:17. They are tragically mistaken.

(Rom 16:17 NIV) I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.

(Rom 16:17 KJV) Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

In the King James, the translators said to “mark” them. The NIV says “watch of for” them. Both phrases translate skopeo meaning “to take aim at” or “take heed.” It’s the root word for our “scope” or “telescope.” The NIV’s “watch out” is quite accurate. Barclay translates “keep your eye on,” which is even better.

It’s the same word used in Phil 3:17,

(Phil 3:17 KJV) Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

(Phil 3:17) Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.

Notice that the “mark” commanded in Phil 3:17 is a good kind of marking.

You see, the confusion comes from misreading the Jacobean English of the King James Version, thinking that “mark” means to “put a black mark by” or even “publish a warning,” when in 1611 it meant to “take note of” as in the old expression, “Mark my words!”

Now, if a church institutes a practice we disagree with, we should certainly take note of that practice. We should warn others (within the churches) of their practice. But those outside the church have nothing to be warned against! They have no reason to be concerned about such things, and “marking” a church before the lost only brings shame to the entire church.

Really misinterpreting Rom 16:17

(Rom 16:17 NIV) I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.

What teaching? Paul had never been to Rome. However, he’d just written 15 chapters on grace, and so, quite plainly, he was speaking of those who divide contrary to the very teachings he’d just taught!

Paul says nothing in Romans about acts of worship, binding silences, or how to organize a church. However, he says a lot about how to love and how to get along despite disagreements. In 15:7, he explains the standard by which we are to accept one another.

Here are two older posts that explain Romans 14-16. First, there’s this one old post dealing with the arguments made on Romans 14. Romans 14 is a central passage, explaining how grace really is supposed to work in the real church where real people struggle to agree on everything. It’s very practical and hence very important.

I’d add to it this post I call Romans taught backwards. It starts with Romans 16:17 and then explains what it really means in context. And the true meaning is the very opposite of what the ad writers suppose it means. It means to note and stay away from those who divide contrary to the teachings of Romans 14 and 15 — which is precisely what the ad writers are guilty of.

Contradicting instructions on church discipline

I’ve already mentioned Matt 18:17. “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” Notice that the church — a local congregation — judges the sinner, not the neighboring congregations, not self-appointed gospel police and not the readership of the Oklahoman.

The phrase “even to the church” plainly indicates that the church is the final earthly authority. If the church does not condemn the man, then it’s between him and God, not anyone else who happens to feel strongly on the subject.

To similar effect, Paul wrote the Corinthian church,

(1 Cor 5:4-5) When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5 hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.

The disfellowshipping takes place in the assembly — that is, at the congregational level. No one else has authority to do this. I mean, God told us how to do this — why do we presume to do it differently?

It’s surely frustrating to some that we have no denominational superstructure that allows churches to discipline each other. But God didn’t see fit for us to operate that way, and we have to accept the wisdom of that decision.

But, someone might object, the elders and a majority of this congregation approved this decision. What should we do then?

There are several possibilities — none involving the purchase of ad space. Rather, we must find the solution in God’s word, not human wisdom or human means —

(2 Tim 4:2-3) Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

Paul told Timothy that even though men would reject “sound doctrine,” he was to remain patient and to respond through sound preaching.

(2 Tim 2:24-26) And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

How are we to respond to those who oppose us? With kindness, teaching, gentle instruction — and a recognition that it is God who grants repentance. Ultimately, we are to teach and let God convict.

This is consistent with congregational autonomy and with the nature of the church. It’s just not up to us to disfellowship men subject to other elderships. And it’s important that we act this way — that is, humbly — because we just might be wrong.

(Rev 2:4-5) Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

(Rev 3:16) So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

It is Jesus who removes a congregation’s lampstand — who casts them from the church-universal. It’s Jesus who spits a congregation out of his mouth. Not us. A congregation may — and should — discipline its own members. We are not authorized to discipline other congregations. That’s Jesus’ job.

But we do engage in loving conversation seeking to persuade them. We do this humbly, recognizing that we may well be the ones in the wrong. We approach them with hearts and minds just as open as we hope theirs are. We listen as much as we speak, because we want them to listen as much as they speak. And we’re just as willing to be proven wrong as we hope they are.

To act otherwise is to assume the place of Jesus — a very dangerous place to be indeed.

Damning over non-salvation issues

This is perhaps the most fundamental and most serious error. There are many, many things that a Christian might do wrong and be guilty of sin. Only some of these things damn. After all, if all sin were to damn, there’d be no grace at all and Jesus would have died for nothing.

As is so typical of this kind of thinking, the ad writers just assume that because instrumental music is unauthorized, it damns. That’s just not true.

The true, New Testament doctrine of grace, as I understand it, is explained here.

Legalism is a cancer on the Churches of Christ. As Paul told us,

(Gal 5:14-15) The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

The ad certainly seems to fit more in the “biting and devouring” verse than the “love your neighbor as yourself” verse, doesn’t it? I mean, it’s certainly permissible, even necessary, to rebuke sin in a loving, Christ-like way. Confrontation of sin can sometimes be the most loving thing you can do for someone.

Now, sheep eat grass and wolves devour sheep. When we decide that we should publicly denounce one another before the world, and when we try to disfellowship a Christian subject to another eldership, then we’ve left the bounds of love, abandoned the scripture’s teachings, and become wolves in Jesus’ flock.

It’s just as wrong as can be.

And it’s just as wrong as can be even if Quail Springs sinned in starting an instrumental service.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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0 Responses to Quail Springs Minister “Disfellowshipped”

  1. J D says:

    Amen! This is such a smear on the Church of Christ. If I was a member of an area church I would have to run an ad to indicate that the previous letter did not speak for me. What a horrible way to approach this.

  2. Steve says:

    Thanks Jay. Good words. My Mom used to call this kind of behavior "being ugly." That would be a gross understatement about this kind of trash. God save us from such futile thinking.

    Peace.

  3. Alan says:

    Consider what David Lipscomb wrote in the Gospel Advocate, Nov 7, 1892, in response to a very similar public proclamation of disfellowship:

    This looks very much like a convention unknown to the New Testament exercising judicial and executive functions to oppose error and maintain truth, and it looks very much like doing the thing they condemn. It has been the besetting sin of Christians, when they start out to oppose a wrong, to commit another wrong to oppose this.

    The Address and Declaration at Sand Creek in 1889 was one of the darkest chapters in the Restoration Movement. Those who published the recent ad are walking down the same crooked path.

  4. Alan says:

    Also quoting from the same article by Lipscomb:

    it. I have now seen it, and do oppose all such unauthorized conventions, to exercise judicial or executive powers to suppress or maintain truth.

  5. Brian says:

    well-written. thanks for pointing to the scriptures with some reason

  6. JD #2 says:

    I just wanted to say I appreciate your words on this situation. Although I attend neither Quail Springs or the other churches in question I feel affected by this controversy due to the harm that has been done by this ad in OKC (and by being implicated in the article as being a supporter since I attend about 6 miles from the church). I had the same reaction as an earlier post in that I wanted to run another ad saying I had nothing to do with this! I realize thorough posts such as yours, study and prayer that this would essentially bring me into a very similar position as those who wrote the marking article in the first place.
    I very much appreciate your insight and knowledge. I'm constantly trying to balance my anger at being misrepresented with understanding of those who wrote and paid for this vicious ad. Thank you for adding more scriptural context to my study.

    As an aside I'm looking forward to reading your books. I'm 3 chapters into Born of Water here on your site. Thank you for your generosity in sharing these books on your site.

  7. Pingback: Amazing Grace: Does God Forgive Doctrinal Error? (expanded) « One In Jesus.info

  8. Pamela says:

    Hi, I am in Oregon and thanks to the internet some here have heard about the ad. I go to a Baptist church (I know some of the Churches of Christ have issues with Baptist churches so please dont be mean,o.k.) Anyway, something like this ad doesnt just affect the Churches of Christ, it has the potential to undermine the credibility of Christianity. I have been in prayer for Quail Springs Church as well as all of Gods people. In this time in our country when the very idea of Christianity is being attacked by liberals, we should not let our different understandings of doctrine divide us. Rather we should recognize that which makes us one, our love and devotion for Christ Jesus. Imagine, over 70% of this country claim Jesus as their Lord – what might happen if we stopped fighting each other and started converting the liberals? Blessed is the nation whose god is the Lord.

  9. Rick says:

    Your guys are such hypocrites. You are condemning the very thing you condemn and doing so on a public blog. All of your accusations (Backbiting; Public airing of disputes; Taking disputes before non-believers; Violating congregational autonomy; Misinterpreting Rom 16:17; Contradicting instructions on church discipline; Damning over non-salvation issues) are either false or violated by you in writing this article for public consumption.

  10. Jay Guin says:

    Rick,

    There's a difference. The audience of the Oklahoman is everyone — not just the church. In fact, far more of its readers are outside the church than inside. It's as far removed from an internal communication as there can be. You couldn't pick another medium as far removed from the Churches as a secular newspaper.

    This blog, and many like it from all elements within the Churches, is directed to members of the Churches of Christ — its intended audience as stated on the home page. And, in fact, the overwhelming majority of its readers are Church of Christ members — as indicated by the hundreds of comments and emails I've received over the one year or so I've been posting. Most of the rest are fellow heirs to the Restoration Movement who share many of our same concerns.

    I said in my post above, "I can see publishing such an ad in, say, the Gospel Advocate, to warn others away from what these congregations consider sin." Although a few non-Church of Christ members read the Gospel Advocate, just as is true of this blog, the intended audience is the Churches of Christ and the preponderance of the readership is members of the Churches.

    And so, I think I'm being consistent with what I said — direct Church of Christ issues to the Churches, not the world.

    The sin isn't in the fact that some non-Church members learned of the dispute. The sin is in intentionally placing the dispute before the world rather than at least trying to keep it internal.

    Now, there are thousands of disagreements among Christians aired in Internet forums and blogs every day — maybe every hour. None get reported in the secular press. Only those who already have an interest in such things read about them because they have to search the Internet to find them. But an ad in the secular press puts the dispute in the lap of everyone who buys the paper. There's a big difference.

    Hence, I have no problem with the fact that you and the other authors of the ad are engaged in a robust debate about the propriety of your actions on your own blog (called Reflections), even though non-believers can certainly read it. It's intended to be a discussion within the Churches and it largely is. Such discussions are good, and I'm glad the Internet helps us talk among ourselves.

    You have overstated your case as to the other issues you mention. I've not disfellowshipped you and the other two ministers or their churches (it's not within my power). I've not "marked" you.

    I'd be delighted to exchange views with you on what is and is not a salvation issue. We disagree, but I think it would be an exchange the readers of both our blogs would profit from. I'll post your views here if you'll post my views on Reflections. Actually, I'd be glad to just post the exchange here if you'd prefer.

    As I sit here typing, it does occur to me that my "wolves" comment likely comes across to someone from your background more harshly than I intended. I was not intending to declare you lost, and I apologize if that is what you understood. Rather, my point is that your actions have done serious harm to the flock — a very un-sheeplike thing.

    I think my metaphor is sound, as Paul was speaking to a congregation of Christians, desperately calling them to repent because they were in a very dangerous place, which is my own intention as well.

    But on reflection, I can see how someone might take the metaphor as declaring you lost — which was not my intent. I consider you a brother in Christ, with whom I have a very serious disagreement.

  11. Amanda says:

    Taking matters a step further….this not only reflects poorly on church of Christ in general, it reflects poorly upon the church altogether. Unbelievers who catch wind of this petty argument may very well decide that life is better without backbiting christians in their lives. It won't matter what denomintion they may have found themselves in because to the unbeliever, all churches are the same.

    Speaking as an adult who spent her entire growing up years in the church of Christ, being taught what was wrong with all the other denominations, I am sickened by all of this. The large amoung of money spent on this rediculous add would have been better spent in the mission fields of their own communities. WHO CARES if they use instumental music? To use the argument that the Bible gives no authority for it is benign to me. The Bible also doesn't ever say not to use instrumental music. The Bible does tell us to pray in the spirit, to speak in tounges, to have prophecies and interpretations. Where are these practices in the church of Christ? Are we not declaring the word of God to be wrong when we decide that those commandments are null and void for modern day worship?

    Furthermore, on the subject of instrumental music, everyone should educate themselves. The old testament isn't just a history book for us to enjoy. It gives us incredible insight as to the character and heart of God, our Father. We learn that He loves the harp and that David danced in worship for the Father. God is the same today as He was in the days we read about in the old testament. We are commanded in Ephesians to speak to each other in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. A little research will reveal to you that a psalm is a song being sung with the accompaniment of a stringed instrument. If that doesn't provide you with enough authority to allow instrumental music, then you are declaring yourself more wise than God.

  12. Marie says:

    I am a 4th generation church of Christ adult. Over the past 10 years, I have been so encouraged to see the churches of Christ grow and actually study scripture (as is reflected by Jay Guin's articles) and let God out of the box He was put in so many years ago by some simple misunderstandings. I remember when I was a kid and hearing the word "disfellowship" for a couple that was filing for divorce. This whole debate takes me back to those times. I grew up in the 70's when everyone made jokes about me for thinking church of Christ membership was the only stairway to heaven. Praise God that I've studied God's word and have come out of that legalist bondage that I was in. The judgment that has been placed on the incredible man of God that Mark Henderson is nauseates me. Thank you, Jay, for speaking out with God's word to refute the ridiculous accusations that were made. May God protect you from the spiritual war that rages around you as you speak out His truth. . . "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Eph. 6:12 This is what this debate is truly about!

  13. Jay Guin says:

    Marie,

    Thank you very, very much for your prayers and Christ-like heart.

  14. Mona says:

    Jay wrote in his February 16th, 2:27 post.

    "This sin is in intentionally placing the dispute before the world rather than at least trying to keep it internal."

    "Internal", Mark Henderson if not initiated, allowed this subject to be placed before the "world" in the January 26, 2008 article. He wanted the "world" to know that he was making available this kind of worship service. (ie. instrumental) The Bible does not authorize such an addition to worship.

    Marie,
    You should be ashamed. If you are a "4th generation church of Christ adult, you should have this written in stone upon your heart "that the church of Christ does not use nor promote the use of instruments of music in worship to the Lord.

  15. Jay Guin says:

    Mona,

    The sin is in placing the dispute before the world. Henderson merely let the world know that his congregation would add an instrumental service. Given that they did so to increase their evangelistic outreach, it only makes sense to have given that decision publicity.

    However, what the ad did was tell the world that the Churches of Christ are fighting over this issue and that we are even damning one another over it (which, by the way, is sin. It is the Galatian heresy). This is not evangelism. It's quite the opposite.

    I honestly have no idea what motivated this ad — but it was seen (quite predictably) as petty and vindictive. It makes the Churches of Christ look bad. It makes Christianity look bad. It was a profoundly bad idea.

    Even if Quail Springs was in error in using the instrument, taking the fight to the public square only hurts the cause of Christ. I have no problem at all if those ministers wanted to privately and lovingly rebuke Quail Springs. I really don't mind if they do that in a Church of Christ forum — the Gospel Advocate or a blog dedicated to Church of Christ issues. It's quite all right to disagree and to express your disagreements. It's very important that we talk when we disagree.

    But taking it to the public square is utterly contrary to scripture. Two wrongs don't make a right. We are prohibited from retaliation.

  16. Mona says:

    Jay,

    After rereading your blog site and every reply.

    I believe that Rom 16:17 and Phil. 3:17, the "mark" there is to "point out" for others to see. And yes publicly. Mark Henderson did. Good or Bad!
    What Mark Henderson did in his article was to "point out" for others to see what was available at "his" church. Not the "Lord's church."

    You are sadly mistaken if you believe in your own words, "Given that they did so to increase their evangelitic outreach," then having 300 walk out is evangelistic. Why do you say this makes sense? It makes the denominational world think that the church of Christ is changing it's position. Right.

    I also reread the whole article published in the Daily Oklahoma on February 6, 2008. The ad did and does not tell the world that we are fighting. It was written for both teaching and an admonition. Not retaliation!!

    Do you believe that Quail Springs was/is "in error" over adding instruments of music in worship? I think you do?

    "Taking the fight to the public sqaure only hurts the cause of Christ," After contacting the authors of the article, they have had over 100 phones calls and several hundred email contacts. Most of which have been very encouraging. The denomimational world is questioning their use of instrumental music in worship. Should we say Amen to this. Absolutely.

    How else are we to let the "world " know what Mark Henderson did is wrong unless we use the same avenue that he used to correct his error.

    Appreciate this conversation.

  17. Jay Guin says:

    Mona, I reply in bold. By the way, are you the wife of Rick Popejoy, one of the three authors of the ad?

    After rereading your blog site and every reply.

    I believe that Rom 16:17 and Phil. 3:17, the “mark” there is to “point out” for others to see. And yes publicly.

    These verses say nothing of doing this publicly. Manifestly the warning in Rom 16:17 is to Christians, as the warning is against those who divide contrary to Paul’s teachings in Romans. Those teachings are directed to the saved, not the lost.

    Mark Henderson did. Good or Bad!
    What Mark Henderson did in his article was to “point out” for others to see what was available at “his” church. Not the “Lord’s church.”

    I’m really not following this line of reasoning. Henderson was not “marking” the non-instrumental churches. They still have a non-instrumental service.

    You are sadly mistaken if you believe in your own words, “Given that they did so to increase their evangelitic outreach,” then having 300 walk out is evangelistic. Why do you say this makes sense?

    Having 300 walk out is not evangelistic. Neither is it anti-evangelistic. Those who left did not leave the church. They changed congregations. not religions. The motivation was plainly to be more evangelistically effective. And if the goal is to reach the lost by having a more contemporary worship service, it only makes sense to the tell the lost that you have a more contemporary worship service.

    It makes the denominational world think that the church of Christ is changing it’s position. Right.

    This is wrong at several levels. First, the “church of Christ” does not have a “position.” We are congregationally autonomous. Each eldership sets its position based on its interpretation of scripture. You don’t speak for my congregation. Mine doesn’t speak for yours. The fact that QS changed its position in no way speaks for other congregations.

    Second, those outside the Churches of Christ really don’t worry about such things. The Churches have been a cappella for a long time, and we’ve not persuaded any other denomination to be a cappella. Those that are, such as the Eastern Orthodox, were a cappella long before us. We have no influence at all on the worship practices of others.

    The fact that QS added an instrumental service may well influence other Churches of Christ to do the same, which is why I find nothing wrong in warnings issued within the Churches. Robust debate is a good thing. But it’s not like the Baptists are going to go instrumental because of QS — they’re ALREADY instrumental.

    Now had these ministers simply wanted to instruct believers outside the Churches how to better worship, they could have bought an ad that doesn’t disfellowship Mark Henderson. Right?

    I also reread the whole article published in the Daily Oklahoma on February 6, 2008. The ad did and does not tell the world that we are fighting. It was written for both teaching and an admonition. Not retaliation!!

    Oh, please, let’s be serious! It’s not the words as much as the fact that we’re FIGHTING. And the fact that we’re fighting is obvious from the fact that two churches felt obliged to disfellowship a preacher from another church. Read the letters to the editor and see how the world reacted.

    Do you believe that Quail Springs was/is “in error” over adding instruments of music in worship? I think you do?

    Was it a mistake? Time will tell. Are instruments in worship a sin? No.

    “Taking the fight to the public sqaure only hurts the cause of Christ,” After contacting the authors of the article, they have had over 100 phones calls and several hundred email contacts. Most of which have been very encouraging. The denomimational world is questioning their use of instrumental music in worship. Should we say Amen to this. Absolutely.

    Should we cry because the Churches of Christ are being destroyed by the Galatian heresy? Absolutely. Making instruments into a salvation issue is utterly antithetical to the gospel.

    I have trouble believing that a single non-Church of Christ congregation has been persuaded to give up instrumental worship by that ad.

    How else are we to let the “world ” know what Mark Henderson did is wrong unless we use the same avenue that he used to correct his error.

    Why on earth do you think we are somehow obligated to share this with the world? And why just this sin? Why not run ads against those who use a capital “C”? Or have kitchens in the building? Or fellowship halls? Or whatever else we’re fighting over among ourselves? And besides, what’s the point of issuing worship instructions to the lost?

    Are you saying that the Methodists and Baptists would be saved but for their use of the instrument? If so, then an ad makes sense (other than damning Mark Henderson). But if they’ll still be lost even if they go a cappella, what’s the point?

    Appreciate this conversation.

    Same here.

  18. Mona says:

    Jay,
    “These verses say nothing of doing this publicly”
    How wide spread do you think Paul’s teachings where. Just to the church? Or beyond. Beyond! Of course, the Bible was written to the saved. But it was also written to save the lost. That is why this article in the Daily Oklahoma on February 6, 2008, was so vital.

    “Contemporary Worship Service”
    Where in the Bible do you ever read of Jesus, the apostles or his followers having a more contemporary service for the brethren. How do you know that the 300 that left went to other congregations?? You cannot be pleasing to the Lord and change His Bible to suit yourself and neither can Mark Henderson.

    “Positions”
    1. Although autonomous, each congregation does not have the right to change the scriptures. Rev. 22:18-19.
    2. Not true on the “changing denominations.” In the emails and phone conversations received by the authors of the articles several denominations are “rethinking” this very thing.

    “Letters to Editor”
    One letter to the editor of the Daily Oklahoma is not good enough proof to me that “the world reacted” badly to this article.

    Instrument of Music in worship to God, is like having a “sprinkled Baptist.” Or having a cheeseburger and fries for the Lord’s Supper.

    “Methodist and Baptist would be saved”
    Any one who has not been baptized for the remission of the sins, not because they have already received the remission is……..lost. This is not me talking this is a biblical principal.

    Appreciate this conversation.

  19. josh keele says:

    Jay says: You are sadly mistaken if you believe in your own words, “Given that they did so to increase their evangelistic outreach,” then having 300 walk out is evangelistic. Why do you say this makes sense?

    This is a good point. Somewhat unrelated to the thrust of this blog post, one might say, but a good catch. After all, isn't this whole post kinda trying to slide this point under the rug? Probably why some would suspect that Henderson put in the ad himself. What a convenient way to doge the issue of how he ran off 300 of members of his own congregation! Just get everyone bashing them conservative for a while, and that little fact disappears.

    Now, Why would any faithful minister ever install an unnecessary practice that 300 of his members were either opposes to or had doubts on, and thus cause them to leave? Because he thinks it will pull in 300 people who are currently not members to replace them? perhaps 300 better-tithing members (money makes the world go round, they say). I'm just surmising, but I dare say, not evil surmising. This is a question that begs to be asked!!! And to be answered, for sure! Are these 300 souls just chump-change to be bartered away for others?

    The Bible teaches not to destroy those for whom Christ died with our meat (Rom 14:15, Rom 14:20). If we are to take caution in eating meat (a thing that is not wrong) so as to avoid causing someone to be discouraged thereby, then how much moreso (I speak as a fool, 2 Cor 11:23) ought we be cautious in installing unscriptural practices? Yea, rather, we ought not install unscriptural practices at all. For thy unscriptural practices' sakes destroy not the work of God, and indeed for the sake of any unnecessary practice destroy not those for whom Christ died.

    Inasmuch and to the same extent that we see conservative over-reaction and sin in the manner in which this issue was dealt with in the ad above (assuming Henderson didn't place it himself in order to get people off the issue of him running 300 members of his own congregation away), we also see the spirit of liberalism at its best: "Throw all caution to the wind, and put in whatever practice you want into the church regardless how many people you are going to cause to be discouraged." What a lovely thing is selfishness and egotism. How philanthropic are these great men who place their desire for a particular type of music above the well-being of souls. "I want rap music in the worship of the church, and if you lamos don't like it, then just leave!" Tis a very Christianly attitude, wouldn't you say? Such persons clearly have studied hard in how to imitate the apostles, verdad?

    But why lament I? For those 300 people that left are better off for it anyway, as the attitude of their former minister makes clear in that he clearly had no care for them–he clearly was not watching for their souls. Probably much in the fashion of George Bush who upon the Democrats winning the congress in the last election said "Now I finally have a congress I can work with. [I can finally pass amnesty for illegal aliens and other liberal legislation I've been itching for that a Republican congress would not abide]," this liberal minister says to himself "Man, I'm glad them Bible-thumping Bereans who are constantly searching the Scriptures to see whether what I say is true or not (and finding that much of it isn't) are gone now. I've finally got a congregation I can work with. I can finally install instruments of music, my own version of the Power Team, infant baptism under the name of 'baby dedication,' and when I get really board, I'll throw in some rosary beads! And let's not forget, when someone who stayed becomes conservative on an issue and catches me preaching something unscriptural, in the fashion of Rick from Richland Hills, I'll just claim the Holy Spirit spoke to me audibly! Man it's good to be king."

  20. josh keele says:

    Correction to first line, it was Mona not Jay. I read the post backwards.

  21. Mark says:

    Some of you guys need to back away from the Kool-Aid table. It is obvious who was responsible for the ad. I do not know Rick, Gil, or Brant, and they don't know me. I didn't have anything to do with it.

    I don't know Josh Keele, and he doesn't know me. I doubt that he knows anything about my church, other than what he has read in the paper. His assumptions about those who left and why couldn't be more wrong. His judgments about me are in the realm of fantasy with a dash of slander thrown in. We don't have to appeal to a law of silence to discern what the Bible says about that.

  22. josh keele says:

    So, Mark, are you saying that the people who left did so on an unrelated issue? Or did they leave due to the instrumental music issue? Since you are here to explain it all, I'd love to hear the mental process that goes into running off 300 church members just so you can tap your foot to a good banjo at church.

  23. Mark says:

    Josh, I hate to reply because there is nothing about the way you are presenting yourself on this subject that would lead me to believe you care about those who left. The music issue was the catalyst, but it wasn't the real issue. Some left because they didn't like me. Others left because they were upset with the elders. Some didn't like the decision making process. Some left because they don't like controversy of any kind. Some left because their friends left. Of the 300, give or take, you couldn't find 5 who thought it was wrong doctrinally to use instruments in worship. The elders and I tried to get them to stay and work through their issues. They chose to leave. You can call that "running them off" if you want to.

    We have two services now, and the instrumental service is the larger one. Maybe it wasn't just about me being "king," and we don't even use a banjo.
    Thanks for asking.
    Mark

  24. josh keele says:

    To say "The music issue was the catalyst, but it wasn’t the real issue" and "you couldn’t find 5 who thought it was wrong doctrinally to use instruments in worship." How can something you don't care about be a catalyst? It would have sounded reasonable and probably have been more honest if you had said "it was the straw that broke the camel's back."

    Since your response, I've been listening to your sermon about Frequently Asked Questions on baptism. You said "I beleive the New Testament is crystal clear that God responds to faith, not to baptism." I think you've got things backwards first of all as to who responds to Who. We respond to God, not the other way around, since he made the first move in sending Christ to die for us. We love him because he first loved us. And Peter plainly classes baptism inside faith as part of our response to God, indeed of our required response, not only when he says that we must all repent and be baptized in the name of Christ for the forgiveness of sins in order to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (in Acts 2:38) but also in 1 Peter 3:21 where he says that baptism saves "not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,"
    — Now, the illusive answer to the question "What about the guy who has a heart-attack on the way to the baptistry?" is simply these 2 things,
    (1) There is a difference between the man who dies on the way to the baptistry and the man who refuses baptism altogether.
    (2) There is a difference also between the man who believes in baptism for the remission of sins and dies on the way to the baptistry and the man who beleives in baptism as a mere symbol and dies on the way to the baptistry.
    –The one who dies on the way there who doesn't beleive in baptism FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS, and was not prepared to be baptized for that specific purpose as per Acts 2:38, died without genuine faith in Christ, thinking the apostle Peter and by extension Christ Himself to be a liar. The one who dies (if such a thing be possible) on the way to the baptistry believing in baptism for the remission of sins and fully intending to be baptized for that purpose, dies with true faith in Christ believing the apostle Peter and by extension Christ, believing in the promise of Mark 16:16 and 1 Peter 3:21 also, and not generally being an infidel. This man then has hope, while the other has certain damnation.

    I would suppose that indeed, the instrumental music issue was just the last straw of a hut of heresy that began with your Baptist teachings on baptism. So, I apologize on my behalf and (although I only thought so because Jay presented it that way) for representing it as though the 300 that left did so because of instrumental music alone. Clearly there was a more important issue in the mix.

  25. rey says:

    You sure Mark Henderson didn’t place this ad himself to gin up some sympathy? I wouldn’t put it past him.

  26. Jay Guin says:

    Rey,

    Why wouldn’t you put it past him? Do you know him to be a liar? To lack moral integrity?

    You’ve made an accusation that Mark Henderson is the sort of person who’d tell a lie to gain an advantage. Is it true? Can you back up your claim?

  27. Mark says:

    Josh,
    I'm trying to figure out whether you are imprecise or just plain dishonest. You can comb through all four sermons in the baptism series, and you will never hear me suggest it is a "mere symbol." The whole canard about "Baptist teaching" doesn't work either. It implies that all Baptists teach the same thing, which they don't. Again, if you actually listen to what I say, you'll find that my teaching on baptism wouldn't be pleasing to most Baptists, any more than it is to you. Of course, I wasn't trying to please you or the Baptists. I was trying to do Biblical preaching. When you take that approach, you discover that the NT has quite a lot to say about baptism. Lo, and behold, Acts 2:38 isn't the only verse in the Bible that has something to say on the subject.

    Let's see. I don't present Baptist teachings on baptism. Instrumental music is not heresy by a long shot. What are the other straws in this "hut of heresy" that you are imagining? You're right. There was a more important issue in the mix. I'm sure that you have seen enough church splits to know that most of them are personality issues and power struggles dressed up in the cloak of a so-called "doctrinal issue."

    Part of the problem here is that you are operating at a huge disadvantage. You are trying to make smart-aleck judgments about people and circumstances that you don't really know anything about, and it doesn't appear that you have any gifts of prophecy, knowledge, or wisdom that would equip you for such a difficult task.

  28. josh keele says:

    Contrary to your belief, and popular Baptist belief in general, there is no real difference between literally using the phrase "mere sign" and suggesting that baptism isn't really for the remission of sins as if poor old Peter just has a senile moment or something. Now, a minister being a heretic is both a doctrinal and a personal issue. It is doctrinal because he teaches false doctrine. It is personal because no faithful Christian can stand a man who teaches false doctrine. So, yes, I'll buy that it was a personal issue.

  29. Mark says:

    Thanks, Josh. This clarifies at least one thing for me. You're not imprecise; you're just plain dishonest. You claim to be listening to my sermons on baptism, but your characterization of them is dishonest. Anybody can throw around terms like "false teacher" and "heretic." Saying it doesn't make it so.

  30. josh keele says:

    You said plainly that you do not beleive baptism is essential. Did I mishear you? You can claim all you want that you didn't call it a "mere sign," but just because you didn't use that exact phrase doesn't mean that you didn't teach exactly that.

  31. josh keele says:

    To clarify for you Mark, Peter says that baptism is for the remission of sins. As the NRSV translates it, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

    Two things I note here: (1) He is placing baptism for a particular purpose as a prerequisite to receiving the Holy Spirit. If you are baptized to have your sins forgiven, then you receive the Holy Spirit. (2) He states the purpose for which we are to be baptized as to receive the forgiveness of sins, and by extension then also to receive the Spirit.

    Now, is receiving the Holy Spirit essential? Is receiving forgiveness of sins essential? Of course. To not receive forgiveness is to not be saved. To also not receive the Spirit is to not be saved, for Paul says in Romans 8:9 "Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."

    If I then call the thing that God has established as the means of accessing the blood of Christ, receiving forgiveness and the Holy Spirit a non-essential, then I have become a heretic. Of course, it was you and not I who did this, but that's beside the point. Anyone who does this becomes a heretic, for God is no respecter of persons.

    Again, to become a child of God is essential, and Paul says in Galatians 3:25-27 "But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster, because you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, because as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." If I make either faith or baptism, both of which are here declared to together make a man a child of God, to be non-essential, again I have become an heretic.

  32. Mark says:

    Here is an excerpt from my sermon entitled "Buried with Him Through Baptism."

    In our heritage, the truth we have locked in on regarding baptism is Acts 2:38. Most of you know the setting very well. Peter has just preached the first gospel sermon on the Day of Pentecost. He is preaching to the Jews who had come to Jerusalem for the religious festivals. Many of them were present several weeks earlier when Jesus was crucified, and since Peter didn’t know much about user-friendly churches, he closed his sermon with these words, "Therefore, let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." When all the people heard him, Luke tells us they were cut to the heart. They fell under great conviction of their sin against God and said, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And you know Peter’s reply in Acts 2:38, “Repent, and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

    Wow! What a great promise and a great gift. I hope we haven’t used that verse as a proof text for so long that we have lost the ability to experience its power. These people recognize their own spiritual bankruptcy before God, and when they ask, “Is there anything we can do about it?” Peter says, “Yes. Turn from your sin. Receive immersion in the name of Jesus, and God will forgive your sins and give you the gift of his Holy Spirit.” We don't ever want to shy away from Acts 2:38. This is a wonderful motivation for believer’s baptism, and even today when we encounter people who want to get right with God but they are worried that there is just too much sin in their past for God to have anything to do with them, we need to point them right here, and say, “Look. God has made provision for all your sin in the death of Jesus Christ. Repent and be baptized and receive your forgiveness.”

    So, we want to hang onto Acts 2:38 because the truth that Christian baptism is for the remission of sins is a gift from God that we want to communicate, but where we have sometimes run aground in our fellowship is that we have wanted to say that the only legitimate Christian baptism is one where the person being baptized understood very clearly that it was for the forgiveness of sins according to Acts 2:38. (End of excerpt)

    Let me reiterate: you are just plain dishonest. Enter into the discussion with some integrity, or don't expect any more answers from me.

  33. Jay Guin says:

    It's only been in the last 100 years that the Churches of Christ insisted that the person being baptized had to intend to have his sins remitted. David Lipscomb and E. G. Sewell, editors of the Gospel Advocate during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, argued strenuously that baptism was effective to remit sins even though the person being baptized submitted out of obedience.

    Tolbert Fanning was Lipscomb's mentor and a great missionary to the Southeast. He founded the first Church of Christ in most Souteastern towns. He baptized Lipscomb at the age of 14, as I recall. When Lipscomb came forward to be immersed, Fanning asked him why he wished to be baptized. Lipscomb said, "To obey God." Fanning declared this the best confession he'd ever heard.

    Alexander Campbell rarely declared anyone a heretic. In fact, I'm aware of only three such occasions. One was when a preacher insisted on re-baptizing Baptists who joined in the Restoration Movement. Campbell considered such re-baptisms as denying the gospel.

    Austin McGrary founded the Firm Foundation in the early 20th Century to insist that the person being baptized know that it's for remission of sins. Ultimately, after Lipscomb's death, McGrary's views prevailed in the Churches.

    Campbell himself was not baptized for remission of sins. Neither were most of the early Restoration leaders, as it was a distinctly minority viewpoint in the 19th century.

    Odd, isn't it, that our 20th century teaching damns the souls of the men we so honor?!

    Now the Greek of Acts 2:38 plainly speaks of the effect of the baptism, not the intent of the one being baptized. But that's a lesson for another day.

    In the meantime, ponder this: if Acts 2:38 requires us to know that our sins are being forgiven, why doesn't it also require that we know we are receiving the Holy Spirit? And yet, the majority of those in the Churches deny that we receive an indwelling at baptism. Are they still lost in their sins? Surely not!

  34. josh keele says:

    Jay, Lipscomb's view of baptism (as you describe it) changes baptism into a work. If baptism's purpose is simply to "obey God," how is it not a work? Its strange to find myself on the opposite side of the argument from what I normally am on, yet here I am. Unless baptism is viewed as Peter indicates it to be in 1 Peter 3:21 "an appeal for a good conscience" then the baptizee is essentially trusting in works salvation, trusting that he can do that one good work that will place God in his debt. The one who gets baptized merely to "obey God" rather than to "petition God" for forgiveness, is totally overwhelmed by works-salvation-thinking and will not be saved. If such truly was Lipscomb's view of baptism, I doubt I shall see him in heaven, and the same with Campbell. Peter makes it plain in Acts 2:38 that a person must view baptism as an appeal for forgiveness, and also in 1 Peter 3:21. Again, in Paul's conversion the words "Get up and be baptized and have your sins washed away calling on the Lord's name" (Acts 22:16) indicate that baptism must be viewed as an appeal, not a work. Also, Colossians 2:11-12 indicate that spiritual circumcision is an operation of God which he performs inside baptism, and that he does it by faith in those who are baptized with faith in the said operation of God. Those who are baptized without believing that God will perform this operation, this spiritual circumcision in them while they are being baptized, will never receive that spiritual operation. The remission of sins is reserved for those and those alone who view baptism as an appeal for forgiveness. The one who is baptized thinking he's already saved, and the one who is baptized simply thinking that he's winning brownie-points with God and tallying up a work to justify himself with, are both equally condemned by their baptisms–it would have been better for them to have never ventured to touch the water. But the one who views baptism as a appeal to God for cleansing, will be cleansed by God inside his baptism.

    As far as your last statement or question, I firmly beleive that a person must beleive that they will receive the Holy Spirit when baptized. This word-only view of indwelling is a soul-damning doctrine. It is basically an offshoot of the freewill Baptist view that being born of the Spirit = believing the word. This was Lipscomb's position on John 3:5, that a person is born of the Spirit first by believing the word, then later born of water by being baptized. Such a position not only reverses the order in which Jesus mentions them, but also separates two things that he clearly intends to happen at the same time. A person is born of water and of the Spirit at the same time, when they are baptized in water and receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

    Your argument that a person need not beleive that baptism is for the remission of sins or that they will receive the Holy Spirit in baptism in order for the baptism to be valid is essentially the same as the person who argues that a person need not confess faith in Christ prior to baptism. Your argument, after all, is purely emotional. "So many people are supposedly members of the church of Christ right now who don't even beleive in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit–so it would be mean of God to send them to hell simply because they didn't believe they'd receive the Holy Spirit when they were baptized." Yes, and so many Catholics were baptized as babies knowing and believing nothing, would God be mean to send them to hell? And so many people don't beleive in Jesus at all–would God be mean to send them to hell? The atheist says 'yes.' In fact, I was reading another blog just yesterday where some atheist posted a comment on there that Jesus is a bully because he burns people for all eternity just because they don't beleive in him. What do you, Jay, have in common with such an atheist, and why are you using his very arguments against Scripture? Scripture makes it plain that baptism must be viewed as an appeal to God for cleansing, and no emotionally sappy argument can change that. God is God, and you are not.

    Mark say: "Let me reiterate: you are just plain dishonest. Enter into the discussion with some integrity, or don’t expect any more answers from me."

    No, Mark, but you show right there in the last paragraph of yours that you deny Acts 2:38. You say a person can be baptized for some reason other than remission of sins. You say, in other words, that if a person gets baptized as a "mere symbol" or "mere sign" in my words for your position, that this will be equivalent to the baptism of the person who is baptized for the remission of sins. That's what I've been saying you said. I must just not be very articulate.

  35. Mark says:

    One reason there are so many conversion stories, each one unique, in the Book of Acts is that people don't follow just one path to the baptistery. People come from different backgrounds and understandings, and they connect with the gospel message in different. The constant is that they all come to faith in Jesus Christ. I don't deny Acts 2:38 at all. I do deny your notion that it is the only legitimate baptismal text in Scripture.

    In Churches of Christ, I have often heard the decision to be baptized described as "obeying the gospel." Now, you're telling me that if someone is baptized in obedience to Christ, they are going to hell and should have stayed out of the water.

    I think you are plenty articulate. You just don't seem to have any ability to understand anything except through the lenses of whoever indoctrinated you into the "faithful" churches of Christ. Here is what I would say. Every faith-motivated, biblically based baptism is sufficient. Uh-oh. I hope that doesn't mean I'm going to see Lipscomb and Campbell in hell.

  36. josh keele says:

    I never said that Acts 2:38 "is the only legitimate baptismal text in Scripture." But I don't read Scripture like a set of disjoint fortune-cookies either. You are talking as if different Scriptures on baptism contradict each other, but they do not.

    Now, Mark, you say "In Churches of Christ, I have often heard the decision to be baptized described as 'obeying the gospel.' Now, you’re telling me that if someone is baptized in obedience to Christ, they are going to hell and should have stayed out of the water."

    No, I'm not. Obeying Christ is right and good, and yes baptism is obedience to the gospel. (However, you really can't obey a command that includes a motive without having the motive too. Nonetheless, I digress from my point.) What I am saying is that you can't view baptism as just some work that you have to do and poof you're saved. You have to understand that baptism is an appeal for cleansing. And, contrary to your little rant about Acts 2:38 not being "the only legitimate baptismal text in Scripture," I already showed from Acts 22:16 and 1 Peter 3:21 as well that baptism is to be viewed as an appeal. Is this not Peter's point in 1 Peter 3:21, namely that baptism must be viewed a certain way, namely as an appeal for cleansing? Peter's concern there is that the fact of baptism's necessity to salvation may lead some astray into thinking of it as magic water, so, he gives a preemptive strike against such an idea in saying:

    "And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you–not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,"

    In other words, baptism saves but there mere act of baptism does not save. What? Exactly! Baptism saves, but the mere act of baptism does not save! Baptism only saves, in other words, when treated as an appeal to God for cleansing. Those who like Lipscomb view baptism as a magical act of obedience that forever seals their salvation no matter how they view it or what they think about it, are refuted by Peter's reasoned teaching here. Unless baptism is viewed as an appeal to God for cleansing, it becomes nothing more than a mere "bath-keepers baptism" (to borrow a phrase from Luther) and ceases to be "Christ-baptism."

    Now, what if someone had gotten baptized, thinking of baptism as merely "removal of dirt from the body"? They had obeyed the command to be baptized, but they simply viewed it as "removal of dirt from the body." Would that baptism save, according to what Peter says there? No, for he says that baptism doesn't save as a removal of dirt from the body. Rather, baptism saves "as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ." Now, in order for baptism to be able to save "as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" the baptizee must view baptism as such an appeal and make such an appeal, even as Paul was instructed by Ananias: "Get up and be baptized and have your sins washed away calling on the Lord's name."

    Why didn't Ananias just say "Get up and be baptized"? Why be so long winded with "Get up and be baptized and have your sins washed away calling on the Lord's name"??? Because he wanted Saul to understand that baptism is an appeal for cleansing, even as (dare I quote it?) Peter wanted the 'Pentecostians' to understand that baptism is an appeal for cleansing when he instructed them to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. A minister who does not make sure before baptizing someone that such person understands that baptism is an appeal for cleansing as opposed to magic water or just a grudging act of obedience, is a minister who is shirking his responsibility to God and to that person and their soul's well-being.

  37. Mark says:

    Neither Lipscomb, nor I, nor anyone else I know believe there is anything magic about the water. For one who desires to follow Christ, why would any act of obedience be "just a grudging act of obedience?"

    I have been in Churches of Christ for 22 years now, and I have never heard a preacher who was taking a person's confession ask if he or she understood that the baptism would be an appeal for cleansing. Then you have the poor Ethiopian in Acts 8. Not only was he a eunuch, which would be bad enough, but Philip taught him about Jesus from Isaiah 53, and it doesn't appear that he explained his baptism was an appeal for cleansing. Poor Cornelius and his household didn't have a chance because Almighty God couldn't even follow your strict rules for conversion. He gave them the Holy Spirit before they were even baptized, and when Peter saw that they had received the Spirit, he ordered that they be baptized without bothering to tell them it was an appeal for cleansing. On and on we could go.

    Why don't you retire from being the baptism police and rejoice every time a sinner repents and wants to be baptized? That's both more biblical and more fun than trying to figure out which believers are going to have to go to hell because you weren't there to teach them about baptism.

  38. Jay Guin says:

    I find considerable insight into the nature of baptism in the baptism of Jesus. He was immersed, received the Spirit from above, was announced as God's Son, and announced as well pleasing to God. This is exactly what happens in our baptism

    Jesus' baptism is one of only three events recorded in all four Gospels. Clearly, it was especially important to the readers — particularly given the number of baptismal verses in the Gospels. Surely these refer back to the baptism of Jesus to give the reader the meaning of "baptism" in the Christian community.

    I'm convinced that Jesus' baptism is of a type with Christian baptism. He was already filled with the Spirit, already God's Son, and already well pleasing. Why be baptized? Surely to set an example for those who were to follow.

    What reason did he give? "To fulfill all righteousness," literally to fill up righteousness — that is, to do what's right. And what's right? Only obedience to God.

    If obedience to God was good enough for Jesus, why isn't it good enough for his disciples?

  39. josh keele says:

    "If obedience to God was good enough for Jesus, why isn’t it good enough for his disciples?" (Jay)

    Because he didn't have any sins and we do. John's baptism was also for the remission of sins, as we read in Mark 1:4, but Jesus had none. So, there was no point in him being baptized for that purpose. Hence, John tried to dissuade him from baptism altogether, "I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?" (Matt 3:14) This is when Jesus makes the reply that you refer to "Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness." Jesus was only baptized to set an example, and not for the remission of sins because he had no sins. This fact highlights the inherent blasphemy in those who are baptized thinking of it as something other than an appeal for forgiveness, thus placing themselves on the level of Christ as sinless. We aren't sinless like Jesus. Baptism is for the remission of sins, and we must acknowledge both that we have sins and that baptism is our appeal for forgiveness. To this extent then is the example not of Christ Himself but rather of the regular people that John baptized instructive for us, for the Scripture says they "were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins" (Matt 3:6) and "there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins." (Mark 1:5) They were not like the Baptists saying "I'm already saved and all my sins are already gone–now baptize me as a worthless symbol of this" nor were they like others who seek to justify themselves by a work of some sort and say "I don't beleive that baptism is for the remission of sins but view it as a magic work that 'seals the deal'," but rather they came confessing their sins and viewing baptism as an appeal for cleansing from sin.

    Mar says, "I have been in Churches of Christ for 22 years now, and I have never heard a preacher who was taking a person’s confession ask if he or she understood that the baptism would be an appeal for cleansing."

    And I have not heard of a preacher who didn't, except for one that baptized a young boy in the name of Jesus only rather than in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Clearly we aren't in the same church. Names are simply deceiving in this case. BTW, Your argument about the eunuch, jailor etc. is specious, as you know, because we don't have every single word that was said on those occasions. We must be wise (rather than ridiculous) and understand from Acts 22:16 and Acts 2:38 that they undoubtedly did explain that baptism is an appeal on those occasions also, but that for sake of brevity it is not mentioned in every example of baptism in the book of Acts. Just as we ought to understand that baptizing in the name of Jesus in the book of Acts means baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Anyone who does not keep in my that as the word of God the Scriptures do not ever contradict themselves, but rather views the Scriptures like some mere manmade book or just a collection of theological treatises by good but uninspired men, will like you be utterly confounded.

  40. josh keele says:

    "keep in my" = "keep in mind"

  41. Mark says:

    Josh,
    Actually, I am not "utterly confused" by Scripture, but I will confess that your tortured interpretations of it leave me scratching my head.

    Are you aware of the little trick you are playing with these conversion stories? You have decided what constitutes a legitimate baptism. The convert has to know about Acts 2:38 and the remission of sins, and the baptizer has to make sure that the convert knows his baptism is an appeal for cleansing. If a conversion story doesn't include those elements, no problem. You just decide that they couldn't write everything, but you know for certain that they said it. Why? Because you know what makes a legitimate baptism. It's unbelievable.

    No, I do not know that my arguments concerning the Ethiopian and Cornelius's household are "specious." Far from it. The point that you keep missing is that unlike you, Scripture doesn't take a "one size fits all" approach to conversion stories. I don't believe Scripture contradicts itself, but, of course, I don't have a pressing need to force Peter to say exactly the same thing to Cornelius that he said to the crowd on Pentecost or to press Philip to say the same thing to the Ethiopian that was said on some other occasion. In each instance, the people were being led to Jesus, and they responded to the gospel by receiving baptism in Jesus' name. That's good enough for me.

    I think it is more respectful of Scripture to let it say what it says than to decide what it has to say and fill in the blanks where it suits me.

  42. josh keele says:

    What is unbelievable, Mark, is that you don't realize that you also in coming upon a Scripture that passes over a certain subject, will fill in the gap (as God clearly intends us to do) with your knowledge of that subject from other verses. For example, Acts 8:12, which says "But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women." Ok, did Philip preach Christ crucified to them? It doesn't say explicitly that he did. It simply says that he spake concerning the kingdom and the name of Jesus. Did he say anything about the cross, or only about the name 'Jesus'? It doesn't say one word about him saying one word about the cross, yet you know that he did preach about the cross because other Scriptures make it plain that preaching about Jesus is pointless without mentioning the cross! There is nothing strange or odd about interpreting the Scriptures with the mental capacity that God gave us. If we were to adopt the method that you suggest in your previous comment, and not use our brains at all but rather require God to repeat the whole entire Bible in each and every single individual verse, then we would know nothing at all. But even you, at some level, must acknowledge that you do not follow that method consistently, but that you employ the same method here in Acts 8:12 that I employ in the conversion of the Jailor.

  43. Jay Guin says:

    Readers,

    As I sit here and read the back and forth between Mark and Josh, I feel the need to point out that I've addressed the necessity of baptism at length in Born of Water available here: http://oneinjesus.info/books-by-jay-guin/born-of-

    I'm also working on articles on this subject, which will be posted under the Amazing Grace lesson series in a couple of weeks.

    It's a deep subject that really can't be adequately addressed simply by trading views on the conversion stories in Acts. They matter quite a lot, of course. But deep subjects require deep study.

    I think getting the right answer depends on first properly understanding the nature and character of God himself. So long as we fail to agree on who God is, that is, what he most cares about, we are wasting our breath arguing.

  44. Henry says:

    This is my first time to this site and i'm replying to the discussion on musical instruments, not on baptism. Only a good church of Christ discussion can go from one to the other…

    On the use of instruments in worship: To me, this is perfectly ok, and for this reason. A study of both the bible and the new testament world shows that for the first several years of Christianity's existence, worship took place in the synagogues before the formation of house churches. Paul make it a habit to go to these places when he enters a town to a) talk to people about Jesus, but b) to worship. Now, from my study i understand that synagogues contained instruments for worship (psalms have instructions for music). I know that on two separate occasions i've been in synagogues, there have been harps present. Using this logic, not only can i conclude that Paul and the early Christians worshiped with instruments, but Jesus himself would have. Now, if Jesus worshiped with instruments, how can i condemn the use of them?

  45. Melina says:

    Henry: or maybe not. check out this link: http://www.liturgica.com/html/litJLitMusDev2.jsp

  46. Jay Guin says:

    Henry and Melina,

    It's interesting that the authorities say instrumental music stopped with the destruction the Second Temple (AD 70). So far, I've found nothing saying there were no instruments in the synagogues before then. If so, Henry may well be right. Very interesting …

    Up until the destruction of the Second Temple (70 C.E.), instrumental music was part of every Jewish worship service. As a sign of mourning for the destruction of the Temple, both vocal and instrumental were prohibited. The ban on vocal music was ignored from the beginning. As a result, instrumental music lay dormant for many centuries and our ancestors assumed it was forbidden by Jewish law.

    http://www.jewishperspectives.com/music.asp

    After the destruction of the Temple by the Roman legions ca.70 C.E., many Jews fled and sought refuge in various lands around the Mediterranean.

    This marked the beginning of a new era in Diaspora Jewish worship: the sacrificial ceremonies of the Temple were now a thing of the past. In their various countries of exile, Jews now gathered in small groups to pray and to study and meditate upon the sacred texts in a "House of Assembly", or synagogue. Instrumental music was proscribed from these meetings of worship as a sign of mourning for the destruction of the Temple and for the loss of their country. This overall lack of instrumental music during services still remains to this day among orthodox synagogues, except for the sounding of the Shofar – a ram's horn trumpet – on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and at Rosh Hashana, the New Year. Conservative and Reformed Jews have slowly added instrumental music back into the liturgy, including Piano, Organ, Guitar and other instruments.

    http://www.templesanjose.org/JudaismInfo/song/mus

    After the destruction of the Temple and the subsequent diaspora of the Jewish people, there was a feeling of great loss among the people. At the time, a consensus developed that all music and singing would be banned; this was codified as a rule by some early Jewish rabbinic authorities. (An alternative explanation is that instrumental music had been ordained by God for the temple sacrifices, and therefore ought not to be used in other prayer meetings outside the temple.) However, the ban on singing and music, although not formally lifted by any council, soon became understood as only a ban outside of religious services. Within the synagogue the custom of singing soon re-emerged. In later years, the practice became to allow singing for feasts celebrating religious life-cycle events such as weddings, and over time the formal ban against singing and performing music lost its force altogether.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_religious

    It's not conclusive. Instruments were certainly used in the temple until it was destroyed. Whether instruments were permitted in the synagogue before then is unclear. But very interesting …

  47. Melina says:

    thanks for the additional resources. I've also been unable to find definitive information on what happened in the synagogues prior to the destruction of the 2nd Temple. this page http://www.liturgica.com/html/litJLit.jsp talks about the pre-70 C.E. synagogues using chants but I don't see clear wording about no instruments. Here's a whole site devoted to synagogues in existence while the 2nd Temple was standing. http://www.pohick.org/sts/faqs.html#What%20was%20….
    So far I haven't found reference to instruments, only choral singing. But of course that is not dispositive. I don't think it matters all that much in regards to what we should or shouldn't be doing today but I have been finding the study to be fascinating. Thanks for the continued inspiration, Jay

  48. Jay Guin says:

    Additional authorities.
    <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=YOqPcaCctqQC&dq=synagogue+instrumental+music&pg=PP1&ots=dd38_84S-Q&source=citation&sig=1yXzqoV3KabiipWPhgzix_H-gbs&hl=en&prev =http://www.google.com/search%3Fsourceid%3Dmozclient%26ie%3Dutf-8%26oe%3Dutf-8%26q%3Dsynagogue%2Binstrumental%2Bmusic&sa=X&oi=print&ct=result&cd=2&cad=bottom-3results#PPA22,M1" rel="nofollow">
    The Sacred Bridge. p. 22,

    J.A. Smith, <a href="http://www.jstor.org/pss/765928&quot; rel="nofollow">"The Ancient Church, the Synagogue & Singing", in Music & Letters (vol. 65 No. 1 1984), argues that we just don't have any information re synagogues at this time because the written evidence is all from centuries later and can't be reliably read back into this time.

    Porter, in <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=58DauSER-yIC&pg=PA217&lpg=PA217&dq=Exclusion+of+Musical+Instruments+from+the+Ancient+Synagogue+McKINNON&source=web&ots=7elXIxGpDs&sig=hK-g373FelH6p-yakxb973riPdY&hl=en&quot; rel="nofollow">Christian-Jewish Relations Through the Centuries, reaches the same conclusion. There's just no evidence either way. See p. 217.

  49. Jay Guin says:

    It just occurred to me this morning, that Henry's point can be argued from a different perspective.

    When Paul returned to Jerusalem late in his career, he went to the temple intending to offer a sacrifice. However, he first had to go through the purification rite.

    (Acts 21:26) The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them.

    He was arrested before he could actually make the sacrifice, but his intentions are clear — he went to worship at the temple. And the temple was filled with instrumental worship of God!

    According to the Mishna, the regular Temple orchestra consisted of twelve instruments, and the choir of twelve male singers.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_music#History

    Just so, the early church met at the temple —

    (Acts 2:46) Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,

    which is where instrumental worship was taking place.

    And, evidently, the early Jewish Christians continued to participate in the temple worship —

    (Acts 3:1) One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer–at three in the afternoon.

    (Acts 5:42) Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.

    (Acts 21:20-24) When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: "You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law. 21 They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. 22 What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, 23 so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. 24 Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law."

    It seems obvious from the passage in c. 19 especially that the Jewish Christians in Jerusalem continued in temple worship — which included instrumental music!

    Paul did not condemn them. Nor did the the apostles who remained in Jerusalem. Indeed, Paul was preparing to join them!

    This certainly contradicts the dispensational argument that instrumental music was permitted under the Mosaic dispensation but not the Christian.

    One could argue, with the rabbis (but without scriptural support) that instrumental music is solely for temple worship. But the assembled congregation is the new temple! (1 Cor 3:16-17; Eph 2:21-22; cf 1 Cor 9:13).

    Now, the fact that the apostles saw nothing wrong with participating in worship that involved instrumental music has to have some bearing on the issue. I mean, if the argument is that instrumental music is wrong for all the reasons suggested by early uninspired Christians — leads to animalistic emotions, too Jewish, lacks a message — why weren't those same objections true when the earliest Christians went to the temple to worship?

  50. Mike Nance says:

    I am new here so I don't know if this will show up. Though it seems the discussion has returned to dealing with the issue of instrumental music, the sidetrack on baptism reminded me of Paul's letter to Corinth. Those baptized believers didn't seem to have an accurate handle on why they were immersed.

  51. Jay Guin says:

    Mike,

    You may be interested in the series of lessons on baptism in the Amazing Grace series.

    And, you are right. Paul didn't question the validity of their baptism even though the Corinthians clearly had a confused understanding of its meaning.

  52. Kent Gatewood says:

    Observations on the last years at Quail

    1. Mark Henderson gave notice to elders of a job offer (2006). He requests that the elders consider instrumental music.

    2. For the instrumental music vote the elders changed their practice. Normal is/was two thirds. For the instrumental vote, it was a simple majority.

    3. Questions about music were limited to written queries during two question times. Follow up questions only happened in the second much smaller meeting when several members pushed back.

    4. Two ministers were fired.

    5. Three hundred left over time. No obvious walkout.

    6. The youth group has been decimated. More than half gone. The youth minister was one those fired. The high school seems to have voted with the youth minister.

    7. The elders have a gag rule for themselves and the staff. Losers in votes have no right to publicly express their personal views. Some reason to believe either the elders or Mark Henderson would apply this to the whole congregation.

    8. Since 2001 sixteen elders have resigned.

    9. Since 2001 seven ministers have left.

  53. Mike Nance says:

    It may take the same number of years to indicate if the addition of an IM service was really the ultimate reason for the conflicts within the congregation or if it was something else entirely. Changes, especially those that are rooted more in dogmatic stands made from silence, will most certainly encourage discomfort. It may not have been handled well or it may have been handled in the only way it could have been given the target. Though the loss of leaders can be a clear indicator of problems, it does not necessarily point to those who remain as the source. Time will tell.

  54. David says:

    First, let me state for the record that I believe bringing in musical instruments into the worship service is sinful. I’m not interested in delineating all the reasons for that or having a “are instruments in worship sinful” argument at this time. Now personally I don't believe God is going to condemn people to hell for worshipping with instruments in church but the introduction into a congregation that is not and has not been using them is very divisive – as has been proven by Quail Springs. I believe the greater sin here is the sin of causing division. I find it difficult to believe that the leaders at Quail Springs didn’t know there would be a huge backlash and evidently decided that the ends justify the means. This comes across as a hollow argument. They have greatly reduced the effectiveness of their own congregation

    You asked the question of "Why on earth would Christians put their disputes before non-believers?" and I would agree totally. But, I would also ask the question "why on earth would you bring in something as divisive as instrumental music into a congregation?". There are things that my congregation does that I don’t participate in (hand clapping for one) and I am an elder there. I don’t believe that particular issue is worth dividing over however and have decided to “live in peace” with my clapping brothers. But anyone in the church ought to know the explosive nature of instrumental music.

    In addition, I think we need to make clear the difference between not being able to congregate with a group and not being “in fellowship” with a group. I will be "in fellowship" with all baptized believers regardless of what they are doing as a corporate body (with the exception of denying Christ or the faith). I may believe what they are doing is a sin (like instrumental music). And I certainly could not congregate with them. However, I don't think I have the right to disfellowship a whole congregation. My job is to point out their error and try to get them to repent. I’ll leave the candlestick removal to God.

  55. Jay Guin says:

    David,

    Why would the instrument be divisive at Quail Springs? They went to two services, one instrumental and one a cappella. They didn't even change the time of the a cappella service. No one was asked to worship contrary to his conscience.

    If the church had the same attitude as you show, they never would have divided!

    It just seems to me that solution is to do a better job of teaching grace so we can be part of the same church despite our disagreements.

    After all, we in the "mainstream" Churches of Christ decided to go to multiple cups, hired preachers, and institutional support from the church treasury despite the division those decisions caused and cause.

    If we always surrender to the scruples of those more conservative than us, we'd not even have church buildings, preachers, or hymn books.

    But, then, dividing over such things is no solution. The only solution is grace. We've just go to do a better job of teaching our members this.

    And so, kudos to you for putting up with the clappers and showing in a tangible way that we don't have to agree to be part of the same church. I wish we had lots more elder like you!

    May God bless your work shepherding his flock.

  56. David says:

    Jay,

    I would submit that it's devisive simply because they did indeed divide over that issue. I left a congregation about a year ago (not over anything doctrinal but personal differences) that would not tolerate hand clapping in any fashion. The congregation I worship at now will clap after baptisms.

    Now I don't view clapping as sinful – I just find it creepy to be honest. I do however think it would be sinful for me to come in and try to get them to stop this practice as it would be divisive – perhaps it shouldn't be but it would. By the same token, I don't believe someone should go into the congregation I formerly worshipped at and try and institute hand clapping – and for the same reason – it would be divisive.

    Also I don't know if I would compare multiple cups, hired preachers and institutional support with instrumental music. I understand the analogy but the fact of the matter is we are where we are on those issues. I suppose my problem is more the scope of what instrumental music represents. If someone wanted to split a congregation down the middle I cannot think of a better way than thru the use of instrumental music. That is simply the reality of the situation.

    I don't know what the solution is. I don't know that people having my attitude would have helped the situation because I would not be able to worship with musical instruments – it would violate my conscious. And even if everyone accepted that we're all saved thru grace and tried to tolerate others there would still be a lot of people who could not worship at a congregation that allowed instrumental music due to their conscious sake. So you'd still have the division regardless of whether or not they disfellowshipped them.

    I don't know if I mind the fact that people can't congregate with certain groups that practice certain things – its the whole attitude of not being in fellowship with them that bothers me most. I can't believe that it's pleasing to God.

    I think the problem with division is one comparable to the issue of racism. You're never going to find a magic bullet that suddenly convinces everyone its wrong and to change their attitude. My goal is to be less racists than my parents. And I hope my children are less so than me. If we continue to grow and evolve thru each generation in this fashion eventually it will simply disappear.

    I think some of the problems we see in the church today can be solved in the same way. I doubt there will be a sudden "awakening" where we all decide to unify. Theres just too much water under the bridge and too much history there. But I do believe we can slowly make each successive generation come to a better and more through understanding of what God originally intended for us and what our relationship with Him and to each other should be.

  57. Steve says:

    I frankly have no idea how the following enters into the conversation…but here goes.

    I should also state that if you think using instruments in worship is sinful…you should stop reading now because the following won’t really apply.

    I’ve heard (and read) the word “divisive” a lot lately. Isn’t divisiveness subjective? Where is that elusive line where a leadership decision becomes divisive? Worship style? Baptism? Communion practices? How are we to determine what issue will split a church 50/50? What about 25/75…or 90/10? When does the ratio become "safe" enough?

    Who is responsible for division in most circumstances? Those who make decisions that conflict with tradition and impact the comfort of others…or those who leave over decisions based on tradition? I suppose one could argue that two people can leave over the same issue – one of them be right in leaving because their conscience was violated and the other wrong because “their” church makes decisions without “their” permission.

    Or maybe nobody’s wrong because we live in a free country and you can come and go as you please for any reason you see fit – just as long as you don’t hate somebody on your way out the door.

    Here’s my simple question. The question I asked of several close friends who left over the past year. “How can you dare leave your family over self proclaimed non-scriptural issues? Including but not limited to personality conflicts, mistrust, fear, and anger.”

    I mean it’s one thing if you just got here, the fireworks started and you decide, “I’m outta here.” Or…if you think the leadership of the church has incorporated sinful acts in to the worship service. In those cases I suppose all bets are off.

    But it’s entirely another issue if you’ve taught my children, grieved with me, met in my small group, carried my burdens and let me carry yours. We’ve been in the trenches!

    I attend Quail Springs Church of Christ. I did not agree with the addition of the Instrumental Service. But then again…I didn’t agree when they changed the VBS format, the church sign, the wallpaper in the family room, the bulletin from color to black and white, and the room my Sunday school class meets in. Where is that elusive line again? When do I have permission to abandon my family?

    I still attend Quail, participate in various ministries, and actually attend the Instrumental Service. If you offered me a million bucks I couldn’t adequately explain how everything became such a big mess over the past couple of years. After about two seconds of looking for someone to direct my anger at I was convicted to look in the mirror and get over it.

  58. David says:

    Steve,

    I can only say that I pretty much agree with you. In fact, even if I left a congregation due to them committing sinful acts I would not leave angry with them. My leaving would be more for my sake than theirs. My duty to them is to try and convince them of their error – or for them to convince me of mine.

    However, there comes a point in those situations where the parties are not going to agree. My staying would (a) violate my conscious and (b) cause more trouble.

    John makes it clear in Revelation that there were righteous people at Sardis even though the corporate body was worshipping sinfully. Assume for a minute that the congregation did not correct their errors. I would assume that at some point Christ would indeed “remove their candlestick". At that point what should the righteous ones do? Continue to worship there or find a new congregation?

    Like you, I am not going to leave over non-doctrinal issues. I do not have a problem with people leaving over personal issues. There could be all types of reasons a person leaves and I do not consider that "splitting". I think the issue today is we have so many people that will leave in mass over more and more trivial issues. If this continues we'll only further weaken the influence of the church.

    I certainly hope and pray things work out for everyone involved at Quail Springs.

  59. Jay Guin says:

    David,

    How do you figure that Sardis wasn't worshiping correctly? The accusation against them is that they are dead (3:1) and their deeds aren't complete (3:2).

    And where is grace if the congregation is damned for not correcting their errors? I mean, if the rule is that a congregation must be error free to keep its candlestick, then we're all in trouble, I think.

    Being spiritually dead certainly puts anyone in jeopardy of salvation, but I just don't see how this passage says this is the same as error in worship.

    Jay

  60. I was raised in a very conservative Church of Christ in eastern NC that sang with a piano. While in college I preached for three years in a Church of Christ in Kentucky that did not use instruments. I asked my elder's in Kentucky why they did not allow instruments and they replied that they were not authorized in the NT. What about hymnals, carpet, air condition, pews, study books, powerpoint, on and on it goes. They responded that those items were not part of worship. So I ask when do we worship? What is worship? Seems to me Quail Springs chose the souls of the lost over the traditions of the saved! As far as the 300 leaving -let em go. I can't see how any Christian could get upset when new people are coming to their church and singing or even playing instruments (which by the way takes God given talent and years of dedicated practice) to the glory of God! It was not like their service was changed. Sometimes you have to leave the 99 to find the one. It takes courage to change, but even more courage to admit that maybe, just maybe we could be wrong.

  61. Jay Guin says:

    Lance,

    Thanks for the comment. It will seem paradoxical for you to refer to a "very conservative Church of Christ … that sang with a piano," which makes an important point by itself!

    Unity is critically important, but unity is only unity if built on grace, love, and acceptance. Unity built on a rigid legalism is not the unity the Bible speaks of and is of no value at all. Indeed, such "unity" does much more harm than good, in my experience.

  62. Kent Gatewood says:

    Steve reasons for the events of the last years at Quail as seen by someone who goes to the acapella service.

    1. Reverse the “mistakes” of the late 19th Century by being both acapella and instrumental
    2. Belief that acapella is dated and doomed to extinction; the future is the instrumental Christian music scene
    3. Desire to be united with a broader group of Christians, and acapella is a real hindrance when doing joint events with Baptists and Community Churches ( hidden Baptists)
    4. Unleash the talents of our instrumental brothers and sisters
    5. The nature conflict between vocal and instrumental musicians.

  63. David says:

    Jay,
    In answering your question about the corporate body at Sardis worshipping incorrectly I can only say I'm drawing some logical (at least to me) conclusions. First, I don't believe a Christian can worship correctly (properly may be a better word) if they come before God with an impure heart. They were "dead" since they were obviously not physically dead it must mean they were spiritually dead – thus they had a heart problem.

    I believe the passage makes it clear that the corporate body at Sardis was in danger of falling from Grace. And yes, if they didn't correct their errors, then grace will fail to save them – they will fall away and be unable to (unwilling) to repent. Sardis was obviously in this condition. God was threatening to remove their candlestick which I believe only can be interperted as condeming them.

    The issue here is IF they stayed on their current path, they would be lost. To believe Grace has no bounds means that "once saved /always saved" is correct. Now the only way I can pass this judgment on Sardis is because the Bible did. I would be hard pressed to proclaim that against a congregation today. If I believe they are doing something sinful, I will attempt to correct them but I won't condemn nor disfellowship them. (with a few exceptions such as denying the deity of Jesus for example)

    I can only add that if the Sardis church was in danger of falling away then I'm hard pressed to see where their worship was acceptable to God even if they were dotting every "i" correctly and crossing every "t". And though they were in this condition, John makes it clear that there were those who had not stained their garments and I can only assume their worship was acceptable.

    I'm not advocating that our lives have to be perfect in order to acceptably worship God but our hearts do have to be right and I don't beleive the hearts of the people at Sardis was. And let me add that I don't believe the big problem with coC's today are "technical" errors in worship. I believe, like the church at Sardis, we are much more plagued with heart problems.

    And to Kent just let me say I can respect your position. I believe so many congregations go to instrumental music to please people and from what you wrote, Quail Springs did it because they honestly believe it would be pleasing to God. I don't know that I agree with that premise but I do at least respect the reasoning.

    In closing just let me add that my problem with (most) Baptist has nothing at all to do with instrumental music. It has to do with the fact that they are not baptized for remission of sins and many are not baptized at all. If God decides He wants to overlook their error there won't be anyone happier than me. But that is a very dangerous assumption on our part.

  64. Nick Gill says:

    Some quick questions:

    Aren't "matters of conscience" relegated to the "weaker brother?"

    What is the difference between "unable to congregate with" and "out of fellowship with" a brother in Christ? If you won't congregate with someone, how can you be in partnership with them? "We're divorced, but we're still friends?" Or, more accurately, "We're married, but I can't stand to be in the same room with her."

    If Sardis' problem was not "technical errors in worship" (can those exist in the new covenant at all?) then why even introduce that example into a discussion of, well, "technical errors in worship?"

    The belief that acapella is dated and doomed to extinction is incredibly Westocentric. The Orthodox Church is in no danger of shifting to instruments, and the poverty-stricken churches of Asia, Africa, and South America will hopefully have the good sense to invest their financial blessings in projects that will more efficiently edify the kingdom. I've been a stage manager and techie for several bands, and I still don't understand how congregations sign off on the budgetary requirements for praise bands and the like, while saying no to missionaries.

  65. David says:

    Whether I'm the weaker or stronger brother is acidemic. I cannot do anything that violates my conscious. Its that simple.

    You ask "What is the difference between “unable to congregate with” and “out of fellowship with” a brother in Christ?"

    There are many congregations that I do not approve of the way they've chosen to worship. I believe that instrumental music is not something God has authorized in His worship. It would violate my conscious to do so. By the same token, I don't pretend to know everything there is to know about the Bible and I'm not the arbiter of what and whom God is going to accept. These people that worship with instruments – like the Christian church – are baptized for the remission of sins and they beleive Jesus Christ is the Son of God. By definition that makes them a Christian and I will certainly be in fellowship with them – meaning that I will consider them brothers in Christ. There may be many reasons I won't worship with a certain group. Personal reasons, religious reasons, etc. but to deny anyone fellowship that are properly baptized and who believe in Jesus is to overstep my authority.

    I wouldn't choose to worship (congregate) with an "anti" congregation (non-institutional I believe is the PC word). However I will still be in fellowship – not deny them communion, consider them bretheren,etc. just because I disagree with some of their beliefs.

    John 4: 24 states that we are to worship God "In spirit and in truth". I have always taken this to mean that the "techical" aspects of worship must be there – singing, praying, admonishing one another, acknowledging our sins, etc. In addition, we're to worship in the proper spirit. I've always considered that a (willful) error in either of these catagories would result in worship that was displeasing to God.

    In Sardis they were "dead". Since they were not physically dead I must assume they were spiritually dead. And if they were spiritually dead I fail to see how their worship could possible be in the proper spirit.

    If a "technical" error would make it more revelant then I would point to the church at Corinth where they had totally abused the Lord's Supper. And even in this case Paul – when he was admonishing them in I Corinthians to change their ways- always still referred to them as brothers.

    I find it interesting that so many Christians will storm out of the building if the corporate body makes what they deem a "technical" error in worship (hand clapping, drama, praise team, etc.) But the same person will happily worship their whole lives with a congregation full of people who come get their "tickets" punched every week who never teach a class, never give sacrifically, never grow in spirit. Why do we accept a "dead" congregation (and we've all seen them) yet be appalled by a growing congregation we feel are not worshipping exactly as we deem "proper"?

  66. Gina Morrison says:

    what about the Madison Church of Christ ? Who caused the division? The change agents and the emergent church dialog to concensus. Please. I’m an independent baptist but know that these members of that church existed thinking instrumental music was pagan. Why? because the CoC indoctrinated them from the early days and now you say they are creating divisions. It’s the bad theology of the CoC and now their merger into the emerging. Please, spare me your self-righteous judgement on the people who placed this ad. Who preached to them for all these many years that instrumental music was sinful in the service? Who did that? What’s the next move? oh, i know rock music at winterfest, mystic prayers and whatever brings the itchy ears to sit on the pews?

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