Instrumental Music: A Parallel Argument

Angel with harpI get emails —

One of the most popular arguments against instrumental music is that “the only thing that instruments have brought to worship” is division.  The person I’m discussing this with has 4 points, and I know that Corbitt discusses these in his book very well, what I am looking for is a parallel.

1. there is no command in the scripture for instrumental music in worship

2. it was not introduced into the church for some 600 years, it was tossed out the first two times they tried

3. it was introduced by an apostate church

4. it only brings division.

Q:  Can you think of anything that we currently do or practice in the churches of Christ that would also fit these, like the kitchen or gym.  I have gotten to the point where I don’t even bring up arguments when I disagree with things being taught, they are standard ‘doctrine.’

Any help would be greatly appreciated.  I do not like to discuss a lot of these things unless I’m really loaded for the task.

Let’s try a couple of similar arguments on for size. We were discussing the one-cup issue in my class last week.

1. There is no command for multiple cups. Nor is there an example. We do have examples of a single cup.

(Mat 26:27-28)  Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

(1 Cor 11:28)  A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.

“Cup” is quite plainly singular everywhere it’s used in reference to the communion (in parallel to the argument that “elders” is always plural!)

2. Multiple cups began in the early 20th Century, only after germ theory was discovered by Pasteur and others and the US suffered a devastating TB epidemic, well before the availability of antibiotics. I can find no evidence of multiple cups in nearly the first 19 centuries of church history. Even today, the Catholics, Orthodox, and Episcopalians celebrate a one-cup communion.

3. The Churches of Christ were hardly the first or only churches to adopt multiple cups. In fact, the first church in the US to adopt multiple cups was a Presbyterian church. Thus, it can truly be said that the Churches of Christ copied the practice from “the denominations.” Of course, some (not all) within the one-cup Churches of Christ see the issue as an apostasy issue, and from their perspective, multiple cups come from an apostate church.

4. As this article plainly shows, the controversy brought division to numerous churches. And these divisions have not yet been healed.

Therefore, by the argument made, we must return to the one cup of God’s holy word. It’s really quite simple if you’ll just follow God’s word rather than the fashions of man. Indeed, in using multiple cups, we are following in the paths of liberal denominations that have rejected all that is good and holy. It’s easy to see where this path leads! (See how easy it is to cap an argument with a snide, condescending, holier-than-thou comment? Why do we think it persuades anyone?)

Now, having seen how such arguments fail, let’s look at some additional facts. (A much more comprehensive consideration of the issue may be found under Instrumental Music.)

1. Is there really no command in scripture? No example?

Consider that the Jerusalem church met in the temple courts daily, and they had instrumental music and choirs. Rather an odd choice, isn’t it, if God wanted nothing to do with instrumental music after Pentecost?

And consider the arguments made in this post from a while back. I’ll not repeat them here, but there’s much more authority for instrumental music than we sometimes pretend.

2. Instrumental music was introduced in the New Testament church at Pentecost. Luther permitted instrumental music, which led to the grandeur of Bach — some of the greatest worship music ever composed. The Messiah came from the pen of Handel, thanks to the fact he wasn’t working in a Calvinistic nation — as the Calvinists rejected instrumental music in worship.

Just try to make an argument that The Messiah or Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring is evil. You can’t make a serious case.

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3. Churches we sometimes call apostate do actually get some things right. Do we toss out meeting houses because it wasn’t until Constantine that the church could own buildings? Do we toss out hymn books because they weren’t invented until after Gutenberg? Oh, please! Instrumental music goes back to David and will survive in heaven. It wasn’t invented by the Catholics.

4. This division argument is a shameful argument, because issues such as instrumental music only divide when we make them divide! Consider Richland Hills or Quail Springs. They added an additional, instrumental service, forcing no one to act against his conscience. Other churches damned them. Who is the divider? Who is the factious one?

Why aren’t we dividers when we refuse to celebrate communion with just one cup? Why aren’t we dividers when we have Sunday school or cooperate to support orphanages, even though we know this offends the sensibilities of others? We are such hypocrites!

The cure for division is not to behave as the most rule-bound among us would want. The cure for division is to stop dividing. Indeed, in arguing that instrumental music isn’t a salvation issue but shouldn’t be practiced because it’s divisive, well, aren’t we tacitly condoning the sin of being factious? If it’s a grave sin to be factious, why allow the factious to set the agenda?

I concede that most churches will need to precede a decision to go instrumental with patient, prayerful teaching so that no one is required to worship contrary to his conscience. I don’t concede that whoever is the most legalistic among us gets to always have their way.

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About Jay Guin

I am an elder, a Sunday school teacher, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a lawyer. I live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide. I’m a member of the University Church of Christ. I grew up in Russellville, Alabama and graduated from David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University). I received my law degree from the University of Alabama. I met my wife Denise at Lipscomb, and we have four sons, two of whom are married, and I have a grandson and granddaughter.
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58 Responses to Instrumental Music: A Parallel Argument

  1. Mark says:

    In this post you state:
    2. Instrumental music was introduced in the New Testament church at Pentecost.

    But I don't see where you back that up. Maybe I'm just missing it? Could you please explain the reason(s) you made that statement?

    Thanks!

  2. Jay Guin says:

    mark,

    I'd written earlier,

    Consider that the Jerusalem church met in the temple courts daily, and they had instrumental music and choirs.

    Here's an earlier post that expands a bit on the argument — http://oneinjesus.info/2008/05/10/instrumental-mu

  3. CarolinaGirl says:

    This continues to be a tough one. I've recently begun attending a Christian Church (by signage) of which has a Praise Band as part of its service. It has taken some getting use to.

    With that said, sometimes I wonder if God turns His back on our service as perhaps he did with Cain -vs- Abel. If I remember, however, that situation was more black & white in what God had commanded as far as the type of offering was concerned.

    You listed so many traditional topics that divide the Church these days. Many have chosen to add a second service in which a Praise Band is a part of one or the other. Some of those congergations have placed the musical service on Saturday evenings. Does this make it unscriptual then to partake of communion on Saturday instead of Sunday?

    In speaking of traditional arguments, there are those who argue that community service (i.e. inner-city outreach programs) should even be done.

    There just seems to be so many things that can divide the Church these days…and those same ones wondering can't figure out why the Church then divides.

  4. Peggy Simpson says:

    With using one cup, most likely, the emblem is wine, not grape juice, thus, the alcohol in the wine would take care of any germs. Right?

  5. Sherrod Lee says:

    Wine was used in ancient times to dress wounds, so it may have some bacteriostatic efffect, but the alcohol concentration is too low to make it a reliable disinfectant, so don't count on that for safety. But, since wine was used in the Biblical example, why are we satisfied with Welch's grape juice?
    Where is the command to meet on Sunday,vice the Sabbath?
    The sacrosanct "invitation song" was borrowed from the Revivalist movement of the 1800's.
    Examples of our selective borrowing are everywhere we look, but we have forgotten their historical origins.

    Sherrod

  6. yahunathan says:

    Sherrod

    You make a good comment regarding the Sabbath. Did you know the phrase, "first day of the week" is no where to be found in the Apostolic writings?

    Yahunathan

  7. Sam says:

    Well, CarolinaGirl, your second paragraph has a problem in it. We have no record in the Scriptures that God had given any specific requirement or instruction about the offerings that were offered by C&A.

    It is sometimes said that Abel's was acceptable because it involved an animal rather than Cain's grain offering, but there's nothing in the text to suggest that. In fact, grain offerings were specifically called for later in the Law.

    It's also suggested that Cain's was rejected because it wasn't the best he had to offer, while Abel's was. Again, the text offers no hint of this.

    What the Scriptures DO say about the difference is found in Hebrews 11, where Abel is described as a man of faith, and in 1 John 3, where Cain is described as "of the evil one".

    I would derive from those passages that the criteria for acceptance or rejection of the offerings rested in the kind of people C&A were, what God saw in their hearts, rather than what He saw on the altars.

    I think that's a good illustration in the instrument/non-instrument discussion.

    I'm also in Carolina. Anywhere near Raleigh?

  8. mark says:

    I think Jay has it right. There is no parallel argument. The word worship is rarely used in the New Testament. The debate of history is not on the side of the churches of Christ from both the idea of prophetic apostasy or restoration. Culture is not on the side of the church either. And the overt arguments over etymologies of words like music and singing are ridiculous. This does negate our stance but rather shows the depth of the tradition we have towards the scriptures. The problem though with the issue is much like non institutionalism it is a view that has evolved from perfectionism.

    Mac Lynn brings this challenge out within the church, the idea of statistics in that the view of autonomy (something also non biblical) truly divides us. The identifiers of OC, OC with fermented juice, pre-millennialism, Preterst, ME,MDR, non institutionalist, mainline, no Sunday school the list is endless are divisions based on a perfect interpretation of scriptures. Mac wrote in the Chronicle “how do you determine growth or decline in a body that cherishes its freedom of association”.

    Freedom thus becomes a starting point of interpretation in which division happens, not the idea of church restoration. Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. Is non instrumental music a law? I believe the majority of the church would reject such thinking and as mainliners move ever so slowly away from perfectionism of interpretation into a grace oriented gospel such issues will vanish.

    Let be honest that freedom of association that becomes a stumbling block for the (strong in faith) is no freedom at all but rather a call to judgment. A church can never grow in the idea that the one true church can disassociate itself from the weak in faith. That is if the instrumental view is a weak view of the churches of Christ.

    The law of non instrumental music is a law of sin and death. We need to nail such views to the cross.

  9. Hugh Fulford says:

    Would Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:2 qualify as "Apostolic writings"?

    Too, Biblically, does the "cup" refer to the container or to the contents? Paul spoke of drinking the cup (1 Cor. 11:26-27). Surely he was not talking about drinking the container! The one "cup" is the fruit of the vine (fermented or unfermented). The number of containers the one "cup" is served in/distributed to the worshipers is incidental.

  10. There are any number of parallel arguments:

    1. There is no command in the scripture for the church owning a church building in which to worship
    2. It was not introduced into the church for some 300-500 years
    3. it was introduced by a church which did not have a "Church of Christ" sign out front
    4. it only brings division (if you read the literature of those who condemn house churches).

    1. There is no command in the scripture for the church to pay a full-time preacher of the gospel
    2. It was not introduced into the church for some 300-500 years
    3. it was introduced by a church which did not have a "Church of Christ" sign out front
    4. it only brings division (if you read the literature of those who condemn full-time paid preachers).

    1. There is no command in the scripture for individual churches to cooperate in supporting widows and orphans.
    2. It was not introduced into the church for some 1700-1800??? years
    3. it was introduced by a church which did not have a "Church of Christ" sign out front
    4. it only brings division (if you read the literature of those who condemn orphans' homes).

    And on and on. This, in spite of the fact that the church often met in homes (Acts 18:7-8; <a href="http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+16:40&version=NIV&quot; rel="nofollow">16:40); that pastors – especially those who preached – were due compensation (<a href="http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Timothy%205:17-18&version=NIV&quot; rel="nofollow">1 Timothy 5:17-18) and that churches cooperated in sending support to Jerusalem (<a href="http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Corinthians%2016:1-3&version=NIV&quot; rel="nofollow">1 Corinthians 16:1-3 ), where widows were cared for (<a href="http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+6:1&version=NIV&quot; rel="nofollow">Acts 6:1)

    Yet, there have been some – and continue to be some – who were/are disposed to be contentious about the way in which followers of Christ meets as a church, proclaim the gospel, or care for widows and orphans … for reasons that are wholly extra-scriptural.

  11. mark says:

    Hugh

    Would Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:2 qualify as “Apostolic writings”?

    I love this because the answer is yes and no. Luke was not an Apostle and Paul was at least he claimed he was the 13th apostle? And the church of Corinth was not sure about Paul….

    Something to think about!

  12. Jay Guin says:

    Hugh,

    The point of the one cup argument — the very one you make — is that we are no more obligated to sing a cappella than to use one cup. Both are about a failure to distinguish incidentals from what's truly important.

  13. Hugh Fulford says:

    Were Matthew and John apostles? Would their writings be "Apostolic"? Check out Matt. 28:1 and John 20:1 to see if they ever used the phrase "the first day of the week." Paul was "not a whit behind the very chiefest of the apostles" (2 Cor. 11:5), and wrote of the first day of the week (1 Cor. 16:2).

  14. One Cup Man says:

    Thanks for your thoughts on the use of One Cup in the Lord's Supper. As a One Cupper, 31 years, I have no intention of changing my practice. I believe it therefore I practice it. Having said that, I've never read in Scripture where I'm to withdraw from brethren who use multiple cups in the Lord's Supper. We are brethren and should treat one-another as such. Brethren can assemble with the Multiple Cups or One Cup congregations and still work together for the good of the Kingdom. This is being done in many parts of our country even though much is not written about it. God bless all who seek unity!!

  15. paul says:

    I too have switched membership to a Christian Church (Church of Christ by signage), and I too am trying to get used to the music and other differences. The hardest part to get used to is the lack of a divisive spirit; there are no sermons on how "we're right/ they're wrong, etc. Nobody is jumped on for having a different view; if scripture isn't plain on the matter, its opinion of which they refuse to divide over – if scripture is plain on the matter, then scripture is the last word. I like that…

    It is my historical understanding that the early church took communion not only on sunday, but other days of the week also. The two recorded accounts of sunday communion service have a twenty year gap and the account in Acts 20 plainly states that they took communion AFTER midnight, thus making it taking communion on Monday…

    We get very dogmatic about turning the New Covenant into a Law book, but that is not the nature of the New Covanent. The New Covanent is about Liberty and freedom from the Law… "So speak ye, and so do, as men that are to be judged by a law of liberty." [ James 2:12 ] If we took the time to read Isaiah, Jeremiah, and other scripture that prophesied about the coming Messiah and New Covanent, we would know this… But we don't because we are taught a traditional belief that the Old Testament books don't count (but they DID to the apostles, except for the sacrificial, dietary, and ritual requirements; "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a feast day or a new moon or a sabbath day: which are a shadow of the things to come; but the body is Christ’s." Colossians 2:16-17).

  16. paul says:

    As we are to be judged by the Law of Liberty ( ), We need to realize JESUS is the one who is the Commander, not us. He did give commands, simple and basic commands, but we usually ignore then and search for church doctrine commands instead. How we treat our brethren and fellow mankind is paramount as a major factor in judgement day: Matthew 25:42-43 "for I was hungry, and ye did not give me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink;
    I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not."
    It is good to point out all the details that are not "commanded", as then we have to look and see what the Bible really is telling us.

    For example:
    II Corinthians 1:12, "For our glorifying is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and sincerity of God, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we behaved ourselves in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward." [Fleshly wisdom of rule-making is wrong and contrary to holiness and grace]

    Our 'religion' is to be tangible, personal, and 'unspotted' (holy).

    James 1:27 "Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."

  17. Hugh Fulford says:

    Jay, you seemed to be confused on who makes the "one cup" argument. It is not I who put communion containers in the same category with instrumental music. That is what you argue, not I. Multiple containers for the "one cup" (the fruit of the vine) do not add another element to that "one cup." Instrumental music does add another element to the musical praise of which we read in the N. T. that the first century disciples offered to the Lord. We are obligated to use the "one cup" (the fruit of the vine, as opposed to root beer, orange juice, etc.) We are NOT obligated to use the instrument. Don't confuse the one "cup" with the containers.

  18. Jay Guin says:

    OCM,

    Thanks much for your post. It's marvelous to see that the one cup Churches of Christ have moved away from the factionalism that so infects many of the multi-cup churches. Maybe having a weekly celebration as unity makes a difference!

    Seriously. Much of the doctrinal debate over the one cup has been focused on the argument that the one cup symbolizes the unity of the church. Therefore, it's not surprising that those who argue for unity have resisted damning those they disagree with.

    I'm thinking we in the multi-cup churches need to do a much better job of teaching the unity that our weekly communion symbolizes. Sad, isn't it, that we so focus on the ceremony while often overlooking the unity the ceremony was meant to teach! Indeed, damning over honest differences of opinion regarding the communion contradicts the very purpose of the communion.

  19. Jay Guin says:

    Hugh,

    All I'm saying is that your own argument applies in other contexts. We can add multiple cups to a meal that began as one cup, because the sharing of the fruit of the vine is at the essence, not the incidental use of one or 300 cups. Just so, we can add instruments to singing because the singing is at the essence, not the use or non-use of instruments, which is why the relevant passages speak of singing and not singing a cappella or with instruments.

    We are neither obligated to use the instrument nor to not use the instrument. We are, rather, obligated to sing. And we all sing.

    Using orange juice in the Lord's Supper would mean violating an express ordinance of God. He said to use fruit of the vine. Using orange juice would be to disobey. However, if we sing with an instrument, we sing. There is no violation of the command to sing. It's <del datetime="2009-09-06T19:15:05+00:00">apples</del>grapes and oranges.

  20. yahunathan says:

    Hugh,
    I'd check again. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians and Lukes Acts of the Apostles do not contain the phrase "first day of the week". And yes I believe they are counted as apostolic writings.

    Yahunathan

  21. Jay Guin says:

    Yahunathan,

    (Mat 28:1) After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

    (Mark 16:2) Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb

    (Luke 24:1) On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.

    (John 20:1) Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.

    (John 20:19) On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"

    (Acts 20:7) On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.

    (1 Cor 16:2) On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.

    All quotes are from the NIV.

  22. yahunathan says:

    Jay,

    Correct that is what the translators of the NIV and most of the other versions (not all), translate in those passages, but that phrase is not to be found in any of the manuscripts. The phrase for "first day of the week" is "prote hemera tis hebdomata" and that phrase in nowhere to be found in the apostolic writings.

    Yahunathan

  23. Jay Guin says:

    yahunathan,

    Consider Matt 28:1. Lenski comments,

    The Jews had no names for the weekdays but designated them with reference to the Sabbath … .

    A (too) literal translation would be "toward one of Sabbaths." As Lenski says,

    It merely puts the Jewish idiom into our own.

    He therefore translates, "On the first day of the week." Seems logical to me.

    So what is your point?

  24. Larry Short says:

    Amazing how IM becomes one cup & first day of the week discussion. Next we will blurr the days into a Sabbath cult like Gardner Ted Armstrong.
    Since days are in the ring, I'll mention that I would like to have services at alternate times. People who work Sundays say at a mall usually to 6 or 6:30, so I think a 7:30 start for PM would fit. Instead, the trend seems to be for earlier 6 and even 5. Hardly enables the workforce. Heretically, I suggest a worship service on another day for folks like Hospital workers who work a 10 hour daytime shift on Sundays and miss both AM and PM services.

  25. Duell Harbison says:

    Yahunathan,

    You are saying that the "first day of the week" is a mistranslation of "the Koine Greek phrase "mia ton sabbaton"? I have seen in the Strong's where the Hebrew did have a word for week, it is "shabua" according to Strong's. You are right the Koine Greek word for week is hebdomas or hebdomata depending on its use. Wow!

  26. yahunathan says:

    Where is Lenski's proof. They do not count in reference to the sabbath. The days are
    Yom Reshon day one
    Yom She Nee day two
    Yom Sheleeshe day three
    Yom Reve ee day four
    Yom Hameeshee day five
    Yom shee shee day six
    Yom Shabbat Sabbath day

    Where is the reference to the sabbath?
    One of the sabbaths is an actual day. We are told to count seven sabbaths from Passover to Pentecost. This being the sabbath of the week of Passover was one or first of the sabbaths that is the one of the seven sabbaths. The tradition of worshiping on the first day is based on the mistranslation of these verses which should read "one of the sabbaths" not "first day of the week". Or were these passages mistranslated because of a false tradition.

  27. mark says:

    Regardless of our logic and hermeneutics I believe it safe to say no issue from the far right to the far left is capable of sending anyone to hell.

  28. Hugh Fulford says:

    Jay, you say "we can add instruments to singing because the singing is at the essence, not the use or non-use of instruments." Would it therefore be permissible to add the burning of incense to our prayers? Praying is at the essence, not the use or non-use of incense. So would the addition of buring incense to praying be acceptable? You argue that the disciples in Jerusalem met in the temple where instrumental music was used (though it would be insightful to go back to the O. T. and see who in the temple actually did the singing with the instruments–see I Chron. 25). But, did temple worship not also include the burning of incense? Would it not therefore be acceptable to burn incense today? After all, we still would be praying, but adding the incense would perhaps make the prayers "more meaningful." Too, I would again point out that multiple containers for the fruit of the vine do not add another element to the fruit of the vine, but instruments do add another musical element to the vocal praise which the N. T. instructs us to offer to the Lord. As you indicated, comparing communion containers to IM is comparing "grapes to oranges." They are not parallel! Further, a study of the history of the various shifting defenses that have been offered over the years for the use of IM in Christian worship (including the notion that it is parallel to communion trays, hymnals, tuning forks, church buildings, pews, powerpoint presentations, etc, etc) also would be quite revealing. All of these "defenses" have been effectively dealt with and refuted.

  29. CarolinaGirl says:

    Sam,

    Raleigh's a great town. I lived in Fayetteville years ago. For now, Uncle Sam has me residing in Alaska.

  30. Jay Guin says:

    Hugh,

    You've put a long list of arguments into your comment, each with its own history and counter-arguments. Let me suggest that we take them one at a time, so they can each be dealt with thoroughly.
    To start, I'd like to focus on an argument from your earlier comment —

    Instrumental music does add another element to the musical praise of which we read in the N. T. that the first century disciples offered to the Lord. We are obligated to use the “one cup” (the fruit of the vine, as opposed to root beer, orange juice, etc.) We are NOT obligated to use the instrument. Don’t confuse the one “cup” with the containers.

    I responded,

    Using orange juice in the Lord’s Supper would mean violating an express ordinance of God. He said to use fruit of the vine. Using orange juice would be to disobey. However, if we sing with an instrument, we sing. There is no violation of the command to sing.

    If Noah didn't use gopher wood in building the ark, he would have violated a command of God. However, if he provided for ventilation and waste disposal, about which God said nothing, he would still have been obedient. Indeed, he might have been disobedient to have been so hyper-literal that he built a poorly designed, unsafe ark for God's animals.

    To argue that instruments are sinful, one must argue (a) that they are an additional "element", not a mere expedient, and (b) that God doesn't permit additional elements. It's not enough to argue that "sing" doesn't mean "sing with instruments" as "sing" also doesn't mean "sing in a meetinghouse bought by the church."

    But by what scriptural standard do we distinguish elements from expedients? I mean, how do I know whether a choir, praise team, clapping to the music, applauding good news, baptizing during the assembly, PowerPoint, cry rooms, a meetinghouse, children's worship, stained glass, multiple cups, the Sunday school, the located preacher, announcements — or even incense — are damning "elements" or neutral, even commendable, "expedients"? What is the scriptural test for making this distinction?

  31. Hugh Fulford says:

    Jay,

    So are you arguing (a) that instruments are NOT an additional element to what God instructed us to do insofar as musical praise to Him is concerned, only mere expedients, or are you arguing (b) that God permits additional elements? Too, I am not sure I got your answer as to whether adding the burning of incense to our prayers would be acceptable, or a mere expedient? Would you mind answering that question a little more explicitly?

  32. Jay Guin says:

    Hugh,

    I deny that the Regulative Principle is taught in the scriptures. For now, my question is how do we distinguish an "element" from an "expedient" based on the Bible's teachings? I don't think it can be done, and the reason is that it's an effort to answer the wrong question.

    Yes, there are limits and boundaries, but they won't be found in such an analysis.

  33. James Thrasher says:

    Hugh,

    If you want to burn incense while you are praying, go ahead. The smoke will not get in God's eyes, or slow down or speed up your prayers. Do you want to hold hands while you pray, have at it. Want the room dark, switch off the lights. Lift up hands, go for it.

  34. Hugh Fulford says:

    Jay,

    Thanks for answering my question concerning adding the burning of incense to our prayers. :)

    I will conclude my posts re. this matter by kindly and in a brotherly fashion pointing out that neither you, Rick Atchley, Al Maxey nor anyone else have offered any new arguments/defenses for the use of IM in Christian worship. All that you have said is old and hackneyed and has been soundly refuted many times before. Your younger readers (those 50 and under) apparently are not aware of the history of this divisive issue. They hear your and Rick's and Al's side, but not the refutation that has been given time and again.

    In 2008, Dr. Jack Lewis (with additional studies by Owen Olbricht and Dale W. Manor) put out a great little book titled THE QUESTION OF INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC IN WORSHIP. On p. 29 Dr. Lewis said: "The question of the use of instrumental music stands exactly where it has been stalled since instruments were introduced into worship 150 years ago. The general religious admosphere has changed toward broader tolerance than existed before, but the basic question remains the same."

    A little later on the same page brother Lewis wrote: "…this wave (the new effort to make IM acceptable) will not bring unity; where there were two groups before, there will be three. The instrumentalists will continue with their instrumentally accompanied singing. Those who insist on a cappella worship will continue singing as they have done before. The third group will sing some both ways until their youth make all singing to be with musical accompaniment. The outcome is inevitable.

    "To justify the use of instrumental music in the worship of the New Testament church, one needs to show that God is pleased with it. It cannot be done. God alone has the right to choose what He wants done in His worship."

    I believe brother Lewis' words needs to be seriously pondered. Rather than uniting two groups who are divided over the instrument, you are contributing to the existence of a third group. Hardly the way to achieve the unity Christ desires.

  35. Jay Guin says:

    Hugh,

    I didn't answer your question about incense, because we've not finished resolving the first point. We don't have an agreed framework for even considering the question, because you refuse to tell me how to distinguish an element from an expedient. It's an essential step in your argument that you refuse to defend.

    I've asked you for scriptural support for an argument you made. You've responded by citing Dr. Lewis, but his writings do not appear in the Bible. He is not scriptural authority.

    Again: how are we to distinguish elements from expedients? What does the Bible say?

  36. Pat Malone says:

    Hugh,
    There are others of us who are most interested in your answer to Jay's question. Perhaps you have some insight that we have not considered.

  37. Hugh Fulford says:

    Jay & Pat,

    The three of us agree that we are instructed to eat the Lord's Supper in memory of Christ. What elements constitute the Lord's Supper? I believe we would say "unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine." (While Jay said he rejected the regulartive principle, he nevertheless acknowledged that the fruit of the vine–grape juice, as opposed to orange juice–is the element Christ wants His followers to use. To me, grape juice–fermented or unfermented–as opposed to other liquids sounds "regulative.") Shall the one element/the one "cup" (grape juice) be served in one container, two containers, a dozen containers, or 300 containers? To me, that is an incidental, an expedient, a way of doing what the Lord instructed us to do–drink the cup as a token/symbol of His blood. Regardless of the number of containers, as long as we only use grape juice we are doing–all other factors (right purpose, right frame of mind, etc) being in proper place–what the Lord instructed us to do. The number of containers (an incidental) does not change the one element (essential).

    God has instructed us to sing and make melody in our heart. Song books, songs projected on a screen, tuning forks, euphonic singing, four-part harmony, sitting on pews, gathered in a home or under a shade tree, etc. do not change the fact that we are only singing. But–as I and many others see it–when we add instrumentation to the singing, we have added another element, another kind of music, for which I find no instruction in the N. T. concerning the worship of the N. T. church. (If someone would present the passage authorizing instrumental music in the worship of the church, the matter would be quickly resolved. The fact that such a passage has not been presented speaks volumes.) The instrument is not an incidental/expedient, as in the case of hymnals, tuning forks, etc. When hymnals, tuning forks, etc. are used, we still only sing. But when we use instruments, we add ANOTHER KIND of music to that which God has presecribed. Yes, we may still sing, but we do something in addition to sing. And at times the instrumental music takes the place of/is substituted for singing (the worshipers sit in silence, while an organ, piano, band, or orchestra plays).

    Take, again, the matter of the command to assemble. We all agree that we are commanded to do that. Where shall we assemble? In a building bought and paid for by the brethren? In a home? In a rented hall? Under a large shade tree? By the side of a lake? Regardless of where we might choose to assemble, that is still all we do–assemble! That is what the Scriptures require us to do. But where we assemble is an incidental/an expedient.

    In summary: Any thing that is not immoral or unscriptural of itself that aids, assists, expedites carrying out a command/instruction God has given us is a permissible expedient. Any thing that is an ADDITION TO what God has commanded/instructed us to do (as in the case of orange juice on the Lord's Table or instrumental music in addition to or as a substitute for singing) is just that–AN ADDITION TO what God has commanded.

    These matters have been addressed numerous times in the past. To me they are so basic that I am almost embarrassed to rehearse them with mature Christians. I am not so naive as to believe that everyone will agree with my assessment of these matters, but they seem to be principles simple enough to understand.

    I have enjoyed the exchange and appreciate the kind and courteous way each has spoken. Either of you or others are free (obviously) to make any additional comments regarding this matter, but I feel that with the above, along with my previous posts (including the quotations from Dr. Lewis, whose writing, of course, are not Scripture, but who I think has accurately sized up the situation) I have nothing else to offer at this time.

  38. Larry Short says:

    Hugh, while I am not Jay, let me reply.
    The sole argument you propose is Jack Lewis, that it will cause division. Sorry, but you are only divided if you choose to be. My congregation is bilingual. We have quarterly or more often one service in Spanish and English. Every other time we have an English assembly, and a Spanish assembly. Are we divided? No, we have elders in both assemblies, who are elders of the whole church.
    On the same argument does location divide the church? I haven't seen your in my local congregation but I hope you are doing the will of God in your locale. Are we divided? Only if you let the distance be a heaven or hell issue. The Jewish leaders made a big deal about Jesus' hometown. "No prophet comes from Galilee!"
    Simply put Jack Lewis is wrong. If instrument divides, it is the people dividing, not God or the instrument. If you speak Endglish or Spanish we have a service for you. The only people here divided who be anyone who thinks God must be worshiped in one language and the others are apostate.

  39. Jay Guin says:

    Hugh,

    I asked,

    But by what scriptural standard do we distinguish elements from expedients? I mean, how do I know whether a choir, praise team, clapping to the music, applauding good news, baptizing during the assembly, PowerPoint, cry rooms, a meetinghouse, children’s worship, stained glass, multiple cups, the Sunday school, the located preacher, announcements — or even incense — are damning “elements” or neutral, even commendable, “expedients”? What is the scriptural test for making this distinction?

    You answered,

    In summary: Any thing that is not immoral or unscriptural of itself that aids, assists, expedites carrying out a command/instruction God has given us is a permissible expedient. Any thing that is an ADDITION TO what God has commanded/instructed us to do (as in the case of orange juice on the Lord's Table or instrumental music in addition to or as a substitute for singing) is just that–AN ADDITION TO what God has commanded.

    And so, do praise teams aid, assist, expedite singing? Unquestionably. Are they in addition to the what God has commanded?

    Do Sunday schools aid, assist, expedite instruction in the word? Unquestionably. Are they in additional to what God has commanded? Why not answer the questions?

    I understand that Dr. Ralph Gilmore has been severely criticized for suggesting that clapping with the music is an aid; whereas others consider it an addition. The conservative, mainstream preachers can't agree on the rules! And when challenged to defend their arguments, well, my experience is that the conservatives quit the conversation.

    And it all seems very ad hoc to me. It seems that the answer depends on how uncomfortable you are with the practice. I mean, churches around here get condemned for children's church, praise teams, and applause. The church I grew up in had members who opposed announcements after the opening prayer and before the closing prayer. It is, as lawyers sometimes say, a distinction without a difference.

    I wish you'd continue in the conversation, rather than saying these questions have all been answered. Yes, they have been answered — differently by different preachers. And churches have split over questions such as these. Many churches are presently being torn up over the elder re-affirmation controversy. Does it aid, assist, expedite church leadership for men to step aside that don't have the respect of the congregation? Yes. Is it in addition to what God has commanded. It depends on whom you ask.

    We needed a rule to defend our historical position on instruments, and so we invented a rule. We then found that we can't consistently apply the rule — resulting in division and discord. And so we tell ourselves it's all so clear and the questions have all been plainly answered — living in denial while churches split and our children flee. It's all very wrong.

  40. Todd Collier says:

    Gentle sirs, to me the whole expedient/addition concept is too subjective to be useful as an indicator of God's will on any given issue. After all as we have seen repeatedly my addition is your expedient and your expedient is my addition. My opinion being controlling in either case since the Word of God is silent on all of these points and what makes sense to me and my friends/encouragers is the most clear solution to the problem possible. That is why it is folly to make hard and fast rules on opinion matters.

    If God expressly commands something do it. If God has expressly forbidden something stay away from it. If God has said nothing let the local elders decide and leave your brother alone. If God blesses their decision with fruit, it was the right one. If they got it wrong He will discipline them and show them a better way. It is not up to you, or me, or editors or bloggers to sit in judgment on them.

    And for heaven's sake stop trying to turn the Law of Grace into the Law of Moses. Paul said radical circumcision was preferable.

    ramble, ramble.

  41. Larry Short says:

    Sorry about the typos at the end of my last comment. It was the UM-FSU game fault.
    There is no scripture about worship additions. Tthe error is in dropping Jesus requested items. Scripture says to sing, but how (chant, 4 part harmony, etc.) or what to include at the same time (song leader, song book, video showing, etc.) is up to us. To Hugh, I appreciate you trying to follow all reasons, and I sincerely hope the discussion above helps you understand that even good people make arguments to preserve their preferences. Its good to rise above false claims, and see true reasons for our practices. Like most, we do many thing out of habit. No problem, but insisting that our habits are the only gospel truth………..
    I prefer our acapella tradition, but refuse to divide or dictate over it.

  42. Gary Cummings says:

    Jay and all,
    Where is there a command to use only unleavened bread? Where is there a command to use grape juice? I do not think the kind of bread is ordained by Scripture nor is wine banned for the communion cup.

    I don;t read any epistle in the New Testament written by Jack Lewis. What makes him an authority equal to Peter or Paul?

    Years ago, I read about communion in New Guinea with some tribal people. Bread was not their staple, so they used the yam in the place of bread. They also used fermented berry wine for communion. What in the world was wrong with that?

    I am not Jewish, and I do not believe that unleavened bread or grape juice is mandated by Scripture.

  43. Hugh Fulford says:

    I had committed to my previous post being my last on this matter, but I am compelled to make one additional observation: No, Jack Lewis did not write any epistle in the N. T. NEITHER DID JAY GUIN, RICK ATCHLEY, AL MAXEY, nor I, HUGH FULFORD! Those of us who write (including Dr. Lewis) do not do so for the purpose of claiming inspiration or infallibility. We do so, hopefully, to prompt thoughtful consideration and to teach. All that any human writes needs to be put to the test of Scripture. "Prove all things; hold fast what is good" (1 Thess. 5:21). Some writings faithfully set forth the truth of God; some do not. Some apparently come out of "left field."

    Those who have given any thought to the matter know that wine (fermented grape juice) is perfectly acceptable on the Table. For many yrs. the churches in Western KY used only wine, not unfermented grape juice.

    There is a great need among many to have not only a clearer grasp of Scripture, but of restoration history, the things that have divided the people of God, and WHY those divisions have occurred. Some divisions occur because of a commitment to the principle of "speaking as the oracles of God." Jesus Himself sometimes causes division (Matt. 10:34-38).

    As Willard Collins used to say at the end of chapel at Lipscomb (I am not a Lipscomb grad), "That is all."

  44. Brian Bergman says:

    Hugh,

    Since you are trying to distinguish between the element in the cup and manner of distribution of that element, please consider this. As I understand your argument, you are saying that Christ commanded us to drink of fruit of the vine and it does not matter if we do it from one cup, multiple cups or water fountain rigged up so that it dispenses grape juice as long as we are drinking grape juice and nothing else. On the other hand, you argue that the use of an instrument is so unique that it is not simply an aid, but an addition.

    Now let's consider the contents of that cup commanded by Christ. How did Christ come to give us that command? As you well know, he did it while eating the Passover feast with His disciples. So then I go back to Exodus chapter 12 and I see that God commanded Moses and the Israelites to eat the Passover lamb (including specific instructions for its preparation: roasting, not boiling), bitter herbs and bread made without yeast. I see nothing about what to drink during the meal. Yet by the time we get to the gospels, there Christ is taking the cup, giving thanks for it and offering it to the disciples and I wonder how that came to be.

    Some would say the wine was nothing more than an expedient. You can't have a meal without a drink. But for first century Jews, the wine was something more than a simple drink to wash down the meat, herbs and bread. Somewhere along the way in the intervening time between the Exodus and the Crucifixion, the Isrealites had added multiple cups of wine with their own meaning and special prayers.

    The Israelites had added the cups of wine as an additional element to those originally commanded by God. How did God incarnate in the form of Jesus react to this addition to the Feast He instituted? Did He condemn them? Did He strike them dead for eating an unauthorized element? No, He does neither of those things. Instead, He embraces this added element and makes it a part of the memorial of His own sacrifice the following day.

    I believe God's character does not change. If it was not in God's character to condemn this "innovation" which still honored Him, what should I conclude about God today with regard to such "innovations."

  45. Brian Bergman says:

    Hugh,

    With regard to musical instruments in the temple as it relates to the first Christians meeting in the temple, you made the following statement:

    "though it would be insightful to go back to the O. T. and see who in the temple actually did the singing with the instruments–see I Chron. 25"

    I presume that what you meant to say was that only certain of the Levites were the ones playing instruments. I have heard that argument before and when I have heard it used, the conclusion has been that the whole company of Israelites were not permitted to use instruments, but only those certain Levites commanded to do so.

    Of course, there are many elements of Levitical service that were not permitted to the rest of the Israelites: Transportation of the tabernacle, consecration, sacrifice, etc. However, one of the Mantras of the CoC is that we are a priesthood of believers: i.e. we are all priests authorized to draw near to God. This is one of our mantras against the ordination of clergy as we see in Caholicism, Orthodox and other branches of Christianity. If we truly believe that Christ's death eliminated the Levitical distinctions of the old Law, please explain to me how the argument regarding Levitical musicians applies to the modern discussion regarding instrumental music.

    Thanks,
    Brian Bergman

  46. Jody B says:

    Jesus Christ was crucified and rose from the dead. That makes HIM LORD of all who live. We are saved by grace through faith in HIM.

    Why are we still arguing over instrumental music?

  47. bradstanford says:

    Well, mostly because many have tied their salvation to it, and take it upon themselves to tie it to the salvation of others. In spite of the length, height, and depth of GraceConversation (and thousands of conversations before that), I believe the cause of the argument is that simple.

    But now that I've written that out, I'm guessing your question was supposed to be rhetorical…

  48. Jody B says:

    Nods head in agreement

  49. David Wolfe says:

    One has to wonder what the early church knew that we do not understand. Yes the saints met in the Temple in the early days of church life . . . and yes there may have been musical instruments at play. Yet, as the believers took on their new Christian identity . . . in time the congregations' worship style took on a distinctive character of its own . . . singing without the playing of musical instruments. The scriptures do not give us the full details, but we know this from history. There is a reason they did not play their musical instruments during their assemblies. These early Christians were also free in Christ . . . just as free as any of us think we are. But offer instrumental music to the Lord they did not. Nor did they accompany their singing with instruments. We should be more humble in the shadow of their example to us. I sense an overwhelming arrogant attitude from many of you who act like it doesn't matter to our Lord. It mattered to the saints of old. And believe me . . . their example for all ages carries great weight. The example of our contemporary brethren who flaunt their "freedom" carries no weight. There is a reason they did not use instruments in their worship. Their testimony to us has a reason. Jay, Mark, Paul, James, Brian, Larry, Gary, Todd . . . think!

  50. Larry Short says:

    David I have thought a lot. I favor acapella but will not divide over it because I see no inspired writing on this. Let me give you the most logical reason for voice only:
    "musical instruments were not used. The pipe, tabret, and harp here associate so intimately with the sensual heathen cults, as well as with the wild revelries and shameless performances of the degenerate theater and circus, it is easy to understand the prejudices against their use in the worship." (Augustine 354 A.D., describing the singing at Alexandria under Athanasius)
    I their time, they made the decision to be different than pagan temples. I'm fairly sure we do not have that problem today. However, I think being different than most secular concerts might be an advantage.
    The other problem on the early centuries was very few records on this. Many house churches and who knows how each did music.
    In Revelation they are playing harps at the throne of God several times. Is this a tease? Heaven OK but earth forbidden? Piney.com has a contrived explaination but it seems made up for me. I pray for your understanding.

  51. Jody B says:

    David, once again, does this have anything to do with the fact that Jesus lived and died and was resurrected? The broader issue is as Brad alluded before; people are tying their salvation to external indicators of Biblical adherance while racism, lust, greed, etc. carry on unabated in the heart. Just because one follows an interpretation more closely does not make them more righteous. Argument for or against a capella music is Pharisaism of the highest order and that is condemned by Jesus himself. Do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God. Stop defending human tradition and intellect.

  52. David Wolfe says:

    I am not proposing dividing over this issue. We can't divide over every issue. The strong should not isolate themselves from the weak. (And we are all strong aren't we? Who are these weak ones?)

    What I'm addressing is a weakness . . . a flaw . . . in the arguments proposed on this blog and by others. We are not listening to the testimony the early church left us. When one hears the arguments as stated above to legitimize musical instruments in our assemblies, there is a void of the testimony. In other words . . . the testimony has been stamped "VOID". The void is intertwined throughout the thoughts expressed. We are missing the “point” of their testimony. Others are lightly dismissing the testimony in favor of their hearts’ desires.

    There is nothing that the modern church can articulate that carries more weight than the testimony from the early believers. It is not reasonable to dismiss their testimony in favor of the desires of our hearts. Something is amiss. What are the early Christians . . . our early soul mates . . . crying out to tell us?

    We have learned that there is great benefit in having small groups worship and share their lives together. We call them Life groups . . . you may call them something else. The early church benefited from their small communities . . . their house meetings. Their testimony speaks to us, and we can hear it more audibly now than before. They were always trying to speak to us . . . but as a movement . . . we were not listening. We now know better than before that small groups are a catalyst for growth of new disciples . . . to disciple making . . . to godly transformation. We hear the voice of those first century Christians better now . . . right?

    What are our soul mates of old trying to tell us about our worship? We are missing the point of their testimony. What did they know that we do not understand? What are we not hearing as they cry out to us?

  53. Jay Guin says:

    David wrote,

    There is nothing that the modern church can articulate that carries more weight than the testimony from the early believers.

    Please consider the consequences of this teaching carefully. If we must always bow to the greater wisdom of the early, uninspired church, what are we opening ourselves up to? Monarchical bishops? Sprinkling? Infant baptism?

    You see, this is precisely the logic used by the Catholics and Orthodox to defend many of their practices. This is from the Catholic Encyclopedia —

    The Protestant principle is: The Bible and nothing but the Bible; the Bible, according to them, is the sole theological source; there are no revealed truths save the truths contained in the Bible; according to them the Bible is the sole rule of faith: by it and by it alone should all dogmatic questions be solved; it is the only binding authority. Catholics, on the other hand, hold that there may be, that there is in fact, and that there must of necessity be certain revealed truths apart from those contained in the Bible; they hold furthermore that Jesus Christ has established in fact, and that to adapt the means to the end He should have established, a living organ as much to transmit Scripture and written Revelation as to place revealed truth within reach of everyone always and everywhere.

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15006b.htm. In short, to give actual authority to the pronouncements of the uninspired early church is to teach one of the doctrines that most separates Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy from Protestantism. And — much more importantly — it's simply contrary to a respect for the scriptures as sufficient.

    Now, I find the Patristics of great value in my study. I'm willing to learn wisdom wherever I can find it. But there's no authority in the Patristics — none at all.

    But if you want to submit to the Patristics as of greater authority that current thought, you must not only sing a cappella, you must refuse to serve in the military, have a bishop over the eldership, baptize by sprinkling, serve the Lord's Supper as part of a common meal in house churches, in the evening, while conducting worship in the morning, sing by chanting, be baptized by triple immersion while naked … and there's more. I don't see how we'd get to pick and choose.

    I agree with the Restoration Movement teaching that we should be silent where the Bible is silent and the Reformation teaching of sola scriptura.

  54. David Wolfe says:

    I like your answer. I agree with you. I knew that! Yes I did too.

    But . . . I still believe their testimony is crying out to us . . . and that we should check our hearts desires with the testimony they give us. Most who advocate musical instruments advocate them because they want it. I think there is something our early brethren knew that we don't quite get. And for all we know . . . this applies to some or all of the other things you mention.

    You know . . . We could probably increase attendance if we baptized people naked.

  55. Still, the witness of early saints – some of whom met in catacombs and tombs – is not generally held to the same standard as scripture … generally regarded as traditions of men. They may well have had their reasons for a cappella worship (better volume control to avoid detection; setting their worship apart from pagan-style worship, etc.). And many of us have ours. If it had God's blessing in the old covenant, was never expressly repealed in the new, and has His favor in eternal heaven, then I can't see instrumental praise as anything to condemn others for practicing.

    Or to denigrate by saying, "they just want it," when it is clear to them that God wants it, too.

  56. Jay Guin says:

    David W,

    I agree that we should study and learn from the Patristics. I say the same regarding the Reformation leaders and the founders of the Restoration Movement. Our search for the truth of God's word must include the wisdom and experience of as many people as possible.

    But the goal is to discern the meaning of God's word — and therefore to never bind anything not found in his word. This is the true meaning of being silent where the Bible is silent.

    I strongly advocate against the notion that the Bible requires us to sing a cappella because, well, the Bible requires no such thing. However, my church — where I am an elder — is a cappella.

    Therefore, it's a mistake to suggest that those who argue as I argue do so because they want instrumental music — just as it would be a mistake for me to argue that those insisting on a cappella music do so because it suits their own tastes. I respect those who disagree enough to argue the merits of their position rather than presuming that they have bad motives.

    The early Christians gave their reasons for opposing the instrument. Not once did they argue from a lack of authority or the meaning of psallo. Rather, they argued that the instrument is Jewish or pagan.

    They were actually in error as to the Jews, as the synagogues were also a cappella. Only the temple was instrumental. I'm sure they were quite right regarding pagan practice — but that hardly carries the day today. There aren't many Zeus worshippers around here.

    The point is that they argued from culture, not scripture. And in their culture, I'm sure they acted wisely. We live in a very different culture today.

  57. David Wolfe says:

    I agree that the scriptures are sufficient and that nothing is binding that the scriptures do not bind. And certainly, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus who practice instrumental praise. Doesn’t that sound familiar? I really like what you (Jay and Keith) are saying. I agree with you and believe you have spoken in truth.

    Let me come at this from a different angle. I have always believed that the scriptures are sufficient and that we know what we need to know about the Covenant God has offered to us . . . we know what we need to know to have faith and to express that faith. But we did not sit at the feet of the Apostles and other early church leaders who were their contemporaries, like James the brother of Jesus, and Luke and Mark and others. Considering the volume of teaching that must have come from their lips, we actually have "heard" very little of what they taught. They were filled with the Spirit of God in ways we have never been. They saw things we have never seen. Many of them sat with Jesus . . . they sat with God! They heard God say things we have never heard.

    The Gospels plant an image in our minds that these leaders were slow . . . it seems like they never could quit get what Jesus was teaching. Yes they were slow . . . but they did “get it”. The New Testament writers were gifted . . . and we’re not talking Gifted and Talented. Imagine the wisdom and insight of the early church leaders. I think they shared their wisdom and insight with the primitive church. Yes . . . we know what we need to know. But isn't it likely that if we had sat at the feet of these leaders who heard God speak out loud and who were filled with the measure of the Spirit they had . . . that we would be somewhat more informed than we currently are . . . about something?

    That is why I'm wondering if the primitive church understood some things that we don't understand. Were they given some insight about changing the world? It may be that we cannot answer the question. We were not there.

    A distinctive mark of the primitive church was separation from the world. They were in the world but trying to be “not” of the world. (I know you know all this.) They did a much better job with this than we do today. They were radically different from the normal society. And the masses took note. Do you think this was an accident? Did these early church leaders put things in motion through their teachings and example . . . (all that stuff that was never writen down) . . . that formed the distinctiveness of the primitive church? Did they give instructions to the churches about showing Jesus to the world that we have lost? Did they teach a strategy for success that our minds are closed to?

    If the church was just now being established would we use a different approach? Would we try to be like the world to win them over to Christ? Or would we try to be “not” of this world. And what wisdom would our leaders give us? To be distinctive, what would they instruct us to do?

    This is what prompted the first question (first sentence) I wrote on 9/09/09. "One has to wonder what the early church knew that we do not understand." It may be that we won’t find the answer in the patristic writings. But someday . . . a light may turn on in the minds of those who are in Christ . . . and they will get it. And then maybe, they will change the world again.

  58. Will this help to raise my metabolism as well?

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