Muscle & Shovel”: Chapter 27B (Instrumental Music)

muscleshovelWe are considering Michael Shank’s book Muscle and a Shovel.

Chapter 27, continued

Randall illustrates the exclusionary principle that underlies the Regulative Principle —

“Mike, what did the Lord use in the communion meal?” I thought about it for a second and said, “Unleavened bread and wine from the fruit of the vine.” “That’s right Mr. Mike! But why not use meatloaf and ice-tea? Jesus didn’t say we couldn’t use them, did He?”

(Kindle Locations 5684-5688).

Can you believe that anyone would fall for that? I mean, using an instrument adds to the singing — it does not prevent the singing from happening. If you replace communion bread with meat loaf, you’ve not used the bread at all. There’s an obvious, huge difference between replacing a commanded element and adding to a commanded element.

In fact, the early church practiced the love feat or agape, which added a full meal to communion (e.g., Jude 12).

An excellent source book on early church practice is Everett Ferguson’s Early Christians Speak, vol. 1. Ferguson is a world-class expert in the Patristic literature, a professor at Abilene Christian, and a strong advocate for a cappella worship. He writes,

Jesus instituted the memorial of himself at the last supper in the context of a meal. It seems that a meal provided the most convenient context in which the Lord’s supper was observed by early Christians. … The Didache [late First Century] also sets the eucharist in the context of a common religious meal. The Roman governor Pliny [ca. AD 110-115] places the Christian gathering for a common meal at a separate time from the “stated” religious assembly.

Early Christians Speak, p. 130.

It was obviously okay to add to the Lord’s Supper. But doing something other than what is commanded is, of course, disobedience.

(And the Churches of Christ add many elements to their Five Acts of Worship, such as “the invitation,” “coming forward,” announcements, baptisms, confessions of sin, and placing membership — all traditionally done as part of the worship hour.)

Of course, there are times when doing more than is asked might be a mistake, but it’s hardly a universal rule. After all, the Law of Moses only commands the eating of unleavened bread and certain other foods at Passover (Exo 12; Num 9; Deu 16). The drinking of wine is not mentioned at all — and so it’s an addition — and yet Jesus drank the cups of wine at Passover because it was not wrong to add wine to the meal despite the lack of scriptural authority.

“You see, if I tell my kids to do a specific thing, I don’t need to give them a list of all the other thousands of things that I don’t want them to do at that moment. Why? Because my specific instruction excludes everything else.”

(Kindle Locations 5707-5709). Again, I’m astonished that Shank fell for this. If I tell my son to brush his teeth before going to bed, it’s actually okay for him to put on his pajamas, wash his hands and face, and get his teddy bear to prepare for bed. On the other hand, it would not be okay to climb out the window. (Actually, my kids are all grown up, but you get the point.)

You see, there is no supposed grammatical rule that excludes “everything else.” Context, custom, purpose, and all sorts of other things define what is or isn’t excluded, not some imagined law that “excludes everything else.” This just beyond absurd.

We then get the Nadab and Abihu argument — which I’ve actually found in the writings of John Calvin but no one earlier than him. This 16th Century argument is equally flawed because they used “strange fire,” not the fire of the altar that God lit himself and commanded them to use. They didn’t disobey a silence; they disobeyed a direct command.

According to Lev. 16:12 these coals had to be taken from the altar.

Gordon J. Wenham, The Book of Leviticus, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979), 155.

In short, they broke an express command, not a prohibition implied from silence. It’s a bad example.

The history of instrumental music

Randall next argues against instrumental music from church history.

“Hundreds of years after the Lord’s church began a large portion of the church fell away from the Truth into apostasy. Corrupt leaders formed the Catholic Church which was modeled after the existing governmental structure of Rome. They introduced instrumental music into church services along with many other unscriptural practices.”

(Kindle Locations 5757-5762). Here again we meet the old argument that anything that’s Catholic is surely sin. (It’s sheer bigotry and reveals an unlearned understanding of church history. It did not happen as he describes.)

Even though many early Christian writers opposed the instrument, not a single one opposed it because of the Regulative Principle. If we should follow the beliefs of the early, uninspired Christians, why not also following their reasoning?

Likely the earliest opponent of instrumental music was Clement of Alexandria late in the Second Century or early Third Century. And he opposed instruments because the military used them. He was a strict pacifist. (Chapter 4 of The Instructor, vol. II, “How to Conduct Ourselves at Feasts.”) And wasn’t even speaking in the context of worship but of banquets! — and the Churches of Christ generally allow instrumental music in banquets.

For, in truth, such instruments are to be banished from the temperate banquet, being more suitable to beasts than men, and the more irrational portion of mankind. For we have heard of stags being charmed by the pipe, and seduced by music into the toils, when hunted by the huntsmen. And when mares are being covered, a tune is played on the flute— a nuptial song, as it were. And every improper sight and sound, to speak in a word, and every shameful sensation of licentiousness — which, in truth, is privation of sensation— must by all means be excluded; and we must be on our guard against whatever pleasure titillates eye and ear, and effeminates.

If we are to accept him as having special knowledge of the apostles’ will, must we also be pacifists? And must we consider all instrumental music as effeminate?

And on it goes, with each early church father having a different stated reason for opposing instruments and none agreeing with the reasoning of Randall or the conservative Churches of Christ.

Moreover, the Churches of Christ have historically claimed to be “silent where the Bible is silent,” and so they’ve rejected arguments for infant baptism, a single bishop, and such like based on uninspired early church sources — until it suits a segment to violate our principles and claim that uninspired history reveals God’s will. I mean, you really can’t have it both ways.

And then there are the Christian hymns called the Odes of Solomon discovered relatively recently and dated to around the end of the First Century (not that the scholars are unanimous) — long before anyone wrote anything opposing instrumental music. Here are some verses —

Ode 7

And because of his salvation He will possess everything. And the Most High will be known by His holy ones:
To announce to those who have songs of the coming of the Lord, that they may go forth to meet Him and may sing to Him, with joy and with the harp of many tones. The Seers shall go before Him, and they shall be seen before Him.
And they shall praise the Lord in His love, because He is near and does see.

Ode 26

I poured out praise to the Lord, because I am His own.
And I will recite His holy ode, because my heart is with Him.
For His harp is in my hand, and the odes of His rest shall not be silent.
I will call unto Him with all my heart, I will praise and exalt Him with all my members.[1]

Also, Ephesians 5:19, which supposedly excludes instruments by silence, paraphrases Psalm 108.

(Eph 5:18-21 ESV)  18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,  19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,  20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,  21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

(Psa 108:1-4 ESV)  O God! I will sing and make melody with all my being!  2 Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn!  3 I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.  4 For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

Paul, a Jewish rabbi, quoted from Psalm 108 in writing Ephesians 5:19. If he’d intended to ban instruments by silence, it’s sure a strange choice of a psalm to quote.

It’s especially strange when you realize that the Jewish approach to citing an Old Testament source was to quote a small part, intending to reference the full context, because they lacked chapter and verse numbers.

To increase the impact of a statement, rabbis would quote part of a Scripture and then let their audience fill in the rest.

Ann Spangler & Lois Tverberg, Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus: How the Jewishness of Jesus Can Transform Your Faith, p. 38. Far from indicating that the omitted text does not apply, the omitted text often contains the very point the rabbi wants to make!

Finally, it should be obvious that if we were to read Eph 5:18-21 as a single sentence (as in the Greek, KJV, and ESV and contrary to the NIV) that the command is not “sing”  but “be filled with the Spirit,” and the four participles that hang on the command each give an example of what being filled with the Spirit would produce in us.

be filled with the Spirit,  19 addressing one another … , singing and making melody … ,  20 giving thanks … ,  21 submitting to one another … .

Therefore, in context, the “command” to sing is no command at all but an example of what being filled with the Spirit will do in us — and so it’s not exclusive because the Spirit does far, far more. Who knows? It might even move us to wake the dawn with a harp and a lyre, as it did for David. Or maybe the Spirit would move us to sing to God accompanied by a harp, as the author of the Odes of Solomon was moved.

To clinch his argument, Randall quotes various Reformation leaders as rejecting instruments — but it’s just so hypocritical to cite as authoritative these men whom Randall earlier declared damned and only interested in pleasing people, rather than Jesus, just a few chapters ago. I mean, he quotes John Wesley, who founded the Methodist Church, and who, according to Randall, is an apostate burning in hell. His rejection of the instrument would seem to argue against that conclusion, since he’s supposedly an apostate.

And frankly, if Randall were to read everything taught by the same early church fathers who argue against the instrument, he’d likely consider them damned as well. For example, regarding Clement of Alexandria, the Wikipedia states,

Clement argues for the equality of sexes, on the grounds that salvation is extended to all of mankind equally. Unusually, he suggests that Christ is neither male or female, and that God the Father has both male and female aspects: the eucharist is described as milk from the breast (Christ) of the Father. …

Clement then digresses to the subject of sin and hell, arguing that Adam was not perfect when created, but given the potential to achieve perfection. He espouses broadly universalist doctrine, holding that Christ’s promise of salvation is available to all, even those condemned to hell. …

Among the particular ideas Photius deemed heretical were:

  • His belief that matter and thought are eternal, and thus did not originate from God, contradicting the doctrine of Creatio ex nihilo.
  • His belief in cosmic cycles predating the creation of the world, following Heraclitus, which is extra-Biblical in origin.
  • His belief that Christ, as Logos, was in some sense created, contrary to John 1 but following Philo.
  • His ambivalence towards docetism, the heretical doctrine that Christ’s earthly body was an illusion.
  • His belief that Eve was created from Adam’s sperm after he ejaculated during the night.
  • His belief that Genesis 6:2 implies that angels indulged in coitus with human women. In orthodox Catholic theology, angels are considered genderless.

And Clement is likely the earliest uninspired writer to criticize the use of instrumental music. We have no business making doctrine based on these uninspired sources at all, and we certainly shouldn’t make the assumption that these men were close enough to the apostles to know what they taught beyond what is recorded in the scriptures. It’s obvious that these early but uninspired writings are not always filled with apostolic wisdom.

_________________________

[1] There are other Odes of Solomon in which “harp” is clearly a metaphor for the human voice, and so it’s argued by some to be true here. However, the reference to worshiping God with “all my members” and “His harp is in my hand” indicate the use of more than just the voice.

Profile photo of Jay Guin

About Jay 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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27 Responses to Muscle & Shovel”: Chapter 27B (Instrumental Music)

  1. Royce says:

    There are lots of glaring holes in the theology and doctrine of the ultra conservative wing of the churches of Christ. This is perhaps the silliest. I’ll never forget asking an elder about this when I first came to Louisiana. I asked what Bible passages the belief was based on. When he told me my astonished reply was “Is that it?” He went on to tell me about the silence principle which was even weaker than than his Scriptural reason. It defies logic but evidently some people believe that if a piano is playing people are not singing. (By the way, you are precisely correct about the context of “singing” in the passage…) If I am singing, I am singing with or without an instrument.

    Our congregation is acapella and the singing is beautiful and rich. It is our heritage, it feels more primitive, more pure somehow. But we would never tell anyone that the reason we do it is because the Bible says we must, it simply does not.

  2. John says:

    I have often asked myself if I were a non-Christian, visiting a worship service for the first time,one which used the instrument, would the instrument seem out of step with a first reading of scripture, would it seem any more out of place than anything else, such as the building itself, a steeple, pulpits or baptisties with a scene of the Jordan River painted on its wall? I realize that question is a big “if”, but a fair one. And my answer would be “No”.

    Also, there is the use of the pitch pipe, probably one of the most UNnecessary aids ever used; my opinion, of course. I do know that this is something that strikes a nerve, simply because there are so many song directors who love to show their skill as to which key to “toot” on. But all outsiders who have ever visited a CoC service and witnessed the pitch pipe and asked “What’s the difference” were ususally more honest and knowledgeable in their question than the answer they recieved.

  3. Price says:

    I’ve never gotten a response to where was the command to REMOVE instruments from worship. God Himself commanded their use apart from the Law.. Who spoke for God and had them removed ?

    I’ve also recently wondered why Paul would use the illustration of a musical instrument when correcting the tongues without interpretations in the assembly… [1Cr 14:7 ESV] 7 If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played?” It may be a stretch to assume that Paul was indicating that they used flute and harp in the assembly but he does in fact assume they understand what they are, and why they are used, and that they would understand the difficulty of recognizing a song if the instrument was not properly played.

  4. Eric says:

    First, I cannot express how much I appreciate this series. I have departed from the non-institutional Church of Christ way of thinking, and this book (ironically because Shank is not non-institutional) was suggested to me in an effort to win me back. The theology in the book made me angry at first, but then when considered objectively, I thought many of the things that you have articulated so very well. Thank you.

    One question about this post… RE: Lev. 16:12.. Lev. 16:1 says that those words were spoken after Nadab and Abihu died. So, couldn’t it be said that the prohibition on fire from another source came after their sin, and that they should have known based on silence.

    I agree with your conclusion, but I’m asking, honestly, how does Lev. 16:12 apply to what Nadab and Abihu did in light of Lev. 16:1?

    Thank you again.

  5. laymond says:

    Jay said, “There’s an obvious, huge difference between replacing a commanded element and adding to a commanded element.”

    Jay, I firmly believe the Lord’s last supper was a “covenant of salt” I have attended CoC churches that say the partaking of the bread and wine is the renewing of the covanant between the Christian and his Lord Jesus Christ, although I see no reason for renewing an eternal friendship every week, I do believe that is the purpose for weekly communion.

    COVENANT OF SALT

    solt (berith melach; halas, classical Greek hals):

    As salt was regarded as a necessary ingredient of the daily food, and so of all sacrifices offered to Yahweh (Leviticus 2:13), it became an easy step to the very close connection between salt and covenant-making. When men ate together they became friends. Compare the Arabic expression, “There is salt between us”; “He has eaten of my salt,” which means partaking of hospitality which cemented friendship; compare “eat the salt of the palace” (Ezra 4:14). Covenants were generally confirmed by sacrificial meals and salt was always present. Since, too, salt is a preservative, it would easily become symbolic of an enduring covenant. So offerings to Yahweh were to be by a statute forever, “a covenant of salt for ever before Yahweh” (Numbers 18:19). David received his kingdom forever from Yahweh by a “covenant of salt” (2 Chronicles 13:5). In the light of these conceptions the remark of our Lord becomes the more significant: “Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace one with another” (Mark 9:50).

    Edward Bagby Pollard

  6. laymond says:

    I was just saying I don’t see where scripture says no instruments, or no changing of the menu.

  7. Ray Downen says:

    It’s good to read that members of the Church of Christ (Anti-Instrument) are beginning to realize that there is no anti-instrument law in apostolic writings. Jesus clearly calls for us all to love one another and to work TOGETHER for Him. I’m a member of the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ. So are those who do NOT hold to laws added to the Scriptures, but who do love Jesus and who seek to follow Him as Lord. Many friends of Jay Guin are no longer members of the anti-instrumental Church of Christ. They can’t be if they agree with what Jay has written in this post. Many of our congregations still hold to the name “Church of Christ.” We feel Christian Church is equally descriptive of His ownership of our congregations, but are comfortable being thought of as a church “of Christ.” He is Lord of all.

  8. John says:

    Eric,

    I can relate what you have gone through. When I left the CoC nearly thirty years ago, a family member kept asking me to read “Why I Am a Member of the Church of Christ”. Which was quite ironic since I already owned the book and had read it numerous times, something of which the family member was well aware.

    Also, whenever I would go south and visit family I would attend Sunday worship with family at a CoC out of respect. I can recall numerous times when the preacher would mention a “First Principle”, something I had heard since being old enough to understand a sermon, and other people sitting near by would glance over my way, hoping to see the reaction, “Oh, my, it is the truth after all!!”

    Sad, is it not, how people steeped in narrow legalism can find it unbelievable that anyone could actually walk away from “the truth”?

  9. R.J. says:

    Eric

    I can’t speak for Jay but let me chim in. I believe the “strange fire” they offered was simply a metaphor of their insolent hearts. I believe Lev. 10:3 reveals that they deliberately attempted to profane the good name of Yahweh. This was no technicality at all. But an arrogant maneuver to commit open sacrilege!

    Plus I don’t think Moses intended Leviticus to be chronological but I could be wrong.

  10. R.J. says:

    Where did my comment go?

  11. Re “adding to a command”

    A couple of weeks ago, my 95-year old Mom was told by her doctor to use her walker when in her home. She, being thoroughly trained in 20th century Church of Christ hermeneutic, understood this to mean ONLY in the house, which is not at all what the doctor meant.

  12. R.J. says:

    Opps…nevermind:)

    Just out of curiousity. Are there any Independant Christian Churches that are acappella by choice?

  13. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Eric,

    Excellent question — and I did fail to explain myself as well as I should have.

    The story of Nadab and Abihu is in Lev 10. The explanation given is —

    (Lev 10:1 ESV) Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, which he had not commanded them.

    (Lev 10:1 KJV) And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.

    Had there been no command as to which fire to use, there would have been no sin. In fact, the usual CoC CENI argument is that they used fire other than the fire commanded and so whatever fire they used is excluded by the “law of exclusion.”

    Wayne Jackson writes in the Christian Courier (a conservative CoC doctrinal site, perhaps the most popular among that segment of the Churches)–

    The “Strange Fire” Incident

    Nadab and Abihu were sons of Aaron, the first Hebrew high priest. When they employed “strange fire” (i.e., fire not taken from the altar of sacrifice; cf. Leviticus 16:12) they were destroyed by God. What was their crime? The inspired text states that they offered “that which [God] had not commanded them” (Leviticus 10:1), or, to express it in another way: “[T]hey offered unauthorized fire before the Lord” (NIV; emphasis added).

    We agree that God wanted fire from the altar used, and he notes Lev 16:12 with a “cf” to indicate that it’s not direct authority for his statement (as I should have done).

    I think, but cannot prove, that the statement of laws in Lev 16 repeated laws previously given by God but not recorded in the Torah to avoid a repetition. Cf.Num 16:46; Rev 8:5. (Not that the Torah always avoids repetition!)

    It is better to follow the general opinion, and take the expression just as it, is given, making their sin to have consisted in offering strange fire, that is fire other than that commanded. “The chief thing is that the strange or common fire forms a contrast to the fire of the Sanctuary.” Lange. So Rosenmüller, Outram (l. xvi. 13), and others. In 6:12 it is required that the fire should be always burning upon the altar, and as this fire was for the consumption of the sacrifices, it would naturally be understood for the burning of the incense; in 16:12 it is expressly prescribed for the incense on the great day of atonement, and it became a part of the symbolism of the sanctuary service (Rev. 8:5). The fact that no command on this point of detail is anywhere recorded does not preclude the supposition that such a command had been given. At all events, the general principle of exact conformity to the Divine commands should have prevented Nadab and Abihu from offering “strange” or uncommanded fire before the LORD.

    John Peter Lange, Philip Schaff, and Frederic Gardiner, A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Leviticus (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 82.

    And so the point is that Lev 10:1 says there had been a command, which Jackson and most conservative CoC commentators agree with.

    But it’s the whole “gopher wood” fallacy repeated. Doing something CONTRARY to a command is a sin. Of course. And they obviously didn’t use fire from the altar. Doing something in addition to the command can be entirely acceptable (but not always — there is no black and white rule).

  14. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    RJ,

    I can’t answer as to the current situation, but around 1906, the denominational split was largely over instruments and missionary societies (forgotten today but just as big as IM back then). Some churches that approved IM rejected the missionary society and so used a piano or organ while not participating the societies. And a few approved missionary societies but not IM — and so they supported missionaries through the society (non-profit corporation) and sang a cappella.

    Many “Churches of Christ” were in each of the four resulting camps, and even today there are plenty of Churches of Christ that use IM but are in fellowship with the independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ. My mother-in-law’s funeral was in a Church of Christ with a piano and Christian Standard literature.

    This autonomy thing makes generalizations difficult.

  15. Brian Humek says:

    Our congregations was going to have Shank speak. He had to cancel for some reason. I was kinda of happy. My wife told me about his book and she said it was sort of similar to a ministry/biographical book named Purple Ducks. While Purple Ducks is about belonging and how the church has a central role in the matter but sometimes fails to embrace people and allow them to belong, I researched Muscle and Shovel and saw it was the opposite. It was about exclusion and what amazed me most was the amazon reviews seemed to be almost 100% positive. Talk about a clannish community or cult following the author has, it was scary. He seemed to respond to a few negative reviews but then deleted his own comments. I’ve since read some of his book, but won’t waste any more time. I can just pick up an old copy of the Spiritual Sword and read the same thing.

  16. Besides this contrast between “adding” vs “replacing” a command, there is the whole matter of insisting that every detail of said command is as critical as the overall command itself. I actually heard a sister on Facebook opine that if Noah had included any oak on the Ark, then the Ark most certainly would have sunk. (You can’t make stuff like this up. Maybe this explains the fate of the Spanish Armada…)

    Is every detail critical to meeting God’s expectation as scripture reveals it? Jesus tells me that if I have something against my brother, to leave my gift on the altar and go be reconciled to him. Obviously, if my congregation doesn’t HAVE an altar, then I will have to wait for them to BUILD one before I can be reconciled. Otherwise, I won’t be leaving my gift where Jesus said to leave it, and the whole thing will just get me in trouble with God. And this instruction clearly applies only to men who offend me. Women get a pass. Or I don’t have to be reconciled to them. Not sure which.

    And as to church discipline, if your brother won’t listen to your witnesses, and your congregation does not have elders, the whole process has to be suspended until you GET some elders. The statute of limitations on this is not clearly stated. And don’t even get me started on “take a little wine for your stomach’s sake”, which is an imperative being broadly ignored by large sections of the church, who have replaced (yes, REPLACED, I say) obedience to Paul’s clear command with modern innovations such as Pepto-Bismol– a doctrine of demons if ever there was one. That stuff is nasty.

  17. It occurs to me at this point that I would really like to meet this “Randall”. Wonder if he does speaking engagements like Shank does?

  18. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Brian,

    I’m not familiar with Purple Ducks: Reflections on Why in the World We Want to belong, but any book well reviewed by John Dobbs sounds like a good book to me.

    And, yes, nothing could be further from Purple Ducks than Muscle & Shovel. I’ve added it to my Wish List. And I do have a birthday coming up.

  19. Brian Humek says:

    Is there a way you can connect with me via email? It’s about your birthday : )

  20. Stewart says:

    I don’t like instrumental music in worship. I can’t find a valid biblical argument against it, it’s just a matter of preference based on the experiences I have had. And yes, I know that’s a stupid, silly reason to be against something, but I also don’t pretend it’s anything BUT a personal preference.

    Worship shouldn’t be about pleasing ourselves. Worship should be about pleasing God.

    All the instrumental services I’ve been to have been “lyrics only” on the projector. I’ve heard some incredibly gifted musicians perform, but the singing part is … bland somehow. Maybe they only show the lyrics because they don’t want to intimidate anyone into thinking they have to sing it “just so”, but c’mon… Throw some notes on the screen for the people that know what to do with them! (I’m far too young to be such a crotchety old man…)

  21. Ray Downen says:

    I noted one oddity: “It was obviously okay to add to the Lord’s Supper. But doing something other than what is commanded is, of course, disobedience.” But every time in apostolic writings that the church shared the emblems it was as part OF a supper, a meal. They ate together partly to be sure that all members had food. It’s never recorded that they met to worship. Paul suggests they met to edify one another, with each free to take part in the edifying. Those who serve a sip of wine and a bit of bread are the ones who have taken away from the Lord’s SUPPER, and usually nowadays serve their mini-supper just before the noon meal which they most often do not share together. In apostolic times the “Lord’s Supper” was a MEAL during which the drink and the bread were made memorials of the blood and body of Jesus. No mention in apostolic writings of a worship service at any time for Christians. No mention in apostolic writings of a ritual (ceremony) consisting of just a bit of bread and a sip of wine for each person.

    Any “Church of Christ” is free to be non-sectarian and associate with other free congregations as part of the “Christian Churches/Churches of Christ” fellowship. Any church with ANY name which honors Jesus is free to associate with us, assuming that their goal is to honor Jesus in obeying apostolic teachings and practice. Such churches are welcome to send information about their location and personnel to “our” Directory of the Ministry in Springfield, Illinois, and it will be published as a help to seekers after non-denominational congregations anywhere in the world.

  22. hist0ryguy says:

    Jay,
    Oh brother… you are too sick and I am too busy to talk about IM vs. AC. Thanks for a link to my old but good questions. I don’t think you have dealt with their force, and I am sure you don’t think I have done what is needed to see things your way, but we press on.

    I was going to make a post, but don’t have time this morning. Perhaps I can return later today. I pray your pain is going away.

  23. arkie55 says:

    I agree with Charles about Pepto-Bismol…

  24. kristintcooper@gmail.com says:

    This website has been so helpful to me. I grew up predominately Baptist and now go to a “non-denominational” church but started dating a guy from CoC. We have been debating these very facts and I started reading “muscle and Shovel” which at times, infuriates me. I have met several times with his pastor and have argued over instrumental music use, original sin, baptism etc. but I just wanted to say thank you for this site and the time you took to put into it. Interestingly though, although my bf’s pastor is willing to meet anytime anywhere to study the Bible I have been having a really hard time getting a pastor from my church to come out and study as well. That is what has been most frustrating to me. I just need help discussing these points. but anyway, thank you!

  25. Dwight says:

    The regulative principle is based upon the concept that God regulated worship among the Jews, but it needs to be pointed out that God regulated everything among the Jews when He did regulate. God regulated moral laws and then God regulated daily things, such as cleansing after certain things, even to the point of what type of animals to not eat. This should be hammered more than it is. In regards to eating restrictions, they could not eat certain animals, but there are no commands about eating vegetables or fruits, so does this mean that vegetables and fruits were unscriptural due to silence. If this applies to then, then this applies today as well. God gave commands on many things in the OT in regards to living in general, but these commands are lacking in the NT, so does that make them good or bad? This where the silence leads.
    Also as pointed out God allowed man the ability to worship along side of God’s commanded worship, adding to, but not changing. Two feast were added to the God commanded feast rotation for the Jews and God/Jesus and apostles didn’t comment or condemn, even attending.

  26. Dwight says:

    All of the arguments used against IM are very weak and non-applicable arguments. The arguments about adding, using examples like Noah-gopher wood and strange fire are not arguments about adding to, but rather changing. I know many that argue that to use any kind of wood other than gopher wood was sinful, but since tools were not mentioned Noah could use any tool he wanted to get the job done, but this argument is based on God’s silence and allowance. In regards to IM God is not silent in the OT, but approves, but is relatively silent in the NT and then we argue that this silence is God changing His mind from approval to disapproval. This could be applied to so many things as to keep us bound up in Pharisaism for years and years in regards to things God previously approved of and even dissaproved of and then said relatively nothing so as to indicate that God no longer approves or dissaproves of those things. Laws will be made where no Law existed.

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