Baptism: New Wineskins Issue

85New Wineskins is in the process of posting a series of articles about the boundaries of fellowship. I’ve written an article on baptism scheduled to go live tomorrow.

The articles in this issue already posted are listed in the table of contents for the issue. You’ll notice articles by Royce Ogle, Keith Brenton, Gary Holloway, and Scott Simpson already up.

I’m presently engaged in a discussion with Scott Simpson over there, because I just utterly disagree with his thinking.

If you choose to comment on my article or others, you may find it difficult, because a bug in the software sometimes makes it impossible to comment from within Internet Explorer. However, I’ve found the software works from within Chrome or Firefox – both of which are free downloads and excellent  web browsers.

New Wineskins: HistoryGuy’s Questions, Part 2

The law and the Spirit

Some will read the preceding post and find an implicit command to use the instrument. That would be a misunderstanding of the nature of the gospel and the assembly.

Yes, there are incidental references to the psalms that, rightly construed, would permit the use of instruments. But they should not be understood as commands to use the instrument any more than as commands not to use the instrument. The point of the passages is to celebrate the Messiah and the arrival of God’s kingdom. The means of celebration are elastic. Continue reading

New Wineskins: HistoryGuy’s Questions, Part 1

HistoryGuy posed some challenging questions in the comments. I thought I’d try my hand at a response.

(1) What is your evidence that the Ephesians of Paul’s day used instrumental music?

There is no evidence that conclusively says they did or did not use instrumental music. The possibility that instrumental music was used is suggested by Paul’s command to sing “psalms,” which were written to be sung to instruments. Psalmos refers to an accompanied song. Continue reading

New Wineskins, In Reply to Kyle Pope (What Keeps Us From …?)

If faith working through love is the only standard, then what keeps us from … ?

In a classic argument for the Regulative Principle, Kyle asks,

Alright, if we can do this with instrumental music, to what else can we apply this “better hermeneutic?”  What other things (that the Lord has said nothing about) can I add to worship?  Shall we dance in worship?  Shall we have wrestling matches?  Where do we draw the line?  Why is it so hard to imagine that if God was pleased with something in the First Century, He can be pleased with it now?  I suppose I just don’t understand.

The argument proceeds from the false dichotomy that silences are either permissions or prohibitions. But, of course, it’s entirely possible that some silences are permissions and some silences are prohibitions — that is, that the standard isn’t about authority or lack thereof but something else entirely. Who decided that the pivot-point must be authority? Who decided that New Testament worship is about what is and isn’t authorized? Continue reading

New Wineskins, In Reply to Kyle Pope (Faith Only?)

Faith only?

Kyle argues —

The original text doesn’t say “only.”  Just as Ephesians 2:8 doesn’t say “through faith only.”  Yes, faith working through love is the heart of the gospel, but can we take this to the extreme?  Can I murder someone in faith because I felt I was acting through love? Of course not!  But why?  Because Scripture defines love, just as Scripture defines faith.  What is love for God?  Jesus said, “If you love Me you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

Let’s look at the original text. Continue reading