Yeakley States that Churches of Christ Are in Decline; Richland Hills In No Man’s Land

Several months ago, Flavil Yeakley, the unofficial statistician for the Churches of Christ, released a report called “Good News and Bad News for the Churches of Christ.” Although the numbers showed the Churches to be in decline (as reported first in this blog), the text of the report did not mention this fact, and many articles and blogs emphasized just the good news.

The Christian Chronicle now reports that 21st Century Christian’s 2009 edition of Churches of Christ in the United States shows a statistically significant decline —

In the newly released directory, 21st Century Christian identifies 12,629 a cappella Churches of Christ with 1,578,281 adherents nationwide. 

Those figures represent 526 fewer churches and 78,436 fewer people in the pews than just six years ago.

“While I do not want to say that the sky is falling — at least not yet — I do think this should be a concern for all Christians,” said Carl Royster, who compiled the data for the Nashville, Tenn.-based publisher.

Until now, Flavil Yeakley, director of the Harding Center for Church Growth in Searcy, Ark., has maintained that after decades of growth, Church of Christ membership in the U.S. actually plateaued about 1980, with insignificant annual increases or decreases since then.

“The decline since 2003, however, is statistically significant and, I believe, important,” Yeakley said.

Now, I don’t astonish all that easily, but I was astonished to learn that the publication, which lists all Churches of Christ in the US, decided to declare Richland Hills and other churches with both a cappella and instrumental services to not be Churches of Christ. I mean, are you kidding?? This is the same publishing house that published I Just Want to be a Christian by Rubel Shelly. It’s published many important progressive books. It’s perceived as a progressive publishing house. And now it decides Richland Hills isn’t a Church of Christ? And just who give them that right??

However, this (incredibly bad) decision did not create the decline in numbers.

Some of the decline can be explained by 21st Century Christian’s decision to remove from the directory churches that have added one or more instrumental worship services on Sunday morning.
Among the excluded congregations: the 5,200-member Richland Hills church in Texas, which had been listed as the nation’s largest Church of Christ in 2006 and previous editions of the directory, published every three years.

But the removal of 21 congregations that offer instrumental services accounts for only 4 percent of the drop in number of churches and 23 percent of the decrease in adherents, Yeakley said. “The rest of the decline cannot be attributed to the instrumental music issue,” he said.

The really telling statistic is the drop in number of children.

In Yeakley’s view, the most telling statistic is a 7 percent drop in the total number of children in Churches of Christ.

You see, if you’re losing children even faster than you’re losing members, well, the future looks pretty bleak.

The Richland Hills congregation is none too happy about being excluded —

But Richland Hills’ elders have not broken ties with Churches of Christ, nor did they ask to be excluded from the 2009 directory, Washburn said.

“From a church standpoint, we’re saddened and disappointed,” Washburn said of Richland Hills’ removal from the book. “We strongly feel like we are a part of Churches of Christ and continue a strong love for — and commitment to — excellent a cappella worship.

Meanwhile, several other partly instrumental congregations, such as Quail Springs Church of Christ, remain in the book. The editors explain that they meant to purge all instrumental churches from the  unofficial listing but overlooked a few.

Including churches with instruments is problematic because “the directory has always been a list of a cappella congregations,” Lynn said. “The exclusion of instrumental churches has not been on theological grounds.”

When a cappella churches add instruments, they resemble the instrumental churches of the Restoration Movement, which have separate directories. 

“What’s happened is you’ve got a few churches in no man’s land,” Lynn said.

“No man’s land”? And so it appears to be the policy of 21st Century Christian that if a church adds an instrumental music service, it’s a part of the Christian Churches. There are those who’d agree, but they’re all wrong.

In practical terms, Richland Hills remains involved with Church of Christ institutions, colleges, missions, and such. So do many other churches have been been purged. And without a doubt, those who attend those congregations think of themselves as part of the Churches of Christ.

To suggest, as Mac Lynn does, that this is not a theological decision is, I think, suspect. I don’t buy it. 

I mean, Lynn has decided that if you use an instrument, you are not a part of the Churches of Christ even if your preacher speaks at the Abilene and Lipscomb lectureships, your children attend Harding and Abilene, your elders attend ElderLink, and you support only Church of Christ missionaries. 

Well, that’s not a sociological conclusion. Nor does it reflect the way real churches work together. It’s a theological conclusion. And a very bad one — one that’s unworthy of a publishing house like 21st Century Christian. 

And we wonder why we aren’t growing? Well, bayoneting our own is one reason. Forcing division down the throats of those who don’t want division is another.

I am appalled.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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80 Responses to Yeakley States that Churches of Christ Are in Decline; Richland Hills In No Man’s Land

  1. Royce says:

    I just posted on the same subject at Grace Digest.

    North Richland Hills is no longer a coC congregation according to 21st Century Christian. What a shame!


  2. Alan says:

    On one level this could be called a political decision. But those interchurch politics are driven by bad theology. I think the ultra-conservatives are painting themselves in a corner. If current trends continue, they will end up owning the "church of Christ" brand, and will die out as their members (or their kids) become increasingly dissatisfied with their decsions.

    The rest of us have a new opportunity to be Christians only, once again. We can continue to support the institutions, and by sheer numbers will eventually "own" them.

    The division is painful and harmful to the cause of Christ. But Jesus' prayer for unity ultimately will be answered. We'll be all right.

  3. Nick Gill says:

    From the moderator of a list of which I'm a member:

    "A capella worship has long been one of the criteria they used to determine inclusion in their directory. Look in the 2006 book and you'll see that made explicitly clear. Those who object to RH being removed are free to publish their own directory if they choose.

    "That said, fellowship is determined by God, not by book publishers. In this case, in my opinion, the book publishers are on the side of the angels, but i know others disagree.

    "Realistically, in the church today, there are three groups with regard to the use of instrumental music: (1) a relatively small number of pro-IM people who are pushing for its use in some congregations; (2) larger groups of non-IM people who don't think it's wrong, but who don't favor its use in the congregation where they worship, either for aesthetic reasons or for the sake of peace and harmony; and (3) anti-IM people who do believe IM is sinful in worship because it is an unauthorized addition to the worship Scripture ordains for the church.

    "I have no hesitation in including myself in group #3 … and that is the view that has historically characterized churches of Christ."

    This moderator blogs at

    After one member mentioned that the directory is being rather, well, inconsistent in its fellowship decisions, I recommended that everyone read "Facing Our Failures."

  4. Alan says:

    The directory made such a bad decision once before when they excluded pre-millenial congregations for many years. They only recently rescinded that decision.

  5. Thank goodness, as the book publisher said, fellowship is determined by God!

  6. Tim Archer says:

    Well, I find myself in an unusual position. Normally I would join the outcry, but I've found myself going against the stream today. The directory says in its introduction that it's a listing of a cappella churches. We may not want that, may not like that, but that's what it is.

    The description on the website says: "Beginning and continuing since 1973, this book represents an ongoing effort to provide a compilation of current information relative to those congregations aligned with the "Restoration Movement" which are known for their a cappella worship."

    Is Richland Hills known for their a cappella worship? If so, then yes, they should be in the book. If not, well folks, you're barking up the wrong book! (for those who like mixed metaphors)

  7. Joe Baggett says:

    Well finally we have official what some of us have been saying for 15-20 years. The delusion has lifted. But people will not do anything with it though. They will explain it away as “unfertile soil” as they Chronicle mentions. This could not be further from the truth.
    Alan I must respectfully disagree with you. The idea of the middle of the road congregations is a myth derived from turmoil of last couple of decades within the churches of Christ. While some congregations may be theologically more open than other the true dichotomy is institutionalism. I am not referring to congregations that don’t have bible classes. I am referring to the institutions like the universities, schools of preaching and para-church organizations such as World Bible School. Religious Institutionalism is dying a slow death because intuitional loyalty has been dying slow death as well. The emerging generations don’t go to a church because of the name on the outside of the building just like they don’t use AT&T just because they helped win WWII. All major conservative evangelical groups are going through the same thing. Our brothers in the independent Christian churches have the same problem whether they want to admit it or not even though they are growing numerically. The emerging generations do not buy into the traditional theology of churches of Christ and many other traditional conservative religious groups. They see it as inconsistent, arrogant and against God’s character. We were taught to study the scriptures for ourselves and when we did we did not come to same conclusions. Please understand that institutional religious groups such as Baptist, church of Christ, Presbyterian etcetera or denominations as we have traditionally understood a group of congregations that have the same sign on the outside of the building, train their ministers in the same theological educational institutions, send their children to Universities that are affiliated financially through supporting congregations with same name on the outside of the building them is a thing of the past. If you want a glimpse of what institutional religion looks like after post modernism just look at Japan, or Western Europe where less than 7% of populations attend church regularly at traditional church building with a sign on the outside says Methodist, Baptist church of Christ etcetera.

  8. mark says:

    What most of stats imply is linear decline. However what I see is an exponential decline. I know that’s a play on some mathematical terminology. But simply put how many 500 blocks of churches can we lose before we don’t exist? Then again if this is political and I am more than sure it is the numbers don’t mean a whole lot. The phrase “no mans land” clearly testifies to our loss theology and dance to lure our own.

  9. jdb says:

    OK, I will admit that I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer (especially in this crowd). 😉 However, what am I missing? I've used the book in the past. I've done research out of the book in the past. I've seen churches included that would not sit well with some congregations I've preached for. Groups like the PM; OC (with it's four subgroups); ME; NI, etc. etc. etc.

    Those groups were signified with the above letters. I remember when the Discipling Movement was still seen as a part of us and they were signified with a DM next to the church. (They were removed because they separated from us). OK, getting to wordy, time to get to the point:

    Don't the groups blackballed from the book still have acappella assemblies? I realize that they have also included instrumental assemblies, but doesn't the fact that they still offer acappella assemblies allow them to be seen as a part of the group? Why not just add a IM next to their name and be done with it?

    Now, for the record, I would be uncomfortable in a congregation that added an instrumental assembly. I might even move to another congregation. But I do not assume the right to be the judge of who is and who is not a church of Christ.

    (Sorry so wordy)

  10. CDG says:

    I find it interesting that almost everyone's comments so far are about the instrumental music issue and who's in the directory and who's not. What about the more significant issue of the dramatic decrease in congregations and members? It is ridiculous for the publisher of a directory that everyone uses to exclude the largest church of Christ because they have an instrumental assembly. This is one reason why you're declining instead of growing. Your primary focus is on who is doing worship right instead of how to convert more people to Christ. It's always been that way whether it is comfortable to admit to that or not. I grew up in the c of C and it's always been about legalism, trying to convince people that you're the only ones going to heaven, you're the only ones who do church "right", etc. You judge other churches as not being "right" and declare that you cannot "fellowship" with them because they don't do church the "right" way.

    All of that may be fine for the older generation or those dwindling number of younger generation people who cannot break with their parent's and grandparents ideas. But for a younger generation and those who have moved beyond legalism, it doesn't work. People want a church that is relevant, loving, Christ-centered. A place where their kids will be taught about Jesus according to the Bible, not according to someone's idea of how religion should be done. I'm sure there are some churches of Christ who do this but they are few in number. Most of the congregations are small congregations composed primarily of older people. I know of several that probably won't be around in a few years after everyone dies. I suspect a lot of this decline is due to the older generation passing away and not enough younger generation people to make up for it because most of these churches are not evangelizing. With a few exceptions, congregations that are so excited about their growth are getting the growth as the result of church of Christ people changing congregations, not because they're doing such a great job of attracting unchurched people in the community.

    And then you have the congregations that force something new, like instrumental worship, on people who don't want it and a big chunk of them leave. Adding an instrumental worship service is not the solution to attracting non-Christian people in the community and those who have convinced themselves otherwise probably have their own motives for wanting instrumental music. If instrumental music was the answer, the thousands of unchurched people out in the world could easily find a church with instrumental music. They're not sitting around waiting on the church of Christ to add an instrumental service so they can suddenly start going to church. I think this is just as a bad as saying that instrumental music is sinful. Those who decide to follow Christ are not making that life-changing decision based on whether or not the congregation has a praise band.

  11. mattdabbs says:

    Why on earth didn't they just make a new code for instrumental churches of Christ? One reason for the codes is to help people when they travel to know what they are getting into…I mean help them choose a church that may be similar to what they are used to. Expect more decline if this is our attitude.

  12. Roy Davison says:

    The decline is caused by a departure from the principle of just being the Lord's church by limiting ourselves, among other things, to NT forms of worship and leadership. When Richland Hills introduced instruments into worship and when they got rid of their deacons and replaced them with men and women 'ministers', they became thieves. They stole the building those who built it, and excluded themselves from churches of Christ.
    The Lord's church never has used instruments of music in worship.
    When a congregation becomes a denomination by adopting denominational practices, do not be surprised when its members start looking for a denomination they like better! And why not? One man-made church is as good as another. Jesus calls people who teach doctrines of men, hypocrites and says their worship is vain (Mat. 15:7-9).

  13. Stephen says:

    Roy D.,

    Maybe when you learn to read the Bible with an open prejudged mind will you be able to read the word in the context and cultural aspects they are in. Not everything is a commandment. Turning the bible into a law book only drives hearts to harden. Which is why the number of children are on the decline. You could stand to spend some time reading through Jay's articles on instruments and the Church of Christ. Oh and Ceni is a doctrine of man.

  14. Royce says:

    It seems obvious to me that 21st Century Christian only considers a cappella churches to be a part of "The Lord's church". It is a trubute to sectarianism to accpept every nutty idea congregatons have and practice just as long as they don't have the dreaded "instrument".

    One word in the English language best describes this sort of "lost in the '50's" narrow mindedness, IGNORANCE!

    I cringe when I read or hear someone refer to "The Lord's Church" because I know that term is code for "we are the only people going to heaven". By the legalists' definition the Restoration Movement was started by men who were lost. Baptist, Presbyterian, etc. Where was "The Lord's church" for hundreds of years until Mr's Campbell and Stone restored it? Was it out of business?

    It is interesting that those who are the most vile in their newspapers, journals, and websites about other coC people who are not exactly like them, believe they are the only ones going to heaven. They think they will be approved by God, but tens of thousands of humble folks who died for their faith will not be? When I read "Fox's Book of Martyrs" I didn't find even one church of Christ guy paying the ulitmate price for his faith in Jesus.

    One reason the coC tradition is losing congregations and members is that legalists, those who are sectarian to the core, are flat out mean. Who wants to worship with mean people who violate much of what Jesus taught but insist they alone are right because they have no piano?

    I just wonder what The Lord of the church thinks of this nonsense. Who in our tradition best represents HIs interests? Which faction is making much of Jesus? And which is talking in the pulpit and out of it more about the "church" than about the Christ?And which group is going to the down and outs like Jesus did? You are on the honor system here. lol

    I appreciate Jay and all other grace filled, gospel men who are trying to lead people to the rest found only in Christ. It is thankless work but thank God, many are embracing the grace of God in Christ and leaving the bondage of legalism.

    Royce Ogle

  15. dannydodd says:

    It is unfortunate about the RH exclusion.

    It is much more unfortunate that we are in steep decline.

    We must wake-up and address the latter.

  16. Jay Guin says:

    Actually, yes, Richland Hills is known for many things, including having a cappella worship, albeit not exclusively so. I mean, if you have over a 1,000 people singing a cappella every Sunday, doesn't make you more "known for … a cappella worship" than many? It's our doctrinal history that makes us blind to what is there.

  17. Jay Guin says:


    I have to agree. All curves that peak look flat at the top if you take a small enough sample. But the curve will surely decline more and more rapidly — absent a dramatic change in vision. A mere change in methods will not be enough.

  18. Jay Guin says:


    I entirely agree. The use of a notation is the obvious choice. There is no non-theological reason to do otherwise.

  19. Jay Guin says:


    You're right that instrumental music isn't the answer. The Baptists are in decline, too.

    The biggest problem is the bad theology that suggests that those using instruments are sinning — even damned. Until that's overcome, the cause is hopeless.

    But there are other problems as well. The Baptists (again) don't have a problem with a works theology, and yet they are in decline, too (although after a prolonged period of growth).

    We have to find a vision of mission and stop being social clubs decorated with crosses.

  20. Jay Guin says:

    You know, as awful as the decision to exclude Richland Hills and others is, even if they were in there with an (IM) notation, the book would still be of little use to most young people. When people leave our church to move to another town, they want us to help them find another "progressive" church — a cappella or instrumental. They just want a church filled with grace on mission for God. And there's not a notation for that.

  21. Jay Guin says:


    The instrumental music argument I understand. I disagree with it, but I understand it. I don't follow the argument re deacons at all. Let me explain.

    The only congregations the NT mentions as having deacons are Philippi, Cenchrea (if Phoebe was a deacon), and Ephesus (to which 1 Tim was addressed). If Acts 6 is about deacons, then Jerusalem had deacons, but only because they needed help with their benevolence program. Were they unscripturally organized before they needed deacons?

    Interestingly, when Paul wrote Titus, he told Titus to ordain elders but not deacons. Why? Wouldn't they have been unscripturally organized without deacons?

    We certainly have authority to appoint deacons. It seems very clear that we aren't required to do so.

    Finally, let's assume that Richland Hills is wrong on both these decisions. How does that make them not a Church of Christ? What scripture says that if you get any doctrine at all wrong you're damned?

  22. Jay Guin says:


    I hope you've made that college aware of the man's pedophilia. I'm deeply saddened to hear about your situation, and regret the harm to your family.

    I do in fact know of some cases of men who've been caught in such things by churches and church colleges. All have been fired and none rehired. I'm sure there are exceptions. I just know that in those cases I know about, the issue has been dealt with severely — so I don't think the problem is rampant.

    I'm seeing churches becoming very, very careful in this area — partly in response to the publicity regarding those abused within the Catholic Church. I think people are becoming very aware of the problem and responding to it.

  23. Carr Conway says:

    I noted the information about the substantial declines in Church of Christ membership. While all the reasons are difficult to identify, I believe a substantial reason is our tolerance of pedophiles among us and even giving them safe harbor and access to our children within our institutions. Our daughter was sexually assaulted by a fellow member of our brotherhood several years ago. Because of that neither of our daughters will have anything to do with the churches of Christ. Forgiveness should not include allowing the pedophile access to our children.

    The subject pedophile is now in the employ of a major Christian college. When our institutions choose to provide safe harbor and access to our innocent children to pedophiles, it is no small wonder our churches are being harmed by our tacit endorsement of pedophilia.

  24. Tim Archer says:


    Your comment about the utility of the book to most people is very true. I'm on a mailing list with predominantly conservative preachers, some non-institutional, etc. There are frequent requests for information about "faithful" congregations in a certain area. I've pressed for a definition of that a few times, and it's always met with an embarrassed silence.

    So who uses a book like that? Our ministry does. And, ironically, we would want Richland HIlls, etc. included in the book. When we have contacts in a certain area, we first look for churches of Christ in their area. We believe in congregational autonomy and don't spend a lot of time investigating their doctrine. So, despite my defense of the compilers' actions, the book is now less useful to us than it used to be.

    Grace and peace,

  25. Jim Haugland says:

    It appears that some have noted that Flavil Yeakley's directory is blatantly secterian. How disappointing!

  26. Nick Gill says:

    What about marketing and sales?

    I think that is a huge elephant in the room — 21st Century Christian is a publishing house. They know that their sales of the directory would PLUMMET if they include congregations that offer instrumental services — while excluding them will affect sales very minimally.

    In fact, excluding RH, et al, will probably INCREASE sales because the sectarians are so proud of them for taking a stand for the old paths.

  27. Jay Guin says:


    You may well be right. If so, it was a bad calculation in the long run, I think. I mean, there will be a market for a mailing list that includes all progressive churches.

    If we have 20 or 25 instrumental churches less than 2 years after the Richland Hills decision, well, there will be hundreds in 5 years.

    So there's a business opportunity for someone (Matt?). As 21st Century Christian has abandoned the market, the first one in likely does pretty well.

  28. Jim Haugland says:

    Unity In Worship If Not In Doctrine

    "Christianty is rarely found pure. Apart from Christ and His inspired apostles probably no believer or company of belivers in the history of the world has ever held the truth in total purity.

    One great saint believed that the truth is so vast and mighty that no one is capable of taking it all in, and that it requires the whole company of ransomed souls properly to reflect the whole body of revealed truth…

    The Spirit always says the same thing to whomsoever He speaks and altogether without regard to passing doctrinal emphases or theological vogues. He flashes the beauty of Christ upon the wandering heart, and the awed spirit receives it with a minimum of interference."

    AW Tozer

  29. Randall says:

    In times past there have been some that wrote about instrumental music and said the value of the ink used to print the articles exceeds the value of the issue. The cofC continues to "major in the minors and minor in the majors" when we focus so much on relatively insignficant issues and neglect important ones. Seems like we will never get over it and that is most disapppointing.

  30. jdb says:

    Thanks everyone for this lively discussion. I think a part of the problem is that there seems to be a disconnect between some leaders and the people they lead. I've been preaching for over 30 years and like to think that I've grown in some areas. I believe firmly about 90-99% of the things I was taught while in training. However, what I've seen in the time that I've been around is a turn on the issue of instrumental music.

    While there are some in the pew who would frame the issue as a "life-or-death," "heaven or hell", issue, most simply would not. It's in the leadership that we often find the issue framed in such terms. Perhaps what we are seeing is a frustration among some of our leaders as to their inability to get folks to go back.

    Now, before anyone asks, "Yes, I'm in the acapella part of the brotherhood." I love acapella singing/worship. However, I have left the ranks of those who frame it as a salvation issue. I could understand if these congregations had simply gone instrumental. Then the argument could be made that they would feel more at home with our Independent Christian Church brethren. But they did not. They still offer acappella assemblies, support c of C institutions, support and finance c of C missionaries, etc. They see themselves as c of C's and I believe we should respect them as such.

    BTW, whatever happened to congregational autonomy? I hope it comes out of hiding soon! 🙂

  31. Todd Collier says:

    Mr. Haugland,
    Actually Flavil Yeakley wrote a statistical report not this directory. His report is a very detailed accounting of changes in CoC membership looked at from a number of different ways: Membership, number of congregations, demographics, regional, etc.
    He makes no sectarian judgment calls and draws no conclusions aside from statistical ones. I was blessed to be able to read his report and hear him present it at a Campus Ministries United (CMU) conference at Harding in July.

    If we listen to him we will respond to a pending disaster by reigniting our evangelistic flame and of necessity will decide which part of our tradition is worth keeping and which we must toss aside to obey Christ's commands to save others.

    For my sake the most beneficial notation the directory could invent would be "growing" "dying" "dead."

  32. Joe Baggett says:

    While Flavil remains fairly neutral it is imperative to understand that he is in a position of great influence. People take what he says as fact and base their little churches future on it. His research project before this last statement showed people who were reared in the churches of Christ leaving for other churches or no church once they reach the age of accountability. Well duh! This only confirmed what we had been witnessing through anecdotal experiences for years. I could fill a book with stories from people both young and old that have left the “churches of Christ” as a religious group defined by the 2009 edition. In fact there are recovery groups and support sites on the internet for people who have left the churches of Christ. Check this one out That means they no longer attend nor are official members in a directory with a church that has church of Christ on the sign outside the building. My question is how much longer are we going to wait for Flavil to tell us what we already know and have experienced? It takes a special mind set to buy into the theology in the churches of Christ. I can’t tell you how many people I spoke and studied with growing up especially in High school that simply could not get their minds around the CENI and all the other flawed approached to scripture we have. They would always recognize the absence of instruments and asked why. Well no authority I would say. Then they ask where the authority was for the building or any of the other things that were not “authorized” either. Well there it is our religious friends in their denominations and emerging post modern generation simply cannot believe in this inconsistent theology any longer. So if our plan is revitalize evangelism with the bad theology it will be fruitless! The first thing is a healthy open minded complete revision of our theology. Without that the churches of Christ have no future they will fade away just like the churches Jesus speaks to in Asia Minor through John in Revelation.

  33. Jay Guin says:

    Joe, is a great site run by good people. It's tragic that it's needed, but it's needed. Thanks for bringing this out into the open. THERE ARE SUPPORT GROUPS FOR EX-CHURCH OF CHRIST MEMBERS. We should be ashamed.

    This is why I say the first step toward growing the Churches is to get shed of our works-salvation theology. Nothing else matters until that's accomplished.

    I can't say how upset I was when the Christian Chronicle ran a lengthy series on how to grow and never once mentioned the works-salvation issue. They even held some very legalistic congregations up as examples of how to grow. It is utter futility — and indeed harmful to the cause of Christ to keep pretending that the grace-lite Churches are okay. They're not. They hurt people.

    We have to stand against it. Never quit. Never accept defeat. Never leave a fallen comrade behind. Always place the mission first. (I'm loving this army ethos thing.)

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  37. Mohammed J. L. S Conteh says:

    Any church that use instrumental music is not a member of the churches of Christ.

  38. Christopher says:

    Interesting article, Jay. Having been in the CoC for nearly three decades, I am astonished that instrumental music continues to be a test of one’s salvation for some.

    It is simply illogical to posit that because there is no scriptural warrant (in the form of an express command or a stated example) for using instruments in a worship service, to do so is a form of apostasy. The premise underlying this “argument” is faulty. God has never been reluctant to specify what should not be done. If there is no express prohibition of instruments in worship service, one cannot logically prove that it is wrong unless one can show it violates some larger, general command. And that has not been done.

    Then there is the very real problem of explaining why music and even dance (as in David’s example) is acceptable in both the Old Testament and apparently in heaven (as in Revelation 14:2), but not in the church of Christ.

    This whole line of “reasoning” reminds me of Foy E. Wallace’s bizarre contention that the Holy Spirit does not personally indwell believers (even though Jesus tells the apostles it lives with them and will be IN them, in John 14:17). It is modernistic rationalism gone awry (similar to what you see in libertarianism).

    I have often thought that, with their legalism and lovelessness, some in the CoC are the modern equivalent of Pharisees – straining out gnats but swallowing whole camels. I remember bringing my mother to a CoC in her town soon after I was converted. She had been baptized in an independent Baptist church at the age of 15 for the remission of sins. When we walked in, I immediately wanted to leave because there were only a score or so of octogenarian members. I thought to myself “This is the very image of death.” But she wanted to stay, since we had come. So we worshipped there that Sunday. After the service, we were approached by a few of the members who made inquiries of us. When they found out my mother was a baptist, one of them said “You know, there’s only one way.” No invitation to lunch, no asking if there were needs to be met, no invitation to get together later in the week – just cold, hard doctrine. At some point I realized that a number of people in the CoC (including myself to some extent) were watching their doctrine a lot more than their lives.

    That’s my two cents worth, anyway

  39. Kevin says:

    “Doctrine” has become an idol for many members of the Church of Christ. An infatuation for “being right” [even when we are not] has frequently exceeded our desire to “do right” and/or to become more Christlike. Unfortunately, this s the logical ends to our “doctrines” and hermeneutics…when any doctrinal error (or made-up error) damns, one must, of necessity, “be right.” To err is to burn.

  40. John F says:

    It might be noted that the Pharisees at least had a high regard for the Law of Moses. That regard became misplaced
    Acts 22:3
    I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated under Gamaliel, strictly according to the law of our fathers, being zealous for God just as you all are today.

    Gal 1:14
    and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.

    Rom 10:2-4
    For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge. 3 For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

    The Saducees did not normally share that respect.

    We sadly have both groups among us today. Our Pharisees lean on 200 year of “worshiping in truth” and our Saducees mostly want to “worship in spirit.” Both groups tend to diminish the other. We need to stabilize the swinging pendulum. We perhaps need to study “worship in spirit” for the next 200 years without turning our back on the lessons of “worship in truth.”

  41. John Grant says:

    The saddest part is when we go to funerals of those we grew up with and see the majority of those present still in the conservative cult and know how they feel about us and how we feel about them.
    They look on us trying to understand how we have left the faith of our lives and we see them as staying in the cult. Some won’t even shake our hand as they have (scriptually) withdrawn from us.
    Its become terribly sad to see us both looking confused at one another and trying hard to still love one another as we did in the past while each sees the other in error.
    The splitting has much bigger ramifications than churches splitting, it is after all, very personal and heartbreaking.

  42. DWC says:

    Any church that uses instrumental music is NOT the Lord’s church, plain and simple. Richland Hills (or The Hills as they are now known) needs to sever ties to the Lord’s church to avoid confusion. They are no more the church the Lord built than the First Baptist Church.

  43. Dwight says:

    I assume DWC has a command associated with the reason for being against IM.
    Deut.29:29 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
    God reveals his law through commands and not through silence. Silence is not a command. Silence is silence.
    Man was allowed latitude within God’s silence.
    God regulated not only worship, but the Jews life in general, but God didn’t regulate all worship and all of the Jews life. God was specific in what he wanted and didn’t want. God was and is not vague.
    We suppose that the God who could tell the Jews what to eat in regards to animals couldn’t tell man to not worship using instruments if this offended him, especially after God commanded the use of some and allowed the use of others.
    After the Passover was done, Hezekiah had another duplicate one…not commanded by God and done within the silence, but without changing the first command of the Passover.
    It could be argued that any church that has a church building is NOT the Lord’s church, plain and simple, as there is no example, no command and no inference for it. And it doesn’t aid in worship as worship can be done anywhere and was done anywhere in the NT without money going to it.

  44. DWC says:

    God is NOT silent on the issue of IM. Five times in the New Testament we are told to sing. We are never told to play an instrument; we are told to SING. It’s that simple.

    Not only that, but secular history even records that the early church, as instructed by the apostles, did not use IM. IM was not introduced into the church until the 6th Century. It was introduced by MAN, not by God.

  45. Mark says:

    David played a lyre and there was music in the Jerusalem temple. Why is that the most important marker of a Christian?

  46. Christopher says:

    “God is NOT silent on the issue of IM. Five times in the New Testament we are told to sing. We are never told to play an instrument; we are told to SING. It’s that simple.”

    And just how is that logically construed as a prohibition against playing instruments? And, for that matter, how is “instrumental music” mutually exclusive to singing, so that one must do one or the other (but not both at the same time) – are you only familiar with Mozart’s works? Unless you can produce a command to NOT use instruments, your “argument” is not logically compelling – especially since it is evident that instrumental music was permitted in the Old Testament. It’s that simple.

  47. DWC says:

    You are describing OT worship, where musical instruments were commanded. We no longer worship by OT commands. Do you offer animal sacrices and burn incense? Of course not. We now worship by the commands in the NT where we are commanded to sing. No command to play musical instrument.

  48. Christopher says:

    And yet there are prohibitions against a number of things in NT worship. Still waiting for your explanation as to why God did not “think” to prohibit musical instruments as well. Was He preoccupied and just forgot? Telling someone to do something does not logically mean he should not do a different thing. I am not sure why you don’t see that.

  49. .DWC says:

    God did not need to say “Thou shalt not use musical instruments in worship” because he had already told them how to worship in song. How difficult is that to understand? He did not need to tell them all the things NOT to do as He told them what to do.

    If IM was OK, why didn’t the early church use them? They had used instruments in the OT so they were used to using instruments in worship. Why didn’t they carry that over? Because they were told to do it differently.

    If you want to use IM, by all means go ahead. At least you will not be doing it out of ignorance.

  50. Larry Cheek says:

    I really understand your concern, I was also programmed in the same format that you express. I also believe that you did not learn your position from your own study in the scriptures. When you study for yourself, you read and analyze the text carefully, attempting to learn from the text what the message is that you are to learn/obey. I would advise you to reread the texts that you have been informed are directing men to sing and notice carefully that you will not find any reference to any instruments. Why would that matter? Because, the text was not addressing a prohibition against instruments. It had one purpose and that was the attitude of the individual who was singing or inspiring an individual to sing who was not. If you really want to implement the full message there you must require all to sing, anyone who does not sing whether it is possible or not (someone could be deaf and dumb) not capable of singing, but anyone who does not sing would be sinning. And to apply your own terminology they could not be Christians nor members of the Lord’s Church.

  51. Larry Cheek says:

    Another exercise might help you to understand the text.
    You have also been instructed that it is not acceptable for anyone or a group of individuals to sing to an audience. No solos and no duets and no quartets but notice this example in scriptures which your teachers don’t want you to notice.
    Act 16:25 ESV About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,
    This was a duet, two men, singing who had an audience. Of course, the teachers who taught you would imply that they were not singing to the audience, but to God, OK that is true, than you would of necessity have to prove that any two individuals singing in an assembly were not singing to God, to validate the claim that their singing with an audience listening was sin or not scriptural. You just dig a deeper hole to entrap your message.

    Now read the following text and explain how it is being conducted in a worship service. If it was then they must have been drinking wine in the same place. This is in the same sentence, they were not moved to a different location. Is there enough wine available in your assemblies that you call worship that someone could drink enough to become drunk? How do you submit to one another while you are in a worship service?
    Eph 5:17-21 ESV Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (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.

    The context of the messages are not supporting the claims that men have attached them to. The messages you have been taught were the ones out of silence. God did not legislate any such commands from his silence.

  52. .DWC says:

    Larry, I have read carefully and appreciate the points you have made. However, you have not answered any of the questions I have raised.

    This will be my final post as neither one of us is going to change the opinion of the other.

    I am offended that you seem to “know” what I was taught by others and what I have (or have not) learned on my own by searching the scriptures with an open mind. You do not know me, so you do not know my background or what I have discerned on my own or from others. You are making some incorrect assumptions.

    I wish you well. I will continue to search the scriptures and pray for wisdom regarding not only this issue but all matters related to Christ and worship. I pray you do the same.

  53. Dwight says:

    The fact is that even in the OT man was allowed tow worship in conjunction and within the context of God’s worship without contradiction as long as man didn’t alter or replace the command. Hezekiah had another Passover feast directly after the commanded Passover feast and this was initiated by man. Esther created and initiated a feast that was added to the rotation of the commanded feast. Etc.
    DWC, I have been in the conservative coC and know all of the talking points as well.
    Deut.29:29 still rings true, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
    meaning that it isn’t law until God declares it and expresses it. Silence doesn’t do this.
    What we don’t see are the other things that we conveintly allow in the silence…simply because we call them an aid or a help. Note, we define what we allow and what is a help, not God.
    There is no scripture that ever suggest that something that is sinful can become not-sinful due to being an aid to worship. If it is a sin, then it is a sin, no matter how applied or for what reason.

    DWC said, “We no longer worship by OT commands. Do you offer animal sacrifices and burn incense? Of course not.”
    But what is missed is that we could worship doing animal sacrifices and burning incense if we wanted to. There was no command against and God was silent on it. The apostles and early Christian Jews did these things. Col.2 Paul is condemning those who were condemning those who did feast and Passover, etc. It is just that the things of the OT worship couldn’t justify one before God. And yet does singing make one right before God and if you don’t sing, then you are lost?
    I am not singing as I type this. Am I lost?
    Can person who plays an instrument not also sing?

    We often place the burden of proof on the early church and yet the early church was the people.
    The early Jewish Christians, who were the church, also sang and prayed and did things done in the Temple and did Jewish worship practices, so the point that the early church didn’t do these things is categorically wrong. Even in the context of the passages on singing Psalms is mentioned and as much as it is defined as “the plucking of the heart strings” it was understood in practice as those who played instruments with singing. The word psalms is the same in the Septuagint in the NT and OT and had the same meaning and application.
    The ECF were not against IM because of scripture, but because they were against the Jews and all things Jewish. They never quote scripture to justify their hatred of IM. This is notable. The ECF also largely practiced infant baptisms, not commanded within the silence as well as many other things. They did not use the Law of Silence which came about largely by John Calvin-1500s.

    It is amazing how fast someone shuts down in discussing IM when they get good arguments that they don’t wish to answer or can’t answer.

  54. DWC says:

    it is not that I cannot answer or do not wish to answer. I answered all of your points. There is simply no point in further discussion as neither one of us are going to change the other’s mind.

  55. Christopher says:


    You entered into this conversation with the following words:

    “Any church that uses instrumental music is NOT the Lord’s church, plain and simple. Richland Hills (or The Hills as they are now known) needs to sever ties to the Lord’s church to avoid confusion. They are no more the church the Lord built than the First Baptist Church.”

    Here you are essentially condemning people who practice or condone IM in worship services. If your beliefs about IM are wrong (as I feel sure they are), what does that make you? It makes you the judge of your brothers an sisters in Christ – something that should concern you far more than the propriety of IM in worship services.

    You see, I have been a member of CoC congregations that do not practice IM in worship services. To this day, I have no problem with brothers and sisters wanting to worship in that fashion. And, in the congregations to which I have belonged that have practiced IM in worship services, everyone did in fact sing – when hymns were performes acapella or accompanied by instruments.

    I suspect that to most readers of this blog, IM is NOT a salvation issue. Making it so (along with some other disputable matters) is, in my view, THE central problem with the mainstream CoC.

    “If IM was OK, why didn’t the early church use them? They had used instruments in the OT so they were used to using instruments in worship. Why didn’t they carry that over? Because they were told to do it differently.”

    In a seperate post, you claimed that IM in worship was commanded by God. As far as I know, the only such commands in the Torah were to blow trumpets. Everything else we know about the use of IM in the OT is from the history books, which primarily record what was done and not what was commanded. And in those historical acounts, we find far more instruments (such as lyres and cymbals) than just trumpets being used. If I am correct, then (in a strict sense) the Israelites departed from the commands regarding IM but were not condemned for it. Indeed, the clear tenor of the such passages is that IM was plainly authorized (more than commanded) in the OT.

    As to why the NT church didn’t use them – there could be a number of reasons, such as the general poverty of the early Christians. Singing is something everyone could do, without the incurring the added expense of musical instruments. Your concluding statement is telling – you claim they were told to do it differently. By whom? Show me where the NT PROHIBITS the use of IM in worship services. Or demonstrate how a command to use trumpets prohibited the use of lyres and cymbals as well in the OT.

  56. laymond says:

    Dwight, said “DWC said, “We no longer worship by OT commands. Do you offer animal sacrifices and burn incense? Of course not.”

    “But what is missed is that we could worship doing animal sacrifices and burning incense if we wanted to. There was no command against and God was silent on it.”

    Yes Dwight, you can use the killing of animals, and burning them in worship if you choose, but you would not be worshiping God the Father of Jesus, you would simply be denying the salvation by the blood of Jesus, who said the only way to the father is through me, through my sacrifice , not animal sacrifice. what you write gets weirder and weirder to the Christian ear.

  57. Dwight says:

    DWC, I think I did a very good job of directly answering your question. I can state it again, but chances are you would ignore it a second time as well.
    You on the other hand have not sought to attack any of the propositions that were presented. Such as why when there were no commands for the practices of the OT in the NT, why the early Jews and the apostles still observed and practiced them without condemnation?
    And why people like Hezekiah and Esther were allowed to add to the feast commanded by God with extra feast, etc.
    And why does God seems so wishy-washy, in allowing IM, then condemning them, without saying anything as he did and could have easily did about many other things?

    The Bible is very clear in that it separates, constantly, the difference between “the instruments of David” and the “trumpets of God”, even in the cases where they were used together.
    If you go back to the Jews in general they were practicing some things that were not commanded in the OT and NT like baptism, yes baptism, and not practicing some things that were allowed in the OT, even though they were still blowing the trumpets in the Temple. Much changed during the years of captivity.

    But when you look at the ECF (Early Church Fathers) and why they refused IM, is it had to do with the fact they hated anything that they deemed Jewish in nature, even including those things the apostles did and things that God commanded. They offer no scripture for their stance against IM and they do not use the “Law of Silence” either. They simply hated the Jews and things they did, going as far as condemning the use of instruments as base and hollow and unspiritual in the OT (those very things God commanded).
    I have heard lessons condemning those things that God commanded as base/hollow and unspiritual from the pulpit. We should be ashamed. David was anything but base/hollow and unspiritual, he was a man after God’s own heart and he used words and music extensively.

  58. Dwight says:

    Laymond, Do you pray to God? Yes, I hope so. And do you do it exactly like the “model prayer” given by Jesus? Probably not. But does the fact that you pray to God differently than the model prayer cancel out your prayer. I don’t think so.
    The fact is that the apostles still went to the Temple and worshipped there and they still observed the feast and they still circumcised, even though they were supposed to be circumcised in the heart. It is possible you were circumcised, so does that make your parents sinful? And does that mean you can’t be circumcised of the heart as well? Does one cancel the other out?
    Paul had Timothy circumcised, even though Timothy was a Christian, but this should mean that Paul and Timothy sinned and that Timothy’s circumcision canceled out the circumcision of the heart. But this is not argued for? Circumcision no longer made one a child of God, but its practice didn’t condemn either.

    In Col.2:16 Paul says, “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.”
    These things were specifically Jewish in nature and not condemned as worship, even when Paul says that the “the substance is of Christ.”
    Now if we offer sacrifices to take away our sins, they will do no good, as this was Jesus role, but if we offer sacrifices to give an offering to God from our stock, they will be received as worship, even as praying or singing or setting aside a day for God. Rom.14:6 “He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks.”
    We are not under a command to set aside days to God, but we can do it and if and when we do it, it will be to God.

  59. Dwight says:

    I Cor.7:19 “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters.”
    Interestingly enough we often read this to say, “circumcision is nothing”, but it also says, “uncircumcision is nothing”. It neither justifies, nor condemns.
    Rom.3 “What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God.”
    Circumcision is thus not without value if it leads you towards God, but of itself it is worthless in the role of justification, but then again being uncircumcised is worthless in that way also.

  60. Charlie M. says:

    I’ll never forget this–in the CoC of my hometown, one of our older members brought a new testament to class on a Wednesday evening. The teacher asked her where the rest of her bible was. She said, “everything I need to go to heaven is right here.” He asked her how she thinks the first century church fared without it. “Reckon they made it to heaven?” he asked with a smile.

  61. Dwight says:

    Charlie, The opposite was much more true in the day of the apostles in that they had the OT to work with and not the NT. In Acts 2 Peter argues from the OT and in Acts both the eunuch and Philip studied from Isaiah to get to Jesus. The OT was prevalent for teaching and learning from until the apostles actually wrote their letters much later. It was after all a tutor to bring us to Christ.
    So even though the OT doesn’t have the words of Jesus, it is still important as a tool to bring us to Jesus and to get an understanding of who God is and how God worked in relation to people who sinned…people like us.

  62. Kevin says:

    DWC said:
    “God did not need to say “Thou shalt not use musical instruments in worship” because he had already told them how to worship in song. How difficult is that to understand? He did not need to tell them all the things NOT to do as He told them what to do.”

    This is one of the biggest fallacies in much of COC thinking. Did you notice how DWC framed the argument? It’s bait and switch. He assumes that God has specifically stipulated “HOW” we are to worship Him musically. That is not a true statement. The converse is actually true. God wants us to “SING” but He never actually tells us “HOW” to do so. God leaves the “HOW” to us. We can sing without IM, or we can sing with IM. This is no different than God’s command to “Go into all the world.” God expects us to “Go” but He leaves how we do so to our own judgment.

  63. Lum says:

    WE say the prettiest SINGING ever heard when the students at the Talladega School of the Deaf SING with their hands, arms, and bodies and not a sound is heard by those of us that can hear.

  64. Jay Guin says:

    DWC wrote,

    They are no more the church the Lord built than the First Baptist Church.


    Peter confessed that “Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus responded that he would build his church “on this rock.” Catholic interpretation: Peter is the first Pope. Protestant interpretation: Jesus built his church on confessed faith in Jesus.

    So if I have faith in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, and in innocence, without a hint of rebellion, worship God with an instrument, do I still have faith?

    Well, of course.

    So a church built on faith in Jesus but not on a cappella singing is still built on the Rock on which Jesus said he’d build his church.

    Did Jesus mean “this Rock and many other rocks, such as a cappella singing, which I won’t bother to mention during my ministry on earth? It seems rather unlikely.

    It’s one thing to declare those who disagree on instrumental music in error. But damned? Why on earth? What passage says so?

  65. Jay Guin says:

    Everett Ferguson, the favorite NT scholar of the a cappella camp, argues that congregational singing should be union, because the early church fathers insisted on unison singing to represent the unity of the church. Even the most conservative Churches have ignored his teaching on the subject — but at least Dr. Ferguson doesn’t pick and choose his evidence.’

    Four-part harmony was introduced by Martin Luther — 1500 years after Jesus. Shaped notes after that. So there being no command to sing in harmony, surely harmony is prohibited and sends the singers straight to hell.

  66. Dwight says:

    Jay, I will take that one step further. We are told to sing to one another, which would indicate we face one another or have the other in an answering mode as we sing to them. This was a way of singing during the time of the saints where one group would sing an question and the other group would answer. If we do not sing to one another in this way surely we are damned. Paul must have sung to Silas when they were singing together.
    Then there is the problem of psalms which we are sing, but does any congregation truly sing psalms, which are nothing like songs that rhyme and have timing and beat. A quick look at psalms tells us the nature of what a psalm is. Surely we are damned because we do not use the psalm form. Silence of any other styles such as rhymes and/or singing that doesn’t have a question-answer format declares them sinful. At least 1/3rd of the songs that are sung on Sunday and/or Wednesday must be done in a psalm format.
    We often forge lock tight values of sin for things that we ourselves fail to do when faced with exactness.

  67. Jay Guin says:


    While we’re playing with this “silence means no authority” notion, I suppose it’s right that “hymns, psalms and spiritual songs” uses an “and” not an “or.” Therefore, all three are required, and psalms are the only surviving songs we have from that age.

    Therefore, we should sing psalms and only psalms. I think it was the Old Scottish Presbyterians who held to this position based on this logic.

    They split over whether psalms could be arranged to be metrical for singing in the Western style. Some insisted that they be sung as found in the KJV.

    Of course, they were the liberals. The conservatives, back in Zurich, followed Zwingli’s interpretation that “in your heart” bans singing anywhere else. Therefore, singing was silent! Which seems rather a contradiction in terms, but we’re so far removed from logic that such need not concern us.

  68. David says:

    There can/could be found on the web some modern debates among Puritans over whether any songs except the psalms from the Bible can be sung in church. The most conservative debaters say no, that nothing of uninspired human origin can be used in the worship of God. Makes me wonder where they would get the inspired music to go with the inspired words.

  69. Dwight says:

    Yes, to get technical…”making melody” in your heart would require each of us to derive a melody at the moment of singing as it doesn’t say, “made melody”. The fact is that there is so much human decisions in our worship that we don’t realize from the words to the melody to the very style, etc.
    Then there is the scripture of James 5 “Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms,” which would exclude us from singing when sad or not cheerful. And then they must be, what else, psalms.

  70. Larry Cheek says:

    I don’t know if you are still with us or not but to help others to understand why I stated my comment to in the fashion I did I will offer this explanation. First, I know that the concept that you expressed about IM is much older than you are, in other words you are not the originator of the concept. Second, I was being taught the same concept very early in my life by teachers whom you did not dare to contest. I did assume that you were also taught that the scriptures are our only guide and we speak where the Bible speaks and are silent where it is silent. Third, I was sure that you had not analyzed the verses as I have shown you because therefore you could no longer teach what you did. I actually, provided you an escape route to place an excuse for not seeing the misapplication on your own, but upon instructors of your past so you could save face then you did not reject the concept that I had presented.
    Instead, you suggested that I did not answer questions that you presented. I’m sorry but I reread your posts several times and did not see that you had asked any questions. But, I did notice that you really did not offer any correction to my concept that the text that spoke of singing with melody in your heart could have been offered to a assembly where wine was served and they were likely to be drinking so much as to have become drunk, and then be told to “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ”, while in the same assembly.
    You see we have always been instructed that this message about singing was something that was about a worship service, but the text is not supporting that concept.
    Well what is it a directive for then? It is any time any where we are happy or cheerful. But, is not directed against any use of instruments.
    I would suggest that you also think about those early Christians who were worshiping or meeting in the Temple prior to the Jews refusing to allow them to meet there. Can you really prove that they did not use the same instruments which the Jews were using? Remember they had been worshiping there as Jews also. Without any instruction they automatically knew it was sin to worship as a Christian with instruments?

  71. DWC says:

    Yes, Larry, I am still here, sitting on the sidelines watching the discussion. I am not going to be sucked into a pointless discussion. You will not change my mind, nor will I change your mind.

    I do have to take slight issue with your post as it carries with it the assumption that I have blindly accepted the position I was taught on IM. That is not the case. I am more like the noble Bereans who searched the scriptures daily to see if what I was taught was in harmony with the scriptures.

    I never intended to imply that my position was original with me. Most everything we know and believe was taught to us by others who trod the path before we came along.

  72. Dwight says:

    DWC, About three years ago I also had searched the scriptures and did not blindly accept the position of IM as wrong, except that is exactly what I didn’t do and did. I simply agreed with the formulation of IM being wrong. And no one could sway me.
    My point came when I gave a lesson a couple of years ago on the Word and Commands of God. God is not vague and has never been vague.
    Deut.29:29 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
    If God wanted them to know something for or against, He told them point blank.
    The Jews didn’t follow silence as a law, but rather that which was given them as law.
    The Rabbis and Pharisees, though sought to fill in the silence with law they deduced, and were condemned by Jesus for putting human tradition as law.
    These facts brought me around to a position I was initially staunchly against…and I mean staunchly.
    If we are to depend on scripture, we must have scripture to depend upon and follow. Silence doesn’t form scripture and neither places a position for or against.

    The point of the discussion is that without command we have no law and once we start impressing silence as law, then we are the Pharisees and very, very wrong and the Pharisees knew the Law.
    From the scriptures we sing, “they word is a lamp unto my feet”, not “they silence is a lamp unto my feet.”
    And we argue well we are told to just sing. But the fact is that God commanded and allowed instruments in the past and if they were inherently wrong, then either God was sinning or God would have gave a command against them. They were not and God never argued at any point in the NT that this had changed. God could allow without commanding them again.

  73. Dwight says:

    One of the more notable things about the concept of singing as an exclusion to other things like IM is the fact that this isn’t applied to other things in worship that we frequently exercise.
    Take the Lord’s Supper. A song before…no scripture for that. The offering at the same table directly after the Lord’s Supper so as to be part of the Lord’s Supper. In fact when we hear of the Lord’s Supper, it is only Lord’s Supper and never is the collection mentioned anywhere within the text or context. There was only a song after the Lord’s Supper, not collection. Even in the OT the sacrifice was separate from the giving. But here we have them together. And there is no expediency involved and in fact it could be done without any association with the LS easier. People could give on their way out and that would be more expedient.
    At least in the OT IM was associated with singing in psalms and psalms are mentioned in the NT using the same word in the Septuagint as in the OT.
    But we place many things or accept many things that we defy to place in the same category with IM and singing with less or no examples of. This is called justification or human reasoning.
    In the OT God had commands about touching corpses and then going through a cleansing ritual, but in the NT there is no command or mention, which if we followed the same rule, we couldn’t touch a corpse of any type because silence creates an “against command” or if we did then we couldn’t clean ourselves afterwards because silence creates an “against command.”
    We don’t follow the logical conclusions, but excuse them to justify them.

  74. Lum says:

    In many ways, King James did us no favor by giving us the bible. Far more agreed and lived loving the Lord and each other as was commanded by Jesus Himself. Said it was the most important commandment. That being true, how is all our arguments being received?

    Seems those that didn’t have the NT were better off.

    Experiencing those that do not have one, but were taught of Jesus and God sure didn’t disagree as much as we the educated bunch do.

    Those only loved the Lord and didn’t have the need for all the thousands of disagreements that created denominations, sects and cults we have today.

  75. Mark says:

    The c in ceni could be convenient. I was told the offering was collected right after communion because it was convenient as the men were already up there. I always thought it was the third part of the communion. I can’t find the rule that the pre-communion dirge must be sung to “prepare our minds”. However, “on the night he was betrayed….” was omitted as it was not expressly authorized.

  76. Dwight says:

    Yes, Mark. As many rules as enforce that aren’t written are the one we ignore because we deem them not important enough. While I do and will argue for the fruit of the vine (wine) and unleavened bread, we ignore the many changes that have been done over the past to the future that we argue for as command or in order to justify. The Passover as was the Lord’s Supper was done in the evening when the Passover lamb was killed in the Temple and this is reflected in I Cor.11 and yet where do we follow it or even point to it. We have become so restrictive that we will not even allow the light of the scriptures to peak through and we put our own man-made “light” in instead.

  77. DWC says:

    Speaking of the collection, one thing that has bothered me for a long time is I cannot find scriptural authorization for a collection for the work of the local congregation.

    We always point to 1 Corinthians 16:1, but this was a collection that Paul was taking up for the needy saints in Jerusalem, not a collection for the furtherance of the local congregation.

    I realize the early church met in homes and had few, if any expenses. They certainly did not have the utility bills we have today (water, gas, electric, phone, etc.). But still where are we told in the scriptures to take up a collection for the works of the local congregation.

  78. Dwight says:

    DWC, this kind of falls along the lines of IM in that we fill in the gaps when we want to with what we want and make laws on when and how, however in the case of contributions there are clear commands and examples that show where the giving went and was supposed to go…the needy saints, then the needy others.
    God is not vague. If God says something we should listen. If not then we have latitude to act.

    The money didn’t go to an organization, that is a church or assembly, but the money went to people. Paul’s command to the Corinthians and Galatians was predicated with the idea that he would personally come and get it and help in the needy saints elsewhere. And even then there is no indication it was collected by the assembly, but rather held back by the people from which he would collect it when he was there on the First Day of the Week.
    But this wasn’t a church work, in the sense of an assembly work, but more of the same of the people in giving to others, which they were supposed to do when they could.

    I personally have no problem with people giving to a collection as long as what was given goes to needy people, or needy preachers, etc. Instead it is gathered and then decided on by elders or committee to how to dispense it…usually to building needs, then to class material, then the people.
    We gather and handle money like the government…poorly and misdirected.

    So on the one hand we are declaring IM as sinful, even though we are not replacing singing with IM or altering the fact people can sing and should sing in all forms, then we turn around and argue that giving must be done on Sunday and that this giving cannot be given to other organizations who give to the needy, but we take the money as our own and then invest it into the buildings, yard, heating/cooling despite direct command and examples of the money going to the needy.

    We let the silence speak as a man-made derived law and then let the spoken words be silent as if not coming from God. And we are caught in this loop of self-righteousness.

  79. Dwight says:

    A testament to Jay and this blog. Unlike some blog sites I have been to posted by conservative preachers, etc., Jay allows conversations to develop here without interjecting a tone of disapproval or being condescending or heavy handedness. Not everyone agrees on every point with each other and while some seem out there on some things…probably me to on some things, but unless it is pure blasphemy or purely derogatory of another the conversations are allowed to go on. This is a good thing. I don’t even agree with Jay on all things, but not agreeing doesn’t necessarily mean that either one of us are right in all degrees/points or are wrong in the same. There is no intent to crush another with our own self-righteousness by most of the parties here. This blog is a good thing, even though it sometimes gets grossly off target.

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