Sense or Nonsense?

Exactly one year ago today I ended an exchange of emails with a fellow who believed those who do not adhere to the tradition of a cappella singing are lost. He asked me this question. “Could Noah have built the Ark out of Mesquite wood and been pleasing to God?  We follow God instructions and are accepted or we no not follow His instructions and are condemned.  Real simple.”

My reply, and my last communication with him follows. It is still almost unbelievable to me that so many people, many of whom are elders and preachers, have such ignorance. I continue to see blogs, letters to the editor, etc. where people continue to make themselves look no more mature than grammer school children.

Am I nuts too? Or does this letter get to the heart of the matter? Your comments are welcomed.

“My dear brother XXXX, 

May I appeal to your common sense? Taking your line of reasoning to its logical end, one could invent all sorts of sins, and thus reasons to not to “fellowship” lots of folks. The bible says nothing about making the human voice louder by using electronic equipment, but every acapella congregation I have ever visited had a public address system. The bible says nothing about a church building, water coolers, air conditioners, heaters, telephones, church buses, and the list is endless. None of them is sinful just because the bible never mentioned them and musical instruments are not either.  

The bible says “I am the Lord, I change not” (Mal 6:3) and, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 8:13) The Psalms encourages God’s people again and again to praise God using musical instruments. When did that change? How much more of the Psalms should we disregard today?  

Should I fellowship you? Just because you worship in a church that adheres to the church of Christ tradition of acapella singing, is that enough of a reason? Should I also require that you are a “one cupper”? Should I add that you have no Sunday school? They are not mentioned in the bible! Should I check to see if you comply with every other rule that suits my taste?  

Or should I fellowship someone who speaks against brothers who love Jesus as much as you do? Should I fellowship a man who is critical of everyone who is not like him? The first fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5 is “love”. Paul talked at great length about the importance of love and the futility of serving God without it. He said even if he became a martyr for the faith without love, he would have failed. I think it is striking that immediately after the famous verses on the supremacy of love Paul said these words.  “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (1 Cor 13:11)  

If I am required by my Lord to love my enemies I believe I can manage to love and have fellowship with those who have surrendered their lives to Him, even if they are not like me in some ways.  

I like Paul’s way better than your way brother. In his letter to the Philippians he said this, ” Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: 16 The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; 17 but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.”  But Paul, do you know they have a piano? Do you know they pool money together with other churches to preach the gospel on foreign soil? Are you aware they have some folks singing while others only listen? But what about the TBN TV network?  

Paul would say again, if Christ is preached I will rejoice, and will rejoice. I believe I will too.  

Royce Ogle

One comment on “Sense or Nonsense?

  1. Royce: I’ve seen your comments around and about in blogland and have been impressed with your wisdom and insight and your spirit of grace. I think your letter is excellent. Having grown up in a very rigid orthodoxy and then having breathed the fresh air of grace and freedom in Christ, I’ll take the latter! I’ll be back often.

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