Where’s Johnny?

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My inside people tell me that he doesn’t come to our blogs anymore because he doesn’t want his people at ‘his Church’ to see another side other than what he teaches. Most, in fact, are not even aware of the division within the hardline Church of Christ, nor do they know that a progressive Church of Christ exist which are not legalistic.  Well, that’s fine.  My point here is to refute his “false teachings” (to use his lingo), and if he doesn’t want to come and defend his doctrine, that’s his prerogative.

I’ve decided that it’s too exhausting to try and watch and review each of their programs, as much as I enjoy picking their flimsy arguments apart with little defense from their side.  So, the blog is going to go a little more generalized, where we will watch what they teach on ALL fronts – from their blogs to their websites ( oh they took them down hmm) to their radio and TV broadcasts, and we’ll be commenting on those things.  Now, lest they think they’ve somehow claimed a “victory” by driving us away – we’re not going away, just changing things up a bit from the 2006 blog. I hear he has ran to Rocky Mount in hopes to find people unaware of their tactics.

That being said, if anyone would like to make a specific comment on something one of the “false teachers” teaches on one of their broadcasts, please feel free to add it as a comment and I’ll make a new post using your comments.

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CENI: a hardline Church of Christ approach to Scripture

Let’s talk about a type of interpretive method common in hardline Churches of Christ (and definitely used in Johnny Robertson’s and James Oldfield’s television broadcasts).  It basically states – every practice, thought, and value we hold must find within the New Testament (they excluded the Old Testament because they are Marcionites…oops…I mean because they are the Church under the NT constitution and not the OT – Israel’s constitution) a clear command, example, or necessary inference.  If one of these three cannot be found, then what we are doing is considered “unauthorized” and thus a sin.  This is how acappella Churches of Christ justify their doctrine when it comes to opposing musical instruments.

This interpretive method has been called PATTERNISM – the belief that there is a specific pattern (think…”BEHOLD THE PATTERN”) given to us in Scripture and there cannot be any deviation to be the true church (note that language…”true church”…ouch).

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It seems to me that this interpretive method (patternism) falls under its own weight.  No where do we see Jesus or the apostles adopting command, example, and necessary inference as their interpretive lens with their Scripture…thus it lacks a clear command, example, and necessary inference (e.g., Jesus’ participation in the synagogue, feast of Dedication…all of which have no “command, example, or necessary inference in the OT).

This interpretive method simply does not take seriously the complexity of many biblical passages.  Command, example, and necessary inference do not contend with things that are cultural, things that are situationally-specific, or things that are coincidental in nature.  For example, the NT clearly commands us to wash one another’s feet, greet each other with a holy kiss, and for women to wear head-veils.  Yet, at least in how we actually lived, we never followed any of these very clear and direct commands!  Why?  We judged them to be culturally conditioned and not applicable to our day and age.  Or, what about the fact that when the Bible tells us by example that there were seven deacons in the Church in Jerusalem according to Acts 6.  We have no other mention of the number of deacons a Church ought to have.  Does that mean that the Church can only have seven deacons because it is the only example we have?  In this we have judged that the Acts 6 passage is situationally-specific.  Or what about the fact that when the location of communion is mentioned in the New Testament, it is always in an upper room?  No where do we read about the church taking communion on the first floor (at least not explicitly).  In this we have said that this is simply coincidental.

In the end, I would say patternism has much that it lacks in regards to understanding and applying the Bible.

Thoughts?

What Points NOT to Make with a Church of Christ Person

There are lots of people visiting this blog now, and I don’t know who you all are, but you might be interested what roads to NOT go down when you are discussing the Bible with a hardline Church of Christ person.

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Denominations

When discussing denominations, don’t mention that John the Baptist is the proof of the Baptist denomination being found in the Bible.  The hardline Church of Christ people will rightly tell you that “Baptist” was not the name of a church, but the activity of John.  He was a baptizer, not a “Baptist” as in the originator of the Baptist church.  This is a tree that just doesn’t need to be barked up. To my amazement, I have heard some people actually use John the Baptist to validate the Baptist Church.

The Church of Christ is a denomination.   Now, they’ll say that they don’t have an organization, but I disagree, especially when you go to one of their websites and see that they advertise and link up with each other.  It seems like at the least, the hardline Churches of Christ in this part of Virginia and North Carolina are “united in their adherence to their beliefs and practices.”  Now, if that definition falls apart, look at the definition of “denominating” – to give a name to.

But, anyway, that’s a can of worms that they’ll be ready to answer should you decide to jump in.

Baptism

The hardline Church of Christ have their arguments all lined up like ducks in a row re: this topic, and they’ll be ready to shoot down anything you say that disagrees with their interpretation of Scripture.  So, if you’re going to get into this one, be prepared.

Musical Instruments in Worship

This was what first got me involved in conversations with our local hardline Church of Christ.  I made the rookie mistake of calling up and talking about Psalm 150, which discusses the use of musical instruments in worship.  Well, the hardline Church of Christ response to this is swift and merciless: that in the New Testament, the church wasn’t given permission to use instruments, so although the Old Testament has a number of examples of the use of musical instruments in worship, we aren’t allowed, and to do so is sin, according to the hardline Church of Christ view.

Now, also, if you mention the “psalms” of Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16, they’ll say that the word “psalms” (which in the Greek is from psalmos, “striking chords on a musical instrumet”) is indicating something that should go on in the heart – a striking of the chords on the strings of your heart.  A bit of a stretch, but that’s fine. I will address this in future post.

See, if your interpretation of this passage is different than theirs, you are in sin and not saved.  All because we’ve not been given permission in a way that satisfies their interpretation.

You can see where this is going.  Anyone have anything to contribute?

Instrumental music in “worship”, a sin?

There are many well-meaning folk out there today claiming that God’s word prohibits instrumental music in “worship”. Many go as far as to say those who partake in instrumental music in “worship” are sinning thus deemed as wayward brethren in need of repentance.

The brunt of their argument hinges upon the silence of scriptures e.g., the regulative principle. At this time I wish not to address the flaws with the arguments made from silence; rather, I will affirm the authority for instrumental music in “worship”.

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To begin with, instrumental music was not originally part of the law of Moses. Most recognize that the use of instruments was brought forth from King David. In 2 Chronicles 29:25 we see an interesting revelation. We find that the ultimate source of instrumental music in “worship” was God Himself. This was not David acting presumptuously as some contend, or David instituting “will worship”. God gave the order through the prophets.

In fact, David did disobey the Lord and go against His wishes during his life. David conducted a census of Israel that God did not approve of. God sent a pestilence out against Israel as a result. How about his romp with Bathsheba? God took their son. If instruments in worship is sinful, why was David not stricken for this? Is it possible it was and is not sin?

Many will now say, “we are not under the law now, we are new testament people”. However, we may be disregarding something very important about the law, and primarily the purposes the law was given. According to Paul in Romans 7:7, “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Nay, I had not known sin, BUT BY THE LAW: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, thou shalt not covet”.

Question- was instrumental music in worship declared to be sin in the law of Moses? No, absolutely not. Has God changed His mind, revealed in His word on this subject? No. How can we declare something to be sin that God has not declared to be so? Do we have that authority?

Some will say that Romans 14:23 declares that instrumental music in worship is sin, because God has not authorized or commanded instrumental music in worship, and the NT does not specifically mention it.

Some points to consider:

God has never revoked His authorization of instrumental music in worship.

“Psalms” can mean either vocal and/or instrumental music thus we have authorization. Paul says, as Christians, we can sing “Psalms” thus one can conclude from the meaning of “Psalms” that this means vocal and/or instrumental music. At the time Paul wrote the Ephesians, they knew perfectly well that “Psalms” often had musical accompaniment. They had the Old Testament and understood quite well that “Psalms” could mean either vocal and/or instrumental music.

Romans 14:23 says no such thing as it is accused of. It does not say that anything not specifically authorized by God is sin. The context of chapter 14 is “doubtful disputations”, opinionated matters, and matters of conscience. If you notice the end of the chapter, whatever not of faith is sin refers to something that a person is not fully convinced is permissible in his conscience. Yet if he eats though he has doubts about it, he is condemned because he is not doing so in faith. This says nothing about all things needing authority of God to be acceptable to Him in worship.

For those who insist that instrumental music in “worship” to God to be sinful, please show where God changed His mind and revoked His authorization of instrumental music in worship.