An Experiment in Christian Dialogue: Rev 22:18-19

Angel with harpThe website for the Central Church of Christ in Martinez, Georgia makes this argument against instrumental music on its page “What We Believe”

We can also see that Scripture clearly commands us to observe the will of God and not depart from it. Note the following passages: only. And to do only what the Bible says – nothing more,

“Do not add to what I have commanded you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.” (Deuteronomy 4:2)

“See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it.” (Deuteronomy 12:32)

“Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.” (Proverbs 30:6)

“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” (Revelation 22:18, 19)

It is therefore our goal to seek out the Lord’s will and to follow that will exactly. We believe it is a sin to do otherwise. …

We also enjoy vocal music rather than instrumental music. This is because such was the practice of the first century church. We have no authority in the New Testament to do otherwise. [Note: Please refer to the previous verses which caution us not to “add” anything to God’s Word.]

Do these passages in fact teach that we may “do only what the Bible says – nothing more”?

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46 Responses

  1. They teach that we should not add any new commands to those God gave us, and that we should not delete any commands from those God gave us. And that we should obey the commands God gave us.

    Those who sing with instruments are not adding a new command (the instrument is regarded as optional). They are not deleting a command (they still sing). And they are obeying the command to sing. So they are not in violation.

  2. Just another example of eisegesis (my new favorite theological word).

  3. David,
    Are you saying that Alan is guilty of eisegesis or that the author of the website of the Central Church of Christ in Martinez, Georgia is?

    David Himes, on March 17, 2010 at 7:57 am Said:

    Just another example of eisegesis (my new favorite theological word).

  4. My reference was to the material on the church’s site.

  5. The bit in Revelation pertains only to “the words of prophecy of this book.” It doesn’t apply to anything else. To try to make it apply to anything else is to violate the very warning stated to not add to it. Therefore if you try to apply this passage as a binding command for the rest of Scripture God will bind on you the curses of this book.
    I think I would prefer to avoid that.

  6. It is really interesting how much space and thought is devoted to instrumental music. Here we speak about something, that can be dealt with on the level of church history and common sense – it is really hard to make a command out of silence.

    But it is even more interesting, that some clear commands are increasingly being ignored. This applies to the standards of marriage, the headship of men in family and church, the call to be a separted people, headcovering, love for your enemies (you simply can’t do that as a soldier), not storing up treasures (some churches tend to evangelize white middle class Americans, so they can fund their building projects) and the like …

    We tithe cumin and forget the weightier things. This does not mean, the lesser things are to be ignored (they have lesser weight, but they do have weight – see Mt 23:23)

    Now, since we are to be correct in minors as well, it is more about being balanced. What is more important should be more represented. This should be our focus. If minors come to the fore, there may be two reasons:

    a) They got lost on their way and cry ou: “Have merci!Restore me, Brothers, please!” And so they need to get more attention by all, just as a sick person needs to get more care than usual.

    b) They are unpopular, and so brothers try to get rid of them. This may be called a contentious spirit. This also makes minors bigger than they normally ought to be.

    If Instrumental music is not one of the “Biggies”, why bother? Why strive for change and bring up issues that keep us busy for years while the weightier things remain untouched.

    I would not say: Restore a-capella singing by all means. If, in the course of becoming more and more obedient to our Heavenly Father we also touch this subject, that’s fine; and it will be done in attitude that brings glory to Him.

    If a whole local congregation becomes unanimous in accepting instruments, that’s fine, too. Maybe they did not dig into church history to discern that; if that’s the only thing, I would still fellowship with them. I would not even think about it.

    But if the reasons for change are I, me and myself; and if these characters risked or caused a split and made this issue the main thing, they are close to distorting the truth and it will result in an imbalanced church.

    There will – on the other hand – never be a church that is totally balanced. For me the following illustration is helpful:

    When our body wants to walk a step forward, it has to move from a balanced postion (standing on both feet) to an imbalanced one (putting more weight on one foot, leaning over a bit, …). As long as it is a crontrolled imbalance that’s fine and even necessary. Only dead bodies are in a state of total balance (lying in a coffin).

    OK. We will change in order to move along, and we will at least temporarily be out of balance. But we must strive to stick to every Word of God as good as our weak minds are able to.

    If the above mentioned verses are used to defend a-capella singing, they will (in my opinion) backfire. I’m tempted to ask: “Why don’t your women wear headcoverings any more?” If this whole quote on the other hand is used to make way for instrumental music (because of the obvious flaws in the traditional arguments), then it will provoke the same question: If you only want to do what is clearly commanded (a-capella isn’t clearly commanded), then (e.g.) why don’t your women cover their heads?

    This is not meant to start a new topic. It is just an illustration. Our God is not very fond of double-standards. And, we only please the enemy, if we make the minors majors.

    Alexander

  7. Let’s just pretend for a moment that the passages cited actually DO mean that we are not to do anything the Bible says.

    Doesn’t the doctrine of expediency violate that command, elevating human judgment as sufficient to determine what is permissible when silence prohibits?

    One man’s expedient is another man’s anathema.

  8. Alexander you make a point I have been trying to push for a while as well. It does no good to insist on obedience to what you have reasoned are commands if you blatantly ignore the commands that are actually stated and any argument you make that excuses your disobedience to actual commands certainly applies even more to the disobedience of others to assumed commands. (Expedience, cultural shift, and so on.)

    Therefore we should follow the advice of James 2:12& 13: “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!”

    I cannot, without condemning myself, take you to task for IM, weekly communion, elder affirmation, etc, if I choose to ignore the express commands cencerning the holy kiss, head coverings, house churches, interactive worship services, etc. If I try I am a hypocrite, a blind guide, a white washed tomb, well you get my point.

  9. “not to do anything the Bible does NOT say,” rather.

    Daggum iPhone.

    Once what you’ve punched in on the comments blank goes past the top of it, it’s really hard to get back there and proofread.

  10. Powerful point, Todd

  11. It is rather contradictory to use Old Testament passages to back up a point of not adding to or taking away from the word of God, but following it exactly, but then not applying that same principle to the Old Testament passages that command instrumental music.

    It seems that we like to use the Old Testament when it proves a point we are trying to make, but then when someone uses the Old Testament to prove something we don’t agree with we say, “Oh, that is the Old Testament. We are now under the New Testament.”

  12. I might add that there is little in the way of OT command for instrumental music in worship. It seems most of the OT music used specifically in Temple worship was done more as an expedient. And this when the Law was rather specific about what was to occur in the temple. However, it does not seem that God was upset by it.

    More than a few have pointed out that the value of the ink used to print all the articles about IM is greater than the value of the issue.

    Hesed,
    Randall

  13. At least now, we’re saving the ink and paper, Randall!!

  14. David,
    You make a valid point, but I find little comfort there. And I think I know you well enough to suspect you just might feel the same way.

    Are we using up electrons in these communications or are they reusable? Is there Biblical authority to reuse them if it can in fact be done? I don’t recall electrons ever being mentioned in Acts nor the OT, but surely God was aware of them. Might they have been involved in lighting Elijah’s sacrifice, though not specifically mentioned. Could we make a fair inference? It all just seems so complex. I’ll have to ask the preacher how I should believe about this. Or perhaps we could discuss it for 150 years or so and still not really agree on the matter. Well, at least it distracts us from taking care of the widow and the orphan.

    Hesed,
    Randall

    “People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.”— Soren Kierkegaard

  15. Here is a non-instrumental argument in which Rev.22.18-19 has been used. Let’s see if the argument stands.

    A church of Christ holds a Christmas Eve candle light service every year. It also advertises this service on its web site. The congregation is encouraged to attend but not commanded to attend – attendance is of free choice.

    A very zealous young man starts out his inquisition with the question “why do you celebrate the birth of Christ?” My very amused answer is “why NOT celebrate the day that started the shift of all history?”
    His answer, “have you not heard the saying speak where the Bible speaks and keep silent where the Bible is silent?” OH, how many times have I heard that? My answer, “yes, and each time it comes from a man and not the Bible.” This in turn prompts the introduction of Revelation 22.18-19. I still don’t see the “speak/be silent” motto, do you?

    So the young man proceeds to explain that by adding the celebration of Christ’s birth to the “acts of worship” the church performs, we have added to “this book”. His stance is that “this book” refers to the entire Bible. So I grant him that concession and continue the discussion. He brings up some more Necessary Inference scriptures and begins to lay the footing of a pattern theology. So let’s play his game for the time being. He then concludes that because we are not directly commanded to celebrate Christ’s birth yet are commanded to remember His death, the celebration of Christmas is adding to “this book” and thus sinful (not to mention that it was started by the Catholics to counter a pagan holiday, blah, blah, blah…as if we are never to do anything that another “heretical denomination” does for the soul fact that they do it as well. Don’t the Catholics take communion?)
    So I follow his “pattern theology” lead and bring up Matt 1&2 as well as Luke 1&2. If the Bible has a pattern for us to follow exactly in order to get our worship perfectly correct. Then these four charters giving the account of Christ’s birth are to be reenacted yearly on the exact date that Christ was born. For these chapters give an accurate pattern on how Christ’s birth was celebrated thus leading to the conclusion that this is how it should be celebrated due to Necessary Inference. We should call to the Sheep ranchers (I’m from Texas) out in their fields to follow a giant spot light to the church parking lot where a makeshift barn has been built where they are to gather around an empty manger (because Christ is no longer a baby) and we must find x number of wise men to come bearing gifts, etc., etc…because a pattern has been shown to us that a great celebration, both earthly and heavenly, took place on that wondrous day. If it was important enough for angels to proclaim the birth of Christ, would it not be important enough for Christ’s followers to continue to remember the day God birthed His “only begotten Son”? (Of course most of this is done tongue in cheek) [It is a given that I do not hold Christ’s birth on equal footing with His death – it is just that I see a great blessing given to us by God on that amazing starlit night; one worthy of my praise]

    For some reason, the fact that the Body of Christ was coming together to edify and encourage each other around a very significant event in human history with a heart of giving the one true God praise and glory for His infinite wisdom of humbly bringing into this world His only Son for the redemption of this world was lost on this young man. He could not see past the supposed “pattern of worship” in order to allow for a church assembly. He continued to come back to “we are to only remember His death and if we do anything more we are adding to this book”. As if His death was the one and only aspect of Christ to be worshiped. That worshipping Christ prior to Calvary is sin; to which I present Luke 7.36-50.

    This wretchedly sinful woman, to my knowledge is never mentioned again nor is she mentioned to be present at Christ’s crucifixion. But obviously her worship of Christ at this point in His life prior to His death was perfectly fine by Him. Why? Because she came to worship with faith in the one who could forgive sin (much sin) and a heart full of love for her Savior.

    Now, as twentieth century Christians we do not have the opportunity to worship Christ prior to His death. But why are we regulated to just worshipping Him in His death alone? Are we not told by Paul in 1 Cor. 11 to follow the living (my word) example of him because he follows the example of a living (again my word) Christ [I use living because the context in which Paul makes this statement is very much in the realm of the living]. And then again we are told by Paul in Romans 12 to be “living sacrifices” as this is our “spiritual act of worship.”

    Through the whole book of John, the word “life” is used synonymously for Christ. John presents not just the death of Christ for evidence in which to believe but also His LIFE. Christ’s life, all aspects of it, was to bolster faith in the Word that became flesh. So why is the day the Word became flesh off limits and adding to “this book”? That one’s by me.

    Oh and the crickets were chirping rather loud when I mentioned that the Lord’s Supper was celebrated remembering the sacrifice of Christ in His death at this very same Christmas Eve Service.

    I personally believe that this line of argument using the RP is for the soul purpose of maintaining control. We still listen to the serpent whispering in our ear that we “can be like God[s].” In nearly every aspect of our lives we wish to have full control over the outcome. The entrepreneurial spirit that drove, and to some extent, still drives this country is because men and women wish to control their financial destiny free of a higher boss that must be submitted to.

    Yet at the same time there is a degree of fear of God that has (IMO) been turned sour. We fear the consequences of not getting it right and so swing to the maximum of the pendulum to ensure we do get it right. To which Jay has spoken extensively on our misunderstanding of Grace.

    How’s that in a very large nut shell? Input please.
    Because of Christ,
    Steve Valentine

  16. Things Jesus did that the Old Testament is silent about.

    1. Gather in a Synagogue to pray & to read Scripture.
    2. Celebrate the Feast of Dedication (Hanuka)
    3. Use wine at the Passover.
    4. Wash His disciples’ feet.

    I’m sure there are others, but this shows that He did not feel at all restricted by the “silence” of the Scripture. Hence to infer a law that silence prohibits flies in the face of what Jesus actually did when He was on earth.

  17. 5. Heal on the Sabbath.
    6. Get temple tax money from a fish
    7. Submit to baptism by John
    8. Instruct His disciples to baptize
    9. Spoke of the Passover bread as His body
    10. Allowed His disciples to pick grain on the Sabbath
    11. Dispensed forgiveness of sins and salvation

    … and on and on.

    Don’t bother to respond with “But that was Jesus!”

    I know. Jesus, our example.

    Or, “All authority was given to him in heaven and on earth!”

    Yes, and He gave authority to his disciples. (Luke 10:19, 2 Corinthians 10:8, 1 Thessalonians 4:2, Titus 2:15, Revelation 2:26-28, etc., etc.).

  18. Randall incorrectly affirms: “I might add that there is little in the way of OT command for instrumental music in worship. It seems most of the OT music used specifically in Temple worship was done more as an expedient. And this when the Law was rather specific about what was to occur in the temple.” Randall obviously has not studied the matter from the scriptures. He seems to be relying on assertions made by others equally ignorant of Bible truth.

  19. Jerry,
    Regarding the second item on your list (Feast of Dedication), are you referring to John 10:22?

  20. Ray, we can disagree with others without being insulting. I hope you and others will point it out to me if I indulge in that.

    The record of the command in 2 Chronicles 29:25 comes long after Saul prophesies with those playing instruments as a sign to him that he’s God’s choice (1 Samuel 10) – and long after David instructed the Levites to celebrate with instruments (1 Chronicles 15:16 and 16:4-6).

    If God commanded David to instruct the Levites, we’re not told there. Later, we know, He did – through his prophets in the days of King Hezekiah.

    And the Psalms are replete with instructions to / examples of worship with instruments (33, 43, 49, 71, 81, 147, 149, 150).

  21. Ray,
    Randall would be happy for you to provide the scriptural commands for all the IM used in the temple worship in the OT. Randall isn’t familiar with many of them (and therefore can not cite them) and would welcome you sharing your knowledge with him rather than simply asserting he is incorrect. That is nothing more than “I said, you siad.”

    Thanks in advance for your assistance,
    Randall

  22. Thanks Keith for providing the few passages in the OT where the instrumental music is authorized specifically in the Temple service – and I suppose it is fair to include the Tabernacle before the Temple was built. Of course there is a difference between doing something on David’s say so and doing something where the scripture specifically says “as the LORD commanded.” I would still be happy to see other passages provided by Ray (or others) where the LORD specifically commanded IM in the Temple worship.

    For now, it seems there is little (a few passages in the entire OT) that specifically authorize IM in the Temple service – and at first it was David that commanded w/o a specific reference that God told David to command it. Then later we see that under Hezekiah there is indication that the LORD commanded it. So did David do it as an expedient or did he have specific authorization from God? If so, where can I read that authorization?

    I wonder how many electrons I just reused in discussing this important issue?

    Peace,
    Randall

  23. David celebrated the return of the ark to Jerusalem with instrumental worship and dancing (2 Samuel 6:5), though no specific command is found with it. (You know, sometimes praise doesn’t have to be commanded; it just comes from the joy and thanksgiving of your heart!)

    Instrumental worship in the Temple began with Solomon (2 Chronicles 5:11-14; 9:11). While there is no record of a specific command of God, it would be hard to conclude that the Lord was displeased, since His “glory filled the temple” to the point that the priests could not perform their duties.

    It was practiced at the celebration of Jehoida (2 Chronicles 23:12-13) and at Josiah’s reconstruction of the temple and re-institution of the Passover (2 Chronicles 34-35).

    The temple had been destroyed – but Jerusalem’s wall rebuilt – by the time instrumental praise took place in Nehemiah 12.

    In the time of the prophet Habakkuk (chapter 3), songs are still being specified to be sung “with stringed instruments.”

    I can’t draw a conclusion whether David was commanded by God to incorporate instrumental praise into tabernacle/temple worship, or whether he did so of his own accord and God later commanded it in Hezekiah’s day, or if it had been practiced since Moses’ day but wasn’t considered necessary to record as a command in the law. There just isn’t enough information to draw that conclusion.

    I would observe that music does seem to be an outpouring from the hearts of people that doesn’t really require a command for the joyful and grateful … and I have to wonder if the New Testament’s instructions to sing are not so much commands but reminders for people who are so stressed in their new Christian walk by persecution or even just peer pressure that they’re having trouble generating that joy and gratitude from their hearts.

  24. Keith,
    Thank you for your well informed and helpful comments.
    Hesed,
    Randall

  25. David celebrated the return of the ark to Jerusalem with instrumental worship and dancing (2 Samuel 6:5), though no specific command is found with it. (You know, sometimes praise doesn’t have to be commanded; it just comes from the joy and thanksgiving of your heart!)

    No no no! There is no specific authority for spontaneous praise or joy. All joy and praise is only valid if one previously understands that they are expressing their joy and praise in obedience to the commands of God. If you don’t know that God demands only non-spontaneous, pre-packaged praise and joy, then your worship is invalid. (2nd Assmptns 22:16)

    The passage means what it says it means. It is a direct warning to the original reader, just like the Paul’s command to deliver books and papers. Hopefully those don’t establish a pattern where the only authorized second job for an evangelist is in mail-carrying or delivery services.

  26. All,

    Really good discussion. And I’ve yet to see a conservative voice defend the traditional interpretation of these passages.

    None of the commands quoted on the website actually says “Don’t do what’s unauthorized.” They say NOTHING about authority. They only speak of what is or isn’t commanded.

    If I wrongly say instruments are allowed, but there’s a command somewhere that instruments are prohibited, well, I’ve subtracted a command.

    But if I wrongly say instruments are not allowed, well, I’ve added a command — because the conservative position is to insist on a supposed command.

    Therefore, these passages say NOTHING about whether authority is required, only that we should respect all the commands and add no more.

  27. Let me question a question: If you can’t add anything to Revelation, you can’t add anything to the Bible either, right? Say Romans or Ephesians? I don’t know why people get so confused about this. This verse means that you can’t add to God’s Word and still matain God’s approval.

    Why do some challenge the general principle of addition to God’s word taught in this passage?

    The Bible provides both principle and example proving such an idea to be false. Both in the Old Testament and the New Testament, specific commands are recorded instructing “not to add to or take away from” God’s law (Deuteronomy 4:2 ; Joshua 1:7 ; Matthew 15:3 ,9 ; Galatians 1:8-9 ; I Peter 4:11 ; II John 9 ; Revelation 22:18-19 ).

    Yes, in the book of Revelation, the Lord disapproves of both adding to and taking away from the words of John’s prophecy. One cannot presume to go further than what God has revealed. The consequence of doing so? “God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18).

    While John had specifically in mind the book of Revelation, the principle portrays the attitude of God as found in numerous other passages as mentioned.

    I think we ought to take these warnings very seriously.

    For Christ,
    Robert Prater

  28. Robert,
    Your point carries a certain amount of logic with it, but it remains that John’s comment, as you admit, did not apply to the New Testament, as a whole.

    Your view also begs the question of how we derived the canon. Which, on the face of things, came from the Roman Catholic bishops. So, do you agree that the Roman Catholic bishops were inspired when they agreed on the New Testament canon?

    Now a separate point — Paul wrote: The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love.

    Quite logically, then, instrumental music does not matter. Gender roles in worship do not matter.

    Unless, of course, Paul didn’t really mean what he said.

  29. Robert and all,

    I don’t think any of us would agree that it’s a good thing to add to nor subtract from God’s word – including the book of Revelation.

    But people do see that principle differently. To some, seeing God’s silence as prohibitive (or permissive) is adding to His word. To others, seeing God’s silence as anything but prohibitive is adding to His word.

    So the real issue is whether we can really believe that God would be silent about anything which He wants – or doesn’t want – us to do; whether He hides His will from us by His silence, requiring us to deduce from scattered passages that violating His silence will always lead to condemnation.

    I can’t believe that He would, or does.

    The gospel isn’t that complicated. Jesus was the son of God, who died and lived again so that we can to. We accept that fact through our obedience and conformity to living His life in this world.

    Why would God make it difficult for those who are not expert logicians, or Greek and Hebrew scholars, to continue to obey Him by cloaking His will?

    Does He only love the intelligent and despise the simple and lowly?

  30. Amen, Keith.

  31. To my progressive friends,

    (It seems I have to address you as a group since there’s so many of you trying to converse with me:)

    The problem with most of your reasoning is that when it comes to the issue of music in worship in the NT church, God has spoken specifically about the topic. SING!! Added to this is the theology behind what He has said.

    Many of you are building your “liberty” on the assumption that silence does everything else but PROHIBIT!! Silence alone is not our hermeneutic. It is silence in the face of what is actually said–SING. It is also silence with theology behind it as

    Now, let me try something here at this point in our discussions. Let me attempt as best as I can, to present what I think are some strong points against the use of instrumental music. Just these points alone make a compelling case for the non-use of instrumental music in Christian worship. Under some of these points I will provide some commentary notes from different Biblical scholars.

    Point #1 — In the Old Testament, God asked for singing + instrumental music for use in worship (2 Chronicles 29:25-26; Psalm 150). It was something they could be sure about.
    Point#2 — In the New Testament, God just asks for singing (Ephesians 5:19) or the “fruit of lips” (Hebrews 13:15). Therefore, singing was something that the worshiper could absolutely be sure about.
    But because there is no clear directive from God on the use of instrumental music (as contrasted with the Old Testament), it is something that one cannot absolutely be sure about.
    Point#3 — After the church came into being and for at least 400 or so years, God was given just what he asked for (singing). As a result, the word “a cappella” came into being and was the term for “music in the church style.” The use of this term is the musical history of Christian worship in a nut-shell. (“A Cappella Singing,” by Dr. William M. Green, Professor of classical languages, University of California, Berkeley; Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, by E. Ferguson, p629ff)
    Point#4 — Before the New Testament was completed, the church used the Old Testament scriptures as their primary source (Acts 17:11; 18:28, etc.). They had the very scriptures before them that approved and encouraged the use of instruments right down to the naming of specific types (2 Chronicles 29:25-26; Psalm 150). And at the time of the early church, instruments were available and many Christians had the talent to play them … yet this talent was not exercised in worship! The Old Testament scripture was not followed. WHY????
    Point #5 — That instrumental music was absent from Christian worship during the days of the inspired Apostolic teaching (John 14:26; Acts 2: 42) proves that the Apostles, who were very familiar with the use of instruments in Temple worship, never encouraged churches to use them.
    The above also means that the Holy Spirit never encouraged churches to use instruments (John 14:26) in spite of the fact that it once did so in a direct way (2 Chronicles 29:25ff).
    Point#6 — Ephesians 5:19 has two parts: Singing + Making Melody. The “making melody” is translated from the Greek word “psallo.” It means to “pluck or twang.” The adverbial phrase that follows tells where this action takes place. It is “in the heart” and not on a harp. This fixes the focus of the “plucking” in a figurative sense. Note the contrast with the physical, Old Testament worship (McClintock and Strong’s Encyclopedia, Vol. VIII, p739; Thayer’s Greek Lexicon on “psallo”)
    Point#7 — The design of the New Covenant worship would be different than that of the Old Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31; John 4:23; Hebrews 7:12; 10:1,10; 9:1). Many physical things of the Old pointed to their true substance in the New. For example, in the Old it was the priests that offered physical sacrifices to God, but in the New everyone is a priest with spiritual sacrifices to offer (1 Peter 2:5). It is specifically the “fruit of lips” that is the sacrifice of praise asked for (Hebrews 13:15) and not the “sounds from man-made devices.”

    My dear progressive friends, can we really claim that we can’t know God’s will here. He really hasn’t been “silent” about it! He hasn’t “hiden” anythign from us that He wants us to do or doesn’t want us to do–that is why we have revelation–His Word! Some men reject it. Some accept it. Some continue to study it further and learn more of HIs will. Some people just love “darkness” rather than the light/truth.

    But God has SPOKEN!!

    Ask yourselves…..before doing a thing, it is proper to ask “Can we be sure that this is approved by God?”

    The facts show that we cannot be sure that God approves the use of instrumental music in worship. This makes it a “questionable” and “unsure” matter.

    However, the facts show that we can be absolutely sure that just singing has God’s approval. All can agree upon this. The total context argues strongly that the non-use of the instrument is a matter of design (i.e., it was no accident that it was left out).

    I am sincerely still studying and trying to learn God’s Word better.

    Robert Prater

  32. For an excellent article presenting the theology behind why we just sing, check out the article posted on HUGSR by John Mark Hicks. http://www.hugsr.edu/bridge/bulletin12.php

    I think ihe does one of the best jobs in presenting the theology behind why we just sing. Or why instrumental music is contrary to Christian NT worship. Which is another part of our opposition to IM.

    Now, although he doesn’t argue for the Regulative principle or some of the arguments more traditional conservative members made (lacking Biblical authority or apostolic example, etc.) and although I do disagree with some of his concluding observations of IM and unity, still, I think his excellent article is worth consideration in this discussion on why we sing without instruments.

    God bless,
    Robert Prater

  33. One more link to an article to check out by Dr. Jimmy Allen, on “The Principle of Exclusion.” http://jimmyallenevangelist.com/?p=17

    Brother Allen taught Bible at Harding for 50 years before his retitrement in 2008. I know I personally was challenged and encouraged from the lessons I learned from him in both the classroom and life. I’m sure some teading this blog greatly love and respect him and only offer his article for your consideration. Someone once said he’s “the Billy Graham of the Church of Christ.” I don’t know about that:!

    But this of course comes from a man who helped teach generations of young people and preachers including me, about the wonderful grace of God. I guess, I’m just saying not all of us are far right-wing nuts who are legalistic radicals!

    In Christ,
    Robert Prater

  34. Robert,

    You said, “The problem with most of your reasoning is that when it comes to the issue of music in worship in the NT church, God has spoken specifically about the topic. SING!! Added to this is the theology behind what He has said.”

    Robert, Robert, Robert…I am trying to contain my laughter right now. While your claim may be true, that is no less than what those who are opposed to instrumental worship have done. What is the hermeneutic of Command, Example, Inference? What is the Regulative Principle? Are they both not a theology being added, placed behind the teaching to sing? Did your comment not just add, place a theology behind the teaching to sing?

    Of course, I have no objections to having a theology behind any teaching because that is what helps us understand what is meant by the teaching and how to apply it today. Rather than grieving the fact that a theology is added, placed behind a teaching. The question is which theology is correct? Which theology is coherent and consistent with the intent of scripture itself? Of course, that is a huge question and it is the precise point of contention between those who believe the NT forbids the addition of instruments and those who believes it permitts.

    I love you man and I admire your desire to serve God as a witness of the gospel, I just want you to know you are doing the very thing you seem to be complaining that the so-called progressives do.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

  35. Robert,

    I too appreciate your willingness to spend the time to present this material.

    Most of us have encountered and responded to it – or similar presentations – before. All of them are based on the assumption that whatever God does not mention in scripture is prohibited. That is an assumption, unless proven, which is what Jay is trying to encourage us toward with these posts about individual scriptures cited to support the assumption.

    My response to your points:

    Point #1 – True as a can be.
    Point #2 – Only true if you assume that silence prohibits.
    Point #3 – Only true if you assume that silence prohibits.
    Point #4 – An assertion that the early church never used instruments. Cannot be proven. We don’t know.
    Point #5 – An assertion that the early church never used instruments. Cannot be proven. We don’t know.
    Point #6 – An interpretation of scripture; it neither proves nor disproves that instrumental worship was permissible or used in Ephesus.
    Point #7 – Only true if you assume that silence prohibits. (Putting quotes around “the sounds made from man-made devices” makes me wonder whom or what you’re quoting. It doesn’t seem to be scripture, unless you’re broadly paraphrasing 1 Corinthians 13:1.)

    You see, you can’t prove a proposition like “anything not commanded is prohibited” by assuming that “anything not commanded is prohibited.”

    I don’t think anyone is claiming that we can’t know God’s will here. We know what God asked for in the Old Testament; we know how worship is accompanied in heaven. His silence on the matter in much of the New Testament neither prohibits nor permits; it is simply a matter on which He expresses no opinion in those books, and leaves us free to to form our own opinion.

    So, I go to the total context.

    The total context – as I believe many see it – is the entirety of scripture, which makes it amply certain that God has never disapproved of instrumental worship, and in the timeless eternity we one day hope to share with Him through His Son, He does not disapprove of it but equips His saints with the instruments to express it.

    Given no expressed recommendations for or against it, it would seem that the practice would continue to be approved. Instrumental worship was a gift to men on earth in the Old Testament, and is a gift to men in heaven. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” ~ James 1:17

    It is no more safe nor certain to worship acceptably without instruments than with them.

    Can you see how the entire a cappella-only argument hangs entirely on the assumption of God’s silence prohibiting what we want it to prohibit? (I think your beginning paragraphs confirm that you can and do see that!)

    That’s why Jay is trying to move us to examine whether the arguments and scriptures used to justify the assumption are valid.

    Because nowhere in scripture does God explicitly say, “You shall not do anything that I have not authorized or I will certainly consign your body and soul to the fiery hell of eternal damnation.”

  36. Robert,

    John Mark wrote,

    “Unless one refuses to sing or where instrumental music substitutes for singing, instrumental music does not contradict the command to sing because when we sing with instruments we are still singing. The analogy with infant baptism or Nadab and Abihu does not hold in this case. Playing does not contradict singing (it only adds to singing), but this does not mean that the New Testament is indifferent to instrumental music or that instrumental music does not somehow pervert singing.”

    “We offer the sacrifice of praise with our lips and our bodies. Anything which detracts from this central idea or diverts our attention violates the fundamental principle of Christian worship: we worship God by the Spirit of God who lives in our hearts.”

    Hicks thus completely undercuts and disagrees with the interpretation you’ve been offering. Do you agree with his theology or do you only agree with his conclusions?

    He concludes, “We can permit diversity of belief on this point without condemning others to hell, but we can also continue to proclaim the truth that the new covenant assemblies of the New Testament did not use instrumental music.”

    Do you disagree?

    Given that the same theological considerations that led him to reject instrumental music led him to this conclusion, I don’t see how you can adopt the theology and not the conclusions the theology leads to.

  37. Robert Prater said:
    “Point #1 — In the Old Testament, God asked for singing + instrumental music for use in worship (2 Chronicles 29:25-26; Psalm 150). It was something they could be sure about.
    Point#2 — In the New Testament, God just asks for singing (Ephesians 5:19) or the “fruit of lips” (Hebrews 13:15). Therefore, singing was something that the worshiper could absolutely be sure about.”

    There is one significant difference between your OT citations and your NT citations. The OT citations are clearly in a worship context.

    2 Chron. 29:25 He stationed the Levites in the Temple…
    Psalm 150:1 Praise God in his holy house of worship…

    The NT citations do not indicate that the writer is giving instructions.

    Eph: 5:15 Be careful then how you live… The instructions that follow are about how the Ephesians are to live their lives. Eph. 5:19 is not an instruction about worship.

    Heb. 13:15 Let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise… The sacrifice is supposed to be continual. It other words, it’s not limited to just a time of assembly. (Notice also that Eph. 19-20 says “sing and make music…always giving thanks to God…”) So since God specified singing in Heb. 13, does that mean that I cannot give him a sacrifice of praise by speaking? Am I not violating the specific command to sing? The same question can be asked about Ephesians. Can I give thanks to God other than by singing? Is speaking my thanks to God a violation of the specific command?

  38. Jay,

    No, I don’t agree with most of John Mark’s conclusions. And yes, like many other human writers, there are parts of their “theology” that I do agree with and parts I don’t I agree with.

    So yes, I think it’s possible to agree with most of John Mark’s theology but disagree with his conclusion.

    Jay,have you never agreed with the theology or princples a writer might make, but then disagree with some of their own applications of it?? I hardly doubt it.

    John Mark Hicks does just like John Price does in his book at the end with his conclusions. Price gives a good summary of his arguments throughout the book against IM and then in his conclusion he contradicts himself . Inj Appendix A, An Exhortation To Unity, when he states, “The application of the regulative principle to this area of worship is of great importance, but the use of a single instrument to accompany singing should not be seen as a violation of such gravity that it should disrupt the peace or the unity of any church” (p. 234).

    There it seems Price fails to follow the regulative principle which is an objective principle taught in Scripture and falls prey to subjectivism in giving his own opinion of its application. Price places unity above adherence to what God’s Word.

    In reality, unity can only be achieved by the adhering to the word. (Jn. 14:14-15; 17:17; Eph. 4:1-6)

    So no I can’t fully explain why John Mark or John Price fail to follow with what should have been a natural progression on the fellowship issue. But still, I don’t think it discredits the whole of what he has argued.

    But I do agree with the majority of what he writes: Especially:

    “I think it is safe to say that the New Testament gives no evidence of their use, and this is confirmed by early Christian history in the centuries following the writing of the New Testament documents. Further, it is safe to say that New Testament Christians had a reason for not using the musical instrument. Given this historical reality, why did the early church not worship God with the instrument, especially since the Psalms are filled with references to such worship and they sang Psalms in their worship (Ephesians 5:19; Col. 3:16)? Why is the New Testament silent about instrumental music in new covenant assemblies?”

    He further writes:

    “Now, it would be perfectly proper to stop at this point and affirm the biblical and historical ground for a cappella music in the worship of the church. Even if we cannot determine why the early church did not worship with musical instruments, perhaps it ought to be enough for us as restorations that they did not and we ought to follow their example if we want to simply be a New Testament church. That is surely a sufficient reason for the existence of a Christian a cappella community…”

    Again, I point to his argument when he says;

    I believe Ephesians 5:19 provide the theological rationale for the silence of the New Testament about instrumental music in Christian assemblies. Consequently, I regard the silence of the New Testament on this point as intentional. As a result, when Paul calls us to sing and play with the heart to the Lord, he implicitly excludes singing and playing with the harp.”

    It continues to remain my conviction and other more moderates and conservatives that still believe with the regulative principe, the law of silence, CENI, which progressives thrown out the door, that it will swing the doors wide open to all sorts of error. I am fully convinced not only will IM become more prominent in progressive circles and congregations (it already is) , but so will women preachers, elders, Lord’s Supper taken on other days of the week than first day of the week or monthly, and other things to follow because the chief protection has been discarded.

    No, I don’t have all the the answers, but I know God commands us to sing, and instruments were specifically left out in the days of the Apostles, so faith demands us to act upon

    Sincerely,
    Robert Prater

  39. Ah Brian, Brian, Brian,

    The old “these passages aren’t referring to singing in the assmebly…but private lives of Christians.”

    Sorry, that “dog won’t hunt”:) These passages most certainly would include the NT churches worship assembly.

    I have heard that “liberals are becoming legalist” while searching for a loop hole to get the instrument into formal worship. This argument might be one of those examples:)lol!!

    Let’s go back to John Mark Hicks. He writes:

    “Is the singing in these passages congregational or individual? This is often asked
    about various passages, and answers are not always easy to give. We forget that this sort of questions would scarcely arise in the first-century church. We should remember that most of the New Testament letters were written to churches and were read to assemble congregations. Yet in response to the question one needs to ask: When today do Christians generally address one another in songs of
    praise? Under what circumstances so they teach and admonish each other in these songs? Usually this takes place in the worship assembly. So it was in the early church. While teaching certainly occurred outside the assembly, Christians taught and admonished one another in the assembly.8 Of course, this is why Christians were not to neglect the assembly because this is where exhortation took place (Heberews 10:25).”

    He observes, “It is clear, then, that singing formed part of the worship assembly of the New Testament Church.”

    Hicks then makes this conclusion:

    “Practically all recent scholarly research on this point understands Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 to refer to congregational worship—Schilier, Rengstorf, Behm, Preisker, Delling, Lohse, M. Barth, Bartels, R. Martin, Moule, etc.9 At the least, it can be said that these passages on singing reflect the scene of the primitive church in worship. 9See the articles in TDNT, The New International Dictionary of NT Theology (hereafter, NIDNTT), the commentaries, and the relevant works on New Testament worship.)

    Neil Lightfoot (anybody ever heard of him:),

    He taught at the Abilene Christian University Lectures and made the following comment on his class EXEGESIS OF EPHESIANS 5: 19 AND COLOSSIANS 3: 16

    “With Paul’s emphasis on edification and understanding, as opposed to irrational and disruptive outbursts of ecstatic behavior, Paul underscores the cognitive role of music in the worship of God’s people. These explicit references to singing within New Testament assemblies are confirmed by Paul’s call for Christians to praise God with song in two texts, Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16—both of which include Psalm singing (unlike the contemporary synagogue). In these two texts the purpose of singing is tied to teaching and admonishing each other while at the same time expressing our gratitude to God. This is consonant with the call of the writer of Hebrews for believers to “continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise” with their own lips (Heb. 13:15).”

    A little consideration of Col 3:16 and Eph 5:19 will show that the command to sing involves reciprocal action. Eph 5:19 commands “speaking to yourselves”- reciprocal action. Col 3:16 commands “teaching and admonishing one another,” – it is something we are to do to each other. There is no validity to the contention that all the passages in the New Testament on singing refer to individual singing.

    Colossians 4:16 reads: “Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.”

    Paul expects that Colossians will be read publicly in the assembly both in Colossians and Laodicea. It is ludicrous to even suggest such would not be practiced and obeyed in the worship assembly.

    Humbly,
    Robert Prater

  40. Robert,

    You said that because IM is wrong, it therefore damns. Is it true that all doctrinal error damns? Or just violations of the RP?

  41. Jay,

    I don’t know where EVER I said specifically that IM ultimately and certainly by itself “damns” people.

    Never have. Sorry. As a matter of fact, I’ve said over and over God will judge people’s eternal souls…not me, you or anyone else. So PLEASE don’t say or imply I’ve said otherwise.

    Yes I believe it is wrong to use IM in Christian worship. But I do not believe those who disagree with me on the issue are ALL therefore bound for hell. Again, God will judge. Such questions and issues are simply distractions and take us away from the real question and issue…of “Is it Biblical?”

    Again, I am MORE than content to leave final judgment in the hands of our gracious God, Yet, that does not mean the issue is unimportant. No aspect of God’s will is trivial.

    No, I am not arguing that God will not forgive any Christian’s sincere error. I agree with you on that general principle. If every incorrect belief causes us to go to hell, we’re all in trouble:)!!

    Now I have debated with you before on your favorite “hobby horse:)” about whether “all doctrinal error damns?” I’ve tried to answer this before in our discussions.

    We clearly don’t agree on that one! I don’t agree with you that somehow, God has to specify and exactly “spell out” which error or unauthorized practices we can hold to, practice and promote, yet will not condemn and which ones will.

    I’ve told you before on this subject and many others like subjects that I believe this to be an illegitimate question. I don’t think a person committed to God even asks that question, “Well, is it a salvation issue, if I do or not?”

    We must continue to strive to preach and teach and practice that which is only authorized by God. The facts show that we cannot be sure that God approves the use of instrumental music in worship. This makes it a “questionable” and “unsure” matter at the least. We can however be absolutely sure that just singing has God’s approval. All can agree upon this.

    And yes because of this conviction fellowship and cooperation may be disrupted and hindered at times because of this even though I may still consider them by brothers and sisters in Christ.

    And no I don’t claim to have all the “fellowship” issues worked out on this or any other issue in the church. But when it comes to something as serious as the issue of worship…and how we approach and revere and praise His Glorious name and giving only to God that which He commands and desires….I do have to draw a line here. “In vain do they worsihp teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” (Mt. 15:7-9) Things that are less public, of course, do not carry such influence.

    Again…this does not mean, of course, that we can have no contact with such people or have no fellowship whatsoever but it does mean in my view that we do not extend to those who are engaging in a practice which is not in harmony with scripture the same fellowship we would to those who are in such harmony.

    Because by extending full fellowship without any open discussion or challenge on their practicing something in worship which is nowhere authorized……I do believe by such approval we indicate that we consider the matter of consequences and that it if makes NO difference in fellowship, then it really matters no difference!

    Yes we can and should love all of them, and we can be friendly and associate with them, and we can have meetings with them if the opportunity presents itself in the hope of working out our differences; but to merely ignore differences or to say that no issues should be counted as without Biblical authority and that we can sanction all of these matters by association is to ignore Biblical principles about truth and error.

    If we disagree on what constitutes disobedience to God, we just have to disagree here!

    But fellowship does constitute endorsement—especially of major fundamental well-known matters and practices like how we worship God.

    I’m reminded of the true and sad story of when J.W. McGarvey left the Broadway congregation in Lexington , Kentucky in 1902. McGarvey had assisted in the founding of the congregation in 1870, but in 1902 he had to move to another congregation because, in spite of all of his teaching and protests, the church voted in the organ. This great Bible scholar saw it both as unscriptural and division, and as a cause for withdrawing fellowship. He said:

    “The party which forces an organ into the church
    against the conscientious protest of a minority is disorderly and schismatical, not only because it stirs up strife, but because it is for the sake of a sinful innovation upon the divinely authorized worship and the church; and, inasmuch as the persons thus acting are disorderly and schismatic, it is the duty of all good people to withdraw from them until they repent”
    ( J.W. McGarvey, quoted in J. E. Choate and William Woodson, Sounding Brass and Clanging Cymbals, pp.129ff)

    Again, he did not leave because he no longer considered them brethren. He left because they introduced an error, which he could not participate in or approve or fellowship. When people leave the Word to practice unauthorized forms of worship, they can separate themselves from the will of God. They may think they are disciples, but they are not truly disciples (John 8:31).

    We must walk in the light, as He is in the light to have fellowship with God. (1 John 1:7) Now if I must walk in the light to have “fellowship with Him, every other person must also walk in the light to have fellowship with Him. That makes us all ONE. And even though I may honestly believe something that is not taught in the word of God, but my sincerity does not put me in the light of God’s word.

    Jay,

    If I’m understanding my progressives brethren such as yourselves and other leading progressives……that is the message and change that you guys want to a make and teach…that the issue of IM is a non-issue ….not a faith matter or anything to do with Biblical authority and should NOT divide over it all.

    We of course your more moderate and conservative brethren humbly and respectfully disagree.

    And we know what is at STAKE! Believe me, we do. Extending fellowship without any limit or discussion or challenge to those whose instruments in worship without Biblical authority is certainly an encouragement for them to continue its use and, eventually, a discouragement for anyone to oppose it.

    We’re not “dumb” and naïve folks here who haven’t studied our history because surely no one would believe that churches who openly fellowship those who use the instrument without challenge, WILL OVER THE LONG TERM NOT HAVE PRESSURE TO BEGIN TO USE IT THEMSELVES!

    It’s happening already within my generation (25-45 years old) of congregations due to the leadership and influence of preachers and elders from your generation of baby boomers (55-70).

    In recent years we have seen several congregations surrender under the pressure and now use IM services in at least one Sunday morning Sunday. And of course, as you well noted and criticized on this blog iIf I recall, last year when according to February 09 issue of Christian Chronicle, 21 congregations had now been in the latest addition of the Churches of Christ in the United States, 21, had been left out of that publication because they have adapted IM.

    Now please, please hear me…..does anyone reading this blog actually believe that these 21 congregations will be the LAST??

    Again…we know what is at stake. And hopefully you and other progressives know that some of US know what is at stake…and we will resist such unauthorized additions and changes in worship.

    Let there be no mistake or misunderstanding about that!

    In love
    Robert Prater

  42. Jay,

    I want to point out one more thing about what’s at stake. And it’s a lot more than IM.

    Isn’t that really just to sort get the “ball rolling” if I’m right. That’s really the first major obstacle to a larger picture??

    Many of us moderates and conservaties don’t fail to see where the progressives basic arguments really leads too: Full fledged ecumencialism!

    Progressives may deny such, but that is the implications and will be the consequences of what they re advocating.

    Jay, if your principle is allowed to go to its full demand, then that will let’ in denominational people to full “Christian fellowship” (again, as far as I can see it).

    It seems that you and other progressives will be hard put to leave either “improperly immersed” or the “unimmersed” at all out of your view of open and full fellowship.

    At least many of them.

    So Instrumental music is JUST the starting point. I think I can see where the real battle and fight will end up at…..baptism!

    Humbly,
    Robert Prater

  43. Well, Robert, I’m glad you didn’t think so little of the faith of those you call “progressives” that you felt the real battle and fight would end up at the identity of Jesus Christ!

    Is there anyone still engaged in this conversation who believes that baptism is NOT what God wants us to have done to us in order to accept and receive His grace, forgiveness, salvation and Holy Spirit?

  44. Keith,

    Again, I said about what I think will be a natural consequence of Jay’s and other progressives logic that,”It seems that you and other progressives will be hard put to leave either “improperly immersed” or the “unimmersed” at all out of your view of open and full fellowship.

    And yes, I do think the battle over baptism ends up at the identity of Jesus Christ! The issue of the Lordship of Jesus to save as He has commanded and only as He has commanded!

    Now, the first part of that debate and fight is happening right now….even on this blog by Jay.

    On http://oneinjesus.info/2009/12/23/amazing-grace-what-if-we-fail-to-convince-others-regarding-baptism/

    Jay says:

    “but (b) we’ve been incorrect to deny the salvation of genuinely penitent believers who were imperfectly baptized in honest error. ” That incorrect baptism being discussed included infant baptism and for “believers.”

    Jay further said:

    “However, because I don’t believe those who’ve been baptized imperfectly are lost for this reason, I treat them as fellow Christians. They are believers. And the scriptures are plain that believers are saved.”

    Again…I think the issue and fight will be in the future ,certainly not ALL progressives but a good portion of them…….can and should we ultimately accept the unimmersed into the fellowhship of the saved.

    Surely you read the following from New Wineskins:)! lol!! http://www.wineskins.org/filter.asp?SID=2&fi_key=109&co_key=1049

    Gary Holloway of Lipscomb University said, ““Currently there is some controversy among Churches of Christ regarding immersion. Many of us cannot deny that there are many devout Christians who are unimmersed.”

    How aobut The Spiritual Sword, 2009, where Hugh Fulford quotes Mike Williams, also a professor at Lipscomb and the minister at Fourth Avenue Church of Christ in Franklin, Tenn., as saying that the congregation will accept the baptisms of anyone, whether baptized as infants, for reasons other than remission of sins, as well as those who have not been baptized.

    He quotes Williams as saying, “And so, we have decided we will not be contentious, and we will be encompassing, and embracing all who choose to come here and walk with us.”

    You don’t think surely they will be the last to do such?

    And from my own personal experiences and discussions not only on this very blog about with people about whether or not God will in fact accept and/or save forgive sins, seperate and apart from baptism.

    And I’ve had these discussions with other “progressives,” in my time at Harding undergrad, my current Grad classes at Oklahoma Christian and time I have spent out at the Tulsa Workshop where I’m from. Trust me. It’s happening and will continue to happen.

    Lines will be drawn and fellowship will sadly be broken over this issue.

    And I grieve that such would have to happen.

    Finally, doesn’t Jay and many others accept the term “progressives?” Don’t I read on the links pages
    “Progressive Discussion Groups” and “Progressive Church of Christ Blogs” under which Jay says the following: “This is a first cut at a list of blogs and resources of particular value to members of the progressive Churches of Christ.”

    And I’d be interesting to know in the question you pose, if that is in fact, the “ONLY” way to receive forgiviness and salvation??

    Hoping for better understanding,

    Your brother
    Robert

  45. I’m going to try to be a good commenter and not respond to your response, Robert – as I should have before – since it’s really off-topic for this post.

    If Jay wants to open a post for this topic – or just redirect us to an existing one – I’d be glad to respond.

    It’s his blog.

  46. Robert,

    You of course assume that you have correctly studied and understood the passages on baptism and therefore have practiced baptism in a correct manner. But what if you are wrong. What if you were to find out that something in your understanding was wrong – resulting in either a misunderstood theology or practice of baptism, or both?

    Hypothetically, it is possible for you (and I) to be wrong? Isn’t it? So, what if?

    Does that not mean you are lost then – outside the body of Christ? After all, that is your claim regarding others whom you believe to have a misunderstood theology and/or practice of baptism…is it not?

    Of course, does that thinking not make the object of your faith your our (intellectual) ability to correctly study and understand the baptismal passages correctly so that a correct practice in connection with a correct theology?

    I hope you’re right. Because by your own line of argumentation, if you are indeed wrong…you’re lost and outside the fellowship of Jesus Christ because you have insisted that in addition to faith in Christ, correct study and understanding of scripture leading to a correct biblical doctrine is necessary for salvation.

    I just think it is time to point it out for what it is…there is a difference between faith in God/Jesus Christ and faith in doctrine/intellectual-ability-to-correctly-understand doctrine.

    Biblical faith in God certainly involves both trust and obedience. But no one can be obedient to a teaching they have not understood or heard. They can only be obedient to what they know. And there are just too many Christians who have exhibited a great faith in God who never understood that biblical baptism was an immersion for those mature enough to make a confession of faith (belief)…in fact, some, perhaps many, of them had such a faith that they were martyred for the name of Jesus Christ. Some of them still are being martyred for the name of Jesus Christ as I write this comment.

    And unless Jesus’ promise in Mark 8.35 is a big fat lie, Jesus, himself, says such people have salvation.

    Grace and peace,

    Rex

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