Wednesday, December 20, 2006

When the answer is not an answer

A friend of mine in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area is reporting the rest of the news about what is happening at North Richland Hills:

For those who are not in the D/FW metropolis and want to know what’s happening with congregations after the announcement in last week’s Christian Chronicle…

The North Richland Hills congregation is losing membership very quickly. There is another rather large congregation in the area that has nearly doubled in size since the announcement – this would account for several hundred members alone. Several other congregations also report that they are receiving members who are “finally fed up” with the direction of their former congregation. Not sure where the final numbers will work out, but the effect is sure to be felt. I’m not sure that this significant piece of news will make it into the Christian Chronicle or not.
There appear to be far fewer proponents of the instrument than some would lead us to believe.

People think that compromise and union with error will make our churches larger. Not always. What happens is that people who see the truth finally tire and leave. The progressives have pushed and pushed their postmodern agenda until they have driven off members who will no longer put up with their watered-down convictions.

Of course, some are reasoning that they had to get rid of the objectors in order to advance the cause of union with the Christian church. My, how disposable are their souls? Their love for the instrumentalists and "unity" seems to be greater than their respect for their own people who have convictions!

Loose religion attracts people who want a non-threatening faith, but it is difficult to get progressives to take a firm stand except against "traditionalists."

We have seen changes in Nashville as well. One group wanted change and shrunk from 3700 down to half that size. Another group with a progressive leader has shrunk from 2300 to 1400. This is the other side of this movement, often not noticed by those with the agenda for change.

Truth does matter; and before there can be real "unity," there must be a sanctification in the truth. The unity of John 17 was both relational and doctrinal. Can anyone seriously entertain the idea that Jesus in being one with His Father agreed to disagree but get along? Jesus said otherwise: “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority" (John 7:16-17). I seriously doubt if those who have been prooftexting John 17 have taken enough time to look closely at it. The suggestion that we suspend doctrine and judgment in order to be unified is simply error.

Unity includes all of us agreeing with God doctrinally and relationally. You just cannot separate doctrine from relation (John 8:31-32). True disciples don't.

May the Lord help our broken and bleeding body to heal with truth and love.



B0Z said...

Nice blog. Jason Carter sent me to your post here. Keep up the good work.

Paula Harrington said...

-Loose religion attracts people who want a non-threatening faith

So true! Well said.


Bob Bliss said...

Ditto to what Paula said. I noticed the same line that she did. I have had the same thoughts about this situation with Richland Hills adding the instrument. I have heard that they were one of the more mainstream churches and not on the cutting edge of progressiveness. I guess that means that when moderate churches start adding the instrument we should follow suit as well.

We met at the Ohio Valley College (back then it was college) Lectureship in the early 90s. Enjoyed reading your book, Adrift.

JD said...

On the other hand, I would guess that the leaders anticipated that some would leave and go to other congregations. That's not a loss to the Kingdom. I would also be cautious about crowing too loudly about the losses ... unless we are going to brag about them when they have an upsurge. Whether or not we agree with RH, they are not treating the Scriptures nor the church lightly. I think if we try to cast them as people who just do not care much about the Bible, we are making a big mistake. Rick Atchley's preaching is filled with Scripture. His arguments are not pablum. I like reading your blog, Phil.

Phil Sanders said...

Yes, the leaders anticipated their losses. Did they also care about remaining united with their own people, JD? You say this is no loss to the kingdom. The loss to the kingdom is not in those who separate themselves from the error of instrumental music but is in those who embrace the error of self-made religion. They have chosen to accommodate to our times rather than please the Lord. I do not "crow" about anything. Rather I grieve that a church so large is filled with such an attitude.

Many bad sermons quote Scripture. Just containing verses doesn't assure correct exegesis. The use of John 17:20, for instance, without regard to Jn. 17:17 or the doctrinal unity of the Father and the Son shows a weakness in how the progressives have quoted Scripture. They prooftext out of context--practicing the very thing they accuse others of doing.

I do not call the arguments pablum; I call them false.

Thanks for reading and for contributing.


Anonymous said...

Be careful about assuming that the introduction of the instrument is a "sign of the times." Unless of course you mean, 665 A.D. when the Catholic church did it, or 1906 when the Christian church did it. It might be a "sign of the times" for Churches of Christ but certainly has very little connection with trends in the broader evangelical community or Christendom in general. They were doing it centuries ago.

Also, kudos to JD. Right on, brother!

Phil Sanders said...

Dear Anonymous,

I am well aware of the movement that took place from 1860-1890 and was recognized in 1906 "introducing the instrument" (the words of those who did it).

As for the 665 date, the earliest uses of the instruments among the Catholics are debated. Ferguson suggests it may have been as late as the tenth century.

What I am speaking about is the current digression, the progressive thought that values the desires of our time more than the clear teaching of Scripture. I don't know of any NT teaching that affirms the use of IM in the worship of the church.