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34 Things More Important Than Acappella Worship May 3, 2005

Posted by fajita in Uncategorized.
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This post is still responding to the Christian Affirmation post here that was crafted and signed by 23 leaders in the Church of Christ. In my last post I listed 5 questions I have for the Christian affirmation. I sent them to the e-mail address offered. They said:

Substantive comments offered in a spirit of charity will be posted below. Anonymous comments will not be posted. We encourage all to remember that we are speaking before God in Christ.

I can only interpret that my questions either did not qualify as substantive, did not qualify as comments (which they were not, they were questions), or in they were not received as given in the spirit of charity. No one has contacted me about my questions, nor were they listed on their website.

I am not upset about this. I am perplexed, but not upset. I could feel like I am being blackballed because I do not qualify to be in their moderated discussion, they do not include me in their comments and have not responded to me. I am not upset. In real life, this document makes no difference. It does concern me, though, where it is headed.

My biggest 2 beefs with the Christian Affirmation is it apparent posture (rightness) and the inclusion of acappella worship as one of the three most important things to affirm in the Christian faith.

Below is my off-the-top-of-my-head list of things I find substantially more important than acappella worship.

1. Loving God
2. Lving People
3. Worship in Spirit and Truth
4. Service
5. Feeding the Hungry
6. Forgiving Sin
7. Healing the sick
8. Building Faith
9. Engaging Doubt
10. Hope
11. Humility
12. Tithing
13. Honoring Parents
14. Training Up Children
15. Prayer
16. Meditation
17. Fasting
18. Studying God’s Word
19. Racial Reconciliation
20. Inclusion
21. Gender equity
22. Preventing Divorce
23. Loving Divorced People
24. Being stepfamily friendly
25. Supporting single parents
26. Loving orphans
27. Supporting widows
28. Making Disciples
29. Fellowship
30. Evangelism
31. Engaging the culture
32. Clean drinking water
33. Supporting Christian arts
34. Finding all of the gifts in the Body of Christ and using them to honor God

Bonus: 40 Days of Fat. Click here to learn more.

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Comments»

1. Greg Brooks - May 3, 2005

“Clean drinking water.” That’s beautiful. “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink . . . . (S)treams of living water will flow from within him.”

I would add to your list, unity (John 17:22-23), personal holiness (1 Peter 1:13-16), respect for others (1 Peter 3:15-16), letting the word & worldview of Christ dwell in me ‘richly’ (Colossians 3:16), and being wise as I teach and admonish others, especially with singing (Colossians 3:16 again, as well as Ephesians 5:19–and fortunately God will grant wisdom if I ask in faith, James 1:5).

Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16, and 1 Corinthians 14:15-17 are the passages I’ve heard most often referenced in support of acapella-only worship. All three of them refer to singing in the context of its impact on listeners. I think it is fair to say that if my singing is acapella, but does not serve to “speak to one another” or “teach and admonish one another with all wisdom” and does not allow one who is unlearned to “say ‘Amen’ to my thanksgiving,” then my singing is not what Paul had in mind. Certainly he does not mention instrumental music in those passages, but he does mention some very important things. His intent in those passages is not prohibitive, it is promotional.

Here is a (long) link to the NT passages that refer to singing, sing, sung, sang and sings.
http://bible.gospelcom.net/keyword/?search=sing%20singing%20sang%20sung%20sings%20&version1=31&searchtype=any&wholewordsonly=yes&bookset=2

Along other lines, I don’t agree with everything you’ve said about this ‘Affirmation.’ I don’t think the authors have imposed acapella worship or communion as “necessary”–if that is their intention then they’ve done a poor job of it. And, I think your contention that goodness always trumps rightness begs the question. Why be good? For that matter, how am I to know what is good? I have answers to all my rhetorical questions, of course: “Be holy because I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16); “He has showed you, O man, what is good” (Micah 6:8). My point is, goodness divorced from rightness may be no goodness at all. “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” stands in opposition to “Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16; 6:1)

I disagree with you about baptism too. This comment is too long already–it’s really two comments in one. I’ll comment again tomorrow. I love you, brother.

2. Chad Nall - May 3, 2005

A good cup of coffee before worship would rank ahead of it as well.

3. Keith Brenton - May 3, 2005

Chad, a really hard cup of coffee is good to find, isn’t it?

Well, Fajita, your relentless pursuit of perfection has spurred me on; I could no longer resist the temptation to respond to “A Christian Affirmation,” but I decided it would take a whole separate blog. So I set one up at One Christian’s Affirmation.

Keep on telling it straight, bro.

4. Fajita - May 3, 2005

I get the feel that these signers have the feeling that the RM has gotten out of control with its many recent variations. It used to be a CofC is a CofC is a CofC. It is beginning not to be like that anymore. The advent of the emergent church is not helping the cause of uniformity much either.

I think these men (and only men I might add) are compelled to redraw lines in the sand that have been blurred. It can’t be done. The days of modern uniform Christianity are over. We cannot unify on uniformity. So, it does not matter how nicely they speak their words and how sincerely they do it, what they appear to be trying to do will only solidify the “base” if you will, alientate the “fringe” if you will and will cause division – which is the opposite of what they desire.

Furthermore, it smacks of trying to control the movement, especially since there are so many control devices set up on the conversation – which is their perogative, but it smacks of control.

I don’t know how to talk about baptism. The question that has always been asked of me is this: “Is baptism essential to salvation?”

I refuse to answer the question. It’s contaiminated by a seriously flawed hermeneutic and loaded with assumptions too grand in consequence to reduce to a simple question. No, I will not answer that question.

“What do Christians do?” Now there is a question I will answer. Christians get baptized. There is no reason whatsoever for a Christian to go unbaptized.

However, I reject the notion that baptized people go to Heaven and unbaptized people go to Hell.

Yes, there is linkage between baptism and salvation in a few scriptures. Yes, there are numerous examples of baptism. Yes, I am baptized. Yes, my children will be baptized some day.

My point is this: when baptism is interpretted rigidly to be essential without reservation at all, then it has ceased to be God’s grace that saves and it has taken on a new meaning – a meaning I believe God never intended.

Furthermore, I think it is disobedient for a Christian not to be baptized. At the same time I do not believe it to be an eternal death knell.

My belief flows from God’s unusual track record of rules with select exceptions. I call that grace.

Anyway, I’m tired and probably not maing sense, if I ever did.

Thanks all for the comments.

5. jettybetty - May 4, 2005

I think they are trying to “shore up the troops”, too. However, the way it’s stated and presented, I think it could cause more division. As much as this document does not speak for me, I don’t want more division either!
My kids, (young adults) and their peer group (that I know) seriouly joke (oxyomoron) that they will tell their grandchildren they remember the CoC before it went instrumental. As long as I worship with my heart–I really don’t care if there a guitar around or not–and if God did–he should have mentioned it specifically like he did so many other things. IMHO, the toothpaste is already out of the tube, and I’m not sure the “troops can be shored” on the principles they have selected.
BTW, I love your response, or way to avoid the baptism question. Is it okay if I adopt your logic on that?
Blessings! JB

6. Jonathan Teram - May 4, 2005

I respectfully disagree with the comment made about baptism. Baptism is our wedding ceremony to Christ. Baptism is our new birth into Christ. It is the moment when our old self dies and God makes us a new creation. It is the point where we take off our filthy, sin-stained clothes and are dressed with Christ’s righteousness. The scriptures are so clear on these things. Just because the denominational world does not see it does not make it untrue. Knowing what we know about baptism and it’s role in God’s plan of salvation, how can we continue to ask if it is essential to salvation? Of course it is! It’s as essential to salvation as a wedding is to a marriage. As essential to salvation as a birth is to life. We must stop teaching people to be baptized merely because the bible says so and we must stop sitting on the fence about this. God will save whom he wants to save. He is the judge, not us. We are just his servants. Let us preach baptism (and more importantly Jesus!) for what it really is. God bless!

7. Greg Brooks - May 4, 2005

The churches of Christ, or the Restoration Movement, are not the only places where baptism takes place. Other movements and denominations have a high view of baptism. In fact, Fajita’s comment that Christians get baptized matches the statements of faith of many Baptist conventions, and is similar to the Methodist and Presbytarian articles of faith.

I guess the question J. Teram raises is whether Christians get baptized, or Christians got baptized? This isn’t a new question and it’s not what I want to comment about.

The thing I disagreed with you (Fajita) about was your comment about the statement, “In the ancient church there were no unbaptized Christians”. (At first I assumed this refered to the NT narrative; now I realize that ‘ancient’ could extend several centuries our direction. I’m no historian; I’ll stick to my initial assumption.)

There weren’t. Whether or not there are now is a seperate issue; it’s just that God didn’t use the Bible to tell us about any.

The NT tells of people whom God reconciled to himself who were not Christians. But there’s no record of any Christians who were not baptized.

I really think I’m right about this; I hope that’s good.


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