Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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In The News: Does the End Justifiy the Means?

inthenewsLast week a letter came in the mail, addressed to our congregation, from a group called “New Testament Church … Today.” The writer of the letter, Howard W. Norton, identified himself as the Chairman of the “Planning Committee.”

This organization describes itself in the letter as “a group of concerned Christians” meeting to “plan a Biblically-based search for the truth of God’s plan.” They call their efforts a “desire to educate congregations and Christians”, and the “touchstone” of their emphasis is the present “softening of a cappella singing in worship” that is happening in some of the more liberal churches of Christ. Notice the following paragraph:

“In the last few months hundreds of people and numerous congregations have expressed their support for an educational effort. The elders at the Waterview Church of Christ in Richardson, TX agreed to assist the planning committee by receiving and accounting for all monies given.”

The group intends to mail to different congregations a video program answering the question, “why sing without instrumental accompaniment?”

While it is commendable that these individuals desire to defend the truth of God’s word with regard to New Testament worship in song, I find it rather ironic that they have determined to do so in a way that has no authority in scripture.

In the late 19th century, a split occurred among God’s people for two major reasons: 1) Some were advocating the use of instruments in New Testament worship; and, 2) Some were advocating that churches send money to a human institution to do the work of preaching the gospel. This institution was known as a Missionary Society.

It is rather interesting that over 100 years later, the same issue arises. What is ironic is that some who deny the right of Christians to use mechanical instruments of music in worship are schizophrenically using a “missionary society” model to promulgate their position.

The letter describes what is commonly referred to as a “sponsoring church” arrangement. In this arrangement, many churches send money to a central church. This church then exercises oversight over the funds, and spends the funds at its discretion. This is not scriptural, but it has been used for years as a means of doing “big business”, without the missionary society baggage.

However, note in this instance that the Waterview elders will not have the oversight. Their only function is to “receive and account for all monies” (simple accounting functions) as they “assist” the planning committee.

This is no different than a missionary society. Churches are sending money to a human institution to do the work of preaching. There is no evidence in the letter sent, on the organization’s web site, or at the Waterview congregation’s web site, that the elders have any oversight over the work. In fact, the church’s web site does not reference this “ministry” at all.

Of course, whether it is one church or many giving money to a human institution, it is a practice without scriptural authority. In this as in all things, we ask, “Please give us book, chapter, and verse,” or cease your unscriptural practices.