Choirs, “Praise Teams” – True Beliefs of the Restoration Movement

It has long been the tradition are many believers to attend assembly and watch worship. Many believers would rather have others worship for them with aesthetic voices, painted prayers, stirring music,  assuring talks, convenient fastings, useful choreography, and apparent prostrations. Times has not changed offerings to God since proxy “praise and worship” has been preferred as the most divine offering. Here are Alexander Campbell’s words entitled “Popular Worship” (Christian Baptist: August 1824, Pg. 168),

“SHORTLY after my arrival at N—— I went to the Presbyterian meeting-house. It was a tasty and magnificent edifice, and well filled with fashion and beauty. The wooden throne was superb, and in the first boxes sat and reclined the wealthy and proud on seats as soft as sofas. After a silent contemplation of the polite crowds entering and walking to their respective pews, in all the majesty of the theatre, which feasted the eyes of those already seated, and furnished texts for the first half of the week, the grave young parson commenced the public worship of God, who delights in a fine exterior, and in a proud and aspiring heart; who despises the poor cottage and the cottager, the rough meeting house, and the rude and rough frequenters of it. He sang and prayed one hour and six minutes; or rather he offered songs for the sweet singers, who expressed their piety in all the gracious flexions of symphonious voices, while the devout audience worshipped in admiring the harmony of music, and praised their God for having given such fine voices and charming music to men and women. His prayer was well pronounced, in periods such as Dr. Blair commends; and, in the true philosophy of rhetoric, he worshipped, if not in spirit and in truth, certainly in taste and elegance. His sermon was forty-five minutes long, and was all built on this clause, “Why will you die, O house of Israel!” He finished with one song and prayer twenty-seven minutes long, and then blessed the people and sent them home for one week. Next day I inquired after his stipend and found it was annually two thousand dollars, besides marriage fees and funeral sermons extra, amounting to perhaps one thousand more. Six months in the year he gave them two orations per diem, and six months one, averaging forty-five minutes each, making in all fifty-eight hours and one-half in a year, valued at thirty-four dollars per hour, or twenty-six dollars per sermon. His sermon on “why will you die, O house of Israel!” cost the congregation twenty-six dollars, except we should count something on the prayers; but as he was hired to preach, and not to pray, it is just to fix this value upon his sermons. Now if one clause of a verse cost that people twenty-six dollars, the question with me was, How much would it cost them to have the whole bible thus explained? I soon found, by the rule of three, it would require rather more than a thousand years to get once through, and cost the congregation one million three hundred thousand dollars to have it thus explained. But the misfortune was, that they must all die before they would hear it all explained, and pay all their lives for that which would never be accomplished. But they were amused once in a week for their money, and their life was only a frolic throughout, and the parson might as well have some of their money as the play-actor or the confectioner. During the evening I was entertained by contrasting the present state of the “christian congregations” with that of the first disciples, and their teachers with those who were first employed in this work. Blessed revolution! when the same sort of men, and actuated by the same motives too, now pay dollars instead of stripes for hearing preachers; when the children of those who whipped and scourged the first teachers now contribute by tens and twenties to those who call themselves the successors of those who freely received and freely gave. EDITOR.”

About Scott J Shifferd

Minister, church of Christ in Jacksonville, FL. Husband and father of four. Email: ScottJon82[at]yahoo.com
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