New Wineskins Magazine continues to present their beliefs in disarray. They recently have put out a new issue called “accompanied or a cappella? – The Instrumental Music Issue” presenting more than just their case for progressive worship. Their associated writers make too many misguided mistakes to note them all here. They misrepresent the beliefs of the churches of Christ, and their slander communicates contempt and haughtiness. Also note their confusion earlier this year over Christ’s patterns, “New Wineskins’ Confusion Over Christ’s Patterns“. In all of their articles, their arguments fail to address the whole of any belief or practice of the churches of Christ. May God bless them that they may rethink their approach and reconsider “Why the Churches of Christ Do Not Use Musical Instruments?“.
Let this be first noted that God has an ideal for His Church’s worship in assembly. No man should add to what God has made perfect (Gal. 3:15). Regarding the Assembly, the Spirit of Christ instructs His Church to speak, pray, and make melody with understandable words in the Assembly (1 Cor. 14). This very point is made a precedent through Paul who said in 1 Corinthians 14:15, “What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will make melody with the spirit, and I will also make melody with the understanding.” Clearly, the music of Christ’s Church can only consist of understandable words. All other forms of music are unedifying and separate from the heart that Jesus intended for worship. When someone adds to Christ’s ideal for His Church’s music, then they are in part disregarding Him, His words, His sacrifice, His authority, His order, and His pattern for Christian worship. Erring in music is not a sole error, but “of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness” (Rom. 6:19). For sinners are not condemned for a piano, but for neglecting the words of Christ that He gave to us through His Apostles and prophets. Now, let’s look at their own words and note that the indented quotes below are from New Wineskins.
Christ’s Spirit spoke through the Apostles Paul saying in 1 Timothy 3:15, “I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”
Rick Atchley said regarding getting a church to worship with what he refers to as “mechanical music”, “If you’ve got people who still feel that their relationship with God depends on how we do things at church, then this is not going to fly — and you can’t get there because you did a series on grace.” Jay Guin’s article, “An Afternoon with Rick Atchley and Chris Seidman, Part 3” (New Wineskins, September – December 2010)
Yet regarding the Assembly, Christ’s Spirit says in 1 Corinthians 14:40, “Let all things be done decently and in order.”
“In 1 Corinthians, Paul culminates his discussion on the Lord’s Supper, women’s role in the assembly, and spiritual gifts by emphasizing the supremacy of love (1 Corinthians 13) and testing proposed activities in the assembly by asking, not whether the activities are on a pre-approved list of ‘acts of worship,’ but whether these actions build up, encourage, and console the saints (1 Corinthians 14:3 ESV)” Jay Guin’s article “‘Thy Kingdom Come’ and the Instrument” (New Wineskins, September – December 2010)
This is true, and this is what the Church does. Yet, this writer would imply that Christians determine worship by a “list of ‘acts of worship'”.
Regarding the misuse of a spiritual gift in the Assembly, the Spirit of Christ said in 1 Corinthians 14:15, 19, “What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding [or “mind”, from Greek noia]. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing [or “make melody”, from Greek psallo] with the understanding…yet in the assembly I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.” This is the only music [psallo] that the first Christians knew consisted only of intelligible words. This is the standard that we, “Let all things be done for edification” (1 Cor. 14:26). Therefore, we ask ourselves, “Will this edify and build up the congregation?”
“Those who use 1 Corinthians 14 in their anti-instrumental polemics never approach the question asking the same questions Paul asks: does the instrument help build up, encourage, or console the saints or draw unbelievers toward worship? If so, they are approved. That’s Paul’s reasoning.” Jay Guin’s article “‘Thy Kingdom Come’ and the Instrument” (New Wineskins, September – December 2010)
“They are edified and built up in their faith by such instrumental accompaniment.” Al Maxey’s article “Reflective or Regulative?” (New Wineskins, September – December 2010)
There is a clear disconnect here from scripture, because Paul calls musical instruments soulless comparing these to the foreign languages that are not to be used in the Assembly (1 Cor. 14:7-8). Romans 16:17-18 says, “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.”
“The era of the progressive Church of Christ is over.
Back in the 80’s you could go to any major city, especially in the South, and you could find a progressive Church of Christ — and if they would preach grace, and if they would put words on a screen, and if they would let divorced people place membership, they would grow.
The generation of Boomers has enough denominational loyalty that they’re going to find the least legalistic Church of Christ they can find, and that’s where they’re going to attend.
Well, we discipled the children of those progressive churches for a whole generation to grow past us Boomers. They never heard the sermons we heard. They never heard the rationale for a cappella music. We sent them to youth rallies and Church of Christ events with some of the finest Christian bands in the world. We discipled our children to leave our Movement!” Jay Guin’s article “An Afternoon with Rick Atchley and Chris Seidman, Part 4” (New Wineskins, September – December 2010)
“If someone were to later come into their group and try to introduce such a practice without first persuading the church that the practice is not sinful, that person would NOT be acting in a benevolent, godly manner toward these brethren who honestly held to a differing conviction, and who were merely seeking to worship their God according to their own perception of His will. Such a person would be putting a stumbling block before them — an unloving act.” Al Maxey’s article “Reflective or Regulative?” (New Wineskins, September – December 2010)
“Jesus taught that the Kingdom is all about having the right kind of heart.” Jay Guin’s article “‘Thy Kingdom Come’ and the Instrument” (New Wineskins, September – December 2010)
God is a witness that I was there when such teachers falsely speculated to those of us at these “rallies” that singing psalms meant using musical instruments.
“Rick: People think, ‘Oh, man, if we just get over this instrumental music thing, the worship wars will be over!’ But there are so many ways to worship with instruments! Even among those who were for it, I quickly found out everyone had their idea of what it was supposed to be like. You can do the acoustic thing, you can do the organ thing, there are so many styles.
We actually sometimes intentionally do something a little different. About once a year we’ll have what we call ‘stained glass bluegrass,’ and we just do bluegrass sounds. And some of our people love it, and some of our people hate it.” Jay Guin’s article “An Afternoon with Rick Atchley and Chris Seidman, Part 4” (New Wineskins, September – December 2010)
“Imagine a congregation — or even a denomination! — where this verse is lived. Imagine what church would be like if we were to subordinate our preferences to each other. Rather than demanding our turn or our rights or our traditions or our styles, we decided that others are more important than ourselves! Would that change things?” Jay Guin’s article “‘Thy Kingdom Come’ and the Instrument” (New Wineskins, September – December 2010)
“You see, it’s time. It’s time to get past the ‘whether it’s okay’ debate and move on to the ‘Is it necessary for this church?’ discussion and, for some churches, to the ‘How do we do it?’ discussion.” Jay Guin’s article “Introduction: The Instrumental Music Issue” (New Wineskins, September – December 2010)
“I would like to offer this simple proposal. I think each Church of Christ — regardless of faction — should do at least one of the following three things:… [3rd thing] Adding an instrumental service to your own worship.” Jay Guin’s article “Reflections on My Interview with Rick Atchley and Chris Seidman” (New Wineskins, September – December 2010)
“If in your setting you’d be more effective in Kingdom work with the instrument, I don’t see how you have a lot of choice.” Jay Guin’s article “Reflections on My Interview with Rick Atchley and Chris Seidman” (New Wineskins, September – December 2010)
“Yes, we must live by our own convictions (some of which will be influenced by our inferences), but we have no right to compel others to bow to our own insights. Ours are no more infallible than theirs.” Al Maxey’s article “Reflective or Regulative?” (New Wineskins, September – December 2010)
“If Romans 14 demonstrates anything, it demonstrates that devoted disciples do at times arrive at completely opposite understandings of the will of God.” Al Maxey’s article “Reflective or Regulative?” (New Wineskins, September – December 2010)
Yet, the Spirit of Christ said in 1 Corinthians 1:10, “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”
Al Maxey said regarding the matter of worshiping with instrumental music,
“Thus, with regard to specific instruction on the matter, this is indeed a ‘NON-Biblical’ matter. In the NT writings there is NOTHING said specifically one way or the other.”
“Is the matter, therefore, ‘NON-Biblical’ with respect to the writings of the New Testament? Well, not entirely. We know that near the end of the First Century, in the Revelation given to John, mention is made of musical instruments in the courts of heaven (Revelation 5:8). This, of course, is merely a symbol, but it shows that God was using the symbol of a harp to convey the idea of praise unto Him. It seems odd that He would employ the symbol of an instrument of music to denote heavenly praise, if the actual use of such an instrument on earth in praise to Him would cause one to be lost! Didn’t Jesus teach us to pray, ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’ (Matthew 6:10)?” Al Maxey’s article “Reflective or Regulative?” (New Wineskins, September – December 2010)
Don’t forget to add the altars, the bowls, and the incense for prayers too from Revelation 5:8, “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” Should symbolism from temple imagery really be used to determine how we physically worship when the temple is spiritual?
“The early disciples also met frequently in the temple courts during the early years, and at times even continued to make vows and offer sacrifices in the temple (and did so without sin). Instruments obviously were used in some of these proceedings.” Al Maxey’s article “Reflective or Regulative?” (New Wineskins, September – December 2010)
This is just not true of those who faith in Christ. Hebrews 10:11-12 says, “And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God,”
Jesus said in John 7:24, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (See also 1 Corinthians 5.) These next words are just inconsistent with scripture and judges as well,
“We don’t judge each other, because we are all unworthy judges.” Jay Guin’s article “‘Thy Kingdom Come’ and the Instrument” (New Wineskins, September – December 2010)
“Paul’s lesson in Romans 14 is a commentary on this passage. We can’t be a church unless we stop judging each other in this way. We can’t condemn others while ignoring our own failings, as though our failings are covered by grace and theirs can’t be. What makes us so righteous that our sins covered and their sins are not?” Jay Guin’s article “Introduction: The Instrumental Music Issue” (New Wineskins, September – December 2010)
Here are more flawed characterizations of the churches of Christ:
“You see, the very notion that whether the instruments are right or wrong might depend on silences or the writings of Clement of Alexandria utterly misunderstands the nature of the gospel. The gospel is simply not about such things.” Jay Guin’s article “On God’s Salvation, Galatians, and the Instrument” (New Wineskins, September – December 2010)
“Nevertheless, one’s hermeneutic is important, as it will form the basis for that disciple’s understanding of God’s Word. An inferior hermeneutic will inevitably lead to an inferior theology. Thus, it behooves us to seek out and utilize the best interpretive process available. Many within the Stone-Campbell Movement, especially those within the more conservative wing of the Churches of Christ, have embraced what has come to be called the CENI hermeneutic (the letters of which simply refer to Command, Example, and Necessary Inference). The principle underlying this approach to understanding Scripture is largely regulative in nature, in that it seeks to perceive and establish laws to be bound upon the people of God as conditions of salvation and terms of fellowship. I do not believe this to be the best methodology available to us.” Al Maxey’s article “Reflective or Regulative?” (New Wineskins, September – December 2010)
Second Thessalonians 3:6 says, “But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.” Christ said in John 14:21, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” Simply, obeying God’s commands includes obeying His defining examples (patterns) and embedded principles (necessary inferences). For even baptism in Jesus’ name can only be defined by Biblical examples. CENI is a man’s observation and organization of how Christ, His Apostles, and prophets interpreted the Scriptures.
“Indeed, I feel it to be fatally flawed as employed by its proponents, and believe the adherents of this hermeneutic have left the One Body horribly fragmented into countless feuding factions in the wake of their differing deductions and assumptions which they far too frequently feel compelled to bind as universal law. But such is the inevitable outcome of employing the Regulative Principle.” Al Maxey’s article “Reflective or Regulative?” (New Wineskins, September – December 2010)
No non-institutional believers have who hold the beliefs that Al Maxey lays on the mainstream of the churches of Christ. Lastly, please remember what Christ’s Spirit said regarding the Assembly in 1 Corinthians 14:40, “Let all things be done decently and in order.”