R. L. Whiteside
People should have good understanding as well as good intentions. Occasionally I see an article headed,“What the Church of Christ Believes.”The writer has the items numbered very much after the pattern found in the various other creeds. I use the term “other creeds” advisedly, for when a man, or a group of men, sets forth in a formal way what any group of people believe, the product is a creed or a Confession of Faith, even though it does not have the authority of a formally adopted Discipline. I object to such creeds, even though nobody attempts to enforce them on any one; for when any man preaches a sermon or writes an article on “What We Believe,” or, “What the Church of Christ Believes,”he includes me, and I object. I have not authorized any man to state my creed; neither do I think any church of the Lord has authorized him to do so. The preacher has assumed that authority. Well, I am older than any preacher that is younger than I is. Yes, sir; but I have never, so far as I remember, preached a sermon nor written an article on “What the Church Believes.” I have said much about what people should believe, but I am not going to assume the authority to tell the world what the church believes. I seriously doubt that the one who sets forth such creeds knows what the church is; he certainly does not know what every member of the church believes. Preachers make mistakes. I have read some articles and heard some sermons, in which there were some things I do not believe. I do not read these small creeds written by amateur creed makers.
A close companion ‘to “What The Church of Christ Believes” is,“What The Church of Christ Teaches.” If you want to preach a sermon or write an article on “What the Church Teaches,” then I am not interested. In religious matters I am interested only in what the Lord teaches in the Bible. To put emphasis on what the church teaches is too much like Roman Catholicism and some other groups that sprang from the Roman church. Besides, what is this church that teaches thus and so? And who has been authorized to give an outline of what it teaches?
Why not make some change in our methods of dealing with the music question? Have we not acted too much on the defensive? A defensive fight may sometimes be necessary, but only when attacked; but even then the defense should be turned into attack as soon as possible. A defensive fight never gets an army anywhere. When you preach or write on why you do not use mechanical instruments of music in the worship are you not assuming a defensive attitude? Has any one attacked you for not using mechanical instruments? Then why so much defense? Why not make an aggressive attack on those who use them? Oh, I know we do some attacking when we preach and write on why we do not use the instruments, but our theme sounds altogether defensive. Why not announce something like this: “The Sinfulness and the Evil Results of Mechanical Instruments in the Public Worship?”
And why not also make an attack on much along that line while we are showing that a Christian can do in and through the church all that God intended for him to do. But people need to be reminded over and over of the evils to which such innovations have led—divided churches, open membership, community churches, and skepticism of all sorts. The early advocates of these innovations never dreamed that the younger men whom they influenced would so far depart from the truth of God as some of them have gone. But what has happened was inevitable. People cannot uphold the integrity and sanctity of a principle or a law that they violate. Jesus told the Pharisees that they compassed sea and land to make one proselyte ; and when the had made one, the made him tenfold more a child of hell than themselves. And so it has happened to these early advocates of innovations and the people they influence. Those who have not gone so far need to be forcibly and often reminded of the direction in which they are headed.