Goebel Gene Music
In a day and age when secular humanism (along with various other “isms”) has convinced so many that there are no absolutes, no objective standard, man is to do his own thing, asthe “highest” goal is man, etc., it is not surprising to hear what many people spurt, spout, and shoot out of their mouth relative to God’s Word. However, I’m “still shocked” when I hear my brethren burst forth with some sayings like, “In my view,” “In my opinion,” “I am not convinced,” “I take issue with,” “I don’t believe in logic,” and “It seems to me.”
An Example of Man’s “Think So”
The following “current” statement serves well to “identify” man’s popular, prevalent and prevailing attitude. “It is distressing to me that there are learned men among us who will write the words penned in a recent editorial. That is, ‘…the churches of Christ use vocal music not necessarily because it sounds better, but rather because we are convinced that it is the only acceptable form of musical worship for the public assembly of the saints…It is a matter of biblical principle.’
“‘We’ are not all convinced that a cappella music is the only acceptable form…. I take issue with the definition of biblical principle. I find such things as a loving God, loving one’s neighbor, justice and mercy to be biblical principles. A vague inference as to whether God prefers this type of music or not is not a biblical principle, but is at best a studied opinion, and more likely pure speculation ….” (Greg D. Coldeway, San Antonio, Texas, Christian Chronicle, January, 1989, “A cappella Music,” p. 23).
It is “not mine” in this brief article to “examine” completely and thoroughly this statement, but just note an item or two, such as:
1. We are not all convinced. Just because a man is “not convinced,” does not make an item either right or wrong. Many today are “not convinced” of the one New Testament Church, that baptism is for remission of sins and that it must be a burial, that denominationalism is wrong, etc. So What? From almost the beginning of time we know that many have “not been convinced” that God means what he has revealed unto his people.
2. I take issue with. This is nothing “new.” Truth has been the “battle ground” for a long time, as men have “seemingly” always “taken issue with” God’s Word either in his “explicit” or his “implicit” statements and “just what” constitutes “what.”
3. I find such things. My, Oh, My! It seems that this writer “thinks” that “other biblical principles” would “exclude” (and he names some) “this” biblical principle. What is the law of hermeneutics that teaches this? Do “his findings” rule out others?
4. A vague inference. The word “vague” means obscure, nebulous, fuzzy, unfocused, abstract, confused, wishy washy, veiled, imprecise, indefinite, etc., etc. I would suggest a study of the verb, infer, or the noun, inference, and how they relate to logic, deduction, understanding and “what it all adds up to.” How can any thing be “vague” that is listed at least ten times and the words in the passage are not “generic” but “specific”?
5. A studied opinion. An “opinion” is not “always” a bad word, as it may mean “belief, judgment, conviction, way of thinking, doctrine, principle, deduction, conclusion,” etc. I just believe that a man “must study” to ever be “approved” of God and “ready to give an answer” (cf., 2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Pet. 3:15). One thing for sure, if any man “will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or ” (John 7:17). This writer must have had “something” of “an opinion” to state, “…at best a studied opinion.” Wonder if his could be wrong? Wonder why he is “not convinced.”
6. More likely pure speculation. I certainly realize that there are various ways “speculation” might be employed, but from the context its meaning seems to be that of “guess, shot in the dark, assumption, conjecture, hunch,” etc. The clarity of the words used in the New Testament leave no room for “guesswork.”
Matthew 26:30, “they had sung a hymn.”
Mark 14:26, “they had sung a hymn.”
Acts 16:25, “and singing hymns.”
Romans 15:9, “sing unto thy name.”
1 Corinthians 14:15, “I will sing.”
Ephesians 5:19, “singing and making melody.”
Colossians 3:16, “singing with grace in your hearts.”
Hebrews 2:12, “I sing thy praise.”
Hebrews 13:15, “the fruit of the lips which make.”
James 5:13, “let him sing praise.”
Since our “admonition” is “not to go beyond the things which are written” (cf., 1 Cor. 4:6—ASV), as that is what will “judge us” (John 12:48), we need to “find out” what “is written” about “music in our worship.” The text is “sung, singing, sing and fruit of the lips” and that is “what is written.” Call it “more likely pure speculation” if you like, but I prefer to call it “that which is written” and “that which will judge us.”
Man’s “Think So”
The Bible is our evidence, biblically speaking, that this type reasoning (?) has been around a long time. It is “nothing new” to hear what we are hearing today.
1. “But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought” (2 Kin. 5:11).
2. “I verily thought with myself that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth” (Acts 26:9).
These two are “classic” examples of people “reasoning without God,” however, much is said in both the Old and New Testaments about such. Sometimes it is “I said in my heart,” “walk …after their own thoughts,” “reasoned with himself,” “supposed,” etc. Such declares that man’s “think so” is certainly not to be on the par of God’s “say so.” I wonder if this is how Cain thought, or how Nadab and Abihu functioned?
God’s “Say So”
To our most “enlightened” (?) minds of “today,” the following do not “hold the meaning” they should, but let us notice some of “what is written” in the Book.
1. “dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God” (2 Kin. 5:14).
2. “Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he” (Gen. 6:22).
3. “Thus did Moses: according to all that Jehovah commanded him, so did he” (Exo. 40:16).
4. “Hold the pattern of sound words which thou hast heard from me” (2 Tim. 1:13).
5. “Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God…If any one cometh unto you, and bringeth not this teaching…partaketh in his evil works” (2 John 9-11).
6. “And the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men” (2 Tim. 2:2).
7. “If any man thinketh himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him take knowledge of the things which I write unto you, that they are the commandment of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37).
God’s “Thoughts” must Be “Our Thoughts”
Isaiah well spoke about “God’s thoughts” and “our thoughts,” when he wrote the warning found in Isaiah 55:8-9. However, still today we have those “uncertain sounds” (cf., 1 Cor. 14:7ff) among us. These need a genuine reminder of:
1. “The Lord knoweth the reasonings of the wise that they are vain” (1 Cor. 3:20).
2. “hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?…the foolishness of God is wiser than men” (cf., 1 Cor. 1:20ff).
3. “I thought on my ways, And turned my feet unto thy testimonies” (Psa. 119:59).
4. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: Try me, and know my thoughts” (Psa. 139:23).
5. “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).
6. “And whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col. 3:17).
7. “who shall put you in remembrance of my ways which are in Christ, even as I teach everywhere in every church” (1 Cor. 4:17).
I am convinced, like Belshazzar, that “our thoughts” ought to be “troubling” us (Dan. 5:6, 10). No wonder we have so many who are “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men” (cf., Eph. 4:14); God’s thoughts are not “their thoughts!” This is why we have “perverse things” taught (Acts 20:30) and why the gospel has become “perverted” (Gal. 1:7). We perhaps need, like Simon, to pray that “the thoughts” of our heart be forgiven us! If our thoughts are not God’s thoughts; that is, based on God’s Word, then we will have “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (cf., Judges 17:6; 21:25). There is absolutely no way that man’s “think so” can equal God’s “say so!”