William S. Cline
In the August, 1976 issue of Catholic Digest, in the regular feature, “What would you like to know about the church?” there appeared a most interesting question and answer concerning Masses for the deceased and belief for Purgatory. The question, which actually had four parts, was from a Catholic lady who believed in Masses for the deceased and Purgatory, yet she questioned such and wondered if it was “…a tradition that is fading away?” This Catholic lady also asked if “Protestants…escape Purgatory because they don’t believe in it.”
My purpose here is not to review the question submitted to the Catholic Digest, nor the answer which was given by Mr. Kenneth Ryan. Rather, it was a short, simple statement which Mr. Ryan made concerning Purgatory which prompted my editorial pen to speak out. His answer covered nearly four pages, and in that space he did not refer to one Passage of scripture. He “granted that there is a Purgatory” and assured his readers of such by appealing to Church tradition and reason. It was at the conclusion of his discussion of Purgatory, on page 109, that he made the statement of statements. He wrote, “One of the difficulties in getting this doctrine accepted, apart from the fact that the word Purgatory does not occur in Scripture, is…” It is a fact that it is difficult to get the doctrine of Purgatory accepted in the religious world. As a matter of fact it is becoming increasingly harder to get Catholics to accept the doctrine. And here, in the Catholic Digest, in an article by a Catholic Theologian is the reason Why it is so difficult to get people to accept the doctrine of Purgatory—it isn’t in the Bible.
There are great numbers of people in this world with the “Missouri complex.” The “show me before you expect me to believe it” philosophy is a marvelous attitude. The noble Bereans “searched the scriptures” to see if the things they were being taught were true (Acts 17:11). And may we ask, how can anyone interested in going to heaven do any less?
We read what the Catholic wrote with regard to Purgatory and we smile. We say that such is just like those Catholics. They expect people to follow the traditions of men and to follow them blindly. But in certain areas are some of us in the Lord ‘s church really any different? Could it be that we have erred from the truth to such an extent that we expect people to do what we do, follow where we lead, accept what we practice simply and solely on the grounds that the church is doing it, or it serves a good purpose, and therefore it must be right? We must be careful lest we walk in the Catholics’ footsteps.
Women Praying in the Presence of Men
There are those among us (I say among us. They wear the name of Christ and call themselves members of the church of Christ, but in all truth they have gone out from us.) who openly advocate the rightness of a woman leading a prayer (praying a portion or all of a prayer audibly) with men present. One such advocate said he would sell the orphan home which he heads to the Adventists before he would stop such. Another has written articles and now even a book in defense of such. Yet there are thousands that “have not bowed the knee to Baal” and refuse to accept such philosophies of men. As a matter of fact when it comes to multitudes in the church and their acceptance of “women leading prayers in the presence of men,” it is, in the words of our Catholic author, difficult to get them to accept it, simply because it isn’t in the Bible. Like Joshua of old, I speak for me and my house—We will not accept women praying in the presence of men because it is not in the Bible.
Women Teaching Men
We would be the first to grant that various methods can, and perhaps in some areas should, be used as aids in teaching the Bible. However, at no time would we ever endorse any method which employed unscriptural principles. We must be careful to state that there is nothing wrong with using puppets to help teach a Bible lesson. Chalk boards, flannel graph, the overhead projector, etc. would fall into the same category. But the woman is not to usurp the authority over the man, nor to teach over the man (1 Tim. 2:12). Therefore, when the woman uses the puppets to teach a Bible lesson to an audience which has in it men, the method has employed an unscriptural principle and thus the method becomes wrong. It is no more scriptural for a woman to teach a mixed (men and women) class or audience with puppets than it would be for her to teach the same audience or class using a flannelgraph or an overhead projector. Thus, there are those of us who will not endorse such and the reason is a simple one—it is not found in the Bible.
Humming Instead of Singing
In the last few years there have been instances in which some congregations have instituted the practice of humming instead of singing. Seemingly such is done because it is supposed to be more meaningful or more conducive to a certain mood. When confronted with the scripturalness of such a practice, two answers are usually heard. One, they claim that humming is vocal music and that vocal music is scriptural. Two, they say that humming is not condemned. With regard to the first answer, we will agree that humming is vocal music, however, vocal music, repeat, is not authorized in the New Testament. The only kind of music authorized in the New Testament is singing (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16.) Therefore, when one hums, whistles, plays a piano or organ, or what have-you and does not sing, and sing only, he has added to God’s word and is not free from sin. Secondly, the argument of such not being condemned is rather insidious. I would guess that there are millions of things which are not specifically condemned in the Bible, yet they are not authorized. For example, Coke and Ritz Crackers are not condemned with regard to the Lord’s Supper but we do not use such because we have no authority to do so. They may practice their humming and they may expect others to accept and believe it, but they will have their problems because humming is not in the Bible.
Another diversion from the sound doctrine of the New Testament is the old denominational Children’s Church. In this the worship assembly is divided and “worship” is conducted in a special area for those of a certain age group. When all of the rational and emotional reasons are given the New Testament still speaks of the assembly and it still speaks of the whole church coming together in one place. Those who advocate the Children’s Church or Training for Service as some feel more comfortable in calling it. should have to debate the anti-Sunday School people. They would find themselves in a dilemma that a Philadelphia Lawyer couldn’t get them out of. The only way truth prevailed over the above was to show that dividing the Bible classes was not unscriptural. and that those who did have individual Bible classes still had the assembly. But the divided assembly people could not so reason, for in truth they do not have the assembly where the whole church is come together in one place. They are going to have a lot of trouble getting some of us to believe that Children’s Worship is right because Children’s Church is not in the Bible.
It is truly sad when men will teach that which is not found in the Bible. It is for certain a sad day in Israel when those in the church practice those things for which there is not one bit of New Testament authority. The situation becomes even worse when we realize that churches have already been split and brethren have been, and are, divided over these things. When will we ever have enough love for the truth to follow God’s word and be bound by it on every side?