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Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Great Restorationist Blind Spot


If Some is Good, Then More is Better!


Of COURSE I'm a Campbellite...I LOVE Soup!


One of the hallmarks of the Restoration Movement, (in particular, amongst churches of Christ) is avoiding adding to or taking from God's Word in areas of Faith and Practice. The New Testament church met upon the first day of the week, so we meet on that day. They celebrated the Lord's Supper (Communion) upon that day, therefore we do.
Like that. No doctrinal additions, no novel practices; the Word says do it, so we do it.
If the Scripture does not authorize a practice by command or example, we do not do it. (This is where the business of non-instrumental or a capella singing comes in. The Scripture says to "sing and make melody in your hearts to the Lord". It does not say, "make melody with a piano, an organ, a Praise Band, or a glockenspiel." If it did, it would therefore be incumbent upon ALL of God's people to learn the instruments to do so. God says merely "sing and make melody in your hearts". Virtually anyone can do that. God offers opportunity to the broadest cross-section to worship him.

You do NOT want me on glockenspiel.

The rubric of "Speak where the Bible speaks, be silent where the Bible is silent" looms large in our fellowship's thinking. But in one area, we tend to become a tad shaky, and it is the area of custom. But first a Word from our Sponsor:

Rom 14:10-14 But why do you judge your brother? Or also why do you despise your brother? For all shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
For it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God."
So then each one of us will give account concerning himself to God.
Then let us not judge one another any more, but rather judge this, not to put a stumbling-block or an offense toward his brother.
I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing by itself is common; except to him who esteems anything to be common, it is common.

In the book of Acts, we receive clear guidance by the example of the apostles and the early church, to meet as the church on the first day of the week (Sunday).
(Act 20:7 And upon the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul discoursed with them, intending to depart on the morrow; and prolonged his speech until midnight) We are instructed to meet together:

Heb 10:19-27 Therefore, brothers, having boldness to enter into the Holy of Holies by the blood of Jesus,
by a new and living way which He has consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, His flesh;
and having a High Priest over the house of God,
let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies having been washed with pure water.
Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering (for He is faithful who promised),
and let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works,
not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins,
but a certain fearful looking for judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

So we are commanded to meet together, and by example, to meet on Sunday. Preachers and church leaders have decided that if some is good, then more is better, so a second meeting was added on Sunday evening. Then, even that wasn't sufficient. Wednesday night was added as well. (A dirty little secret...the Baptists came up with this first.)

Now, look. Let me be clear. I don't have a complaint about meeting together, so you can fold that "Why don't you want to meet with your brothers and sister?" McCarthyite sermon up and file it. Where I have a problem is the judging of people for not going to man-mandated meetings; judging someone's faithfulness for not adhering to someone else's Real Good Idea.

How can someone be judged less-than-faithful by adhering to the Scripture's example?

How can you say I am not being faithful by my not being at every meeting held in addition to Scripture's example? My work, and sometimes my health, causes me to not be at every Sunday night or Wednesday night meeting. Often when I am at the next meeting, the "So glad you're here tonight" has a distinct " 'Cause you weren't here LAST time" flavor. Lest I be thought a tad paranoid, the comments on nights when attendance is down have that very taste. "I'm glad we're here tonight...but we're not all here.".

If you forsake assembling with God's people, then you need correction, certainly. But it seems to me that if you aren't kowtowing to man's additions, then you should not be accused of disobedience, or have your faithfulness questioned in a passive-aggressive manner..

Col 2:16-17 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a feast day or a new moon or a sabbath day: which are a shadow of the things to come; but the body is Christ's.

If we are to do Bible things in Bible ways, then we had best get to it. Judging one for not obeying man's additions is not what I call sounding a clear note.


Unknown said...

Not to mention the fact that there may very well be other limiting factors, especially now with gas prices the way they are, that usually aren't considered before the blame finger gets pointed.

I know my husband and I go to a closer congregation on Wednesday nights when we're able for a couple of reasons. 1) Who can afford the gas for an hour long round trip for an hour long gathering when there's one going on not ten minutes up the road? and 2) Toddlers need to keep to their bedtimes for sanity's sake. When you consider the meeting has a tendency to run well over time and doesn't generally end until half an hour past said bedtime on Wednesday nights and add in an additional hour for the drive home/going through the bedtime routine, said toddler is generally hysterical by the time they're laid in bed and ill the next morning.

We have no intention of changing congregations altogether because we're quite fond of the one we meet with on Sunday's, but all that stress from the simple fact we live practically on the other side of the county is a bit much when you're trying to cram so much into an already overloaded week.

Anonymous said...

Say Aardverk,
I work weekends at a Christian Retreat/Summer Camp. So when I show up Sunday Morning to cook breakfast for the guests, am I sinning?

Seriously, the whole thing is quite legalistic. And I think that is something that the New Testament was very much against. I enjoyed the biblical references to back up your points. Romans 14:1... words to live by my man.

The Aardvark said...

Were I God, I would say no.

Reading God's Word, I would have to say no.

BOY...I miss Camp!!

I hope you recognized that my stance is not the legalistic one. (Sometimes I cannot tell...not just with you.)

God has left instruction that we meet. The NT church met on the first day of the week. So, we meet on Sunday. (The church is important to God. Ephesians says that Jesus died for the church.) My prob is when people add meetings (So what's wrong with that?) AND THEN use attendance to the extras as a barometer for one's faithfulness.
NOT to equate Sunday worship with the Sabbath, still, Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Note that this does not do away with a single God-given Sabbath restriction, but rather, it lets us know God's angle: It is for OUR good.

Fellowshipping together at church is for our good. The church assembled is the Body of Christ in session. Each person brings something to the assembly for the corporate good; prayer, a song, a message, a testimony of God's grace.

Doing what God expects is not legalism. Doing what man adds and expects often devolves into legalism. Hence my beef.

Anonymous said...

Doing what God expects is not legalism. Doing what man adds and expects often devolves into legalism. Hence my beef.

I share your beef with the "extra" goin' ta meetin'.

I did not think you a legalist.

I kind of intended the question to be rhetorical. But I like your answers. :o)

Wow, I just re-read that - I am really off today. Those would be 3 different responses to 3 different things ya said. I'm gonna go back to workin on work. I need to finish up this last thingy before I bail early today - and it seems that my "written voice" is leaning toward the Bobby's World end of the spectrum. Not very clear, but funny if you are easily amused.