"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.IV No.V Pg.4-5
December 1941

That Noble Symbol Of Unity

The Christian Standard And E. L. Jorgenson Join Hands

John T. Lewis

There is a tendency among writers of today, to withhold from their readers the words of those they criticize and read, or put into their views, things that would make the ones they criticize appear ridiculous. I do not believe in handling other people's words or position deceitfully. There is therefore not enough money in the world to get me to knowingly misstate another's position, and if I did, and he called my attention to it, I would correct it immediately. The following illustrates my ideas as expressed above. In the Christian Standard of August 31, 1940, Edwin R. Errett stated in his editorial "that the Christian Standard Publishing Company has joined hands with E. L. Jorgenson in the promotion and sale of the excellent hymn book of which he is the compiler." In the September issue of the Bible Banner 1940, I published Brother Errett's editorial with my comments. In the Christian Standard, September 6, 1941, Bro. Errett had the following in his editorial.

How To Destroy A Songbook

The Bible Banner, intransigent representative of a rather extreme group of our non-instrument brethren takes so seriously our endorsement of E. L. Jorgenson's fine hymnal, "Great Songs of the Church," that it has called upon all churches of Christ who do not use instruments to cast these hymnals out the windows. John T. Lewis finds his Christian spirit outraged at our suggestion that there is some satisfaction in the thought that we can sing and worship out of the same hymnal, despite our differing views on the instruments.

At the same time, the Banner urges the brethren to replace the Jorgenson book with two songbooks they specially advertise.

According to the spirit and reasoning of Brother Lewis and the editor, if some of us should purchase these two books and sing out of them, they would thenceforth be forever ruined for use among the conservative churches of Christ. They would be tainted.

Incidentally, however, we wonder whether the Brothers Wallace and Lewis have noticed that this whole storm is over an "innovation," that is nowhere mentioned in the New Testament and, consequently, has no word of authority from Jesus behind it. Within these books are words written and melodies composed by pedo-baptists and premillennialists, and, what is worse, sung by them.

Possibly the way out of this dilemma is for us to recommend that the brethren buy some of the Banner's books, use them and thus compel the very consistent Bible Banner to urge the good brethren to hurl the books out the window. Then we should have had our part in delivering our brethren from contamination."

The above editorial, from Brother Errett, was just one year after his editorial on the Standard-Jorgenson hymn book deal, with my comments, appeared in the Bible Banner. During this interval of twelve months, Edwin R. Errett's "Christian spirit" did not give the readers of the Christian Standard one single statement from my comments. Having never been an editor, I will admit that I am not familiar with the niceties of editorial license and freedom; but I do have a sense of common honesty, and fairness. Therefore, I gave the readers of the Bible Banner Brother Errett's editorial before offering my comments. In the October 1941 issue of the Bible Banner, I offered some comments on S. S. Lappin's report of his "two-week revival meeting with Highland Church-E. L. Jorgenson, Minister." Before offering my comments, I gave the readers of the Bible Banner Brother Lappin's complete report. The readers could then judge for themselves whether I was using Brother Lappin's report fairly or deceitfully. In the Christian Standard October 18, 1941, there was a long article under the caption "My Views on Instrumental Music in Worship," by James DeForest Murch. Before giving my criticism of Brother Murch's views, I gave the readers of the Bible Banner his whole article in which he set forth his views. This may appear to some editors as being a waste of space; but it is the only way that readers can know both sides of a controversy, and judge for themselves who is right, and may also know whether one is dealing fairly with his opponent's position, or misrepresenting him. This is my idea of honesty and fairness, in dealing with the "views" of those from whom you differ. If I have not the truth, I want it, if I have it, I want the other fellow to have it, if he wants it, and I know I can never get him to see the truth by misrepresenting him. I do not object to any one trying to make my position appear absurd, provided it is my position; but when one withholds my position, and states some absurdities, and offers them as my position, that is a horse of another color, and to me it shows the color of the one doing it. I will here re-publish Brother Errett's editorial and my comments that appeared in the Bible Banner September 1940. The reader can then judge for himself as to whether Brother Errett has dealt fairly with my comments on his editorial.


I think the above characterizes Edwin R. Errett's editorial in the Christian Standard of August 31, 1940. Read it. A NOBLE SYMBOL OF UNITY

So regrettable is the alienation between the brethren who use instruments to accompany worship and those who cannot conscientiously do so, that any means we may discover, whereby we may draw these brethren together and lead them to express such unity as they do possess, ought to awaken in us a hearty greeting. And when that means possesses a glory of its own, it is doubly welcome. It is, therefore, a matter for unusual exultation that the Standard Publishing Company has joined hands with E. L. Jorgenson in the promotion and sale of the excellent hymnbook of which he is the compiler, "Great Songs of the Church."

It is particularly happy circumstances that with alienation caused by a dispute over music in worship, we are here encouraged not only to sing the same hymns, but to sing from a common hymn book. And the stimulus is made the greater by the fact that such a large number of the hymns are those which have been the favorites of the parents and grandparents of the present generation.

If there were no estrangement at all, it would be an accomplishment worthy of brotherhood-wide approbation that a hymnal of such quality has been developed within our ranks."

It would be "a noble symbol of unity," if all God's people would sing the same songs, provided the songs were spiritual, and offered as "the fruit of our lips" but when instrumental accompaniments are added to the divine prerogative—singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord—we have not "a noble symbol of unity," but an impossibility of unity. No one knows this better than the editor of the Christian Standard unless he has mistaken the pussy-footing of the "Murch-Witty" farcical unity meetings for the real sentiment of those who stand for the unity that Christ prayed for—unity only upon God's word. I am glad Brother Errett knows, and admits, that there are those "who cannot conscientiously" worship with those "who use instruments to accompany their worship." Therefore, Brother Errett's position on Christian unity presents two alternatives, Either let those who have added instrumental accompaniments to their worship drop them, or let those "who cannot conscientiously worship with the instruments" stultify their conscience, and violate the word of God by worshipping with them. One of these things must be done, or the division must continue, which will Brother Errett recommend? He can worship with me and violate neither his conscience nor the Word of God, I cannot worship with him, and his instruments, without violating both my conscience and the Word of God. I hope therefore Brother Errett will not be so deceived by the ErrettJorgenson business combine, and the Murch-Witty unity (?) meetings to believe that the thousands of conscientious Christian men and women who respect the authority of Christ will ever worship with instrumental music, or will ever cease fighting its use in the worship. Every innovation in the work and worship of the church has grown out of a lack of respect for the authority of Christ, but there are legions in the Church who still respect the authority of Christ, as presented in the New Testament and accept it as our last and final appeal in all matters of faith and practice. The Christian Standard and its constituents can have our fellowship without those innovations; but never with them. They are the sole arbiters in this matter, which had they rather have? They cannot have both. The trouble is not "a dispute over music in worship," as Brother Errett declares; but over the addition of instrumental accompaniments to the music prescribed in the New Testament. That singing as worship is a divine ordinance, will not be questioned in the face of 1 Cor. 14:15; Eph. 5:18, 19: Col. 3:16; Heb. 2:12, and Heb. 13:15.

Therefore, there can be no trouble over this kind of music, and Brother Errett knows this, and he should have enough respect for facts to state the truth if it does hurt his cause. I would be glad for the readers of the Christian Standard to know, what the trouble is about, but they cannot find out by the "Errett-Jorgenson" songbook deal, nor by attending the "Murch-Witty" Unity (?) meetings. Therefore, if Brother Errett does not believe that the Bible Banner is too far out on the idiotic fringe of the Murch religious journalism for him to notice, I will affirm that instrumental accompaniments are an addition to the music prescribed in the New Testament, if he will give me line for line in the Christian Standard. That would give me chance to show Brother Errett's readers the differences between "maintaining the pitch secured at the beginning with a tuning fork" and carrying the pitch along by the constant accompaniment of a piano or organ." If Brother Errett will not notice me, I predict he is going to keep fiddling around with his "instrumental accompaniments" till he gets the editor of the Gospel Advocate after him, and that will be worse than the Bible Banner, because the Advocate is nearer the "Murch" equatorial journalism.

I did not know that my "Christian spirit was outraged," but if it was, it was because Edwin R. Errett was trying to make the "Standard-Jorgenson" songbook deal, "a noble symbol of unity," and not because the churches of Christ were using the same song books that some denomination was using. You will see by reading my comments on Brother Errett's editorial of August 31, 1940, that I was trying to get him to see that there could be no "christian unity" so long as "instrumental accompaniments" are added to the singing, and the books you use, or the songs you sing cannot change that fact. Instead of letting his readers see my comments, and draw their own conclusion, Brother Errett waits a year, and then his "Christian spirit" moves him to try to make it appear that John T. Lewis does not know that there are "words written and melodies composed by pedo-baptists and premillennialists" in the song books the churches of Christ use. If Brother Errett really thinks I am that stupid, I cannot understand why he would even print my name in his editorial page. But I think Brother Errett's trouble is, he was not willing to meet the issue I put up to him in my comments, and after a year's silence he decided to fabricate some absurdities and tell his readers that I was contending for such foolishness.

I want to stir up Brother Errett's sincere mind by putting him in remembrance, that neither song books, nor the use of certain songs, have been an occasion of the division between the churches of Christ and the Christian churches; but the addition of instrumental accompaniments have been, and are still an occasion of that division, with all the enmities and strife that have followed the division. If Brother Errett will stick to the issue, and discuss the subject with me, we will get somewhere, and I will be neither ashamed nor afraid to let the readers of the Bible Banner see his defense of such innovations. Of course I would expect him to let the readers of the Christian Standard see my reasons for objecting to those innovations. I hope Brother Errett will not sleep over this for twelve months, and then come out with some more absurdities. Brother Errett speaks of the Bible Banner as being the "intransigent representative of a rather extreme group of our non-instrument brethren." I want to thank Brother Errett for this compliment, and show him the company he has put us in. In the Millennial Harbinger 1868, page 41, W. K. Pendleton, then editor of the Harbinger, said "It has been said, that nothing is so absurd but that someone will be found foolish enough to embrace it. It would seem especially true, in matters of religion. This folly of elevating organ grinding and accompaniments into the place of apostolic worship illustrates it. Who could have thought that with the Bible in their hands, the American people could ever have drifted into such idolatry." Brother Errett never read anything stronger, than the above, from my pen about our fiddling brethren. I will affirm that the Bible Banner is today" standing on the original ground that the Pioneers of the nineteenth century Reformation stood on, and is making the same fight they made against "this folly of elevating organ grinding and accompaniments into the place of apostolic worship." Will Brother Errett deny this? Then if Brother Errett will affirm that "instrumental accompaniments" in the apostolic worship are scriptural, I will deny that. What is your pleasure in these matters, Brother Errett?

If James DeForest Murch will meet Foy E. Wallace, Jr., in an oral discussion on the music question, and if Brother Errett will discuss the above subjects with me in the Christian Standard and Bible Banner, I feel sure they will decide that the moss is not quite as long on the backs of "the Brothers Wallace and Lewis" as they thought it was, and if it is, they can have the pleasure of pulling it off.