Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 1, 1970
NUMBER 34, PAGE 4-5b

Fellowship — Instrumental Music — Missionary Societies — Sponsoring Churches —


Robert H. Farish

Any unwillingness "to classify the institutional and sponsoring church issues in the same category as instrumental music in worship" is inconsistent and will lend comfort to the advocates of both the error of institutionalism and the error of instrumental music in the worship.

Fellowship with those who would pervert the organization and work of the church will encourage them to continue on their course; it will not encourage them to exert themselves to "understand what the will of the Lord is."

On the other hand, the advocates of "mechanical instruments in the worship" are not so dull as to be unable to sec the inconsistency and will justify their practice by the inconsistency of the opposition, rather than appeal to the "teaching of Christ" for justification of their practice.

A case in point is John W. McGarvey. McGarvey opposed the mechanical instrument of music with great vigor on "the silence of the Scriptures." The silence of the Scripture must be respected. For "whosoever (everyone that) goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God: he that abideth in the teaching, the same hath both the Father and the Son" (2 John 9). On the other hand, he was an ardent advocate of the "organized missionary work of the church" i.e., the missionary society. One can no more have the missionary society, or sponsoring church and abide in the teaching of Christ than he can have instrumental music in worship and abide in the teaching of Christ. McGarvey's influence went with those animated by the spirit of digression.

W. C. Morro commented upon this in his book, "Brother McGarvey." "McGarvey was always a loyal and thoroughly convinced supporter of the organized missionary work of the church. His opposition to the use in the worship of the church of musical instruments might lead one to expect opposition to missionary organizations also. A negative attitude to one is usually followed by a similar attitude in respect to the other. This was not true of McGarvey. In his mind there was no connecting link between the two . . . In his attitude toward missionary organization he carried his associates with him and how fortunate for the church that he did. Otherwise Lexington would have anticipated Nashville in becoming the center of opposition to the organization of the church for missionary service." (Brother McGarvey p. 218).

Lexington did not become the center of opposition to "the organization of the church for missionary service." Neither did it become the center of opposition to the instrumental music in worship — nor to liberalism either "classical" or "popular!" When I moved to Lexington in 1954, there was a small struggling congregation made up of people who were striving to "abide in the teaching" of Christ. There were many large churches — Christian Churches and Disciple Churches. In none of them was McGarvey "though dead yet speaking" in opposition to instruments in the worship.

When I disclaim any intentions of fellowshipping perverters of either the worship, work or organization of the church, let no one charge that I am refusing to love, be kind, considerate, fair. Refusal to fellowship should not be taken as endorsement of bitterness, hatred, unkindness, unfairness, prejudice, sectarianism and such like.

On the other hand, pleas for love, unity of the Spirit, kindness, fairness and such should not be taken as evidence of "softness." Jesus wasn't "soft."

I bring this to a close with the suggestion that brethren who agree that the sponsoring church is unscriptural arc not exempt from the divine judgment — "If ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another." (Gal. 5:15)

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