Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 1, 1956
NUMBER 42, PAGE 3,4b

Thursday To Become Day Of Worship

George T. Jones

Under the headline "Thursday Church Services Forecast," a United Press dispatch in The Dallas Morning News of December 15, 1955, carried a prediction of things to come. The prediction was "that church going on Sundays may be out-moded in another 15 years or so, and that services probably will be held on Thursday evenings instead."

This neat bit of forecasting comes from "The Rev. Irving R. Murray, pastor of the First Unitarian Church" in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Mr. Murray thinks this change will come as a result of increased automation and a corresponding increase in leisure time for the average American. Mr. Murray thinks that by 1970 nearly every American family will have its own plane. Since the work week will only be four days by then (we are told), Americans will be enjoying a long weekend and Mr. Murray thinks Sunday morning will find them "flying back from Paris or Hawaii."

"It will do no good to try to oppose the inevitable," says "The Rev. Murray." He further thinks it "arrogant of the churches to assume they have the right to impose the village, agricultural" observance of the first day of the week "on modern, urban industrial peoples."

"Time changes everything." And some think this even includes the religion of Jesus Christ. The foregoing prophecy would probably not cause the lifting of an eyebrow by the average person in denominationalism. Raving long since rejected the authority of Christ, such people are accustomed to change in religion. After all, if Christ's authority is ignored, why should men not please themselves? Sprinkling has been adopted instead of baptism. It was more convenient. A quarterly, monthly or annual observance of the Lord's supper has been substituted for the first-day-of-the-week observance. The former is obviously more convenient. If Mr. Murray's forecast should come to pass, we doubt that it would raise much consternation among sectarians who long ago renounced the authority of Christ; and, ever since, have been making religion over to suit themselves.

Nevertheless, those who seek "the old paths" to "walk therein" will not yield to such an innovation. All of the automation, four-day-work-weeks and airplanes that American ingenuity may provide will not change the fact that the New Testament reveals that disciples of the Lord met together upon the first day of the week to break bread in memory of the Resurrected Savior! As long as there are people who respect the authority of the Lord, this will be going on. Those who are seeking first the kingdom of God will not allow the prospect of a weekend in Honolulu or Paris or anywhere else keep them from gathering around the Lord's table on the first day of the week.

What "the Rev." forecaster of the above UP dispatch seems to be ignorant of is that the first-day-of-the-week observance by Christians is not of "village, agricultural" origin. It is an apostolic example; and, therefore a revelation of God's will.

While the manner in which one so far from the truth as this Unitarian preacher handles the authority of Christ is not particularly unusual, it is pretty evident that some unusual happenings in reference to the same matter are going on among "us." It is at least eye-opening when one of our leading preachers, and the head of an institution, asserts that the example of the disciples eating the Lord's supper on the first day of the week is not exclusive! This statement was made when the said preacher was being pressed regarding the example of church cooperation in the New Testament.

It was particularly painful to this writer to hear another of our influential preachers, an editor, speak disparagingly in a sermon of preaching on congregational autonomy, the oversight of elders and New Testament examples. Lightly, he added: "I am not afraid we are going to quit having the Lord's supper on the first day of the week." Might one not as well say he is not afraid we are going to cease teaching and practicing baptism for the remission of sins? Suppose we leave off preaching on congregational autonomy and the all-sufficiency of the church. How about ceasing to emphasize the first-day-of-the-week observance of the Lord's supper?

Here is a solemn question: Did any generation of man ever get as far from the authority of Christ as this Unitarian preacher without a gradual ignoring, and step by step drifting from that authority? The answer is a clear "no." Men do not come at once to reject the authority of Christ. They do so gradually.

Excellent illustrations of this are to be found in the history of the Restoration Movement. From 1880 to 1900 there was a wave of Liberalism or Rationalism sweeping the ranks of the preachers who had been calling for a restoration of the New Testament order. There were outright denials of the virgin birth, of verbal inspiration, and of the Bible as God's revelation to men. David Lipscomb was among the first to suspect these liberal tendencies in some of the brethren. He noted further that this liberalism was among those who advocated the Missionary Society. This all added up in Lipscomb's mind. For those who had adopted the Society had departed from God's order on one point; and, having done so in one matter, felt no restraint in another. In 1892, the Digressives held their Missionary Society national convention in Chattanooga. Brother Lipscomb went as an onlooker and saw that the Bible was as popular as last year's almanac. (Life and Times of David Lipscomb, by Earl West, pp. 235-237.)

Years before this liberalism made its appearance among the brethren, some of them had rejected the authority of Christ by demanding the missionary society through which the church universal could function. That the Divine Pattern made no arrangement for the church in the aggregate to function was of little consequence to them. These men simply defied the authority of Christ in the matter of the organization of the church. Now, just as it is true that a person's resistance to wrong doing is gradually broken so that it is easier for one to take the second and third steps in unrighteousness than the first; these brethren, having once discounted Divine authority, were weakened and their resistance to the temptation of Liberalism was destroyed. This did not occur suddenly. It is not implied here that there is only one step between the rejection of the authority of Christ respecting the organization of the church and embracing Liberalism. But to reject the authority of Christ on any point is a step too dangerous to take.

"All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth," said Christ. "The church is subject to Christ." wrote Paul. No person has the right to spurn or trifle with the authority of Christ in any particular. The day of worship, the observance of the Lord's supper, the oversight of elders, the autonomy of local congregations, etc., etc., are matters prescribed in the authority of Christ. No Christian should lend comfort to those who blatantly reject His authority by belittling His authority in any matter.