Vol.XVI No.XI Pg.5
January 1980

And What We Regard As A Needed Response

Robert F. Turner

(continued from previous page) The writer seems to think that if one believes certain things are commanded for "worship" he has a low and mean esteem of God — as if He would "see how near we can measure up." We can not accept his implied dilemma of that concept of no acts of worship. One can believe God specified certain things to have special significance in worship, and can observe or do those things out of genuine devotion to God, being neither "perfunctory" nor "tradition bound." Assembling can be "response to some command" without being SIMPLY a response. God-fearing saints do not have to be "begged, threatened, or dragged" there. We resent the unloving and illogical dilemma the writer seeks to put on us.

Saints gathered to partake of the Lord's Supper (1 Cor. 11:20,33; Acts 20:7), and gathered to pray (Acts 12: 12). By his own definition that is worship! But the writer seeks to negate specific acts of worship by citing scripture for a worshipful life. How can a generic negate its parts? Is there no distinction in a prayerful life (1 Thes. 5:17) and a consciously worded petition for specific blessings? No difference in being "ever mindful" of the Lord, and obeying His "This do, in remembrance of me"? There is no conflict in a worshipful life, and" gathering to worship" on specific occasions; nor are these mutually exclusive.

We do not live under Judaism, with its typical ceremonies, earthly altar, priestly service, and the like. Mere presence, or perfunctory doing of ritualistic things does not constitute worship — and never did (Deut. 10:12-16). But early saints did gather to pray, sing, give, edify one-another, and to partake of the Lord's Supper. I can count five without regarding these things as rituals to be "performed" in a perfunctory manner or otherwise; and without limiting one's service to God in any way. It is ridiculous, if not sacrilegious, to put feeding the dog and partaking of the Lord's Supper in the same category.

If some brethren believe five "perfunctory acts" constitute worship then they are wrong. Some may use the writer's "worshipful life" concept as excuse to go fishing on the Lord's Day — to which he would no doubt reply, "That is an abuse of what I con-tend." Likewise, if a large number of brethren are perfunctory in their singing and praying, it does not mean there are no acts by which a truly sincere worshipful heart is expressed.

It is gross error to say there is no authority for one speaker and a silent body of listeners. Even in days of special spiritual gifts Paul said one should speak at the time (1 Cor. 14:26-32), and the context makes edification the end. Where many are qualified to edify, opportunity can be made without "spontaneous ministry" from an emotion-stirred band of babes. Too, the right to speak does not guarantee wisdom on the part of all. The "pastor system" error does not justify another extreme of spirit-moved (?) nonsense. A third choice, open to all, is to develop scripturally qualified bishops, evangelists, and brethren who respect one-another's talents and work together in a "decent and orderly" fashion toward spiritual maturity.