I just had a discussion with a Professor filling the pulpit in a congregation that used to be a faithful congregation of the Lord’s church. It was sad and very revealing about why so many once faithful congregations are no longer so.
I asked a series of questions and let him answer, trying very hard not to debate with him – and it was very hard. Here are my questions and a summation of his answers.
- Is it your view that there is no Scriptural prohibition to the use of mechanical instruments of music in the worship of the New Testament church?
- Professor: [After about a 30-minute dissertation] “The argument from [prohibitive silence of the Scriptures] is a fallacious argument [exact quote]. It’s not a fellowship issue.”
- Do you believe that a person could be Scripturally baptized in a denominational church?
- Professor: “Yes”
- Do you believe it is possible to express New Testament Christianity as a member of a denominational church?
- Professor: “No”
- Me: [I couldn’t let such a blatant contradiction go] “So a person can be Scripturally baptized in a denomination where it is not possible for them to express New Testament Christianity?”
- Professor: 😯
- Do you believe that there is a definite/absolute pattern to be followed in practicing New Testament Christianity?
- Professor: “Yes”
- Me: 😯 🙄
- Do you believe that we are under any obligation to know the boundaries of our fellowship and discern whether someone is within those boundaries before we extend fellowship to them?
- Professor: [and I kid you not] “WOW!”
- Me: “So, I should write that down as your answer?”
- Professor: “Yea, just wow.”
- Me: [I read 2 John 9-11] “Isn’t that a requirement to determine fellowship based on the doctrine of Christ?”
- Professor: [after a lot of ranting] “So, you would put me outside the bounds of fellowship?”
- Me: “Yes, absolutely.”
- Professor: [storms out in a huff complaining about his treatment by ungodly legalists].
No, I am not happy about the way the conversation went. But, it did go exactly as I expected it to. Is it so sad that, to those like the Professor above, we who are careful to follow the New Testament pattern are always the bad guys? Was Paul the bad guy when he rebuked Peter to his face? (Galatians 2:11). Was Peter the bad guy when he rebuked Simon to his face? (Acts 8:20-22). Was Jesus the bad guy when he rebuked the scribes and Pharisees to their face? (Matt. 23:13-36). Or, were they speaking the truth in love? (Eph. 4:15; Jude 3).
The Professor claimed he was being put through a deposition. Well, if that’s what it was then it was so only in his own mind. To me, it was “speaking the truth in love” on two levels. First, and foremost, in love for the Lord and His word! And, whether he believes it or not, in love for him and those under his influence. I wasn’t so nieve to think that our discussion would end in him repenting and going back to correct the errors of the congregation where he serves. But it would have been wonderful if that were how it ended. I would love nothing more than to be able to express open and full fellowship with them. But I cannot, at this time, because they are not a sound congregation of the Lord’s church; and that is very, very sad.