"Understandest thou what thou readest?" (Acts 8:30) -- What saith the scrirpture?
Musical Program on the Lord's Day?
James W. Adams
1) Should a Christian attend a program of "country and western style music" on the Lord's Day (Rev. 1:10; Acts 20:7)?
(2) Does a preacher have the "authority" to "give permission to participate in "such entertainment" (I Pet. 4:11)?
(3) Is there one set of rules that I am to follow for "social activities" on the Lord's Day as an individual and another set of rules to follow when we, are at the assembly (do we have a double standard)? I find this hard to believe. J.F.N., Tenn.
These questions were raised because the congregations of the area where our querist resides received letters from a preacher of the gospel of the area inviting the brethren of the area to a "pot-luck supper" and afterwards to an entertainment program of "country and western style music" presented by a group of young Christians from Florida College. Both the "supper" and the "entertainment" were had in a public building, not in the meetinghouse of any congregation. The letters in question made it perfectly clear that both affairs were to be participated in strictly on an individual basis and not as an activity of the churches as such. The writer said, ". . . the supper and entertainment are no part of the work of the church ... as such."
I will not presume to pass judgment on the wisdom or lack of it involved in addressing the invitations to congregations. I assume this was done purely as a matter of expediency. However, with the explicit understanding that the matter was not an activity of the churches as such, and leaving the matter of the manner of its announcement entirely up to the brethren in each locality, as was clearly done by the writer of the invitations, I can see nothing whatsoever wrong with it unless some unusual situation obtains among the churches of the area not mentioned by our querist.
Answering question (2) before question (1), 1 would say that our querist is unjust and inaccurate in characterizing the preacher who wrote the invitations with presuming to have "authority" to "give permission" to Christians to participate in a form of entertainment at variance with the "oracles of God" 0 Pet. 4: 11). The querist included a copy of the invitation, and I see nothing in it suggestive of the fact that the preacher who wrote it was "giving permission" for anyone to do anything. He did state his personal conviction that Christians have the right to engage in such activities as individuals but clearly repudiated the right of churches as such to do so. I do, indeed, believe he had the right or the "authority" so to express himself, and I cannot see how I Pet. 4: 11 would have anything to do with the matter.
"Should a Christian attend a program of country and western style music' on the Lord's Day (Rev. 1: 10; Acts 20:7)?" The passages cited by our querist suggest that "John was in the Spirit on the Lord's day" and that Christians at Troas with Paul 66 came together on the first day of the week to break bread." Neither of these passages suggests that the public, social worship of the saints consumed the whole of the day. It appears that Paul, at some time, ate with the brethren a common meal before departing on his journey.
I believe the brethren of the area where this happened who are disturbed should ask themselves some questions. Let me pose a few. Have any of you ever met with other brethren on the Lord's Day and, as a matter of social entertainment, had a common meal together? I doubt that a single one of you could honestly answer this question negatively. Therefore, on what grounds can you logically and consistently object to the "pot-luck supper" of Christian individuals which is the occasion of your inquiry? In my judgment, you have none. I know of nothing in Scripture that would not allow such activity on the part of Christians on the Lord's Day.
Have any of you ever viewed and/or listened to a program of secular music on the Lord's Day on your radio, television, record player, or stereo? Have you ever watched a football or baseball game, a golf tournament, a secular news broadcast, or a movie on your television set on the Lord's Day? If you have, and who has not, you were doing this for your personal entertainment and pleasure and not to worship God, were you not? Have some of you farm -boys ever pitched horseshoes or silver dollars on Lord's Day afternoons? You were not worshipping God when you did so, were you?
Have any of you ever picked wild berries on a Lord's Day afternoon in the woods in the spring? Have you ever taken a refreshing dip in the creek on a hot, Lord's Day afternoon in the summer time? Have you ever taken the wife in the car on a crisp November, Lord's Day afternoon down a winding country road to see the gorgeous trees in full color? Did you do any courting on the Lord's Day when you were young enough for that to be important? Do you make purely social calls on neighbors, relatives, friends, and brethren on the Lord's Day which are in no way connected with service to God? I presume all of you have done and now do these things. If this' is true, your practice affirms that you believe social entertainment on the Lord's Day to be no violation of the will of God.
This being true, surely you cannot consistently object to the Florida College program simply on the grounds that it was social entertainment had on the Lords Day? Since you often eat common, social meals with your brethren on the Lord's day and do not feel that, in doing so, you have created some sort of objectionable "double standard" which makes you follow one set of rules when you eat a common meal on the Lord's day with your brethren and another set of rules when you partake of the Lord's supper, why do you think this would he true in the matter under consideration? Is it correct to assume when you ate a common meal with the brethren on the Lord's Day you had more than a bit of unleavened bread and a sip of fruit of the vine, and when you had the Lord's Supper, that you did not have iced tea and fried chicken? It would seem you should be able to see that you, yourselves, recognize "two sets of rules."
With these matters out of the way, our only problem is whether it is wrong to play, sing, of listen to "country and western style music" on the Lord's Day. I am "country" enough, beyond question "western" enough (since I was born and reared in the West and come from a long line of pioneer stock), and also sufficiently lacking in classical musical culture, to enjoy thoroughly "country and western style music." I am, therefore, somewhat prejudiced, but I cannot see why there should be anything about "country and western style music" that would desecrate the Lord's Day. Country and western people are historically religious almost to the point of superstition; hence their folk songs are filled with pious sentiments concerning God, Christ, religion, worship, the Bible, home, mother, and country.
I am as certain as I can be that the Florida College group sang no song that gave expression to unholy or irreverent sentiments. This being true, along with the fact that at 7:30 on Lord's day evening the saints of the area would already have spent from three to four hours in public worship of and service to God, I see nothing out of order with spending a couple of hours eating a "pot-luck supper" together and enjoying wholesome "country and western style music."
Being both country and western, I subscribe to the idea that a person has not really lived until he has spent several hours of western twilight and evening sitting on the front porch or in the yard with a group of brethren after church services, eating big slices of a Tom Watson watermelon or bowls of homemade ice cream, and listening to a group of young, dedicated Christians pick the guitar, twang a Jew's harp, mouth a French harp~ and, plaintively sing-, "country and western style music" as the moon rises, the stars come out, and a pack of coyotes in a mesquite brush clearing not far away add their lonely howls to the sweet harmony. Brother, that's living!
However to every man his own cup of tea. As' it has been said, "What's one man's poison is another man's meat and drink." Perhaps some of the brethren would rather watch Bonanza or even listen to Glen Campbell on the television. Then, there are always those brethren who would rather play dominoes or "forty-two" with the brethren after services while consuming strong coffee and rich layers of chocolate cake. Brethren, let's try to be consistent and not disturb the churches over trifling matters of this kind. However, it just might be that anything done to promote the interests of Florida College will not please some.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 44, pp. 34-36