By Phil T. Arnold
Recently there has been a great deal of discussion among brethren regarding choirs and/or soloists in the worship assembly. While such things are certainly not new to the religious world, their acceptance among churches of Christ by my limited knowledge is only of recent vintage. Certainly a great deal of the discussion must revolve around Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 for those who are interested in God’s point of view. To those even as simple as myself, it can readily be seen that these passages authorize congregational singing but make no mention of a spectator form of worship.
In addition, one of the things that such performances do is to violate the individual, participatory nature of Christianity. In Christianity the individual is active and not some institution. The individual is at times to act collectively with others but again it is his participation as an individual that is blessed. No one can be baptized in the place of someone else. No one can partake of the Lord’s Supper on behalf of someone else. In fact, none of God’s commands may be fulfilled in simply a proxy fashion. It is only in institutional religions where the members became spectators rather than participants. The Old Law was, in fact, an institutional form of religion where the priests carried out the acts of worship on behalf of the people. Under the New Law as well, the priests participate. But if we are in Christ, then we are priests (1 Pet. 2:5,9) and endowed with the rights and responsibilities of personally approaching and serving God through our High Priest, Jesus Christ (Heb. 4:14-16; 13:15).
As many churches of Christ continue their progression down the road of institutionalism, they will become more and more conditioned for the acceptance of a spectator, rather than participatory, form of religion. They will inevitably accept choirs and/or soloists even as some of them already have. It is becoming, and for many has become, the very nature of their religion. But it will be just that – their religion and no longer Christ’s.
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 6, p. 173
March 21, 1991