By Don Potts
One unscriptural practice breeds another and there is no stopping place until one lands in the quagmire of sectarian confusion. This is evident from the emergence of the Christian church to the present efforts of the liberal brethren. Uncertain sounds on the pages of their publications have been a common trait for years. In the April 30, 1974 edition of the Firm Foundation, Steven Clark Goad displays a general attitude of the liberal brethren toward “Bible authority” and the “silence” of the scriptures. Hear him in his article entitled, “A Critical Look At Assembly Singing.”
“When we look to the passages which deal with singing in the New Testament church, we are limited as to how one determines just what kind of singing was offered.” He continues, “members of the church of Christ sing almost exclusively congregationally, not necessarily because we have a definite and exclusive instruction to do so, nor because-we think that is the only way the early church sang (we know better), but rather because we have been doing it like that for so long.” “Some of us, however, demand and expect only congregational singing because we have become opinionated to the extent that we think it might be the only acceptable way to praise God in song. To be sure, congregational singing is not the ‘ only way Christians can sing while maintaining the proper spirit and mental attitudes as 1 Corinithians 14:15 commands.”
Now, first Brother Goad tells us, that “we are limited as to how one determines just what kind of singing was offered.” Then in the next breath, he is telling us that we know better than to think that congregational singing is the only type of singing the early church had. In the lyrics of that old song, “first you say you do, and then you say you don’t; you’re undecided now, what are you going to do?” And to think that Paul said, “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Cor. 14:33).
Brother Goad then says; “As mentioned above, there are various ways of singing of which the early church apparently took advantage.” (Now remember, Brother Goad said that we are limited as to how one determines just what kind of singing was offered. How then does he know they “apparently took advantage of various ways”?-DP). “Not only might a congregation sing antiphonally and interpretationally, but it might sing and be taught by using duets, quartets, and other groups which have specialized in this particular medium of edification… To be sure, it is not unscriptural.” “If a preacher can preach while an entire congregation remains attentively silent, why cannot a special group or quartet occasionally sing songs while the congregation remains attentive?”
Brother Goad asked why a congregation can sit and listen to preaching but cannot sit and listen to special groups sing. I do not suppose it ever occurred to our good brother that one has Bible authority for it (1 Cor. 14:27-30), and the other does not. It goes with out saying that the absence of Bible authority for duets, quartets and special groups, is quite conspicuous. In Matt. 26:30, after the institution of the Lord’s supper, it says “when they had sung a hymn, they went out.” The singing of this song was on the part of each of them; they sang, they went out. “I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praises unto thee” (Heb. 2:12). According to Brother Goad’s thinking, he should have said, “before the brethren, I will sing”! Can you conceive of the early church featuring, for its entertainment, the “Jericho Road Trio,” with Peter, James and John? And entertainment is about all that such ever amounts to.
The only thing wrong with such a practice is that it was neither taught by the apostles nor practiced by the New Testament church. The New Testament is silent in regard to special group singing. The command to sing is not given to a selected “few” but to all alike. Brother Goad says, “To be sure, it is not unscriptural.” If it is not unscriptural; it must then be scriptural, and if it is scriptural, why did he not bother to give book, chapter and verse for the practice? If a quartet can do the singing of a congregation, then why not let a quartet of the best paying members do all the giving for a congregation? That might be one way to starve out some of today’s “hirelings” in the pulpit and put the church back on the road toward Zion.
In the words of Charles M. Pullias; “How could any practice be apostolic when the apostles neither taught nor practice it? Let some brother who practices quartet singing in the worship try his hand on this. Day by day the brethren are locking their mouths against denominational error by things not taught. It is no less than tragic.” (Life and Work of Charles Pullias, pg. 563). Yes, it is indeed “tragic” that those who claim to be involved in the restoration of New Testament Christianity fail to “continue (n the apostles doctrine” (Acts 2:42), It is but further evidence that the Firm Foundation is but a Faulty foundation!
Truth Magazine, XVIII:46, p. 2
September 26, 1974