Friday, February 08, 2008

Hypocrisy and Hypodermics

Earlier today I posted a parody of song leading and worship styles of the church of Christ, which I proudly attend and have been a member of my entire life. I removed it this afternoon, and I'd like to explain why.

First things first, I still think it's funny. Hilarious, in fact. It's so true, especially in the CofC.

However, as luck would have it, not long after I posted that I came to learn about a disheartening situation my beloved church has been put in by our preference for music in worship.

I don't pretend to be a scriptual star, I don't challenge anyone to a duel about what the Bible says and what it doesn't--although I imagine I know a lot more than I think I do. So that is not what this is about. But what has happened this week because of disagreements over this particular issue of instrumental music versus acapella music is disturbing.

For those of you not familiar with the CofC, we worship without instruments, singing acapella. I won't go into it further than that but e-mail me or comment if you'd like to know more. It's important to understand this before reading further.

There is a church of Christ here in town that made the decision to offer both an instrumental and an acapella worship service for their members. My feelings on this are irrelevant and while I have strong opinions on whether or not this is a salvation issue, I choose not to challenge anyone on it for fear that I will be without the ability to back up my opinion with scripture. It's a gut feeling, a generational observation. So it's irrelevant.

What happened after this church made their announcement was a full-paged ad placed in The Oklahoman denouncing the minister of the church as a "false teacher" and calling him "marked". It also said in a very blatant way that "according to Jesus many religious people will not enter Heaven" and stated that "mechanical instruments of music in worship to God stand in direct opposition to the teachings of the New Testament".

That's not even the worst of it. The ad cost over $11,000. Imagine what good that money could have done for our communities, our missionaries.

The response garnered further media attention with the local NBC affiliate following up with the minister of the changing church, as well as a church leader who wrote part of the ad. The writer of the ad then publicly compared worshiping with instruments to using heroin. "The Bible doesn't say NOT to use heroin...."

It's not the same.

This kind of response is unacceptable. The ad claimed it was placed by "faithful members and area churches of Christ". THIS IS NOT THE CASE. The people that placed this ad were not asked to represent me. I don't know about anyone else, but they do not speak for me or John. It is my understanding they do not speak for my congregation. I am saddened by this spiteful, prideful response, and disgusted that it has been taken to such a public level.

My heart's desire is to see everyone I know and love and everyone they know and love live a moral, Godly life. It is my desire to see everyone of you in Heaven. Plain and simple, that is my prayer. I follow the best path I know to ensure that I get there, and that does not include public berating and excommunication of anyone. I cannot imagine any scenario in which this advertisement would lead someone to follow God's path, let alone step in the doors of their local church of Christ.

My desire is to be loving and accepting in example. I am not always successful, I fail often just as many others do. But my hope is that I'm never this spiteful in my failure. My hope is that no one will judge me, my intentions, my worship on a few ultra-conservative, tradition-ridden church leaders.

In light of this situation and the rage it induced in me, I felt it was hypocritical to leave up the parody. If you'd like the link to the video made in fun, let me know. It's funny. But spiritual living is not a laughing matter, and I truly felt like I had to speak up. There are times that you cannot sit back and let things happen, let things pass. This is one of those times, and I'm prepared to stand up for what I believe in my heart is wrong.

Sorry so serious! But, you know, sometimes things just cut you the wrong way. Happy weekend!


Julia said...

Amen, dear sister. Amen.

Something tells me God would not treat members of the church, or anyone for that matter, in such a way. God would not be so spiteful. Who are these people that believe in such a hateful God? I prefer my loving, forgiving, understanding God, thank you very much. And if that's not the God some churches choose to worship, then I'll have nothing to do with said churches. It's funny how many claim to believe in such a loving, forgiving God, yet the way they act and treat others projects a very different example. My example - my God - is a truly awesome God, not a mean spirited, ignorant God.

Jen said...

After reading your blog, I did a Google search to see what EXACTLY was being said. A few blogs that I found (one run by preachers in the area) left me in tears. I am so sad, not just that this is happening but that it is happening in a public forum. There is no edification in that ad. The issue is not instrumental music anymore. If this is telling the truth in love, I am out!!

Cary said...

Well said. Unfortunately, love often takes a backseat with many Christians when disagreements arise.

But not so with God. Keep the focus on him and you will not be disappointed.

Elizabeth said...

Since when did one Christian become the expert on how another Christian should worship? Everyone always thinks THEIR right and they judge others. But I'm pretty sure no matter how you worship, instruments or no instruments, on Sunday or another day, in a field wearing jeans or in a big church wearing a suit; one thing is universally taught: God is the ultimate judge! Not anyone else. So all of these "Christians" should just let it be. If their so sure that their way is the right way, then why worry about anyone else. Sheesh!

You should just become Catholic and not worry about all of this. Granted, you won't get free cookies and pies when you convert, and you won't get dinner brought to your house when you have a baby, but at least you'll be sure that you'll get in heaven. Cause, ya know, WE'RE the only ones who are perfect.... Good Grief!!

evawebdiva said...

Many of us think of church as just this place we go to to worship; to hear a sermon on Sunday. The fact of the matter is that this is a business and like any business the owners or managers will do what it takes to draw customers away from a competitor. It's sad to say but it is true; Churches have marketers who will do what it takes to get more money into their coffers. I think that this is what this situation is about...pulling the old timers; the true "play-no-music-because-this-is-what-our-church-believes" CofC parishioners away from another church. They see it as money in the bank. (Although it will take a long time to recoup 11K). It's very sad.

The Powers Family said...

this is a hard issue for me because it seems that both sides that are disagreeing are wrong in one way or another. the full page ad that supposedly is from faithful members of the church does nothing but promote the issue that they stand against. it only draws negative attention on the Church of Christ. On the other hand the minister at the church who is targeted spoke about the CofC like he was the ultimate authority of what I believe. Furthermore during the original article about adding the instrumental service it speaks that they were concerned over losing members to churches that had instrumental worship services. So was this part of their ploy to increase numbers? I hope not as they discussed an almost 30% drop in attendence since announcing the addition of instruments. The most disturbing part of both of these groups, is that is seems like instruments in worship is bigger than Salvation. They are so busy arguing about the instruments their purpose has been flawed. Truly it will be a great day when we can put this far behind us.

Brandon said...

It's a shame that people let their policing of other people's worship habits and/or preferences get in the way of their responsiblity to further God's kingdom.

I'm pretty sure that God doesn't care about the style of music, he cares about the hearts of his people. I don't think he cares which translation of the bible you choose to read, I think He's more concerned that you read it. Most importantly, I believe that He will be far more pleased with the person who can set aside preferences in order to further His kingdom than he will be with someone who chooses to become the worship police and is a hinderance to His work.