15 thoughts on “For those of you outside the community…

  1. When Norm asked the caller if there is another example of something that the Bible never says you cannot do something, and therefore it’s okay to do it (you’ll have to read that one a few times to understand what he was asking), I really wish the caller had replied:

    The use of songbooks, overhead projectors, powerpoint presentations, microphones, etc.

    Of course, Norm would have had a response, as he (and the others) always do, but it might have been a better response.

    Also, it’s amazing to me how Norm (especially – being that he’s the smartest and most well-spoken of the three TV hosts) doesn’t see how he is advocating a restrictive, joyless, legalistic (yeah, I said it) system that seems to run against the freedom that we have in Christ through the Gospel.

    Also, I am surprised that he and the other don’t just go ahead an advocate a Greek-only Bible policy for the folks in their assemblies, so that there would be no doubt about their teachings. After all, the NT church didn’t use English Bibles – where does Norm get the authority to use English Bibles?

  2. There is no CENI support for songbooks, overhead projectors, powerpoint presentations, microphones, etc.
    and worship could certainly be conducted without them. Yet they are generally considered acceptable even by the most conservative of churches of Christ, as an expediency.

    In order to be allowed, an expedient has to pass four tests. First, it has to be “lawful” (1 Cor 10:23) . Second, it has to edify (1 Cor 10:23 again). Third, it has to support some practice that is taught (CENI) in scripture “indispensably necessary to the observance of divine ordinances”). In other words, the expedient had to be derived from some CENI-supported practice. Fourth, it must not cause someone to stumble (1 Cor 10:32). So, when someone calls them out for using song books and things, be ready for this argument. Norm calls this matters of Judgement i.e., expedients.

  3. “There is no CENI support for songbooks, overhead projectors, powerpoint presentations, microphones, etc.
    and worship could certainly be conducted without them. Yet they are generally considered acceptable even by the most conservative of churches of Christ, as an expediency.”

    As you know, they have an answer for that too. It’s simply an “aide” to worship.

  4. I am grateful you posted this video as I live outside the community and have heard Norm speak but did not have face to match the voice. At any rate, I agree with Norm that the Christian church has no Scriptural authority for their use of musical instruments and I can see how he concludes they have no respect for the authority of Scripture. But I would not (as I believe Norm does, though I am uncertain of this) condemn them. If they can worship with musical instruments, more power to them and peace. They are still a brother in Christ. But I cannot nor could not worship God with musical instruments with a clear conscience because, like Norm, I cannot find it authorized in the NT.

  5. npulpit,

    Is that what your faith is about? Doctrinal correctness. Is the bible to be looked at as an instruction manual, a book of “can” and “cannot’s”?

    I give you much credit, I am not sure how anyone’s faith can survive when its looked upon like that. Did not realized that faith in Christ required so much work on one’s part.

  6. I’m not sure how to take your comment, JP Manzi.

    Well, yeah, that is exactly what the bible is. From the OT to the NT, God has always instructed his people as to what they could and could not do. God’s people have never been able to worship idols; said in your language JP Manzi, you cannot worship idols. That is not allowed. God’s people are to worship him. Again, in your language: you can worship God. Hence, faith requires obedience. There are certain things that a Christian can do and things he/she is not allowed to do.

    What I’m saying is that because I do not find God telling me to worship with musical instruments, I cannot in conscience worship in that manner. But if someone else can worship in that manner…again, peace brother. I think this fits under Romans 14. We don’t split the church and never talk to one another, thereby ruining our influence on the community; we acknowledge differences and move on from there.

    I think the trouble we have with brothers like Fields is that they are saying that no one but them are right and if people do not worship just the way “they” prescribe, then their on their way to destruction. Worship styles vary, but the object of worship can never vary.

  7. Call me bitter…I come across that way at times. I apologize for my rash behavior. As I stated in an earlier comment, I came to faith through the Churches of Christ, one of the most conservative ones that I have personally seen. This legalistic thinking that the God of Christianity has this list of stuff that is authorized is beyond absurd. The bible does not specifically mention something, so that automatically assumes its off-limits? It does not make much sense otherwise there would be LOTS of things you all would not be doing now. Church buildings, paid ministers, grape juice for the Lords Supper, aides in worship, women without head coverings. This list could surely go on, but your God is placed in such a tiny box with this line of thinking that it allows no room for mystery. Instead of seeing the Bible as God’s Story you see it as an instruction manual no different then the manual you get for your new TV set.

    Do you not think your right, you said these gentlemen are wrong in their presentation, claiming they have the “know how” on worship. If you feel those who worship with instruments are going against God authorization, they are sinning then right? As a christian, are you not supposed to approach these dear brothers for their errors. According to the view that you hold, these guys are actually doing the right thing. My 2 cents, for what thats worth.

    Again, as one who has lost faith in the religion I once held so dear, I see the conservative movement of the CoC, as a player in my demise. Of course I am not saying that its the sole reason but they pretty much made my faith more about intellectual consent of theological doctrines then grace and Jesus who looked down on the Pharisees I see again in the CoC.

  8. When there is sin in question the bible does say to go to the brother (he is still a brother) and correct him. But if he refuses, acknowledge on earth what God has already done in heaven, i.e. do not fellowship with that person.

    Bu in the case of musical instruments, we are not talking about a matter of right and wrong but what is. I believe we do not need musical instruments to worship God; my brother believes he does need them. Paul says not to “pass judgment” or write them off. And when we studied the matter as best we can and still cannot come to a consensus, both fully convinced in our minds (Rom 14.5b), we keep the matter to ourselves (v.22) because we do not want to destroy the work of God (v.20). That’s where I’m coming from.

  9. kudos npulpit. couldn’t agree more. Kinda reminds me of Paul and Barnabas going separate ways. Two brothers having an argument, can’t agree, go their separate ways.

  10. Maybe I misinterpreted what you were getting at, if so, I’m sorry.

    “Two brothers having an argument, can’t agree, go their separate ways.”

    You said it.

  11. Great discussion, y’all!

    You guys are really hitting on the point of this blog, too: To realize that we’re just as screwed up as the first century Christians were, and we need to have grace for each other as we all do our best to figure out what it means to be in Christ.

    If npulpit’s conscience doesn’t allow him to worship with instruments, then that’s between him and God. What I appreciate is that he realizes that other committed followers of Jesus don’t have that particular cross to bear. What I DON’T appreciate is when Johnny Robertson, Norm Fields and James Oldfield (and Shawn Paden) tell us that we are going to hell for using a guitar to lead worship, and then misuse Scripture to proof text their opinion.

    But then, we all misuse Scripture on occasion. Thank goodness for grace!


  12. I watched Johnny last night ( first time in a long time ) and he was slamming on J.C. Richardson, an Apostolic preacher for preaching at the Baptist, Christian, Methodist, Presbyterian, and other faiths contrary to each other. Johnny raised some good points regarding each faith and how J.C could go into the Baptist church and preach immersion but couldn’t in the Methodist and preach immersion and how JC could go into the Apostolic faith and preach oneness in the Godhead, but couldn’t in the other. He basically was showing how divvied the denominations are and how he consider them hypocrites. I agree that the denominations are divided, but what he failed to say was how divided the church of Christ denomination is on many issues. He used “Lie By Omission and Half-Truths -This is also known as Suppressed Evidence. You just happily fail to mention all of those bothersome little facts that do not support your point of view. He failed to mention he has been fired from at least 4 churches and he failed to mention that the church of Christ is divided into 25 sects and many teaching contrary “patterns”. Could Johnny go into ALL church of Christ and preach his way and act the way he does………NOPE! As evidenced by him being fired. So, Johnny, maybe you should take a look in the mirror before you throw stones at others.

  13. Just funny how people can see the wrong in others but not in their own lives. They need to really evaluate themselves and read 1 John.

  14. I wish the caller would have brought up the word psalms from Col 3:16. If we are going to speak where the Bible speaks we should explain the meaing of the psalms from the Greek noun psalmos and derived from the Greek verb psallo. The non-instrument community are too stubborn to admit that psalms actually indicates instrumental accompaniment. They say that by the timeof the new covenant the meaning has changed. For a really indepth review of the true meaning of the word visit the following site. At the top of the page is links to a documant by Tom Burgess called “Documents on Instrumental Music”. You have to download the document chapter by chapter, but it is a very good evaluation and well worth your time if you want to know the truth. This document is an in depth evaluation of the words psalmos and psallo in the Greek language. It even quotes other writers of the time of the disciples (such as Josephus) and there use of the words in their own writings. The link to the page is below. Remember the links to the Tom Burgess document are at the top of the page.


    Thayers Greek Lexicon definition of the noun psalmos
    a striking, twanging
    of a striking the chords of a musical instrument
    of a pious song, a psalm

    1. to pluck off, pull out
    2. to cause to vibrate by touching, to twang
    2a. to touch or strike the chord, to twang the strings of a musical instrument so that they gently vibrate
    2b. to play on a stringed instrument, to play, the harp, etc.
    2c. to sing to the music of the harp
    2d. in the NT to sing a hymn, to celebrate the praises of God in song

    Please notice the 2d definition is a subset of 2, meaning it cannot be a new definition. The definitions are seperated by the numbers 1,2,etc. the shadows of meaning are seperated by letters a,b,c,d,etc. The non-instrumental group actually uses this definition to discount instrumental music. What it is actually saying is in the NT to sing a hymn with twanging or to celebrate the praises of God in song by twanging. Psalms were originally accompanied with the harp and lyre (See 1 Chron 15, also read Psalms 150). To say the meaning of the word changed is laughable.

    Does it really make sense to say “as you sing songs, songs and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” Or does it mean what it actually says, “as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” Three different types of music. Three different meanings – not one.

  15. An expedient is something that aids in the worship but does not change the form of the worship. For instance the use of a songbook does not change the worship in song to anything other than singing. However, a manmade musical instrument does.

    In addition, I read the Psallo arguement and it falls on its face in light of the fact that inspiration says “sing” or “speak”. One cannot sing or speak a manmade muscial instrument. There simply is no command in NT scripture that authorizes us to do anything other than sing in reference to our music in worship. It is just not there. It does not matter what the word Psalm or Psallo means because we are told to sing them not play them.

    Old Testament authority for the use of manmade instruments is invalid in NT worship because inspiration teaches us that to bind any single tenant of the old worship system to the new causes us to be debtor to the whole “old law” (Galatians 5:3) and carries the consequence of falling from grace (Galatians 5:4). Well, this being the case, it should be noted that manmade instruments were a part of the Levitical system of worship (2 Chronicles 29:25).

    This is precisely why manmade musical instruments were not used in the first century worship and for roughly a thousand afterwards.

    I believe the use of manmade musical instruments is an unauthorized manmade addition to the worship of the new testament church and carries the consequence of rendering our worship vain (Matthew 15:9).

    1 Corinthians 4:6
    Now these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes; that in us ye might learn not (to go) beyond the things which are written; that no one of you be puffed up for the one against the other.

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