Baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are asking serious questions. Some are confused and misled. Some want a faith of their own rather than that of their parents.
Why are community churches growing? Why are churches of Christ on the decline when they were one of the fastest growing religious bodies in the United States in the '50s? The church is on the decline in some areas, but in other places is growing. The growth in the '50s was not caused by hype and the emotional methods of today, but rather by zealous evangelism based on sound Bible teaching. Today some in the church are no longer committed to preaching the Word but proclaim a watered-down gospel. Such lukewarmness has resulted in less evangelism, conversions, and reduced growth.
Large crowds do not mean God's approval. Billy Graham has thousands to attend his campaigns, but he does not teach the full truth and does not have God's favor. It is true that some religious people are more zealous for error than Christians are in teaching the truth. The Muslim (Islam) religion is the fastest growing faith in the world including the United States. If we are to follow the big crowd, we should convert to Islam.
Why are some flocking to the "big crowd" denominations? Freedom to believe anything one may choose — acceptance of casual dress in this age of informality — desire to have contemporary music — following a dynamic preacher — belief the Holy Spirit is giving special empowerment — desire to become unshackled from traditionalism — stress on "relationships" and a de-emphasis on "doctrine" — to be liberated and have a tolerant view of other's beliefs and lifestyles — approval of homosexuals — the mistaken idea that sincerity is enough — any name faith, baptism. or worship is condoned.
It would be good to see the whole world saved, but Jesus said only a "few" will submit to him (Matt. 7:13-14, 21). Noah was not in the majority.
The Holy Spirit
Does the Holy Spirit empower a Christian in a special way? Is one energized by the Spirit? Does one "feel" the Spirit coming over one to give special guidance? The Holy Spirit dwells in a Christian in the same way as does the Father and the Son. Providentially the three work in the lives of Christians but not in a miraculous fashion. Any "feeling" or emotion one experiences cannot be attributed to a touch by the Holy Spirit.
The Bible given through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is our guide and pattern on right living and proper worship. It is erroneous to think the Spirit will lead us to practice or believe anything which contradicts the Bible. It is equally erroneous to think the Spirit would guide us in the same way as the Bible, seeing we have the Bible. If the Spirit must reveal in some miraculous way what we do, the Bible is, therefore, inadequate and insufficient as our guide.
Also, if the Spirit gives special empowerment to one Christian, he should do this for all Christians. If not, he is a respecter of persons. It is noteworthy that numerous religious leaders claim the Holy Spirit's influence in what they say and do. Still, their teachings are contradictory — all claiming the revelation of the Holy Spirit. This is unreasonable.
The Holy Spirit is not the Bible and the Bible is not the Holy Spirit. Yet, the Holy Spirit will not direct a person to practice or believe anything that is opposite of what he caused to be written in the Bible.
The direct operation of the Holy Spirit on the human heart is an old doctrine. It is one of the major points of Calvinism and it has been espoused by most denominations. Today there are untaught members of the church who have accepted it.
Some say, "Tradition is holding back the church. We need to change to hold the baby boomers." As long as the basics of the Bible are not changed, then matters of opinion can be changed, according to what is best for most people, or according to the judgment of the elders. Kneeling for prayer, meeting in rented facilities, singing without song books, and such like do not change the basics of the Bible. Still, it would be wrong to require (legislate) such procedures, for they are in the realm of opinion.
Most congregations could improve their regular worship. However, a Christian worships God and his focus is not on himself. Worship is more than what I "feel" and what I "get out of it."
"Instrumental music in worship is not preferred, but is not sinful. What is wrong with this position?"
This view places the use of instruments in worship in the realm of opinion. If this is true, then the conclusion would be valid. However, the weight of evidence is in favor of its being a matter of faith and, therefore, must not be used. It is significant that Christ, the apostles, the New Testament church never taught it or used it. Furthermore, for hundreds of years religious leaders of various faiths opposed its use. Churches of Christ do as the Bible says, "Sing" (Eph. 5:19) and should not be criticized for it.
To say this issue is insignificant in comparison to the cross ignores God's plan for acceptable worship John 4:24). The cross is crucial, but so is worship and every other teaching of the Bible. If instrumental music is not sinful, neither would be adding jellybeans to the Lord's Supper, nor sprinkling babies, nor burning incense as worship.
Feature Book: Among the Scholars
by David W. Hester
Paperback, 167 pages
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