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Baby Boomers Ask

By E. Claude Gardner

religion, articles, christianity

Baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are asking serious questions. Some are confused and others have been misled. Some want a faith of their own rather than that of their parents.

Big Crowds

"Why are the community churches growing with large crowds at services? Why are churches of Christ on the decline when it was one of the fastest growing religious bodies in the United States in the fifties?"

The church is on the decline in some areas but other places are experiencing growth. The growth in the fifties was not caused by hype and 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 and conversions.

Having large crowds does not mean God's approval necessarily. Billy Graham had multiplied thousands to attend his campaigns but he did not teach the full truth. It is true that some religious people are more zealous for error than we have been at times 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. Other world religions are large but that does not prove we should convert to them.

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 and "gospel songs"; following a dynamic preacher; belief that the Holy Spirit is giving special empowerment; desire to become unshackled from traditionalism; stress on "relationships" and a de­emphasis on "doctrine"; to be liberated and to have a liberal and tolerant view of others beliefs and lifestyles; homosexuals; sincerity is enough; any name, faith, baptism or worship is condoned.

It would be great to see the whole world saved, but Jesus said only a "few" will submit to him, (Matt. 7:13­14; 21). We are reminded that 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. If the Spirit must reveal in some miraculous way what we must do, then the Bible is, therefore, inadequate and insufficient as our guide.

Also, if the Spirit gives special empowerment to one Christian, then he should do this for all Christians. If not, he is a respecter of persons.

It is noteworthy that numerous religious leaders, preachers and disciples claim the Holy Spirit and his influence on what they say and do. However, one observes how contradictory their teachings are-all claiming the revelation of the Holy Spirit. This is unreasonable.

The Holy Spirit is not the Word or the Bible and the Word is not the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will not direct a person to practice or believe anything that is opposite of that he caused to be written in the Bible.

The direct operation or impact 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. They sing songs supporting this false view.

Tradition

"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.

Kneeling for prayer, meeting in rented facilities, singing without song books and such like do not change the basics of the Bible. However, it would be wrong to require or forbid such procedures for they are in the realm of opinion.

Most congregations could improve their regular worship. However, a Christian attends to worship God and the focus is not on himself. Worship must be more than what I "feel" and what I "get out of it."

Instrumental Music

"Instrumental music in worship is not preferred but if used, it is not sinful. What is wrong with this position?"

This view places its use 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 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 leader 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 is to ignore 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 jelly on the bread in the Lord's Supper, nor sprinkling babies and burning incense. The Bible tells what is to be practiced. God says sing and this positive command excludes other kinds of music just as the command to immerse excludes sprinkling.


Published August 1997