Is The Law of Silence Legalism: Alfred T. DeGroot
Alfred T. DeGroot: Are churches of Christ a SECT based on legalism because they remain faithful to the New Testament as it has been delivered to us? Alfred T. DeGroot seems to fuel the Post-Modern principle elaborated by Rubel Shelly in Faith Matters and Edward Fudge in GracEmail. That principle is that the "core" gospel is just a few facts about Jesus but that the rest of the New Testament is the often-confused apostolic interpretation of these seven facts which created a confused church. DeGroot denies the principle that God is capable of revealing eternal principles.
The pro-music sect pretends that the Bible commanded instrumental music in congregational worship under the Law of Moses. Because Christ never said: "Thou shalt not use instruments to worship" this means that He was totally silent. And because He was silent, whatever was "legal" under the Law of Moses is still legal.
This misses a first principle of the Law after the musical idolatry at Mount Sinai: that the people's congregation did not come boldly into God's presence and the Levites were armed guards to keep them away under penalty of death. If the common people were incidental visitors to Jerusalem (the only authorized place for sacrifice and instruments) their worship was not "congregational singing with instrumental accompaniment." They fell on their faces. And that is the meaning of worship.
The word "play" makes instrumental music at Mount certain as does the fact that they were honoring the golden bull:
"The triumphal hymn of Moses had unquestionably a religious character about it; but the employment of music in religious services, though idolatrous, is more distinctly marked in the festivities which attended the erection of the golden calf." (Smith's Bible Dictionary, Music, p. 589).
As a result of the musical idolatry at Mount Sinai,
The Law of Moses called The Book of The Law replaced the Oral Covenant to regulate the external acts of the Israelites and later the Jews for about 1400 years.
When Jesus came, He condemned the "doctors of the law" because they ignored the original law and depended on "the traditions of the fathers."
This defines a "church" or assembly devoted to God as living by the once-for-all delivered standards.
He allowed not one inch for "changing with the times" because God is Holy and His Mind is not bound by time or place.
The Hand Washing Sect now used to have Jesus condemn what they call "traditions" actually condemns the Pharisees as changing the Laws just to follow their own commandments because this was the slickest way of stealing the homes of widows.
Chrysostom Tells the Truth about Sinai:"Stephen was accused of speaking against "the customs,"-sacrifices, temple, feasts, etc.
Therefore he significantly points to that critical conjuncture. from which these "customs" date their introduction:
..........namely, the Provocation at Horeb.
..........Prior to that, he tells of "living oracles," life-giving precepts:
..........after it, and as its consequence, sacrifices, etc.,
those statutes which were not good, and ordinances by which a man shall not live, as God says by Ezekiel.
Not a word of sacrifice till then: and the first mention is, of the sacrifices offered to the calf.
In like manner, "they rejoiced," "the people ate and drank, and rose up to play:" and in consequence of this, the feasts were prescribed: kai eufrainonto, fhsin: dia touto kai eortai.-'Epishmainetai might be rendered, "he marks," "puts a mark upon it"
(so the innovator, who substitutes, touto kai Dauid epishmainomenoj legei): we take it passively, "there is a mark set over it-it is emphatically denoted."
The instrumental Music in worship and sectarianization of Disciples of Christ allows them to define those who honor the words of Christ as still valid as "sects" (churches of Christ) and those who take the liberty to "improve with the passing of time to meet the needs of material success" as "churches."
However, Vine would define a--
Church of Christ as one which honors the Words of Christ and the Apostles He inspired as the indwelling Holy Spirit or Mind of God.
A sectarian as one who ignores the common views of Christianity and adds something new usually based upon self-interest.
DeGroot defines "self-interest" as adding instruments to attract the crowds. Adding instruments violated the almost universal meaning of the Reformation and therefore adding instrumental music in worship created the sect and those who added them became the sectarians understanding fully well the advantage of adding entertainment over slow growth and Christian unity.
However, the "church" has never, will never, attract the masses.
Alfred T. DeGroot, like all who minimize the Holy Spirit or Mind of Christ in words (John 6:63), turns the Law of Silence upside down to ridicule those who believe in Christ's power to reveal His Will at least as enduring as the Law of Moses. This is why musical churches regularly affirm their own sectarian decisions by defining those faithful to the Word as sects. This ignores the Biblical and scholarly definition of sect or heresy. Alfred T. DeGroot divides the Restoration Movement into two classes: those who are free to make up their own rules are "churches" while those who obey the Words of Christ are "sects."
Alfred T. DeGroot, The Restoration Principle, Bethany Press, 1960 notes that:
"This is why Thomas Campbell could say:
"The New Testament is as perfect a constitution for the worship, discipline, and government of the New Testament church, and as a perfect a rule for particular duties of its members, as the Old Testament was for the worship, discipline, and government of the Old Testament Church, and the particular duties of its members."
"Thus there came to be, very early in the career of this movement, interest not only in(1) Christian unity in a new freedom (defined as 'church'),"Broadly speaking, it may be said that number
(2) but also a return to the doctrine, ordinances, and discipline of the New Testament church." (p. 153) (defined as 'sect')
In 1932, A. W. Fortune says, "The controversies through which the Disciples have passed from the beginning to the present time have been the result of two different interpretations of their mission.
There have been those who believed it is the spirit of the New Testament Church that should be restored, and in our method of working the church must adapt itself to changing conditions.
There have been those who regarded the New Testament Church as a fixed pattern for all time, and our business is to hold rigidly to that pattern regardless of consequences.
Because of these two attitudes conflict were inevitable."
..........1 above generated the present fellowship called Disciples of Christ, and that number (church)
..........2 gave rise to the Churches of Christ. (sect)
According to Troeltsch,
..........Disciples would be among the 'church' type and
..........Churches of Christ among the 'sect' type.
"By 'church' is meant that body of conceptions which says "From the beginning they have been 'high churchmen'
..........because they 'never ceased to stress the visible and corporate character of the Church as the Divine Society,' and
..........rejected 'legalized methods and structural forms which are a contradiction of the living nature of the church.'
"By 'sect' is meant those worshipers whose aim is absolute ritualistic and doctrinal correctness
..........regardless of whether the program actually succeeds in gaining a favorable and general response of the human race.
..........The correctness of this depiction is to be seen by reading the periodical literature of the Churches of Christ...
..........such as Truth, Truth in Love, Primitive Gospel Heralds.
What Does This Mean:
Churches which became Christian churches or Disciples were more influenced by New England churches and the earlier "Christian churches" which came out of the American Methodist groups which had reorganized from the Anglican church because of the Revolutionary war. This brought Anglican High Church influence which is a Catholic influence. This is not to pass judgment but it is clear that there is no more "family relationship" between churches of Christ and the Disciples than with the Anglicans or Catholics. The only way a shotgun wedding would work is for all of the Restoration Movement to become Anglican which is rapidly restoring its relationship with the Catholic church.
What Is The High Church?
Much too much time and energy is spent by the clergy of the Disciples of Christ movement in recruiting and "converting" preachers to the "high church" organization which is partially defined by a denominational organization and a return to the religion of the "church Fathers" which they perceive to be Catholicism.
This is a shotgun wedding which will never take place on a large scale because the American Restoration movement among churches of Christ sought to return to the Word of the Bible while the Disciples sought and seek a more Catholic structure. The Disciples theology is that the church is a living, changing, new wineskin which stretches to suit the times:
Keble, chalk drawing by George Richmond, 1863; in the National Portrait Gallery, London
- The 19th-century Oxford Movement sought to renew Catholic thought and practice in the Church of England. This was led primarily by John Keble who was:
- b. April 25, 1792, Fairford, Gloucestershire, Eng.
- d. March 29, 1866,
- Anglican priest, theologian, and poet. Originated and helped lead the Oxford Movement, which sought to revive Anglicanism to the High Church ideals in the later 17th-century church. In 1827 he published The Christian Year, a volume of poems for Sundays and festivals of the church year. Widely circulated, the book did more than any other to promulgate the ideas of the High Church movement in Anglicanism.
- Froude, Richard Hurrell
- b. March 25, 1803, Dartington, Devon, Eng.
- d. Feb. 28, 1836, Dartington
- Anglican churchman and a leader of the Oxford Movement, which sought to reintroduce High Church, or "catholic," thought and practice into the Church of England... he became intimate with Newman, assisted his conversion to High Church views. Newman converted to Catholicism in 1845.
On page 156, DeGroot quotes one man's view of the causes of division as
"the organization of the church among secular lines, the professional preacher: "Twenty-five years ago he was scarcely in existence. Today he is among us on every hand." and:
"In the third place, instrumental music in worship. 'The little end of the taproot of the division in the ranks of the Restoration Movement is not instruments of music and human societies, but a lack of respect for the authority of God's word.'"
In an early trial over the Disciples forceful introduction of the society and instruments, the Disciples admitted thatif the instruments were part of the "worship" it would be a sin.
However, they escaped the problem with a "legalism" and claimed that the instrument was just an "aid."
The Judge rejected this as wrong -- the instrument was part of worship. They clearly now claim that it is part of worship and this means that they ancestors would have defined them as sinful.
"More basic in the whole controversy is a fundamental attitude toward the Bible as the infallible guide for the human race. In years to come, the subject of liberalism was to become a point of controversy.
The realization of what liberalism might do to the restoration movement led J. W. McGarvey to write a long series of articles in the Christian Standard on 'Biblical Criticism.'
"J. H. Garrison, editor of the Christian Evangelist frankly conceded that if one were to assume McGarvey's point of view toward the Bible, McGarvey's strictures would then be consistent.
"This was a frank admission that different schools of thought existed in the church relative to the bible.
"Some men might speak of Paul's errors in 'theology,' but not David Lipscomb for it was his profound conviction that all of the writers of the Bible wrote as they were moved by the Spirit of God,
"and that the combined result of their writings is a complete, infallible, and accurate guide to heaven for the human race." (Earl West, Life and Times of David Lipscomb, p. 108)
Unfortunately, neither the church "Fathers" nor the scholarly view of the Catholic church will support the instrumental music practices which were added in the first place as a Seeker-Friendly effort to attract the fair-goers to their cathedrals.
Ridicule won't work:
On page 157 DeGroote then drifts off by defining the opposition to instrumental music in worship in the following way which he interprets from a non-institutional source:
"The basic assumption in the argument against instrumental music is of a most curious nature. It goes as follows:
> "God approved of instrumental music in the 'inferior' worship of Old Testament times, as Bible records about the temple service indicate. (No literate person believes this)
> > "however, when God decided to send Jesus and give a New Testament,
he arranged to test the insight and devout attention to details of revelation not by specifically giving a command not to use instruments after the year A.D. 30 (that would have been too easy),
> > > "but by simply not saying anything about the subject. Thus he would see if his followers in the new era would note that by maintaining silence on the topic it should be apparent to any truly devout Christian that the instruments, formerly approved, were now banned.
This 'argument from silence' is at the foundation of Church of Christ Doctrine."
No. This has just been made up out of thin air: The Bible associates instruments with "lucifer the harp playing prostitute" even in the garden of Eden.
> Remember that Jesus said that the "Doctors of the Law took away the key to knowledge." He meant that when we see His words as a legal document the doctors of the law automatically look for loopholes to get around the clear statement of Scripture.
> The "congregation", meaning the "people" as opposed to the king, clergy and civil officials for the secular Temple-State which God allowed after Israel "fired" Him and demanded a king so that they could "worship like the nations" never sang congregationally with instrumental accompaniment.
> After the musical idolatry at Mount Sinai God assigned the Levites to stand between His symbolic presence in the Tabernacle and the people who were not strangers. They were not allowed to come boldly before the throne of Grace. Therefore, the "people's" congregation were put "outside the camp" when the Temple animal sacrifices began. The Levites did not serve God nor the people; they served the priests.
> The animal sacrifices was a scene of horror to show how sinful Israel had been at Mount Sinai when they lost the Covenang of Grace through musical idolatry. They further fired God and demanded a king like the nations so that they could worship like the nations.
> God deliberately excluded the common people and forced the priesthood to "bear the burden" of this horror.
> The Law was "given because of transgression." The transgression was the rejection of the Covenant of Grace which was given to Abraham many centuries earlie,r and engaging in musical worship of Osiris through Apis the Bull. Smith's Dictionary calls music in connection with worship "idolatry."
No literate Bible student would make a first premise that God commanded instruments in the Old Testament. Bible 101aaa has been flunked.
> > It is simply an untruth to say that God established a test to trick the instrumentalists. This is falsehood. No one has ever suggested this. After Nehemiah the temple was abandoned and not heard from for a hundred years. Then, it was the temple of the Greeks pushing Dionysus or Bacchus worship. Dionysus was the "new wine in new wineskins god" and instrumental music was a key method to force the Jews into violating the Law. The people's congregation had always gathered in "assemblies" later called Synagogues. This was school and not worship center. There was no praise service in the Synagogues and assuredly no instrumental music where all but about 10 thousand met throughout the week.
> > > The Bible is not silent: the music went along with Jerusalem, the temple and animal sacrifice and no literate Jew would make sacrifices and play the loud accompanying noise after the destruction of the temple.
The synagogue which Jesus attended had for centuries been the 'people's' church reading the Word and praying. "Singing" was reciting the revealed Words of God. Instrumental music in worship was not for the people, was not used in the synagogue and was actually unlawful without animal sacrifices.
Therefore, we can summarize the facts to dispel the ignorance of anyone who claimed that instrumental music flowed gently into Christianity;
. The Jews got the Law and Temple because of musical idolatry at Mount Sinai.
. The law was to regulate the external life: there was no spiritual value or worship in animal sacrifices but the rememberance of sin. Therefore, those who impose instruments are reminding people of their sin and substituting a "team" to mediate between God and Man.
. The Levites were "under the king and commanders of the army" because the temple was the capital of a secular state "like the nations" because that was what God permitted in conceding that the nation had repudiated His rule beyond redemption.
The "service" of the Levitical musicians was "hard bondage" and they served THE PRIESTS in making animal sacrifices.
The worship was carried on in the Holy Places to which the musicians and all of the people were excluded because they had lost their right to come into the Tabernacle because of the musical idolatry at Mount Sinai.
. The common people never "worshiped" in the temple with congregational singing and instrumental accompaniment.
. The common people met in their assemblies as schools with no praise service and no instruments.
. Jesus never participated in the Temple worship and declared that it would be taken down stone by stone.
. Jesus participated in the eternal synagogue assembly which had no music. At this time, every male child was enroled in the Synagogue (with male teachers) and they were wide-spread. Jesus did not predict that the synagogues would be torn down.
. Therefore, Jesus was not silent but endorsed non-musical edification.
. By permitting us to come boldly before the throne of grace the real "worship" is in heaven or in Spirit and not in secular PLACES.
. The church had the same purpose: edification but no praise service in the pagan sense.
To refute the silence stuff, Paul issued a direct command which the good doctors take away at their own peril:
When the Jews still worshiped at the Temple, both psallo (melody) and psalmos (the song sung) meant something composes in a poetic meter so that it could be sung
- And could be accompanied by
- The human voice or
- A lifeless or carnal mechanical instrument
Paul was not silent but defined the human voice as the "instrument" to be used to teach and admonish and the melody (psallo) was to be in the human heart.
Based on all ancient traditions instruments began in the garden of Eden to take away the rational mind of Eve. The serpent was the image of the Babylonians and Assyrians and God calls Assyria "the tallest tree in Eden."
The Temple worship was like the nations and used musical guilds with foreign or Canaanite names because the temple was one final step to destruction which Israel earned at Mount Sinai.
"It was not Jupiter, therefore, that begat the nine Muses, but three artists created three each. And the state had originally given the order for three, not because it had seen them in visions, nor because they had presented themselves in that number to the eyes of any of the citizens,but because it was obvious to remark that all sound,
which is the material of song, is by nature of three kinds.
> For it is either produced by the voice,
as in the case of those who sing with the mouth without an instrument;
> or by blowing, as in the case of trumpets and flutes;
> or by striking, as in the case of harps and drums, and all other instruments that give their sound when struck.
Chapter 18.-No Help is to Be Despised, Even Though It Come from a Profane Source.
28. But whether the fact is as Varro has related, or is not so,still we ought not to give up music because of the superstition of the heathen,
if we can derive anything from it that is of use for the understanding of Holy Scripture;
nor does it follow that we must busy ourselves with their theatrical trumpery
because we enter upon an investigation about harps and other instruments, that may help us to lay hold upon spiritual things.
Chapter 19.-Two Kinds Of heathen Knowledge.
29. But to explain more fully this whole topic (for it is one that cannot be omitted), there are two kinds of knowledge which are in vogue among the heathen.One is the knowledge of things instituted by men,
the other of things which they have noted, either as transacted in the past or as instituted by God.
The former kind, that which deals with human institutions, is partly superstitious, partly not.
Chapter 20.-The Superstitious Nature of Human Institutions.
30. All the arrangements made by men for the making and worshipping of idols are superstitious, pertaining as they do
either to the worship of what is created or of some part of it as God,
or to consultations and arrangements about signs and leagues with devils, such, for example, as are employed in the magical arts, and which the poets are accustomed not so much to teach as to celebrate.
[Paul defined the "play" at Mount Sinal with instrumental music as worship as consorting with demons, 1 Cor 10] Click Here
And to this class belong, but with a bolder touch of deception, the books of the haruspices and augurs. In this class we must place also all amulets and cures which the medical art condemns, whether these consist in
Incantations, or in marks which they call characters,
or in hanging or tying on or even dancing in a fashion certain articles, not with reference to the condition of the body, but to certain signs hidden or manifest;
and these remedies they call by the less offensive name of physica,
so as to appear not to be engaged in superstitious observances, but to be taking advantage of the forces of nature.
Examples of these are the earrings on the top of each ear, or the rings of ostrich bone on the fingers, or telling you when you hiccup to hold your left thumb in your right hand.
Chapter 30.-What the Mechanical Arts Contribute to Exegetics.
47. Further, as to the remaining arts, whether those by which something is made which, when the effort of the workman is over, remains as a result of his work, as, for example, a house, a bench, a dish, and other things of that kind; or those which, so to speak,
assist God in His operations, as medicine, and agriculture, and navigation:
or those whose sole result is an action, as dancing, and racing, and wrestling;-in all these arts experience teaches us to infer the future from the past.
For no man who is skilled in any of these arts moves his limbs in any operation without connecting the memory of the past with the expectation of the future. Now of these arts a very superficial and cursory knowledge is to be acquired, not with a view to practising them (unless some duty compel us, a matter on which I do not touch at present), but with a view to forming a judgment about them, that we may not be wholly ignorant of what
Scripture means to convey when it employs figures of speech derived from these arts
The "mixing" of vocal and instrumental music is often ridiculed as the product of children just as surely as the preacher would consider it heresy (sectarian) for a flute player to accompany him while he preaches. Why should DeGroot hold God in less esteem?
The Argument from Silence is used by sectarians who added instrumental music. The argument goes:
God did not make a law against instruments.
God was Silent,
Therefore, we can add them.
If you believe that the Bible is silent about musical worship you should read 2 Cor. 3 and turn to God.
Non-instrumental churches understand the command to speak to the Spirit God with the words and "instrument" God created to be sufficient for those looking for the will of a Holy God.
We will look at this utterly false accusation against non-musical churches in another article. Click Here.
In the following articles DeGroot claims the church fathers to prove that there was never any church pattern. However, it is sensical that no church exists -- expecially Catholic-like -- without a comprehensive body of beliefs and practices. DeGroot is wrong on two points. First, the "fathers" do speak of restoring when error has been introduced and second, they universally denounce instrumental music as paganism as well as any external, theatrical performance to worship The Spirit God:
- The Restoration Principle and Lactantius - Alfred T. DeGroot - A Review
- The Restoration Principle and Clement of Alexandria - Alfred T. DeGroot - A Review
- The Restoration Principle and Clement The Instructor - Alfred T. DeGroot - A Review
- The Restoration Principle and Cyprian - Alfred T. DeGroot - A Review
- The Restoration Principle and Justin Martyr - Alfred T. DeGroot - A Review
- The Restoration Principle and Tertullian - Alfred T. DeGroot - A Review
Kenneth Sublett Comments Welcome
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