Sunday, July 13, 2008

"...that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written..." 1 Cor. 4:6

More Observations from the 1988 Highers-Blakely Debate on Instrumental Music

In Highers' last speech he showed a chart titled, "An Abandonment of the Restoration Plea." The chart consisted largely of a quote from an article that appeared in the Apostolic Times in 1881. The person quoted was J. W. McGarvey, who Highers described as "one of the great pioneers in the restoration movement." In the excerpt McGarvey condemned the use of a musical instrument in Christian worship. 

I find it somewhat disingenuous on Highers' part to extol the virtues of and quote McGarvey in the support of his arguments since Highers wouldn't fellowship McGarvey if he was present at the debate! As far as I can tell Highers is of the "non-institutional" brethren and therefore does not fellowship any church that supports institutions other than the local church itself. Yet McGarvey served as the PRESIDENT of the American Christian Missionary Society! (Alexander Campbell was the first president.) McGarvey was also a pacifist and felt that service in the military lead to personal apostasy.

The Missouri Manifesto was a document authored and signed by fourteen prominent Missouri preachers as the Civil War raged on. The document was addressed to "all the holy brethren in every state" and stated that "...engaging in the fraternal strife...would be to incur the displeasure of our Blessed Lord and Saviour." The manifesto goes further and states, 
(3) Knowing, as all history teaches and as the experience of many of us can testify, that active military service almost invariably destroys the religious character of Christians who are drawn into it, we cannot discharge our duty to Christ, if we see our young brethren rushing into this vortex of almost certain ruin without an earnest and affectionate remonstrance. (Isbell, Allen. War and Conscience. Abilene; Biblical Research Press, 1966. p. 198)
Making it clear that their position on military service was not limited to the current Civil War, the Manifesto adds in a later section, 
Let us for Jesus' sake endeavor in this appropriate hour to restore the love of peace which he inculcated; which was practiced by the great body of the church for the first three hundred years, in an utter refusal to do military service; which continued thus to be practiced by the true church throughout the dark ages, and which has been so strongly pled by many of the purest men of modern times, our own A. Campbell among the number. (Isbell, p. 199)
It almost sounds as if one can't be a member of the Armed Services and a member of McGarvey and Campbell's church of Christ. If this is true I know many preachers and faithful brethren that have some repenting to do for their years of service in the military.  

Highers also placed a lot of weight on the definitions of Greek words as defined in Joseph Henry Thayer's A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. That is a little concerning as well. Thayer was a Unitarian and did not believe in the Trinity and/or the deity of Christ. In February of 1891 Thayer also published a lecture that he gave titled The Change of Attitude Towards the Bible in which he expressed disagreement with the idea of Bible inerrancy.

Highers also quoted several denominational religious leaders, past and present, whose positions on Scriptural passages agreed with his position. Most, if not all, of which Highers would not fellowship if they were in the room with him. 

Perhaps this is why we have so many cautions in the Scriptures regarding the valuing of men above God: 
"Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's." (1 Cor. 3:21-23)