One of the strangest and most bizarre “arguments” set forth by the instrument of division is what we will call (the faction has no formal name for it) “the anti-discrimination” argument. On one hand this argument is downright silly, yet, on the other hand, it clearly illustrates just how far that evolutionary and circular thinking has permeated those among us who want any kind of change at any kind of price so we can have “progress.” Rick Atchley articulates this foolish notion:
Please do not say that you can only praise God from the heart with the voice and not the instrument. This is an unkind and an untrue insult to all believing musicians. Playing an instrument to the glory of God is not just an aid to worship, it is an act of worship… Now many a-cappella churches allow people with gifts in acting or in painting to bless the body. Why would we deny that same sweet privilege to our gifted musicians? (1)This is a very old and very Catholic argument. It is pure “Thomism” (the imagination is truth theory of Thomas Aquinas). As we have observed, Aquinas believed that, like Aristotle, men come to “truth” primarily through their senses, one of which – according to Aquinas – is imagination. If one can “imagine truth,” it becomes truth to that person. Aquinas “imagined” all kinds of biblical personages, including Jesus Christ, speaking to him on a regular basis in person and in real time! More importantly, he also taught that truth is better communicated visually than orally. That is why popery adopted all kinds of visual stimulations into their “worship.” When one experiences art, sculpture, drama, stained glass, pomp and circumstance…one is experiencing pure Thomism.
It is to this Thomistic theory that Atchley goes to assert that it is “discrimination” to disallow the “gifted musicians” among us from “giving glory to God” with an instrument for other such “gifts” are allowed in worship in some congregations. Sadly, THOSE practices are also additions that presumptively corrupt the pattern of revealed New Testament Christianity. “Performances” of any kind in worship are not to be found in the pages of the New Testament revelation! Paul did not paint pictures and Peter did not put on plays during worship… and neither should we!
Not only that, the argument would open a “Pandora’s box” of insane “worship” experiences. For example “IF” we should – to use Atchley’s word – “insult” gifted musicians by denying them the ability to use their gift in worship…what then will we then say to the “gifted” plumber, electrician, bricklayer and sales person? Will they too be invited to “share” their gift in public worship?
Most importantly, the Holy Spirit NEVER intended to use sensual stimulation to communicate the gospel! Paul clearly articulates God’s will in this manner in Romans 10:17 – “For faith comes by HEARING, and hearing by the Word of Christ.” Jesus, from Matthew to Revelation, continually pleads for us to “have ears to hear what the Spirit says!” Thomas Aquinas and Rick Atchley are VERY wrong in their assertions. The performing arts have no part in biblical New Testament worship for they glorify only man!
(1) Rick Atchley, December, 2006, Richland Hills church of Christ – “Both / And” sermon
To Be Continued…