In case you don’t know who John Waddey is, I introduced him in an earlier post entitled “I’m in Big Trouble.” He was the guy out of Arizona that sends out a monthly publication to Acappella Churches of Christ warning them of any change that might be happening (which has got be difficult because there are changes all over the place). It is a real encouraging monthly piece! (Yes…note the sarcasm). In January, we actually made his publication as he announced that we had changed our name to Living Stones Church, added instruments to worship, and allow women to participate in worship (all true…so at least he isn’t slandering).
Years ago, several of our senior members at the Donmoyer Avenue Church of Christ (that is who we used to be…and these individuals are not here now) started to pass around to each other a website called concernedmembers.com. You can take a look if you want, but it is basically a gossip column that encourages people to contribute to a discussion board of he said/she said stuff and rumors about what “change agent” did to some church or within a church’s leadership meeting. For a feel, just check out any of the discussion. I believe concernedmembers.com is from the pit of hell, and someday God’s judgment will fall on it (and when do I ever talk like this?…seriously…I think Lucifer moderates the discussion). I remember at the time coming to the realization that in spite of my theology that the cross of Jesus can break down all of our theological differences, etc. and maintain unity (which I’m still attracted to that idea), the truth of the matter is…sometimes our views of God are so different, the purposes of the church are so different, the nature of Scripture is so different, and the spirit of our conductso different that we cannot be in the same house. If concernedmembers.com attracts your heart…that behavior and mentality and spirit is what you are drawn to…then you need to go to another church! (Interesting to me how in spite of clear teaching from Scripture, most leaders are consumed with keeping everyone in the “same house” even if by doing so they kill one another…and the house). And most who were passing it around did.
I mention it because that is John Waddey’s stuff. Some of his stuff can be found on the above website. So, back to my story. I got in the mail the other day his next edition of Christianity-then-and-Now. And…the Living Stones Church wasn’t mentioned. BUT, he did include in the little publication a tract entitled, “Liberalism in the Church is no Scarecrow.” Isn’t that awesome!? (I don’t know if we were the only ones to get it or not). It was all discolored and clearly looked like it came out of the 1970s at the latest. And as you flipped through it, it was a warning about liberalism in the church(as the title suggests). But not liberalism in terms of the nature and authority of the Bible, the deity of Jesus, positions on the Trinity, the resurrection of Jesus or his coming in the flesh…no…it was the liberalism of instruments in worship!!
I know there are sincere people who believe that instruments in worship is wrong and “liberal.” But here is the deal. My experience, at least at the Donmoyer Church of Christ has taught me two things:
1. Younger generations don’t buy the arguments they were given. Listen, this is very important. It isn’t that they don’t know the arguments. They do. They are just no longer convincing. The necessary interpretive lens to truly buy that God hates instruments in worshiphas been broken. That is why younger people are leaving John Waddey type churches in droves.
2. Even a lot of “older members” who say they agreewith John Waddey…really don’t. We lost many members in 2003, many of them would have “hit the roof,” “or the fan”, or hit something…maybe even me! if we even discussed having instruments in worship (which in 2003 we weren’t). But when they left the Donmoyer Church of Christ, most of them went to churches that used instruments! In the end, it left everyone with the feeling that just “saying” you were opposed to something, didn’t mean you actually were. The memory of that inconsistency (and there are other words I could use that I won’t out of kindness…it’s just my nature) made it quite easy for us in 2005 to go instrumental with hardly a stir.
I wonder what the church of Jesus would look like if it spent as much time, energy and focus, on connecting the message of Jesus to those who don’t know him rather than printing up these goofy tracts and spending who knows how much on postage to deliver a John Waddey message to churches across the nation? As for me…send away…but I want nothing to do with the spirit of such publications.
Here is the bottom line to me in how we read and apply the Bible. If you are reading the Bible and it is making you meaner…I don’t care if you think you have the right interpretation…you are reading it wrong! Always check your end interpretation and application with the Spirit of Christ.