A Little Compromise

Church of Christ ScripturesOne key difference between the Church of Christ and the Christian church is the use of instrumental music in the worship. The following are two true stories from J.W. McGarvey about his experiences in this matter.

In the 1870’s, J.W. McGarvey was one of the elders of the Lexington Church, and he with the other elders approved a small instrument to be placed in the church building basement for the young people to use to help improve their singing. No one, especially McGarvey, would ever have thought of moving it upstairs to be used in the worship service. They had used only acapella singing as the Bible instructed and had no intention of violating the scriptures.

Years went by and the youngsters grew up and took their places in the worship upstairs. Then in November 1902, a move was made to introduce instrumental music into the worship service. A vote was taken and the result was 370 for, 202 against. What was unthinkable a few years before was now voted in by men, and McGarvey’s conscience would not allow him to remain with that church and he went elsewhere.

While one may admire McGarvey’s stand on principle in 1902, the elders small compromise in allowing that small instrument to be put in the basement in the first place led to the introduction of the organ into the worship service by those who were likely trained by its use in that basement.

In January 1903, at the Pearl and Bryan Street Church of Christ in Dallas, Texas, brother McGarvey was asked to speak and was sitting on the front row next to brother Jesse P. Sewell. He leaned over and said to brother Sewell, “You are on the right road, and whatever you do, do not let anyone persuade you that you can successfully combat error by fellowshipping it and going along with it.

I have tried, I believed at the start that was the only way to do it. I have never held membership in a congregation that used instrumental music. I have, however, accepted the invitation to preach without distinction between churches that use it and those that do not. I have gone along with their papers and magazines and things of the sort. During those years, I taught the truth as the New Testament teaches it to every young preacher who has passed through the College of the Bible. Yet I do not know of more than six of those men who are preaching the truth today. Compromise, even a little, will not work.”

You see, what may seem to be a harmless compromise can lead to things that we never envisioned would occur. We must remain true to the word of God and never compromise in large or small ways. Our actions as Christians will influence others toward the truth or put things in their way that will make likely to stray from the word of God. May we make up our minds never to compromise.

Arlington church of Christ in Cincinnati, Ohio

church of Christ scripture

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