By Roy C. Deaver [1922-2007]
In 1967 I was working with the Brown Trail church in Hurst, Texas. Beginning in 1961, this congregation had developed a very strong interest in evangelizing by means of the mail system. Especially during the years 1965 through 1967 there was a great deal of pressure put upon the Brown Trail elders to investigate what was going on among the people in the “Independent Christian churches.” We kept hearing rumors that there were many among these people who were really concerned about becoming “one” with those of us in churches of Christ. The Brown Trail elders were—to say the least—very skeptical. Yet, they were deeply concerned about getting the gospel message to any and to all.
The elders decided to invite Don DeWelt and Seth Wilson to come to Hurst, Texas to spend two days with them, and with a few other gospel preachers. Brown Trail would pay their plane fare. Don DeWelt was a professor in Ozark Bible College (a college operated by the Independent Christian Church people), and Seth Wilson was Dean of the College.
So, on May 19 and 20, in 1967, the proposed meeting took place. We spent a great deal of time in discussion of the use of mechanical instrumental music in Christian worship. The elders discussed in detail the hermeneutical principles based upon which we were forced to the conclusion that the use of mechanical instrumental music in Christian worship is wrong! It was stressed repeatedly that there simply is no Bible authority for it!
All present listened patiently as DeWelt and Wilson presented their view. They made no special effort to attempt to justify by the Scriptures the use of mechanical instrumental music in Christian worship. It was clearly their view that it simply makes no difference: It is all right to have it, and it is all right not to have it. In fact, Wilson pointed out that he preached for a church which had on the sign in front “Church of Christ.” He stressed that this church where he preached DID NOT USE mechanical instrumental music in worship. “But,” he declared, “not because we are opposed to it—we simply do not have it.” DeWelt emphasized that he had not in any sense changed his mind about mechanical instrumental music in worship.
These men clearly and strongly felt that there could be (and that there ought to be) unity simply upon the basis that it makes no difference—whether we do or whether we do not. In their thinking, it was not necessary for them and their brethren to regard the use of the instrument as being sin.
I left that meeting on the last day as scared as I have ever been in my life about the church of our Lord. It had become crystal clear to me that these men had not changed their thinking one particle, and that they had absolutely no intention of changing their thinking. On this point, we had been terribly misinformed by many who had insisted that we meet with these men. The thing which scared me was this: They had not changed their position at all, and had no intention of doing so. BUT, THEY KNEW THAT THEY SAW AMONG US A WILLINGNESS TO ACCEPT THEM (FELLOWSHIP THEM) WHILE THEY CONTINUED TO HOLD THEIR VIEWS INDICATED! It frightened me then, and it frightens me now to know that on this point, they were right.
Why can’t brethren wake up? Why is it that many cannot be warned? These men (and those who follow their leadership) are not interested in unity based upon plain Bible teaching. They are not about to give up the instrument. But, as liberalism takes its toll, they know that many in churches of Christ are willing to accept them ON THEIR TERMS.