Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 26, 1959

"And He Closed The 'Book

Himmel, Richmond, Virginia

Four years ago James P. Miller debated Morris B. Book on the question of instrumental music in Orlando, Florida. Book, son of the well-known W. H. Book who preached the Columbus Tabernacle Sermons, is considered an outstanding preacher among conservative Christian Churches (often called "Churches of Christ" in this area).

Book's confidence in his ability and the strength of his position must have been rather strong in his first affirmative with Miller. He declared, "The man who will not stand for his convictions is either no part of man, or he has no conviction worth standing for. We live in a time of such instability, such wishy-washy attitudes and platitudes!' (Book-Miller Debate, p. 8.) One would conclude from this that Book believes in defending what he preaches and would not be the kind to turn down the opportunity of giving his reasons for his position. However, in his last speech before Miller he remarked, "I do want to say that I didn't invite this opportunity; I accepted it, and I'm not real sure that I'm in the market for another one . . ." (p. 115.) Now, four years later, Book is pretty certain he is not in the market for another one.

A few months ago he began preaching for the Gethsemane Church of Christ a few miles out of Richmond. The elders of the congregation in Forest Hill wrote to the elders at Gethsemane about a public discussion of our differences. The letter stated:

"As you well know, the movement to restore New Testament Christianity is hindered in this section of the country, as in many others, by divisions among those pleading for a return to the old paths.' The difference between the church at Gethsemane and this congregation over the use of mechanical instruments of music is typical of those divisions."

The proposal was made that a debate on the music question be held between representatives of the two congregations. The letter concluded:

"It is our conviction that an open discussion of the music question would be of much interest in this area. We hope you will respond to this invitation and not be unwilling to defend your practice. We agree with the statement of Morris Butler Book: 'The man who will not stand for his convictions is either no part of man, or he has no convictions worth standing for.' "

After more than two months a reply came from the elders at Gethsemane. Book wrote the reply and signed it along with the other elders. They expressed doubt that any would be interested in the proposed discussion except "our" brethren.

"Furthermore, we do not consider that our position regarding the use of mechanical musical instruments in worship services needs any defending. There is only one Scriptural position, and that namely for consecrated members of the body of Christ to use their God-given talents to His praise and glory, from 'pipe to harp' and back again."

From this it is apparent that James P. Miller closed one "Book" on the music question and put him in the shelf to stay.' And isn't it wonderful that one's position becomes so scriptural that it needs no more defending!