Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 21, 1958
NUMBER 16, PAGE 13b-14a

Is Scriptural Worship Enough?

Paul K. Williams, Alliance, Ohio

In the July 1, 1958 issue of Bible Herald, page 8, there is a statement which I have heard increasingly of late. I think it embodies erroneous and dangerous thinking, and because it is there written by a gospel preacher whose writings I have come to respect highly, I think it necessary to point out what I believe to be erroneous concerning it. I am sure that the brother who wrote it will realize this is done in love.

The statement is, "Brother, unless the worship is so corrupted that it ceases to follow the pattern set forth by our Lord, would best serve by meeting with the brethren."

This statement has been made by several. Yet it is without scriptural foundation, and those making it have not, to my knowledge, attempted to cite chapter and verse for it. I am afraid that it is a statement which has been accepted without enough study.

The assertion that "unless the worship is so corrupted that it ceases to follow the pattern set forth by our Lord" we had best stay with the congregation {that} exalts the pattern for worship but degrades God's pattern for every other aspect of the church. But the New Testament puts no more emphasis upon true worship than it puts upon holding to the pattern in everything. "Whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus." Col. 3:17.

Suppose a congregation worshipped according to the pattern but was called "'The Presbyterian Church?" Suppose the worship were all right, but the congregation decided to appoint women as elders? Suppose the church decided to give a large portion of its contribution to the United Christian Missionary Society? After one had done what he thought was all he reasonably could to change that congregation from these unscriptural practices, would he be justified in leaving? A more appropriate question might be, Would he be justified in staying?

The two passages cited in the article under consideration (Rom. 16:17 and 2 John 9) clearly teach that we have an obligation to "mark" and "turn away from" those who teach false doctrine (those who are causing the divisions and occasions of stumbling.) Can we do this marking and avoiding by continuing to worship with them while they have charge of the teaching?

It is true that the faithful brethren in the seven churches of Asia (Rev. 2 and 3) were not commanded to leave those congregations. But they were commanded to straighten up the worldliness, take care of the false teaching, etc. And there was the threat that, barring such a change in the congregation, their candlestick (i. e., Jesus recognition of them as His church) would be removed from its place. And not a one of these churches was rebuked for a corruption in the worship!

We are commanded "Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers" (2 Cor. 6:14). Members of the church can drift (Heb. 2:1) and have an evil heart of unbelief (Heb. 3:12). If such are elders, to whom we are to submit, we become "unequally yoked with unbelievers." Paul exhorts, "Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate." (2 Cor. 6:17)

When God's pattern for the church is seriously altered by the leaders of a congregation, and when, after much effort, we fail to restore the church to that pattern, then we have no choice but to "mark" and "avoid" the false teachers and "come out from among them."