Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 3, 1960
NUMBER 27, PAGE 2,11a

Letter To A Methodist Preacher

Fred E. Dennis

Dear Sir:

Glad to get your comments and enclosures. I note on the envelope you have the title "Rev." before your name. You could not expect me to use that before the name of any man. God never did it. No man in the New Testament had any such title. In fact, the word "reverend" is used but once in the entire Bible and here it is descriptive of God. (Ps. 111:9)

I notice that you readily admit that the New Testament church did not have an organ or piano nor electric lights. The New Testament church has never used any such things in worship. It does not yet. The church assembled. It is a necessary inference that they had to have a place to assemble. It may have been in a room, in a house, or under a tree. If it were dark they would need some lights. Let us read a little. "And upon the first day of the week when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together." (Acts 20:7, 8)

Faithful Christians have always come together on the first day of the week to break bread. That is why those Christians of Troas came together. And they did have "lights," didn't they? Do you suppose that any of these Christians thought the "upper chamber" or the "many lights" were a part of the worship?

You certainly do not mean to infer there were no instrumental instruments in the days of inspiration. You know there were. Is it not strange that Jesus Christ and his holy apostles left them out of worship? You know there are two kinds of music — vocal and instrumental. Which kind did the Lord put in the church? You can read about singing by Christians in the New Testament as an act of worship. Read Matt. 26:30; Mark 14:26; Acts 16:25; Rom. 15:9; 1 Cor. 14:15; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Heb. 2:12; 13:15; James 5:13. Here are ten references. Now let us have ONE referring to the use of instrumental music in worship. There is not a one to be found. When you go to the store for your wife, you know what she wants because she either tells you or writes it down. God WROTE it down. He left the mechanical music out.

You are a Methodist preacher. No doubt you are fairly well acquainted with the life and writings of John Wesley, the father of Methodism. Let us see what Mr. Wesley thought about this: "The late venerable and most eminent divine, the Rev. John Wesley, who was a lover of music, and an elegant poet, when asked his opinion of instruments of music being introduced into the chapels of the Methodists, said, 'I have no objection to instruments of music in our chapels, provided they are neither HEARD nor SEEN'." You see the introduction of instruments of music even among the Methodists, did not originate with the founder of Methodism. And the New Testament in its "terse and powerful" manner simply left them out. The quotation given is found on page 684 of volume four of "Clarke's Commentary." And Clarke was perhaps the greatest scholar the Methodist Church ever produced.

And you say folks did not come to worship in cars. Sir, you are right. What has that to do with worship? When the Lord commanded his disciples to meet, he thought they would have enough common sense to get there. How they got there was left to their own judgment. Had he said for them to walk to worship then that would be the only way they could have pleased God. They would have walked.

You say they did not speak from varnished or painted pulpits. This I don't know, but where a man stands when he teaches or preaches the truth is not of any importance. In Acts 21:40, we are told Paul "stood on the stairs." I don't know whether they were painted or varnished, but this I know: Paul preached the truth, and it stands. Men of intelligence ought to be ashamed of such an "argument."

You say the early church "had no communion appointment." I don't know what you mean by this. Paul said he had received it of the Lord. That would be almost an "appointment," would it not? You know Jesus introduced the communion service. Read 1 Cor. 11:23-30. And the early church met on the first day of the week for this supper. (Acts 20:7) And the true church does the same today.

You say, "Women were forbidden to teach in church — to worship with their hair cut — rings or bracelets on their hands." Under certain circumstances women were forbidden to teach. Under other circumstances they were commanded to teach.

You almost got it right on the women's hair — not quite. What God really said was: "But if a woman have long hair it is a glory for her: for her hair is given her for a covering." (1 Cor. 11:15) What you said about the rings and bracelets I don't recall. You gave no reference. If you had reference to 1 Tim. 2:9, you missed it. There God commands modest apparel. The Christian woman must not be gaudy.

Sir, I appreciate your writing your brief comments. What you need to do and what I need to do, and what every other responsible person needs to do is to learn and follow the New Testament. Jesus told his disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel. (Matt. 28:18-20) He did not tell them how to go, but they got there and when they got there they preached the gospel. When they got folks to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, they were told to repent and be baptized. (Acts 2:37, 38) If they had already believed and repented, they were told to arise and be baptized and wash their sins away. (Acts 22:16) When folks did this, they were saved and the Lord added them to his church. (Acts 2:47)

The Lord has not gone out of business. His law is still in force. If we can just get folks to obey it, they will be saved from their old sins, and if they keep on obeying the word of the Lord, they will be eternally saved. This is what we are striving for a God does not leave us in doubt about baptism and what it is for. He says it is a burial. (Rom. 6:3-5; Col. 2:12; Heb. 10:22)

One final thought. Since the world has stood, God has never given any man a command that was hard to be understood. God always makes it definite and specific what He wants done, and man's part is to obey. May God help us to do that.

— Fred E. Dennis