Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 24, 1967
NUMBER 16, PAGE 2b-3a

Here Comes The Organ

Paul K. Williams

(Editor's note: Study this article carefully. Note that there is "agreement" between the instrumental brethren and the non-instrumental brethren. Brother Williams' point is well taken that if there is indeed such agreement, it can only mean that the non-instrument brethren have agreed to remain silent as to the sinfulness of instrumental music in Christian worship. Already we are beginning to hear a few reports of efforts to introduce the instrument into previously non-instrument congregations. More such instances are certain to follow.)

I have been following with interest the "Direct Mail Evangelism" campaign originated and still directed by Bro. Alvin Jennings and sponsored by the Brown Trail Church of Christ, Hurst (near Fort Worth, Texas.) "Direct Mail Evangelism" is attempting to do in the field of mailing a quarterly publication into homes what the Herald of Truth is doing in the field of network radio and TV programs. Churches are solicited to send money to the Brown Trail elders and to pay for mailing to homes in their area. The publication has many good things in it, though it looks too much like what Jehovah's Witnesses put out to suit my taste.

The whole concept of a church's sponsoring something like this, with other churches asked to pay to them so much per piece mailed, is unscriptural. There is no authority for one church to send to another church unless the receiving church is in NEED (II Cor. 8:13-15.) So from the beginning of this venture I understood that it was wrong in its organization.

But the most astounding thing I could have imagined came out in the May, 1967, publicity mailer which we received at the Plainfield church. On the back page there is reproduced a letter from Mr. Don DeWelt of Joplin, Missouri. Mr. DeWelt is an outstanding man in the ranks of these churches of Christ which use instrumental music in worship. He is the author of several commentaries and runs College Press , which publishes Bible study textbooks and other teaching aids. The letter is a recommendation to the churches of Christ using instrumental music - a recommendation that they cooperate with the Brown Trail church in sending out the Direct Mail Evangelism publication into homes everywhere. After showing the advantages of the method, Mr. DeWelt states in the letter:

"This is possible because we are working with these brethren in a bold venture of reaching every creature in our generation with the gospel. The brothers of Hurst, Texas are of the group who do not use the instrument in accompaniment with their singing. We are in full agreement that neither of our convictions will be violated in this effort to reach the lost world."

So, what this boils down to is that the Brown Trail church together with the entire staff and organization of Direct Mail Evangelism are cooperating with those who use instrumental music in worship in "reaching every creature in our generation with the gospel." But they have also agreed that they will not violate one another's convictions. This means that there will not, ever, under any circumstances, be one word to point out the unscripturalness of using instrumental music in worship in any of their quarterly publications! They have agreed to be silent on this issue so they can "cooperate" with those who practice error!

In 1956, Bro. A. Hugh Clark predicted to me that the split in the church which was then developing would become a reality when instrumental music was introduced in the worship again. The split developed without it, but it looks like it is coming in after the split. Once brethren have agreed not to teach against it, the door begins to open to its practice. Their action shows that they do not believe it to be an important issue. They evidently believe people can learn and obey the gospel and go to heaven while using instrumental music in worship. If that be so, then why not have it in the churches which are now non-instrumental? And soon the instrument will be there.

Watered down preaching and lack of opposition to denominational error always characterize those who want to introduce some elements of denominationalism into the church. Now that denominational organization has been saddled upon congregations by the liberals, there can be no logical opposition to other denominational practices - including instrumental music in worship. But that this step would be taken so boldly and so soon is indeed a surprise to me.

But you say, "So what if one church is 'way out' on this subject? That does not represent the liberal brotherhood." But the organization of Direct Mail Evangelism DOES represent the liberal brotherhood. Roy Deaver, the elder and minister of the Brown Trail church, is a leading light among the liberals. He, in concert with Thomas Warren, has debated faithful brethren on institutionalism. And the following well-known men are assisting "in selecting teaching materials for the gospel papers to be distributed to the masses. One might say that they are the editorial council for the paper. Some of them are: Hardeman Nichols, Leroy Brownlow, J. W. Nicks, Roy Deaver, George Tipps, Alan Bryan, L. L. Gieger, George Stephenson, Neil Lightfoot, Jimmy Jividen, Alvin Jennings, Foy Kirkpatrick, John H. Banister, Hulen Jackson, Abe Lincoln and Dale Smith. All of these men are known to me either personally or by reputation. I attended Abilene Christian College with three. One is in the Bible department of Abilene College. One is editor of Gospel Press. Others are well known as preachers and authors. The decision of Direct Mail Evangelism to enter into this "accommodation" with the instrumental music group puts all of these brethren in the position of either having to publicly dissociate themselves with this program or of being in favor of the action. It will be interesting to see how many, if any, publicly disavow this action.

Do not be deceived. The whole thrust of liberalism is in the direction of denominationalism. The issue is not simply institutionalism. It is whether we have respect for God's Word. These brethren have left their moorings of stedfast belief in and devotion to God's Word. They are now drifting on a sea of compromise and lack of conviction. They are going to wind up much farther into denominationalism much faster than most of us guessed.