Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 3, 1955
NUMBER 42, PAGE 13,15b

Specific And Generic Terms

Pryde E. Hinton, Dora, Alabama

I affirm that when God clearly commands a thing to be done, or a thing to be used, but does not specify the method, or manner, anywhere in the New Testament, that He has clearly left to the church and the individual to select the best method available. In Exodus 12, God did not say offer an animal. That would have allowed them to offer any kind of animal. He was further specific in saying it must be a male, without blemish, etc. If He had said an animal, even a fox would not have been excluded, unless by some former instruction from God. Brother M. C. Kurfees in his book, Instrumental Music in the Worship, makes telling use of this principle, chapter VIII. He, God, says "sing." To do that one must have a song, hymn, etc. Shall we supply each worshipper with a hymn book? God doesn't say so. Shall we have each to memorize beforehand the songs to be sung? There's no such instruction in God's Word. Shall the director "line" the hymn, or song, as they used to do? We aren't told to do that. But we MUST do one of these, or follow some other method whereby all will be on the same song at the same time — even on the same verse. However, if God had given, either by precept or example, the method of using books for each worshipper, then, we could obey God by the use of no other method, or means.

There is no choice as to the kind of songs to use. There is no choice as to the spirit, or attitude of the singers. These things are specifically prescribed. Neither is there any choice as to the kind of music (instrumental or vocal), for God has clearly said vocal, or sing. A piano, violin, organ, etc., are not methods of singing; they are instruments on which, or by which, a different kind of music from that commanded is made. But if God had said something like, "make music," then we could have chosen ANY KIND OF MUSIC BY GOD'S AUTHORITY.

When we leave this principle, we are lost. The end to which we will ultimately and inevitably go is as limitless as the infinite space beyond the stars. Shall we read carefully and prayerfully 2 John 9 again, and again, and again? It will help us.

Finally, (and it certainly should be final with all who know God's word) Brother Kurfees says on page 78 in the aforementioned book exactly what I want to say about doing "the work of Christ" through ANY organization other than the congregation: After showing the principle of generic and specific commands, Brother Kurfees writes, "The same principle applies in precisely the same way to the religious organization under which, and through which, God's children are to work. If He had merely commanded them to work without giving them an organization through which, and under which, to work, with its divinely appointed board of supervisors and managers to look after the work, then they could obey the command by forming for themselves an organization for that purpose and appointing a board of supervisors to look after the work. But the Lord has given them an organization, and has specifically named its board of overseers and managers." "That is the question."

That expresses exactly what I believe in this controversy over what is called "Institutionalism" today. Is Childhaven at Cullman, Alabama, for instance, a forbidden organization, or merely a method of doing the work? Who will answer forthrightly? I fear the trouble is this: after we commit ourselves to the degree that we affirm a thing, and in our minds and before the public show that we KNOW we cannot be wrong, it is an act of supreme humility and out-and-out honesty to admit that we are wrong, or have been wrong. Jeremy Taylor wrote: "An unjust accusation is like a barbed arrow, which must be drawn backward with horrible anguish, or else it will be your destruction." And he might have added that publicly affirming that you know you are right and all others are wrong is about the same arrow. But it is better to draw that arrow out now, brethren, before it festers and thereby we are divided and untold souls are lost — perhaps, our own.