REFLECTIONS
by Al Maxey

Issue #361 ------- August 25, 2008
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Such is the irresistible nature of
truth that all it asks, and all it
wants, is the liberty of appearing.

Thomas Paine {1737-1809}

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The Bondage of Silence
Human Hermeneutic Gone Astray

Oswald Spengler (1880-1936), in his work Aphorisms, observed, "The stupidity of a theory has never impeded its influence." Quite the contrary, as a matter of fact. Too often it appears that the more ridiculous and ludicrous the theory, the more likely it is to spread at almost lightning speed among the gullible masses. There is an abundance of tyrannical theological theory floating about within the parameters of Christendom seeking an audience, a following, a champion. A good many of these speculative tenets are rejected almost immediately; others are toyed with by the unsuspecting; a few are embraced by those too blind to perceive within them the fertile seeds of their very own ultimate enslavement. From the midst of this muddled mass of misguided humanity a relatively small number will emerge to assume their positions as lords over the people and the "keepers of truth" to whom all must bow. Thus, the progression from theory to tyrant to tyranny will become complete.

The genuine tragedy in this godless progression away from our liberties is that we could choose to follow a different course. Slavery can be avoided, or eradicated where it has taken root. It simply requires men and women of courage to take a strong stand and to speak out against it, and yes, even be willing to fight and die to overcome it. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), in his famous Letter from Birmingham City Jail, penned this extremely insightful prophetic observation, "We shall have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people, but for the appalling silence of the good people." Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948), just a couple of years prior to his death, declared, "Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly." Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) declared this truth this way: "I hate a fellow whom pride, or cowardice, or laziness drives into a corner, and who does nothing when he is there but sit and growl; let him come out as I do, and bark." In a rather well-known study on the psychological impact of emotional tyranny, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson (b. 1941) noted this truth: "It is impossible to remain silent in the face of tyranny without, by this very act of silence, becoming an agent of that tyranny." I couldn't agree more!!

Legalistic patternism has been around for centuries, and it has successfully progressed through the various evolutionary stages of theory, tenet, tyrant and tyranny. Countless precious souls are currently enslaved behind the high, thick walls of a rigid religiosity that is slowly, but ever so surely, sucking the life force from their very souls. Those who keep them shackled to the party patterns and the traditional tenets are very careful to also shield these poor souls from any attempt by those who remain free to reach them with the Truth. I have been rather successful over the past several decades in reaching many of these precious captives, but it hasn't been easy. Their captors have gone to extraordinary lengths to keep anything I say from the ears of these people, and anything I write from their view. They are literally terrified of the message of grace and freedom reaching their people, for they know only too well that it will create a growing hunger, a hunger that they themselves, with their paltry fare of sectarian pablum, cannot even begin to satisfy. With hunger comes unrest, and in time this evolves into efforts to escape the confines of their theological prison camp. The lords of legalism will react quickly and forcefully to any such effort to breach their walls of isolation and exclusion, and they will attack any such daring freedom fighter with deadly force. I have been on the receiving end of their assaults for many years, and I can attest that it is far from pleasant. And yet seeing captives set free has been worth the suffering and sacrifice. Lord willing, I shall continue as long as He gives me life, ability and opportunity.

There are many "tools" (dare I say "weapons") employed in the promotion of legalistic patternism, but one of the favorites is a humanly devised, and inconsistently applied, precept known to most as The Law of Silence. In essence it declares that biblical silence should always be interpreted as prohibitive in nature, rather than permissive. In other words, if the Bible says nothing about something, then that which is never mentioned is ipso facto proscribed. "Do it and DIE!" is their motto. Of course, even the most hardened legalistic patternist is wise enough to realize that there are many things they practice about which the Scriptures are silent. Thus, in an effort to get around this obvious inconsistency, they had to devise yet another precept -- The Law of Expediency. Through some creative manipulation of texts and logic, they have managed to placate themselves. "The Bible is silent about what WE do, but that is okay. What WE do is expedient. However, because the Bible is silent about what YOU do, you are an apostate bound straight for hell." Well, as you might imagine, each party of patternists "reasons" exactly the same. Thus, using the same "laws," they justify themselves and condemn all others. It is such an absurd display of illogic, that the worldly (and even other Christians) shake their heads in wonder that such people actually exist. And yet, they do ... and they are bringing death in the wake of their preposterous theology. As Jesus told the Pharisees (the legalistic patternists of His day), "You travel about on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves" [Matt. 23:15]. Jesus didn't mince words with these people ... neither should we!

Brethren, I'll make a confession -- nothing gets my blood pressure up any quicker than seeing these "voices of legalistic patternism" drag out the old "law of silence," dust it off, and seek to pawn it off once again upon an unsuspecting public. I will boldly challenge such persons every time I encounter their attempts to beguile my fellow disciples. I can not, and I will not, remain silent in the face of such attempts to shackle my spiritual siblings. Freedom in Christ is literally at stake, and for us to remain silent as lamb after precious lamb is dragged off by the wolves is unconscionable. Those who do not speak out will one day have to give an answer to the Great Shepherd for their cowardice in the face of the enemy. One of the purposes of my weekly Reflections is to reach out, through the medium of the Internet, to those behind the walls of these various sects, factions and parties, encouraging them to begin thinking about what our Father truly expects of His beloved children. Is He a God of LAW, or a God of LOVE?! Is our salvation grace/faith-based, or works-based? God is opening lines of communication for me within these various groups, and the results have been edifying (although the efforts of the leaders of these groups to silence me, and others like me, have intensified over the years). The enslaved are finding freedom; the walls are beginning to crumble, and are being breached. I think you will also find this happening very dramatically as a result of the current debate I am having with Darrell Broking. Through an unprecedented move, some of the key leaders of the legalistic patternists have opened the gates of their walled enclosures and allowed me a platform from which to speak. I have no doubt that this is a miscalculation on their part, and these doors will be slammed shut (and all trace of my words quickly obliterated) as soon as they realize what they have done, but until that happens I intend to take advantage of this God-given opportunity to reach their captives with the Truth of God's grace and His proffered freedom in Jesus. For some, it will be the first time they have ever heard it, and certainly the first time they have seen the tenets of their traditional teaching being seriously challenged. There are going to be some eyes opened, Lord willing, and some will flee to freedom.

Inside the Earthen Vessel

The above is the title given to a column that appears each month in the Rocky Mountain Christian, a column written by the preacher for the Church of Christ in Durango, Colorado --- Guy Orbison, Jr. In the August, 2008 issue of this newspaper, Guy has an article (which may also be read online, if you do not happen to subscribe to this publication) titled Changing Law. It appears on page two of the August issue. I have reviewed two previous articles by Guy Orbison in the past, one dealing with sectarianism and the other with patternism (Reflections #197 and #315). Guy's point in his present article is that, whether in the secular realm or the spiritual realm, no one has the right to change or alter established law in any way except the law-giver. His point is actually a very good one, and it is a principle the legalistic patternists would do well to heed more often than they do. For example, when they declare something to be SIN that our God never even bothered to mention in Scripture, much less condemn, they have altered His Word. They are always at the head of the line to "mark" those who dare to "add to or take away from" the inspired Scriptures, and yet in actual practice they're the ones who lead the way in doing just that through their countless inferred, deduced and assumed amendments to that which God actually specified. Their rationale? You guessed it -- the infamous "law of silence."

Guy Orbison once again parades before our wondering eyes -- Oh, how they adore this passage -- Hebrews 7:14. "For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests." Well, there you have it, folks. Moses "spoke nothing" -- the "law of silence." Since Moses said nothing about priests coming from Judah, therefore and thereby any person from Judah was excluded from being a priest. Silence prohibits. It's as clear as day!! What these people can't seem to grasp is that it is not silence that prohibits, but rather specificity. Men from Judah weren't prohibited from serving as priests simply because Moses said nothing about it, they were prohibited because GOD SAID that only those from the tribe of Levi would be chosen to serve as priests. Thus, it is the specificity of God that is prohibitive here, NOT the silence of Moses. Why these people can't comprehend this simple principle of logic is puzzling. And yet, Guy writes, "The Jews clearly understood that the silence regarding Judah and all the other tribes was prohibitive." No, brother, that is NOT what they understood. They understood that God had specified that those from Levi only would serve. "Silence" has nothing to do with it. Guy even declared as much by saying, "The old, Mosaic Law was not silent about who was to serve as priests, but was silent about any other Israelite tribe serving in that capacity." The Law was NOT silent? Hmmm. He also wrote, "No other tribe except Levi had the authority to serve as priests and every Jew understood this." As Guy noted, God "was not silent" (his own words). Thus, God had spoken; God had specified. So what is the perceived basis of authority here? Yup!! You guessed it. What God didn't say, NOT what He did declare. Completely logical, right?! Frankly, this is one of the most ridiculous, ludicrous hermeneutical tools ever cooked up by mortal man, and people ought to be utterly embarrassed to even admit they embrace it. A mere child can grasp the illogic of it, and yet these patternists apparently can not. Again, it's puzzling.

Why is it so critical that the prohibitive nature of this "law of silence" be established in the minds of men? Because it is THE argument employed by the traditionalists to "prove" that God disapproves of instrumental accompaniment to singing in a corporate worship setting. Take away this argument, and these people have nothing by which to declare their personal preference to be the "will of God." Almost every time you see a patternist drag out this law of silence you will soon discover that the sole purpose is to condemn instruments. It's all they have! It is an act of desperation. They can't relinquish this "law," for to do so would leave them powerless to condemn all the "denominations" for their "innovations." They would be forced to admit that the preferences and perceptions of others were just as legitimate as their own, and that would spell "defeat" in their minds, rather than the opening of doors to greater fellowship with God's other children. Guy wrote, "We continue to hear the old argument from some who want to use instruments of music in our worship assemblies that 'The Bible does not specifically forbid our using instruments, so we have the right to use them.' It is true that the Bible does not specifically forbid our using instruments. Yet, the use of instruments falls within that category about which God has said nothing." Hmmm. Well, so do church buildings, multiple single-sip serving "cups" of Welch's unfermented grape juice in a tray, Sunday School, VBS, four part harmony, song books ... shall I go on?! If, in fact, silence is prohibitive, as these people claim, then they are certainly not consistent in the application of this principle. "Well, that only applies to certain things about which the Bible is silent." Oh, really? Which ones? "Well, uhhhhh, the ones WE say it applies to." In other words, if they do something about which the Bible is silent, that's okay. But if someone else does something about which the Bible is silent, and this happens to be something they don't do, THEN it is SIN.

Guy Orbison wrote, "I've always been concerned about the possibility of my teaching something that God never said." You mean like teaching God disapproves of those who use instruments as either aids or accompaniment to their singing? God never declared such. Does it concern you, then, that you declare that which "God never said"? Guy further noted, "It frightens me to think that I might advocate a doctrine that God did not give." You mean like declaring something to be a sin that HE never declared to be such? Brother Orbison, we know for a fact that God has demonstrated approval for the use of instruments with singing in the Scriptures. We see ample evidence of this positive perception in both the OT and NT documents. WHERE, in all of these writings, is there even a HINT that He has changed His mind on this? WHERE is there even a HINT of divine disapproval for instrumental accompaniment to singing? I would challenge this brother to provide even one single solitary verse that even remotely hints at such. Well, we all know that he can't. He's already admitted that it is not there. The only thing to which he can appeal in defense of his theology is the fact that God DIDN'T say anything. A rather flimsy basis, it seems to me, for developing dogma that has separated spiritual siblings for centuries and led to factional feuding within the precious, blood-bought Family of God. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves for fussing, fighting and fragmenting over assumptions of fallible men drawn solely from what God never said. Guy Orbison closed his article by declaring, "I continue to study the issue and am always open to any new considerations from others. ... Letís give this serious thought." I pray that Guy and others will do just that.

Challenge from a Reader

As you might well imagine, I get considerable letters, emails and phone calls from those in the ultra-conservative camp who are determined to convince me that my rejection of this "law of silence" is wrong, and that I need to "return to the Old Paths" of legalistic patternism so that my "soul might be saved." They are convinced that if I refuse to bow to their assumptions, deductions and inferences, that I might be so bold as to try and impose my own. This would almost be funny, if it were not so sad. They also think, just as incorrectly, that if I reject the particulars of their perceived pattern (one based upon inferences drawn from biblical silence) that my own personal theology is "anything and everything is permissible." For example, I received an email from a man on Monday, August 18 in which he asserted the following: "Brother Maxey, I was reading your articles regarding the silence of the Scriptures and was amazed at the illogical way you make your argument." He then hastened to say that he wouldn't bore me by going into any detail as to what these illogical aspects of my argument were, so I am still in the dark as to what he saw that was so contrary to sound logic and reason. Nevertheless, this reader went on to declare, "You seem to adopt the thinking that as long as the Bible is silent on a matter then we have liberty to do what we want in that area." No, brother, that is not what I believe, not even close, and I have so stated time and again in my "illogical" arguments pertaining to biblical silence.

In those areas where there is genuine biblical silence from our heavenly Father, we must each exercise some degree of common sense and wise discernment in our determination as to whether a particular action or practice would be acceptable to our God. Is that which we are considering, and about which God said nothing, something that would bring glory and honor to Him? Would it cause people to praise His name and be drawn to Him? Would it be beneficial to His cause here on earth? Would it uplift the fallen, encourage the faint of heart, and embolden those weak in faith? Would it stimulate the saints to greater service to God and man? Is it consistent with known precepts and principles clearly conveyed by God in Scripture? "Anything and everything is permissible"? Hardly, brother. Long before we ever choose to act within a particular area where our God has not spoken or specified, we must carefully and prayerfully consider said action in light of the above representative questions, each of which reflects a desire to employ sound judgment so that our God is glorified, our brethren edified, and the lost evangelized. God didn't create us to be robots, preprogrammed to mindlessly goosestep to endless tomes of law; rather, He created us with a brain, and urged us to use it, with love for Him and others being our guiding principle and motivating force.

The above reader continued, "The 'silence' we are dealing with is in those areas where God has specified certain things, thus excluding those not mentioned." In that case, brother, we are not talking about biblical "silence," but rather biblical "specificity." Once again, we see clear evidence of the fact that these legalistic patternists seem utterly incapable of grasping this distinction. If God has spoken specifically about some particular action or circumstance, then this cannot truly be described as a "silence" issue, but is rather a "specificity" issue. Nevertheless, this reader still believes that even in areas where God specifies some action, it is the silence with regard to all other non-specified actions that prohibits these other actions, and not the specificity itself. For example, if the Lord commanded, "Thou shalt ONLY eat chicken all the days of thy earthly life," then are we to thereby logically infer that pork and beef and fish are excluded because God said nothing about them? Of course not! Those blessed with logical, rational thought know that beef and fish and pork are excluded because God specified chicken only. It is not silence that is prohibitive in such a circumstance, it is rather the specificity of God's command. Silence is purely incidental at best; it is certainly not regulatory in any way.

This reader continues: "Bro. Maxey, let me give you a simple example of this principle (that silence prohibits). You send your son to the grocery store, telling him to buy a loaf of bread. You hand him a fifty dollar bill. He obeys your command and returns with the bread. In addition, however, he has also purchased all kinds of candy with the remainder of your fifty dollars. Would your son be justified in doing this? After all, you were silent about the candy." There are several flaws in this person's "logic." First, he has assumed that if one rejects the notion that silence is prohibitive, that one thereby embraces the notion that silence is permissive. In point of fact, silence is neither. Silence neither prescribes nor proscribes some action. It is neither pro nor con. Silence renders no judgment either way; it is not regulatory in nature. Second, where genuine silence exists there necessitates a sense of trust on one side and responsible, enlightened judgment on the other. For example, I would not give my son fifty dollars and send him off to the store if I had no trust in his character or judgment. If my son is worthy of such trust, however, then he has demonstrated a character that is concerned for the feelings and wishes of his father. He is thus a son who will act responsibly and with common sense and good judgment based on his best understanding of my previously expressed wishes and expectations. Thus, I give my son fifty dollars with the full assurance that he will carry out my wishes to the best of his ability and with the exercise of good judgment according to his understanding of who I am and what I expect of him.

Now, let me show how this works in "real life." If my son comes back with two shopping bags filled with candy, having spent the remainder of the money I gave him on himself in this extravagant way, then, yes, I will be disappointed in the judgment (or lack thereof) he demonstrated. No, I did not tell him he couldn't buy candy, but had he exercised good judgment, he clearly would not have. By his actions he has displayed that he still lacks that level of maturity and insight that I had hoped he would have achieved by this time in his development. However, if I already knew that he lacked this insight, and I gave him the money anyway, with no qualifying instructions, then, frankly, the fault lies more with me than with him. I too showed lack of judgment. Now, let's present another scenario. Suppose I give my son fifty dollars and tell him to go buy a loaf of bread. He comes back with the bread, but with no extra money. I ask him what happened to the remainder of the money that I gave him, and he says, "Dad, you have always taught me to be loving and generous. You've taught me to help those in distress. I have learned these qualities from you by watching you. Dad, in the aisle next to me a woman was crying. She had a little baby with her. She did not have the money to pay for the milk and food she was buying for her baby. She was really poor, Dad, and I felt so sorry for her, and for her baby. I told the clerk I'd pay for it. She really thanked me, Dad, and said that she knew I must be a Christian. I told her I was, and I invited her to come to worship with us on Sunday. She said she'd be there. Did I do right, Dad? You're not mad at me, are you?!" Okay, brother, what would you say the reaction of the Dad should be here? Should he punish his son for breaking the "law of silence"? Or, should he commend his son for showing responsible judgment that was in keeping with the known character of the father? The legalistic patternists, if they're consistent in their "rules is rules" theology, must pick the former option. Those of us who perceive grace, and who know the Father, will clearly choose the latter.

Silence, however (and this is what the legalists utterly fail to perceive), by its very nature, is neither permissive nor prohibitive. It is neutral. Therefore, in the case of disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, what determines whether some action performed in the face of genuine biblical silence is either divinely approved or disapproved is whether or not these disciples acted responsibly in keeping with their best understanding of the revealed character of their Father. Am I suggesting by this strong conviction that I believe in the "liberal" theology of "anything and everything goes"? Not even remotely. Far from it, in fact. The appropriateness of our actions will be determined by how well they reflect the nature of our Father, and whether they bring honor and glory to Him, and evidence His love unto others. Had my young son NOT helped that poor woman and her baby, I would have been greatly disappointed in him. "But, Dad, you were silent about using that money to help anyone. Therefore, I was just being a good son." No, son, you were just being a legalist.

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Down, But Not Out
A Study of Divorce and Remarriage
in Light of God's Healing Grace

A 200 page book by Al Maxey
Publisher: (301) 695-1707
www.zianet.com/maxey/mdrbook.htm
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Reflections on the Holy Spirit
A Published Tract by Al Maxey
Order From: J. Elbert Peters: jepeters65@knology.net
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The Maxey-Broking Debate
on the Doctrine of Patternism

{This debate is now in progress}
www.zianet.com/maxey/pattern.htm
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Readers' Reflections

From a Minister in California:

Bro. Al, Your last Reflections on the rules for interpreting figurative language was thorough, clear and simple, as it should be. I have been an avid student of end-times prophecy for 40 years. As you know, the hermeneutic one employs to interpret prophetic passages determines which "camp" one lands in. Your figurative language hermeneutic is nearly identical to mine. Using that hermeneutic, I find myself in the premillennial camp, and I'm wondering where you fit. I ask only out of curiosity and the hunch that we may have yet another thing in common. Your reply will not affect our relationship as brothers in Christ! Some of my "best friends" are amillennialists.

From a Reader in New Mexico:

Brother Al, Your latest article, "Challenge of Figurative Language," was a great follow-up to Reflections #356. Thank you for taking the time to do this type of article occasionally.

From a Minister in Donetsk, Ukraine:

Dear Brother Al, We desperately need your prayers for the upcoming evangelical outreach in our community this coming weekend. We will be mainly singing and witnessing to the people of our neighborhood in an open air area among apartment complexes and private homes. Please pray for the success of this endeavor and that souls will be led to Christ Jesus. Sunday morning we will be doing the same in our church yard, hoping that people will come to hear us again. We appreciate your support very much, and will update you on the results of this outreach. With your busy schedule and the work that you do, it is something that you find time to write to me. Thank you, brother! Also, your Reflections are a great source of encouragement to us here!

From a Reader in Hawaii:

Aloha Brother Al, I am new to Hawaii and just recently became aware of your years of ministry here in Honolulu. I was directed to your web site, and I find your work most interesting and stimulating. It would be fascinating to sit and talk with you about your many thoughts. Perhaps someday!! God bless you in your effort to serve Him.

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Bro. Al, I want to agree with one of your readers. We are the true conservatives because we do not add to or take away from the Scriptures. We go only by what it says. A person who comes up with a lot of poor interpretations from inferences is not a true conservative. He is just wrong!

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Brother Al, Since Darrell Broking says that every word of the NT writings is "the pattern," I wonder how he feels about Mark 16:9-20, which many of the best and earliest manuscripts do not have. Also, there are two different endings that are not in the earliest manuscripts. Apparently, some individual other than Mark penned these alternative endings. Therefore, it appears that Darrell Broking accepts manmade additions to Mark's gospel record. Since every word of the NT documents is the "pattern," which of the endings, if any of them, does he proclaim to be "the pattern"? Also, if Darrell is a KJV fan (as it appears), the earliest manuscripts of the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6 do not have the ending that the KJV shows. Again, some man added that part to the KJV. So, it looks like Darrell accepts manmade additions to God's Word. I wonder: which version does Darrell believe to be "God-breathed"?

From an Elder in Georgia:

Brother Al, While reading your debate with Darrell Broking, the alarming thought came to me that I grew up in, and even preached in, a flavor of the Churches of Christ that is even more ultra-conservative than Broking's group. He is considered "liberal" by them.

From a Minister in Texas:

Dear Brother Maxey, I continue to eagerly await your weekly Reflections, as they are some of the most well-researched articles coming out of the Churches of Christ today, and they further serve as a prophetic voice to our fellowship. I am also benefiting greatly from following your debate on patternism. I grew up in a congregation that was in close fellowship with a congregation that employed David Brown. Being in that environment led me to commit to going to a conservative preaching school and then serving three different congregations in the legalist camp. In the past few years, I have emerged from that environment with a newfound understanding of grace, the church, and God. Your writings, Bro. Maxey, have helped me in that transition. For this I thank you!

From a Minister in New Mexico:

Bro. Al, Darrell Broking wrote, "I answered his error and attempted once again to get him to deal with the importance and place of God's Word in the scheme of salvation and fellowship." We all need to deal with the importance and place of God's Word -- His Living Word who became flesh -- in the scheme of salvation and fellowship. This failing is at the heart of the divisions within all limbs of the Body of Christ that worship sola scriptura (the written word, rather than the Living Word). When disciples place the Book on the throne that belongs to God, and then begin arguing over His decrees preserved in writing, debates devolve into the confusion of Bibliolatry, which separates passionate men of reason by differences over manmade doctrines and traditions. In our zeal for knowledge, too often we forget the Good News that our Savior frees us from slavery imposed by religious fervor. Isaiah 29, as well as Matthew 15 and Mark 7, caution us about teaching human precepts as the doctrine of God. The cries of Luther and Campbell and others to "Go back to the Bible" certainly have the sound of wisdom, but at times it takes our focus off our Messiah. Our battle cry ought to be "Go back to the Living Word" as we unite to honor Him with greater devotion than we honor even the precious documents that describe God's love for those He created. God's Living Word shed blood, not manmade ink, to redeem us and save us. If we forget that truth, we revert to idolatry!

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Bro. Al, After Philip baptized the eunuch, I wonder what kind of music he proposed to others when he went back to Ethiopia, since he had never had a chance to read Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16 (they hadn't even been written). He had the OT writings only, and was reading from them when Philip joined him in his chariot. Also, it is my understanding that Bishop Ambrose of Milan was the first to introduce congregational singing. Since the early church met in homes, I assume that there was quite a bit of antiphonal singing, and I would think that the host, or hostess, would strum on a harp or some other musical instrument kept in their home when they sang the psalms, since many of these were to be accompanied with musical instruments. It grieves me that legalistic patternists want to go back to LAW keeping. The Gospel is the good news that Jesus died for us to take away sin. It is NOT a set of rules. God bless you, Al.

From a Reader in North Carolina:

Brother Al, I continue to be so intrigued by your debate with Darrell Broking, especially as I read the arguments presented by each side. I was so glad to read that you are not interested in "defeating" Darrell, but rather in providing some light to him so that he might perhaps come to find a more excellent way to God and thus stop burdening so many people with his own interpretation of the Scriptures. I only wish that Darrell's mission was the same -- to enlighten, rather than to defeat -- with the goal that we could all draw closer together and become more united. When I first heard about this debate, I tried to join the ContendingFTF Internet group so that I could learn, and so hopefully I could be enlightened through this exchange between you and Darrell Broking. However, I was denied. I felt like that wounded traveler on the road to Jericho (in desperate need of spiritual assistance) who had the priest and Levite walk right past him. Broking, and those others on ContendingFTF, felt it was more important to step right over me so that they could "go to worship" and commune ONLY with those who agree with them. Al, if you had not made this material available to the public, I would not have been able to learn about the differences, and then to make my own decision concerning this important subject. Thank you for making this debate available. Bro. Al, please keep on loving Darrell and the other legalists. Maybe, just maybe, they will one day learn to love us too!!

From a Reader in Alabama:

Dear Bro. Al and Bro. Darrell, Proverbs 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." This is exactly what you two are doing in your debate. You are also sharpening every one of us who read your debate. I know that you are sharpening me, so I want to take the time to thank you both. I know that you are very busy doing the work of preachers/elders, so I want to thank you for devoting some of your time to doing this debate. Darrell, it's great that you are willing to debate Al. There are a lot of people who refuse to discuss what Al, and others like him, think. A lot of people have told me that Al is wrong, but they refuse to explain to me why he is wrong! I've even tried to get them to study the Bible with Al, if they think he is so wrong. In fact, one time I was having a Bible study with an elder, whom I sensed was being rather hard-headed, and so I sought to bring Al into the discussion. That elder ran away like a dog and cowered in a cave. So, Darrell, I think it is great that you are willing to debate him. So anyway, Bro. Al and Bro. Darrell, as an unofficial spokesman for the readers of this debate, let me, on their behalf, thank you very much for having this debate!

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