[forthright] One New Year, Two Portraits / Peace, Prosperity and Division (5)

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Thu, 6 Jan 2011 07:53:26 -0800 (PST)
Forthright Magazine
Straight to the Cross

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One New Year, Two Portraits
 by Barry Newton

"Begin with the end in mind" remains a well-worn and
worthy proverb. If each of our lives could be displayed
as a portrait, how would we want on the forthcoming New
Year's Eve painted?

If the apostle Paul were the painter, his Ephesian
letter suggests he would splash ink pigments creating
forms and lines on a canvas in fundamentally one of two

Although Paul's brush was a quill and his paints the
arrangement of words, nevertheless his portrait of the
ungodly life is clear and stark.

The painting would reveal a life driven by an internal
sense of purpose built on the transitory, such as
seeking enjoyment from life. Yet, the bright lights of
God's studio expose the insatiability and futility of
the pursuit. Dark muted colors would convey a life
being hopelessly lived out in ignorance of the reality
of God's judgment and salvation.

The alternative portrait is a canvas that has been
divinely scraped removing the pagan remnants of a
former life. Using the bright colors of Jesus' light,
Paul would convey a divinely created portrait infused
with the purpose of emulating God's righteousness and
holiness. This is a life empowered by the mindset of
Christ. Such a transformed life seeks the well-being of
others while conforming ever more closely to the image
of Jesus.

You can read in Ephesians 4:17-5:14 all about Paul's
portrait of the pagan lifestyle contrasted alongside of
a holy and faithful person who serves Christ.

Self-portraits may not reveal much truth about one's
own life. What matters is how our lives measure up to
eternity and reality.

How would we want Paul to paint our life this year?

Read this article online, write your reaction, and read
others' comments as well. Click here:


Peace, Prosperity and Division (5)
 by Michale D. (Mike) Greene

By 1880, attempts at reconstruction of a nation after a
long and bloody civil war were bearing fruit. The union
had been saved, the slaves freed and folks were making
attempts to heal the division that had been so
devastating to the country.

But among the disciples or Christians, division was
becoming an ever present reality as individuals,
preachers, congregations, editors and periodicals made
known and debated their positions on the recently
introduced innovations of the Missionary Society and
instrumental music in the worship. Some accepted both.
Some rejected both. Others accepted the missionary
society, yet rejected the instrument.

Since membership in the Missionary Society could be on
an individual basis, which would not affect the
immediate work and worship of the local congregation,
accommodations might be made within a congregation on
the Society. The introduction of the instrument into
the worship was another matter, altogether.

When an instrument is introduced to the worship, the
very nature of the worship is changed. Those who held
the conviction that its use violated scriptural
principles could not in good conscience worship with
the instrument. What were they to do?

There were only two options, compromise their
convictions or leave. Leave churches where they had
worshipped for many years? Leave churches they had
helped to grow through efforts at converting the lost?
Leave churches that were meeting in houses of worship
they had helped build? In some cases leave family
members who did not share their convictions?

Compromise or leave. Neither presented a pleasant
alternative. Most chose to leave. As the decade of the
1880's passed, all astute observers of the brotherhood
of disciples, or Christians as they were variously
known, knew that the division was real.

Folks who rejected the innovations were leaving and
establishing new congregations that held firm to the
principles upon which the great Restoration Movement
had been begun and carried on for so many years.
Congregations built upon what were believed to be
scriptural principles were established. Separate houses
of worship were built in which no instrument was to be
used and in time what had been one great brotherhood
became two.

Those that accepted the innovations became known as the
Christian Church and/or Disciples of Christ. Those who
rejected the innovations generally took the name
churches of Christ. This division or distinction was
officially recognized in the 1906 U.S. Religious Census
as the churches of Christ were for the first time
listed separately from the Christian Church/Disciples
of Christ.

Some years later another division took place among the
Disciples as some led the Disciples to accept more
liberal positions and moved to accept denominational
status, rejecting wholesale any plea of restoration.
The more conservative among them who rejected
denominational status became known as The Independent
Christian Church.

In 1906, the Disciples were the larger of the two
groups with many more congregations, ministers and
churches. However, through the 20th century the
churches of Christ out grew both the Disciples and the
Independent Christian churches.

Over the intervening years since the late 1800's many
debates and discussions on the use of the instrument in
worship have been conducted between members of the two
brotherhoods. Other efforts have been made to heal the
breach, particularly between the churches of Christ and
the Independent Christian churches to no avail.

However, the basic issue that brought about the
division remains. Those with firm convictions that
there is no authority for the use of an instrument of
music in worship cannot in good conscience worship with
one and those who accept the instrument as a matter of
expediency are not willing to forgo its use for the
sake of unity.

That unity, based upon the scriptures, or the "ancient
order of things," which was the original goal of the
early Restoration leaders such as the Campbells and
Stone, remains an elusive goal.

Read this article online, write your reaction, and read
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