“Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us . . . For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen” I John 4:11, 12, 20b NIV

Well, I’ve had a post running around in my head for quite a while now on my reaction to the Christian Chronicle article about the Tulsa Workshop and efforts at more fellowship between the independent Christian Churches/Church of Christ and the Churches of Christ (a cappella).

First, I believe the article is well written and fair (I would have said “fair and balanced” but that gives the wrong impression now days). There were just a couple of things that caught my eye.

In regard to those who will not attend the workshop this year, I’m going to take their word for it that the reasons they state are the reasons they hold. That’s the fair-minded, brotherly thing to do it seems to me. Cynicism, while often heralded as one, is not a gift of the Holy Spirit. It helps that I know some of these people, and know that their reasoning does not come as a knee-jerk reaction, or from an ounce of animosity. I hope that those who disagree with their decision will extend the same grace.

There was a phrase that bothered me, as it always does. Flavel Yeakley (whom I do not know, nor do I intend to judge) used it this way: “I believe that the instrumental brethren are ‘brethren-in-error’ — but brethren-in-error are the only kind of brethren we have.” Now, I’ll grant that he did qualify the phrase by including himself and all the rest of his brethren. It is the phrase I have a contention with. I’m not going to jump all over Mr. Yeakley when all that’s in the article is a quick soundbite with no greater context of the interview available.

“Brethren-in-error.” It has a distancing effect. It’s meant to show that there is a relationship, yes, but that there is also a certain recognized distance. It keeps the “instrumental brethren”, as Victor Knowles put it, at an arm’s length. I guess in my mind a question bigger than the one about the use of musical instruments in worship is this: if a man is my brother, or a woman my sister, do I have a “right” to keep them at arm’s length?

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