Wednesday, October 03, 2007
People who really know me will tell you that I hate being called arrogant! I will snap your head off! I am confident, bold, opinionated, headstrong, perhaps stubborn, but not arrogant. I grew up in a culture of arrogance. Apartheid era South Africa was ruled by the worst kind of self-righteous arrogance. The "blacks," "Afs," "kaffirs," "terrorists," and "commies" would NEVER take over "our country." And then before we could say "Botha who?" Nelson Mandela was out of prison and being sworn in as president.
My religious upbringing was seasoned with the same kind of absolute certainty. We Church of Christ folks had ALL the answers and ALL the right doctrine. I had a sense of both implied and explicit superiority that only certainty can bring. Ever since I can remember, I have known we were the only ones going to heaven. I was never proud about it, but I knew it. I was a member of the "Lord's church." What a burden to be so chosen. I, like the zenophobic Jews of old, actually thanked God that I was born into a Church of Christ family!
I don't want this post to turn into a forum to debate instrumental worship, but it is the hinge on which my comments swivel. In the October issue of the Christian Chronicle, a group of Church of Christ preachers calling themselves "NewTestamentChurchToday.org" took out an ad called "A TIME TO SPEAK." It is a statement opposing instrumental worship signed by over 300 preachers. Listen to these excerpts: "We are for a cappella singing because we are CERTAIN it pleases God." "We are for a cappella singing because we are CERTAIN that this was the practice of the early church." "It is right to use a cappella singing in worship. No one questions the practice of a cappella singing. The same CERTAINTY cannot be applied to the use of musical instruments. A cappella music is safe." "We refuse to move from a position of CERTAINTY to a position of UNCERTAINTY."
Here's a parable. (This is a true story) The Godfrey brothers grew up in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. They loved the ocean. The sea was in their blood. They loved to go out in the bay to fish. They knew EVERYTHING about the sea. They knew the tides, the river mouths, the sand banks, the rock shoals, the currents, the way around bird island - these guys had certainty when it came to the sea. They knew it all. You couldn't tell them anything. Well, one day the cod were running out in the bay. So they rushed down to the docks, loaded their boat and took off - not knowing their fate had been sealed! They forgot to put in the 2 small rubber plugs at the back of the boat. While they were cruising, the water couldn't come in, but as soon as they stopped that boat and cut off the motor water poured through those holes and started flooding the boat. Before they knew it, the back was flooded and the motor went under, flipping the boat upright. Not being able to hold on, the 2 brothers decided to swim for shore. No one ever saw them again! Later the police found the tip of their boat bobbing on the ocean, and once it was towed in they soon discovered that a very small and seemingly insignificant oversight had killed these men who KNEW EVERYTHING about boats and fishing and the sea!
The lesson is a biblical one - pride always comes before the fall. Do not trust absolute certainty. Question your religious and political and military leaders who make hubris boasts. Rome would never fall, the Titanic could not sink, America will never lose a war, and we are the only ones going to heaven!