18 Dec 2011

Worship Acts, Hermeneutics & Fellowship: Continuing Dialogue – Pt 3

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Bible, Church, Exegesis, Grace, Hermeneutics, Journey, Unity, Worship

Read Salvation by Correct Doctrine, Pt 1 HERE
Read Salvation by Correct Doctrine, Pt 2 HERE

This is the third and final part of a dialog with a brother. After practicing a “principle of avoidance” (see the end of our previous dialogue) for about a week I received a five page letter which I reproduce all but the first page. I chose to refrain from reproducing the first part because it was, in my view, very unfriendly.

The second part of the letter seems to be his attempt to shift the discussion to “acts of worship.” There are the standard appeals to Nadab and Abihu and the like … I post this completely unedited. I suspected the material under “Is All Service to God Worship?” was excerpted from another source and is not his composition. This was confirmed later.  As before I will share my own reply just as I sent it. If you take the time to read this I ask your indulgence for the length today.

To Bobby V,

Yes, you’re right I have been silent for a time Bobby. The reason is because it is clear to see when certain things are going to be a hindrance to my work here. I do have an obligation to “charge false doctrine” (1 Tm. 1:3). However, if I do not put some boundaries on the extent of this work, Satan will easily consume all my time, while the local congregation is consumed by false doctrines in my own backyard.

I hope you can understand that. We are clearly at odds brother, and after seeing what I saw at the preachers meeting last time, these controversies extend beyond yourself. I will seat myself to the teachings of false teachers like N.T. Wright, nor should any Christian (1 Tm. 6:20-21). I believe, and know, that you have strayed off from the old paths, and refuse to walk in them (Jer. 6:16).

Bobby, I’m not sure when I will return my message to you should you reply, but I will tell you that my focus here is on the local work. Surrounding preachers can be a great help, but they can also be a great hindrance as it is apparent the latter will be the case. It is sad to see when local preachers from churches of Christ have strayed from the path, but such is a reality all the same.

I’m sure I will hear from you again, and should I have the time I will answer any of your questions.

Here is some additional information I promised you concerning worship…


The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans 16:16)

Worshiping God in spirit and in truth is one of the most demanding, yet meaningful and rewarding, activities in which a Christian can engage. However, for worship to be meaningful and rewarding, it must be done according to God’s word, in both action and attitude (cf. John 4:24). If God has not authorized worship then there is no basis for it. However, if God has authorized worship, then it is to be regulated by His word.

Many in the denominational religious world and even some brethren are not aware of the grave consequences of affirming that everything one does is godly worship. However, the devil is fully aware of the great potential for leading men astray in this area. Our adversary (1 Pet. 5:8) has performed his destructive task well. He has convinced multitudes to stray from the pure pattern of truth that is set forth in the Bible.

The Old Testament was “written for our learning” (Rom. 15:4). From it we learn that engaging in ungodly worship has long been an activity that has left man outside the fellowship of God. The first record of mankind’s attempt to worship God is found in the first book of the Bible. Able worshiped God by faith (Heb. 11:4) and his offering was accepted. Cain attempted to worship the same God as his brother, yet his offering was in vain (Gen. 4:3-7). Since “faith” comes by hearing God’s word (Rom. 10:17), the implication is evident: at the dawn of time God told man how to worship. Abel worshiped the way God directed while Cain did not follow God’s instructions. Cain engaged in ungodly worship. His worship originated by his own will and was rejected by the Lord.

Nadab and Abihu were worship leaders, priests under the Levitical system (Num. 3:1-3). However, they offered “strange fire” in worship which God had not commanded. The result: they were consumed by that which they offered (Lev. 10:1-2). These worship leaders sinned presumptuously. They failed to follow God’s instructions in worship. The result was death. God has always told mankind how to worship. Jesus condemned some for worshiping in vain by following the doctrines/commandments of men (Matt. 15:9). There worship was directed to God, but it was not directed by God (cf. Mark 7:6-13).

The subject question is a doctrine that has seen an evolution in its development over the years. Initially, there were those who asserted that EVERYTHING a Christian does in his or her life is an act of worship to God. The foolishness of such an assertion would mean that lying, cursing, or even fornication would qualify AS ACTS OF ACCEPTABLE WORSHIP. If everything one does in life is worship, than that includes exactly that – everything. This false concept was later refined and cleverly affirmed that everything a person does is godly worship, except sin. We challenge this ungodly assertion with a few questions: “Do we worship God when we brush our teeth? What about while listening to a rap or country song on the radio? Do we engage in worship when we crank up the mower and cut the lawn?”

The newest twist to this false doctrine affirms that every act of SERVICE we render to God is worship. At first it was claimed EVERYTHING was worship, then everything EXCEPT SIN, and now everything is worship involving SERVICE to the Lord. Those who believe that all service is worship do not distinguish between worship and service. They contend that worship and service are one and the same. If their contentions are true, then no longer are there only five acts of acceptable worship to God. If their contentions are true there are literally thousands upon thousands of divinely sanctioned acts of worship in which a Christian can engage. This surely is a contradiction to what Jesus instructed the woman of Samaria regarding the nature of true worship (Read John 4).

If everything we do in service to God is worship, one could pass out a religious tract, cut the church building lawn, drive someone to the doctor, and on and on as claims of acceptable worship to God. While one must avoid the extreme that says worship includes everything a Christian does, one must also avoid the extreme that says worship is only that which takes place in the church building. However, if everything we do in service to God is worship; one could stay at home on Sunday in order to cook a pot of soup for a sick person and could claim that he or she has worshiped the Lord through their act of service. If such a doctrine is true, the rebuke of the Hebrew writer is presumptuous
(Heb. 10:25-26).

Worship and service, although closely related, should not be confused as synonymous terms. There are many examples in Scripture where both terms are used in the same context, yet are not to be understood as describing the same exact thing. In Deuteronomy 11:16; 17:3; 29:26; and 30:17, God warns His people not to “worship” other gods and “serve” them. If all service is worship, why did the Holy Spirit make a distinction between worshiping gods and serving them? (cf. 2 Kings 21:20-21).

In the New Testament Jesus said, “…Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matt. 4:10; cf. Rom. 1:25). Why make a distinction between the two if all service is worship? The answer is because, although all worship is a type of service, not all service is a type of worship. Worship and service are not interchangeable terms. Paul taught that Christians are to “serve” one another (Gal. 5:13). If “serve” and “worship” are interchangeable terms, then it would be correct to teach that Galatians 5:13 demands that we “worship” one another. Consider Hebrews 13:10. It refers to those who “serve” the tabernacle. Did the priest worship the tabernacle or serve it?

It is not necessary that anyone learn Greek or Hebrew in order to understand what God wants a person to know. However, we will give a brief introduction to three of the thirteen Greek words that are translated by a form of “worship” in the KJV. The most common Greek word translated “worship” is from the compound word proskuneo. The literal meaning is to kiss (kuneo) the hand towards (pros) one. This term reveals the outward expression of the reverence paid toward the Creator (Matt. 2:2; 4:10; 1 Cor. 14:25; Rev. 4:10) or a creature (Acts 7:43; 10:25; Rev. 22:8), by kneeling or prostration; to do homage or make obeisance.

The second most common word translated by a form of “worship,” with its accompanied forms, is the Greek word sebomai. From the root original meaning (to step back from someone or something, to maintain a distance), sebomai came to be used to denote an attitude of respect which was given to gods, people, or things. This word moved from the idea of respect to denote religious veneration – including acts of worship (cf. Rom. 1:25). The noun form denotes that the object of worship is to be revered, and thus honored in some way (cf. 2 Thess. 2:4). In the New Testament, sebomai is always associated with deity and involves a deep reverence for the object of worship (cf. Matt. 15:8-9; Acts 13:43, 50; 16:14; 19:27).

The third most common word translated by a form of “worship” is the Greek word latreuo. This word is only rarely translated “worship” in the KJV. The root meaning of the word is service rendered for hire; then any service or ministration – the service of God. It is used for the carrying out of religious duties by human beings. Latreuo is more often translated by “serve” than by any other term. Its primary usage relating to worship centers upon service rendered (cf. Matt. 4:10; Luke 1:74; Acts 7:7). This religious service may also include that rendered to false gods (Acts 7:42 ASV; Rom. 1:25). Because worship is a part of religious service, latreuo also carries the idea of “worship” in some contexts (Acts 7:42-44; 24:14; Phil. 3:3; Heb. 10:2). A way to explain the entire situation with latreuo and its forms would be the following: all worship may be said to be a vital part of our service to God, but not all of our service to God is worship.

In Summary: Latreuto reveals that worship involves service rendered to God. It shows that man is serving God when he worships Him. Worship is not merely an attitude, but involves specific acts according to the requirements of God (cf. Col. 3:17). Sebomai shows that man must have the right kind of heart when approaching God in worship. It involves an attitude of reverence and respect. God and God alone, is the only true, sublime and majestic One, and must be worshiped reverently (Ps. 114:7; Hab. 2:20). Proskuneo shows that worship involves an outward expression along with the inward frame of mind. It involves humility on the part of the worshiper (cf. James 4:10; Matt. 28:9).

Worshiping God acceptably involves the proper attitude and authority (John 4:23-24). The acts of worship are not worship in and of themselves without the involvement of one’s spirit, or attitude (cf. Isa. 1:11-15). Thus, worship is something done intentionally (cf. 2 Sam. 12:15-20). Unless one’s intention is to worship, any act or series of actions cannot be worship. One can be engaged in similar actions as those done in worship and not be worshiping, because the intent to worship is not present. For example, a person can eat unleavened bread and drink “fruit of the vine” for breakfast without violating God’s pattern for worship. The difference between eating breakfast and partaking of the Lord’s Supper is not found in the contents, but in the intent and manner in which it is consumed. For breakfast the intent is nourishment, but for worship the intent is to “shew the Lord’s death till he come” (1 Cor. 11:26). Being intentional, it follows that the worship of God is also momentary and not continual. It should be understood that we may worship at other times than on the Lord’s Day. However, the Lord’s Day is the only day authorized to take the Lord’s Supper.

Worship is also to be regulated by the truth – God’s word (John 17:17; 2 John 4). If worship lacks the proper attitude and/or the proper authority, it is “vain” – Matthew 15:9 (i.e., to no purpose), ignorant – Acts 17:22-23, or will worship – Col. 2:20-23 (i.e., self-chosen). God reveals “in truth” a set of approved actions for worship. The total teaching of the New Testament authorizes only singing, praying, teaching, giving, and partaking of the Lord’s Supper as acts of worship. Worship has always required specific action. Worship has always had a “starting” place and a “stopping” place (cf. Judges 7:15; 1 Sam. 1:19; 2 Sam. 12:20; Isa. 66:23; Zech. 14:16; Matt. 2:2; 15:25; Acts 8:27; 24:11; Rev. 3:9; 15:4).

The example of Abraham is perhaps one of the most convincing arguments against the doctrine that all service is worship. In Genesis 22 Abraham was commanded to take his son and go to a mountain to offer him as a sacrifice. Abraham collected wood and saddled his ass, and after coming near to the place of sacrifice, “…Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you” (Gen. 22:5). Remember that Abraham had been traveling for three days, and had already been involved in acts of service. Yet he indicated that something special was about to occur…he and the lad would “go yonder and worship.”

If only some who teach that all service is worship had been there…! They could have straightened Abraham out on his “incorrect” view of “service” and “worship.” They could have enlightened Abraham to the fact that he had been worshiping God the whole time he was traveling, and he did not even know it. In fact, Abraham did understand the difference. He knew that although he had been engaged in service prior to coming to the place of sacrifice, worship was a unique and special type of service that was different than what he had been doing.

Before closing this lesson we also must note the fact that some in and out of the church seem to have worship confused with entertainment. While it is true that worship should be enjoyable to all worshipers (cf. Ps. 122:1), its focus is not upon pleasing the flesh. Worship is not a spectator/performer situation with the congregation in the spectator role while the preacher and song leader are performers. Every effort to honor, adore, and praise God in true worship demands the involvement of the spirit, the inner person (1 Pet. 3:1-4), the heart of a person. Without the involvement of the heart, “worship” becomes a type of performance. The performance may be appealing to people; it may indeed be entertaining, but God is neither honored nor pleased. True Christians need to know the difference between acceptable worship and entertainment.


The Bible does not support the doctrine that everything one does or all service is worship. Christians who love the truth will not hold to such foolish assertions. Jesus makes it clear that one must know the object of true worship in order to worship correctly (Matt. 4:10). The only object of true worship is deity (Rev. 22:9). In true worship, our spirit connects to God who is Spirit. All worship may be said to be service to God, but not all service rendered to God is worship.

BTW, I believe (its been some time) but I do remember looking at your link you provided for me (Alexander Campbell, etc.). I don’t necessarily see how Campbell supports you. In fact, I believe Bobby that you have a habit of twisting the ideas and thoughts of the restoration brethren to your thoughts. I know of one time you did it with brother Warren concerning “remote context.” Its funny, because I studied Warren’s book in preaching school, and here are the notes I took…

Business Discussion --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

I read the above “note” repeatedly. Let it sit for a week and for good or ill composed the following reply.

Brother ….,

I have thought long, hard & prayed about how to respond to your 5 page “note” of Nov 24. Like you, I have a lot to get done that consumes a great deal of my time. However, since I genuinely respect you I believe you deserve to heard, regardless of the tone you use, your material deserves to be reflected upon and you deserve a reply. I have heard it, I have read every word numerous times and I intend to reply to you.

Since your 5 page “note” was rather lengthy I do not think I will be able to reply to everything at this moment but I will get to all of it. Here is my plan: I intend to focus, briefly, upon the center of the letter or what I take to be the conceptual center. Then I will at the second post that begins with “Is All Service to God Worship?” Brother …. , I intend to reply kindly but firmly and as clearly as I can.

A PRELIMINARY NOTE: Let me begin beloved brother with an observation that may be kind of sticky. I am sorely disappointed in the general “tone” of your communication with me. There is enough debatable points in the material you and I have talked about to refrain from dogmatism and personal attacks. There are things beloved that you do not know and you just simply do not know you don’t know them. I have been studying the word for a long time, and have encountered just about any situation you can think of in ministry … and I can assure you (though you will not believe me at this stage of the game) you simply will have to experience.

#1) Another important note. Brother …. I am astonished that you are so quick to draw some major conclusions about godly men. How long were you at the meeting brother – 10 minutes?? Yet based on that you drew the astounding inference that they are “dangerous” to your spiritual well being. Your boldness, beloved brother, is reminiscent of Paul’s lamentation in Romans about some Jews who had a “zeal for God” however it was not “according to knowledge” (10.3). May I suggest a mediation exercise for you: don’t just memorize passages like Romans 14.4, 13; 15.7 and James 4.11-12. Let your righteousness exceed the scribes and Pharisees who could quote the text from here to doomsday but did not have “knowledge” anyway according to Paul. Meditate brother … even Michael the archangel did not have the arrogance, or perhaps guts to put is crassly, to judge Satan himself (Jude 8-10). I am sorry …. but your brothers deserve better from you. You know virtually NOTHING of them … and for that matter me and yet you feel sufficiently omniscient to cast reflection and judge them.

#2) I do not know what your motives are … I did not speculate on them before and will not now. All I know is that you are very quick to judge

#3) On N.T. Wright the “well known false teacher.” It is interesting that you agreed to discuss this book … The reason for reading the book in the first place was because a brother’s relative was. Now brother, according to your own words, you never heard of N. T. Wright at that time. But now he is a “well known false teacher.” Of what may I ask? The book which we are reading is a defense of the Christian doctrine of resurrection and what it means for the christian faith and christian hope. There are places in which I am sure preachers here will say “I don’t agree with that” but that still does not make the work as a whole unworthy or false. Closed mindedness is a sectarian trait I am sorry to say.

#4) Now on this next point I feel sort of almost embarrassed like Paul in 2 Cor 10; 11.16-33 and into 12 or Phil 3.4b-6 where he has to defend himself and “boast.” So here goes with great reluctance. … you flat out accused me of having a “habit of twisting the ideas and thoughts of the restoration brethren to your thoughts.” This brother is something you could not prove if your life depended upon it to be blunt. You claimed that “I do remember looking at those links you provided for me (Alexander Campbell, etc).” Which link brother? I do not even give you a single link on Campbell – except his rules on biblical interpretation. How did I misrepresent Campbell

I am going to be quite frank here …. You could not, and you cannot, demonstrate that I have misrepresented J.W. McGarvey, Alexander Campbell or anyone else if your life depended upon it. But you made the accusation now back it up. I am not the one who has taken words out of context or twisted them … you in a previous post cited Bruce Metzger and it was a bogus citation that doesn’t even exist and then you declared you were not really interested in that man made book.

Now I apologize for being so blunt in this section.

#5) Regarding “Is All Service to God Worship?” I have to be selective. First on Nadab and Abihu. Here is another meditative exercise for you. Why do you literally ignore half the chapter like you have Corinthians!? Because it is inconvenient to you? Eleazar and Ithamar are in the very same chapter? Do they not worship God incorrectly? Did they not do their worship in error? Why were they not fried?? Did God accept their worship? Look at the text brother – deal with the Word of God. Why do you simply act as if it was not written at all? Is the second half of Lev 10 not the word of God!!?? So beloved brother think deeply and prayerfully … why the difference? One set of brothers were fried and another received grace. Why? Is Yahweh simply arbitrary? When you meditate on WHY there is difference between these two sets of brothers you will see our God in a brand new light — not the light of idolatry but the light he reveals himself to be on every page of the inspired book.

As I read what you wrote it appears, at least on the surface, you let predetermined dogma define the meaning of the text rather than letting the text determine dogma. Churches of Christ have accused many a Baptist of refusing to let the text mean something because it conflicted with a pet theory. You state “IF {my emphasis} their contentions are true, THEN {my emphasis} no longer are there only five acts of acceptable worship to God.” Brother it certainly does appear as if your doctrine is the standard rather than the biblical text. You cite John 4 to prove such the position of five acts is a “contradiction to what Jesus instructed.” How so brother? Where in John 4 does it say a single iota about five acts of worship or any number of acts for that matter? It isnt there brother. You have made an ASSERTION but you have demonstrated absolutely nothing. The text has nothing in the slightest to do with the number so called acts of worship. Does the biblical text shape belief or does belief “filter” out of the text all except what we already believe?????

You attempt to show, citing Deuteronomy 11.16; 17.3; etc that “worship” and “service” are different realities. In each of those examples the Hebrew words abad and histahwah occur. There is not a Hebrew lexicon or dictionary in the world that will sustain your argument on this point brother. The paralleling of these terms shows the manner in which certain worship would take place. The abad of some deity is in the cultic rituals done in the honor of that god or Yahweh himself.

You cite Matt 4.10 to which I have previously commented upon. Rather than showing a distinction between “worship” and “serve” in this text it shows they are synonymous! The parallelism of the text demands it. If you choose you can look in my book with John Mark Hicks and Johnny Melton for more on that: A Gathered People.

Then you state “Worship and service are not interchangeable terms. Paul taught that Christians are to ‘serve’ one another (Gal. 5:13). If ‘serve’ and ‘worship’ are interchangeable terms, then it would be correct to teach that Galatians 5:13 demands that we ‘worship’ one another.” Brother ….!!! Surely you did not think this through. You are simply mistaken on a number of grounds here beloved brother. You seem to be under the impression that the English word “serve” in Galatians 5.13 is the same in either Matt 4.10 or Romans 1.25 since your assertion is in the same paragraph. You do realize that “serve” in Gal 5.13 is douleuo which quite literally means serve/be slave and the like. It is not latreuo brother. I am at a loss to understand why you would use this text to score rhetorical points.

BTW since you cited Romans 1.25 it is quite interesting to see what the classic restoration commentary by Moses Lard says on this text: “and worshiped and served the creature instead of him that made it.’ The word here rendered worshiped is generally assumed to denote so much of our duty to God is internal, while the one rendered served denotes the outward part. The distinction may possibly have been intended here, but I can not see it. The two words together simply denote the whole of the worship due to God.” (Lard, Commentary on Romans, pp. 58-59).

Interesting isnt it? Lard sees latreuo as meaning worship not something “distinct” from it!

In the same paragraph you cite Hebrews 13.10 and say “Consider Hebrews 13.10. It refers to those who ‘serve’ the tabernacle. Did the priest worship the tabernacle or serve it?” Brother … again I scratch my head on this one. The meaning of the Greek text of Hebrews 13.10 is not that the priest worshiped the temple/tabernacle. It means that is WHERE the priest did his worship or service. The temple/tabernacle is the location where such worship takes place. Any number of English translations can help on this matter. But one from good old brother Alexander Campbell makes it quite clear: “We have an altar of which they have no right to eat, who serve IN the tabernacle” (Living Oracles).

Further on Hebrews 13.10 Vincent’s Word Studies in the NT says of our word latreuein (our word) “is used throughout the N.T., with the single exception of Heb 8.5, of the service of the worshiper and not the priest” (p.1178). On the same word in Romans 1.25 that i commented on a moment ago Vincent says the term refers to “worship through special rites or sacrifices” (p. 672). He says to see Revelation 22.3. So when we turn in his volume of word studies to that point we read: “The word originally means to serve for hire. In the New Testament, of the worship or service of God in the use of the rites intended for His worship. It came to be used by the Jews in a very special sense to denote the service rendered to Jehovah by the Israelites …” (p. 643).

Now Brother …. why is it that you assert that in Hebrews 10.2 latreuo carries the “idea of worship” but deny it in 13.10. I think the denial is arbitrary and driven by other concerns for your pet doctrine rather than the text. Chapter 10.1-5 mentions worshipers, sacrifices, cultic stuff. Chapter 13.10 speaks of the same cultic activities and then goes on to speak of a “sacrifice of praise” … surely an act of worship!! Yes the priests worshiped IN the tabernacle!!

#6) … you assert, with no documentation, “the second most common word translated by a form of ‘worship’ with its accompanied forms, is the Greek word sebomai.” Where did you get this information ….? This is simply wrong. sebasma occurs 2x in the NT; sebozomai 1x and sebomai a grand total of 10x. The word has more to do with simply reverence or fear (occurs for example in Acts 17.23 see vv. 4, 17; 18. 7). It occurs about 9x in the LXX (Greek Old Testament) five of those occuring in the Apocrypha {Wisdom 15.16; Bel and the Dragon 3, 4, 23; 3 Maccabees 3.4 & 4 Maccabees 5.24). BTW latreia is the second most used word for worship in the NT … 26x.

In that same paragraph you said “In the New Testament, sebomai is always associated with deity and involves deep reverence for the object of worship.” Then you say “cf. Matt 15.8-9; Acts 13.43, 50; 16.14; 19.27.” In Acts 13 it is rendered “devout” in vv 43 & 50 in your New King James Version. In 19. 27 it speaks of the pagan worship of Diana … you can look up the references I gave in the previous paragraph above. The word sebomai is a minor word in either the LXX or the Greek NT and contributes little to understanding Christian worship. The most significant use is in Matt 15.

#7) Concluding thoughts. Beloved brother you and I do not disagree one iota that “worshiping God in spirit and truth is one of the most demanding and and rewarding activities in which a Christian can engage.” Amen. I absolutely agree. I do not think you have shown {as this discussion came from our discussion of Romans 12.1-2 and that was the material you brought to the preachers meeting} I was wrong or am wrong. Your information is factually wrong on a number of points and I have shown that.

I have also denied taking any one, Campbell or anyone else, and twisting their words. You have an obligation to show where I have done that.

I have lamented your tone and quick judgment of men you couldnt even pick out of a line up. They deserve better, I deserve better and believe it or not you deserve better.

I hope I have not been unkind or unloving. I have endeavored to stick with the inspired text. I have endeavored to treat you as one of God’s children deserving of the utmost respect. I have endeavored to be open and honest. It is up to you to determine if I have.

I would love to take you to lunch one day brother. Or even better to have you and your lovely bride over to my home and we can cook on the grill. We can have food and get to know one another.

Bobby Valentine

I never heard back …

9 Responses to “Worship Acts, Hermeneutics & Fellowship: Continuing Dialogue – Pt 3”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Here’s where most of the brother’s materials appears to have come from:


    Looks identical to me.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    A great response, Bobby! DU

  3. Keith Brenton Says:

    I’ve had http://www.trustingodamerica.com/WORSHIP.htm thrown in my face before, too. It’s riddled with poor logic, citations out of context, conclusions held as equal in value and meaning to scripture.

  4. Gardner Hall Says:

    Quite a read! I appreciate so much your patience with your brother and his willingness to exchange with you. I believe the question is not so much whether there can be any kind of fellowship with those who have a different approach to the scriptures. Fellowship is not always a “yes or no” proposition. Whether he realizes it or not, the brother is having fellowship with you by exchanging thoughts with you. Rather, the question is often “what kind” of fellowship can we conscientiously have when there are differences. 1 Corinthians 5 doesn’t apply in many cases where there are differences. Often Jude 22,23; 1 Thess. 5:14 and even Romans 14 can be applied.

    Obviously, we can’t do what violates our conscience or what we think might promote unhealthy spiritual tendencies. For example, I couldn’t attend regularly where there is an emphasis on entertainment-oriented worship. Such would violate my conscience and I would try to steer growing brethren away from being members of such a congregation even as I would a place like Sardis. (Interestingly enough John still had fellowship to a certain point with brethren from Sardis and Laodicea.) However, on occasions (away from the instruments/band) I believe I could conscientiously pray with someone who I believe to be mistaken about such issues, especially when they show a willingness to examine such. So, fellowship is not always a “yes or no” question, but a “what kind” issue.

  5. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:


    Glad to have you commenting brother. I am not sure if you have read the previous two posts which this one continues but if not you may find them to help fill in the gaps.

    Corinthians is a huge issue for my correspondent and one he and many others refuse to deal with. But I could have as easily appealed to Acts 21 and Paul’s example with the Jerusalem church. Was Paul in fellowship with James and the four brothers he worships God in the Temple with??

    Conscience is something that can be misled. It is not the authority. We need to be patient and loving … as Paul directs in 1 Cor 8 and Rom 14 and 15.

    Let me give a rather graphic example. Sometime ago I worked with a couple that was guilt ridden (conscience issues) because they enjoyed the sexual component of their marriage. They thought they were sinning because they had “desire” for one another and had heard negative things about sex all their lives in church. Was the solution to simply stop? No. they needed to learn better.

    Unity with my blood brought brothers and sisters is way more important than we practice.

    Blessings brother.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    I’ve often wondered how the “five acts of worship” have been gathered from different contextual areas of the New Testament, and made to be requirements of what we in the COC’s have made into a 60 minute worship period. I see nothing wrong with singing, but in context, I don’t see it be required as part of the worship service”. (nor do I see error in including it). I apply similar logic to “laying by in store…” was that intended as a part of worship, was it intended as a perpetual instruction?
    Guy (Wisconsin)

  7. ...just plain Tim Says:

    Wow…I am exhausted from reading this dialogue. Sad that a brother who is uneducated (at least by his own admission) could suddenly claim to be in possession of such higher logic and understanding. Makes me wonder how he got it.

    Thanks for your patient continuance with him, and for opening this conversation to the rest of us.


  8. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:


    Glad to make your acquaintance. Thank you for taking the time to read through that dialogue. I hope it was substantive and in a Christ-like manner. Hope to see you again.

    Bobby V

  9. Warren Baldwin Says:

    Good read, Bobby. Very thorough. I plan to go back and read the rest. Good review of an imporant issue.

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