MAKE YOUR CHOICE
It would be great if all issues were simple, cut and dried, uncomplicated. But that is not the real world. What creates even more complexity is the fact that most Christians (this is an observation not based on an honest study) have changed their positions on many of them.
That leads to my thought today for us to think about, to contemplate.
When I grew up, some people thought it a sin to wear jewelry. Pierced ears were a sign of worldliness. Makeup, unless almost unnoticeable, was a display of less-than-godly character and perhaps even an invitation for inviting base thoughts. Any exposure of legs above the knee or display of cleavage on women was a deliberate show of worldly intentions. Long hair on men and short hair on women was forbidden. Two-piece bathing suits on women were expected and men had to wear tee shirts to swim. Honestly, I have probably not even mentioned half of the “laws”…tattoos, bleached (dyed) hair, beards, muscle shirts and on and on. How about women in men’s clothes (slacks)?
Just look through that and think of what seems to be perfectly acceptable today in most circles.
Did God change His mind? Have modern translations of the Biblical text changed and distorted the original meaning of passages that we used to support these thoughts? Were they right back then or are we right now? What changed? Is there wisdom in middle ground? Who determines what middle ground is?
It used to be that divorce was always a sin under any circumstance. Christians who were divorced, even if it was an unbelieving spouse that left, were looked upon with dishonor.
Next we found an acceptable reason: unfaithfulness. That led to abuse. That morphed to incompatibility. And now they say at least 50% of professed Christians are divorced.
Look where we are now: Christian leaders of all sorts are divorced and continue their ministry. Think of the radio/TV preachers, pastors, Christian musicians, etc. on a national level, not even considering the local church levels.
Which scenario is Biblical? Neither? Both? Some amalgamation of the two?
Carry that one step further: once divorced, remarriage was forbidden until the former spouse died. How does that manifest itself today?
Sunday, The Lord’s Day
It used to be that Christians could do nothing except attend religious services on Sunday. We were to be at morning worship, Sunday School, evening youth group and evening service. In the afternoon you were to rest, read, whatever didn’t hint of fun.
You never shop for anything on Sunday. Christian store owners closed their businesses on Sunday (just as Chic-filet does to this day). You didn’t even watch sports, much less participate.
And as for church attendance, almost no church these days even has a Sunday evening service.
And what is it today? Sunday is just like any other day of the week except it has even more “temptation” than years ago. Witness pro-football as exhibit A.
Do people today who took that hard line continue to practice it today or have they joined the culture. Do they go to a restaurant for Sunday mid-day? Do they swim, participate in any “fun” activity or sports?
Were they correct in the past and we are wrong at present or the other way around? Is there some middle ground? Does the fact that there are so many more opportunities for “worship” or Bible study or Christina fellowship change any of this? ThinGs like home Bible studies, small group meetings, Christian radio and TV, Christian travel groups to various sites, some involving Biblical sites, others just for fun and fellowship, etc.?
Interlude: some of you younger readers will think I am making up these things or at least exaggerating them. Trust me. I haven’t even mentioned the craziest ones! Ask some of our older readers.
There was a time when only deep Bible-study type preaching was acceptable. Topical speaking was second-rate because it allowed the speaker to select his topic and avoid subjects that he did not care to address.
Anything that could be related in the slightest to charismatic worship was frowned upon and unacceptable. Worshippers could not even raise their hands. Speaking in tongues was of the devil.
Any music which had a beat was unacceptable. Many instruments were verboten, especially the drums. (Now the primary instruments of the past are white elephants: the organ and acoustic piano.)
Seeker friendly churches with contemporary worship were glowered as “a mile wide and an inch deep” producing, at best, “Christianettes”! It was all emotion and no substance. It mirrored the world, not godliness.
Which scenario is Biblical? Neither? Both? Some amalgamation of the two? Would you rather have people attend any one of the above or avoid church altogether?
Types (styles) of Music
If there were a church in your neighborhood that used only the sacred classics, some in other languages, would you attend that church? If there were a church that used only very contemporary music and played and sung in a contemporary setting, would you as attend that church? What if there were a church nearby that used only music 50 years old or older, nothing in any style up-to-date? Does that meet your standards? (This could go on!) Here’s the question, which style is the “proper” style? Could it just be that it is your preference? Could it be that melody is melody, harmony is harmony, rhythm is rhythm, etc. and God doesn’t care as long as it is praising and thanking Him. Is the text more important than the musical style? Has you preference become your conviction and your conviction you theology…forget what the Bible says and doesn’t say?
Women in Ministry
I already addressed this in three separate devotionals. Suffice it to say that from no women acceptable to women in virtually every facet of ministry is the norm today. Were they correct back then or are we correct today? Is there middle ground.
Translations of Scripture.
Do you remember when the King James Version was the only acceptable translation. “If it was good enough for the Apostle Paul, it’s good enough for me!” How about the fury over the Revised Version? Or over The Living Bible? Could we be proper in saying, anything new, the first of its kind? Are any of them perfect? Is there any value to using language which is understood by most people, the language of the day? (If not, let’s go back to the Latin Vulgate, which was the first translation from the original Hebrew and Greek!) Is it better to read something which may have a few mistaken words or to read nothing because you cannot understand it?
Have I stirred you up enough that I should stop? But my question as always is, will you take time to think about this honestly and make any adjustments necessary?
Written By Neil Fichthorn: Rev. Neil Fichthorn is a seasoned conference and camping servant having served at Gull Lake Bible Conference, Sandy Cove Ministries as President, and an interim Executive Director at Pinebrook Bible Conference. He also served in church music for decades as a choir director and arranger. He has been Bill Welte’s mentor and friend for over 45 years.