My preface — Iran is much in the news these days, so that makes Don Petty’s stories about that country in the 1970s even more interesting. As always, Don draws a moral to the story. This from his latest email to his 70 brothers. Here’s Don …
Back in 1975 in Iran, I was invited to a weekend retreat by a spokesman for the ESP, the English Speaking Pastors. He laughed lightly and said, “Would you come if we called it the English Speaking Preachers?”
I appreciated his humor and told him I would come, as he explained that they were discussing some problems of American youth in Iran. Well, we had four ‘youths’ over there with us, so I felt that it would be worthwhile to discuss what others were facing and how they were coping with drug problems, drinking problems, homesickness, etc.
It was a two-day, overnight, sleep-on-the-ground, camp-out situation (not my favorite way to spend ANY time, anywhere at any elevation.)
It was held fairly high up in the El Bourz Mountains north of the capital city of Tehran. I went; and it was a good experience.
The night that we went up, after a long day of climbing, and then discussing the topics at hand, we had a campfire around which we sat and ate and talked. The leader suggested that we go around the circle of about a dozen of us and have each one tell about the key doctrine of our faith.
It began, and all the tenets of the several groups were laid out. Well, it came my turn to tell about the Church of Christ.
I told them we based our teaching solely on the scriptures, and that we practiced the New Testament, first century order of things. That, “we live and worship, work and believe in maintaining silence on any issue about which the scriptures are silent, and practice any point of scripture where the Lord’s word gives instruction. Of course, without scriptural authority we have a certain degree of expedience in opinion.”
I believe that is about the way I put it.
Naturally, as I knew would happen and as you have already surmised, the question came, “Well, Don, does the Church of Christ ever use instrumental music?”
Remaining non-combative, I responded the way we do, “We sing with melody in our heart, because that is what we are directed to do.”
“Do you EVER use an instrument in worship?”
“No, not in worship,” I said, fairly firmly.
One of the ‘pastors’ moved back away from the fire, and strummed strongly on his guitar, which he had faithfully brought along for ‘praising God.’
He said, “Well, I believe in praising Him in any way I can.”
I did question the truth of his comment, but I didn’t say it aloud.
But, the point is this. People do try to praise God in their own way, trying to please him. We must recognize that fact as we talk with them. They do feel they can take liberty where God does not grant liberty, and we must work with them with that knowledge.
God bless us all as we try to spread the truth of Sound Doctrine.