Copyright © 2002, by John Lankford, Fort Smith, Arkansas

      God in His providence (through the Spirit) has supplied us with inspired New Covenant documents so we will know what to believe, teach and do. It is inspired information as opposed to a book of laws/commands although it contains them. It is like the Holy Spirit has us on top of a spiritual mountain and pointing-out things that New Covenant people believe and do from the heart.

      To trust God is to believe that His wisdom is far superior to ours. This means we should only believe, teach and practice what we have evidence for in those inspired documents. Evidence can be both positive (the resurrected Christ) and negative (e.g., the empty tomb).

      The Spirit has pointed out the proper response to the Gospel. He has also shown ways to communicate with God and thank Him through worship and faithful living. It is all practical.

      Judgement calls must be made according to PRACTICALITY rather than explicit teaching. For example, the disciples in Acts 20:7 met at night in an upper room. Neither of these items interfered with the design of the Lord's Supper itself.

      The topic of music is addressed by the Spirit in Ephesians 5:19 and other places. Ephesians 5:19 shows singing is accompanied by making melody "in the heart" as opposed to the man-made musical devices of pagans and Jews. That is the design. Here is a judgement call to make: does clapping of hands during the singing match what is being opposed in Ephesians 5:19? That is, is hand-clapping the use of "man-made musical devices" or "mechanical instruments of music"? It doesn't seem so.

      When we are together isn't singing from the heart all God wants? If someone claps spontaneously without trying to make a scene or a point and it is an expression of thanks, as opposed to trying to "jazz-up" the song, then why can't understanding prevail among those who do not clap?

      What about planning to clap continually during some songs? Since the design of singing is also to speak to one another, would my clapping help or hinder that? What about the idea that I want to and will clap no matter what anyone thinks? And in all honestly, is the clapping for me or God? These are hard questions but must squarely be answered.

      What about splitting services ... one for clappers and another for non-clappers? Is such a polarization good? In reality, wouldn't this be just "division in disguise"? Even in asking the question "tags" are assigned to people.

      There is a design for New Covenant worship and this can be easily proven. And when we come together as a group, everyone is affected by what is done whether from the heart or not. Some things may not be wrong themselves but merely be out of place. Judgement calls by Elders must be made so that nothing goes against the design of any phase of worship. This requires looking at facts, pro and con, and following the "weight of evidence" toward a specific position ... a defensible position.

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West-Ark Church of Christ