STRIKING SIMILARITIES: "CAMPBELLITES"
INSTRUMENTS & "REFORMED" vs PUBLIC INVITATIONS
In my research on opposition to the use of public
invitations, I have several times been impressed by the striking
similarities between the principles of the Anti-Instrumental Music
Reformers (Campbellites) and the Anti-Public Invitation Reformers
We want to make it clear that we are not referring to all
the Campbellites nor all the Reformed. Some Campbellites use instruments and
some Reformed use invitations. We are only referring to the Campbellites who
oppose the use of mechanical instruments of music and the Reformed who
oppose the use of public invitations.
1. Both views were
advocated by leaders of significant influence: the anti-instrument disputants by
Alexander Campbell and his writings, the anti-invitation disputants by
Iain Murray and his writings. Both Campbell and Murray, coincidentally,
were from Pedobaptist backgrounds in Great Britain. Campbell was from
Scotland, Murray's publishing work is in Scotland. Both held to non-Creedal
views on regeneration.
2. Both views are identified in the USA
with some ministers and churches who identify themselves as themselves as
"Reformers" or "Reformed."
3. Both views were originally
imbibed and supported by US adherents in the state of
4. Both views were primarily based upon the
presuppositional hermeneutic which demands "biblical precedent" or
"scripture warrant" for the practices.
5. Both views involved an
inconsistency in practice: anti-music adherents adopted the use of
"tuning forks" without biblical precedent, while anti-invitationalists
adopted other "systems" of accommodating confessions, such as the
"office system," also without biblical precedent.
6. Both views
became practical "icons" which indicated the "orthodoxy" of their
adherents. Campbellites referred to themselves as the "faithful
brethren," while the anti-invitationalists used the term "Reformed."
7. Both views involved the use of "shibboleths:" the
Campbellites required allegiance to the "restoration plea," and the Reformed
required allegiance to the "regulative principle."
8. Both views used the
"historical" argument: Campbellites alleged that the church in history did not
use instruments, the Reformed alleged that the church did not use public
9. Both views made the charges of "innovation" and
"inventions," the Campbellites claiming use of instruments were such, and the
Reformed claiming that public invitations were such.
10. Both views cited
extreme abuses associated with the practices, the Campbellites citing numerous
extremely aberrant instances and the Reformed citing extremely aberrant
11. Both views alleged that the practices had adverse
religious effects upon young people.
12. Both views alleged that the
practices were responsible for adding unqualified members to the
13. Both views alleged that the practices diverted attention from
the preached Word.
14. Both views alleged that the practices diverted
attention from the importance of baptism.
15. Both views charged that
those who used the practices were using degenerative emotional devices for
16. Both views identified the practices in a "cause and
effect" in corrupting the Christian religion.
17. Both views identified
the practices as an "entertainment" factor in church services.
views denied that the practices made any contribution to the positive elements
in the church service.
19. Both views erroneously appropriated C. H.
Spurgeon in their column, misuing snippets of comment isolated from the
whole of what Spurgeon believed and practiced.
20. Both views failed to
give any substantiation for the positions attributed to
21. Both views deprecated the Moody-Sankey evangelistic
22. Both views attempted to align the practices with alleged
23. Both views used the
"example" or "pattern" hermeneutical concept to denigrate the
24. Both used Internet websites to mount attacks
against the practices.
25. Both views rejected the principle of
"Christian Liberty" as allowing for the practices.
26. Both views
said that the practices were not "necessary," since the church "got along
without them" for years,
27. Both views considered nonuse of the
practices as keeping their faith and practice "pure."
views cited the "popularity" of the practices as being a mark of the lack
of validity. Smallness implied virtue, large numbers implied
29. Both views gave no credibility to the legitimate
basic scriptural principles involved in the practices.
30. Both views
received "aid and comfort" from Hardshell Baptists and
Pedobaptists who also rejected the
"SYSTEM" OF MAKING AND RECEIVING CONFESSIONS
OF FAITH IN CHRIST IS ACCORDING
TO "BIBLICAL PRECEDENT"?
Those who have followed this series of
articles will recall that during the course of my critiques, the following have
1. Southern Baptists and many other
Baptists use the Public Invitation method for professions of
2. Dr. Martyn-Jones, formerly of Westminster Chapel in
London, a well-known church at one time regarded as citadel of "Reformed" faith
and practice, used the "Office System."
3. C. H. Spurgeon
used "Enquiry-rooms" and the "lecture hall," also
interviewed applicants for membership during the week and had them make
public, oral confessions at church meetings.
4. George Whitefield
collected "slips of paper" and consulted afterwards with the "inquirers"
who turned in the slips of paper.
5. Charles G. Finney used what
was called the "Anxious Seat."
6. D. L. Moody used
"standing," which received the specific endorsement of C. H. Spurgeon.
7. Pedobaptists use the system of inviting believing parents to
present their infant offspring to the minister, in accordance with the
"infant baptism invitation system."
Now, the question is,
"Must these practices have scriptural warrant for use, and if so, which ones,
if any, are explicitly warranted by Scripture?"
That is an "open"
question for my readership, and you are invited to send us the Scripture which
will explicitly warrant any one or more of these "systems" of receiving
initial confessions of faith. Please remember that all of these men believed in
baptism as a ceremonial means of professing Christ, but we are here concerned
with the specific method by which initial oral confession of Christ as Saviour
is made which is prior to applying for baptism.
In Scripture, there are
many instances of salvation and the confession of Christ. These would
include cases such as Zaccheus who came down from a tree and received
Christ joyfully (Luke 19:6). The Samaritan woman was converted to Christ
at the well of Sychar, where she received him as the Messiah (John 4:1-26). The
woman in Simon's house was saved at that location (Luke 7:47).
Nathaniel confessed faith in Christ as the Son of God after being seen by
the Lord under a fig tree (John 1:49). Nicodemus was apparently born
again after he came to Jesus by night and had a lengthy salvation message
expounded to him by the Lord (John 3:1-18). The dying Thief confessed
Christ while being crucified on a cross (Luke 23:43). The Ethiopian was
confessed faith in Christ while he was sitting in his chariot, confessed faith,
and was immediately baptized by Philip. Saul of Tarsus was saved on the
road to Damascus, where he confessed Christ as Lord, then went into the city,
was blind for three days, and upon being visited and instructed by Ananias he
was baptized (Acts 9:1-22). The Jailer at Philippi was saved on the
occasion of Paul and Silas' imprisonment and subsequent earthquake; he was
baptized the same hour of the night.
None of these are comparative to the
various "systems" listed above. Since they are in the biblical record, are we
obligated to regard these as "biblical precedents," "patterns," "examples,"
or "warrants" which are binding upon us in any other matter other than the
essential truth of the Gospel itself? Must one be up a tree, at a well, under or
near a fig tree, come by night, be on a cross, be sitting in a chariot, see
Christ directly as did Saul, or even be in jail waiting for an
Who can unravel this mystery of the approved "system," or
what has "scriptural warrant" for any one today by which to confess Christ? Your
comments are welcome. -- Bob L. Ross
granted to copy and use this article.
By request, names are added to
my Email List, or removed
Publishers of C. H. Spurgeon's Sermons &
Send your snail-mail address for a printed Price List.
Publications, Box 66, Pasadena, TX 77501
Phone: (713) 477-4261.
Fax: (713) 477-7561