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Unity discussion takes center stage at Freed-Hardeman

In an article of the same title, Bobby Ross Jr. in The Christian Chronicle reports on speakers from a cappella and instrumental churches discuss "What Will It Take to Be Together Again?":

In a year of high-profile events advocating closer ties between a cappella Churches of Christ and instrumental Christian Churches, speakers from both fellowships again shared the stage Oct. 14. But the purpose this time was not to tout the common beliefs and heritage of two groups that split 100 years ago. Instead, organizers of a "Contemporary Discussion" on unity at Freed-Hardeman University made it clear their focus would be on what still divides the Restoration Movement churches... Part debate, part Bible study, the discussion featured Ralph Gilmore, a Bible professor at Freed-Hardeman, and David Faust, president of Cincinnati Christian University, which is associated with independent Christian Churches... Gilmore begged Faust to "lay aside the instrument" for the sake of unity. But Faust said that would require Christian Church members to give up convictions and freedom in Christ. He likened the request to asking a cappella churches to give up multiple communion cups or Sunday school classes because some congregations object to them. Faust highlighted similarities between the two groups that a 1906 federal census first reported as separate bodies. Both groups - with a combined 2.5 million baptized members in the U.S. - believe that Jesus is Lord, baptize for remission of sins and offer the Lord's Supper each Sunday. "Instrumental music is not the focus of my faith," Faust said. "Christ is." Appealing for unity and a deeper love for lost people, he said, "Often, we are like two lifeguards who get in a fistfight on the beach while a swimmer is drowning." Gilmore agreed that the Bible requires Christian unity. But he said, "There can be no genuine unity without truth." The issue boils down to how one understands God when he's silent about something, Gilmore said. Ephesians 5:19 calls for "singing and making melody in one's heart to the Lord." That verse "tells you where you're supposed to pluck the string - in your heart," Gilmore said. "It's a purely vocal reference." The same logic that allows a piano in worship could lead to doughnuts and coffee in the Lord's Supper, he said. Gilmore said the Bible does allow "expedients," such as songbooks, to help carry out specified actions, so long as the tool does not change the action or "involve swapping something in the category specified with something else."

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