THE QUERIST COLUMN
December 1, 1997 Issue
by Ronny F. Wade
Question: It is wrong to place a steeple or a bell tower/ bell on a church of Christ building?
Answer: There are no blueprints in the bible for a church building. A building is authorized, however, within the framework of the command to assemble (Hebrews 10:25). Christians may either rent, borrow, or buy a place in which to worship. In early new testament times the church often met in homes or private dwellings, as may be seen from the following scriptures. (Romans 16:5, I Cor 16:1 9 etc.). The type and location of church buildings are matters of judgment. It should always be remembered that a building is a means to an end. The building merely provides a place for the church to gather, nothing more. We must be careful, however, not to unwittingly send the wrong message when we build a meeting house. If it is shabby, unkempt and rundown, people might get the idea that we dont care and are unconcerned about our appearance and presence in the community. If, on the other hand, it is extravagant or lavish people might think we are more concerned about real estate than our real mission of saving souls. In his book Babylon Mystery Religion, Ralph Woodrow points to some ancient pagan practices that have perhaps, unknowingly, found their way into many modern church buildings. He contends that obelisks, pillars, phallic symbols etc. were a part of pagan worship, that was condemned by God (I Kings 14:23, 2 Kings 18:4, Jer 43:13), and that spires, steeples etc. are but a derivative of these symbols. Even though most people today would never make that association, if in fact it actually exists, we would do well to avoid such things. I cant think of any reason why Christians would want to promote anything in religion that had its origin in paganism or Catholicism. Why practice or use something that sends the wrong message? I dont know of any scripture or principle violated by having a bell atop a building in which the church meets. In years gone by, the bell was used to call the worshippers together. Its ringing signaled the time for services to begin. There are some who continue such a practice even now.
Question: In Acts 17:26, is "blood" used to denote human blood or is the idea that God no longer recognizes Jew and Gentile but all are one blood in Christ?
Answer: The passage reads: "And has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings. " (NKJV) Some translations delete the word "blood" because it is not in some manuscripts. When deleted the passage reads "And has made from one every nation. . . " McGarvey says "made of one all the nations of men," asserting that such is an affirmation of the "unity of the human race. "Coffman notes "No matter how one reads it, whether one race, or one blood, or one family the meaning is the same: all men are descended from a single ancestor. Eve was the mother of all living Gen 3:20." The context in which this verse appears is Pauls speech on Mars Hill. He has pointed out in v.24 that God made the world and all things in it, and in the next verse that God is the sustainer of life, then in v.26 Paul undoubtedly challenges the notion, held by most ancient civilizations, that their particular race was superior to all others and it boiled down to US (the superior) against THEM (the inferior). It is the oneness and brotherhood of man that Paul affirms. In so doing he strikes a death blow to the idea that one race was superior to all others. Hence the verse refers to the fact that we are all descended from the same parents, and are therefore one blood family, and not to the fact that God has made all men (Jew and Gentile) one in Christ. Even though the latter is true, the context does not permit such an interpretation.
Ronny F. Wade 1997 OPA Main Page HOME