May 1, 1998 Issue
By Ronny F. Wade

Question: With reference to I Corinthians 14:15, what is poetic license? Is it a biblical concept? Does such require an individual to sing if that person feels the song is unscriptural? (MO).

Answer: The verse in question reads "What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding." Contextually, the proper exercise of spiritual gifts is under consideration in this passage. Paul is saying that every person who prays or sings psalms is to do so in such a fashion that others present might participate, and in the case of prayers, sanction the petitions made. Regarding this verse David Lipscomb remarked "Neither the AV nor the RV is correct here. The thought evidently is, "I will sing as the Spirit directs or inspires, and I will sing in a language that those who hear can understand"... The following verse shows clearly that Paul's meaning is: I will pray and sing by the inspiration of the Spirit, and in a language that they will understand to their profit. "This passage... is a part of the exercise of miraculous gifts, and the spirit that is named is the Holy Spirit, given to Christians in such measure that they could speak and sing with words that had not yet been revealed to others." (E.M. Zerr). This verse is often misapplied by well meaning brethren who encourage the congregation to "sing with the spirit and the understanding." While it is always necessary for us to understand what we are doing and saying when worshipping God, that is not the primary thrust of this verse. Thus in answer to the querist's first question, I see no relevance to this verse and what is called "poetic license". But what is "poetic license?" According to the dictionary it is defined as "disregard of strict fact or rules, for artistic effect." The Americana Encyclopedia says "poetic license is the term given to liberties that poets take in regard to diction, grammar, and pronunciation to achieve effect or to adhere to the requirements of a poem such as meter or rhyme." Poetic license is not a biblical concept, in the sense that one can state that which is contrary to the teaching of the scripture. All our songs must be scriptural. We can no more sing that which is untrue than we can teach that which. is untrue. If a song is being led in the worship service that is thought to be unscriptural by an individual, then that person should not sing. I personally would never sing something I believed to be contradictory to the revealed will of God. We should take as much care with the songs we select and sing as with the sermons we preach.

Question: Is it wrong (sin) for a Christian to use their contributions to the Church as a tax deduction on their income tax returns? (MO)

Answer: It should be noted first of all that Christians are commanded to give "as they have been prospered. (I Corinthians 16:1-2) Every person who has income should give accordingly. A failure to do so places one in violation of the apostle's command. Christians are also taught to obey the laws of the land, which includes paying taxes (Romans 13:1 -7). The current tax code of the United States allows an individual to deduct donations or gifts to charitable institutions as a part of his/her standardized deductions. Since such is allowable under the law, I see no reason why it would be wrong (sinful) for a Christian to take advantage of this right. The government is in effect saying that such gifts are not taxable income. If they are not taxable, why insist on paying taxes on them?

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