Every 40 or 50 years there has been a big Christian revival in the United States. In the 1880s there was a big Methodist revival of faith and energy in Philadelphia. Out of that grew a group of song writers who met each year at Ocean Grove Methodist Camp, one of whom wrote about ten per cent of traditional Church of Christ songs: Fanny Crosby, a blind woman who contributed to the great success of Dwight Moody‘s Evangelistic campaigns. The only others to have more songs in our hymnals are Isaac Watts (Presbyterian) and Charles Wesley (Methodist Anglican).
So why is a virulently anti-denominational church that believes instrumental music will bring you into danger of losing your salvation, and which will not let a woman teach a man, and which will not let a Presbyterian, Methodist or Anglican preacher preach in the pulpit, why are their hymn books filled with songs written by people who had amazing conversion experiences and amazing conversations and walks with God from the denominations and from women? Aren’t these denominational teachers having undue influence over the faith and belief of faithful members of the Churches of Christ? Churches of Christ would not use any of their Bible study materials in a Bible study. None of their prayers or diaries would be read aloud from the pulpit.
Why then are their prayers that are set to music sung with gusto by Churches of Christ, especially when these same members do not expect to see Fanny Crosby, Isaac Watts or Charles Wesley in heaven with them? No, they expect they will be roasting in hell fire. Not that they would judge them, mind you, they just cannot see any hope for them in the scriptures…the scriptures only hold out hope for those who are immersed under water for the remission of sins, i.e. for salvation, not just for church membership, and definitely not just as a symbol of what has already happened in their hearts. Also they believe the Bible only holds out hope for salvation for those who come out from among the denominations and worship with the Lord’s church (the Churches of Christ), which Crosby, Watts and Wesley definitely did not do.
How did this happen that the Churches of Christ have saddled themselves with singing unsaved men and women’s sentiments every Sunday morning, Sunday evening and Wednesday evening? Well, the Restoration Movement started out as a unity movement: gathering all faithful Christians from all denominations, no matter how they were baptized, to worship under one roof. It slowly (or quickly) degenerated into an us-versus-them feeling of “If you won’t lay down your creed books and believe what we believe, and be baptized the way we see it in the Bible, then you are not saved.” But when they separated and marched down the street and opened up their own little church that did it right, they brought their favorite songs with them: written by the popular songsters of the day. And they conveniently ignored the fact that even as they were pronouncing all Methodists, Lutherans, Episcopalians and Presbyterians lost (because they only sprinkle water on babies, they don’t baptize believing adults like in the Bible), and even as they were banning women from the pulpit, they were still benefitting from the spiritual vigor of these self-same men and women who wrote beautiful psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.