M. C. Kurfees remembers J. W. McGarvey

Practice of the “Fathers” on Opinions

[Kurfees marshalls quotes from the Restoration Fathers…he says that “those who did express themsevles leave no room for doubt that they all stood as a solid unit against the practice.  We now call upon this distinguished roll of reformers with their associates and successors to speak for themsevels:”].  

23. PRESIDENT JOHN W. MCGARVEY.  This distinguished preacher and educator, who has been engaged in the systematic teaching of the Bible for more than half a century, and who is now President of the College of the Bible, Lexington, Ky., has taken a prominent and important part in the discussion of the question, and we select from his writings the following passages:

it is manifest that we cannot adopt the practice without abadoning the obvious and only ground on hich a restoration of Primitive Christianity can be accomplished, or on which the plea for it can be maintained.  Such is my profound conviction, and consequently the question with me is not one concerning the choice or rejection of an expedient, but th e maintenance or abandonment of a fundamental and necessary principle. *  *  *  I hold that the use of the instument is sinful, and I must not be requested to keep my mought shut in the presence of sin, whether committed by a church or an individual.  *  *  *  The party which forces an organ into the church against the conscientious protest of a minority is disorderly and schismatical, not only because it stirs up strife, but because it is for the sake of a sinful innovation upon the divinely authorized worship of the church; and, inasmuch as the persons [236] thus acting are disorderly nd schismatic, it is the duty of allgood peole to withdraw from them until they repent.–It is universally admitted by those competent to judge that there is not the slightest indication in the New Testament of divine authoristy for the use of instrumental music in Christian worship.  *  *  *  As to the introduction of an unscriptural test of fellowship, it is enough to say that we do not refuse fellowhip with those who use the organ; we onyl refuse to partake with them in that practice and choose tp worship when we can where it is not in our way.  To deny us this privilege would be an attempt to force us into fellowship with a practice confessedly unauthorized in the Scriptures, that which there ccould be nothing more unscritural or more intolerant.–In Apostolic Times, 1881, and “What Shall We Do About the Organ?” pp. 4, 10.

M. C. Kurfees, Instrumental Music in the Worship, or the Greek Verb Psallo Philologically and Historically Examined Together With a Full Discussion of Kindred Subjects Relating to Music in Christian Worship.  Nashville: McQuiddy Printing Company, 1911, pages 235-236. 

Kurfees penned the introduction to this volume on 31 January 1911 (quite incidentally, my grandmother, Ella May Dudley Ice, was born the same day in Oberlin, Ohio).  McGarvey would be dead before Thanksgiving.  This book has a foot in to worlds in a sense.  In one sense it is part of the on-going discussion of instrumental music during McGarvey’s lifetime.  In another sense it becomes a document of memory about McGarvey.  This book was reissued a various points and is in print today.  Kurfees does not so indicate here, but he was a student at McGarvey’s feet…graduated Valedictorian of his class in 1881 from the College of the Bible.

2 thoughts on “M. C. Kurfees remembers J. W. McGarvey

    By Thomas R. Burnett
    Burnett’s Budget, Vol. II, No. XI (November 15, 1902): 2.

    The newspaper dispatches from Lexington, Ky., bring sad news:

    “As the result of the decision of the elders of the Broadway church of Disciples here, to submit to a vote of the congregation the question of installing an organ, Rev. J. W. McGarvey, president of the College of the bible, founder of the church in 1870, and its first pastor, to-day asked for letters for himself and wife, that they might transfer their membership. His attitude has prevented the introduction of an organ for many years, but sentiment in its favor became so great that the vote was overwhelming. This congregation numbers over 1,200, and its action is regarded as a victory for the progressive element.”

    It is a victory for the devil! A church that loves an organ better than it loves brother in Christ, and will vote it in and vote him out, is under the guidance of devil. And elders who claim the New Testament as their rule of faith, that will submit the question of prostituting the corrupting the worship of God to a popular vote, are led by the evil one.

    • Thank you Terry. I am eager to hear more from Burnett concerning JWM and this episode at Broadway, if there be any more.

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