Preamble: This post arises because of my foundational belief is that a church lives or dies by it's theology; teaching a proper understanding of God and His attributes is critical for a church to grow healthy Biblically. If it can be shown that a church does not need to have correct theology to please God then my conclusions are not valid.
The theology of the Churches of Christ is being held up at this moment by two pillars: tradition and hymns- one is for all purposes knocked over, and the other is crumbling. The result is that the CoC will soon collapse utterly because there is no solid doctrinal truth being imparted to the congregations. What remains will be soon absorbed into more liberal churches.
(Aside: for those of you unfamiliar with it, the CoC recognize no creeds, catechisms, or confessions. They admit no document into the building or demand a member conform to a certain doctrinal statement. Therefore what they use to hand down proper theology lies in both tradition and what the people imbibe from singing hymns. I am aware that there are plenty of sermons and bible classes, but these have no tether to the great theologians of old and are often not at all about the Bible. That topic is for another time, suffice to say the formal training is not successful at imparting doctrine and can safely be discounted.)
The pillar of tradition has been kicked down for at least 30 years here in California. CoC Churches are no longer doing what they once did, they are doing what is relevant, or emergent, or what will attract people. Those that are not have largely evaporated or died out as old people churches.
That leaves only songs to impart a right understanding of God from our wise ancestors to the members, but those face two dangers: the first is that new fluff songs like the Days of Elijah are displacing older, solid hymns like Amazing Grace leaving a theological void where the members fill in anything they like.
The second danger is that many of the classic songs have been monkeyed with by CoC writers. I was shocked the first time I heard Holy Holy Holy which I learned as...Lord God Almighty, all thy works shall praise thy name... God in three parts, blessed eternally. Some versions I sung growing up went ...God over all and blessed eternally. Obviously the first song advocates the heresy of Modalism, the second denies the Trinity less explicitly.
The one bright side is that their a-capella format strengthens the impact of the words on the hearer, which is why I suspect they have lasted as long as they have.
The outlook is both bleak and bright. Bleak because God is taking away their lamp stand. Bright because He is lighting it elsewhere.
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