The charge of murmuring is an easy weapon in the hands of Stanton teachers and preachers to strike fear into the hearts of the flock should they get the crazy notion of disagreeing with them. The cleverness of the charge is its easy adaptation to any situation. Nearly any disagreement can be twisted into an accusation of so-called “murmuring,” complete with vivid imagery of Korah leading his insurrection against Moses.
“We must keep the church pure,” they say. Indeed. Pure of reasoned discussion and honest inquiry. Pure of anyone who dares seek truth more than the approval of men.
“[E]very Christian has a right and a responsibility to express as well as to teach those things which they honestly believe to be scriptural without being called a false teacher, or one who perverts the word of God. Inasmuch as the church is so divided upon so many things, and cannot come into an agreement upon hardly anything, it ill behooves a preacher to denounce and call names because he happens to disagree with that which is taught by others.”
Acts 6:1 – And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
I would like to ask the Bible scholars at Stanton what the church did in response to this “murmuring” of the Grecians against the Hebrews? Did they “withdraw” from the offenders? Did they publicly rebuke them for impugning the twelve apostles? They were the ones leading the flock, after all. No, here is what they did. They listened to them. That’s right. The leadership listened to the “murmurers” and made significant changes.
Acts 6:2-6 Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. 3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. 4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. 5 And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: 6 Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
The Greek christians were complaining (murmuring), legitimately, that their widows were being neglected in daily ministry in favor of the Hebrew widows. The response was not to call a meeting and punish the Greek whistleblowers. It was to call a meeting and create a more organized division of duties. The church appointed deacons (servants) to take care of matters like this so the apostles didn’t have to. They fixed the problem that was being complained about because it was a legitimate complaint!
This is a far cry from today’s crop of teachers and preachers who ignore the legitimacy of any dissenting views and simply lord their power over the flock. They squash dissent with a heavy hand using trumped-up charges of murmuring.
But just as one person’s May Week is another person’s Baptist Convention, one person’s murmuring, it seems, is another person’s whistleblowing. To one, it’s a tool of reform. To the other, it’s a tool of fear and intimidation to keep people in line. This, my brothers, ought not to be.