If It Rhymes, It’s A Rule

I have long been a fan of the card game euchre. One of the few pictures of me in my high school yearbook shows our little group of friends gathered around the traditional lunch-with-euchre table. I have stories and anecdotes about crazy or marathon games of euchre, strange places I’ve played (such as “gringo corner” in the Costa Rican airport for six hours) and awful mistakes I’ve made, the worst of which was misdealing when my partner had a lay-down loner (sorry, Denny).

Anyway, euchre is one of those games that features a lot of local variations. I’m sure there’s an according-to-Hoyle way to play, and I’m also sure that we don’t play it. One of the more shocking examples of regional variance is that while most euchre players use a 6 and a 4 to keep score, players from Michigan use…two 5s. Crazy.

Two of the house rules that my friends use to play euchre are “a card laid is a card played” to prevent picking up an incorrectly-played card, and “ace no face” to get a misdeal due to an inordinately bad hand. These two rules have given way to the general tenet of “if it rhymes, it’s a rule.” We even reject such nonsense as the idea of “partner’s best,” partly on the grounds that it doesn’t rhyme.

The problem, of course, with “if it rhymes, it’s a rule” is that it doesn’t rhyme. There’s a little bit of alliteration, sure, but it doesn’t even come close to rhyming. So, if “if it rhymes, it’s a rule” is a rule, then it makes itself illegal. And if it’s not a rule, then it’s not a rule.

So until we come up with a rhyming version of “if it rhymes, it’s a rule,” I guess we’re stuck with Hoyle.

A few weeks ago, my family was able to worship at a church of a completely different denomination. The pastor’s sermon that week, conveniently enough, seemed to be centered on the denominational distinctives of his church body ― what they believed, why they believed it, and how they were different from other Christian denominations. (I say “conveniently” because this is one of the things I’m most interested in when I meet people of other denominations, and it was just handy that the sermon answered many of my questions before I even had to ask them.)

I don’t have the time to go into the whole gamut of ways in which this church body differs from my own. I will share that I learned that the “-ian” at the end of “Christian” stands for “I Ain’t Nothin’” because Christ is all there is. I didn’t know that before.

The other interesting thing I learned is that this particular denomination doesn’t use instruments in its public worship. I thought when Brother Billy stood in front of church and led the congregation in their many hymns with his clear, powerful voice, he was doing it because they didn’t have (or couldn’t afford) a piano or an organ. Turns out, he was doing it for doctrinal reasons.

It seems that this particular denomination follows the general principle, “if it’s not specifically mentioned in the New Testament, you shouldn’t use it in public worship.” They can’t find any specific examples of instrumental music in the New Testament, so they don’t use any instruments in their worship. (Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16 don’t count, because, despite what you can infer from OT worship practices, the NT only specifically mentions the human voice.)

Now, there’s a whole lot a person can say about this idea, but the one thing I’m going to say is this: it doesn’t rhyme.

Seriously, where in the NT is the general principle “if it’s not specifically mentioned in the New Testament, you shouldn’t use it in public worship”? It’s not even close to something that you might call a NT worship principle ― in fact, it seems to run counter to the principle that Paul articulates in Colossians 2:16-17, 1 Corinthians 10:31, and Galatians 5:1. The rule disqualifies itself. It doesn’t meet its own standard. So, if “if it’s not specifically mentioned in the New Testament, you shouldn’t use it in public worship” is a rule, then it makes itself illegal. And if it’s not a rule, then it’s not a rule.

So until we come up with a rhyming version of “if it’s not specifically mentioned in the New Testament, you shouldn’t use it in public worship,” I guess we’re stuck with a pipe organ.


Unknown said...

It may comfort you to know that there may be opportunities to play Euchre in the evenings after IDIOM sessions. And I use the same rules you do, and am also shocked when people keep score with 5s. I also make sure to use 4s and 6s of different colors. Can't use a black six and black four to keep score.

Also, when we have worship time, we use instruments. Even the evil djembe. Although we won't be having worship music at IDIOM this time.

chris j pluger said...

See, peter, that's exactly what I'm talking about. I would NEVER use different-colored scorecards. That's heretical, to say the least. One should always keep score with the 4 and 6 of hearts, or the 4 and 6 of spades (and not combine them).

I'm not sure if I should blame this deviant tendency on your being raised on a different continent, or that you now reside in IL. I can't decide which is more "foreign."


Magotty Man said...

Ah - it ust have been some version of the dratr - defitely, really, absolutely, truely reformed...

The last Sunday being our 100th anniversary as a congregation, we had organ, trumpet and violin. We must be teetering on the abyss....

solarblogger said...

So, if “if it rhymes, it’s a rule” is a rule, then it makes itself illegal.

That's a fallacy. This would only be illegal if the rule were of the form "Only if it rhymes is it a rule," or "If it doesn't rhyme, it is not a rule." Your rule, as stated, seems to say that anything that does rhyme is automatically a rule. But that doesn't rule out things that don't.

Then again, you could just change it to, "If it sounds cool, it's a rule."

chris j pluger said...

good point. thanks.

but even if the euchre point is (slightly) undermined, the major point still stands -- "if it's not specifically spelled out in the NT, you can't use it in worship" is a fallacious argument (and unBiblical, at that).

solarblogger said...

I agree. I was writing more to joke around than to defend the regulative principle. I don't take swipes at pipes.

chris j pluger said...

I figured you were just ribbing me. Still, thanx for the correction. I don't like perpetuating logical fallacies on my weblog!

Coach Jess Priebe said...

I read your entire blog and I got the main message, no worries; but, I couldn't help myself from thinking about a phrase that would work for "If it rhymes, it's a rule." The best I could come up with is "If it rhymes, it's sublime," or maybe "If it rhymes, it's prime," or then something that doesn't rhyme at all which is "If it rhymes, it's fine." I don't know, I tried.

Anonymous said...

Pipe organs are nice.

Anonymous said...

Isn't "worshipping" at a church of a different denomination (assuming from your post that the said church is not in fellowship with the WELS) a violation of the scriptura teaching regarding Church Fellowship? Why bother worshipping at a church where you know that the likelihood of getting error mixed with Truth so so high?

In Christ,

chris j pluger said...

perhaps I should have said, "attended worship." That would have made our activity there a little more clear. As to why...well, if it was a choice between spy on "them" and not attend worship at all, I'll take spying every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Anonymous said...

Humerously well put Mr. Pluger!

Personally, I do my spying online and through the medium of television, and I worship (not just attend the worship of others) independently when traveling when I'm confronted with a similar situation.


Anonymous said...

Also, if one only "spies"/"attends" worship via the internet or on television, than one doesn't have to worry that their presence at a heterodox church doesn't wrongfully communicate that they're in doctrinal agreement with that church body.

chris j pluger said...

Don't worry. Anyone who talked to me after service was left with no doubt that I was not in doctrinal fellowship with that body. And no one who didn't knew I was WELS, so no offense could have possibly been given.

At the risk of sounding condescending, may I gently suggest that you need to get out more?

Anonymous said...

Nope, you don't sound condescending. I got out enough before I tasted the doctrinal purity of confessional Lutheranism. I'm painfully too well aware of how Truth is mixed with error in many other denominations.