Tag Archives: instrumental music

Instrumental Music: A Matter of Authority — Rick Lawson

When flawed and fragile man approaches a righteous and mighty God, he must be very careful to offer the kind of worship that God desires. This is especially critical when one understands what the Word of God teaches concerning the types of worship that exist.

For example, Jesus clearly taught that man can offer worship that is vain or worthless (Mt. 15:8, 9). Paul preached that the people of Athens were worshiping God ignorantly by having set up an altar to the “unknown god” (Ac. 17:22, 23). The same apostle, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, condemned some in the first century of offering “will worship” to the Almighty (Co. 2:20-23). In that context, the will worship seems to involve a form of asceticism, in which men denied themselves certain physical necessities in an attempt to become more spiritual. Rather than worship according to God’s will, they attempted to worship according to their own wills.

Of course God does not accept vain, ignorant, or will worship. The only worship that is accepted by God is true worship. True worship is that which is offered both with the right attitude and in the way that God has authorized (Jn. 4:23, 24). What kind of music does God authorize men to use in their worship today?

God plainly instructs that whatever men do in religion must be done in the name of Jesus (Co. 3:17). If a man knocks on the door and says, “Open in the name of the law,” then he means he has authority from the law to demand that the door be opened. Doing things in the name of Jesus means doing them by His authority. If we offer to God that which is unauthorized, God will not accept it, and we may even be punished. Look to the account of Nadab and Abihu. They offered fire before God that was unauthorized, and the result was fire from heaven that burned them up (Le. 10:1, 2). The kind of music authorized by God is very specific. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Co. 3:16). It seems clear that the purpose of singing in worship is connected to the idea of teaching and admonishing one another. No mechanical instrument, however skillfully played, can teach or admonish as can the human voice. This is the reason that a more general term is not used by God. If, for example, God had authorized “vocal music,” then men could sing, hum, or even whistle in worship. However, neither whistling nor humming can teach the great spiritual lessons taught in our psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Learn the lesson from the sons of Aaron. Do not trifle with God by offering that which He has not commanded.

Consider this parallel passage, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ep. 5:19). This instruction precludes making melody on the keys of an organ, the strings of a guitar, or upon any instrument invented by man. The specific instrument authorized by God is the heart of the worshiper. Many believe that they can substitute some mechanical instrument in place of the heart and that God will accept it.  Perhaps those folks should ask Cain if substitutes in worship are fine with Jehovah (Ge. 4:5). Ask Jeroboam how it worked out when he placed golden calves in Dan and Bethel, rather than returning to Jerusalem to worship God faithfully (1 Ki. 12:28-30). Inquire of king Saul if substituting himself as a Levitical priest and burning a sacrifice to God was worth losing his kingdom (1 Sa. 13:12-14). God does not accept substitutes in worship.

When asked, many can easily understand that when God specified gopher wood for the ark that all other kinds of wood were ruled out. For some reason the logic becomes cloudier when God specifies singing to be used in worship today. Hear God’s instruction in James, “Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms” (Ja. 5:13). The command to sing is very specific. If God had given the command “make music,” then men would have a choice in how to make the music. A piano would then be fine. So would an organ, or even a full orchestra. However, God said “sing.” If one single sentence in the New Testament authorized the use of mechanical instruments of music in worship today, churches of Christ would cease their pleading to avoid them. How easy it would have been for God to do so, yet He did not. That settles the matter for true disciples of Christ.

It is evident that the New Testament is not written in the format of a rule book. Because much of the Bible is historical in nature, it is important to recognize the power of approved example to authorize actions today. Examples of the early church, approved by the inspired apostles, are just as binding as direct commands of God. God expects us to recognize the pattern of the New Testament church and to follow that pattern. Are there any examples of how the early Christians worshiped? The answer is yes. When Paul and Silas were imprisoned in Philippi for their faith in Christ, they “prayed and sang praises unto God” (Ac. 16:25). Paul would later write to the church in Corinth that he would “sing with the spirit,” and “sing with the understanding also” (1 Co. 14:15). The Hebrews writer quoted Psalm 22, writing, “…I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praises unto thee” (He. 2:12). Another of the Psalms is quoted in Romans, “…I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name” (Ro. 15:9). Even Jesus, as our perfect example, sang hymns with His disciples the very night of His arrest (Mt. 26:30). What does each of these examples have in common? S-I-N-G! Not playing or plucking, strumming or humming—just the simple human voice offered as the fruit of our lips in praise to His name (He. 13:15). The example of the early church could not be any clearer.

As a thought exercise, imagine that God had commanded to sing and play mechanical instruments in worship. When Jesus said to believe and be baptized (Mk. 16:16), both are required; therefore both are equally important. When Peter preached repent and be baptized to be saved (Ac. 2:38), which of the two requirements may be ignored? Obviously if God said that we must sing and play instruments in worship then we would each have to sing and play. In denominational worship usually one person, or at most a few, are playing while the rest sing along. In order to justify common practice, a verse would have to be shown that states that singing or playing instruments in worship is authorized, and in that case either would be optional.

Consider some objections to using only singing in worship. Some might say, “I don’t think God really cares about the kind of music that is used in worship.” Elevating man’s thinking over God’s commands has gotten many people into trouble through the years. Naaman nearly thought his way into a future of leprous agony (2 Ki. 5:11). Moses thought that striking the rock was just as good as speaking to it (Nu. 20:8-12), and it cost him the opportunity to go into the land of Canaan and see it for himself. God’s thoughts are higher than man’s thoughts (Is. 55:9). Man can think a thing is right and it be the very thing that causes his destruction (Pr. 14:12). If the kind of music did not matter to God, why would he instruct over and over to sing? It is obvious that God does care about the kind of music that is used in worship today.

Some insist that the use of instruments in the Old Testament shows that God is pleased with their use today. Would that same line of reasoning apply to other avenues of worship from the Old Testament? They also offered animal sacrifices. Shall we? PETA would love that! They burned incense in worship, traveled to the city of Jerusalem several times a year for feasts, and married their dead brother’s wife to raise children in his name. The point is that just because God commanded a thing in the Old Law does not authorize it under the Christian age. The Old Testament is not to be treated like a restaurant menu, where one may pick what he likes and ignore the rest. Listen to the inspired apostle, Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law” (Ga. 5:2, 3). If one tries to follow any of the Old Law, he becomes subject to all of it. Indeed, in the very next verse Paul points out the folly of striving to use the Old Law as justification for today.  “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (Ga. 5:4). Two brief points concerning musical instruments during the law of Moses: 1) They were only used in the outer courts of the temple (typifying the world) and never in the Holy Place (typifying the Church), and 2) God pronounced woe to those who “invent to themselves instruments of music, like David” (Am. 6:1, 5). Every jot and tittle of the Old Law has been fulfilled and replaced by the Law of Christ (Co. 2:14).

Sometimes the claim is made that mechanical instruments in worship are simply aids to the voice. This claim is false. Instruments used in worship are an addition rather than an aid. That distinction is a critical one. If worshipers need help to remember the words or notes to a song, the songbook aids in that area. If the song leader needs an aid to pitch a song, a tuning fork or a pitch pipe can aid him. Many things aid us in our worship to God. Electric lights, air conditioners, public address systems, even church buildings serve as aids to worship. Aids are simply expedients, and therefore acceptable to God. To introduce an unauthorized activity into worship is to abandon the authority of the Scripture and enthrone the doctrines of man. The use of a piano, organ, or any other mechanical instrument in worship is just such an addition. The music from such an instrument certainly may drown out the human voice, but it does not aid it in any way.

Often it is claimed, “I think the singing sounds better when accompanied by an instrument.” The better question is, “What does the singing sound like to God?” After all, God is the audience of our worship. We ought to strive to please Him and not fickle men (Ac. 5:29). In this age of human entertainment thinly veiled as worship to God, the instrument might be more exciting to men. Some denominational churches distribute free earplugs in the foyer to dull the deafening onslaught of the “house band!” No matter how much men may enjoy vain worship, only true worship is pleasing to holy God. God says sing, so His faithful people sing.

Perhaps more often than any other justification, we hear, “Well, the Bible doesn’t say we can’t use instruments in worship.” Thankfully, this reasoning is not used in other areas of life. “Chevrolet didn’t say not to fill my car’s fuel tank with orange juice.” “The doctor didn’t say not to drink drain cleaner for my nasal congestion.” How foolish men can be. When God authorizes a specific item to be used, it rules out everything else. When Jesus told the man whose sight was restored to go wash in the pool of Siloam (Jn. 9:7), He did not list off every other pool in Judea. He did not need to because He had specified the pool to wash in. So it is with the kind of music God desires. When He specifies singing it prohibits anything other than singing.

Many believe that the church of Christ is “that weird church without music.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Christians do have music in worship. It is the beautiful music called singing, and it is the very kind of music that God has authorized in His holy Word. A refusal to use mechanical instruments of music in worship is not some quirky doctrine that Christians use to make themselves distinctive. It is a matter of Bible authority, and it lies at the very heart of a proper interpretation and application of God’s will for man today.

Rick is a 1999 graduate of the Memphis School of Preaching, an instructor for the Georgia School of Preaching (Marietta and Adairsville campuses), and has served as the evangelist of the Adairsville, GA church of Christ since 2013.


Don’t Take Down The Fence – David R. Pharr

An illustration from one of the old-time preachers was, “You don’t have to take down the whole fence to let the cows out!”  The point is that breaking down the fence in one place would allow the cattle to escape, even though it might be assumed that the rest of the fence was still standing.  The application is that if we surrender one fundamental principle of the Scriptures, we have opened a way to surrender many more.

I am persuaded that many of our people do not understand what is actually our objection to instrumental music in worship.  It is not an issue of culture, musical tastes, tradition, or whether we can afford a piano.  There is a principle involved.  It is a fundamental principle.  The principle, stated positively, is that worship that is “in spirit and truth” is worship that is according to scriptural instructions.  Stated negatively, the principle is that nothing should be allowed in worship which is not authorized by the word of God.

In our worship every Christian should find spiritual satisfaction in knowing that what is being done is according to the Bible.  When I sing, or pray, or commune, I delight in the knowledge that I am participating in a congregation that embraces the apostolic faith and practice.  Those who attack us for not accepting instrumental music should admit to themselves that what they resent is people trying to be loyal to the Scriptures.  A capella music is not likely to be questioned since it is so clearly what is taught.  Those who are not pleased with it are not pleased with something that pleases the Lord.  If instruments are added, it is not longer a capella – and no longer what the Bible enjoins.

Why do we object to instrumental music in worship?  Because it is not authorized.  Yes, we know the numerous apologies favoring instruments.  They argue it’s in the Greek, in the Old Testament, in Revelation, helps the singing, etc.  But when “the dust has settle,” nothing has ever been brought forward which authorizes instrumental music.  It can be affirmed with absolute certainty that the only music authorized for Christian worship is singing and making melody in the heart.

The principle that must be honored is that what is not authorized is not acceptable.  Unauthorized innovations are additions to God’s instructions (cf. Deut. 4:2; Rev. 22:18).  They violate the mandate given to the apostles (Matt. 18:18).  They go beyond the things that are written (1 Cor. 4:6).  They alter and add to the covenant (cf. Gal. 3:15).  They are not “in truth” because they can’t be found in the truth (John 4:24).  They are after the doctrine and commandments of men, and therefore, vain worship (Matt. 15:9).  By imposing the traditions of men, they make void the word of God (Mark 7:13).  Since they originate in the will of men, they are “will worship” (Col. 3:23).

Now, back to the illustration that opened this article.  If the principle of authority can be disregarded on the issue of scriptural music, there is no logical objection that can prohibit any other unscriptural invention.  God has set boundaries (a fence) around our faith and practice.  When the fence is broken over the music issue, by what principle can objections be made to infant baptism, sprinkling, additions to the Lord’s Table, burning incense, etc.?

In a conversation with a preacher who defends instrumental music, I asked where is the authority for it.  Eventually, his argument was reduced to his saying, “The Bible does not specifically condemn it.”  I agreed, but urged that he consider that some things must be determined by biblical principles, not by specific prohibitions.  To press the point, I asked him if he would object if someone in his congregation wanted to add jelly to the bread for the Lord’s Supper.  I told him that there is no text that specifically forbids the jelly.  Therefore, to object he would have to decide the question by a biblical principle, rather than by a specific prohibition.  I asked, “What would be that principle?”  (The only possible principle would be as stated above:  what is not authorized is not acceptable.)

What was his answer?  He said that he did not know of anyone who wanted to add jelly, so there was no need to answer my question.  I pressed the point, but he continued to refuse to answer.  I told him that it seemed to me that he was refusing to answer because he knew that the principle which would forbid the jelly is the same principle that forbids the instrument.

A faithful brother told me of visiting a building belonging to an instrumental church.  He asked if he could have one of the tracts on display.  The front of the tract raised the question:  “Where Does The Bible Authorize Infant Baptism?”  When the tract was opened, there was not anything printed on the inside.  On the back was the explanation that nothing was printed inside because there is no text that authorizes infant baptism.  The conclusion was that infant baptism is unacceptable because there is nothing in the Scriptures that authorizes it.  The brother then explained to his host that the title could be changed to:  “Where Does The Bible Authorize Instrumental Music?” and the application would be exactly the same.

Editor’s Page, September/October 2013 – David R. Pharr, Editor

It is surprising that a Baptist preacher would write a book to expose the error of instrumental music in worship.  John Price, who is a Baptist preacher, has provided an excellent work, Old Light on New Worship (Simpson Pub. Co. 2007).  The book includes detailed reviews of Scripture and history regarding use of instruments in worship.  His conclusion is firmly against the practice.

Other than footnote citations he makes no reference to a capella worship in churches of Christ, yet the form of his argumentation is very much parallel to the points we would make.  Consider this paragraph on page 46:

The regulative principle of worship remains, and what God has not commanded in the New Testament we have no authority to use.  He has not commanded the use of any musical instruments as he did in the days of Moses and David.  Therefore, we have no authority to bring them into the worship of His church.  The complete silence of the New Testament on musical instruments is a most compelling argument that they are not to exist in the church.  Only singing is commanded (1 Cor. 14:15; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16).

It is especially noteworthy that the author comes to these conclusions in spite of having a religious background that continues to use instruments.

The author traces the historical evidence from the earliest post-apostolic writers down to the 20th Century.  “The early Church Fathers were unanimous and vehement in condemning musical instruments in the worship of the church.”  Further, he observed:  “How can it possibly be assumed that musical instruments existed in the apostolic church when they were absent from the periods immediately prior and following?”  Further, the book provides a large collections of quotations on the subject from centuries of theologians and commentators, including an appendix listing over two pages of names and groups who have opposed instrumental music in worship.

Mr. Price shares our disdain for what is advertised in worship in the modern setting.

In many worship services today, little difference can be found between a rock-and-roll concert and the music of the church.  It was in the atmosphere of these musical instruments that the development of “Contemporary Christian Music” took place… (139).


A poisonous influence came out of the Richland Hills (TX) church when they announced their decision to include instrumental music in their worship.  Their preacher, Rick Atchley, preached three sermons to argue that it is scriptural to worship either with or without the involvement of instruments.  His arguments have been published abroad and apparently have given excuse for some liberal congregations to tilt farther to the left.  Alan Highers in The Spiritual Sword and Dave Miller in his book, Richland Hills and Instrumental Music, published effective biblical responses to Atchley’s position.  Another careful and thorough response is in the book by Thomas C. Alexander, Music in Worship (Gospel Advocate, 2010).  Though all three of these capable brethren cover much of the same ground and hold the same conclusions, each of their presentations has its own special value.


Not many congregations in our area have been troubled by the strange doctrine called “Realized Eschatology” which, having been aggressively advocated by one Max King and his sympathizers, has devastated churches of Christ in other parts of the country.  However, there are indications of its influence coming into the Carolinas.  This is sometimes called “The 70 AD Theory” because of its contention that all Bible prophecy was fulfilled at the time of the Romans’ destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.  This includes (according to the theory) even the second coming of Christ, the resurrection, judgment, and the end of the world.  Yes, it is insisted that prophecies of the consummation of the world (as foretold in 2 Peter 3:10) were actually only the end of the Jewish system.  To those not yet exposed to such extremities of interpretation, this might seem to fantastic to entertain.  It happens, though, that by redefining terms and manipulating scriptures, the King movement has caught the fancy of some who are “unlearned and unstable” (2 Pet. 3:16).  Two books by King set out his theory: The Spirit of Prophecy and The Cross and the Parousia of Christ.  Other publications by King and his henchmen have continued its promotion.

I remember the late Burrell Prince’s reply when he was challenged to read King’s book.  He was urged to read it all the way through.  He said he had read enough to know he need not waste more time.  He said, “If I get on a train and soon discover it is headed to the wrong destination, I don’t want to stay on it to the end of the line!”  He had read enough to know the book was trying to take him in the wrong direction.*

For solid and clear refutation of the Max King doctrine, I recommend the book by Wayne Jackson, The A.D. 70 Theory (Courier Publications).  Brother Jackson is always thorough and careful in his explanations.  He shows the errors of false definitions of terms and inconsistencies in the appropriation of texts.  It is a small book (just over 100 pages).  It is needed anywhere there are issues related to Bible teaching on eschatology (“last things”).

Our brotherhood has been greatly blessed by Wayne Jackson’s writings on a wide variety of subjects.


While yet on the subject of books, perhaps it is acceptable for me to reference five of my own.  Churches over the country and in other parts of the world continue to use The Beginning of our Confidence, lessons for new Christians (21st Century Pub.)  It has been translated into four other languages.  Thy Kingdom Come (Publishing Designs Co.) is a simple refutation of the errors of Premillennialism.  It is in English and Russian.  Many have used it privately and in classes for a simplified refutation of the more prominent errors of popular millennial theories.

A Happy Coincidence on a Desert Highway (Firm Foundation Pub.) is a collection of sermons.  Modern Messages from the Minor Prophets (Quality Pub.) contains full sentence sermon outlines on all the Minor Prophets.  These sermons seek to apply their Old Testament concerns to our current needs.  It has also been translated into Russian.

Voices of Calvary (Publishing Designs Co.) has thirteen lessons on things Jesus and others said at the time of his crucifixion.  Bible students know of the seven statements of Jesus from the cross.  Each has a wealth of spiritual implications.  In addition there are statements made by others at Calvary and each of these deserve more than a passing glance.

*Brother Prince was the first preacher in the church of Christ I ever heard.  It was with what is now the Broad Street congregation in Statesville, NC.  At the time they were meeting in the American Legion Building.  In later years, when I was with the East Tennessee School of Preaching, we became closely associated with him and several times stayed in their home in Nashville.

The Challenge To Teach The Truth – Dave Wood

The Proverbs writer once challenged young men to, “Buy the truth and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding” (Prov. 23:23).

One might wonder why Solomon needed to challenge any young Israelite to appreciate the truth.  Is it possible that Israel suffered from the very issues that plague Christians today?  Namely, there will be times when the truth is not popular and you will be pressured to “sell” it.  Paul would instruct his “child in the faith” to “preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2).

Marshall Keeble explained that preaching the word, as used in this verse was “…preaching when they want to hear it and preaching when they don’t.”

Solomon’s challenge is still pertinent to preachers today: “Buy the truth and sell it not…”

There is considerable pressure for a preacher to just use pleasing words and not disrupt the status quo.  A preacher, however, is a proclaimer of God’s Word.  With that thought in mind a preacher ought always to let God have His say in every lesson and sermon given.  Let us consider this challenge issued by God’s inspiration.

“Buying the truth.”  What should this mean for the preacher, especially the preacher who is involved in a new work?  Naturally with a new work there can be great pressure on the preacher and his family.  This man has many new faces and names to learn and alongside those faces there are personalities for this preacher to understand.  There exists a desire in every man to be accepted and appreciated.  To meet these pressures, a man might think to soften his Sunday morning sermon or to skip certain verses in a Bible class.

But we are to buy the truth, which gives the idea of making an investment.  When it comes to truth (i.e., God’s word, the Bible, the gospel) no expense is too high.  “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in so doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Tim. 4:16).

Men, in order to “take heed…unto the doctrine” you must know the doctrine.  You must know the truth!  Because you cannot proclaim what you do not know, the challenge is to invest time in studying God’s Word.  “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).

Timothy was challenged to study, to give diligence to the truth of God’s Word.  There is a sense of urgency in Paul’s admonition.  Do not put off knowing God’s will, do not put off doing God’s will, and do not put off teaching God’s will!

“Buying the truth” also means that you might, at times, be at odds with people.  In Romans 1:18 Paul described some people as holding down the truth by their unrighteous behavior.  When mankind shrugs off the truth of God’s word they certainly do not appreciate a reminder of God’s counsel.  It becomes offensive to such a darkened heart.  Those at Galatia had listened to false teaching and Paul reminded them again of the truth.  “For do I now persuade men, or God?  Or do I seek to please men?  For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10).

If there is a choice to make between pleasing God or men, make sure to please God.  It is difficult to know which way the winds of men are blowing.  What is popular one day has perished tomorrow, but truth is always right.  The preacher’s challenge is to buy the truth.

Solomon’s warning is two-fold.  It is not enough to make an investment in the truth, but never, ever sell it.  In other words, the challenge given is to not be a sell-out.  Balak, the king of the Moabites, had a problem.  The Israelites were coming.  Balak had heard about a man who lived a long way from the Moabites, in Mesopotamia.  Balaam was a man whose talents were for hire.  do you remember this man?  Balaam had a reputation for blessing people or cursing people.  His reputation was such that representatives in Moab would make the journey to Mesopotamia to secure the services of Balaam.  Balaam had a great opportunity to stand firmly with the Lord and he wasted it.  Both 2 Peter 2:15 and Jude 11 mention Balaam and how he sold the truth for financial gain.  This man had a price.  Do you?  Do not sell the truth, no matter what!

A preacher sells the truth when he fails to teach all of God’s commands.  Paul confidently declared to the Ephesian elders, “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).

When Paul declared the whole counsel of God, was there anything that he left out?  What would happen if Paul felt fear of being rejected and shunned?  Preachers have put a price tag on godly counsel by refusing to preach on Matthew 19:9 where Jesus stated there is only one reason which a person can seek a divorce and be remarried without living in adultery.  Preachers put a price tag on the truth when they add to God’s word by teaching that the inclusion of mechanical musical instruments in worship is acceptable to God.  This is not God’s counsel because there is no authority for it anywhere in the New Testament.  Preachers put a price tag on the truth when they bind their own scruples on others.  There are those who feel it is wrong to eat “in the church,” so they wrest and twist the scriptures to their satisfaction.  Either way, whether a preacher is taking away from the counsel of God or adding to the counsel of God, he has auctioned off the truth.

There are members of the church who will attempt to persuade preachers to teach and preach their own way.  There is only one thing that will save souls and that is the pure, unadulterated gospel of God.  Consider Paul’s thesis statement for the book of Romans:  “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16).

To hear some preachers teach, it is obvious that they think their abilities are the power to salvation, because in their lessons they make more references to their personal stories than to scripture.

There is one path that is always right, there is one message that is always true, and it is found in the Bible, not in the minds of men.  “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Pet. 1:23).

The challenge stands to everyone in the Lord’s body, whether preacher, teacher, elder, or deacon: buy the truth, and sell it not.  Now what will you do?

Broad Street Church of Christ, Statesville, NC