then, it would be well to explain to those who visit our services as well as to
our friends in the community what we believe about music in worship and why. We
are convinced that there are overriding reasons for not using the instrument.
But many people are unacquainted with these reasons. Let us, then, consider
together the case against instrumental music in worship.
Is Not Authorized By The New Testament
Note the references: Matthew 26.30: "And after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives." (Also Mark 14.26) Acts 16.25: "About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them." Romans 15.9: We find a quotation from the Psalms in which there is the expression: "Sing to Thy name." 1 Corinthians 14.15: "I shall sing with the spirit and I shall sing with the mind also." Ephesians 5.19: "Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord." Colossians 3.16: "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your heads to God." Hebrews 2.12: "In the midst of the congregation I will sing Thy praise." James 5.13: "Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises."
These passages represent the totality of the New Testament teaching on music in worship. It is true that there are three passages in the book of Revelation where music is mentioned, but in these instances it is obviously used in a symbolic way to stand for something else. For example, in Revelation 14.2-4 the voice John heard speaking from heaven is said to be "like the sound of harpists playing on their harps." The argument is sometimes made that this indicates heavenly approval of instrumental music in worship. But of course it does not! The language in this passage is obviously symbolic. This same chapter also speaks of four living creatures (beasts), celibates (virgins), Babylon, a golden crown, a sharp sickle and a wine press--all obvious symbols. The harps are used by John to suggest the sweetness of the singing which he heard just as thunder and the sound of many waters represent the volume and the swelling rhythm of that heavenly singing. Note specifically that John does not say he heard harps, but rather he heard voices that were so sweet they were "Like the sound of harpists." (14.2.)
Each of the New
Testament passages dealing with music in worship use the specific word
"sing" rather than the general term "music" -- that limits us to
doing only what the word "sing" allows. In 1 Corinthians 4.6, Paul
warns us that we must not do more than the scriptures allow: "That in us
ye might learn not to go beyond the things which are written." (ASV)
"Such is the nature of our relation to God, that we cannot know what acts
of worship are acceptable to Him except from revelation." "From the
very nature of the case, then, we are limited in our acts of worship to those
which are authorized by the scriptures, and we sin if we go beyond them."
(cf. John 4.24; John 17.17.)
by the New Testament Church
Bible scholars and historians of all faiths agree on the entire absence of instrumental music from the New Testament church. Dr. Curt Sachs of Columbia University, one of the most eminent musicologists in America has said: "All ancient Christian music was vocal 3 Dr. Frederic Ritter, in his book, History of Music From The Christian Era To The Present Time, says "We have no real knowledge of the music which formed a part of the religious devotion of the first Christian congregations. It was, however, purely vocal." 4 The Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, in an article by J.M. Brown notes: "That instrumental music was not practiced by primitive Christians...is evident from church history." 5 The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge documents the fact that "...the organ...was rejected in early Christian circles." 6 McClintock and Strong observe: "The Greek word PSALLO is applied among the Greeks of modern times exclusively to sacred music, which in the Eastern Church has never been other than vocal; instrumental music being unknown in that church as it was in the primitive church." 7 Emil Nauman writes in The History of Music, Vol. I, p. 177: "There can be no doubt that originally the music of the divine service was everywhere entirely of a vocal nature." 8 Early Christian writers (Justin Martyr, Chrysostum, Tertullian, Eusebius) confirm that it was the practice of the early church simply to sing.
references to the testimony of religious scholars and historians could be
presented almost indefinitely--however, by now it should be clear that
Instrumental Music was not practiced in the Early Church! Those early
Christians, who were guided by the Apostles, did not make use of mechanical
instruments of music, but, rather, sang psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to
God. The question is: If we seriously intend to be New Testament Christians,
can we do that which was never permitted as a part of the worship of the New
in the Apostate Church
The record is clear--wherever and whenever men have sought to
purge Christianity of the innovations adopted by the Apostate Church, they have
begun with the rejection of Instrumental Music; All of the great reformers were
agreed--returning to the simplicity of the New Testament Church means dispensing
with Instrumental Music!!!
an Element of Divisiveness
Throughout history, instrumental music has been disruptive of the unity of the church. It has been a source of strife and unnecessary division. Congregations have been split over it, yet none argue that it is essential.
The famed Methodist scholar,
Adam Clarke, wrote: "I am an old
man, and an old minister; and I here declare that I never knew them (i.e.
instruments) productive of any good in the worship of God; and have had reason
to believe that they were productive of much evil. Music as a science, I esteem
and admire; but instruments of music in the house of God I abominate and