Ripening Issues in the Church of Christ – Instrumental Music

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The can has been opened and the worms are out! I have not really said much about this issue in the past because it is highly charged with strong feelings on both sides. I think it is a mistake to stand idly by while a whole generation of young people leaves the church because they are dissatisfied with worship. Both sides think their side is right. Both sides feel like they can make their point from scripture. Both sides feel they have to get their way to get their needs met. I know those are generalizations and not everyone fits one side or the other but those feelings are not uncommon on either side of the debate. The only reason I bring it up is because if we do not discuss it and come to grips with some sort of solution/healthy understanding we will divide ourselves even further than we already have. Before I go any further I want you to know the purpose of this post is not to express my views but to help us understand where our young people are coming from, what they are questioning, how they are questioning, and how to be fair with scripture and with them.

Christ’s priorities:

If we were really focused on Christ’s priorities I doubt we would find time to argue about this issue. I am sure there have been board room meetings of Christian men arguing about this for hours while the people across the street remained lost because people would rather argue pet issues inside their fortress walls than try to leave our doctrinal fortresses and make an impact on the world around them for Christ. Hear me out, I am not saying doctrine is not important. If Christ was in town when one of those meetings was being held where do you think he would be? Would he go argue his point at the meeting or would he be reaching the lost? I am not saying this is not an important issue or that we can only discuss it once all the lost people are saved. I am saying we need to keep it in perspective. I am saying this is not THE issue that we prioritize everything else around. As far as we can tell Christ didn’t spend his time in private drilling his disciples on minute pieces of doctrine and tests of faith. Yet it seems that is the model many churches have developed for equipping Christians for service (or more likely for winning arguments). Christ spent his time in the world transforming it through contact with the lost and hurting. For too long we have made instrumental worship an identity issue of first priority. We need to put it where it belongs.

An identity issue:

Have you ever been asked what the church of Christ is like? What is your typical response? “We are the guys who don’t worship with instruments, baptize, take the Lord’s Supper every week, and don’t have a choir.” “Oh.” We just gave that person a brief primer on what we do but have they learned anything about who we are/what our identity is in Christ? Not really. We have made our a capella worship an issue of who we are/how we are different from “those other guys” so much so that we don’t start off answer that questions with, “We are Christ-followers who love God and worship him in response to his saving acts through Jesus Christ.”? If so, that is problematic. We are not first and foremost a capelians. We are first and foremost Christians – Christ followers.

Jesus spoke far more about unity than he did about instrumental music. In fact, he said volumes about unity and absolutely nothing about instrumental music. Yet we have divided over something he said nothing about. Does that seem like a problem to you or is it just me? You can argue against instruments from history and from some very obscure and tentative connections within the New Testament and with some extremely loosely connected “case studies” from the Old Testament. You cannot argue for or against instruments based on the teachings of Jesus Christ. What you can argue from the teachings of Jesus Christ is that we are much more likely to need to withdraw fellowship over all sorts of other things that we have allowed to go on in the church for generations. After we address things like hypocritical leadership, legalism, and sexual immorality (all of which Christ condemned) maybe we will be on better footing to talk about something of lesser priority like instruments in worship. I am not saying it is not important. I am saying discussing it cannot be our number one priority. It does not define who we are. Only Christ does that.

Arguing from Scripture

How do you take scripture and argue against instruments in worship? You can point to the Old Testament and the story of Nadab and Abihu and show that unauthorized worship is punishable by death. But they were privy to some pretty specific instructions regarding worship. They were not violating an argument from silence because how God wanted them to worship was pretty explicitly laid out. If we use the story of Nadab and Abihu to inform us on worship that seems problematic because if the Old Testament begins to shed light on how our worship should or should not be couldn’t that in and of itself open the door to worship as they did – with instruments? Obviously that kind of reasoning doesn’t work. Nadab and Abihu don’t give us anything clear we can really say about if instruments are right or wrong. Moses wasn’t writing those things down thinking, “Some day some Christians will have to figure out whether or not they can worship with instruments so I better write this one down.” So what about the New Testament? We point to verses like Eph 5:19 and Col 3:16 that tell us to sing and to pluck the strings of our hearts in worship. They say nothing about instruments and so we argue from silence that because he didn’t say to do it with an instrument we shouldn’t do it that way either. So why do we use grape juice in the Lord’s Supper when the clear example of the New Testament was wine? Why do we shake hands and hug instead of greet each other with a holy kiss (which is a command in scripture) and why don’t we teach very much about fasting (which is a command or at least expected for us to do in scripture)? Did Paul really pen those words in Ephesians 5 or Colossians 3 and think, “Let’s see if they can figure out from all of this that what I am really saying is that instruments in worship is a sin?” I am just asking questions here! Does anyone have any answers to any of these? I don’t think the instrumental music question was on the minds of any of the New Testament authors when the wrote the verses we use in defense of a capella singing. I think if that was at issue in those texts they would have been far more explicit about it.

My point is this – we can either argue it from scripture and do it well and honestly or we can’t. One or the other. If it can be proven from the New Testament that the intention was a capella worship and nothing else then we must hold to that, teach our children that, and, I would add, have some mutual submission in our song selection in deference to our young people’s taste. If we find that we can’t, then we cannot condemn those who do it. We cannot disfellowship them. We cannot snub our noses at them. We cannot treat them any different because of their worship style. I understand that at that point it would still remain an issue of conscience for some people. For those who understand it cannot be proven from scripture but still have a hard time with it, they should not be coerced into worshiping with instruments.

The issue is here and it is big. It has transformed from an inter-denominational argument to something that is having a bearing on our young people and on our future as a church. We cannot hide from it. We cannot have puny answers. We cannot be afraid of the answers we find when we honestly and open approach scripture. I have more I want to say about this but I think I have said enough for now before I end up with a post longer than the urban ministry one.

There are many more things to say about this but I think I have put enough on the table for now.

0 Responses

  1. You preachers and your cans of worms… 🙂

    Thank you for posting this. I remember as a Christian college student back in the early 1990s that this conflict would be settled by now. Such naivete.

    I think that two statements of your post touched on critical pieces of what continues to power this dispute:

    “…a whole generation of young people leaves the church because they are dissatisfied with worship.”

    “Both sides feel they have to get their way to get their needs met.”

    In order to resolve this, believers are going to have set their personal satisfaction and the “my needs” mentality aside. A the heart of this is the much-bemoaned consumer mentality that permeates all facets of our lives, including church. This may be more naivete on my part, but I see no other means to put this thing to bed. Just my two cents.

    1. thank you for this. We have just gone to an instrumental Church of Christ and are getting a lot of judgement from our brothers and sisters in Christ. The old standby saying “we are lost because of this” My thought is and the elders where we go also say, “music or no music has never been an issue of salvation.” There are many traditions we have been taught and if we hadn’t been taught music in the service was wrong, we would have never even thought about it and worshiped with singing and music thinking nothing more of it. The reason I know this is because we have a new sister and brother in Christ. They said to me that they had never thought about whether instrumental music was right or wrong. God says whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all unto Him. Salvation and Baptism is clear. God also minces no words about certain sins keeping us from Heaven. He wants us to be with Him wouldn’t it be a little cruel of Him to leave out the condition of being lost because of instrumental worship?

  2. Thanks for the post. Read both of the N.T. passages that you referred to about musical instruments again. We use those as proof texts that instrumental music is wrong, but a part of interpretation is reading the passage in the right context. Contextually speaking neither passage is discussing worship. It is extremely easy to see that. Thanks for putting this out there. I really enjoy your perspective on different issues.

  3. I think much of this discussion hinges on the hermeneutics with which every Christian reads scripture through. If one person sees the OT having no value beyond historical significance and the NT as a flat, constititional like law that lays out a firm and fixed pattern for church, then it is very possible to defend a capella worship and believe their use of the scriptures is done so in a correct manner. One the other hand, if someone believes that the OT and NT is one complete canon of scripture that lays out God plan of redemption fulfilled in Jesus and the NT are occasional writting containing no fixed pattern//law but localized expressions of how God’s people lived out the redemptive life in Jesus, then it is very doubtful that such an individual (like myself) will have any problem with instrumental worship.

    Now, many members of the CoC, old and new, may not be able to articulate their hermeneutical lens so well. However, many of the older member were taught the scripture from preachers operating out of the former hermeneutic (pattern). This begins to change in the baby boomer generation as several baby boomer preachers/teachers (e.g., Rubel Shelly, Randy Harris) begin preaching from a new hermeneutical paradigm (even if they did not intend to undermine a capella worship). Now most of Gen x’ers and the Dot Com generation are being taught by people who are operating out of this “new hermenuetic.”

    The issue is huge. The sad part is that something like “hermeneutic” (which is not even mentioned in scripture) will continue to polarize us. Wow!

    Ithaca Church of Christ
    Ithaca, NY

  4. I am glad that you are grappling with this issue. I’m not a part of the Church of Christ and never have been, so I won’t weigh in. I have been part of the traditional vs contemporary disagreement, however, and much of what you wrote is relevant there. All “sides” should be willing to rethink their posisiton and to put Christ and His Kingdom first.

  5. Thanks for the post! A topic that really needs to be talked about–I appreciate your contribution, and the thoughts of those who have posted already. Good dialogue.

    I’m not sure why the early church didn’t use instruments in worship, but the reason could well have been theologically significant to them (to God?). A cappella singing has been called “the ecumenical ground” because everyone believes it is right; no one believes it is wrong to sing without instruments. [which should make it a help to unity instead of a hindrance; it’s ironic that it’s seen as a barrier]

    I do agree with you that we have had far too many people overlook sinful leaders, legalism, and immorality while they fine-tuned their doctrine against instruments. That’s the real black eye in this whole issue. I’ve seen that up close and personal. It’s a real shame (but it doesn’t make me think the CofC should add instruments).

    Good point on identity. We need to be known for who we are and what we’re for, and what we’re about.

    I appreciate the heart of those who sincerely believe adding instruments will help them reach seekers. Still, I do not agree that it is essential, and don’t think anyone will prove biblically that we have no choice but to become a both/and church (although it’s been tried, obviously).

    Sorry for such a long comment, but those are a few of my thoughts. Thanks again for opening up the discussion.

    1. I was thinking that the early church possibly did not use instruments for more practical reasons. The church was being persecuted and the meetings were held in homes where there may not have instruments available or would have been too conspicuous.
      I attend a Church of Christ in Barbados where instruments are used and I was attacked by a member of a non-instrumental church here. I came to the same conclusion which you did. These leaders are allowing this petty issue, which they cannot prove from the Bible, to create conflict in the church and distract them from the more pressing issue of saving a sin-filled world.
      If the Bible does not speak to a subject, why are you right if you don’t do it but I am wrong because I do?

  6. Clyde, your points are well taken. I am not fighting for instruments here. I am just saying our arguments against them have been pretty poorly done at best. I have a hard time with people who argue something so ferociously when the scriptural evidence is not strong.

    By the way, If I saw instruments in our auditorium on Sunday I would be uncomfortable 🙂

    1. are you going to feel uncomfortable in heaven when the trumpets sound? how about when King David is up in heaven playing his stringed instruments? If instruments were so distracting… why would Jesus use the trumpet to sound the call for the dead to be raised? does your church completely look over the psalms? Psalm 150? In 2 Chronicles 29:28, when the “whole assembly” bowed in worship while the singers sang and the trumpeters played… do you think it was distracting to the whole assembly?

      Psalm 150:3 says “Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre”

      Let scripture speak for itself… where it is silent… be silent.

    2. The verses you used to prove your point all come from the Old Testiment. If you look at Galatians 3: 23-25 we read that we are no longer under the old law. If this was not the case then the bible would not be split into two parts. But becasue the faith has came we are no longer under the old law. If we were still under the old law we would still be performing sacrifices and other jewish ways therefore making us not Christians. So if you let scripture speak for itself and be silent where the bible is silent than it is easy to understand that instramental worship was not instatuted by god in the NT. Therefor because we are not under the OT and the NT doesnt permit instramental worship than we can not add to the word of god (be silent where the bible is silent).


    3. @ Dave – Would you feel uncomfortable in Heaven (or on Earth) having mutiple wives? The scripture you are quoting comes from the OT. If you are going to take part of it (and the Law it talks about), go ahead and take ALL of it.

    4. Elizabeth,

      I don’t remember any verses (could be wrong) off the top of my head that say God was okay with them having multiple wives. I also remember hearing Tommy Nelson in the Song of Solomon series say God was not pleased with the kings having multiple wives. That was very clearly the case with Solomon and I am not sure about David and the rest. So that example may not be the best because people in the OT did lots of things God was not pleased with just like they did lots of bad things in the NT as well. Should we strive to be like the Corinthian church because they were a church in the New Testament? Obviously we should not imitate their errors. Just wanted to point that out. Thanks for commenting.

  7. I was raised in the Church of Christ. I recently began attending a church that USED to be a C of C, but is now “just a church.” The church uses instruments, has a praise team that stands up front, and other more “liberal” aspects to it. But, the church still teaches baptism for the remission of sins, which more and more churches are shying away from. That is a belief I will always stand firm on. But the whole instrument thing isn’t a big deal to me. I totally understand and respect my family’s position on the subject, but I don’t think it’s a salvation issue (neither do they). I think God focuses on motives.

    1. I also was raised in the church of chirst. We dont use instruments becasue the NT doesnt tell us to. The OT does mention playing instruments but we are not under that law we are under the new law. Galatians 3:23-25. Not only is that a good reason not to use instruments in worship, but also the fact that the early Christians did not use instruments. It was not until 600 years after the church was established that they were added to the church. Many Christians that were alive at the time when instruments entered the church tried to keep them out becasue they did not want to add to the word of god. I can see where people can think God does not care either way but we cannot ignore the fact that the sons of Aaron were killed by God when they offered up strange fire to God. They thought God would like what they would offer him. They thought no big deal. However God did not tell them to do what they did, so God killed them. Even though we are under the new law we are still dealing with the same God that killed men for adding to his word. So I dont believe God focuses just on motives or else these men would not have been killed.


    2. Brad,

      Do you mind if I play the flip side for you for a moment?

      Where do you draw the line on things God never said were okay in worship? For instance, if you are going to say we can only do things exactly how they did it then we are in trouble from the get go. Right? What would it look like if we recreated their worship 100%? We could only do it at the temple (gone) or in homes. There goes 90%+ of the worship we participate in today. We have lots of things in our worship God never said to do. He never said to use 4 part harmony. We don’t sing songs the way they did. But no one is saying that is wrong. They didn’t have pitch pipes, song books, overhead lighting, sound systems, power point. What do you do with all of that? They didn’t have amplification. 50% of the sound you hear in worship is coming from the song leader over an instrument, a speaker system. No sane person is calling anyone out on that one.

      So where do you draw the line if, as you say, any changes would be adding to the word of God? I know a zillion people have made these points. My point is this is not really the best argument to make the point you are trying to make because it has a zillion holes poked in it by the way most of us in non-instrumental churches are currently doing worship. If that makes sense.

      What do you think?

    3. Actually, Brad, we ARE commanded to sing psalms (not necessarily in worship service though) when Ephesians 5:19 says “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;”

      I am a member of the C o C, and I decided to research what the difference between “psalms”, “hymns”, and “spiritual songs” is. I used an interlinear bible, the KJV version of the bible, Strong’s Concordance, and Webster’s dictionary.

      Turns out psalms (Greek word “psalmos”) is defined in Strong’s (no. 5568) as being “a set piece of music, i.e. a sacred ode (accompanied with the voice, harp or other instrument; a “psalm”)”. It appears instrumental music is optional with a psalm.

      The world “hymn” as found in Eph. 5:19 is referenced by the ILB to the number 5215 in Strong’s, which reads “…humnos,…appar. from a simpler (obsol.) form of hudeo (to celebrate; prob akin to 103; comp. 5567); a “hymn” or religious ode (one of the Psalms):…”

      the word corresponding to 5567 referenced above is “psallo” – “…prob. strengthened from psao (to rub or touch the surface; comp. 5597); to twitch or twang, i.e. to play on a stringed instrument (celebrate the divine worship with music and accompanying odes): – make melody, sing (psalms).”

      So, according to these sources, hymns also can have instrumental accompaniment. I’ve heard people try to say the twitch or twang is in reference to “the heartstrings”. I’d like to know where they got THAT information from. The info above refers to musical instruments.

      The word “song” as found in Eph. 5:19 is referenced to Strong’s no. 5603, which reads: “…ode…from 103; a chant or “ode” (the gen. term for any words sung; while 5215 denotes espec. a religious metrical composition, and 5568 still more spec. a Heb. cantillation): – song.”

      Instrumentation is referenced in the word “ode” with Strong’s nos. 5215 and 5568 (as seen above.)

      Bottom line, I believe because we don’t specifically see an example of instrumental music used in worship in the new testament church that it should be excluded from our worship services today. However, outside of worship service we are commanded (yes, read Eph. 5:19 again) to sing these types of songs. You don’t have to play a musical instrument, but if you do, and are singing at the same time (making melody with your heart unto the Lord) then it is not sin.

    4. Truthseekder, you correctly noted that, “we don’t specifically see an example of instrumental music used in worship in the new testament church.” The same, however, is true of congregational, a cappella singing. The only example we have after the cross is Paul and Silas in prison, outside of a Sunday assembly, an example which could hardly be used to exclude instruments, women, or proper clothing.

    5. It seems to me that the key to this discussion is how we define worship. John says that we must worship in spirit and truth, Jn 4:24. Truth is easy, we must worship in the word and in Christ. Worship in spirit is also clearly defined by Paul in Romans 12:1 when he says that spiritual worship is offering ourselves as a living sacrifice. If our lives are the actual worship we give to God, then we must not allow any instrumental music into our lives if we truly believe that God has commanded worship without instruments.
      God’s command for worship goes back to Cain and Abel. He demands our best from what he has blessed us with, and in many cases that includes musical talents. Instruments are definitely not required, but our best is required. Anything less than our best, or anything that will prevent non-believers from hearing the word is unacceptable. I believe that there are many more non-believers in the world that can be reached with instrumented music than without, therefore making non-instrumental a requirement may be a sin if it preventing some from hearing the word (whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:17).

    6. My Dear Brother,

      I will not continue to debate on matters that has no direct bearing with the will of God.
      Is it the will of God that all those who use musical instrument in worshiping God will
      perished ? Can this be proved Biblically ? My stand is always if the use of musical
      instrument will bring more souls to Christ, i will use it.

      I don`t see my self as one of the BIBLE PANEL BEATERS in the Kingdom of God.
      I pray God to help us preach only the WILL of God to the lost souls.

  8. Great post Matt. I come from the IM side of things and see it as, if your conscience is telling you to not use instruments fine, if it is telling you to use instruments fine also. Who am I to judge one of my Master’s servants in that area. God bless.

  9. I was raised going to a traditional non-instrumental CoC. Used to be years ago that most were non IM. The problem I have is that generally only a few want to make these changes in the CoC and force it on the others. As I heard one young person say one time that if “they dont like it”, then they will just have to learn to like it” in talking about some more raucous music.
    Hear is what I would do and I think that Jesus may suggest. If you decide that the church you go to does not suit you, then go out and find one that does, dont stay and upset others especially when you want to change things that were/are traditional there. I think that is sort of selfish. Especially forcing change in the CoC, there are very few more conservative churches to go to, so the conservatives are limited. On the other hand, there are 1000s of liberal churches that you can attend and find anything you want to do. To me, that would be the Christian thing to do. There are examples of this throughout the Bible. But, that does not seem to be the case these days, the few want to stay and force the issue, then you have usually about a third leave because the elders succome to these few. Another third stay are are totally unhappy, and the few that want the changes sheepessly do their thing. Where I attend, they got into clapping. Only a very few feel the need to do it and it looks and sounds awful. They could at least do it in rythm. It kills my worship experience. The church becomes stagnant, no growth, people come and people go for various reasons. It is a sad state of affairs when this happens, one reason we were told to be on one accord, which is not the case with soft elders. Those elders that allow change and to let everyone do what they want is not leadership, it is being soft and is not leadership. Some have even allowed multiple services to accomodate the differences. I tell you that is division to me! One church in Okla just went to instrumental music because they claimed that they were losing people because of that. Well, they decided to have one service without IM and one with IM. They use to have about 1000 per week atendance, now they have dropped to 600-700 or so in attendance and lost one third of there contributions too.
    Did they even think that this would happen? I am sure they did but apparently losing folks was not on there mind, but doing what they wanted at the expense of others did not matter. Now there are a lot of unhappy folks there, and it will take years to get over that, if ever! If IM is not a command one way or the other as some say, dont try to introduce it and cause division and grief! Lucifer is alive and well in the the church, just look around. He is probably attending church more than all but a few members, sad to say!

  10. Rob,

    Satan is certainly present in churches as much as anywhere else. This is such a complex issue and you make some valid points. I think this issue is going to get bigger and bigger in the next 10-15 years. It is very divisive and cannot be taken lightly.

  11. My granfather goes to a Church of Christ, and has throughout my life tried to teach me that instrumental music used at the same time as worship singing is a sin.

    He finally conceded though that it was approved by God in the Old Testament though when I showed him II Chronicles 29:25, where Nathan and other prophets put instrumental worship into the church by the command of the Lord. Until then he had always believed that it had never been approved of by God, but just something that David and others had instituted on their own.

    But his subsequent argument was that it was irrelevent, because ‘The Old Testament had been done away with’ (Rather than the Old covenant).

    My problem with that view is that the character of God does not change. If something is not a sin in the Old Testament, why would it be a ‘sin’ in the New?

    That said, I do not have a problem with the Church of Christ not using instruments. I happen to love the sound of acapella worship. I just found it rather surprising that my grandfather would make the claim that its a ‘sin’ to use instruments along with singing.

    I visisted his church a few times, and the pastor there went so far as to say that another reason they did not allow instruments was because they would lead to liberality in worship, which might lead to them letting a woman be on the worship team which was another grevious sin. (I wisely chose not to tell anyone there that I played flute on the worship team at my own church) I have no idea if that is a standard view of the denomination or not, but Miriam led a beautiful song with a tamborine in the old testament! (Although to be fair, I think she was leading the women only in song – I need to double check the passage)

    Still though, blanket claims and telling other churches they are sinning because they do not do what one church believes – that can get very frustrating and damage a churche’s testimony. On the other hand, I actually like it when a church has something they passionately feel convicted about, and stick too themselves, because if you see peopel practicing what they are preaching, that is the best testimony ever – and there is a lot to say for examining the word and feeling convicted over topics.

    There is no reason one cannot worship God *without* an instrument, after all.

  12. I’ve often heard it stated, “We must have authorization for all things relating to the work and worship of the church.” Where does this dividing between worship and secular life come from, Biblically? When I look at passage after passage, I see no line between the sacred and the secular. I see no line between worship, the church, and everyday life.

    I’m befuddled at how some can read the New Testament, which over and over (many dozens of times) says things like “do everything for the glory of God” and “give praise in all things” and not think that true worship is something that God wants to saturate our entire lives.

    Any insights from anyone? Any first hand experiences with dialogue with other Christians about this?


    1. Amen! I have thought the same thing…where does the term ‘worship service’ come from? Did they have such a thing in the NT church? We don’t hear of that terminology that i remember. I agree, whatever goes inside of worship service should be lived outside. It is the “living in the light” way of living. Consistent, everyday. Not just on Sunday. (By the way most likely they worshiped on our Saturday night….the Jews day started at our 6:00 pm.) If we are getting technical.

  13. There was no dividing line between the secular/common and the spiritual/holy life in scripture or in the thought of the Jews or early church/Christians. True worship is not about hitting the right notes – it is a response to the gracious acts of God that comes from a heart that is seeking to please him. God wants our hearts. Our worship is just a reflection of what God already has.

  14. “Where the scriptures speak…and where man hears the Church comes into existence and exists.” “The Scriptures govern the Church and not the Church the Scriptures.” “The Church possesses no independant knowledge. It lives from what it has been told… The Church has…no plans and programs of its own. It is ever alert to hear commands. The Church does not have above it a theme but a Lord, and messengers who inform it of His will.” Karl Barth

  15. Michael,

    I assume you are saying that we should not just do whatever we want because apart from the scriptures we are nothing? Am I reading into your quote from Barth correctly?

  16. No. I am not saying apart from the text we are nothing. I am saying that all (scholars, theologians, ministers, etc., are dependant on the Bible. They stand under the word. As Judaism is a religion of “The Book’; as Islam is a religion of “The Book”, Christianity is a religion of “The Book”. What text is normative to Christianity? Another text makes another faith. If the Bible is the “basis” for Christianity, then something else makes someone else. To paraphrase Barth: We stand under the revealed knowledge of our God.

  17. We are certainly dependent on the Bible to reveal to us who God is. The Bible is there to lead us to Him and to help build our faith as we read about God who has revealed himself throughout history. I hold the Bible in high regard and understand what you are saying. I appreciate the perspective.

    Some groups have basically worshiped scripture rather than the God it points to. That is where I have a problem with how some people handle God’s word in a way that was not intended.

  18. thanks for the reply, and I certainly agree with your last two sentences. But you may be talking about two different things. The text and the belief about the text. The text is just what it is. The Greek scholar deals with the text and supporting manuscripts without adding another work of greek. The historian likewise deals with the historical evidence. As a Christian what do we know of the Christian God aside from the text? The Bible is simply “revelation” (not yet leading or producing Faith).This is not Bibliolatry but rather an appreciation of the ‘door of knowing’ as per David in Psalm 119. While the Bible is not God, we cannot know (that is have knowledge) of Jesus as Lord without it.

  19. My family has just completed a search for a new church, and ended up at a non-instrumental Church of Christ. I will cheerfully admit that some of the reasoning for non-instrumental music are presented in a ham-fisted way, but the downside of contemporary instrumental music is never taken seriously.

    And that is this – as popular music becomes the norm in churches, it erodes the spiritual environment, because you are in essence taking the secular world into the church.

    We went to an even dozen churches of various denominations, with no preconditions other than looking for a stable group of commited Christians. My wife was raised with instrumental music, and it wasn’t an issue.

    It was axiomatic – the longer a church had been using praise-band contemporary music, the less rigorous the theology. One of the largest mega-churches we attended had slicker, high-energy production values than a Hannah Montana concert. There were about 2000 worshipers, and it was the most passive service I’ve ever seen, and they were already hedging their bets on theology, edging closer to social activism, and away from Christianity.

    We rightly castigate the Boomer social experimenters of the 60’s and 70’s, for charging ahead with changes in our culture that we can’t even begin to see the consequences of. But somehow we manage to laud the Boomer music directors, who insist on mixing sacred and profane music, all because they want to have an audience for their Christian garage band.

    The reality is that radical changes in musical worship style (both instrumental, and non-instrumental) are pushed by a small minority of people, who use the argument that this will increase attendence. And this minority is NEVER held to account when these changes result in squishy theology, and passive congregants.

    The bill for the wholesale conversion of American Christianity into a U2 concert with Jesus graphics has not yet come due. When it does, will the garage-band Christians own up to their part in the erosion of the Church?

  20. First of all, Instrumental music is not a N.T. subject! Singing is a N.T. subjcet. It is not on us to prove it is wrong, but it is on those who practice instrumental music to prove it is right to do so. Instrumental and non-instrumental is a subject for faith to answer. If it is not from faith, it is sin! (Romans 14:23) And faith come by hearing and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17) Does it matter if we are in it to please God, or man? I believe it does! Why can’t we be like Paul in his conclusion of a matter. (1 Cor 8:12-13) Come on, let us get searous about going to heaven. Willie Tolison

    1. Hi Willie, this is Manlio Zaffiri from Chile. I would like to get in touch with you again. Please, may you let me know your email address. Thanks. Manlio.

  21. In response to Timothy…

    Is it possible to have worship that is of a contemporary nature and still have solid scriptural teaching? Does one automatically exclude the other?

    While you provide personal experience of where that might be the case, I can certainly point you to churches that have contemporary music and solid Biblical teaching. They are not mutually exclusive.

    We as the whole Church should be much more concerned about the “passive doctrine” of which Timothy speaks than about what an issue that can be argued effectively either way. We fret about guitars (pardon the pun) while souls are lost. Are we going into the all the world and sharing the gospel?

    Blessing to you, and thank you for the interesting discussion.

    Rebecca 🙂

  22. As someone who comes from outside the churches of Christ who has been persuaded that the coC have a lot of things right I’m perplexed by this intentional effort to force the churches to change what they believe, teach and practise.

    If you don’t believe instrumental music is going beyond what is written, then perhaps the person who should change is YOU. There are plenty of Christian and evangelical churches that will accomodate you. The key words, I believe, are THEY, I, and YOU. The younger kids say THEY don’t like Accapella. THEY want more contemporary worship music. I prefer the acappella singing because it involves more people in worship than performance types of music do.

    I enjoy listening to instrumental Christian music in my car or on my iPod, but I do not believe it is appropriate in congregational worship. Now that may be my personal opinion, but I believe it is closer to the heart of God to try and worship in a way that please Him rather than what pleases us. In the OT God commanded instruments to be used in temple ceremonies, dedications and other special occassions. The key word is “commanded”. Will a person lose their soul because of instrumental music in worship? I, in my human reasoning, can’t see it being that serious, but God took it pretty seriously when people, like Uzzah, presumed to do what THEY thought was okay.

    I think the more appropriate approach is Paul’s admonition to “… stand firm, and cling to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter. (2 Thessalonians 2:15)

    1. the difference between “psalms”, “hymns”, and “spiritual songs from the interlinear bible, the KJV version of the bible, Strong’s Concordance, and Webster’s dictionary.

      Turns out psalms (Greek word “psalmos”) is defined in Strong’s (no. 5568) as being “a set piece of music, i.e. a sacred ode (accompanied with the voice, harp or other instrument; a “psalm”)”. It appears instrumental music is optional with a psalm.

      The world “hymn” as found in Eph. 5:19 is referenced by the ILB to the number 5215 in Strong’s, which reads “…humnos,…appar. from a simpler (obsol.) form of hudeo (to celebrate; prob akin to 103; comp. 5567); a “hymn” or religious ode (one of the Psalms):…”

      the word corresponding to 5567 referenced above is “psallo” – “…prob. strengthened from psao (to rub or touch the surface; comp. 5597); to twitch or twang, i.e. to play on a stringed instrument (celebrate the divine worship with music and accompanying odes): – make melody, sing (psalms).”
      the difference between “psalms”, “hymns”, and “spiritual songs from the interlinear bible, the KJV version of the bible, Strong’s Concordance, and Webster’s dictionary.

      Turns out psalms (Greek word “psalmos”) is defined in Strong’s (no. 5568) as being “a set piece of music, i.e. a sacred ode (accompanied with the voice, harp or other instrument; a “psalm”)”. It appears instrumental music is optional with a psalm.

      The world “hymn” as found in Eph. 5:19 is referenced by the ILB to the number 5215 in Strong’s, which reads “…humnos,…appar. from a simpler (obsol.) form of hudeo (to celebrate; prob akin to 103; comp. 5567); a “hymn” or religious ode (one of the Psalms):…”

      the word corresponding to 5567 referenced above is “psallo” – “…prob. strengthened from psao (to rub or touch the surface; comp. 5597); to twitch or twang, i.e. to play on a stringed instrument (celebrate the divine worship with music and accompanying odes): – make melody, sing (psalms).”

      So, according to these sources, hymns also can have instrumental accompaniment. I’ve heard people try to say the twitch or twang is in reference to “the heartstrings”. I’d like to know where they got THAT information from. The info above refers to musical instruments.

      The word “song” as found in Eph. 5:19 is referenced to Strong’s no. 5603, which reads: “…ode…from 103; a chant or “ode” (the gen. term for any words sung; while 5215 denotes espec. a religious metrical composition, and 5568 still more spec. a Heb. cantillation): – song.”

      So, according to these sources, hymns also can have instrumental accompaniment. I’ve heard people try to say the twitch or twang is in reference to “the heartstrings”. I’d like to know where they got THAT information from. The info above refers to musical instruments.

      The word “song” as found in Eph. 5:19 is referenced to Strong’s no. 5603, which reads: “…ode…from 103; a chant or “ode” (the gen. term for any words sung; while 5215 denotes espec. a religious metrical composition, and 5568 still more spec. a Heb. cantillation): – song.”

  23. Prodigal Knot,

    I don’t think anyone here is trying to force anything on anyone. If you read this blog at all you will know that I am a firm believer in autonomous elderships. That is an important part of this discussion. Thank you for stopping by. I think you are preaching to the choir! 🙂

  24. Interesting that a capella means “From the chapel/choir.” If you look at history, instruments in worship were viewed as pagan worship.

    The following chart can help the
    Bible student to see the way in which the Scriptural purposes
    of music in worship are best fulfilled:

    The Bible Says to:The Voice:The Instrument:
    Speak in song (Eph 5:19)CanCannot

    Teach (Col 3:16)CanCannot
    Admonish (Col 3:16)CanCannot
    Sing with Spirit (1Cor 14:15)CanCannot
    Sing with understanding (1Cor 14:15)CanCannot
    Make melody in heart (Eph 5:19)CanCannot

  25. I guess I should follow that by saying I came from an instrumental background, but after searching for a place to worship, was disappointed in the lack of biblically based lessons coming from the instrumental CoC. We started attending the non-instrumental church and found the biblical teaching much stronger. I didn’t care one way or the other about instruments, but after deep study and research, I am convinced that God does not approve of instruments.

    1. We attend an instrumental Church of Christ and came from non instrumental. After searching and praying for God to show us, we realize it is just not there. No command saying not to sing with instruments. Also the church we attend teaches exactly the same gospel as the bible, baptism being the obedience to becoming a Christian. If we use music and have the largest congregation for 200 miles and reach young people and baptize them and they are saved, how can music undo what Christ himself did?

  26. The problem with the new hermenetic is that some have confessed Hermes (Greek Logos) as the source. At the same time they claim that the Scriptures have been “sifted away by philosophy, evolution and the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle. 😉

    The problem also is that the new hermeneuts do not grasp the Old Testament and the fall from grace BECAUSE of musical idolatry at Mount Sinai. As a result they get their authority from the cursed monarchy, monarch, sacrificial slystem and tempe which were trappings of being turned over to worship the starry host (Acts 7) etal.

    The Spirit of Christ through the prophets called them robbers and parasites and they absolutely point to the turn from WORD to entertainment (the meaning of hypocrite) using the instrument as a mark of that abandonment OF God. This is repeated for out new style worship from old style Babylon in Revelation 17-18.

    Pity those who do not know that music is sourced from “Lucifer’ or Zoe the singing and harp-playing prostitute in the Garden of Eden. Or those who think that there are no prophecies about music and dozens of clear statements in the new testament. The problem is that the scholars define terms from other scholars and not even the Greek Geeks have read the vast information about instruments.

    I have collected most of the world’s documents on music beginning with Babylonian Tablets 3,000 years fold when Moses was born down to ALL of the church fathers and founders of denominations. You CAN have a Phd issued by another Phd without ever having read the Bible in context.

    I am doing a review of K.C.Moser who has been resurrected at ACU to be their Messiah. He, too, was a strange creature.

    Lynn Anderson and family did a job on Max’s elders who are trapped and don’t know how to get out of the “boys and wimmen ruling ove you.” As usual, they truly do lie about all of the “proof texts.” I have begun with the Psallo word which has no musical content and points to warfare and perversion as the FOUNDATION.

    If you believe that the Bible does not prove that music is the MARK then I urge you, please don’t deceive people just to be at the SUMMIT (Olympus, no doubt 😉

  27. Kenneth,

    Thanks for contributing to the discussion. Can you clear a few things up for me? I know you are a detailed person and probably have sources on what you are discussing. I am curious to find where the idolatry at Sinai was over instruments and not over idols. Can you give a little more explanation there?

    I have to disagree with you on the cursed monarchy you refer to. Like in any generation those who really sought God were not as you describe. That generation included men like David who had a covenant with God and was a man after God’s own heart. God received and accepted his worship. It would be wrong to say any and everything that came out of that system was in error and corrupt. Worshiping the starry host does not mean the temple worship itself was sinful but that like in any other generation, including our own – worship can be used and abused. God even accepted the temple and gave it his approval when it was dedicated.

    It is a mistake to think that those who want to use instruments want to be entertained. Some do and some don’t. It is also a mistake to think all who sing without instruments only want to worship God out of pure motives and don’t do so for entertainment. Both can be used and abused. Right? Acapella can also turn into something that is purely entertaining. The entertainment component is more what the worshiper does with it and has little to do with the form.

    I have never heard anyone go so far as to say that instrumental music is the mark…I presume of the beast? Can you give a little exegesis on that?

  28. Matt, I read your article with questions about MI. Some good thoughts. … Kenneth’s references seem a bit involved for me to fully digest on a light reading. Am doing some research for myself. … The prime concern I have is what is scriptural and how can we promote the unity of the Lord’s body. dh


  29. Matt,

    I didn’t mean to “preach to the choir”. My points were directed to any who read this article and still feel it is within their purview to try and force congregations to change the way they worship. If they don’t like non-instrumental music they should find a church that provides the alternative.

  30. My biggest issue with having instruments is that its becomes a concert with much glory to the band instead of God. My brother-in-law wants to attend a particular church (non CoC) because on of the popular Christian artists leads the worship there. Is he going to praise God or to praise the artist? That’s an extreme example but one made all the more possible because of instrumental performance. Is it possible that a song leader can do the same? Sure, but his voice is really just 1 among the entire congregation in congregational singing. I don’t approve of praise teams or choirs either for the same reason. When the praise becomes more about those leading it than God we’ve got a problem and Satan is winning. We must always be careful to give praise to the One worthy of it. Where we fall short too often in acappella praise is that we are just singing the words without real praise in our hearts. It is because of that sin that Satan has been able to introduce instruments as a solution for inspired praise.

  31. Hi Jeff,

    I agree with your logic of exactly why instruments are a bad idea. I think it comes down to a personal and congregational decision. I also think we need to spend more time saying why singing without instruments is what we do rather than try to point fingers at those who have decided to use instruments.

  32. Hi all,

    I was just curious as to whether or not any of you have had a chance to look over a book called “Old Light on New Worship: Musical Instruments and the Worship of God, A Theological, Historical and Psychological Study” by John Price?

    He currently serves as the Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Rochester, New York. Personally, I found the book extremely interesting primarily due to the fact that it was written by someone outside of “the brotherhood” — if you will. I have taken the liberty of linking a review of the book written by someone with whom I am not familiar (I just searched for a review of the book). At any rate, I am most interested in bringing up one specific point of the book (mentioned in the review) — namely, what Price calls “the regulative principle.” In his book, he argues that, “There is no record in Scripture of a musical instrument ever being used in public worship without an explicit divine command.” He contends that beginning in the Old Testament, we never read of a musical instrument being used in the public worship of God apart from his specific command to do so. Can that argument be disproved?

  33. Hank,

    Thanks for adding to this conversation. It may take me a few days to really have time to think over what you are saying and take a look at the link since I am out of pocket. I will do my best to get to it and if somehow it slips in all the holiday cheer, don’t hesitate to remind me!

  34. Hank,

    Ok…back to your question about the Regulative Principle. Is there an example in scripture where an instrument is used where it was not specifically commanded to be used? There are a couple of places I can think of where instruments were not prescribed but were used anyway.

    Feast of Booths/Tabernacles – God told them what to do in Leviticus 23. They added a bunch of elements including a water ceremony, candelabras, and the blowing of ram’s horns. I guess one could argue that this wasn’t worship? It seems to me like it is worship. I am not sure about that but it was not prescribed to use a ram’s horn, candelabras, or the water ceremony in Leviticus or Deuteronomy.

    1 Chron 15:25-29 might work. I will have to do some work to see if worship with harps, lyres, ram’s horns, trumpets, symbols, and a choir of singers was supposed to go before the ark. I don’t think that is prescribed anywhere but this is certainly worship. They also did a sacrifice that was not at a prescribed time as far as I can tell. Why? Because they were grateful and it was from the heart.

    I will have to do some more looking on this one.

  35. It is funny, I actually found this post because my father-in-law and I were having this conversation earlier today. He, and many in the church we attends, believes that silence is the scripture means “no” and i dissagree. Are there things in the OT that are not done now, after Christ’s death and ressuraction? yes. No more sacrifices, no more priests (at least not in the NT church or CoC), no more clean/unclean food, but that was all present in the OT time because of our separation from God by sin. Sacrifices happened as a way for us to be forgiven, and now Jesus bridges that gap. Priests were the ones were our connection to God… i am not completely clear the specifics of that relationship…but now, through Christ, we each have a personal relationship with the Lord. Is there such a reason for not using istruments?

    Also, in response to some other posts, the church i attend, and have attended since i was five, is going to be changing to one a cappella service and one instrumental service. This is not something that is tearing our church apart. How elders have considered, studied, and prayed about this change for year. We mix contemporary and devotional songs with more traditional songs and hymns. We preach about giving, service, worship, communion, fellowship, and sharing the Lord with others. I have been to churches that use instruments, and for me personally, it was amazing how I began feel the joy of the Lord. I was singing to my heavenly Father without worrying out how my voice sounded or what anyone around me thought, and so was EVERYONE else! We are following the scripture that says to sing (which, historically speaking, are letters from Paul to specific churches, and while his statemnents about worhip may have been general, many times he is speaking to/about specific people and specific situations within that church. While i believe these are Holy scriptures, I think it is important to keep in mind why they were originally written. I think it is important to look at the context of ).

    I have been to plenty of a capella services where it sounded like only half of the people there were singing. Is not having instruments, but also not singing following scripture? At my in-law’s church, the preacher’s sermon barely makes sense (sometimes it doesn’t at all), scripture is, at times, used inappropriately, and my husband tells me that many of the Bible class teachers just read the scripture but wheather or not they undertand what they are teaching remains to be seen. I almost feel like many of the things they do/dont do in my father-in-law’s church are done/not done simply because they want to make sure they don’t go to Hell. I will not begin to assume i know how the Lord recieves their worship. I am sure many people do in with genuine love and worship in their heart, but still, that is not the church that i want to be a part of.

    The only argument that made me think twice about wheather IM was right or wrong was Hank’s comment about how IM was not in public worship unless God specifically comanded it. Still, I believe that a capella and instrumental worship are pleasing to God, just as I believe that God listens to my prayers whether i am kneeling with my hands together and my head down, holding hands with my family and friends around the dinner table, or talking to Him in bed before i go to sleep. — Does the Bible mention anything about holding hands when praying or praying in your bed? : ) —

  36. Dear brethren, “Born again” in 1990, I went about warning friends that IM was sin, based on “silence” of NT scripture on it. Since I stumbled on a dictionary that showed that a “Psalm” primarily referred to accompanied music, I could no longer convince myself that IM is a sin. Arguments saying that the only authorized “instrument”, in Eph. 5:19, is the “heart” are not helping me yet. Phil 3:15-16 is my achor on these matters. On its basis I tolerate sisters who don’t cover their heads when praying (they see it as a culture-specific issue rather than a generic command). We can’t agree on everything, at the same point in time, yet we must strive for the unity of the Body of Christ. Peace be with the brethren as we study things with love for one another!

  37. Matt, thanks for the post. Well said, very well said.

    May I comment on Hank’s question, regarding if instrumental music was ever used in scripture without a specific command? I think the answer to Hank’s question comes on 3 levels.

    First, as you pointed out, there are examples. I’d like to take your reference to I Chron 15 one step further. The parallel passage (2 Sam 6:16-23) finds Michal condemning David for this praise. His rebuke is chilling. It is worth noting that he did not include a chapter and verse in his own defense. Sometimes I wonder … had we been there, where would that have left us? (Other OT examples include Exodus 15:20-21 and Psalm 57:5-7.)

    On another level, I note that the question focuses on “public worship,” with a silent, implied contrast to “private worship.” We must be curious about this distinction we have drawn, by which we condone singing Christmas songs with the radio, clapping and dancing in VBS, and participating in others’ weddings and funerals. Do NT texts on daily living (Eph. 5 and Col. 3) guide only our “corporate worship”?

    On a third level, the question subtly implies that there is no NT scripture approving of accompaniment in praise. We have conceded arguments about “public worship” and “New Testament silence on instruments,” etc., for a long time. It is past time to take another look.

    This topic IS important because we have made it important. It appears that it can only take a step back if we graciously and respectfully answer our old arguments, freeing us to lay them aside with a clear conscience. No one but us will take the time to do that.

    You may edit out this shameless plug, but I recently published a book with this aim, titled “Missing More than Music: When Disputable Matters Eclipse Worship and Unity.”

  38. Hi Matt,
    great article.

    It pains me to see churches divide just so they can satisfy their hermeneutic. They worship God with their lips but their hearts are far from him.

    Living a life on sin makes people fall from grace, instruments do not. Yet many churches and preachers put more emphasis on worshiping God with their VOICES rather than their HEARTS. And that is a grave failure.

  39. The thing is,

    If the New Testament doesn’t mention it . . .

    and if the church didn’t do it for hundreds of years . . .

    Why do we feel like we must do it?

    Maybe those folks who went before us knew something we didn’t?

    1. it say in ephisians 5:19 to sing and make music in our hearts. that means you couldnt sing out loud either.

  40. Danny,
    I don’t feel like I “must do it.” I am not saying others should feel like the have to do it. Those who do, I hope they do so to glorify God and do so in Spirit and in truth. Maybe they knew something and maybe they didn’t. Hard to say either way. I totally understand the being careful approach and I think it is the best way to be sure what we are doing is pleasing God. But if someone else interprets those passages otherwise, I am not going to stand in judgment on them. I am with Paul in Romans who didn’t want to be guilty of judging someone else’s servant.

    1. I would rather glorify God with musical worship unquestionably authorized, than engage in a form of worship not practiced until the twelfth century and introduced for the first time by the Roman Catholic church. Brushing aside centuries of history, including the practices of the early church at its inception, you glibly state “Maybe they knew something and maybe they didn’t,” as if the apostles, elders, and other members of the early church were ignorant of proper worship practices. Clearly the Holy Spirit was present on the day of Pentecost, when it prompted Peter to deliver the sermon in the second chapter of Acts. Clearly the Holy Spirit was present with Paul on the road to Damascus. It is also true that Peter, Paul, and the other early church leaders did not use musical instruments to glorify the Lord. Did the Holy Spirit present at Pentecost vanish when it came time for the apostles to organize churches and musical worship styles within those churches? I think not. These apostles instituted a cappella singing in the Lord’s church, and this despite the fact that musical instruments were in existence and had been since the time of Moses. Where did Peter, Paul, and the other apostles receive their guidance as to the organization and worship practices within the first congregations? I believe that came from the Holy Spirit, from the selection of elders to govern the church to the form of music made to glorify the Lord. If you were given a choice to follow a musical style instituted by Peter and Paul, stalwarts apostles led by the Spirit, versus a musical tradition started by a Pope whose spiritual underpinnings are less certain, why are you so quick to champion the latter and reject the former? Why not embrace the only form of musical worship unquestionably authorized by scripture, and be bold enough to stand up for the truth. We worship both in Spirit and in truth, and in both cases we are led to a cappella singing, from the worshp practices of the first congregations instituted by the first apostles to the actual scripture that was consistent with the worship practices that were ongoing at the time. So why would you advocate a worship style not sanctioned by the Spirit or by scripture?

      And why would you look to the Old Testament for your theology. We are members of a new covenant with new worship styles. There is no longer a need for sacrifice, as Jesus’ blood covers all. We don’t need the instruments for feasts and ceremonies anymore, as our communion with the Lord on the first day of the week replaces former holidays.

      Fortunately, I am not the one who will determine whether baptized believers jeopardize their salvation through instrumental worship. I personally would not view it as a matter of salvation, as I enjoy playing the guitar and piano and enjoy hearing various instruments. Matters of salvation are for God to decide. But why would you ever deliberately disobey scripture, especially when by doing so you would be doing things the first churches–under the guidance of the Spirit-led apostles–refrained from doing? I don’t believe we can eschew historical practices to the side, just because of personal preference, or for the sake of a hermeneutical model twisted to conform to contemporary desires that differ from the standards established by church founders influenced by the Holy Spirit. Question: if the Holy Spirit influenced the early apostles to institute a cappella singing in the Lord’s Church, whose spirit is now discouraging a cappella singing? In your reply I would like you to answer this question, and clearly address the worship practices of the earliest churches established by Peter, Paul, and the other apostles.

    2. Ron,

      Thanks for your very well thought out and very well written comment. Let me reply if I may:

      1 – First, I hesitate to write this because it is hard to convey tone in hypertext but it is on my heart. And that is that I really don’t appreciate the use of the word “glibly” when you have no idea how much thought and prayer I have put into my position on this. I say that with much love and respect because I can tell you have thought about this issue a great many hours and are trying your very best to do what is right and pleasing to God. Praise God for that. I want you to know on the front end that it is hardly with a glib attitude that I am approaching this issue. Maybe instead of using words like that it would be better to ask questions to clarify my position. That aside, when I said maybe they knew something and maybe I didn’t it was in regards to whether or not God had clearly ordained acappella worship and that alone. Because if it was clearly handed to them by the Holy Spirit they didn’t communicate that very well to the rest of us. I don’t say that to sound crass. I have studied it and studied it and that is what I have found.

      If you do think it is so clear and plain that is the only worship God is pleased by then please show me in scripture where that is clearly stated. I want a verse that the intent of the author and scripture is for us to read it and conclude that worship without instruments is the only pleasing way to worship God. Please provide.

      2 – Can you show me where I have denied that the apostles were devoid of the Holy Spirit. If that came across in any way, shape or form, it was not intended. I have not disagreed on this blog with any of your examples from Acts.

      3 – You wrote – “Where did Peter, Paul, and the other apostles receive their guidance as to the organization and worship practices within the first congregations? I believe that came from the Holy Spirit,”

      I totally agree with that statement. That being said, which matters did the Holy Spirit give guidance on and which did it not? For instance, did the Holy Spirit tell the women to remain seated in homes for serving the Supper? We don’t know. That’s how we practice it but we just don’t know. So what do you do with that? You have to make assumptions. When it comes to instruments…how do we know whether the Spirit gave them direct guidance on what to do? Where is the proof that the Spirit did that? If the Spirit did, wouldn’t it make sense that they would have given us clearer guidance on the issue? If they did give clearer guidance and I am missing it, please point it out to me. I need something better than Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. Those are really poor prooftexts. We can talk more about that if you like.

      4 – You wrote, “why are you so quick to champion the latter and reject the former? Why not embrace the only form of musical worship unquestionably authorized by scripture, and be bold enough to stand up for the truth.”

      I do embrace acappella worship. I guess you don’t know that because you don’t know me. That is the way I worship every single Sunday. It is my heritage and tradition and I love it! I love the connection it has with apostolic worship. I love everything about it. I am hardly a champion of instrumental worship! I am just not afraid to ask serious questions. The whole point here is that I have difficulty telling others they are going to hell if they do embrace instruments. So please spend some time to get to know me and see that I am not afraid to stand up for the truth. I just like the truth to be clearly backed up by scripture and on this issue I cannot with 100% certainty say that God condemns instruments because he has clearly stated that in scripture. Sorry if that isn’t bold enough for you.

      5 – The OT – it was not nailed to the cross. In fact, Paul and Peter took the OT very seriously in their life and ministry. Have a read of Acts and you will see this come through, particularly when Paul went to Jerusalem. There were parts of the law Paul still followed even after he became a Christian. No need for feasts and ceremonies? I agree with you but Paul still believed it was entirely appropriate for Jewish Christians to celebrate the feasts (Romans 14:5). So those weren’t needed but they were still practiced. Even Paul still practiced a purification rite after he became a Christian to show he still respected the Law of Moses and was not an apostate Jew (Acts 21:24ff).

      6 – Do you believe it is not a matter of salvation on the basis that you enjoy playing instruments? I just want to clarify that statement because on the surface it appears to contradict much of what you wrote and I don’t want to misunderstand what you are saying there. The whole point is we don’t do things just because they are what we enjoy…we do things because it pleases God. Then it seems like you say it couldn’t be a salvation issue because you enjoy it. Just help me get what you are saying there.

      7 – Why would I deliberately disobey scripture? First of all, let me say it again…I worship without instruments! Second of all, it is not deliberate disobedience if the scriptures are fuzzy on this issue. If you think scriptures are crystal clear on it then please help me see it. Give me a command of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or an apostle regarding use of instruments in worship.

      8 – I think my hermeneutical model is quite well informed. I am still waiting to hear from you on yours to back up some things in the above points. Then we can talk further about that in brotherly love.

      9 – In response to your final question. The key word in it is “If.” It is not clear to me that the Holy Spirit mandated acappella worship for all time to the first century church. If that was crystal clear in scripture I would not have any disagreement with a single word in your above post. If you can make that clear here without using proof texts then feel free. In other words, if you want to use Eph 5:19 and Col 3:16 then please deal with them in context, trying to discern the intention of Paul rather than read into it our tradition and see what comes from it. Isn’t that what we are after here? Aren’t we all trying to figure out what scripture says, what it means, and how we live that out to the best of our abilities.

      I am not trying to convince you IM is right. I am trying to help you see it is not as cut and dry as you make it out to be. Therefore, I can understand where well meaning Christians come to a different conclusion on this than we have.



  41. Of course I’m not judging anyone who uses instrumental music in worship. I simply don’t agree that it is the best course of action for the reasons I gave above.

    Don’t get me wrong – there is much of what you wrote that is commendable and I believe you have outlined at least a part of the problem well. However, I do believe there is still a place for a more conservative viewpoint on this subject. Our little church is experiencing good growth among the younger set and we have done this without changing our “worship style”. We love ’em; we teach ’em; we listen to ’em; and where they think we’re a little “primitive”, we explain ourselves and because they know we love them, they love us back and stick around.

    I do worry that we’re getting ready and are already in another round of what we go through from time to time; folks get dissatisfied with our “backward” ways and instead of searching out for a fellowship more to their new way of seeing things, they try to change what doesn’t need to change. This breaks my heart and mitigates against the unity for which Christ prayed. It is also selfish.

    Makes me sad because I do not believe our current problems stem from “worship style” issues at all, but from selfishness that shows up both in the “liberal” and the “conservative”.

  42. I understand the “safe approach”. My father lived by it. He never believed IM was wrong but felt it better to be safe than sorry, so he never attended any IM congregation. I understand where he was coming from but the more I learn of God, he abundant grace and my abundant weakness (flesh) the more I realize how much the “safe approach” lacks in an understanding of biblical grace. The safe approach rest on the assumption that salvation is dependent in part on our being right. I am all for doing right but at the end of the day, no matter how right I might be I will still be weak (flesh) and fail. That is to say that no matter how safe I play it, at the end of the day my safety is still woefully inadequate…but thanks to God for his mercy and grace.

    Grace and peace,


  43. What we end up with is IM being a matter of conscience rather than a matter of scripture. I think you are right on track with what you said about grace. But, because it is a matter of conscience for some people (who are convinced it is wrong) then those people should avoid it altogether. I think that group is going to be getting smaller and smaller as people are realizing we have missed the point of not preaching the real Gospel (the abundant grace of God) and instead of preached a “Gospel” of issues that have divided Christianity. In the process we missed the whole point.

    1. I certainly agree. If, in your conscience, you are convinced that IM is wrong then by all means you should not only worship with out IM but also would be wrong to worship with IM since violation of conscience is wrong.

      Grace and peace,


  44. It’s more than a matter of conscience. If I understand the story correctly, Eric Lidell refused to “break the Sabbath” by running on Sunday in the Olympics (see the movie “Chariots of Fire”) and he was blessed for not violating his conscience. But he was, of course,wrong in his understanding the Sabbath thing on a couple of levels.

    We benighted souls who cling to a tradition that harkens back all the way to the earliest days of Christianity and is consistent with the New Testament are not wrong to cling to it. Our interpretation is at least arguably correct if not in fact correct. And we are not wrong to argue that those who want to impose change in this area should take their impositions somewhere else.

    Please note that I am not speculating on anyone’s salvation here. I am arguing that when there are thousands of places one can go on any given Sunday and sing praises to God with instruments, those who wish to do so should pick one of ’em out and go there.

    Were I to come to a different conclusion on instrumental music, this is what I would do rather than dividing a congregation by forcing change on them. Again – we’ve been down this path before.

    Could this lead to a mass-exodus of our younger folks? That’s already happening all over Christendom in the U.S. – and not because of worship style but because of the popular culture that we all are immersed in and in which most of our children are educated.

  45. Danny,

    Great thoughts. I think the division of the church is far worse than the actual act of someone playing an instruments trying with all their heart to bring God glory. You make a really great point there and I totally agree that it is best to go our own way on some matters rather than causing a stink or dividing the church.

    I do still believe this is a matter of conscience. The reason I believe that is because scripture is not clear cut that acappella worship is the only worship pleasing to God. Yet, some have grown up being taught that their whole lives and who will always believe that. So even if it was okay in the eyes of God for someone to do so, believing it to be wrong, would be sinning (1 Cor 8:7ff).

    As far as a mass-exodus of our young folks…I have written here before that regardless of the worship, young people would stick around if they felt they were a part of God’s mission. If we would engage our youth and young adults in God’s mission by impacting our community, changing lives, reaching addicts, or whatever else we view to be making a lasting difference in the name of Jesus, I think they would tolerate worship they might not think was the “most hip” and not feel the need to run across town to another church.

    If you can convince me that God intended clearly in the NT for acappella worship to be the only pleasing form of worship then I will change my mind on it being a matter of conscience. So far I am not convinced. Yet, I continue to worship in an acappella congregation and love it and appreciate our tradition.

  46. Asking those who disagree with me on a disputable matter to just go somewhere else IS splitting the church. It is their famly, too. We cause great pain to those we “cast out of the synagogue” (John 9:22, 35) over conclusions that are not clearly stated in scripture. Maybe there are other solutions.

  47. This is such a tough issue. If someone demands instruments in a non-instrumental church then who is the divisive one? So what do you do? I think you have to deal with them in love and with respect and let them know what the elders have decided to do and that we hope they would stay and worship in the church acappella because we don’t want to throw 500 other people under the bus for the sake of one person. If that person decided to go somewhere else where the worship was more too their liking who could blame them? I just hope they wouldn’t raise a big stink over it. I think the main thing here is that we deal with people with love and respect and with an understanding that in some issues we aren’t all going to agree but that a direction has to be taken and that people will have to live with it or move on without being divisive.

    1. If both sides insist on all or nothing and it’s 500 to 1, then you are no doubt correct. I still believe we can find other ways. I agree it is not easy.

  48. We need to find out how this non-use of musical instrument came about. In my opinion, Christians were led by a slogan, not scripture, first stated by Thomas Campbell which states that “speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent”. Because the Bible is silent about musical instruments in worship, the followers of Campbell were forced to claim that the use of instrumental music is sinful. The problem is, those who stick to this principle are following Campbell, not Jesus Christ. This came about because they put their trust in Thomas Campbell’s slogan as a part of the scripture, instead of using the scriptures in the Bible.

    Most of the songs that we sing today were composed using musical instruments. It it is really sinful to use musical instruments, then it should follow that the songs composed using musical instruments are also sinful when sung.

    Can we use musical instrument other than using this in worship? Many leaders say yes! But then, the Bible also tells us that we must glorify God in everything that we do. If we can glorify God by using musical instruments other than worship, why can’t we glorify Him by using these same instruments in worship?

    Terry D


    1. I agree. We take passages about our daily lives (Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3) and lift one verse each (about singing) out of that context and make them apply only to assemblies.

      Is the Bible really silent on instruments? The word for “sing” in Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16 is found 3 times in John’s Revelation in the context of singing with accompaniment. The word for “make music” (in Eph 5:19) was always used in the instrumental sense by Greek-speaking Jews (like Josephus) writing to Greeks in the 1st century, according to Ferguson. “Sing and make music” means instruments everywhere else in the Bible.

  49. The word “sing” in any kind of rhythmic sense is listed as one of the enchantment words. Sing or ODE is also defined by psalmos which means “as in Hebrew cantillation.” Because none of the Bible is metrical, it would not be possible to sing as in “make music.” Scholarship notes that “melody as tunefulness belongs to the 19th sense.”

    The simple lexicons do not define words but show the context in which they are used: if one wanted to speak of “singing with accompaniment” one word is PsalmOdia. In the same way, Psallo is never in the Greek literature defined with a musical meaning: the word just means to “pluck” something that makes a noise or “abrades” and SOP has the same root.

    If you want to say sing and make melody with an instrument there is no single word as there is not in English. For instance,

    Is. 23:16 Take an harp, go about the city, thou harlot that hast been forgotten; make sweet melody,
    sing many songs, that thou mayest be remembered.

    Or in the other example:

    Amos 5:23 Take thou away from me the
    noise of thy songs;
    for I will not hear the melody
    of thy viols.

    History records the first EXTERNAL singing in the year 373. Even then, singing beyond the “converstational level” defined for the ekklesia would be loud screeching, screaming or yelling.

    Only after the Reformation was congregational singing as a ACT added after the great Cathedrals became the property of the Civil government. This led to radical rewriting of the Psalms set to a simple square meter.

    1. Ken, you wrote,

      “Psallo is never in the Greek literature defined with a musical meaning: the word just means to “pluck” something that makes a noise or “abrades” and SOP has the same root.”

      How much looking have you done to make such a statement? You don’t have to look very far to start finding all sorts of examples in the ancient world in both classical and Koine Greek where psallo is in context of using instruments.

      Extrabiblical evidence:
      That just can’t be backed up. For instance the example from Plutarch’s Pericles written in 75 AD (within the same generation as many in the New Testament) –

      “And King Philip, to the same purpose, told his son Alexander, who once at a merry-meeting played [psallo] a piece of music charmingly and skilfully, “Are you not ashamed, son, to play [psallo] so well?” For it is enough for a king or prince to find leisure sometimes to hear others sing, and he does the muses quite honour enough when he pleases to be but present, while others engage in such exercises and trials of skill.”
      – Link –

      There are many other examples I can site if you want them but just that one alone is sufficient to say that your statement about the meaning of psallo even contemporary with several writers of the NT is insufficient.

      Then you have evidence from the Septuagint (LXX) like Psalm 32:2 and 97:5 where psallo is used in connection with instruments. However, the majority of cases of psallo in the LXX are not used in conjunction with instruments and it is assumed just mean acappella singing. So that is a plus for acappella worship as is the consistency with synagogue worship and as you pointed out the tendency to stay away from things that appeared pagan.
      Psalm 32:2 and 97:5 (98:5) (you have to do a search for it here) –
      You won’t see “sing” in modern English translations but psallo is there in both those texts in the LXX and is assumed by context that instruments are being used.
      1 Sam 16:16 is another example where psallo is used in the LXX for playing an instrument. Again, remember this was the Bible of Paul and others. They knew this. So to ignore this and say the silence of the OT and contemporary Greek lit and even classical Greek lit proves acappella worship just doesn’t hold water.

      I am not saying this makes I.M. okay because we have biblical (remember, LXX was the Bible Paul and others would have known well and would have certainly read psallo in those two texts) and extrabiblical evidence linking psallo with instruments. I am just trying to be fair to history and the texts and the statement you made was far too sweeping.

    2. I will look at these one at a time and post the Greek when I can get online.

      It should come as no surprise that people with an agenda take snippest out of history. Tom Burgess advances this argument but he missed the point that all of the harp plucker proof texts are of older males trying to seduce a younger male. This was the case of Alexander and others. I have posted some notes by Tom Burgess who is the source of all false teaching.

      Plutarch, Lives [4] Such objects are to be found in virtuous deeds; these implant in those who search them out a great and zealous eagerness which leads to imitation. In other cases, admiration of the deed is not immediately accompanied by an impulse to do it. Nay, many times, on the contrary, while we delight in the work, we despise the workman.

      as, for instance, in the case of perfumes and dyes; we take a delight in them but dyers and perfumers we regard as illiberal and vulgar folk.

      [5] Therefore it was a fine saying of Antisthenes, when he heard that Ismenias was an excellent piper:
      But he’s a worthless man,” said he, “otherwise he wouldn’t be so good a piper

      And so Philip [Philip of Macedon, to Alexander.] once said to his son, who, as the wine went round,
      [1] plucked
      the [2] strings
      charmingly and skilfully,

      “Art not ashamed to pluck the strings so well?” It is enough, surely,
      if a king have leisure to hear others
      the strings
      and he pays great deference to the Muses if he be but a spectator of such contests.

      The Muses coded as LOCUSTS in Revelation were known as dirty prostitutes. Some of them were the “musical worship team” of Apollo (Abaddon or Apollyon) and in Revelation 18 John calls them sorcerers who HAD deceived the whole world. They were agents of the Babylon mother of harlots in Revelation 17.

      Notice that you need the word for PLUCK and the word STRINGS: otherwise you might be PLUCKING the hairs of an emasculated priest of Cybele who did double duty: Paul points to them using the word wrath or ORGY and hoping their knife slipped.

      I will post the Greek to show that the word PSALLO is not used but different. Pselanta means “pluck the strings” but Paul did not use this word. Paul had many Greek words DEMANDED if you were going to allow “plucking the harp.” PsalmOdia means “singing TO the harp.” That always meant to pluck the harp and then match your voice to the string for the mystical effect. The Greek word for musical melody is MELOS and never Psallo where there are many references to “making the heart strings sing” IN the heart not UPON the harp,.

      I have enterlaced Tom’s proof texts with the WHOLE text.

    3. Ken,

      You just said there were no Greek texts with Psallo used in reference to instruments and now you say that there are some but they are prooftexted? The whole point here is the meaning of the word as used by people in ancient Greek culture. The two most important places we can find it that would shed light on the New Testament would be from the LXX (which I have shown and give the Greek of below to save you time) and contemporary Greek literature (which I have given through the Plutarch quote). The context is quite clear in all of these instances that the word Psallo was used in reference to “playing” an instrument and not just “singing.”

      Again, though…the predominance of the instances of Psallo in the LXX are in reference to singing with the voice alone. Why not just stick with that fact?

      Here is 1 Sam 16:16 from the LXX – ” εἰπάτωσαν δὴ οἱ δοῦλοί σου ἐνώπιόν σου καὶ ζητησάτωσαν τῷ κυρίῳ ἡμῶν ἄνδρα εἰδότα ψάλλειν ἐν κινύρᾳ, καὶ ἔσται ἐν τῷ εἶναι πνεῦμα πονηρὸν ἐπὶ σοὶ καὶ ψαλεῖ ἐν τῇ κινύρᾳ αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἀγαϑόν σοι ἔσται, καὶ ἀναπαύσει σε.”

      Unless my Greek is just that bad it seems to me this passage contains the present active infinitive of psallo in reference to what David was doing with the harp. I am not saying that proves we should play instruments in worship. I am saying that you are misguided in that none of the literature supports this use of the verb.

  50. It is tragic that we are united by the blood of Jesus Christ and divided over the issue of using musical instruments in worship.

    I like the way James writes about sin. First, there is the temptation (James 1:14). We are tempted in the flesh. What is the temptation in using musical instruments? I like to sing with instruments not because it is very tempting! As a song leader, I prefer leading the songs with a piano because I’m sure that I sing at the right pitch and with the correct beat. I am tempted in the flesh when I use musical instruments in worship. And by the way, the songs that we sing, aren’t these composed using musical instruments?

    True, the churches of Christ have hymnbooks with shaped notes. However, as a Christian who comes from a non-instrumental church, I used to sing tenor, and I would concentrate more on singing in the right notes, than focusing my attention on the words of the song – which should be used to encourage me and everybody. Our measure of Christianity is not because we obey the words of Christ with love, but because we don’t use musical instruments in worship.

    Singing in acapella is good if there are natural base singers. I remember one church where, because they don’t have a natural base, they had to raise the pitch higher so that somebody could take the base part. The result? The tenor is so high-pitched, that singing was more of an effort than encouraging one another.

    And how would I explain “psallo” to an ordinary person with no education as you guys? Is it so important to him to know about the use of musical instruments, than to live with joy because he/she serves God in obedience to the commands of Jesus in love?

    To me, the use of musical instruments in worship is a matter of preference, but this should not divide the body of Christ. We were united by the blood of Jesus Christ, why would a matter like musical instruments divide the body?

    So, if I worship with a non-instrumental church, I would not bring my guitar with me, out of love for the body. And in like manner, if a member of a non-instrmental church worships with a church using musical instruments, he/she should make an issue about it, for the love of the body, after all the kingdom of God is not about eating or drinking or musical instruments.

    1. Let me catch up: using a word meaning to play the harp as proof text does nothing to help PSALLO which just means to “Pull with your fingers but NEVER with a plectrum.” The word PLAY can mean nothing musical unless you tell us WHAT to play. Pluck means pluck: in the majority of cases it means to PLUCK the BOW STRING. It is widely used of Apollo’s bow and lyre.

      Lucky the instrumentalists picked the ONLY HALAL (not a psalm) which does not radically associate the use of the instrument with judgment usually in warfare. David WAS a warrior king and never led the WORSHIP SERVICE. Even so, the PRAISE word meaning to make yourself disgustingly vile as a TAUNT SONG or in most paganism believing that the gods would not punish the insane. Halal or praise means MAD, disgustingly and viley mad.

      Psa. 33:1 Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright.
      Psa. 33:2 Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.
      Psa. 33:3 Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.
      Psa. 33:4 For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth.
      Psa. 33:5 He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.
      Psa. 33:6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.

      When Paul spoke of “psalms” his Jewish mind would think mizmor: there are only 50 of these in the BOOK of psalms not dedicated to some Levitical purpose. However, all of the singing and playing was in the hands of the tribe of Levi. Not to forget that Jacob warned us not “to go to the assemblys of Levi. In fact, the regular people were quarantined “outside the gates” where they attended synagogue while it was acceptable for the animal sacrificers to PROFANE the Sabbath: that word means to play the pipe, steal one’s inheritance, pollute or prostitute.

      Chalal (h2490) khaw-lal’; a prim. root [comp. 2470]; prop. to bore, i. e. (by impl.) to wound, to dissolve; fig. to profane (a person, place or thing), to break (one’s word), to begin (as if by an “opening wedge”); denom. (from 2485) to play (the flute): – begin (* men began), defile, * break, defile, * eat (as common things), * first, * gather the grape thereof, * take inheritance, pipe, player on instruments, pollute, (cast as) profane (self), prostitute, slay (slain), sorrow, stain, wound.

      David introduced singing, dancing and playing instruments into Israel which was the reserve for women and especially prostitutes. If you look carefully the NAMES of the musical guilds are Canaanite, the dress such as the ephod was the symbol of the Babylon vulva, the type of singing was FALSETTO and their performance style was “performing the role of women.” Too bad we cannot add images

      “The name of psaltery entered Christian literature in the 3rd century B.C. translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint where, in the Psalms, nebel was translated psalterion. Thus, Nebuchadnezzar’s idolatrous ensemble included the Aramic psantria. Notice, also, that the book of Psalms has also become known as the Psalter (or psalterium), from the hymns sung with this harp.

      Remember that the Levitical Warrior musicians were an old Egyptian priesthood devoted to Sabazianism or star worship: the temple had been abandoned to worship the starry says Stephen. They were under the KING and commanders of the army and not the priests and all were repudiated by Christ in the prophets.

      Why would people want to impse STAR WORSHIP?

      This is a PRAISE or HALAL suited as a boasting song used by all armies to try to drive the enemy into cowardice.

      1 Chr 25:1 David, together with the commanders of the army, set apart some of the sons of Asaph, Heman and Jeduthun for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals. Here is the list of the men who performed this service:

      Payne insists that the Hebrew of 1 Chronicles 25:1 unambiguously identifies these leaders as military commanders, an interpretation favoured by several Bible translations. (Payne, p 423-4; NASB, NIV, NKJV, NRSV, Jerusalem Bible) If military commanders had a particular interest in the appointment of musicians, it suggests a strong link between music and warfare.

      The abandonment to a military warrior was based on the musical idolatry at Mount Sinai where Apis really represented the trinity of Osiris, Isis and Horus–the usual trinity of father, mother and son.

      The word PROPHESYING including that of Miriam is defined as SOOTHSAYING. Gad was a STAR GAZER.

      Apis the golden calf or calves represented Osiris, Isis and Horus: the pagan trinity of father, mother and son. And remember that the Tribe of Levi had no inheritance in Israel.

      “Horus was the posthumous son and heir of the god Osiris, the primordial king and giver of life. He was invited by his uncle, Seth, to spend a day. Seth’s real motive was not to show him hospitality but to disqualify him from inheriting his father’s royal power. To this end, while Horus slept Seth committed an act of sodomy upon him. Since sodomy was inflicted as a punishment on a defeated enemy and was a symbol of domination, Seth could then claim that he had conquered Horus and demand the kingship in his place.”

      Halal the “praise” word is the root for LUCIFER and is quite identical to Chalal which is the “profane” word.

      Halal (h1984) haw-lal’; a prim. root; to be clear (orig. of sound, but usually of color); to shine; hence to make a show, to boast; and thus to be (clamorously) foolish; to rave; causat. to celebrate; also to stultify: – (make) boast (self), celebrate, commend, (deal, make), fool (- ish, -ly), glory, give [light], be (make, feign self) mad (against), give in marriage, [sing, be worthy of] praise, rage, renowned, shine.

      Which is the source for the concept of LUCIFER who used music even in the garden of Eden to bleed off worship due only to God who IS Spirit and not a prostitute:

      Heylel (h1966) hay-lale’; from 1984 (in the sense of brightness); the morning-star: – lucifer.

      The none tribe of Levi were quarantined to their local synagogues: a sabbath days journey was defined then as about 700 feet. The NOISE — never called music — was in fact that anyone not of Levi or not on rotating duty must be OUTSIDE THE CAMP. That is where we find Jesus doing ekklesia, synagogue or school of Christ in the words of the Campbells. If people could grasp that the worship wars would cease. Music intends to enchant or with the lambs and Jesus “make the lambs dumb before the slaughter.” Music from mystery means to “shut the mouth of the victim.”

    2. You put a lot into that response and I certainly appreciate your diligent efforts to help me understand what you are saying. If you would be patient with me is it possible to work through what you just wrote piece by piece?

      First you say that even if there are examples of psallo being used in reference to playing an instrument it doesn’t really mean anything because it is just prooftexting. Let me respond. If there are examples in Greek literature where psallo is the verb used in reference to an instrument then it is perfectly legit to to show how words were understood in their day and in context (which is what I have done). I hope we can agree on that or else the whole concept of linguistics has to be thrown out and we are left with no common ground at all. So it is significant that David psalloed for Saul in that it shows the word is used in the context of playing an instrument.

      Let’s start there. Can we agree on that?

    3. It is said that 72 Hebrew scholars translated the LXX in 72 days or such like. I am pertty sure they did not use the verb form “psallo.” The Greek is “nagan” which can include “play the harp” but the word also carries logs of baggage.

      I would not want to justify sowing of discord on the basis of the LXX. Again, no one doubts that psallo is used IN CONNECTION with plucking a harp. But it primary use is in plucking Apollo’s bow to make it twang to send forth a singing arrow into the literal heart. Apollo is also notef for using his lyre to send forth love arrows. The concept of SHOOTING FORTH A HYMN can be found (somewhere in my stuff).

      Rather than trying to date psallo I think that it is better to say that the verb form was never defined as “playing a harp” before, during or after the time of Paul.

      The musical people appeal to Lucian of Samosata but Lucian wrote in Attic Greek because his appeal was to the ruling nobility.

      You are still left with Paul defining two things:

      External: Speak to yourselves. The word speak is defined in the Lexicon as the OPPOSITE of poetry or music.

      SingING and makING are IN THE HEART as the PLACE Jesus said God would look for our worship. The practice of ‘silent singing’ is documented and I believe that it is PHILO gives the “progressives” the right to sing audibly but denies that you can worship God with external rituals.

      David, too, sang and MEDITATED on the Word of God IN HIS BED.

      Lipscomb said and I have found no contradiction to the fact that it was “in 1878 that anyone in history tried to use psallo” to impose instruments on people. So, psallo, is the last resort to justify sowing discord by begining a musical sect.

    4. Ken,

      “It is said that 72 Hebrew scholars translated the LXX in 72 days or such like. I am pertty sure they did not use the verb form “psallo.” The Greek is “nagan” which can include “play the harp” but the word also carries logs of baggage.”

      If you read the above quote from the LXX from 1 Sam 16:16 that I posted you will see that it does contain the verb Psallo. It contains no reference to Apollo’s bow. It does contain reference to playing the harp and does use the infinitive form of psallo. The infinitive is still a verb. So your statement just doesn’t hold water on that point. I do agree with your statement that we should not be sowing seeds of discord. I do think it is important to try to understand as best we can how they understood the words they used and the best way to do so is a) look how the same author/writer uses that same word in other places, b) look at how contemporary extra-biblical writers used the same words, and c) look at the Greek OT they often quoted from, the LXX.

      You just can’t make the point that psallo is not used in the LXX pertaining to instruments because it is. It is never used to make mention of plucking Apollo’s bow. You seem to be saying that is the primary way this verb is used in the ancient world. Maybe that is true in some extrabiblical sources but it is not true in the LXX.

      “Rather than trying to date psallo I think that it is better to say that the verb form was never defined as “playing a harp” before, during or after the time of Paul.” – Do you still think that is true? Thanks again for taking time to talk about this. I also want to be clear that I am not trying to sow seeds of discord and that I worship acappella. I just think we have to be fair with history and the text (which you are clearly a student of and I appreciate that).

    5. Yes, I say that psallo never means “playing on a harp.” Psallo would supply the PLUCKING with the fingers but psallo could mean plucking out hair. Another word must supply the WHAT is to be plucked..

      The instrument is ALWAYS named so we have no evidence that psallo MEANS play a harp. What the lexicons provide is not a definition but HOW the word is used. In the following passages from the Old Testament there is no aid and comfort to the discorders but truly marks them as engaging in spiritual or literal warfare. I will post a rough page with the links here perhaps after a nap.

      From Liddel and Scott which links to the actual uses but DOES NOT DEFINE I will post some of this with a link.
      Psallo: A
      First reference is Judges 5:3 LXX

      Judg. 5:1 Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying,
      Judg. 5:2 Praise ye the LORD for the avenging of Israel, when the people willingly offered themselves.
      Judg. 5:3 Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes;
      I, even I, will SING unto the LORD;
      I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel.

      Here you psallo with your MOUTH which in song or psalmost is the first instrument of choice.

      Always, what is to be plucked MUST BE named. Psallo does not mean ‘Play on a harp. Psallo means touch or pluck. Harp defines WHAT is to be plucked.

      1 Samuel 16:16
      1Sam. 16:16 Let our lord now command thy servants, which are before thee, to seek out a man,
      who is a cunning player on an harp: and it shall come to pass, when the evil spirit from God is upon thee,
      that he shall play with his hand, and thou shalt be well.

      CUNNING carries some of the meaning of enchantment: David needed Saul to go away. Remember that his job involved the worship of the starry host and he had no hesitation to make sure all of Saul’s viable DNA was slaughtered even one as a human sacrifice. This was rough politics and not a WORSHIP SERVICE. In the Greek world cunning includes:

      Kêleô, A. charm, bewitch, beguile, esp. by music epaidôn k. charm by incantation, kêleitai aoidais
      Epaeidô means to sing AND play 2. sing as an incantation, sing to one so as to charm or soothe him, use charms or incantations, by means of charms


      Pindar, Odes 4:[216] Aphrodite [ZOE] of Cyprus brought the maddening bird to men for the first time, and she taught the son of Aeson skill in prayerful incantations, so that he could rob Medea of reverence for her parents, and a longing for Greece would lash her, her mind on fire, with the whip of Persuasion. [220] And she quickly revealed the means of performing the labors set by her father; and she mixed drugs with olive oil as a remedy for hard pains, and gave it to him to anoint himself. They agreed to be united with each other in sweet wedlock

      Here, David Psalloed ON a harp. And He Psalloed WITH his hand. That is because PSALLO means
      play a stringed instrument with the fingers
      and NOT with the plectron

      Second use in the LXX Psalms 9.

      I will give thanks to Yahweh with my whole heart.
      I will tell of all your marvelous works.
      [2] I will be glad and rejoice in you.
      I will SING praise to your name, O Most High.

      Psallo:Third use etheiran pluck the hair, A.Pers.1062

      [1060] And with your fingers tear the robe which drapes you.Chorus
      Anguish, anguish!
      Pluck [psallo] out your locks, and lament our host.
      With clenched nails, with clenched nails, with loud wailing.

      esp. of the bow-string, toxôn cheri psallousi neuras twang them, E.Ba.784; kenonkroton

      Of the old wineskin worship

      [1] Bacchae: Already like fire does this insolence of the Bacchae blaze up, a great reproach for the Hellenes. [780] But we must not hesitate. Go to the Electran gates, bid all the shield-bearers and riders of swift-footed horses to assemble, as well as all who brandish the light shield and pluck bowstrings with their hands, so that we can make an assault against [785] the Bacchae. For it is indeed too much if we suffer what we are suffering at the hands of women.

      Psallo:</b[2] ekkeraos ps. belos send a shaft twanging from the bow

      [3] so miltocharês schoinospsallomenê a carpenter's red line, which is twitched and then suddenly let go, so as to leave a mark

      In fact, this identifies the PSALLO ROPE which was polluted with red paint. When it was time for the Ekklesia (church) the members loved to dally around the singers, dancers, players and prostitutes in the Agora or market place. That is where Jesus consigned the pipers, singers and dancers. When they were forced to attend the ekklesia (no music allowed) they were fined and UNABLE to participate in the discussion.

      Psallo:</b As a metaphor for men and women who were doing bad things. Of people shooting from an empty arrow (double meaning)

      The rich man and the poor man alike travel together to the boundary of death. [20] And I expect that the story of Odysseus came to exceed his experiences, through the sweet songs of Homer, [22] since there is a certain solemnity in his lies and winged artfulness, and poetic skill deceives, seducing us with stories, and the heart of the mass of men is blind. For if [25] they had been able to see the truth, then mighty Aias, in anger over the arms, would never have planted in his chest the smooth sword

      Psallo: The second major use of Psallo II: II. mostly of the strings of musical instruments,
      play a stringed instrument with the fingers
      and NOT with the plectron


      2. later, sing to a harp Psalm 7:18 The word is psallam but it is translates SING.

      [12] If a man doesn’t relent, he will sharpen his sword; He has bent and strung his bow. [13] He has also prepared for himself the instruments of death. He makes ready his flaming arrows. [14] Behold, he travails with iniquity; Yes, he has conceived mischief, And brought forth falsehood. [15] He has dug a hole, And has fallen into the pit which he made. [16] The trouble he causes shall return to his own head. His violence shall come down on the crown of his own head. [17] I will give thanks to Yahweh according to his righteousness, And will SING praise to the name of Yahweh Most High.

      And with an important semicolon

      PsalloEphesians 5:19 sing in the heart

      When you see psallo WITHOUT an instrument being named it always means SING.

      So, we are STUCK: Psallo applies only to a STRINGED instrument and it must be PLUCKED or PULLED with the finger and NOT with the PLECTRUM. Psallo OUTLAWS guitar picks, pianos, organs, flutes, trumpets, or drums.

      Psallo outlaws MOST of what is used to destroy the ACADEMY status with “machines.”

    6. We are still hung up on the word psallo: if you pluck a harp string then you may make a sound but not music. Psallo can only be defined by how it is used in the context. For the most part in the LXX it is just translates SING.

      If you want the word to mean PLAY then you have to specify WHAT is to be played. Psallo itself does not suddenly get defined by the harp.

      This needs better formatting: I have posted a quick link which you need to read before it grows and grows.

      You will notice especially that psallo can mean PLUCK but is absolutely limited to something you can pluck with the FINGERS. You cannot expand that to general instruments without ignoring that part of the definition that is absolute.

      You will notice that David psalloed the harp and for redundancey, he psallowed with his hand. So David still doesn’t get you a guitar pick nor concurrent singing.

      Way down the list it can mean to sing AND play something. Again you will notice that David did not sing and play at the same time. The literature takes note of people who sing AND play at the same time and it isn’t pretty.

      Where psallo is defined as to sing and play an instrument only the word SING appeares in the translation.

      We are still lost in the wilderness in almost all church of Christ preaching and scholarship. Because of musical idolatry at Mount Sinai the THREADS SPLIT. The tribe of Levi warned against by father Jacob took care of the military and the “worship of the starry host.” Amos is a good explanation.

      The SPIRITUAL THREAD was quarantined to the Qahal, synagogue or church in the wilderness. It was inclusivie of Rest, reading and rehearsing the Word of God carried in the minds of all elders of small groups.

      It was EXCLUSIVE of “vocal or instrumental rejoicing.” That is a command AGAINST musical rejoicing or musical or elevated rhetoric. John Calvin agrees.

      The synagogue never changed from the wilderness up to the time of Jesus other than more organized. It still had no “praise service” and synagogue was still defined as in the wilderness:

      Acts 15:21 For Moses
      of old time hath
      in every city them
      that preach him,
      read in the synagogues every sabbath day.

  51. “If you pluck a harp string then you may make a sound but not music.”

    That is a very strange statement. I doubt many people who play the harp or any other instrument do so to solely make “sound” but not “music.” The intention of plucking the string of an instrument is and always has been to make music.

    “Psallo can only be defined by how it is used in the context.” – Exactly right and that is why, when you add up the evidence for verses like Eph 5:19 it is highly probably that Paul wasn’t at all advocating the use of musical instruments but specific what was to be “plucked” – the heart.

    “For the most part in the LXX it is just translates SING.”
    – That is exactly right and I have mentioned that on several occassions.

    “If you want the word to mean PLAY then you have to specify WHAT is to be played. Psallo itself does not suddenly get defined by the harp.”
    – I totally agree. I guess what I just don’t get is that you keep saying that the word doesn’t mean to play an instrument in ancient literature but merely to make noise! Also, when the LXX specifies that David psalloed various instruments that in and of itself does specify what was played in that situation. But all instances of psallo do not always refer to the harp. So no, it does not necessitate the harp but in some instances in the OT it does.

    “You will notice especially that psallo can mean PLUCK but is absolutely limited to something you can pluck with the FINGERS. You cannot expand that to general instruments without ignoring that part of the definition that is absolute.”
    – If you came to the conclusion that a harp was okay with God would you conclude that a guitar would be damnation because you use a pic and not your fingers? If God is displeased with one wouldn’t he be displeased with both and visa versa?

    You wrote that the worship of the synagogue was, “EXCLUSIVE of “vocal or instrumental rejoicing.” That is a command AGAINST musical rejoicing or musical or elevated rhetoric. John Calvin agrees.”
    – Instruments were not used, which is a great argument to say they were not used in the early church because of the continuity with the synagogue. But can you show me where in the literature (rabbinic or elsewhere) that the synagogues had a “command AGAINST musical rejoicing or elevated rhetoric”?

    Before you go into way more details can you work through at least a couple of my questions, like this last one. I am not finding anything similar to a command of the synagogue against instruments. It is arguing from silence as best as I can tell. Help me out here.

    So was David just making sounds and not music?

    “If you want the word to mean PLAY then you have to specify WHAT is to be played. Psallo itself does not suddenly get defined by the harp.”

    1. – If you came to the conclusion that a harp was okay with God would you conclude that a guitar would be damnation because you use a pic and not your fingers? If God is displeased with one wouldn’t he be displeased with both and visa versa?

      I wouldn’t have an opinion unless someone giggles about “infiltrating and diverting my church into a theater for holy entertainment.”

      I am just saying that the word PSALLO is specificially defined to mean to “touch” something with your fingers but NOT with a plectrum That definition was based on there being no PSALLOING with a plectrum and can NEVER apply to anything but a stringed instrument. So the PSALLO word will stand as a witness to those who deliberately sowed discord on the BASIS of that word only. All of the other scratching around is because the psallo word did not work when the Disciples tried it on one of their professors.

      I will post some links when I catch up. That is because psallo has several other underlying words speaking of the lyre or a lance which you “pallo” and is not per say a musical word. The root of psallo has the same meaning as the SOP meaning to titurate or grind into a fine powder. The Hebrew words for play are also rooted in grinding some or abrading something.

      Psallo means to pull or touch with your fingers and is used both of strings of an instrument and the strings of a bow which twangs and sends a singing arrow into the literal heart. Some have noted that the bow probably served to make a twang (but not a tune) long before it was used as a weapon.

      If I just commanded you to PSALLO, you would not know what to do. A Greek would say, Huh? or WHAT do you want me to psallo?

      If you had 20 instruments to play you would have 20 compound names.

      That is why Paul (with help from the Spirit) would have commanded a PsalmOda if he remotely intended “make melody on a harp in your heart.”

      Given a word TOUCH. It has no intrinsic meaning until you say WHAT to touch.

      If you command TOUCH the COMPUTER the word touch does not take on any computer meaning except in THAT example.

      In 1 Samuel 16:16 the term

      PLAYER on a HARP

      The Greek is NAGAN on an Kinnor

      NEGAN [h5059] /NEGINA derives from NAGGAL meaning “sythe or sickle” and Zamar speaks of the PRUNING HOOK. But is used to “beat out a tune with the fingers.” It is always used in a hurtful or enchantment sense.

      The Pruning Hook in Revelation could just as easily be a musical instrument in Hebrew. I think there is a whole lot of reaping going on.

      If you listen to a modern Greek harpist you will hear primarily a percussion sound as when you grab two guitar strings over and over but not as melody.

    2. This blog has been dead for me for several days: it finally loaded up.

      Danny Corbitt takes on Dr. Everett Ferguson on the psalmos word. He excises only the instrument meaning anf fails to observe the Semicolon which say that in the NT it just means singing.

      And so it and Zamar do in the Old testament if there is no instrument named. If you PLUCK a harp then the harp is named. Nowever, it yo make a string twang you still need to define some kind of rhythm: many of the Psalms have latter noted added to indicate the rhythm (never tune).

      If you will watch the unfolding of all of the psallo Greek words you are rooted in the same word meaning SOP meaning to grind someone into a fine powder usually then and now a frenzy of emotions which is a drug high from endorphines.

      You can say that almost all of the use of the word has to do with the wild, perverse rituals of the pagans. And only LATER did it mean to pluck a harp string ONLY WITH YOUR FINGERS because it was still a metaphor for SHOOTING OUT HYMNS.

      There are many texts speaking of

      Melody on a harp whereas Paul said

      Melody IN the HEART, and both grace and melody are qualities of the word SPEAK so Paul left us a parallel in Colossians 3:16 so we cannot be mistaken.

      Most people are INCLUDED in non-mechanical worship.
      Up to HALF are EXCLUDED in instrumental worship.

      The form of instrumental and whiney singing EXCLUDES many from the instrumental churches just as discorded as we. This form clearly evolved out of the Flower Children and the Children of God movement.

      But, they always reverse the charges.

    3. Ken,

      I think you are hitting the nail on the head that Paul knew exactly what he was writing in Eph 5:19. He knew that the phrase to “make melody with” is always followed by in instrument. He specified it as the heart. He could have put harp, lyre, etc but didn’t. Why the difference? It is a worthwhile/warranted speculation to say he meant the heart exclusively. I think that is very much a possibility here and agree with you 100%.

      Just two questions. You wrote, “many of the Psalms have latter noted added to indicate the rhythm (never tune).”

      What about Psalm 75?

      What Ferguson work are you referencing?

  52. I have: A Cappella Music in the public worship of the church, Everett Ferguson, The Way of Life Series #125 1972

    Dr. Ferguson did not have an online resourse in 1972 so one can appreciate his work. It is not possible to look at the lexicons which have links to the actual Greek or Latin text. That is why one can know (with 30 years work) that Psallo is never used to mean melody in the Greek literature. In the lexicon and in the actual literature it speaks of plucking primarly bow strings because it is a WARFARE or polluting word and not a “worship word.” Then it applies to the PLUCKING of musical strings or the enemies hair. Way down the list was it used IN CONNECTION with singing in the lexicon but RARELY translated as such in the Bible.

    There is debate about the superscripts and post scripts: if part of the original they define how the writer might have rendered the psalm or the context of the psalm. All of the Psalms were POEMS and poemts tend to be poetic but not metrical. They are rhymic prose but not metrical so then nor now they cannot be sung tunefully. That is why those imposing instruments have NO INTENTION of obeying the Bible and singing the TEXT but their own ditties where their songs often make we adults blush.

    Because the “congregation” in all of the events such as Hezekiah’s plague stopping ritual and the use of David’s instruments for burning the GOATS, was the king, clergy and city officials. After all, the Monarchy was like the federal government of an ungodly society. There is no example of the people doing congregational singing with instrumental accompaniment in the Bible. I remember one preacher using the example of David’s singing, playing, dancing and going naked with the girls as a PATTERNISM. No more outrageous than to use Hezekiah’s plague stopping ritual as a political city-defense. Especially if a church is intimidated by being told that God COMMANDED them to do “instrumental praise” and THEY must not disobey.

    Here is interesting information about how postscrips might get listed as a superscript to the next psalm. Because they are comments about how some of them are used they should not be seen as the composers words and especially not used to do something doubtful which Paul outlaws in Romans 14 before you can do synagogue in Romans 15.

    Only 57 of the poems in the BOOK called Psalms are Mizmors. Only 50 of those were not restricted to the Levites.

    When Paul commanded Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs that would included the Mizmors. In Romans 15 he defined that teaching resource as “that which is written” or “Scripture.” He assuredly did not command the warrior panic songs: David needed no authority to make use of instruments which made noise in a bloody battle; church should not be a battle of noise makers.

    Here is the instructions to the Chief musician and not a part of the poem.

    Psa. 75:0 To the chief Musician, Altaschith, A Psalm or Song of Asaph.

    Nacach (h5329) naw-tsakh’; to glitter from afar, to be eminent as a superintendent, especially of the Temple services and its music; also to be permanent, to excel, chief musician, singer, overseer, set forward.

    Unless these people are very old Levites used to drive the slaves, it does not apply to them

    Psa. 75:1 Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks:
    for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare.
    Psa. 75:2 When I shall receive the congregation I will judge uprightly.

    Of course, in the originals the verses are not numbered and Asaph was not a “worship leader.”

    H622 Asaph A primitive root; to gather for any purpose; hence to receive, take away, that is, remove (destroy, leave behind, put up, restore, etc.):—assemble, bring, consume, destroy, fetch, gather (in, together, up again), X generally, get (him), lose, put all together, receive, recover [another from leprosy], (be) rereward, X surely, take (away, into, up), X utterly, withdraw.

    Again, those not of the clergy Levites were commanded to “synagogue” or “church” to Rest, Read and Discuss the Word of God. That never changed in God’s eyes. That agrees with Paul’s only worship word meaning to “give heed to the Word of God.” What do disciples do? Why, they go to Bible Class.

    Acts 15:21 For Moses
    of old time hath
    in every city
    them that PREACH him,
    being READ in the synagogues every sabbath day.

    With the Lord’s Supper as a showing forth meaning “evangelism” act, THAT defines the Church of Christ until preaching and singing were added: Singing as an ACT which split the churches in the year 373. Much too late.

  53. A number of things have been said on this thread recently about psallo that surprised me, so I wanted to check them out. Rather than responding from numerous lexicons, I am focusing my comments on an article by Gerhard Delling in the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (1972). I’ve chosen him in part because he favors a vocal understanding of psallo in Ephesians 5:19, so he is by no means hostile to those who promote a cappella singing. [Note that he uses the Jewish numbering of the psalms, so that the chapters are off by 1 between Psalms 10 and 147, and the verses are often off by 1 if the psalm has a title. I have transferred to our numbering.]

    It has been argued here recently that psallo only meant to play if the instrument was specified by name. Delling disagrees. Of psallo in the Greek Septuagint, Delling writes, “often the obvious sense is ‘to play,’ especially when an instrument is mentioned” (“umnos” article, p 493). He says “especially when,” not “only when.” He gives a sample list of occurrences where an instrument is named, then adds Psalms 27:6; 57:7; 101:1; 105:2; and 108:1, “where singing and playing go together.” (You will see that psallo is paired with another word for sing in those verses.) Then he adds also 18:49; 57:9, and 108:3, where it appears that praising and playing go together. (BTW, 18:49 is quoted by Paul as a prophecy fulfilled by Christ in Romans 15:9, but I digress.) Then he adds, “Elsewhere the idea of praise by song as well as stringed instrument is suggested,” citing 9:11; 30:4; 66:4; 7:17; 9:2; 61:8; 66:4; 68:4; 65:1; 92:1; 135:3; 47:6; 57:9l 108:3; and 138:1. In these passages, Delling believes psallo has evolved to allow both singing and playing together. He therefore adds, “Hence one must take into account a shift in the meaning in the LXX in other passages in which the idea of playing is not evident.” He is saying that in yet other (unnamed) passages, psallo appears to mean sing with no implication of playing. Granted, he also recognizes that psallo continued to be used for playing an instrument for generations after the Apostles (p 491). Furthermore, as a sample, I see the same conjugation of psallo (for “I will sing praise”) where Delling says that an instrument is named (71:22); where an instrument is implied because of the use together with “sing” (27:6); where no instrument is named but the sense is to play (18:49); and where the sense is both singing and playing together (7:17). In summary, Delling argues that psallo often meant to play an instrument even if no instrument was mentioned by name.

    It has been argued here that David did not sing and play at the same time. In contrast, Delling argues, for example, that 57:7-9 (see above) involves both singing and playing, and this is a “psalm of David.”

    It has been argued here that the instrument to be played in Eph 5:19 is only the human heart. Delling rather says that the sense is “‘the engagement of the heart”, not a ‘silent song’.” (p 498, footnote 96). He cites several samples from the Septuagint with the same sense (9:1; 86:12; 111:1, and 138:1). Psalm 9:1 reads, “I will praise you O Lord with all my heart.” Delling says that the sense is not silent and internal, but something audible with the engagement of the heart. We may also compare 108:1 where David “engages his soul” in a passage where Delling says psallo implies a musical instrument. Delling says that David is audibly playing an instrument in Psalm 108:1 (not plucking the strings of his soul). (Note that Psalm 108:1 and Ephesians 5:19 both say “sing and make music,” one with the soul, the other with the heart.)

    It has been argued here that psallo could only be used of plucking the strings of a stringed instrument with one’s fingers. The point of the argument is not clear to me, because I don’t see anyone welcoming praise only by finger-plucking a stringed instrument, and the argument doesn’t seem to dissuade anyone from seeing the stringless heart as a valid instrument for psallo. Anyway, it is true that the word psallo derived from plucking a stringed instrument, but the evolving usage does not appear to necessarily demand strings. Delling cites where psallo was used for playing a flute or oboe (p. 490), and the Septuagint has psallo for playing a tambourine and a harp (Psalm 149:3, where psallo is translated “make music”).

    Perhaps the comments before mine are correct and Delling is mistaken on all of these points. It just seems to me that arguments like these are disputable, even by scholars who favor vocal praise. We must be careful not to break fellowship over arguments that are not clearly supported.

  54. Matt, I see that you have a considerable audience in this subject matter. I have produced a study on instruments that the local preacher has critiqued and later I was able to refute his comments. It is 17 pages of word doc then the rebuttal is 13 pages. Would you consider evaluating these documents? Thanks Larry Cheek

    1. Larry,

      Thank you for the offer but I don’t think I can say yes and be fair to you in the matter due to time constraints. You can send it my way but there is no guarantee I will be able to review it here on the blog. If I do review it, I would like permission to upload it and post a link to it here on the blog so others can read it.

    1. Please give me an example of a church worshiping without music in the New Testament. Just one.

  55. My family recently switched to a non-instrumental church of Christ for two reasons.

    First, like the instrumental Church of Christs and Christian churches, the doctrine is the most sound.

    The second reason that we switched was because our previous church suddenly switched to praise music backed by drums and a brass band, from hymns backed by the traditional piano and organ accompaniments. We simply could not handle the loud noise on Sunday mornings! ( we were in our 40’s with 5 children from 1 to 11) To us, the message and the Christian church family was of most importance.

    Unfortunately, our senior minister preached a sermon this past Sunday in which he called instrumental music in church “wrong”. I intrepret wrong as meaning ‘sinful’. Ironically, his sermon was about how peoples biases keep them from understanding the truths contained in the bible!

    I respect the views of those who attend this church, but it would be nice if they would refrain from legalism and judgementalism from the pulpit!

    1. Ken,

      Looks like you have experienced the full theological spectrum in the Churches of Christ in a short period of time. It is important we stress unity, not uniformity.

  56. Dear brethren,
    Greetings. I am interested to heve fellowship with instrument church of christ. But you are not showing any interest to help us in this regard.
    Hope to hear from you
    God bless you
    D.Samuelraj minister
    sathy church of christ

  57. I am a member of the church of Christ, I have obeyed the gospel in repentance and baptism and I strive to live a Christ centered life.
    We left the Church of Christ (in name only) that we attended for over 20 years, we left about 1 year ago. The congregation we attended did use instruments. We left for reasons beyond the instrumental issues. We now attend a christian church and they use instruments. If you were to ask each member if they are a member of the church of Christ they would all reply with no hesitation, yes.
    Both of these churches teach everything that the non-instrument churches teach with the exception of the instrumental issue. It is shame that this is what devides Christ’s church.
    Just because the New Testament is silent on this issue dosen’t make it a sin. Instruments were used in the Old Testament and appear to be used in heaven.
    Rev. 14:

    King James Bible

    1 And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps:

    Why would God authorize instruments in the Old Testament and in heaven but not right now?
    I think the reason for the silence is similar what is said throughout the new testament concerning salvation. One place we read our faith saves us, another we are told to simply repent another to repent and be baptized. yet another says believe on the Lord Jesus Christ . All of these are required for salvation, what is being said is due to the current understanding of the one that it is being said to.
    From the instrumental point, I think it is similar, christians of that time would have already had an understanding of worship knowing from the old testament that instruments were used so why would there be a need to say, oh and you can or can not use instruments. If God see’s it as a sin I believe He would have left no doubt concerning this issue.
    Why do we let satan devide us with such an issue. We could do so much more for the Kingdom if we put it aside.
    If you think it is wrong don’t use them but don’t condem those who do.

  58. Just want to add one more thought.
    When we stand before our Lord, which would you rather have to answer for?
    a. I used instruments during my worship of you
    b. I devide your church over an issue that is unclear

    I know for those who have been raise and tought that the use of instruments is a sin believe that it is clear. But when we have to debate the meaning of the word psallo and whether or not God changed his authorized version of worshiping Him from the Old Testament to the New Testament, and if psallo is associated with stringed instruments then it must mean the strings of our heart, it is not clear.

    Is it possible that the scripture referenced is ment to instill to the reader that when they worship Christ that it should be done in a manner that comes from the heart, that it should be with love for our Lord for what He has done for us, No matter of what form of worship we choose as long as it is orderly?

  59. I had only just seen this for the first time today when studying God’s Holy Word and doing a study of Ezekiel chapter 8 which led to all of this that you are referring to.

    You are right – this is a matter of the heart and Who it belongs to. Worship is in spirit AND in truth.

    We are to even pray for and love our enemies! The Word is clear that we are to love our God and the 2nd commandment is like unto it – to love our neighbor as ourselves.
    All debate is strife and discord sown by the enemy of God’s people.

    Let us all love in word and deed and if anything else is necessary, our Father will reveal it.

    Love never fails.

  60. I am young Gospel Preacher in Nigeria who just graduated from a Preaching School. I became a member of Church of Christ in 2008. It is a big surprised to me to come across on Internet that there are some Churches of Christ in USA using instruments in worship and bearing, wearing and calling themselves the same name CHURCH OF CHRIST with Non instrumental Churches of Christ. Is it a sin for them to be using instruments in their worship?. And why are they bearing, wearing and calling themselves the same name Church of Christ with Non instrumental Churches of Christ?. Are they one with each others?. Are they in unity with each others – Non instrumental and instrumental?. Please I need answers.

  61. Thank you for your courage in addressing what is in the coC a really big deal. While most Believers look on in dismay, we coCers have really launched a war over this one. Much like the kitchens, youth ministers, bake sales, dancing and the list goes on and on. Sadly what began as a wonderful and inspired idea…going back to Biblical Christianity has turned into quite the blood bath over the years. Satan has been busy in this for sure. That being said…I have to refer to the Eph. passage you mentioned. “With psalms, hymns and spiritual songs…worship! Since the book of Eph. is a letter to the Ephesians…one must look at how they would have interpreted the words used to explain the text. A psalm to these NT Christians was not a book in the OT…it was God’s holy word set to stringed insturment. A hymn was what Paul and Silas sang in prison, and a spiritual song…well, we may be getting in deep on that one…perhaps a spirit language? I know that the cofC disagrees with this definition of the word Psalm…citing that it means the same as hymn…so my question to that is why did the writer use the word hymn twice in the sentence? Or even three times if you count all three to be the same in definition. “Speak to each other in hymns, hymns and hymns???”

    Also, looking at the context of the passage, the writer certainly doesn’t hold back on specific instruction anywhere else here, so why the mystery when it comes to how we are to speak to each other. I realize we may not be talking about “corporate worship” here, but the proof texting just doesn’t make sense either way . If our worship extends to our daily living, then we are always talking about worship to God.

    Often we have replaced the need for “unity” in the church with the requirement for uniformity and the idea of “Christians only” with being the “only Christians.”

    I see in Eph. that our great God has giving us variety and not limitations. And just like every other issue in the NT, it is a matter of the heart and not the Law. That is why he stresses that our worship comes from the heart. Just a thought.

  62. Angelia: Thank you for your courage in addressing what is in the coC a really big deal. While most Believers look on in dismay, we coCers have really launched a war over this one.

    Not true: groups known as The Church of Christ are documented in all ages. What is known as the Modern Church of Christ continued John Calvin’s call for “A restoration of the Church of Christ.” There are four parts to His paper:

    Let me block all of the Imaginative Theology by saying that NONE of the Bible is metrical: you could not sing it if your life depended on it. In Romans 15 after rejecting SELF pleasure (all performing arts) Paul commanded that we use one mind and one mouth to speak “that which is written for our learning” or “Scripture.

    Since Jesus commanded that we be commanded to “teach what He commanded to be taught” and Jesus as the Son said that pure Spirit speaks without METER.

    The Catholic church never engaged in “congregational singing with organ accompaniment.” They COULD not and obey the command to SPEAK the Word.

    No early protestant engaged in congregational singing until about a 100 years after faithful Zwingli died. Some Psalms (only) were set to a simple meter to be sung in unison (only).

    What became The Church of Christ (Reformers) was NEVER united with the Disciples/Christian churches at any time in history. Therefore, the only warfare happened within the Disciples/Christian churches as Stoneites.

    Neither Methodists, Baptists or Presbyterians used instruments just prior to the Civil war. All were discorded when instruments were imposed.

    Since the Church of Christ never BEGAN to do what it had NEVER done, it is dangerous to blame the Churches of Christ for making war. Problems always existed when instrumental churches “infiltrated and diverted” to try to force peaceable churches to SPLIT by imposing instruments.

    Can you understand that when a person is shot and “yells in church” they do not create the disturbance: blame the shooter?

  63. Lots of interesting discussions about this topic. Being a COC member in a currently Non IM church that is about to introduce IM I have struggled with this. Born and raised a Baptist I studied the Word and came to my own conclusions about certain matters of Salvation, Faith, Instrumental Music, etc. I find the core belief to speak where the Bible speaks and silent where silent is a good approach. Not always 100% full proof but in matters other than your personal relation with Christ like instrumental music I find this scripture by Paul in Romans 14 very useful. He was talking about food controversy in the early church but you can replace Meat with Music or any other non salvation issue… LOL!

    ROMANS 14:

    12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

    13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

    19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

    22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.[c]

    1. Bruce,

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. This can certainly be a divisive issue and people have to be handled with love and care as these things are worked through. I can’t help but think if IM was a salvation issue that God would have been a little clearer in letting us know that was the case.

  64. I have no issue with instrumental music at all in a theological way. But when you start using a praise band (or whatever) you bring a lot of new issues to view. I was a music major at OC. The music department always got job listings for various churches in the area needing a bass player, or a drummer…or a soloist. You name it. It was interesting to me that the Presbytarians would send out a plea to a CoC school for a musician for their worship service. There was no guarantee that a qualified musician would even be a Christian, let alone a Presbyterian.

    What happens when the only guitar player in the church moves away? Is the church able to worship without a guitar…or do they have to advertise to the community to get a new player? Are the musicians members of the church, or not? Does it matter?

    For the record, my 17 year old son HATES praise band worship services. In his view, the singing is weak, there is no harmony, the lyrics are repetitive and “boring”….and well, he hates it. (and he’s a guitar player….go figure!) So not every young person is clamoring to go to an instrumental church. We go to a wonderful church which doesn’t even preach about IM….it’s just our tradition. We use accompaniment CDs in our children’s musicals…and often show videos with IM included. We are happy with having a quirky tradition and not being just like every other community church around.

  65. I am confused as to why the argument keeps being used about people being killed in the old testament for improper worship practices when the CoC professes not to be under the old testament. Why is the use of instruments wrong or sinful? How can this be linked to salvation in any way? Not in what I read in the new testament, by faith in Jesus Christ you are saved–it is the gift of God, lest any man should boast. Not whether or not you worship with instruments.

    It’s fine with me if a church wants to use instruments or not, but condemning others for using them & calling it sinful seems like taking a broad license with scripture. Where is the verse in the new testament that says “do not use instruments or it will hinder your salvation”? or “do not use instruments or you will displease the Lord”. I understand that’s how some people are raised they feel that is what is right, but I haven’t found a verse that concise & direct on this subject. I can read verses in the new testament that are specific like “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”, not whoever uses instruments in their services is not going to heaven.

    When we focus on things that divide us as Christians, I’m sure Satan is having a little dance downstairs. That is what is most offensive to me, seeing or hearing about other churches or denominations putting others down & saying they are the only “chosen ones” because of this or that. Believing in Jesus Christ & His death, burial & resurrection is what unites us. Period. Don’t let music divide us.

    CoC musicians are some of the finest because they have to listen more than others, having their upbringing in the acapella tradition. Having a bachelor’s & master’s in music, I have friends & many former students who are CoC. They often have better pitch & sing in harmony easier than most others. Lovely people to work with!

  66. Nadab and Abihu? You got right that nothing can be proven from that reference. Lev:10 implies nothing about instruments! Since immediately after the incident, God told Aaron not to imbibe in strong drink, one might assume that the boys were drunk. It seems that they got the fire for their incense somewhere other than the Altar of Incense(sanctioned fire) and used that “strange fire” to do their service before God. It would follow that they may have been snockered or they would not have acted so wrecklessly. Either way, drunk or not, to imply the strange fire somehow involved instruments dose not seem warranted and even may be dangerously “adding to” God’s word.
    As for the rest, your point is well stated, as far as the commision to go out and teach. The operative here is “Whatsoever I have commanded you.” When you find the commands that many preach from the pulpit, please, let me know. While there is not command to not smoke or use drugs, “your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you”, covers alot. Since you, Matt, are a pastor, please think about the things Jesus commanded and what He did not command. NO hints at what He wanted, no guesses, if He wanted us to follow ANYTHING, He would have given us a command to do so. Some things can be expanded and indeed, should be, it is principal that counts. There are doctrines preached in numerous pulpits for which I fear there is no command and these need attention. I am purposely enigmatic, your journey must be your own.

  67. Christ outlawed vocal or instrumental rejoicing in the wilderness after
    God abandoned the Father-cursed Levi tribe over to worship the starry host (acts 7 etal)

    The inclusive “pattern” was to Rest, Read and Rehearse the Word: that never changed as God abandoned the nation to the not-commanded king, kingdom, temple, alimal sacrifices and exorcism noise.

    Jesus exampled that and commanded it with the ekklesia/synagogue concept, Paul commanded it and the historic Church of Christ never changed: The Campbells restored that temporarily.
    Church is A School of Christ
    Worship is reading and musing the word.

  68. OK…I’ve enjoyed reading both sides of this issue. I’ve got some questions for the anti-IM crowd for clarification:

    1. Is a pitch pipe OK?
    2. What about these “praise leaders” that are imitating various instruments (and sounding ridiculous in the process). Is that off limits too?
    3. What about videos in the church service that have an instrument accompaniment. Is that a no-no?
    4. What about Christian music played and sung in Bible class – with IM – is that a sin too?
    5. Where did the church get authorization for song books, a clock in the auditorium, using grape juice instead of wine, taking a collection alongside the Lord’s supper, a paid preacher, a baptistry, and so on?

    If you take the “anti” approach, it’s like painting an old fence – there isn’t anywhere to quit.

  69. I am a member of CoC , a TOG and a one time Acting Minister at #61 IBB way calabar,cross river state of Nigeria.The issue is not using instrumental music for worship in CoC, but rather finding
    solution to many other issues such as ; (1) The Evening and Morning Lord`s supper (2) The silent
    of women in the CoC (3) Evil of Tarry night in CoC (4) Evil of using oil (olive oil) for prayers and
    ordination of Elders in CoC and many others differencies that has plague the unity of CoC.
    I am aware that even in America there are congregation that segregate between whites and blacks.
    Also of important to note is the abitrary use of hymn books (production) by local congregation all in
    the name of autonomous.American brethren should feel more concerned on this trend as the
    CoC is drifting into denomination.In summary if you may ask me, i am saying IF instrumental music
    will win more souls to Christ i will use it. Again IF Tarry night will win some souls to Christ i will
    conduct it. Now listen and read carefully what Brother PAUL wrote in 1 cor.9:19-23
    thanks and remain bless!

  70. Looks like this can of worms was opened almost 3 years ago. Has anyone been successful fishing? Perhaps we should change our approach and cast on the other side of the boat. Could catch more fish that way.

  71. I suspect the instrumental music issue with the Church of Christ is not different to the ‘women wearing pants and make-up’ issue with the Church of God. But, too, I suspect the answer to the issue might be similar. As a very good baptist-raised Church of God friend of mine said, “I think some of our traditions, though having Bible basis, is partly doctrine of man and not ‘thus saith the Lord.’ And when the older heads who were raised with those traditions pass, new traditions equally pleasing to God will take their place. Meantime, I will not offend the elders who firmly believe in their doctrinal traditions.’ In other words, time is a healer.

    Good thoughts. Thanks.

  72. Dear Matt,

    Instrumental music is NOT the only issue currently affecting the unity in the church of christ.
    Please try and open can of worms on the following as well:
    1.Blacks and whites segregation in worships as it is observed in most part of the world.
    2.Evening only communion.
    3.Use of olive oil during ordination of Elders/Deacons and Prayers.
    4.Night prayer meetings (TARRY NIGHT).
    5.Silent of women in the church.
    6.White wedding in the church, etc.

    If we can addressed all the issues above, then the issue of instrumental music will be easily resolved without conflict. If only you can act like PETER of the old in Jerusalem, the eluded unity can be restored.Winning souls for Christ does not depend on instrumental music, rather we should be more concern in preaching the Will of God for mankind, Showing the lost sinners the way of salvation by bringing them closer to Christ. You may ask me what is the will of God for now? Eph.3:10 says His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms. Many church today have become a centre of debates with majority having their ways just like in democracy. The few who could not coped with majority now pull out and established their new congregation still maintaining the church of christ.Can anybody tell me among the two groups who has God approval and who has not? Which of the group will make heaven? IF the two groups will make heaven, then we lack merit to discuss the issue of instrumental music.

    1. Jonathan,

      Do you mind if I ask where you live/worship? It would seem to me that you are outside the U.S. I don’t mean what congregation, rather, what country you live in.

  73. My Dear Evangelist,

    I lived and worshiped in Nigeria.I am ready at any time to give you facts and evidence about my write up. Where i live shouldn`t be problem for now, rather how both of us can bring about a lasting unity in the body of Christ.Remember we often read 1 cor.1:9-10 to outsiders whereas it was meant for us – – – – – “God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord is faithful”, Paul went futher to appeal to us in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that all of us to agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among us and that we may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My prayer,my aim,my question is how realistic the dream of our Lord may be realized .

  74. I just want to say that I am a keyboard player at my church and have played the keyboard at organ and strings settings for the traditional hymns. Our church also has a wonderful worship team. As someone who learned to play an instrument just 10 years ago and is self taught being told by anyone, no matter how well intentioned they are, that I am doing something that is dishonoring to God really wounds me to the heart. I know that when I play hymns and preludes at my church I am always nervous. Yet I have called on our Lord for His intervention to take away my nerves and play for His glory. Do I still make mistakes, of course. But does God take it each time and use it for His glory and praise? Absolutely. I know my God gave me my musical ability and I only desire to use it for His glory despite what anyone else may say.

  75. Ray,

    I think you need to remember and read more on this subject. It is not what “we” want or what i/ We feel but it is what is God’s will. I could care less about what makes me feel good. I want to do the Lord’s will. As stated earlier, God did not accept Cain’s gift and also the fact that the sons of Aaron were killed by God when they offered up strange fire to God. Where the Bible is silent, then respect that. A doctor that prescribes a particular medicine (penicillin for example) to you does not need to tell you the thousands of medicines not to take, he just tells you what to take, God says to sing! I am going to adhere to that.

  76. Ephesians 5:19 states, “Sing AND MAKE MUSIC in your hearts to the lord.” “And” is a simple word that means “in addition to” or “plus.” God’s inspired word calls for us to make music that includes something in addition to singing. Is that something, instrumental music? If not, what is it?

    I cringe when people emphasize “in your hearts” and essentially argue that it means from your vocal cords. As a child I recall taking piano lessons and proudly pounding out Chopsticks perfectly. However, my piano teacher was not happy. I got a lecture that the music had to come from my heart. I had to feel it in my soul and let it flow down my arms, into my finger tips and into the touch by which I played the piano. All great musicians understand this and play their instruments with feeling. When one brings this understanding about instrumental music to Ephesians 5:19, how can they conclude that “from the heart” is a phrase that excludes instruments?

  77. In 2nd. Timothy 3:15-17 it says all scripture is good for doctrine. When that was written it could only have been speaking of the Old Testament, since the New Testament hadn’t been written yet. In the Old Testament there are examples of musical instruments being used, so that should be acceptable as authority for their use. However most CoC don’t accept the OT as authoritative for Church doctrine. I believe that is a big mistake, (esp. in light of 2nd. Toimothy).
    The real question should be… How are we supposed to use the New Testament writtings? If we believe it is a new Tora, that is Law, then we will see it as a new constitution of detailed blueprints meant to be searched to find the exact rules to follow. However, if we see it as the inspired writtings that comprise a record of the Christ event, and the encounter of the writters of the various letters with Jesus, and a testimony of their faith, then we will understand the scriptures in a far more dynamic way.Instead of the New Testament being a new constitution, the writings serve as a witness and a testimony of Christ’s mind. (Rom. 15:4, I Cor. 10:11)
    In The New Covenant, God puts his laws in our hearts, and writes them in our mind. ( Heb. 10:16) Not on stone, or paper for that matter. (2nd. Cor. 3:3) The first covenant was based on laws, the second covenant is based on the blood of Christ. You will not be judged by a set of laws, but by the blood of Christ.

    1. I’m not saying wheather or not instrumental music is wrong, but (as someone once said, I don’t know who), if you can praise God with a mechanical instrument, could you also pray with a mechanical instrument, such as a computer? You could write your prayers out in advance, then have your computer send them out everyday at the same time.I don’t think you would go to Hell if you do that, but I also don’t think God will appreciate those prayers as much. Maybe He may give me credit for good intentions. I might love my computer, and think it is the most wonderful instrument ever created. I may even think my talent with a computer is a gift from God and that is all I will ever use it for, but in the end, I believe God will like the prayers I take the time to that come from my heatrt as I think them, and that I take time to be in thought with Him. It is my opinion that musical instuments interfere with the singing. All you need to do is hear a congregation singing without instumentation, and you wont want to go back.

  78. Great article Matt. This is an issue I have struggled with for a long time. I have never been able to defend the acapella standard in churches of Christ. What woke me up to the acapella issue was when I went to an “Acapella” concert. The group used their voices and microphones to make the same sounds as musical instruments. And also threw in the hand clapping and stomping of feet for effect. Didn’t make sense to me. After further prayer and study, I came to understand that we need to use the Bible to define the Bible. When I read about psalms, I understand that it is music that employs instruments. And if musical instruments is suppose to be “the issue”, don’t you think the writers of the New Testament would have been specific about it? We need to become more united and stop letting non-issues become issues.

  79. This is to Matt Dabbs,
    You asked a reader……If you do think it is so clear and plain that is the only worship God is pleased by then please show me in scripture where that is clearly stated. I want a verse that the intent of the author and scripture is for us to read it and conclude that worship without instruments is the only pleasing way to worship God. Please provide..

    May I respond?
    The music of the church provides a great blessing, but it also has challenges. Many focus on what they like in songs and lose sight of what the Lord desires. Others go beyond what the Lord asks. Since the Lord seeks for those who worship Him, to worship Him in spirit and truth, it’s needful for us to ask what is the will of the Lord. What is the Lord’s way for us to worship Him in song?

    Ephesians chapter 5, verses 17 to 21. “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.”

    To learn the truth about Christian worship in song, we must go to the New Testament. Let’s review the relevant passages pertaining to musical worship among Christians. The first mention of singing a hymn in the New Testament is found in Matthew 26, verse 30 and Mark 14:26; two passages very much alike. The Bible says that the Lord instituted that night the Lord’s Supper; “And after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”

    In Acts chapter 16 and verse 25, Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into prison with their feet in stocks for healing a servant girl. And the Bible says, “But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” Now, so far all we have is just simple statements of people singing.

    In Romans 15 and verse 9 Paul speaks of the Gentiles glorifying God; as it is written, “Therefore I will give praise to thee among the gentiles, and I will sing to thy name.” Well, this quotation emphasizes how a congregation in one accord and with one voice should glorify God (Romans 15, verse 6).

    Later in 1 Corinthians chapter 14, there are two references to singing. Verse 15 says, “What is the outcome then? I shall pray with the spirit and I shall pray with the mind also; I shall sing with the spirit and I shall sing with the mind also.” Here the emphasis in singing is on the mind and the spirit. Verse 26 says, “What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.” The early church edified each other by teaching songs. ( Not by teaching how to play instruments)

    In Ephesians 5, verses 18 and 19 as we read, the Bible says, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, (that is moral looseness) but be filled with the Spirit, Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.” The emphasis in this passage is on “SPEAKING” to one another and in making melody with the heart to the Lord. The idea of having concerts or of playing instruments in worship is absent. There were no choirs, because everyone was instructed and taught to sing.

    Colossians 3 and verse 16 is a similar passage: “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 hearts to God.” The emphasis again is on singing words that teach and admonish. Now, these were activities that require the heart, the mind,and the lips.

    The writer of the book of Hebrews twice mentions praising God in song. First in Hebrews 2, verse 12 he quotes from Psalm 22, verse 22. He says, “I will proclaim Thy name to my brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will sing Thy praise.” Again the idea is verbal, proclaiming and singing. Second comes from Hebrews 13, verse 15 which says, “Through Him (that is through Jesus) then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” Now, the last mention of Christian worship in song is found in James 5 and verse 13, which says, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises.”

    In each and every instance, the music described in Christian worship emphasizes verbal communication: singing, speaking, teaching, admonishing, making melody with your hearts, confessing, giving thanks, proclaiming, and the fruit of lips. The clear instruction of the New Testament is that we should sing from our hearts praise to God. Now, instruments of music cannot speak, teach, admonish, give thanks, praise, proclaim, confess, or make melody in your heart. Instruments of music fail to do any of these. And this is why they become additions; they go beyond the instructions of the New Testament.

    Now, no reference to instrumental music is startling to me! Neither Jesus nor the apostles commanded them. The New Testament gives no example of churches using them in worship. You see God desires music of the mind and the spirit. God purposely did not include them.

    Most people think churches have always used instruments of music in worship. And they’re surprised to find out that some churches today have never used instruments of music, and they begin to think that peculiar. Churches, however, didn’t always use instruments; and some churches, like the Orthodox churches, have never used instruments. The word a cappella is a reference to singing unaccompanied, right? … and what it means in Latin is “In The Manner of the church.” or the music of the church!

    Most people think churches have always used instruments of music in worship. And they’re surprised to find out that some churches today have never used instruments of music, and they begin to think that peculiar. Churches, however, didn’t always use instruments; and some churches, like the Orthodox churches, have never used instruments. The word a cappella is a reference to singing unaccompanied and what it means in Latin is “in the manner of the church.”

    Dr. Everett Ferguson, who is an authority in the early church, said, “It was quite late before there is evidence of instrumental music, first the organ, employed in the public worship of the church. And recent studies put the introduction of instrumental music even later than the dates found in reference books. It was perhaps as late as the tenth century when the organ was played as part of the service. This makes instrumental music one of the late innovations of the MEDIEVAL CATHOLIC CHURCH

    As late as 1250 AD, Thomas Aquinas said, “Our church does not use instruments, as harps and psalteries, to praise God withal, that she may not seem to Judaize.” You see, he understood that harps were for Jews not for Christians. Instruments of music came along as an innovation brought in because people liked them, not because the New Testament gave instructions for them. Because clearly the New Testament gives no instructions for them.

    When God revealed all the truth, He intentionally stopped. Since God has revealed all the truth, He didn’t need to say any more. To add more or to pursue additional practices says to God that His teaching was not sufficient. So, how is God honored when men are not content and decide to add practices to their worship? To start new practices, going beyond God’s teaching, is presumptuous. It fails to listen to God and does what it wishes.

    The Lord said in John chapter 8, verses 31 and 32 that, “If you abide in my word, then you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Christ here reveals one of the marks of a true disciple. A true disciple abides in the Word. He doesn’t add to it, take away from it, reinvent it, or change it. He stays in the boundaries of the teaching and instructions of the Word. The person who stays with the Word will know the truth, and the truth will set him free. When you leave the Word, you begin to tamper with the truth. You buy into half-truths and man-made religion.

    Some people say, don’t you know that David played the harp?” Yes, I am aware of passages like Psalm 150 and 2 Chronicles 29, verse 25. I also know that David lived a thousand years before Jesus Christ.and Christianity, we are to follow and worship like the first century Christians worshiped, not like the Israelites a thousand years before Jesus worshiped. We don’t offer animal sacrifices as David did. You see, David lived under the old covenant, while we live under the new covenant. According to 2 Chronicles 29:25, God approved of harps in the worship of the temple under the old covenant; but the New Testament never speaks of the use of instruments of music in “”Christian worship””

    Some say the word “psalm” and the Greek word psallo, used in Ephesians 5:19 for “making music in the heart,” permits us to play instruments. And while it’s true that many years before the time of the New Testament the Greek word psallo meant to pluck on a string or play a harp, the word changed in its meaning over time. Well, how did this happen?

    The Jews sang psalms with instruments in the temple but sang without them in the synagogue. Musical worship in the temple was limited to the Levites who had choirs and many instruments, but the worship of the synagogue had no musical instruments. From day to day, and Sabbath to Sabbath, in their homes and in the synagogues Jews regularly sang psalms for hundreds of years without any use of the harp.

    So when the word psallo or the word psalm was used, they normally thought of SINGING the words of the song unaccompanied. It never occurred to early Christians, who know Greek better than we do, that these words psallo or psalmos meant that we should or could use instruments of music in our worship. If those words had pointed to instruments, why didn’t the early church use them? Why did the early church refuse to use them? Why did it take many centuries before someone started using them?

    Others ask, aren’t people playing harps in heaven?” Yes, John’s visions found in the highly figurative book of Revelation speak of harps in heaven. Saints in heaven also wear crowns and cast them before the throne of God. Angels and people in heaven say many things in heaven that we’re not allowed to say on earth (2 Corinthians 12, verse 4). Heaven and earth are very different.

    Our task is not to imitate what’s done in heaven but to be obedient to Jesus and His teachings in the New Testament. If harps in heaven means the church ought to play harps, why didn’t the apostles and the early church understand that they were supposed to play them? Why did they refuse to play them for centuries?

    Many people say, “The Bible doesn’t condemn playing instruments in worship!” That’s true; it doesn’t. But neither does the Bible specifically condemn burning incense, or praying to Mary, or using roast lamb in the Lord’s Supper, or offering animal sacrifices today, or substituting sprinkling for immersion in baptism, or baptizing infants. My friend, just because the Bible doesn’t specifically condemn something doesn’t mean that God approves of it.

    All of these things I’ve mentioned, just like using the instrument of music in worship, come not from God but were innovations of men. The right question is not “WHERE DOES THE BIBLE CONDEMN USING INSTRUMENTS IN WORSHIP?” but rather…”WHERE DOES THE BIBLE AUTHORIZE USING INSTRUMENTS IN CHRISTIAN WORSHIP?” To act without God’s permission or instruction is presumptuous.

    If the Bible were to include everything that God condemned, why it would be too large to carry. The Lord has chosen to instruct us in positive terms what His will is for our lives and our worship. He has shown us the way, which rules out all other ways. There is “one baptism” (Ephesians 4, verse 5); and that means there cannot be another approved baptism. The Bible says there is “one gospel” in Galatians 1, verses 6 to 9. Well, that means that all other gospels are condemned. The Bible says there is “one body” or church in Ephesians 4 and verse 4; and also we also know that from Ephesians 1:22 to 23. That means there cannot be other approved churches.

    So the specific instruction to sing means that one should sing. There’s no authority for us to add other forms of music. When God instructs us through His Word, He tells us what He wants. We shouldn’t expect God to exclude all other possibilities with a series of “don’t do this and don’t do that”

    In all the passages we’ve read regarding the music of the church, and in each of the passages the instruction is “SINGING” then that means we are to sing praises to the Lord vocally. In Colossians 3:16 it says,
    : “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 hearts to God.”

    Here we are told to teach and admonish one another with the wisdom and the Word of Christ deep with in us. with as a congregation singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, “singing” with grace (thankfulness of heart). REMEMBER…..The emphasis again is on singing words that teach and admonish.
    Now, Look at the very next verse Colossians 3:17 it says….Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.,,,, In the name of Jesus means….by the “AUTHORITY” of Jesus, to do what Jesus has instructed in his word, by His authority. Remember in Matthew 28:18, Jesus said, All Power (authority) has been given to me in heaven and on earth.
    That means we are to listen to and do what Jesus says to do. Including how we are to worship. We are to worship the way Jesus instruct us with NO ADDITIONS… And according to His instructions concerning His church, there are no instructions for worship with instruments, So we have no place and no right to add something to worship that we have no Divine authority for…

    So if there is no instruction or authority for instruments in worship, but there is instruction and authority for singing, then that is what we are to abide by and follow and do to please God. SINGING….We please God by doing all and ONLY all that HE has instructed us to do….No additions, No subtractions. No If’s and’s or but’s about it.

    1. Ella,

      I must say that I am pretty disappointed here. At first I was really happy because you seemed to put quite a bit of time into this response. Just to double check that you didn’t pull this from anywhere else on the web and paste it in your comment, I googled some of the phrases you used and found out that you lifted the vast majority of your comment from this link – without giving any credit Phil Sanders is the one who wrote the piece, so let’s start this by giving him credit.

      Now, I will deal with your concluding remarks because you make some bold claims that have no scriptural backing. Here is what you concluded with,

      “That means we are to listen to and do what Jesus says to do. Including how we are to worship. We are to worship the way Jesus instruct us with NO ADDITIONS… And according to His instructions concerning His church, there are no instructions for worship with instruments, So we have no place and no right to add something to worship that we have no Divine authority for…

      So if there is no instruction or authority for instruments in worship, but there is instruction and authority for singing, then that is what we are to abide by and follow and do to please God. SINGING….We please God by doing all and ONLY all that HE has instructed us to do….No additions, No subtractions. No If’s and’s or but’s about it.”

      Before I work through this, I have to say that I have spent my entire life in Churches of Christ and have a deep and profound respect for our fellowship. I am not an attack dog, rabid liberal or hate filled. I love God and I love his church and respect his Word. Having said that please allow me to take issue with some of your points. I will do that through a series of questions that I would like your answer to:

      1 – You said, “We are to worship the way Jesus instruct us with NO ADDITIONS”. Please inform me what instructions Jesus gave concerning how we are to worship. You said he instructed us very clearly concerning worship and I would like to know what red letter instructions you have in the New Testament from Jesus on this issue.

      2 – Are you willing to go “all the way” on this statement, you said, “So we have no place and no right to add something to worship that we have no Divine authority for…”? You do realize that we don’t follow that at all, right? Where are the instructions for church buildings? Where are the instructions for having a microphone? Where are the instructions for a pitch pipe, a powerpoint, pews, communion trays, pulpits, carpet, windows, and anything else that was not present in the homes of those worshipping early Christians? There is a glaring inconsistency here that we have to be honest about. All those things are ADDITIONS and yet you say no additions.

      3 – Having thought about that do you still stand by your statement, “We please God by doing all and ONLY all that HE has instructed us to do….No additions, No subtractions. No If’s and’s or but’s about it.”?

      Let me know what you think.

    2. Ella, I hope you don’t mind if I put my two cents in on this. I have been raised in the Church of Christ, But I believe it is wrong to use the New Testament writtings as a constitution, that needs to be studied by scholars to understand the various rules.The New Testament is the blood of Christ, not the pages of the letters written by the apostles.If you need written authority for everything you do in worship, then where is the command to gather the Apostles letters together and add them to the back of The Old Testament, and to title them The New Testament?
      Adam had one law and he couldn’t keep it. Moses gave Israel many laws and they couldn’t keep them. Paul refered to the law as a ministration of sin and death in Rom. 8:2 Paul says in Gal. 5:1 “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage”. and in verse 4 he says, “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law, you have fallen from grace.” Keep in mind law is what gives sin it’s strength, and sin is what gives death it’s sting. 1st. Cor. 15:56 So if God wanted to defeat death, the way he did it was to take away the law, which in turn takes away sins strength, which in turn removes the sting from death, and so death is defeated.
      If there is authority in the Old testament for musical instruments then they are authorized, because in 2nd. Tim. 3:15,16,and 17 Timothy is told the old Testament scriptures are good for correction, reproof, and doctrine. Since the New Testament haden’t been written at that time, and the time mentioned is the time when Timothy is a youth, so it is refering to many years previous to that present time.Which means Paul could only have been speaking of the Old Testament scriptures because they were the only ones written at that time.
      In other words in the New Testament you have Paul giving authority to use the Old Testament for doctrine.Therefore, you have the authority for musical instruments all through the Old Testament.

  80. This is the most well written article I have seen on this topic. I grew up C of C but as a adult in my early 30’s decided to go to a Chriatian church that worships with instruments. Here recently my mother a devout,old school, hard core COC “member” recently told my 9 yr old that what we were doing, worshiping with instruments was wrong. Being spiritually in tune my daughter was upset thinking God was upset with us was questioning if we were “okay” I am so glad I found this article as I can better explain to her the hypocrisy of my mothers statement!

    1. Be careful to not paint your mom in a bad light with her grand kids. Your mom probably has had that drilled into her mind for decades and is all she knows.

    2. Hello i have been read of your belief and it has encouraged me and i would like if we can share together here in Africa. your belief is biblical and spiritually. and we are church of Christ with a vocal music but we have know that to use instruments is not sinful, we do have a one church in our area and strong congregation. i would like if you will desire to be instruments of Gods hands to help us in spiritually and church may grow more and more and more here in singida Tanzania and all over in Africa. and i like to invite you to come and visit us and teach us the Gods word. i hope to hear from you soon. God bless you

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  83. Oh gosh. I realise I’m about 5½ years late with this response, but I just found this blog post and could kiss you for writing it so eloquently. (But, you know, a Holy Kiss. Like in Romans 16:16. Funny how we’re so quick to quote “The churches of Christ greet you…”, but we really prefer to leave out the holy kissing. Just sayin’.)

    I have tussled with the silence argument for 17 years, being born and bred coc. My conclusions are the same as yours, but it is difficult for me to articulate them to people I love in the Body. It’s lovely to see others with an earnest desire and the guts to speak the truth as they’ve come to know it – and with such love and understanding. Thank you.

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