There is not a single person I know who likes to be considered wrong in (or on) a particular belief. In fact, when another comments that you are wrong there might be a number of responses to that assertion. You could become angry, defensive, you might respond by putting distance between you and the accuser, or you might attempt to counter the assertion by a reasoned reply.
Not long ago a brother (Stephen Bradd) brought to our attention a website that accused the Lord’s church of being wrong on some particular topics; at the very least, they have questioned what is believed by them. The word “legalism” is used often in this essay. They preface their treatise with this headline: “Bible Questions for the Church of Christ.” New Testament Christians should never feel ill-at-ease when faced when a headline (or remark) like that. In fact, Christians should always go to the Scripture to see if those things that are said are accurate.
Thus, the “Bible-based, para-church ministry not affiliated with any denomination” website has given us the opportunity to do exactly that. Unfortunately, the website that poses to ask tough questions did more commentating on various topics than asking questions. Nevertheless, questions were asked. The Fellowship Room is currently running a series of articles (in dialogue fashion) that addresses these questions and comments.
If you have an interest in looking at it in its full context, let me encourage you to check it out.
A study of CC doctrine is, of course, not complete without a look at instrumental music! The non-instrumental music wing of the CC feels so strongly about this that they will not fellowship with churches who use instrumental music, saying “We don’t fellowship the instrument.” A cappella singing is wonderful and most worshipful! The concern is why this issue would cause folks to break fellowship with other Christians.
1. Why is instrumental music not allowed in worship when the definition of psalm (which you do allow) is a hymn set to instrumental music (see Strong’s Dictionary of the Greek New Testament, as well as any English dictionary)? Since psalms are included in a proper worship (Ephesians 5:19), shouldn’t instrumental music necessarily be used in worship to be obedient to Scripture? Is it being disobedient to Paul’s instruction by not using psalms correctly in the worship service? In other words, given the definition of psalm, by your own rules of “inclusion and exclusion,” doesn’t the Bible require instrumental music?
RT – I don’t think you have given necessary thought to this series of questions. The definition of the English hymn does not mean a “hymn set to instrumental music”! You might want to get a better dictionary than the one you have if you read this from Strong’s. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words defines hymn simply as “song of praise addressed to God” (p. 581). The word had no direct connection to the use of the mechanical instrument or the non-use of the mechanical instrument. Are you sure that psalms includes the mechanical instrument whenever the word is used in the New Testament? According to Mounce (p. 548) the word is used 7 times in the New Testament. They are: Luke 20:42; 24:44, Acts 1:20; 13:33, 1 Corinthians 14:26, Ephesians 5:19, and Colossians 3:16. Please, tell me, is the mechanical instrument to be understood in each and all these contexts? If you make a distinction, why? Exactly, what is the definition of the word psalms? Bauer’s Greek lexicon defines it “song of praise, psalm” (p. 891).
2. Aren’t there instruments of music in worship to God in heaven (Rev 5:8)? Aren’t there instruments of music in worship in the Old Testament? Is there any condemnation of instruments of music anywhere in the Bible (chapter 5, Silence Says Something)? While there are many Psalms quoted in the New Testament, why are there no statements of caution to make sure to not obey the musical instrument passages in the Psalms? Is this practice from the Word of God or is it a tradition of men? Is it really so important as to break fellowship with other Christians?
RT – Yes, there is an instrument mentioned in heaven, but is this your justification? If it is, since each of the twenty-four elders had a harp, will you require each member of the congregation to also have a harp? Moreover, each one of the elders also had a golden-bowl full of incense; will you justify your practice of the use of the golden-bowl of incense on the same passage? If you won’t, why not? To use that as justification is to use all that is said in the verse (not to mention the chapter). You ask about the instruments of music in the Old Testament, but is it the Old Testament that gives us our authority to do things under the authority of the New Testament? This is mighty strange that you would go back there to find your justification for a church practice that the New Testament does not authorize. With regard to your last two questions these are much more easily answered than you realize. Why no caution? When the Lord said something was to be done, did He need to tell us what NOT to do? What He told us to do is our caution! In other words, to go beyond what the Lord said is presumptuous; to go beyond what the Lord said means one does not have God in so doing (2 John 9-11). The use of the mechanical instrument is a tradition of man – since there is no New Testament sanction for its use in the worship of the local congregation.
3. Is there a single solitary sentence anywhere in all of Scripture that even hints of God’s dissaproval of instrumental accompaniment to singing (Maxey on Pinkerton).
RT – Might we ask a similar question: Is there a single solitary sentence anywhere in all of Scripture that even hints of God’s dis-approval of praying to Mary? An interesting question it might be, but it misses the point. In the New Testament, those who seek to be pleasing to God will follow and practice what He said He wants done; they will not see where they can get something “squeezed in” in order to satisfy the human ear; they will not seek to go beyond what He has said. In fact, those who seek to be pleasing to God will not even entertain the thought of trying to “squeeze in” anything that is not pleasing to God as He revealed Himself.
4. It seems to us that the Church of Christ is desparately inconsistent in interpreting the Bible. If necessary to prove a point, the CC calls on the Old Testament. Examples: In order to try to disprove Original Sin, you call on Ezekiel 18:19-32. If you want to support patternism, you call on Leviticus 10:1-2. Aside from both of the passages taken out of context to prove a point, why do you conveniently ignore the Old Testament passages about instrumental music?
RT – Since the New Testament teaches that we can learn much from the old covenant (Romans 15:4), New Testament Christians will do exactly that. We learn much when Ezekiel 18 addresses the nature of sin and to whom it is against. Ezekiel tells us the way God addresses sin and the sinner, and this transcends covenants. Romans 5:12 gives us the thrust of Ezekiel 18; death passed unto all men, not sin. This notion of “patternism” and your rejection of it is only a superficial rejection. For instance, do you go to a church building each Sunday morning? Do you sing songs of praise with the mechanical instrument each Sunday morning? Do you hear preaching each Sunday morning? Do you give of your means each Sunday morning (or whatever the frequency)? Why is this not a pattern? There is no ignorance of the Old Testament, but it must be rightly applied (2 Timothy 2:15).