Critique the argument for instruments in worship

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austinbrown2

Puritan Board Freshman
Preface: In conjuction with my argument for new songs, a similar argument can be advanced with respect to the use of instruments. Consider the following:

1. We are commanded to praise God with instruments (1).
2. God’s people have used instruments to praise Him (2).
3. The use of instrumental praise begins in Genesis and continues on to Revelation (3).
4. Examples of instrumental worship extend outside of the Levitical priesthood and OT Temple worship (4).
5. Therefore it is proper for God’s people to use instruments to praise Him.
6. There is no command to refrain from using instruments to worship God in the New Covenant.
7. Therefore it is proper for God’s people under the New Covenant to use instruments to praise Him (5).
8. The people of God can rightly praise His name, at least in some contexts, with instruments under the New Covenant.
9. There is no explicit teaching forbidding the use of instruments in the Christian assembly.
10. Since it is right to worship God with instruments Monday through Saturday and since there is no explicit teaching forbidding the use of instruments during the Christian assembly on Sunday, then it would be proper to infer that the use of instruments to praise God’s name during the Christian assembly is valid.

Some will continue to object that the use of instruments was intimately connected with the Levitical, sacrificial system (6), and as such, we dare not utilize them for congregational worship, since they are but shadows that have been fulfilled in Christ. But as Dr. Greg Strawbridge points out,

“The burden of proof is clearly placed on those who deny the validity of OT precedents and commands for the acceptability of instrumental praise in worship. On what specific NT grounds can the use of instruments be abrogated? The covenantal hermeneutic of the Reformed faith looks for continuity. As far as claims that instruments were typological in some way (like the sacrifices), where is the NT evidence to support this? Certainly, the OT does not represent the use of instruments as exclusively connected to blood sacrificial actions.” (7)


P.S. I am beginning to see that what is really objected too is not the logic, but the overriding assumptions behind our systems. But if certain assumptions to the non-instrument paradigm aren't justifiable, then would it be admitted that this argument justfies instruments in such a way that would be consonant with the RPW?

- - - - - - - - -
(1) Psalm 98:4-6; 33:3; 149:3; 150.
(2) Psalm 71:22; 43:4; 2 Sa 6:5.
(3) As Morton Smith observes, “If both the past and the future periods of the church’s worship include instruments, may we not by good and necessary consequence deduce that they may be used in this period as well?” Cited in Dr. Greg Strawbridge’s “Worship and Worship Services,” page 69.
(4) Exo 15:20; 1 Sa 10:5; 18:6; Psalm 52; 92:1-3; 108.
(5) Passages like Hebrews 13:15 could be consonant with musical accompaniment.
(6) Kevin Reed makes this point in “Biblical Worship,” page 62, 65.
(7) Cited from “Worship and Worship Services,” page 69.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Austin,

One problem: an altar and a sacrifice were utilised outside of the Levitical worship also. Yet Hebrews offers compelling evidence for their discontinuation on the basis that they were a part of the Levitical rite. Ditto for musical instruments. We offer the sacrifice of praise through Jesus, not through musical instruments.
 

Kaalvenist

Puritan Board Sophomore
A couple other critiques:

1. You jump from prescription in point 1, to permission in all following points. It is an illegitimate argument to turn to Old Testament commands for the use of particular musical instruments, in order to vindicate the idea that we are allowed or permitted to use any musical instrument we prefer.

2. The particular appointment and prescription of musical instruments in worship demonstrates the divine regulation of their use, as an element of worship -- NOT a circumstance of our singing which may be modified at our pleasure.

3. Again, your assumptions are contrary to the regulative principle of worship: "There is no command to refrain" ... "There is no explicit teaching forbidding," etc. We look for explicit precept, approved example, or good and necessary consequence -- our rule is not "God hasn't forbidden it, therefore we can do it."

4. It is not necessary for every occurrence of the use of musical instruments in the Bible to demonstrate their intimate connection to the Levitical priesthood, the temple worship, or to the sacrificial system. But that connection can still be demonstrated rather easily (see especially 2 Chron. 29:25-28). Or, if you will still use musical instruments in worship, you must use them as God has commanded. You must use the particular instruments appointed; they must be played upon by Levites; and they must be played upon only during the offering of the sacrifice. If the use of musical instruments is still commanded, then the accompanying circumstances are likewise commanded. And there are no similar commands occurring in the New Testament, freeing it up from these ceremonies (as in the case of psalmody); so that this is the standing rule for the use of musical instruments in worship. But if these ceremonies have been abolished, then so have instruments.
 

austinbrown2

Puritan Board Freshman
Armourbearer

>>>>>One problem: an altar and a sacrifice were utilised outside of the Levitical worship also. Yet Hebrews offers compelling evidence for their discontinuation on the basis that they were a part of the Levitical rite. Ditto for musical instruments. We offer the sacrifice of praise through Jesus, not through musical instruments.>>>>>>>

Ok, I see your point regarding the use of the alter outside of alter and sacrifice. So does this logic demand that the use of instruments outside of Levtical system is also done away with? This is parallel logic, no?

The alter and sacrifices are clearly part of the Levitical system. No dispute here. But I'm having a hard time seeing how instruments are part of the Levitical system in such a way that if that system goes away, then all instrumental worship does also. If we admit that instruments are ok for other aspects of worship, then the parrallel logical argument breaks down, because it WOULD be wrong to use an alter with sacrifices now (Unless of course you are Jew in the Millennium... just kidding :) ).

And I'm sorry but I just don't see Hebrews dealing with instruments. Granted, it talks about the sacrificial system, but instruments? Unless Hebrews can be shown to deal with this instrumental issue directly, then I would charge that the point begs the question. You have to assume the connection to posit the claim.

But what about our offering the sacrifice of praise through Jesus? Well, ok. I grant that. We are a living sacrifice. Yes. Were the OT saints living sacrifices and offering up sacrifices of praise also? If so, then they used instruments in conjunction with that, right?

Or does the fact that the NT talks about sacrifices of praise necessarily entail, or seriously suggest, that we cannot do that to the accompaniment of instruments? Moreover, if they do speak to the cessation of instrumental worship, then are instruments wrong for us now in all contexts of worship? And how do you know, methodologically speaking, that such a passage is meant to be distinguished?

Lastly, I detect in your statement that instruments are typological in some sense. Is there good evidence for this? And were instrumental praise outside of Levitical worship also typological? And would there be a mingling of type and reality (they sang with it) in the OT and now in some contexts of NT worship?

A lot of questions, I know. But I think they are fair questions.

Austin
 

austinbrown2

Puritan Board Freshman
Kalvenist

>>>>>>1. You jump from prescription in point 1, to permission in all following points. It is an illegitimate argument to turn to Old Testament commands for the use of particular musical instruments, in order to vindicate the idea that we are allowed or permitted to use any musical instrument we prefer.<<<<<<<

This statement is true if and only if your position is correct. It may be, but those elements which disprove this syllogism need to introduced in such a fashion as to defeat and nullify certain premises. For premises (1-4) certainly do infer (5). Premises (6) through (9) build on that valid inference. Conclusion (10) seeks to draw some valid conclusions. I trust you will grant that the logic is valid so far as the premises are concerned. Premise (1) is a command.



>>>>>>>2. The particular appointment and prescription of musical instruments in worship demonstrates the divine regulation of their use, as an element of worship -- NOT a circumstance of our singing which may be modified at our pleasure.<<<<<<<<<<<

Do you play the commanded tune for certain Psalms?

Is it possible that the command for certain instruments applied only to the Levitical priests in Temple worship? And if that system has passed away we are justified in asking ourselves how we might praise God now? And therefore might my syllogism help answer that question?


>>>>>>>3. Again, your assumptions are contrary to the regulative principle of worship: "There is no command to refrain" ... "There is no explicit teaching forbidding," etc. We look for explicit precept, approved example, or good and necessary consequence -- our rule is not "God hasn't forbidden it, therefore we can do it."<<<<<<<<

My assumptions are certainly not contrary to the RPW, narrowly considered. Those statements are built upon previous commands and divinely approved examples which are both approved methods for RPW, right? There may be other factors which disprove the good and necessary consequence, but narrowly considered, I don't see anything wrong with the logic of the argument with respect to the RPW. A similar argument would be made for Sunday Sabbath worship, no?


<<<<<<<<<<<4. It is not necessary for every occurrence of the use of musical instruments in the Bible to demonstrate their intimate connection to the Levitical priesthood, the temple worship, or to the sacrificial system. But that connection can still be demonstrated rather easily (see especially 2 Chron. 29:25-28). Or, if you will still use musical instruments in worship, you must use them as God has commanded. You must use the particular instruments appointed; they must be played upon by Levites; and they must be played upon only during the offering of the sacrifice. If the use of musical instruments is still commanded, then the accompanying circumstances are likewise commanded. And there are no similar commands occurring in the New Testament, freeing it up from these ceremonies (as in the case of psalmody); so that this is the standing rule for the use of musical instruments in worship. But if these ceremonies have been abolished, then so have instruments.>>>>>>>>>>>


See answer to point 2.

Also where was the command that any instruments could be used to praise God (see premise 2 and 4)? Does the RPW regulate that?

Also, you mentioned that the Psalms are commanded and freed up from the ceremonial system. Interesting. I actually was toying around with that thought. If the Psalms were part of the Levitical system and that system passed away, then why not the Psalms? It seems like there is a problem here, but I can't put my finger on it right now. I'll keep thinking. (Austin taps his desk while he thinks, "The command to sing Psalms free's it from the ceremonial system... hmmm... "free's it"... might instruments be free from the Levtical system also... maybe the abolishment of that system relinquishes that aspect and now the general argument, like the one I have formulated here establishes the use of instruments...").

Honestly, if I had to just speak very candidly, this whole argument is really tedious. I'm getting worn out. I have been studying the Scriptures for some time now and have dealt with leading worship in my previous place of assembly and in the course of all of that, and even now in some respects, the EP no instrument position never commended itself to me naturally- that is, by studying the Scriptures. Of course, it could be the case that I am immature or influenced by society or whaterver, but this whole thing seems like a stretch. It just doesn't flow with great ease, at least to me. But then again, determining what is proper now is somewhat difficult for anyone who takes the Scriptures seriously.

I ask for your patience. All of you have shown a lot of that. And I thank you.

Austin
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Austin,

I sense your struggle with the logic of the non-instrumental position is due in no small part to the fact that we are speaking about an issue upon which a majority practises something different. It might be helpful for you to parallel another act of worship which derives from the OT, namely, burning of incense. Suppose evangelical Protestant churches all of a sudden became interested in burning incense. Would you oppose it? Why, or why not? The cases are the same -- only it happens that one is received as acceptable and the other is not.

I appreciate your questions, but the multitude of them only serves to obscure the point at issue, which I have raised in answer to your request for a critique of your arguments in favour of mechanical instruments in worship. Your whole argument hinges on the fact that instruments were employed outside of Levitical worship. My critique hinges on the fact that many other aspects of OT worship were incorporated into Levitical worship, and said to be annuled with the cessation of OT ceremonial worship, like the altar and sacrifices. That leaves you with the burden of showing that instruments are somehow different from these other aspects of worship. I could provide answers to your questions about the typical nature of instruments, but this would merely be ex abundanti argumentation, and not germane to the critique you have requested. Blessings!

[Edited on 10-10-2006 by armourbearer]
 

Kaalvenist

Puritan Board Sophomore
Originally posted by austinbrown2
>>>>>>1. You jump from prescription in point 1, to permission in all following points. It is an illegitimate argument to turn to Old Testament commands for the use of particular musical instruments, in order to vindicate the idea that we are allowed or permitted to use any musical instrument we prefer.<<<<<<<

This statement is true if and only if your position is correct. It may be, but those elements which disprove this syllogism need to introduced in such a fashion as to defeat and nullify certain premises. For premises (1-4) certainly do infer (5). Premises (6) through (9) build on that valid inference. Conclusion (10) seeks to draw some valid conclusions. I trust you will grant that the logic is valid so far as the premises are concerned. Premise (1) is a command.
Your statement here makes no sense. It ignores the simple fact that prescription does not equate permission. No instrumentalist says that particular instruments are required by God to be employed in our worship. This is a far cry from the situation as it existed in the Old Testament; if the Levites did not employ musical instruments, in accordance with the LORD's command (2 Chron. 29:25), they would have sinned.

With musical instruments being commanded under the Old Testament, I reason that this command was either moral or ceremonial; or if it was ceremonial, it could be rendered a matter of indifference, as the location of worship (John 4:21). But you ignore the fact that their use was commanded, and simply adduce the existence (not command) of instruments in Israel's worship as a foundational vindication of the allowance of instruments in our worship.
Originally posted by austinbrown2
>>>>>>>2. The particular appointment and prescription of musical instruments in worship demonstrates the divine regulation of their use, as an element of worship -- NOT a circumstance of our singing which may be modified at our pleasure.<<<<<<<<<<<

Do you play the commanded tune for certain Psalms?

Is it possible that the command for certain instruments applied only to the Levitical priests in Temple worship? And if that system has passed away we are justified in asking ourselves how we might praise God now? And therefore might my syllogism help answer that question?
1. The singing of Psalms has been commanded. The use of particular tunes has not been commanded.

2. I argue that the use of certain instruments did apply only to the priests. This demonstrates that the use of musical instruments in worship is not a circumstance which we determine by "asking ourselves how we might praise God now," but is an element of worship dependent upon divine prescription.
Originally posted by austinbrown2
>>>>>>>3. Again, your assumptions are contrary to the regulative principle of worship: "There is no command to refrain" ... "There is no explicit teaching forbidding," etc. We look for explicit precept, approved example, or good and necessary consequence -- our rule is not "God hasn't forbidden it, therefore we can do it."<<<<<<<<

My assumptions are certainly not contrary to the RPW, narrowly considered. Those statements are built upon previous commands and divinely approved examples which are both approved methods for RPW, right? There may be other factors which disprove the good and necessary consequence, but narrowly considered, I don't see anything wrong with the logic of the argument with respect to the RPW. A similar argument would be made for Sunday Sabbath worship, no?
1. Austin, I quoted you in this matter (and in the matter of psalmody) as arguing that "God has not particularly forbidden such-and-such, therefore we are permitted to do such-and-such." That is as clear an enunciation of the normative principle, and as clear a rejection of the regulative principle, as I have ever heard.

2. You have not demonstrated "good and necessary consequence" in either of these cases. "Good and necessary consequence" means that, by laws of logic and reason, we are forced to a particular conclusion which may not be explicitly stated. But you have not demonstrated any relaxing of the regulative principle as it applies to song or instruments in worship; you have not even begun to actually argue for uninspired songs in worship, merely the vague "new song" argument, and assuming (not reasoning) that this means uninspired hymnody; you have assumed the commands for instruments in the Old Testament demonstrate a permission or allowance (not command) for instruments in the New Testament, etc. That is not "good and necessary consequence."

3. No, your method of argumentation is not remotely similar to the argument for first-day Sabbath observance. That is built upon (1.) the demonstration of the perpetuity of the original Sabbath command, with its requirements to keep it holy, turn away our foot, not do any work, etc., (2.) the rationale for a change of the day, (3.) the New Testament evidence for Christians worshipping on the first, rather than the seventh, day, etc. I would say that the argument for first-day Sabbath observance is built upon "good and necessary consequence" -- but that is rather remote from your method of argumentation.
 

austinbrown2

Puritan Board Freshman
Thanks for all the replies gentlemen...

I will be moving soon, so you can imagine how much I have on my plate right now. As such, I'm going to have to ease up on posting. But again, thanks for the input.

Blessings,
Austin
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
Originally posted by Kaalvenist

3. Again, your assumptions are contrary to the regulative principle of worship: "There is no command to refrain" ... "There is no explicit teaching forbidding," etc. We look for explicit precept, approved example, or good and necessary consequence -- our rule is not "God hasn't forbidden it, therefore we can do it."

quote]

I think that the RPW, as usually understood, does not leave room for adiaphora (those things that are indifferent). If the Scriptures have no opinion, one way or the other, regarding a certain point of Christian worship, the RPW is interpreted to mean that you can't do it. But does that necessarily follow? Couldn't the Bible's non-opinion also be interpreted to mean that the Scripture is non-committal and leaves the subject up to the Church to decide?

A simple example: the Bible nowhere gives us a positive command as to how many times per Lord's Day that Christians should participate in corporate worship. Given that, isn't the traditional pattern of morning and evening worship a violation of the RPW, since we are not explicitly told to do so (nor are given an example, nor are given something to extrapolate from "good and necessary consequnce")?

Again, I think the RPW, commonly understood, leaves no room for adiaphora.

Or am I wrong?
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Interesting question. How often we meet technically falls into the circumstantials of worship -- a circumstance being defined as that which is necessary in order for a commanded action to be done. Now, even here, the Confession says we are to be guided by the general rules of the Word; and it is difficult to look past the fact that morning and evening worship is somewhat reflective of creation, of the morning and evening sacrifices, and of the Psalmist's sabbath devotions, Ps. 92.
 
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