If We Should Not Use Instruments: Then Why Does 95% of the Church Use Them?

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tellville

Puritan Board Junior
Majority doesn't mean correct but it does say something else. If 95% of the church uses instruments then there must be a legitimate argument out there for using them. Even though Arius was wrong, he was making an argument that at face value made a lot of sense (it would have had too, 95% of the church was convinced!). But alas, Arius did not have the BEST argument, because it didn't best account ALL the biblical data, unlike Athanasius' trinitarian argument which eventually won the day.

So the question that has to be asked is why RPW and EP is not really all that convincing to a majority of Christians, even reformed typed Christians.

Either RPW's argument is weak (Arius), or those who are making it aren't being heard (Athanasius). What do you guys think is the crux of the problem? Or is it just a rebel heart that prevents people from embracing RPW? But why would so many Christians have such a rebellious heart on such an important issue unless you want to say that only those who practice RPW are true Christians. But then you would be adding to the Gospel. So that brings it back to the start of this paragraph: Either RPW's argument is weak (Arius), or those who are making it aren't being heard (Athanasius). Which is it?
 

JohnGill

Puritan Board Senior
Actually, there was no fallacious reasoning in the OP.

To be fallacious, there must be an improper movement from premise to conclusion. There was no conclusion in the OP, only a question.

It's interesting to see how several people have jumped to their own conclusion, assuming that the OP is using an appeal to majority to assert that instruments are good.

In fact, if you clicked the link and read it, you would know the author is actually pointing people in the opposite direction.
"The Fallacy of Many Questions: On the Notions of Complexity, Loadedness and Unfair Entrapment in Interrogative Theory"

I was responding to the question not the linked site.
 

Tim

Puritan Board Graduate
Majority doesn't mean correct but it does say something else. If 95% of the church uses instruments then there must be a legitimate argument out there for using them.
This is an interesting comment. I am just going to take a step back from the specific subject of the OP and make an observation.

I am becoming increasingly convinced that people adopt a certain theological position by default. That is, they have never even heard that there is a debate on that particular issue.

So, if you go to a certain church and ask, why do you not use instruments (***EDIT: should read "why do you use instruments"***), you will not get this:

"Well, I have given this matter a great deal of thought. I have studied the continuity and discontinuity between the OT and the NT, I have studied the function of the Levitical priesthood and the regulative principle of worship, the early practices of the church, the Westminster Divines, Calvin, Girardeau, etc. And have come to the conclusion ________"

No, instead you will likely get a blank stare. They will also likely never have been taught the regulative principle of worship and how it is demonstrated from scripture.

I have recently sought to introduce a church elder and church piano player to the RPW. They were just never taught this, so I am trying to do it kindly and charitably, just as those who showed me this did for me when I first learned about reformed theology.
 
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tellville

Puritan Board Junior
Majority doesn't mean correct but it does say something else. If 95% of the church uses instruments then there must be a legitimate argument out there for using them.
This is an interesting comment. I am just going to take a step back from the specific subject of the OP and make an observation.

I am becoming increasingly convinced that people adopt a certain theological position by default. That is, they have never even heard that there is a debate on that particular issue.

So, if you go to a certain church and ask, why do you not use instruments, you will not get this:

"Well, I have given this matter a great deal of thought. I have studied the continuity and discontinuity between the OT and the NT, I have studied the function of the Levitical priesthood and the regulative principle of worship, the early practices of the church, the Westminster Divines, Calvin, Girardeau, etc. And have come to the conclusion ________"

No, instead you will likely get a blank stare. They will also likely never have been taught the regulative principle of worship and how it is demonstrated from scripture.

I have recently sought to introduce a church elder and church piano player to the RPW. They were just never taught this, so I am trying to do it kindly and charitably, just as those who showed me this did for me when I first learned about reformed theology.
This is a good point in favour of "Athanasius" syndrome.

Personally, I think people have lumped together the snotty people who were against new worship songs as opposed to the classic hymns with the people who actually have a biblical argument to make with the RPW and EP. :2cents:
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
The presumed scholar of the moment on the subject of Westminster and exclusive psalmody/musical instruments in worship is Nick Needham. He concedes the historical point that not just the Westminster Assembly, but Puritanism in general were opposed to instrumental music in worship. As far as his views on EP and some faults in his handling of musical instruments, see the forthcoming review by Matthew Winzer in The Confessional Presbyterian volume 4 (2008). I believe Matthew's work will challenge the presumption, and very much smashes Needham's conclusion that the Assembly allows for anything but psalms in the documents they produced.
Except for all of the Westminster Divines, of course, right?
Where does the WS prohibit instruments?
http://www.puritanboard.com/f30/do-westminster-stds-teach-exclusive-psalmody-16682/
 

Backwoods Presbyterian

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Majority doesn't mean correct but it does say something else. If 95% of the church uses instruments then there must be a legitimate argument out there for using them.
This is an interesting comment. I am just going to take a step back from the specific subject of the OP and make an observation.

I am becoming increasingly convinced that people adopt a certain theological position by default. That is, they have never even heard that there is a debate on that particular issue.

So, if you go to a certain church and ask, why do you not use instruments, you will not get this:

"Well, I have given this matter a great deal of thought. I have studied the continuity and discontinuity between the OT and the NT, I have studied the function of the Levitical priesthood and the regulative principle of worship, the early practices of the church, the Westminster Divines, Calvin, Girardeau, etc. And have come to the conclusion ________"

No, instead you will likely get a blank stare. They will also likely never have been taught the regulative principle of worship and how it is demonstrated from scripture.

I have recently sought to introduce a church elder and church piano player to the RPW. They were just never taught this, so I am trying to do it kindly and charitably, just as those who showed me this did for me when I first learned about reformed theology.
:amen:
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
This may be true in churches where practices are held of long tradition and never discussed or where there has been no fairly recent coming to the practice by a church. However, I suspect those churches that hold to acapella exclusive psalmody are less likely to give a blank stare as either they have come to a now minority position in recent time or their church or denomination more than likely has had to defend its practices and so as a whole the group may be more knowledgeable why they do what they do. :2cents:
Majority doesn't mean correct but it does say something else. If 95% of the church uses instruments then there must be a legitimate argument out there for using them.
This is an interesting comment. I am just going to take a step back from the specific subject of the OP and make an observation.

I am becoming increasingly convinced that people adopt a certain theological position by default. That is, they have never even heard that there is a debate on that particular issue.

So, if you go to a certain church and ask, why do you not use instruments, you will not get this:

"Well, I have given this matter a great deal of thought. I have studied the continuity and discontinuity between the OT and the NT, I have studied the function of the Levitical priesthood and the regulative principle of worship, the early practices of the church, the Westminster Divines, Calvin, Girardeau, etc. And have come to the conclusion ________"

No, instead you will likely get a blank stare. They will also likely never have been taught the regulative principle of worship and how it is demonstrated from scripture.

I have recently sought to introduce a church elder and church piano player to the RPW. They were just never taught this, so I am trying to do it kindly and charitably, just as those who showed me this did for me when I first learned about reformed theology.
:amen:
 

Bygracealone

Puritan Board Sophomore
Majority doesn't mean correct but it does say something else. If 95% of the church uses instruments then there must be a legitimate argument out there for using them.
This is an interesting comment. I am just going to take a step back from the specific subject of the OP and make an observation.

I am becoming increasingly convinced that people adopt a certain theological position by default. That is, they have never even heard that there is a debate on that particular issue.

So, if you go to a certain church and ask, why do you not use instruments, you will not get this:

"Well, I have given this matter a great deal of thought. I have studied the continuity and discontinuity between the OT and the NT, I have studied the function of the Levitical priesthood and the regulative principle of worship, the early practices of the church, the Westminster Divines, Calvin, Girardeau, etc. And have come to the conclusion ________"

No, instead you will likely get a blank stare. They will also likely never have been taught the regulative principle of worship and how it is demonstrated from scripture.

I have recently sought to introduce a church elder and church piano player to the RPW. They were just never taught this, so I am trying to do it kindly and charitably, just as those who showed me this did for me when I first learned about reformed theology.
Tim, did you mean to include the word "not" above (bold and underlined by me...)? Just curious because I've come to find that when I ask people who don't use instruments in worship, they usually have a well-studied and thought out answer. You can imagine that Churches which don't use instruments in worship are going to get this question put to them quite often. People like us need to have an answer as to why we're different from the other 99% of the Churches. However, when you ask most people why they do use instruments in worship, that's when you get the blank stare or some poor argument like, "Well the Psalms mention instruments in them..."

Interestingly, go back 300 or so years and the 90-99% figure would have been reversed...

Nevertheless, I agree with your overall observation and that is, many people tend to just go along with whatever their Church happens to practice. They tend to think that if it was good enough for their parents and grandparents, then it ought to be good enough for them too and it must be what the Church has always done. Nobody should be satisfied with doing what they do in worship just because of tradition... I can assure you that our people have been taught why we do what we do...
 

Bygracealone

Puritan Board Sophomore
This may be true in churches where practices are held of long tradition and never discussed or where there has been no fairly recent coming to the practice by a church. However, I suspect those churches that hold to acapella exclusive psalmody are less likely to give a blank stare as either they have come to a now minority position in recent time or their church or denomination more than likely has had to defend its practices and so as a whole the group may be more knowledgeable why they do what they do. :2cents:
Chris, you beat me to the punch... :)
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Historical questions.

When did organs first appear in Congregationional Churches in New England?

I suspect that the acceptance of organs is a post second great awakening phenomena. I wonder what the historical facts are.
I know that Cotton Mather saw the organ coming into New England as a way for the Anglicans (no offense to you sir) to steal away the Puritan youth, much like the rock band in the church has stolen away many of today's youth from 'traditional' worshipping churches!

Here is the quote:

"Attempts to propagate the Church of England among us, by a most conspicuous and marvelous blast of heaven upon them, do very much come to nothing. Even the organs introduced into the chapel in this metropolis of the English America, signify very little to draw over our people unto them." -Cotton Mather, in a letter to John Stirling, 1714.
It is fascinating to hear that organs were in Anglican Churches in the Americas that early.
An early historian of the Episcopal Church in Maryland viewed organs and the singing of hymns as a Methodist or Lutheran infection.
For what it's worth, I believe Cotton Mather was responding to the famous incident involving Thomas Brattle's organ. He was a Boston layman, and the first to import an organ into New England in 1708 (300 years ago). When he died in 1713, he willed it to the Brattle Square Church (Congregational). Those trustees declined and gave it instead to King's Chapel (Anglican) in Boston. Brattle Square church eventually acquired its own organ in 1790.

Source: Bruce C. Daniels, Puritans at Play: Leisure and Recreation in Colonial New England, p. 59.

Historical questions.
When did organs first appear in Presbyterian Churches in the North America?
When did organs first appear in old school / old light Presbyterian Churches in North America?
When did organs first appear in Dutch Reformed Churches in the North America?
When did organs first appear in German Reformed Churches in North America?
When did organs first appear in Congregationional hurches in New England?
When did organs first appear in Baptist [other then free will and missionary] Churches in the US?
When did organs first appear in Episcopal Churches in the US?
I suspect that the acceptance of organs is a post second great awakening phenomena. I wonder what the historical facts are.
Julius Melton, Presbyterian Worship in America: Changing Patterns Since 1787, pp. 35, 150:

Some churches which early took the controversial step of installing an organ were First Presbyterian Church of Alexandria, Virginia, in 1817; Independent Presbyterian of Savannah, Georgia, by the 1820's; and First Presbyterian of Rochester, New York, by 1830. Second Presbyterian Church of Charleston, South Carolina, went through a stormy controversy over using a choir and instruments -- highlighted by the padlocking of the cello by some conservatives -- before it finally secured an organ in 1856.[21]

It is worth noting that American Presbyterians preceded those in Scotland by a number of years in making this change in their common inherited pattern of church music. There was no successful introduction of an organ in Scottish Presbyterianism until 1860.[22]

[21] Daniel W. Hollis, Look to the Rock: One Hundred Ante-bellum Presbyterian Churches of the South (Richmond: John Knox Press, 1961), p. 129
[22] William D. Maxwell, A History of Worship in the Church of Scotland (London: Oxford University Press, 1955), p. 167
John Price, Old Light on New Worship: Musical Instruments and The Worship of God, A Theological, Historical and Psychological Study, pp. 133-135:

The first Puritan church to have an organ was the First Congregational Church in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1770.[222]

[222] Charles H. Lippy and Peter W. Williams, ed., Encylopedia of the American Religious Experience, (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1988), Vol. 3, 1292.

Even among the Anglicans, who often had an organ, there were some who stood against its use into the late 1700s. Dr. though. Bradbury Chandler, a New England Episcopalian minister, had resisted an organ against the increasing pressure of his congregation. After his farewell sermon in 1785, realizing that the end of his life was near, he told his people, "that it would not be long before he was in his grave -- he knew that before his head was cold there, they would have an Organ -- and they might do as they pleased."[225]

In America, the Baptists were among the last to give way before the rising flood of the use of organs. David Benedict (1779-1874), a New England Baptist pastor and historian, states that the first organ in a Baptist church was about 1820 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

[225] Ezra Stiles, The Literary Diary of Ezra Stiles, ed. Franklin Bowditch Dexter, (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1901), Vol. 3, 162.

The Scottish Presbyterian churches, founded by John Knox in the 16th century, maintained their no-instrumental convictions for well over three hundred years, nearly one hundred years longer than their brethren in England and America. It was not until the late 19th century that the organ began to enter the worship of the Scottish Reformed churches. The famous American revivalist team of Moody and Sankey seems to have been one means of eroding the convictions of these churches. In 1873, Dwight L. Moody and Ira D. Sankey began an evangelistic tour of the British Isles. Sankey sang solo gospel songs while accompanying himself with a portable organ.
 

Tim

Puritan Board Graduate
Tim, did you mean to include the word "not" above (bold and underlined by me...)? Just curious because I've come to find that when I ask people who don't use instruments in worship, they usually have a well-studied and thought out answer.
Yes, thanks for the correction. 'Not' should be omitted. Those in the minority will know why. I meant:

"why do you use instruments" = blank stare (...why...wouldn't...we...?)
 
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Neogillist

Puritan Board Freshman
Interesting question indeed. I personally would be in favor of not using musical instruments in church. Rather than resorting to church tradition as the sole argument for banning instruments, I would more especially point to the following observations:

1) Instruments have a tendency to add beauty and taste to the music if that is not the purpose to which they are used. Now, part of the effect of the Reformation was to remove the profane (common), esthetic (beautiful) and ecstatic (emotional) aspect of worship for such principles affect to affect our senses rather than our souls. Consequently, using instruments to add beauty and life to the congregational singing is to defeat the purpose of worship, which is to meditate on God and praise Him from the heart.

2) Those who actually play the instruments cannot truly take part in the worship or at least must concentrate more on their playing than on the words. Now some talented musicians (and singers) can apperently do both the singing and the playing while totally concentrating on the actual words, but few of them can. I myself used to play the guitar in church and I seriously never could truly take part in the worship as a result of that.

3) Part of the focus of the Reformation was to seek simplicity to life and Christian worship. Now because God has given us vocal chords to sing, using man-made instruments in addition is to move towards complexity rather than simplicity. Because instruments are not necessary, the church does not need them.

4) In using instruments, there is also a danger to allowing them to 'drive' the worship rather than accompany the congregational singing. This is most apperent among charismatic churches that use heavy drumming and electric guitars that tend to overpower the voice of the congregation.

5) Not all instruments are as conducive to accompanying the singing to ensure proper pitch, etc. For instance drums only provide rythm. Now in deciding which instruments are acceptable and which are not, we become arbitary.

6) Certain instruments add unecessary expense to the church budget. My church has spent thousands of dollars on their organ. Now this money could have been put to better use for God's kingdom. Certain Reformed churches own organs that are worth more than 1/4 million dollars. What opulence!

In the end, the purpose of instruments (if they are indeed used in the end) is to ensure proper pitch and rythm so as to help people to sing in unison and be conducive to the singing. Now if this can be achieved without instruments by use of a lead singer, or simply use an instrument to help the congregation set the right pitch at the beginning of each song, we shall have achieved the purpose.
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
Interesting question indeed. I personally would be in favor of not using musical instruments in church. Rather than resorting to church tradition as the sole argument for banning instruments, I would more especially point to the following observations:

1) Instruments have a tendency to add beauty and taste to the music if that is not the purpose to which they are used. Now, part of the effect of the Reformation was to remove the profane (common), esthetic (beautiful) and ecstatic (emotional) aspect of worship for such principles affect to affect our senses rather than our souls. Consequently, using instruments to add beauty and life to the congregational singing is to defeat the purpose of worship, which is to meditate on God and praise Him from the heart.
You are basing this argument on a 3 part division of the human nature into soul (your term senses) and spirit (your term soul). I am not sure that the division can be justified. When Paul points to the Romans obedience in Rom. 6:17 he divides the human person into mind, heart and will "You have obeyed, from the heart the form of doctrine..." Biblically the heart is the seat of both emotions and spirit.
Yet the Bible records that the use of instruments affects more than just emotions. In 2 Kings 3:15 Elisha wanted a harpist to play when he was asked for a word from the Lord.


2) Those who actually play the instruments cannot truly take part in the worship or at least must concentrate more on their playing than on the words. Now some talented musicians (and singers) can apperently do both the singing and the playing while totally concentrating on the actual words, but few of them can. I myself used to play the guitar in church and I seriously never could truly take part in the worship as a result of that.
You did the right thing by stopping accompnying worship if you cannot worship yourself when doing so. But although it is more difficult to worship through an instrument it is not impossible. I am blessed to be in a church where a number of us routinely do so. Each congregation must assess the gifts its members bring to worship and act accordingly.

3) Part of the focus of the Reformation was to seek simplicity to life and Christian worship. Now because God has given us vocal chords to sing, using man-made instruments in addition is to move towards complexity rather than simplicity. Because instruments are not necessary, the church does not need them.
The return to biblical doctrine and consequent practice was the Reformational imperative. Simplicity as simplicity was not. As I have shown in another thread the NT instructions to sing praise (however you interpret "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs") simply cannot be pressed so as to exclude accompanied praise for at the time Paul wrote, Christian Jews were still participating in the temple sacrifices where accompanied sung praise was the norm and there is at least one sacrificial context in Christian worship, that of the communion service in which we remember Christ's sacrifice
.
If necessity was a Biblical argument I would agree, but it is not. When God ordained sung praise and accompanied sung praise he told us that it was "fitting" that he be so praised and specifically that he should be so praised among the gentiles (Ps. 98:4-6).

4) In using instruments, there is also a danger to allowing them to 'drive' the worship rather than accompany the congregational singing. This is most apperent among charismatic churches that use heavy drumming and electric guitars that tend to overpower the voice of the congregation.
AMEN!!! But abuse does not nullify right use. Just because the Roman Catholics have the mass does not mean we shouldn't practice the biblical order of communion.

5) Not all instruments are as conducive to accompanying the singing to ensure proper pitch, etc. For instance drums only provide rythm. Now in deciding which instruments are acceptable and which are not, we become arbitary.
Ps. 150 mandates the use of every instrumental family available at the time. including percussion, in worship. The instruments used in individual churches are a circumstance not an element and will vary depending on the members gifts. Any instrument, and I include drums and electric guitar and bass, can be abused in Christian worship and any instrument can be rightly used to accompany Christian worship. The answer to abuse is not throwing the baby out with the bathwater but right use. A technically skilled worshipful drummer can, without dominating, make it ever so much easier for the congregation to sing together in a way that cannot be matched by a voice led a cappella congregation.

6) Certain instruments add unecessary expense to the church budget. My church has spent thousands of dollars on their organ. Now this money could have been put to better use for God's kingdom. Certain Reformed churches own organs that are worth more than 1/4 million dollars. What opulence!
If instruments were not to be used in worship at all, you would have an unaswerable point. Since instruments are to be used in worship, it is not quite as clear cut. If your church budget is say 2 million plus and you have wealthy members who donate a substantial organ fund, and you use the choir and organ as an evangelistic aid (as was done some years ago in a church I know) with a number of sound conversions resulting therefrom the expense might be justifiable.

In the end, the purpose of instruments (if they are indeed used in the end) is to ensure proper pitch and rythm so as to help people to sing in unison and be conducive to the singing. Now if this can be achieved without instruments by use of a lead singer, or simply use an instrument to help the congregation set the right pitch at the beginning of each song, we shall have achieved the purpose.
The purpose of instruments is to glorfy God by worshipping him in a fitting way. Although this includes supporting the congregations pitch and rhythm, the instrumental role is not limited to these two functions. They also use tone colour, articulation, and counterpoint to emphasize verbal and emotional elements stated in the texts.
 
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Neogillist

Puritan Board Freshman
Interesting question indeed. I personally would be in favor of not using musical instruments in church. Rather than resorting to church tradition as the sole argument for banning instruments, I would more especially point to the following observations:

1) Instruments have a tendency to add beauty and taste to the music if that is not the purpose to which they are used. Now, part of the effect of the Reformation was to remove the profane (common), esthetic (beautiful) and ecstatic (emotional) aspect of worship for such principles affect to affect our senses rather than our souls. Consequently, using instruments to add beauty and life to the congregational singing is to defeat the purpose of worship, which is to meditate on God and praise Him from the heart. [/QOUTE]

You are basing this argument on a 3 part division of the human nature into soul (your term senses) and spirit (your term soul). I am not sure that the division can be justified. When Paul points to the Romans obedience in Rom. 6:17 he divides the human person into mind, heart and will "You have obeyed, from the heart the form of doctrine..." Biblically the heart is the seat of both emotions and spirit.
Yet the Bible records that the use of instruments affects more than just emotions. In 2 Kings 3:15 Elisha wanted a harpist to play when he was asked for a word from the Lord.


2) Those who actually play the instruments cannot truly take part in the worship or at least must concentrate more on their playing than on the words. Now some talented musicians (and singers) can apperently do both the singing and the playing while totally concentrating on the actual words, but few of them can. I myself used to play the guitar in church and I seriously never could truly take part in the worship as a result of that. [/QUIT]

You did the right thing by stopping accompnying worship if you cannot worship yourself when doing so. But although it is more difficult to worship through an instrument it is not impossible. I am blessed to be in a church where a number of us routinely do so. Each congregation must assess the gifts its members bring to worship and act accordingly.



The return to biblical doctrine and consequent practice was the Reformational imperative. Simplicity as simplicity was not. As I have shown in another thread the NT instructions to sing praise (however you interpret "psalms, hymns and spiritual songs") simply cannot be pressed so as to exclude accompanied praise for at the time Paul wrote, Christian Jews were still participating in the temple sacrifices where accompanied sung praise was the norm and there is at least one sacrificial context in Christian worship, that of the communion service.
If necessity was a Biblical argument I would agree, but it is not. When God ordained sung praise and accompanied sung praise he told us that it was "fitting" that he be so praised and specifically that he should be so praised among the gentiles (Ps. 98:4-6).



AMEN!!! But abuse does not nullify right use. Just because the Roman Catholics have the mass does not mean we shouldn't practice the biblical order of communion.



Ps. 150 mandates the use of every instrumental family available at the time. including percussion, in worship. The instruments used in individual churches are a circumstance not an element and will vary depending on the members gifts. Any instrument, and I include drums and electric guitar and bass, can be abused in Christian worship and any instrument can be rightly used to accompany Christian worship. The answer to abuse is not throwing the baby out with the bathwater but right use. A technically skilled worshipful drummer can, without dominating, make it ever so much easier for the congregation to sing together in a way that cannot be matched by a voice led a cappella congregation.



If instruments were not to be used in worship at all, you would have an unaswerable point. Since instruments are to be used in worship, it is not quite as clear cut. If your church budget is say 2 million plus and you have wealthy members who donate a substantial organ fund, and you use the choir and organ as an evangelistic aid (as was done some years ago in a church I know) with a number of sound conversions resulting therefrom the expense might be justifiable.



The purpose of instruments is to glorfy God by worshipping him in a fitting way. Although this includes supporting the congregations pitch and rhythm, the instrumental role is not limited to these two functions. They also use tone colour, articulation, and counterpoint to emphasize verbal and emotional elements stated in the texts.

First off, the senses belong to the body (the physical) not the soul. No, I am not a trichotomist.

When I said that part of the Reformed focus was a return to simplicity. I did not mean simplicity for simplicity. Just read "What does it mean to be Reformed Really?" What does it mean to be Reformed Really?
Dr. McMahon points out that simplicity is one of the nine marks of being Reformed.

"If instruments were not to be used in worship at all, you would have an unaswerable point. Since instruments are to be used in worship, it is not quite as clear cut. If your church budget is say 2 million plus and you have wealthy members who donate a substantial organ fund, and you use the choir and organ as an evangelistic aid (as was done some years ago in a church I know) with a number of sound conversions resulting therefrom the expense might be justifiable."

That is a bold statement. The business of the church is to preach the gospel, as that is the sole mark that God has appointed for people to be 'evangelized.' This preaching of the gospel does not require musical instruments. You are arguing here like a Purpose-driven Rick Warren fan, as if the use of musical instruments could bring new converts into the church. Moreover, there is no passage from the NT that compels the church to use instruments.

"The purpose of instruments is to glorfy God by worshipping him in a fitting way. Although this includes supporting the congregations pitch and rhythm, the instrumental role is not limited to these two functions. They also use tone colour, articulation, and counterpoint to emphasize verbal and emotional elements stated in the texts."

Here your view again comes short of being Reformed. No, the purpose of instruments is not to add beauty and taste to worship unlike popular singing but is to facilitate the congregational singing.

John Calvin states:

32. It is certain that the use of singing in churches (which I may mention in passing) is not only very ancient, but was also used by the Apostles, as we may gather from the words of Paul, "I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also," (1 Cor. 14:15). In like manner he says to the Colossians, "Teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord," (Col. 3:16). In the former passage, he enjoins us to sing with the voice and the heart; in the latter, he commends spiritual Songs, by which the pious mutually edify each other. That it was not an universal practice, however, is attested by Augustine (Confess. Lib. 9 cap. 7), who states that the church of Milan first began to use singing in the time of Ambrose, when the orthodox faith being persecuted by Justina, the mother of Valentinian, the vigils of the people were more frequent than usual;48[4] and that the practice was afterwards followed by the other Western churches. He had said a little before that the custom came from the East.48[5] He also intimates (Retract. Lib. 2) that it was received in Africa in his own time. His words are, "Hilarius, a man of tribunitial rank, assailed with the bitterest invectives he could use the custom which then began to exist at Carthage, of singing hymns from the book of Psalms at the altar, either before the oblation, or when it was distributed to the people; I answered him, at the request of my brethren."48[6] And certainly if singing is tempered to a gravity befitting the presence of God and angels, it both gives dignity and grace to sacred actions, and has a very powerful tendency to stir up the mind to true zeal and ardor in prayer. We must, however, carefully beware, lest our ears be more intent on the music than our minds on the spiritual meaning of the words. Augustine confesses (Confess. Lib. 10 cap. 33) that the fear of this danger sometimes made him wish for the introduction of a practice observed by Athanasius, who ordered the reader to use only a gentle inflection of the voice, more akin to recitation than singing. But on again considering how many advantages were derived from singing, he inclined to the other side.48[7] If this moderation is used, there cannot be a doubt that the practice is most sacred and salutary. On the other hand, songs composed merely to tickle and delight the ear are unbecoming the majesty of the Church, and cannot but be most displeasing to God. [Institutes III:Ch.20, 32.]

Note that Calvin does not even mention the use of instruments. Both Calvin and Augustine would have been opposed to the use of instruments because their tendency is indeed to go beyond our focussing on the words of the songs and delight in the melody, harmony, etc. Just as God is not pleased with the smoke of burnt offerings and sacrifice in the OT apart from a repentant heart, he is no more pleased with the kind of esthetic and ecstatic elements that music hads to singing.
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
The answer is: because 95% (or more) of the church is right.
Except for all of the Westminster Divines, of course, right?
The Westminster divines are entitled to their opinion, but that doesn't make them right - not without biblical support for their position. Did they hold, as individuals or as a group, to either EP or no instruments?

Besides which, all conservative theological thought doesn't stop with the Westminster divines...
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
The answer is: because 95% (or more) of the church is right.
Except for all of the Westminster Divines, of course, right?
The Westminster divines are entitled to their opinion, but that doesn't make them right - not without biblical support for their position. Did they hold, as individuals or as a group, to either EP or no instruments?

Besides which, all conservative theological thought doesn't stop with the Westminster divines...
Richard:

I hope you don't mind my stepping in here to make a suggestion. The authority of the Confessions which the Westminster Assembly produced does not depend on the authority of the Assembly. They Church would never accept it if that were true, and the Assembly itself testifies to this in the strongest terms in the Confession itself. If it's authority is not from the Word and the Spirit it is not to be accepted. The opinions of the individual members of the Assembly subsequent to the official meeting may be interesting and instructive but carries no authority in the Church. It may not. Nor may we use the Confessions themselves in that way. We may not regard the confessional statements of the Church in any other way than as pointing to the authority of the Word itself as witnessed to the Church by the Spirit's leading through holy convocation.

To say it another way, a thousand quotes from the writings of the the very men who made up the Assembly does not equal the authority of one sentence of the chosen wording of the Confessions; no sentence of the Confessions may hold any authority in the Church unless completely backed by Scripture. Even the use of good and necessary consequence is still total Scripture and Scripture alone.

The Confesssions do not say more than what is allowed by revelation just as much as they do say what they must from revelation. Whatever is said requires Biblical authority; if it is says any more than that it undermines its own authority as a decision of the Church under the auspices of the Spirit.

So though I agree with what you're trying to say, your way of saying it is no better than that which you are trying to argue against.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
By the way, in answer to the OP's question, it seems to me that the reason why most churches use instruments has to do with the limitations they feel are placed upon those things which they may rule on and how they may rule. I think that when it comes down to the actual decision to make a ruling to cut out the use of instruments they would have to fall on their duty to rule in the area of discretion and prudence.

What I'm saying is that the arguments given for a no-instruments persuasion may be good enough to convince individuals, but a synod has much greater restrictions upon it and may not easily give themselves over to being moved by arguments. They are restricted to representing Christ's authority, and no more than that. Nor less. In making any ruling at all (i.e., writing the Confessional Standards) they must stay strictly within their mandate or they will violate the principle of Sola Scriptura.

Maybe 95% of the churches are wrong, but that does not mean that 95% of the churches are not following their mandate to the best of their abilities. If they were proven wrong I'm sure that many of them would willingly change. But it would have to be shown in a proper, confessionally sound manner.
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
Interesting question indeed. I personally would be in favor of not using musical instruments in church. Rather than resorting to church tradition as the sole argument for banning instruments, I would more especially point to the following observations:

1) Instruments have a tendency to add beauty and taste to the music if that is not the purpose to which they are used. Now, part of the effect of the Reformation was to remove the profane (common), esthetic (beautiful) and ecstatic (emotional) aspect of worship for such principles affect to affect our senses rather than our souls. Consequently, using instruments to add beauty and life to the congregational singing is to defeat the purpose of worship, which is to meditate on God and praise Him from the heart. [/QOUTE]

You are basing this argument on a 3 part division of the human nature into soul (your term senses) and spirit (your term soul). I am not sure that the division can be justified. When Paul points to the Romans obedience in Rom. 6:17 he divides the human person into mind, heart and will "You have obeyed, from the heart the form of doctrine..." Biblically the heart is the seat of both emotions and spirit.
Yet the Bible records that the use of instruments affects more than just emotions. In 2 Kings 3:15 Elisha wanted a harpist to play when he was asked for a word from the Lord.
First off, the senses belong to the body (the physical) not the soul. No, I am not a trichotomist.

When I said that part of the Reformed focus was a return to simplicity. I did not mean simplicity for simplicity. Just read "What does it mean to be Reformed Really?" What does it mean to be Reformed Really?
Dr. McMahon points out that simplicity is one of the nine marks of being Reformed.

"If instruments were not to be used in worship at all, you would have an unaswerable point. Since instruments are to be used in worship, it is not quite as clear cut. If your church budget is say 2 million plus and you have wealthy members who donate a substantial organ fund, and you use the choir and organ as an evangelistic aid (as was done some years ago in a church I know) with a number of sound conversions resulting therefrom the expense might be justifiable."
That is a bold statement. The business of the church is to preach the gospel, as that is the sole mark that God has appointed for people to be 'evangelized.' This preaching of the gospel does not require musical instruments. You are arguing here like a Purpose-driven Rick Warren fan, as if the use of musical instruments could bring new converts into the church. Moreover, there is no passage from the NT that compels the church to use instruments. [/QUOote]

I never said that the preaching of the gospel requires musical instruments, nor that this church used them in preaching. Rather they were and are used as a reason why someone who doesn't come to church should come to this one in particular. I also should have mentioned that the church in question, although not technically Reformed, is far from purpose driven. It was and is evangelical Anglican in the sense of the 39 Articles and the organ and choir were used as a draw to bring people to the church where the last two preachers were two of the finest preachers of this increasingly rare species in Canada. The best measure of the soundness of the conversions that took place there is that that church did not follow the local bishop into the approval of homosexual marrages and may lose its million dollar facility in consequence.

"The purpose of instruments is to glorfy God by worshipping him in a fitting way. Although this includes supporting the congregations pitch and rhythm, the instrumental role is not limited to these two functions. They also use tone colour, articulation, and counterpoint to emphasize verbal and emotional elements stated in the texts."

Here your view again comes short of being Reformed. No, the purpose of instruments is not to add beauty and taste to worship unlike popular singing but is to facilitate the congregational singing.
I don't think there is necessarily a contradiction between my statement and yours. A fine and discreet drummer for example makes it easier for a group of people to sing in time than any sung leadership can do.

snip...

Note that Calvin does not even mention the use of instruments. Both Calvin and Augustine would have been opposed to the use of instruments because their tendency is indeed to go beyond our focussing on the words of the songs and delight in the melody, harmony, etc. Just as God is not pleased with the smoke of burnt offerings and sacrifice in the OT apart from a repentant heart, he is no more pleased with the kind of esthetic and ecstatic elements that music hads to singing.
The fundamental answer to abuse arguments such as this is right use not throwing out baby with bathwater.
Instuments have no tendencies in themselves, it is the musicians who play the instruments who face temptations to go beyond the words and focus on secondary matters or positive irrelevancies. But just as a preacher can resist the temptation he faces to show off his oratorical or polemical skills, rather than letting God's word speak for itself, musicians can also resist the temptations they face.
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
By the way, in answer to the OP's question, it seems to me that the reason why most churches use instruments has to do with the limitations they feel are placed upon those things which they may rule on and how they may rule. I think that when it comes down to the actual decision to make a ruling to cut out the use of instruments they would have to fall on their duty to rule in the area of discretion and prudence.

What I'm saying is that the arguments given for a no-instruments persuasion may be good enough to convince individuals, but a synod has much greater restrictions upon it and may not easily give themselves over to being moved by arguments. They are restricted to representing Christ's authority, and no more than that. Nor less. In making any ruling at all (i.e., writing the Confessional Standards) they must stay strictly within their mandate or they will violate the principle of Sola Scriptura.

Maybe 95% of the churches are wrong, but that does not mean that 95% of the churches are not following their mandate to the best of their abilities. If they were proven wrong I'm sure that many of them would willingly change. But it would have to be shown in a proper, confessionally sound manner.
As far as I know only the Westminster standards mandate that stance of unacompanied pslams only in their confessional documents (and yes I am aware that it has been disputed elsewhere whether they in fact do so or not). Churches and confessions that do not echo the Westminster Standards on the matter are not confessionally bound to a non-instruments position. For example, the Westminster Directory is not a confessional standard among 1689 Baptists.
 

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
Churches and confessions that do not echo the Westminster Standards on the matter are not confessionally bound to a non-instruments position. For example, the Westminster Directory is not a confessional standard among 1689 Baptists.
I dare say that in 1689 no Baptists or Congregationalists used musical instruments. They came into fashion latter. It is a modern innovation in the English speaking Church. Reformed Churches on the Continent used organs at a much earlier date then they were used in the English speaking world.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
By the way, in answer to the OP's question, it seems to me that the reason why most churches use instruments has to do with the limitations they feel are placed upon those things which they may rule on and how they may rule. I think that when it comes down to the actual decision to make a ruling to cut out the use of instruments they would have to fall on their duty to rule in the area of discretion and prudence.

What I'm saying is that the arguments given for a no-instruments persuasion may be good enough to convince individuals, but a synod has much greater restrictions upon it and may not easily give themselves over to being moved by arguments. They are restricted to representing Christ's authority, and no more than that. Nor less. In making any ruling at all (i.e., writing the Confessional Standards) they must stay strictly within their mandate or they will violate the principle of Sola Scriptura.

Maybe 95% of the churches are wrong, but that does not mean that 95% of the churches are not following their mandate to the best of their abilities. If they were proven wrong I'm sure that many of them would willingly change. But it would have to be shown in a proper, confessionally sound manner.
As far as I know only the Westminster standards mandate that stance of unacompanied pslams only in their confessional documents (and yes I am aware that it has been disputed elsewhere whether they in fact do so or not). Churches and confessions that do not echo the Westminster Standards on the matter are not confessionally bound to a non-instruments position. For example, the Westminster Directory is not a confessional standard among 1689 Baptists.
Tim:

I was under the Westminster standards for a while, and no one has shown me yet that they mandate a stance of unaccompanies psalms. There's a whole lot more to it than merely calling them human innovations. I am now under the 3FU, and they are every bit as much explicit about rightful and wrongful binding of conscience.

I know that you're under the LBCF, but that doesn't mean that you are any less under the Word of God than I am. Either way, we are binding ourselves to the Word of God and to nothing else. Nothing else!!! Binding ourselves to these confessional standards does not in any way interfere with the stance of "nothing else".
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
By the way, in answer to the OP's question, it seems to me that the reason why most churches use instruments has to do with the limitations they feel are placed upon those things which they may rule on and how they may rule. I think that when it comes down to the actual decision to make a ruling to cut out the use of instruments they would have to fall on their duty to rule in the area of discretion and prudence.

What I'm saying is that the arguments given for a no-instruments persuasion may be good enough to convince individuals, but a synod has much greater restrictions upon it and may not easily give themselves over to being moved by arguments. They are restricted to representing Christ's authority, and no more than that. Nor less. In making any ruling at all (i.e., writing the Confessional Standards) they must stay strictly within their mandate or they will violate the principle of Sola Scriptura.

Maybe 95% of the churches are wrong, but that does not mean that 95% of the churches are not following their mandate to the best of their abilities. If they were proven wrong I'm sure that many of them would willingly change. But it would have to be shown in a proper, confessionally sound manner.
As far as I know only the Westminster standards mandate that stance of unacompanied pslams only in their confessional documents (and yes I am aware that it has been disputed elsewhere whether they in fact do so or not). Churches and confessions that do not echo the Westminster Standards on the matter are not confessionally bound to a non-instruments position. For example, the Westminster Directory is not a confessional standard among 1689 Baptists.
Tim:

I was under the Westminster standards for a while, and no one has shown me yet that they mandate a stance of unaccompanies psalms. There's a whole lot more to it than merely calling them human innovations. I am now under the 3FU, and they are every bit as much explicit about rightful and wrongful binding of conscience.

I know that you're under the LBCF, but that doesn't mean that you are any less under the Word of God than I am. Either way, we are binding ourselves to the Word of God and to nothing else. Nothing else!!! Binding ourselves to these confessional standards does not in any way interfere with the stance of "nothing else".
Being under a confession means that one accepts that its teaching is biblical except, if one takes exceptions, at the points excepted.
I am not getting into the intra-Presbyian and denominationally reformed debate about what the standards do and do not mandate.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Being under a confession means that one accepts that its teaching is biblical except, if one takes exceptions, at the points excepted.
I am not getting into the intra-Presbyian and denominationally reformed debate about what the standards do and do not mandate.
Fair enough, Tim. I had no intention of getting into that either. I was referring to what it means to be confessional. By being confessional we are not accepting any "other" standards than the Bible. Being confessional means abiding by Sola Scriptura.

What I was trying to get at was that you can't play the one against the other. Nor can you convince me in any way that the the Confessions say more than they do because so many of the authors had this or that opinion when writing it. That's not where the Confessions get their authority from. Now, if you could tell me what the Holy Spirit's opinion was at the time, and what He was leading the men to write down, whether or not they were of that opinion, whether or not they understood it all, then you've got something. The authority of the Confessions, yours or mine, comes from the Word and the Spirit, and none other; that's the point.

You can't play your confession up against mine, nor would I play mine against yours.
 

JohnV

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Tim:

By "you" I'm not referring to you personally. I don't think you are trying to do that.
 

yesTULIP

Puritan Board Freshman
95% of the churches are Arminian
95% of the churches teach a pretrib rapture
95% of the churches ..... and I could go on.

Of course that's not the argument...

I am FOR musical instruments, but am concerned at how much like rock and roll it has become. Interesting thread.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
[FONT=&quot]John,
Obviously we should not not consult the individual writings of Westminster Divines to expand the meaning or application of the Westminster Standards beyond the Assembly's meaning and original intent. We consult them in due order when after centuries the original meaning (original intent) has been misconstrued or confused or decontextualized by some and controversies arise over meaning. The primary tools for this are the work and productions of the Assembly, but these private/individual writings are useful in their place. We cannot allow historic documents that serve as denominational doctrinal statements to which office bearers subscribe to become a wax nose, which is what happens when original intent is ignored.

I think the Westminster Asssembly was clear on creation (literal 144 hour) and clearer still on singing of psalms (nothing but the psalms).* No, they do not address musical instruments directly in any of their productions. It was a non issue; there were only a few organs and the Parliament had already "de-organized" the disestablished church of England in May 1644, in their order for the demolishing of the cathedral organs, long before the divines produced any documents.
[/FONT][FONT=&quot]However, I"m fairly persuaded, if they were not just faced by a few organs in cathedrals but by musical bands getting up front of the congregations throughout the country during public worship, that we’d have a statement if not a paragraph in the Confession of Faith addressing it! Maybe a chapter! ;)

[/FONT][FONT=&quot]*[/FONT][FONT=&quot]On original intent and [/FONT][FONT=&quot]animus imponentis[/FONT][FONT=&quot] (adopting intent) see Alan Strange’s article, “The Affirmation of the Imputation of the Active Obedience of Christ at the Westminster Assembly of Divines,” The Confessional Presbyterian 4 (2008) forthcoming. On my take on what the Assembly meant by psalms see The Meaning of "Psalm" in the Westminster Standards - The PuritanBoard. See also Mathew Winzer's demolishing of Nick Needham's argument that the Divines meant more than Psalms by Singing of Psalms in [/FONT][FONT=&quot]Review: [/FONT][FONT=&quot]Nick Needham, ‘Westminster and worship: psalms, hymns, and musical instruments,’ In The Westminster Confession into the 21st century, 2, ed. J. Ligon Duncan (Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2005). 540 pages. ISBN 978-1-857-92878-5. $37.99. Reviewed by Matthew Winzer, Grace Presbyterian Church (Australian Free Church), Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia. "Westminster and Worship Examined: A Review of Nick Needham’s essay on the Westminster Confession of Faith’s teaching concerning the regulative principle, the singing of psalms, and the use of musical instruments in the public worship of God," The Confessional Presbyterian 4 (2008) 253-266 (forthcoming). The ordinance by the English Parliament ordering the demolishing of the organs in May 1644 can be found here: [/FONT][FONT=&quot]House of Lords Journal Volume 6 - 9 May 1644 | British History Online[/FONT]
 
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