Music in Church?

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by Free Christian, Jan 23, 2014.

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  1. Free Christian

    Free Christian Puritan Board Sophomore

    I saw the thread by Organgrinder on playing the organ in Church and it got me thinking. So rather than taking his of topic I though I would ask in a new one.
    What are the Biblical reasons for not having music accompany singing in the Church?
    I read some Psalms that say to make a joyful noise to the Lord and where there is instruments mentioned, but many don't have them in worship. Again, what are the Biblical reasons for not doing so?
  2. yeutter

    yeutter Puritan Board Senior

    Those references to musical instruments in the Psalms have been historically understood to refer to temple worship.
    Therefore such worship is part of the ceremonial law which was fulfilled by Christ.
  3. MLCOPE2

    MLCOPE2 Puritan Board Junior

    First let me qualify my answer by saying that I am of the a Capella exclusive psalmody persuasion. My answer will follow a hermeneutic that may be different from other of our reformed brethren so I will attempt to answer your question from that perspective. However I am tired so I am only going to give you the abridged version. Others will probably follow with a better scriptural outline.

    In a nutshell the a Capella position (which interestingly enough means 'in the style of the chapel') stems from a proper understanding of the purpose and use of instruments in the old covenant dispensation of God's people. We believe that the use of instruments in the corporate worship of God's people served the purpose in the former dispensation that the Holy Spirit now fulfills in this new dispensation. In studying the relevant biblical passages (which I consequently can't provide currently) one finds that it was those in the Levitical priesthood who were the only ones appointed for the use of instruments in the corporate worship of God's people and only during appointed times and for specific reasons, namely calling God's people to worship and stirring up their hearts in preparation for worship. Therefore the use of instruments in corporate worship was intrinsically tied to the ceremonial aspects of the old covenant worship of God's people. So, Christ having fulfilled and abolished the ceremonial aspects of the old covenant, it is no longer appropriate in worship to use instruments any more than it would be to burn incense or make sacrifices. This now begs the question as to what the testimony of the new covenant is. In the new covenant it is the Holy Spirit who calls us to worship God in spirit and truth and we are called to do so with the fruit of our lips, making melody in our hearts, without the burden of instrumentation that is not only no longer needed but subsequently returns one to the bondage of an imperfect system of worship.

    Once again, my answer is not exhaustive nor does it due justice to the beauty of the freedom found in the deliverance from the burden of instruments in the church (which has significant impact on the whole of the church, especially if one simply considers the financial burden most churches face in supporting 'music ministries'). I will attempt to post the relevant scriptural passages soon but it is not simply providing 'proof-texts'. One must seek to understand the heart of God's worship through recognizing the RPW as being our rule and guide in all that we do in corporate, family, and private worship.
  4. Free Christian

    Free Christian Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thanks, looking forward to hearing more.
  5. jeclark71

    jeclark71 Puritan Board Freshman

    I was doing some study on sermon on Psalms 4 and just looked at my Matthew Henry Commentary on E-sword and he said something that coincides with this topic "New Testament appoints all Christians to sing (Eph_5:19; Col_3:16), from whom it is expected that they do it decently, not artfully; and therefore there is not now so much occasion for musical instruments as there was then: the melody is to be made in the heart." Interesting but hey worht the thought.
  6. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Here is a representative example from 2 Ch. 7:6: "And the priests waited on their offices: the Levites also with instruments of musick of the LORD, which David the king had made to praise the LORD, because his mercy endureth for ever, when David praised by their ministry; and the priests sounded trumpets before them, and all Israel stood."

    Note that (1) they were "instruments of musick of the LORD" (not any instruments they wanted), ordained under God's inspired direction through King David, (2) only the Levites (actually certain specific families of Levites) were to play them, (3) they were intimately connected with ceremonial worship. Numerous similar references throughout 1&2 Chronicles bear this out.

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  7. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    David, that sweet psalmist of Israel, sure did trouble Jerusalem with his lyre....

    If non-instumentalism weren't so obviously motivated by a) envy from folks like me who can't play chopsticks, or b) those who can play instruments experiencing abhorrence over the fact that they once enjoyed the 'rock-star' status of being a 'praise band' idol, it might be easier to hear their argument. But out-of-tune singing is chaotic, and not glorifying to the Creator of harmony. So I'll stick with the discreet and proper use of instruments, and not throw the baby out with the bath-water, thank you.

    And you know I love you with my heart, Austin...
  8. ProtestantBankie

    ProtestantBankie Puritan Board Freshman

    "Out-of-tune singing is chaotic and not glorifying to the Creator of harmony". That is no more an argument for instruments than "Out-of-tune instruments are chaotic and not glorifuing to the Creator of harmony" is for the use of exclusive Psalmody.

    I agree that congregational singing needs improvement (physician heal thyself - I am the worst singer in my congregation of over 200). I cannot sing very well at all, with or without an instrument. The instrument only covers me up by drowning me out. I don't see how the instrument would transform my chaotic non-glorifying praise into something else :)pilgrim:). We are indeed to sing tunefully if we are able and to strive to sing as best we can - but an instrument if not permitted by Scripture is not how we go about improving our singing.
  9. Cymro

    Cymro Puritan Board Junior

    If it be argued that we are enjoined by the psalmist as in Ps 149:3 to"sing praises unto Him
    with the timbrel and harp," then we we are committed to fulfil the first part of the verse, which
    reads "Let them praise Him in the dance."
  10. kodos

    kodos Puritan Board Junior

    Is this an actual argument? If the quality of the sounds of our praise is literally what makes it glorifying to God, then I would like you to consider what the implications of that are. Here's one - the musically gifted congregations are offering up more glorifying praise than our little church of 30 people who can barely stay in tune some days!

    Sure, we want to strive for as much excellence as we can muster with our God given talents - but brother, saying that "out-of-tune singing is chaotic and not glorifying" is actually very unkind and not based on the Scriptures as far as I can tell.

    But I think that God is more looking at the heart by which we praise, rather than the quality of noise that comes from our throats. No more than God literally loving the smell of burnt animal flesh in the Old Testament sacrifices.

    I don't think your argument, is actually an argument from Scripture - and certainly not based upon the Regulative Principle of Worship. Many can differ on the application of the RPW, but we make sure that as Confessional folks we are arguing from the standpoint of application of the RPW when it comes to things in worship.
  11. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Moved to the A capella Exclusive Psalmody sub forum which is also for this topic.
  12. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    I understand the argument some make for some sort of instrument to help the congregation sing a tune but in practice I've never seen that as a consistent principle. Mood music is not a circumstance (prelude, postlude, and every lude in between) and other practices belie a consistent use from the alleged circumstantial necessity.
  13. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    :deadhorse:Never saw what appeared to be a valid argument from scripture for non-instrumentalism, because its just not there. I'm convinced it is a matter generally rooted in the two motivations I cited above, a reaction against perceived abuses. Throughout the OT instruments were used in worship. The fact that they are not mentioned in the NT is an argument from silence. Vestments and pews aren't mentioned, either. But I'm not going to convince anybody, and I don't see it as a matter over which to divide. There's plenty of division in the Church already, right gentlemen?

    I am not against a capella psalmody, and would be open to being convinced of its necessity, but at present I'm just not. The arguments are just too convoluted.

    Dwelling in a nation awash in the blood of innocents and consumed with blasphemy, idolatry, and perversion, this is a strange thing to engender such strong passions among the Bride in America.
  14. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Well, I love you too. I know you do, but I hardly know how to respond when you tell me my motivation for holding a position is not a love for Christ and a corresponding desire to acknowledge His headship over the Church in all things, but rather some emotional frustration over having been in a praise band. How can a conversation on the issue even take place when instead of focusing on the thing itself, one person is prying into imaginative psychological reasons the other person might hold the position? You suggested the same thing once about my holding EP, but I fought EP tooth and nail for over a year because I saw the exegetical case but didn't want it to be true.

    I'm not asking you to agree with me, but I'm not sure a casual dismissal because of perceived psychological motivations is a good environment for conversation. Otherwise others might end up concluding we are Calvinists because we like to feel special and chosen, or we want to attribute our sins to total depravity. :)

    Regarding the relative importance of abortion, sure, all things should be given their due relative importance. But if Christ is head of His Church, then it is not inappropriate - in its due place - to consider carefully whether He has asked for instruments in His Church or not. No one has ever seen me get "up in arms" over this, but I'll answer a question if someone asks about it.

    Regarding instruments being in the OT, yes, certain specific instruments designed by David under inspiration. If we make a continuity to NT argument, the best we can conclude is that we should use the instruments God commanded then. They either were abrogated or they're still commanded, but continuity between testaments can't be used to prove an allowance of any instruments we want.

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  15. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    The bolded statement is what I find interesting. So you do believe the Holy Spirit was "silent" or "absent" (I'm looking for a good word here but I think i'm not finding it because I'm not really understanding your thought process here) in OT worship thus they needed to have instruments to make up for His silence? You don't believe He moved the hearts of His people in the OT into worshipping? You believe He only began doing this in NT worship?
  16. stephen2

    stephen2 Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi Sarah, the view Michael presented is one that was held by most Protestants until relatively recently. For the reformers clearing out the organs was as important a part of the reformation as removing images of Jesus and Mary. It is not that any believed that the Spirit was either silent or absent in the OT. Rather, the instruments taught the people in 'picture' form what to expect with the coming of the Messiah. With His coming, His death and His resurrection would come a tremendous outpouring of the Spirit. The Spirit, then, would be poured out in greater measure upon the people then in the previous dispenation. The joyful sound of the instruments which taught the people to expect days of great joy in the future could then be replaced by the joyful praises of the people.
  17. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    So you believe there was no joyful praises from the people in worship in the OT just the instruments showed the joyful praise that would one day come?
  18. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    But, thankfully, you found a way to do so. ;)

    Dear brother, you know me, when I see an eye and a stick, the voice in my head says, "Poke!" Please forgive my offensiveness. I have to say that my views are as stated. The arguments seem unfounded and selectively applied
    Yes, brother, I asked that of you, not because I see it as particular to your case, but a motivation in general, as I stated above. Not intended to single you out.
    Fair enough. As long as the cautions in the first sentence are not ignored in the second. :D My apologies, Austin. To be honest, those motivations come to my mind because I see them in myself, and I want to be certain I am not more easily convinced of a thing on that basis. I find a capella exclusive psalmody attractive in some ways, so I have to hash all this out in my own mind. As you know, to go over to the dark side in this would mean the dismissal as in error of a great many saints whom I love and whom the Lord has set over me for my good. Whom should I trust, the fine minds a PuritanBoard, or the Pastor and Elders the Lord has set over me? That's a rhetorical question, no need to answer. Just something I have to deal with.
    Could we say the same about doors, seating, flooring, ceilings, lighting, plumbing, heating, & etc.? I view these things as 'instruments' used in worship - they facilitate the decent and orderly practice of same. Incidentals all, as are musical instruments, but we don't design and use them only after the pattern we see described in 1&2 Chronicles. Just as there are doors and floors that would be inappropriate for worship (leopard-skin shag rugs, etc.), there are musical instruments that are inappropriate. We have the gift of our consecrated intellect to make those determinations.

    That's my story and I'm stickin' with it unless otherwise convinced from Scripture. But now I'm bowing out of the conversation because familial harmony (ouch) is of great import to me.
  19. kodos

    kodos Puritan Board Junior

    You may just be breaking the 9th commandment when you state that my motivation is because of "perceived abuses". It is not my primary motivation. My primary motivation is to give God the glory that He is due, and I find that by honoring Him the way I see that the Scriptures lay out a case for how he is to be honored in His Worship.

    If you are going to make an argument, you cannot just merely make assertions. Anyone can make an assertion that "something is just not there". An unbeliever could state, "There is no valid argument for the innerancy of Scripture, because its just not there.... the only reason someone wants to hold to the Word of God is because they are emotionally needy and need an imaginary God to get them through the day, etc., etc." you wouldn't accept that as a valid argument either.

    Doesn't matter if you want to throw out the "beating a dead horse" emoticon - you brought the charge publicly about those who hold to EP.

    And I am glad that those who held to EP spent the time to establish their position with me, rather than state "I am not going to convince anyone". It took a long 18 months for me to come to the EP position, but it was through the labors of others in the church who were patient with me, and reading threads just like this one on the PB.

    I am very thankful for those who didn't give up on this.

    As for abortion, it is the 6th commandment - the 2nd commandment is where worship lays, and it is in the first table of the Law. The order is laid out in Scripture that while we do not neglect our duty to our fellow man, all things are secondary in importance to the glory that God receives. Worship is not a secondary matter. We were made to worship God, and it is something we will do for all eternity.

    I pray that we can have this discussion further without having to resort to fabricating motivation for brothers who disagree.

  20. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    Hadn't read this, Michael. You present a good case here. Almost thou persuadest me...
  21. MusicMan

    MusicMan Puritan Board Freshman

    It seems to me they this would fall under the "All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial" argument Paul makes. He is not talking about music specifically, but the same logic applies. Bach wrote some organ music that is incredibly uplifting and God-honoring.

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  22. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    I have not directly addressed you, Rom. I have simply stated my personal view of the matter. There was no intent to defame or demean you. We are admonished by the Lord to not be easily offended. I have great respect for you, brother, but I have to say... this ain't about you. You take my statements to infer poor motivations on your part; one who differs with you in this matter could say that you infer the grave sin of Nadab and Abihu on their part. The former may incense a man; the latter incensed the Lord. Which would you say was the more severe accusation?
  23. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    You didn't offend me, sir, and I hope I didn't either. The case you're making here is a circumstantial one, whereas a case from OT/NT continuity is an elemental one, and they're mutually exclusive. In my opinion, the circumstantial case is much stronger. My problem is that I've never seen instruments actually used that way in practice. Does the congregation ever know that we're not worshipping with the piano music itself, we're just using it as an aid to singing? It seems like rarely does the pastor even believe this, let alone the people in the pews. I also have doubts about taking an abrogated element from the OT and making it a circumstance in the NT. Nevertheless, I understand your dilemma and I have plenty of respect for a sincere effort to use instruments in a simple, circumstantial manner.

    By the way, I was in a church with instruments for over a year while against them. I didn't sit/stand there sour about it. I just ignored them.

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  24. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Everyone group hug and move on to the case of the question. :judge:
  25. kodos

    kodos Puritan Board Junior

    Brother, first - let me say that all I can do is judge plainly what you say about the motivations of those who seek to worship without instruments. I do not believe I was personally offended per-se, but your admonition is well received, brother.

    I have not made any claim to infer the motivations of those who see instruments as an element of worship. I myself have held to that position in times past (out of ignorance more than anything else), and I continue to sin day and night against my Lord - there are many things which God is showing me daily through His Word, as I trust He is doing with us all here on the PB.

    If I have made any claims as to your motivation or those who only are pro-hymnody, then I beg for your forgiveness and theirs as well. But I want us to make sure that when we are arguing for or against the EP position, that we are not arguing against motivations which may or may not be there, and that we do not make assertions that are not backed up. That is my primary thrust, and I apologize that any offense I may have personally have taken may have muddied the waters of what I was attempting to communicate.

    I too have great respect for you, which is why it struck me so odd that you framed your argument the way you did :)

  26. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    An unearned respect, brother. In communicating to others I am often the proverbial bull in the china shop, both in carelessness and intellect. This is (another) subject that I would be wise to steer clear of, so I will.

    Apologies to all.
  27. Free Christian

    Free Christian Puritan Board Sophomore

    Ok, Im hearing both sides here and have a question in regards to those who say yes to instruments.
    If one says yes, then what is the formula used to determine for which are allowable and which are not? And the reasons why?
    There are so many instruments these days. Guitars, drums, piano's, organs, saxophone's, even harmonica's! Just to name small fraction.
    I wonder what Biblical argument one would have to deny someone to use a guitar for instance and yet allow an organ for example?
    It raises many questions in regards to what is allowed.
    Ill be honest and say I have never been fully persuaded on this issue either way and have always accepted both sides. As long as the music was simply to keep harmony and not a centre stage thing like some have. I also have no problems with those who don't, regardless of how out of tune it may be at times as I am sure that those who are out of tune a bit but sing with their hearts in truth and joy to the Lord sound perfect spiritually to Him.
    So for those who say no, then in the New Testament times no one played instruments in worship, is that correct?
  28. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Not that it's relevant to a Scriptural case, but note, for whatever it's worth, that the early New-Testament-administration-of-the-covenant-of-grace fathers were unanimously against them and attested to their absence from Christian worship.

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  29. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    Could you direct me to them, Austin? I'd be interested in what they had to say.
  30. Mr. W

    Mr. W Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes, it is an argument from silence. But I believe that when it comes to the regulative principle of worship, an argument from silence is final. God is silent about instruments in N.T. worship.... So, I sing a-capella.

    It seems to me that the Lord sang a hymn with the disciples without instruments after the institution of the Lord's Supper. And there doesn't seem t be any mention of anyone having the gift of music in the N.T. Church, so I have never felt that instruments are essential to singing.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2014
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