Puritan Board Senior
Iain,The main problem with Calvin's position is that it simply doesn't work. There are essentially two arguments against instruments here:
1) instruments were part of the "childish" phase of the church's existence during the Old Testament, and are not appropriate for the "grown up" phase of the NT.
2) instruments are a "shadow" or a "type" from the OT period of types and shadows and are not appropriate in the NT era of fulfillment.
Both of these are assertions rather than arguments, and flow from a deeper hermeneutical position that we might term "liturgical dispensationalism": OT worship (God's plan A for Israel) is deficient and leads not to NT worship to Romanism (though it is symbolically revived in Revelation, which has no more to do with us than millennial worship in the Jerusalem temple on the dispensationalist view); NT worship, however, is fundamentally different from OT worship (God's plan B for the church). OK, it's not really dispensationalism, but it is a different hermeneutic from the one we adopt elsewhere, for example with circumcision and baptism.
In response to 1) we might ask why, if instruments belong to the infant stage of the people of God, they are introduced so late into OT worship? The youngest stages of the churches existence, the patriarchs and the Mosaic period are largely non-instrumental in their worship (and largely non-singing); why later introduce something unnecessary into worship because of the immaturity of God's people? That makes no sense.
2) There are plenty of types and shadows in OT worship, whose use is discontinued in the NT. For example, I would argue that incense fits that category: it constantly ascended from the incense burner before the lampstand in the tabernacle, representing the prayers of the saints going up to God. But you can't just assert "This is a type". You also need to show that there is an antitype to which it corresponds. Girardeau understands this and argues that instruments are a type of..."spiritual joy". But that won't work either. Was there no joy in the worship of the Tabernacle? Instruments are not always joyful in the Bible; often they convey sadness and grief. So the line "instruments to joy"seems to me as allegorical as the line that joins the sachet of myrrh between the Beloved's breasts in the Song of Songs to Christ coming between the testaments (Cyril of Alexandria). Just saying it, don't make it so.
Of course, there are plenty of other arguments against instruments. They are worldly (everyone from Cyril of Alexandria to 1960's fundamentalists, with some Biblical warrant from Gen 4); but then why did God institute them at all? They are an element and therefore need explicit sanction (but of course they are explicitly sanctioned in the OT). If you allow instruments as an element of worship, they are mandatory in every worship service (but of course the sacraments are elements of worship and we don't always have those). They are associated exclusively with sacrifices and therefore they pass away with the sacrifice. Except they aren't...see Nehemiah 12.
So I don't think Calvin successfully makes his case here.
Thanks for sharing. I had not yet thought through some of your points and I am reading through Nehemiah 12 now.
How would you handle the dancing? Do you see it as permissible in a worship service now?