The playing of instruments during the collection of tithes/offerings and the Regulative Principle of

Discussion in 'A capella Exclusive Psalmody' started by Dan...., Jul 4, 2006.

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  1. Dan....

    Dan.... Puritan Board Sophomore

    Not to discuss whether or not the collection of tithes and offerings should be included during the worship service, but focusing primarily on the use of musical instruments when the congregation is not singing.

    The use of musical instruments without singing is not only common while tithe/offering is being collected, but is also common, in many of the churches I have attended, during the distribution of the Lord's Supper.

    Also, assuming the Regulative Principle of Worship, and approaching the question from the perspective of those who believe that musical accompaniment is acceptable in worship (if you are opposed to all uses of musical instruments in worship, please do not make this a debate over any use of musical instruments, or of the Regulative Principle itself) :

    Does the use of musical instruments during worship, without the congregation singing, constitute an element of worship?

    In other words, given that the use of instruments are a circumstance that aids during the singing of psalms and hymns (in the same sense as the use of the microphone is a circumstantial aid in the clarity of hearing the Word preached) and hence is only a circumstance and not an element, is it lawful to use musical instruments apart from aiding the singing of psalms and hymns, and how would that not be adding an element to worship?
  2. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Well, of course we don't have musical instruments either so we wouldn't have the music even if we believed the offering should be in the context of public worship. :) But given the request that's all I have to say about that.;)
    Well, almost. Steve Pribble used to have an article on the web that took the position musical instruments were ok to aid the singing as a circumstance but not ok by themselves as 'mood music.' Anyone know if it is still "out there"? I couldn't find it last I looked.
  3. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Good question, Dan.
  4. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    I don't like the practice. I think it's really done to entertain during a "dead" spot. I think it may show a lack of respect for what is actually going on. Giving tithes to the Lord should be a solemn event and not require musical mood music to make it more tolerable. Of course I still wrestle with whether the way we do offering is really commanded at all.
    A provisional :2cents:
  5. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    I too have never been in favor of the "mood music". I haven't researched this, but I would imagine it had its beginnings in revivalism, or at least that's may be how it came to be implemented in Presbyterian churches.
  6. R. Scott Clark

    R. Scott Clark Puritan Board Senior

    Music during the offering is essentially, in our time, what they used to call in Vaudeville, "traveling music," music to get the performer on or off stage without, to switch metaphors, "dead air."

    I guess its roots are in the 2nd Great Awakening, but I don't know certainly.

  7. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Puritan Board Doctor

    Yes, there seems to be this terrible fear of silence. How you are supposed to pray with all that racket, I don't know. This used to drive me crazy when I would visit evangelical churches.
  8. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    I guess folks had to invent things for the organ to do after insisting on introducing it into Presbyterian worship services.;) I suspect the offertory, prelude and postlude all date to its introduction.
  9. Augusta

    Augusta Puritan Board Doctor

    Interestingly enough when we have the Supper we have silence. No music is played.
  10. SRoper

    SRoper Puritan Board Graduate

    We usually sing during both the offering and the Lord's Supper.
  11. ServantOfKing

    ServantOfKing Puritan Board Freshman

    I have heard the extremes of offertory music.
    At one church they have hymns being played quietly on the piano. For me personally, I am able to worship during this time by praying/ singing (in my head of course)/ thinking the lyrics. For me, it's a form of personal worship. (Of course that is within corporate worship- so I'm really not sure about how that is supposed to work...Any thoughts?) However, another church has their jazz/ rock band playing during the offertory. It isn''t any particular hymn so there is no being directed toward spiritual thoughts by the music. It is purely entertainment. Afterwards the congregation claps and cheers. Once, when the pastor got up to preach he commented on the talent of one of the guitarists. :banghead:

    [Edited on 7-6-2006 by ServantOfKing]

    [Edited on 7-6-2006 by ServantOfKing]
  12. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Speaking as a former church organist (who was a pagan at the time), I and almost all of my fellow organists believed it was a time to show off a little and to manipulate the mood of the service. I repent of my foolishness.

    Our church does not have an offering, but rather a box at the back. We celbrate the Lord's Supper in reverent silence.
  13. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    :up: on both counts.

    [Edited on 7-7-2006 by NaphtaliPress]
  14. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Is this unusual? It seems common among Reformed Baptists. The box allows us to pay our offering quietly. It seems to work well.

    We do sing, pray, and have a sermon before the Lord's Supper. But during the breaking of bread and serving of wine, there is no other activity.
  15. Puddleglum

    Puddleglum Puritan Board Sophomore

    Personally, I find having music during the Lord's Supper distracting . . . my old church had silence, and I found it much easier to pray / meditate without a painful rendition of a couple chopped-up hymns going on in the background. (Ok, it isn't always that bad). When I've been the accompianist for services where we've celebrated the Lord's Supper, I haven't played and we've celebrated in silence. However - that was at our church plant, when it was still quite small. I'm not sure I'd get away with that if I were ever to be responsible for a service with the Lord's Supper at my home church - though, my pastor knows my position, and I've yet to be asked to accompany any of those services. :)

    I don't like playing offeratories. Preludes aren't much behind, and postludes aren't a favorite either. They seem a lot like a performance. Though, I have done preludes when asked, after my pastor explained that they give him a couple minutes to sit behind the pulpit and prepare to lead the service. So in that way, I think that they can be good . . . the same with offeratories and postludes. I've heard ones where they have been a reverent version of a hymn that is related to the sermon, and so aid in meditating on the sermon that you've just heard. (My sister rocks at doing these!) I've also heard ones that I'd be hard-pressed to not call a performance. Which is distracting . . . though, I probably shouldn't be the one to talk about proper behavior during that part of the service (as I too often end up talking to my neighbor during it :( ).
  16. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I'm not convinced that instrumental music violates the RPW for several reasons. I believe they are a circumstance of worship.

    Frankly, once one accepts instrumental music as a circumstance in worship it is pretty hard to argue that their use during the offertory of tithes violates the RPW.

    I don't really know that I like or dislike music during the offertory except for "specials". If the issue does not bear on a violation of the RPW then it is up to the prudence of the session to determine whether instrumental music is proper or not.
  17. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    But what would you say is the purpose of the instrumental music as a circumstance (and I agree it is a circumstance)? Likewise, what makes it a circumstance rather than an element?
  18. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I'm trying to avoid a discussion of why I believe instruments are a circumstance rather than an element so I'm glad we agree they are. :) Suffice to say that I think our worship is patterned after Synagogue worship and not Temple worship and I've yet to have someone present the Biblical case that just because something was an element in the Temple that it was, by definition, an element in the Synagogue. Who could participate in Synagogue worship, and in what capacities, was also different than in the Temple.

    I agree that one should have a purpose for using a circumstance in worship. I didn't mean to imply that it was immaterial. If the circumstance is distracting to the element of worship then one should elminate it. In other words, if instrumental music interferes with the collection of tithes and offerings then I would have a problem with it. I don't think it does.

    I don't know that there is a particular command to be performing a specific activity while tithes and offerings are being collected. Perhaps one might argue that we should be praying and that hearing music would distract us from doing so. I haven't ever seen an argument presented that anything but silence during the offertory is prohibited from the Scriptures. I believe songs of Thanksgiving are appropriate either during, but especially after, the giving of tithes and offerings, as it faciliates a sense of communal joy as the offering is brought forward.

    Of course, I like singing "Praise God from whom all blessings flow..." as the offering is brought forward but I realize that is not a Psalm and that's another discussion altogether.
  19. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    In traditional Presbyterianism a "circumstance" of worship may be discerned by looking first at what the Scriptures prescribe as "essential" to worship. Then, whatever is necessary to performing that worship, but is not prescribed by God's Word, is "circumstantial." In this formula emphasis must be given to the word NECESSARY, lest, under the auspice of piety, we undertake to introduce into the worship of God that which is unnecessary and only the product of human innovation.
  20. Bladestunner316

    Bladestunner316 Puritan Board Doctor

    At my church we have special music ussually sung or and instrumental piece performed by a member of the church.

    At my grandma's church The City Church(Seattle,Wa) they play some type of pop beat christian music with dimmed lights and advertisements for events in the church on overheads.

    Dan, this is a good question it makes you really think about the necessity of corporate offering as well as being 'entertained' during it with music of some type.

  21. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    The offering is the norm in Presbyterian worship. But we aren't normal. ;) We have a box in the back too as it is not believed to be part of public worship.
  22. Dan....

    Dan.... Puritan Board Sophomore

    I agree to a point. That is, the use of an instrument is an aid to congregational singing and circumstantial in that regard (notice I said an instrument, not several, as the overuse thereof tends focus towards the instruments). In the same way the use of the microphone is an aid during the preaching of the gospel, so that all might hear clearly. Neither is necessary, but they do aid in the clarity of the prescribed elements. But the use of instrumental music apart from aiding the congregation in singing, that's the issue.

    What I have a problem understanding is how the use of an instrument during the collection of tithes/offerings is circumstantial. In what way does it serve as an aid to the collection thereof? Or, in what way does it serve as an aid in the distribution of the Lord's Supper?

    As for the prelude and postlude, I do not view these as technically a part of corporate worship, which typically begins with the call to worship and ends with a benediction.

    Personally, I'd prefer no instruments; but I cannot join the non-instrumentalists in saying that the use thereof is necessarily a violation of the RPW.
  23. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    I should have added earlier that the practice was common at least in the late 17th century Roman church in France. Francois Couperin wrote numerous masses to be played on the organ. There was always music for an "Offertoire" and a "Communion".

    Sometimes I wonder how much evangelical churches were influenced by things not strictly related to theology. Church musicians often get together, formally and informally, to compare techniques and share ideas. I once was a member of the American Guild of Organists. At our meetings we would discuss musical techniques and some would work to introduce the "latest thing" into congregations. There was hardly any discussion of theology, certainly no requirement to profess faith in anything. Many were open atheists. Organists playing for Catholic, Protestant, Pentecostal, and even Jewish congregations would discuss how to bring in new music. This was in the era that the Catholics started bringing in guitars and the Methodists started bringing in passion plays. The Episcopalians, however, were all for traditional music, as long as it glorified their amazing new $200,000 organ.
  24. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Though we agree on that, what I was trying to get at in my question about their purpose and nature specifically as a circumstance was what Matthew and Dan have noted above since that post: namely, circumstances' roles in aiding the use of the elements.

    But is whether or not it specifically interferes necessarily the question to ask, or is whether or not it aids? In other words, instruments are a circumstance in that it can be quite difficult for a congregation to carry on the commanded act of singing (which requires tune) without accompaniment - just like it would be difficult for a congregation to read the words or see the minister without lighting, or in some cases to hear him without a microphone. But what similarity in purpose would instruments have to the examples of lighting and a microphone if they were used in a way other than to specifically aid an element? Singing (a commanded element) by definition requires tune, which is made easier for people through instruments. But is there anything about the commanded element of, say, the Supper, that requires tune?

    I certainly agree here. In fact, I doubt many people at all would disagree that songs sung with words during such a time would be questionable. The question, though, is whether instruments playing alone, apart from any song to accompany, possibly end up falling into a different boat.

    To be clear, I'm not ready to call instrumentation use in that category a sin at the moment. But I do see Dan's point that its nature and role as a circumstance is potentially changed when it is no longer serving to aid the carrying-out of an otherwise difficult element.
  25. BaptistCanuk

    BaptistCanuk Puritan Board Sophomore

    I think music can help one to focus on God and worship Him during the Lord's Supper or offerings. My church stops the music when we're actually taking it. It's just while the elements are being given out that the music is played. I think it's reverent.
  26. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Dan and Chris,

    Interesting points. I had never really considered that the historic view on a circumstance was that it must be necessary to aid the element.

    I honestly must admit that I'd like to see how that historic position was formed. I'm just a bit skeptical of such a rigid application of the RPW but I could be completely wrong.

    My concern is that I tend to view Scriptural principles as more causuistic (case law that requires prudence in application) rather than apodictic (thou shall). I just see so much of this turning Elders into nothing more than those who can recite the regulations and create a spirit of regulation begetting regulation.

    Usually when I see these discussion arise, the proponents of the tightest restriction (and I'm not accusing either of you of this) will present a litany of historic Presbyterian voices that are in general agreement. Unfortunately, many of the quotes tend to parrot and not add new information that gets to the "Why" or to a Scriptural ground that I can interact with and understand better. Many of the quotes on organ music connect the instrument with being popish and are wrested out of their historical context.

    I'm not averse to accepting the authority of elders on a matter but there are obviously many Elders in the OPC that feel much differently. Whose authorative voice am I supposed to challenge? I guess I could count noses and say I have older, "more distinguished" Puritans on my side but I haven't been convinced enough that I should view the RPW so strictly.

    I guess I'm carefully saying that I don't know that I agree with the historic Presbyterian view of the RPW and I'd like to see Scripture supporting the idea that a circumstance must be necessary. I could see that being abused. Are chairs necessary? No. They are convenient but I can stand for 3 hours at attention. Is lighting necessary? No, there's usually just enough light coming in from windows to read the Bible. Is a huge wooden lectern necessary? No, preachers could sit down to teach the way that Rabbis used to.

    I guess Elders could spend much of their time worrying about which circumstances were necessary (in the true sense of the word) and neglect the weightier duties of Eldership as well as modeling prudence and maturity in their decisions.
  27. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Why don't Presbyterians allow parochial bishops? Aaccording to the jus humanum episcopalian argument, they are a mere circumstantial arrangement to assist in the unity of the church. Presbyterians maintain that Christ, as the Head of the church, has not ordained such. However we allow a moderator to manage an assembly because it is NECESSARY to the good order of a group of people.

    Presbyterians believe that the exercise of church power is limited by the divine will. This applies as equally to the exercise of that power with relation to worship as it does to doctrine, government and discipline.
  28. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I agree with what you said Rev. Winzer. The exercise of that power still has to be applied with wisdom however. Issues of discipline, in particular, do not lend themselves to simply referring to a set of regulations that govern its application in all cases.
  29. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    I think we will be safe if we keep in mind that there is only one Lord in this house, and all the rest are servants following His commandment. Hence if in the conscientious exercise of carrying out the Lord's command an office bearer deems it NEEDFUL to do something that is not stated in the Word, but which is in accord with the general rules of the Word, it is safe to call that a circumstance. If, however, he regards an action as BENEFICIAL, and it does not have the warrant of the Word, then I believe that is usurping the authority of Christ. For there is only one Lawgiver, and He alone decides what is good and evil.

  30. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I think that sounds reasonable but then one can start dissecting what is needful. Is a sound system needful or beneficial? Electric lighting? Whitefield preached to thousands without either.

    If an elder states: "A sound system is needful to aid the people in the back of the Church to understand the words of the Preacher" then I don't see a significant difference in saying "A sound system aids (is beneficial) to hearing the Word of God preached."

    In both cases one could make an argument that the sound system is unnecessary as a circumstance.

    I'm honestly not trying to be obtuse or argumentative but I just don't see a Scriptural warrant for applying such a level of rigidity to arranging circumstances. We know of hundreds of circumstances that surrounded Temple Worship and Synagogue Worship from Talmudic writings. We know that Christ participated in some of them and that many of them were adopted by the early Church. There is Scriptural silence on these practices (e.g. breaking the scape goats neck after it was driven from town). It's hard to classify all of these things as necessary and yet Christ never condemns any of these circumstances as over-reaching.
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