Instrumental Music: The Patristic Evidence and the Regulative Principle, Part 1

Angel with harpIn contemporary Church of Christ thought, worshipping God with instrumental music is sinful because (a) it violates the Regulative Principle, that is, because it lacks authority in the scriptures, and (b) the history of the Christian church shows a uniform rejection of the instrument for its first 1,000 years.

I thought it would be interesting to investigate the reasons given by the early church for rejecting instrumental music. Do they agree with the Regulative Principle?

AQUINAS “Our church does not use musical instruments, as harps and psalteries, to praise God withal, that she may not seem to Judaize.” (Thomas Aquinas, Bingham’s Antiquities, Vol. 3, page 137)

The Jewish synagogues were also a cappella, and had been from before the time of Jesus. Aquinas’ knowledge of Judaism was limited to his reading to the Old Testament, which describes the temple service as including instruments. Aquinas does not treat the choice of instrumental music as from God but as a choice made to draw a contrast between Christianity and Judaism — when in fact both the Christians and Jews worshipped a cappella!

AUGUSTINE “musical instruments were not used. The pipe, tabret, and harp here associate so intimately with the sensual heathen cults, as well as with the wild revelries and shameless performances of the degenerate theater and circus, it is easy to understand the prejudices against their use in the worship.” (Augustine 354 A.D., describing the singing at Alexandria under Athanasius)

Augustine describes the absence of instruments as coming from “prejudice” arising from the use on instruments in heathen cults and other “degenerate” practices. Thus, his argument is built on culture.

CHRYSOSTOM “David formerly sang songs, also today we sing hymns. He had a lyre with lifeless strings, the church has a lyre with living strings. Our tongues are the strings of the lyre with a different tone indeed but much more in accordance with piety. Here there is no need for the cithara, or for stretched strings, or for the plectrum, or for art, or for any instrument; but, if you like, you may yourself become a cithara, mortifying the members of the flesh and making a full harmony of mind and body. For when the flesh no longer lusts against the Spirit, but has submitted to its orders and has been led at length into the best and most admirable path, then will you create a spiritual melody.” (Chrysostom, 347-407, Exposition of Psalms 41, (381-398 A.D.) Source Readings in Music History, ed. O. Strunk, W. W. Norton and Co.: New York, 1950, pg. 70.)

Chrysostom’s argument leans toward Gnosticism, as he wants Christians to be “mortifying the members of the flesh,” as though the flesh were inherently evil.

CLEMENT “Leave the pipe to the shepherd, the flute to the men who are in fear of gods and intent on their idol worshipping. Such musical instruments must be excluded from our wingless feasts, for they ar[e] more suited for beasts and for the class of men that is least capable of reason than for men. The Spirit, to purify the divine liturgy from any such unrestrained revelry chants: ‘Praise Him with sound of trumpet,” for, in fact, at the sound of the trumpet the dead will rise again; praise Him with harp,’ for the tongue is a harp of the Lord; ‘and with the lute. praise Him.’ understanding the mouth as a lute moved by the Spirit as the lute is by the plectrum; ‘praise Him with timbal and choir,’ that is, the Church awaiting the resurrection of the body in the flesh which is its echo; ‘praise Him with strings and organ,’ calling our bodies an organ and its sinews strings, for front them the body derives its Coordinated movement, and when touched by the Spirit, gives forth human sounds; ‘praise Him on high-sounding cymbals,’ which mean the tongue of the mouth which with the movement of the lips, produces words. Then to all mankind He calls out, ‘Let every spirit praise the Lord,’ because He rules over every spirit He has made. In reality, man is an instrument arc for peace, but these other things, if anyone concerns himself overmuch with them, become instruments of conflict, for inflame the passions. The Etruscans, for example, use the trumpet for war; the Arcadians, the horn; the Sicels, the flute; the Cretans, the lyre; the Lacedemonians, the pipe; the Thracians, the bugle; the Egyptians, the drum; and the Arabs, the cymbal. But as for us, we make use of one instrument alone: only the Word of peace by whom we a homage to God, no longer with ancient harp or trumpet or drum or flute which those trained for war employ.” (Clement of Alexandria, 190AD The instructor, Fathers of the church, p. 130)

Clement’s argument is highly allegorical. He notes that instruments are used by “those trained for war” and “the class of men that is least capable of reason.” In short, his argument seems to be that the instrument is wrong because the instrument is used by the military and the uneducated.

CLEMENT “Moreover, King David the harpist, whom we mentioned just above, urged us toward the truth and away from idols. So far was he from singing the praises of daemons that they were put to flight by him with the true music; and when Saul was Possessed, David healed him merely by playing the harp. The Lord fashioned man a beautiful, breathing instrument, after His own imaged and assuredly He Himself is an all-harmonious instrument of God, melodious and holy, the wisdom that is above this world, the heavenly Word.” … “He who sprang from David and yet was before him, the Word of God, scorned those lifeless instruments of lyre and cithara. By the power of the Holy Spirit He arranged in harmonious order this great world, yes, and the little world of man too, body and soul together; and on this many-voiced instruments of the universe He makes music to God, and sings to the human instrument. “For thou art my harp and my pipe and my temple”(Clement of Alexandria, 185AD, Readings p. 62)

Here Clement argues that the voice is appropriate for worship because the body is made by Jesus, whereas instruments are made by humans.

CYPRIAN “Instruments were permitted in the Old Testament for the sake of their [the people’s] weakness, to stir up their minds to perform their external worship.” (240 A.D.)

Again, we see prejudice against the Jews, with the author assuming instruments were used in the temple worship solely due to the weakness of the Jews and ignoring the several hundreds of years that the Jews worshipped in the tabernacle without instruments.

EUSEBIUS “Of old at the time those of the circumcision were worshipping with symbols and types it was not inappropriate to send up hymns to God with the psalterion and cithara and to do this on Sabbath days… We render our hymn with a living psalterion and a living cithara with spiritual songs. The unison voices of Christians would be more acceptable to God than any musical instrument. Accordingly in all the churches of God, united in soul and attitude, with one mind and in agreement of faith and piety we send up a unison melody in the words of the Psalms.” (commentary on Psalms 91:2-3)

Eusebius argues that it was the Jews who used instruments on Sabbath days, and so Christians should sing in unison, symbolizing their unity. Of course, we in the Churches of Christ rarely sing in unison. We prefer four-part harmony, and often have part-leads, that is, we have different voices sing different words at different times. Eusebius would not approve.

Eusebius, like Aquinas, was ignorant of Jewish worship practices. They used instruments at the temple — and not just on Sabbaths. The synagogue was actually a cappella.

MARTYR “Simply singing is not agreeable to children (Jews), but singing with lifeless instruments and with dancing and clapping is. On this account the use of this kind of instruments and of others agreeable to children is removed from the songs of the churches, and there is left remaining simply singing.” (Justin Martyr, 139 AD)

Justin Martyr plainly appeals to prejudice against the Jews.

MARTYR “The use of music was not received in the Christian churches, as it was among the Jew, in their infant state, but only the use of plain song.” (Justin Martyr, 139 AD)

Again, we see Justin appealing to prejudice against the Jews.

TERTULLIAN “Musical concerts with viol and lute belong to Apollo, to the Muses, to Minerva and Mercury who invented them; ye who are Christians, hate and abhor these things whose very authors themselves must be the object of loathing and aversion.” (200 A.D.)

Tertullian argues that instruments are used in the worship of idols and so are inappropriate to the worship of God.

There’s not a hint of the Regulative Principle in these quotations. There’s not a word about authority or the lack thereof.

There is a clear desire to be unlike the Jews — but in such ignorance of Jewish practice that the Christians actually worshipped on Sundays much as the Jews worshipped on Saturdays!

There’s a desire to flee any association with the military or with the licentiousness of pagan society. And there’s some Platonic thought, associating instruments with the corruption of the flesh and the voice with the purity of the human spirit.

And so, the Churches of Christ have adopted the Patristic position while rejecting the Patristic rationales. But we really can’t have it both way, can we? I mean, if these uninspired writers are affirming an apostolic teaching, surely they’d also be affirming the apostolic reasoning, but there’s not a hint of the Patristics’ logic in the scriptures.

Indeed, if we were allowed to use the Patristics to confirm our scriptural conclusions, we’d have to also conclude that our reliance on the Regulative Principle is in error, as the Patristics do not remotely support that inference.

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About Jay Guin

I am an elder, a Sunday school teacher, a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a lawyer. I live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of the Alabama Crimson Tide. I’m a member of the University Church of Christ. I grew up in Russellville, Alabama and graduated from David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University). I received my law degree from the University of Alabama. I met my wife Denise at Lipscomb, and we have four sons, two of whom are married, and I have a grandson and granddaughter.
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109 Responses to Instrumental Music: The Patristic Evidence and the Regulative Principle, Part 1

  1. Matthew says:

    Some years back when I was playing tuba professionally, I was exhorted by a private instructor to regard the human voice as the most perfect instrument on Earth. I agreed with him at that time as I do now. I suppose for that reason I react positively to Clement's argument that the voice is appropriate for worship because of Whom has made the body. I certainly think you have blown some holes in the Regulative Principle here though.

    I tend to look upon acapella worship as appropriate because of the way we use our entire being (body, mind, spirit) in the process of worship when we sing acapella. I'm not suggesting dualism, in fact, I think if we viewed ourselves as embodied spirit (but organically unified) it would be easier to see that when we sing, we unite those different essentials that comprise our being, and in concert, use them to worship God. I suppose one could make the counter argument that one can worship in this way too even when accompanied with instruments as well. I suppose they might be right. Though I wonder why our instrumental friends sometimes exhort us to never abandon acapella worship in our tradition. Perhaps they feel they have lost something when they moved away from the style.

  2. Tim Archer says:

    Thanks, Jay, for an interesting survey of ancient literature.

    If you'll forgive a tangent, reading Clement's first comment reminded me of how uniformly the ancient church rejected military service. Funny how rarely you hear THAT prohibition appealed to these days.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  3. Dave says:

    Count me in as one of the instrumental folks that would urge you to not abandon acapella worship. As we have added more gadgets and doubled the decibles, our worship has suffered. I fear that our services have evolved into performances. Much less participation. Instruments, in my opinion, aren't sinful – just annoying. Just listen to a great acapella rendition of Our God, He Is Alive and tell me – want to bring in the drums, tamborines, bongos, etc.? Not on your life!

  4. I have argued that the claim "The early church didn't use instrumental worship" is far from indisputable fact – and that folks who like(d) a cappella-only worship write to promote their preference to law, and have for ages; folks who like both vocal and instrumental worship have no axe to grind and don't bother to write.

    Those who dislike instrumental worship would no more agree with every other belief and tenet of the authors they quote – from Aquinas to Augustine to Clement to Chrysostom to Eusebius to Justin Martyr to Tertullian to Barclay to Clark to Knox to Luther to Spurgeon to Wesley; from Campbell to Franklin to Lipscomb to McGarvey to Stone to West – than they would agree with those who like instrumental worship.

    Which, to me, throws the issue directly into the purview of Romans 14's "disputable matters."

    And, man, have we disputed this one!

  5. Alan says:

    I think much in our services, even a Capella services, is performance based. We hire a preacher in part on his ability to perform in the pulpit. We often comment on good the singing sounded. We judge our services on how much we got out of it rather than we put into it. Performance is always a factor – all that matters is the degree.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Dave, You speak as though you have been to every single church that sings with music and you speak as though you know the hearts and minds of all those who are worshiping. I know when I worship, singing with music doesn't keep me from singing my heart out to the Lord. I am pouring my heart out to the Lord not to the music!

  7. Trent Tanaro says:

    Thank you Jay for bringing us this research and insight. Tim, that is so true in the church today about the military viewpoint.

    Thanks to both of you for all you do!!

  8. Edward Fudge says:

    Superb research, Jay, and a well-stated summary of the results! This is the kind of factual data that can clear the air of foolish prejudices and unfounded assumptions. Keep up the good work!

  9. Matthew says:

    I sure appreciate Tim Archer's comment above about service in the military. There is a clear indication from the early church fathers that they advocated against military service for Christians. We don't talk about that very much. When I taught a class on the subject a couple of years ago, it was very difficult.

  10. Rich says:

    It seems like the below excerpt shows that Clement appealed to authority for his conclusion. He appeals to "The Lord", "wisdom that is above this world", "the Word of God". Clement's other statements seem to indicate his personal understanding why God likes acappella.

    "The Lord fashioned man a beautiful, breathing instrument, after His own imaged and assuredly He Himself is an all-harmonious instrument of God, melodious and holy, the wisdom that is above this world, the heavenly Word.” … “He who sprang from David and yet was before him, the Word of God, scorned those lifeless instruments of lyre and cithara."

  11. Jay Guin says:

    Clement's reference to "the Lord" is to God's creation of the voice ("the harp of the Lord"), not to scripture.

    His reference to "the wisdom that is above this world, the heavenly Word" is a reference to the Lord — it's an appositive awkwardly placed at the end of the sentence, saying that the Lord is wisdom and the word.

    Clement certainly expressed his opinion of God's will, but he did not argue that the voice is authorized in scripture and the instrument is not.

    To check my conclusion, I found another translated at Ken Sublett's website,

    A beautiful breathing instrument of music the Lord made man, after His own image. And He Himself also, surely, who is the supramundane Wisdom, the celestial Word, is the all-harmonious, melodious, holy instrument of God.

    Still less than clear, but certainly not an argument based on the Regulative Principle. Rather, the argument seems to flow from God's creation of the human voice in parallel to Jesus being the voice of God (allegorical to Jesus being the word of God, I'm sure).

  12. Royce Ogle says:

    Thanks brother for a great, informative post. Our early brothers are valuable, but not on the level with Scripture, and as you conclude, not a verse supports much of what they say as to their opposition to instruments in worship.

    Many of our predecessors rejected instruments because they did not want to be associated with the Jews or the military. Do we realize that the citizenry at large in our towns and villages associate a cappella only singing in worship with people who don't speak to each other, who slander each other in "brotherhood" journals and blogs? We have earned our reputation well.

    By the way, I worship with an a ccappella congregation and love our singing!

    Royce

  13. Alan says:

    There’s not a hint of the Regulative Principle in these quotations.

    That's the key lesson from your article. Mandating a cappella singing based on the silence of the scriptures is an invention of the Reformation (primarily, Zwingli and his peers). Can anyone point to a voice prior to the 1500's making such an argument about instruments from the regulative principle?

  14. Jason says:

    Washington and Adams didn't explicitly talk about orginalism either, but that doesn't meant it isn't the best approach to Constitutional interpretation. Like the Regulative Principle, that method of interpretation only developed later, after changing time and circumstance introduced enough ambiguity to make it necessary to think systematically about the source of authority exercised by the interpreter.

    One can believe that there ought to be an objective constraint on our ability to interpret Scripture–such as that offered by the Regulative Principle, which one might call a sort of Biblical originalism–and also believe that the same constraint bound the early Church fathers regardless of whether they understood it in those explicit terms.

  15. Todd says:

    And the point is that the Patristics did not summon one scripture to support their disapproval of IM and in fact some who oppose it on other grounds conceded judgment in light of other scriptural precedents.

    "Yet even if you wish to sing and play to the harp or lyre there is no blame – you will mitate the righteous Hebrew king in his thanksgiving to God." – Clement of Alexandria 195AD

    "I will not deny – when listening to David – that this invention has been in use with the saints and has ministered to God" Tertullian – 235AD.

    So the early church didn't use IM, justified their non-use of it on non-scriptural grounds (grounds established by human reason rather than upon apostolic command) and bowed to scripture rather than condemn its use completely.

  16. Jason says:

    You need to look at that Clement of Alexandria quote in its original context. It comes from a section entitled, "How to Conduct Ourselves at Feasts," which appears to be speaking of gatherings of Christians and non-Christians–not of corporate worship:
    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf02.vi.iii.ii.i

    He also says, apparently in more direct reference to worship:

    >>The instrument of peace, the Word alone *by which we honor God* is what we employ. We no longer use the ancient psaltery the trumpet, and timbrel, and flute…<<

  17. Anonymous says:

    Jason, We no longer use the ancient psaltery the trumpet, and timbrel, and flute.

    Where does the Bible say, "People are to no longer have Instrumental music." BCV.

  18. Jay Guin says:

    Jason,

    I wouldn't contend that the Patristics never argued that they were following God's will. Rather, the point I wanted to make is that they don't argue from the absence of the authority. In other words, there is no evidence of our scriptural logic pre-Reformation. Strange, isn't it, that the Patristics on whose writings we place so much weight don't seem to be aware of our central argument.

  19. Jason says:

    Jay, I understood your point. But, it seems to me that to the extent that they didn't argue from an absence of authority, perhaps it is merely because they saw no need to. They were closer in time, culture, and proximity to those who lived with Jesus and the Apostles. That authority (from which our view of the authority of Scripture is derived) was less abstract and less obscured by barriers of language and culture. In short, there was less of an absence to argue from.

    It's less important precisely why someone three generations removed from the first Christians thought that Christians did not use instruments in worship. What's more important is that those people seemed to take it for granted that Christians did not, in fact, use instruments in worship. In a way, it is the presence (not the absence) of the authority in that consistent practice that is most persuasive to me.

    I don't think it's strange at all that they didn't have a sophisticated doctrine of the regulative principle–no stranger than that George Washington never heard of "originalism." It just wasn't an issue yet.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Jason – What’s more important is that those people seemed to take it for granted that Christians did not, in fact, use instruments in worship.

    Jason, These men did not worship with people in the Bible. And I don't believe these men worshiped with every Christian during their time. These men in your words "took it for granted" that Christians in the Bible never used instruments. And as Jay pointed out there surely seems to be prejudices among these men.

  21. Jay Guin says:

    Back in Roman times, they had no printing. It seems likely that their language — idiom, colloquialism, etc. — changed even faster than ours does. After all, 300 years before Paul takes you back to classical Greek times, and you have to take a different course in school to learn classical Greek rather than the koine Greek of the First Century. The language changed a lot in 300 years.

    And Aquinas and Augustine wrote in Latin. If they knew Greek, it was not as a native Greek speaker.

    I'll grant you that some of the Patristics knew their koine Greek better than us, but not most. Some would understand it much less well than many modern Greek scholars.

    Moreover, it's obvious that many of these authors had lost touch with Judaism — and yet Judaism is the root of Christianity. Modern studies are shedding great light on the New Testament by studying ancient Judaic texts. And yet many Patristics had no interest in their Jewish heritage. And many reflect considerable Platonic thought — or other non-Christian thought. The purity of apostolic thought was very quickly corrupted.

    Did they have a need for the Regulative Principle? Well, let's hypothesize that the principle is apostolic. Why did the church go to a monarchial bishop in the early Second Century? What about the early church's insistence that the bishop must be present for baptisms? Or the adoption of infant baptism by Irenaeus (late second century)?

    Was there less of an absence to argue from? Well, it seems to me that there a substantial absence of First Century practice.

  22. Jason says:

    >>Did they have a need for the Regulative Principle? Well, let’s hypothesize that the principle is apostolic.<<

    Why? I must be failing to articulate what I mean. I'm not saying it is apostolic. I'm saying that to argue it is (or must be in order to be valid) is to insist on an anachronism.

    The Apostles didn't need the principle. The early Church fathers did–the farther removed from the First Century, the more so they needed it. To the extent they didn't have it, the result is the exact type of early error you point out: monarchical bishop, infant baptism, etc. If they had it and held fast to it, perhaps there wouldn't have been a need for Reformation and Restoration.

  23. Jay Guin says:

    Still not following you. (And I have no idea why your comments keep getting trapped in the spam filter).

    If the Regulative Principle isn't apostolic, then it's a bogus argument.

  24. Jason says:

    I'll try one more time. The Apostles would have no use of a doctrine about how to deal with an absence of authority because they *had* authority.

    If you're of the Catholic or Eastern Orthodox tradition, you also have no need of it, because you still have sufficient authority to answer any question–a living church hierarchy with a claim of apostolic succession.

    However, if you reject that sort of authority in favor of solo scriptura, then you have some problems. You have to deal with ambiguities where authority is uncertain or absent. You can either: (1) claim license to do whatever you want in such matters, (2) claim that absence of authority should lead to restraint, and/or (3) look for some other type of authority to inform and anchor Scripture in its historical context. *Early* church tradition/practice can serve as that sort of gap-filling authority.

    We do that on instruments and many other matters as well. So, I don't actually think the regulative principle is necessary to insist on a cappella-only worship. There isn't an absence of authority if you view the first century tradition as authoritative.

    But this approach, or the regulative principle itself, or any other interpretive concept is valid or invalid on its own merits. Asking whether it is apostolic misses the point. The Apostles were not in our position. They didn't need such interpretive concepts to bridge the gap of history, culture, and language that we must bridge.

  25. Todd Collier says:

    And yet your statements assume that neither the apostles, nor the patristics lean on scriptural authority. The fact is that they do.

    The apostles quote extensively (if a sometimes via paraphrase) from the OT and no less than Peter leans upon Paul's writings to support the main thrust of one of his own arguments.

    As for the writings we are discussing one of the arguments for the reliability of the NT text is that the NT could be reassembled several times over from the extensive quotes of the 2-4th century Patristic writers. They are constantly supporting positions – much as we do here – by reference to this passage or another. But on IM they have no NT passages upon which to draw. My argument is simply that if Col. 3:16 and Eph. 5:19 meant to the early chuch what we say it means about IM they would have said so and ended the argument, and they would have supported it with the testimony of Paul, John, Peter, Clement, et al whose disciples they were.

    That they did not means that our interpretation of those passages is not that of the authors nor their disciples. Therefore to use those passages as we use them is to wrongfully handle the text.

    Strictly applied the NT text is silent on the issue of IM. The Patristic writers do not use IM, do not like IM but refrain from condemning IM and they use scripture only to support their lack of condemnation, not to prove the practice wrong.

  26. Jay Guin says:

    Todd,

    You make an excellent point. One of the striking features of most of the Patristics is their derivative nature. They quote and paraphrase the scriptures constantly. Nor are they hesitant to build a case from scripture. It's striking how absent NT scripture is from the discussions of instruments.

  27. Jay Guin says:

    Jason writes,

    You can either: (1) claim license to do whatever you want in such matters, (2) claim that absence of authority should lead to restraint, and/or (3) look for some other type of authority to inform and anchor Scripture in its historical context.

    Jason,

    It's a false dichotomy (or trichotomy). It assumes that authority is the issue, without proof or even much in the way of evidence. I suggest we look in the scriptures to see what the test is. As I've said before, 1 Cor 14 teaches that the test is whether the practice fulfills the assembly's purpose — does it edify? encourage? strengthen? comfort? cause unbelievers to glorify God? Heb 10:24-25, to much the same effect, says we assemble to encourage one another and to spur one another to love and good works.

    Thus, the question becomes: does the proposed practice fulfill God's purpose in giving us the assembly?

    I teach this because I find it in the Bible and because it makes sense. The assembly thus furthers God's purpose in saving us —

    (Eph 2:8-10) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

    And that has a symmetry that always shows up when we work from a gospel-based premise rather than a law-based premise.

    And it fits with the Beatitudes. And 1 Cor 13. And Rom 12. Indeed, the assembly becomes a natural extension of the major themes of the scriptures — Kingdom, gospel, love, service. Indeed, as God in Jesus is working to undo the Curse of Genesis, forming his people into a loving community of service — a community shaped like Jesus — a purposeful approach fits perfectly with the direction and purpose of God's redemptive work in Christ.

    Show me from the scriptures where I have to have authority in worship but not when being entertained, and I'll reconsider my position.

  28. There’s not a hint of the Regulative Principle in these quotations. There’s not a word about authority or the lack thereof.

    I think you mix apples and pears. If I understand your logic correctly it goes like this:

    a) The church of Christ uses the regulative principle to rule out instruments in worship. And they point to church history to confirm their conviction.
    b) But The patristice writings don't use the regulative principle (although they rule out instruments as well).
    c) Since they don't use this principle, the churches of Christ are wrong about their insistence on a-capella worship based on (or supported by) the patristic writings.

    But the Early Christians opposed instruments in worship based on Biblical reasoning. And even if you want them to quote Col 3:16+17 or Eph 5:18-19 and to use the regulative principle, you can't make them do it. If they acknowledged the regulative principle, it is not necessary that they point to these verses and argue from the silence. The fact they don't quote from the NT itself confirms the same silence we find in it concerning instruments. And they explain the very reason why we don't use instruments in a sound an biblical way.

    Their biblical reasoning is represented in quotes like this one:

    CYPRIAN “Instruments were permitted in the Old Testament for the sake of their [the people’s] weakness, to stir up their minds to perform their external worship.” (240 A.D.)

    Here (and that's the mainline of their thinking!) Cyprian points to the difference in quality between the Old and the New Covenant. We don't have an "external" worship with a temple and bloody sacrifices any more, hence the instruments are not for us, because they belonged to the type and the shadow.

    I mean, if these uninspired writers are affirming an apostolic teaching, surely they’d also be affirming the apostolic reasoning, but there’s not a hint of the Patristics’ logic in the scriptures.

    My background is dispensationalism. I learned to reject the position of restoring the nation of Israel to their land and some other aspects of this rather new theology. But when I read the early Christian writers for the first time, I immediately understood their reasoning. It is based on a clear distinction between the old and the new; between the temple and the church.

    If you don't get their logic, that doesn't mean there isn't any. Or if you don't see the biblical roots of their reasoning, that doesn't mean they lack these roots. I see them clearly, and I canm follow their reasoning without any problem.

    I prefer this reasoning to the regulative principle, although the regulative principle is not wrong in itself. It just needs to be confirmed. Say: "There is silence about an issue" "Why is that so?" "Well, I think, because …" => And then follows a theory that needs confirmation. Our assumption is that in the New Covenant the use of instruments is wrong. Sometimes we just say: "It isn't there, so it is forbidden." (Keep it stupid and simple) But if you ask for more information, most conservative brothers will point to the difference between the covenants. OK, that's a theory about why there is this silence; and this theory needs to be confirmed.

    It is confirmed that we draw the correct conclusion from the silence on instruments by the "dispenational" interpretation of the patristic writers. It is not necessary that they use the same kind of reasoning as Alexander Campbell or we. But the conclusions matter, because correct conclusions will lead to correct applications. And these do matter.

    Alexander

    P.S:.: Besides that they also stress nonconformity to the world. CCM and using instruments actually strives to conform to the world in order to make worship more appealing to men. There is a real chance to clothe this motive in the words of "outreach to the lost" or "tearing down walls that separate" – while actually many among us ust want to satisfy their musical taste (i.e. their flesh). I don't point on anyone I don't know – I went through this whole process myself.

  29. Mike Ward says:

    Jay,

    This is a very interesting article.

    I think the tendecy to use the ECF when they agree with us and ignore them when they don't is part of a broader pattern.

    E.g., the OT is rejected as a source of authority for instrumental music, but the OT is appealed to, to justify the existance of the law of silence.

    The example of the Last Supper is considered binding in the matter of unleavened bread used in the LS, but it isn't event permissive with regards to the day the LS may be taken.

    Protestant reformers are cited in one instance and rejected in another.

    The "you're just being silly" defense is scoffed at when the Christian Churches uses it to defend instrumental music, but it used as a defense when anyone asks us for our authority for restrooms (and for the authority to go use them in the middle of worship!)

    Typically, "bible only" really means "bible (and anything else that agrees with my interpretations and excepting anything in the bible that does not) only".

  30. Jay Guin says:

    Mike,

    You are very perceptive.

  31. Jay Guin says:

    Alexander,

    My point was and is that the Patristics don't argue from the Regulative Principle, and I think you don't disagree. Rather, you point out that the Patristics give other scripturally grounded reasons, which you find persuasive.

    That's not an illegitimate argument, but it's not an argument traditionally made by the conservative Churches. And it bears consideration.

    Let's take your quotation from Cyprian —

    CYPRIAN "Instruments were permitted in the Old Testament for the sake of their [the people's] weakness, to stir up their minds to perform their external worship." (240 A.D.)

    Is that true? Is there any evidence that the use of instruments in the OT was "to stir up their minds"? What does the OT say?

    1 My heart is steadfast, O God!
    I will sing and make melody with all my being!
    2Awake, O harp and lyre!
    I will awake the dawn!
    3I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples;
    I will sing praises to you among the nations.
    4For your steadfast love is great above the heavens;
    your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

    David certainly doesn't see the use of an instrument as solely external. He finds in instrumental worship the ability to "make melody with all my being." Surely we take him to have been speaking the truth.

    Yes, worship of any kind can be external, but there's nothing inherently external about instrumental worship. Nor does instrumental music "excite the mind" in some illegitimate way in this psalm.

    In fact, Heb 8 – 9 makes a distinction similar to Cyprian's but different in a critical way. There, the writer condemns "external regulations" for how to worship, not external instruments.

    The problem the Hebrews writer has with OT worship was the imposition of regulations for how to worship, rather than the Spirit's internal guidance.

    And David's psalm speaks of personal, impromptu worship, not the worship of the temple. He is describing worship driven by the Spirit (which he possessed) in this particular psalm.

    Therefore, while I agree that Cyprian made a scriptural argument for a cappella music, I think it's an argument that doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

  32. kim says:

    i realize this particular article is about how the patristics conducted their arguments, but i don't understand why the book of Revelation never comes up in this discussion. It seems that author assumed instrumental worship to be normative (5:8, 14:2, 15:2), and it's clearly not referring to "Old Covenant" woship.

  33. Jay Guin says:

    Kim,

    The Revelation is very relevant to the instrumental music question. Sadly, the conservatives dismiss the arguments out of hand without really considering the point. You can read some deeper ruminations on that point at —

    A Debate on Instrumental Music, Part 1

    A Debate on Instrumental Music, Part 2

    A Debate on Instrumental Music, Part 3

  34. abasnar says:

    Revelation uses the imagery of the temple. If we argue for IM from this book, we also must burn incense – that's BTW the reasoning behind burning incense in those churches who do this.

    If we regard incense as symbolic, we must regard the golden harps as symbols as well. Regardless how we think about IM in general, the book of revelation is no evidence for the us of instruments in an assembly.

    Alexander

  35. Jay Guin says:

    Alexander,

    "Must burn incense"? To have permission is not the same as having a command. You could at most argue that incense becomes permissive if instrumental music becomes permissive due to the teachings of Revelation.

    I would point out that Rev. treats the sound of the harp as a blessing —

    (Rev 18:21-23) Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said: "With such violence the great city of Babylon will be thrown down, never to be found again. 22 The music of harpists and musicians, flute players and trumpeters, will never be heard in you again. No workman of any trade will ever be found in you again. The sound of a millstone will never be heard in you again. 23 The light of a lamp will never shine in you again. The voice of bridegroom and bride will never be heard in you again. Your merchants were the world's great men. By your magic spell all the nations were led astray.

    Part of God's punishment of Babylon was to deny them the joy of instrumental music. That hardly indicates God's displeasure with instrumental music.

    Moreover, the worship of God in heaven is explicitly pictured as involving harps —

    (Rev 5:8-10) And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9 And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. 10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."

    Incense is explicitly made a symbol for the prayers of the saints. That's the only way the word is used in the Revelation. But in heaven, the harps always accompany the singing of praise and aren't said to symbolize anything. But we do see that the harps and other instruments represent a healthy, happy society.

    Now, to apply the lesson of the harps, we have to decide what the harps symbolize. It's not enough to declare them symbols. Symbols of what?

    I think the harps are there because the worship of heaven demonstrates that the Exile is over. No longer do such verses as the following apply —

    (Psa 137:2-4) There on the poplars we hung our harps, 3 for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!" 4 How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land?

    The Jews gave up the instrument during the time of Exile, and this is why the synagogues were a cappella. The instrument was considered only appropriate in the temple.

    But in Christ, the Exile is over and the kingdom has come. There is no longer any reason to mourn the separation of God from his people or his people from their inheritance. Yes, the harps are symbolic, but they represent the coming of the kingdom and the end of Exile. We can again pick up our harps and sing because the kingdom has come and Jesus sits on the throne of David.

  36. R.J. says:

    MARTYR “Simply singing is not agreeable to children (Jews), but singing with lifeless instruments and with dancing and clapping is. On this account the use of this kind of instruments and of others agreeable to children is removed from the songs of the churches, and there is left remaining simply singing.” (Justin Martyr, 139 AD)

    Justin Martyr plainly appeals to prejudice against the Jews.

    MARTYR “The use of music was not received in the Christian churches, as it was among the Jew, in their infant state, but only the use of plain song.” (Justin Martyr, 139 AD)

    Actually these writings have been confirmed((and were believed for over a 100 years) to come from someone several hundred years later. Falsely attributing himself as Justin Martyr.:)

  37. HistoryGuy says:

    RJ,
    The issue over the quote from Justin has been known for a good while, but changes nothing in history. Justin is not the only writer from the 2nd century and the quote is consistent with every other ECF for the first 600 years of church history who comments on the issue. We have earlier sources verifying a cappella. Every ECF who writes on the issue contrasts the Old and New Covenant in defense of Christian practices, like Psalm singing, and not from an anti-Semitic bias. Scholars have two main conclusions about the a cappella practice of the church for the first 600-1000 years, and Jewish prejudice is not in the list.

    Please share with me the scholar(s) who believe Justin appeals to Jewish prejudice

    Thanks,
    HG

  38. Jay Guin says:

    History Guy,

    Given the extent of anti-Jewish sentiment in the Roman Empire after a succession of Jewish revolts, it would be astonishing if there weren't anti-Jewish bias in Christian writing.

    Consider the materials gathered here: http://www.yashanet.com/library/fathers.htm

    For example,

    John Chrysostom (344-407 A.D.) – One of the "greatest" of church fathers; known as "The Golden Mouthed." A missionary preacher famous for his sermons and addresses.

    "The synagogue is worse than a brothel…it is the den of scoundrels and the repair of wild beasts…the temple of demons devoted to idolatrous cults…the refuge of brigands and dabauchees, and the cavern of devils. It is a criminal assembly of Jews…a place of meeting for the assassins of Christ… a house worse than a drinking shop…a den of thieves, a house of ill fame, a dwelling of iniquity, the refuge of devils, a gulf and a abyss of perdition."…"I would say the same things about their souls… As for me, I hate the synagogue…I hate the Jews for the same reason."

    Admittedly, ECF prejudice grew over time. Early on, the church was not anti-Semitic at all. But over the years, a distinct anti-Semitic bias developed within the church — not universally but unmistakably present.

    If we read the famous anti-instrument quotations with this fact in mind, it's hard not to notice the odor of prejudice —

    AQUINAS “Our church does not use musical instruments, as harps and psalteries, to praise God withal, that she may not seem to Judaize.” (Thomas Aquinas, Bingham’s Antiquities, Vol. 3, page 137)

    Why is it important to "not seem to Judaize"?

    CYPRIAN “Instruments were permitted in the Old Testament for the sake of their [the people’s] weakness, to stir up their minds to perform their external worship.” (240 A.D.)

    Why presume that the Jews were weaker in mind than anyone else? Why consider their worship merely "external"? Did they never worship from the heart?

    FALSELY ASCRIBED TO MARTYR “Simply singing is not agreeable to children (Jews), but singing with lifeless instruments and with dancing and clapping is. On this account the use of this kind of instruments and of others agreeable to children is removed from the songs of the churches, and there is left remaining simply singing.”

    FALSELY ASCRIBED TO MARTYR “The use of music was not received in the Christian churches, as it was among the Jew, in their infant state, but only the use of plain song.”

    Why refer to Jews as infants and children? This is condescending if nothing else. After all, God commanded the use of instruments.

    Were David, Isaiah, and Nehemiah "infants" in their worship of God?

    Now I don't believe the a cappella practices of the early church stem from anti-Jewish prejudice. But the arguments made to defend the practice sometimes do reflect an anti-Jewish prejudice.

    Practices that start out merely as practices soon become traditions soon become doctrines. And when they become doctrines, we find whatever arguments we can to defend them — and the arguments often have nothing to do with the original reason for the practice.

  39. So, if the Church Father’s didn’t use the Regulative Principle, then it seems that Jay is arguing that we are not authorized to use the Regulative Principle as it relates to them….sounds logical…also sounds somewhat….regulative.

  40. Monty says:

    God accepted, even commanded, instrumental worship from his people in the Old Covenant. People often broke out in worship even before it was ever commanded of them.(Isn’t there a hermeneutic principal against that?) See Miriam after they crossed the Red Sea. David played on his harp ,long before commanded by God and it pleased the Lord. Fast forward to the days following Pentecost and now God hates instrumental worship to him? Not only does he hate it, he will gladly send you to hell for offering it. And where is the 1 command that God now reviles it? Anyone?

    Paul gives on 2-3 occasions the sins that will send you to hell if you live them, and where is the one mention of instrumental music in that list? The argument is that we don’t offer the animal sacrifices anymore, they found their fulfilment in Jesus. I get that. I get we don’t offer incense, we pray. But would God send us to hell if we prayed and burned incense? Somewhere along the way, we (in essence) teach that God changed his mind about worshipping him with tambourine and harp (among other things) and forgot to tell us. Yeh, right. God is silent on something that will send you to hell. We have to be on our toes, with our God, he’s tricky that way. He’ll change his mind, not give you so much as even a heads up and hold you accountable for not figuring it out. Got to rightly divide that word, you know. Is that what we believe? What about believers for centuries who didn’t even have a copy of the word to rightly divide, perhaps couldn’t even read it if they did, and didn’t know about the regulative principal? Unlucky them. Lucky us.

  41. Alabama John says:

    God said sing and make melody in your heart.
    No mention of musical instruments. That is the main verse and thinking that caused all the COC arguments about instruments for so many years, about 200 plus or minus a few. Still going on but not as much as before.
    Those not having the bible and not being able to read it Monty asked,, Available Light judgment covered them. Will also judge us as having it all just right is far from us today if not more.

  42. Dwight says:

    The regulative principle is used in order to achieve a biased position on worship, but consider that God regulated not only the worship, but the entire lives of the Jews, even to the point of what kind of animal they could eat. God made commands and yet God didn’t regulate that which man decided to do in parallel with God’s commands. Two feast were set up along side of the feast commanded by God and God did not object, after all they were to God’s glory. In the Passover God commanded unleavened bread, a lamb and bitter herbs and yet wine got added to the feast and Jesus accepted and made use of the wine in the institution of the Lord’ Supper.
    So if something didn’t change or erase the command of God, then it was allowed by God and even encouraged if it was towards God.
    Now there is the argument that God commanded IM and then said nothing so God changed His mind, but this can be applied to everything that God had once commanded and then said nothing, including those thing that the apostles participated in that were Jewish in nature.
    Paul made the argument in Col.2 “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,” so as to allow the Jews to practice Jewish things without being regulated and condemned, even though these things were no longer commanded. This would ad could and did included burning incense, animal sacrifice, etc. which were done in the feast.
    It is hard to imagine that God would change His mind on something that He personally commanded, not requiring it maybe, but changing His mind to now call it sinful by not saying anything? At least in regards to unclean animals God commented that that which was unclean was now clean, so God said something, but to the allowance. God never went the other way.
    God commanded the Jews to go through a purifying, cleansing process in regards to certain things, so does this mean that because God said nothing about these cleansing practices, that to do them was sinful. And then we must go down the list of all of the things God did not comment on that was once commanded and allowed, and then mark them as sinful to do.

  43. Monty says:

    I would bet(if I was a betting man) that most believers in the conservative stream of the CofC believe that the Jews, once they became Christians, gave up all of their Jewishness and worshipped exactly like we do today, without any regard to their Jewish heritage..

  44. Alabama John says:

    Once again, Paul is pointed to.

  45. Dwight says:

    Monty, Yes, I used to believe this. I’m not sure it was ever taught this way, but it was implied that to worship God in any other way than what God specifically commanded, i.e. The Lord’s Supper, prayer (although we don’t recite the Lord’s prayer verbatim) and singing (even though our singing is worlds apart from how they sang), is sinful.
    I am not scarred for life, but am trying to make up for all of the judgments I used to make of others in regards to IM.
    It is strangely interesting that even the preacher will admit that the Jews still practiced Jewish practices that God said nothing about as far as doing and yet still condemns IM, even while the Jews even Jesus went to the Temple where two trumpets were still blown. It is this reflection of the trumpets that we see in heaven in Revelations.
    Condemning IM and not giving money through the assembly to other groups, defines what it means to be conservative and apart from most other coCs.

  46. As to Calvin’s Regulative Principle, I don’t hear Jay trying to “regulate” its use. That seems a bit defensive. As for me, I’m just one for full disclosure. Instead of suggesting -disingenuously- that the application of the RP is from God, we could just tell everyone the truth: that it came direct from that old fellow whose other teachings we have been denouncing so enthusiastically.

  47. Dwight says:

    Yes it is amazingly sad that as much as we put down the scribes and Pharisees just how much we are like them sometimes. We argue against them making laws from nothing and then do the same ourselves in regards to things we deem important. Wine, instead of drunkeness, becomes evil and IM is sinful, despite the fact there is relatively not much is said, unless you discount the “psalms” mentioned in the NT. These points become cornerstones of division and righteousness.

  48. Monty says:

    Dwight,

    Things are changing among most individual believers in the CofC. I know of many who were raised that IM was a damning sin, who wouldn’t speak out openly against what their preacher is teaching but they no longer believe that. Although, there are still many who believe that if you had two CofC congregations side by side and the only difference between them was one used the instrument and the other didn’t, the one that did would be on their way to Hell and they would speak evil of their brothers. Shame. So close and yet so far away, based on a type of man made principal and not based on anything God said was wrong about it. Funny how God can be so explicit in what is a sin(see the Law of Moses) and yet be so silent where something supposedly as damning as IM is concerned.

  49. Dwight says:

    Monty,
    Yes, stranger still our preacher will sometimes vehemntly preaches fire against IM, even while I know maybe a third in our assembly do not believe it and maybe another third believe it only in the assembly. The only thing that doesn’t divide us is that there is a silent majority who doesn’t argue against the vocal minority.
    I agree: God is not vague. God is not vague. God is not vague. God is not vague.
    If IM was truly as damning as some make it, then God would have commented on it and not just said nothing.
    God is not vague.

  50. Dwight rightly points out a growing divergence between the pulpit and the pew on this topic. But, as the paid keeper of the keys of faith and practice, the preacher is obligated to keep preaching the party line, even as fewer and fewer CoC folks agree. After all, if a church member decides there’s nothing wrong with IM, there is no cost involved. OTOH, if the preacher admits to such a shift in thinking, someone will certainly be campaigning to put him in the unemployment line. I know a number of ministers who no longer hold to the anti-IM view, but who know better than to acknowledge that directly and publicly.

    As to God being “vague”, I fear that this speaks of God communicating only by declarations of obligation and prohibition. In this case, however, we are not dealing with an oversight or a lack of divine exactitude, but a matter of freedom for the believer. Freedom is NOT a concept contemplated in the Regulative Principle, and it sometimes escapes us as well.

  51. R.J. says:

    Also, there’s a mistaken assumption that shadows and types are implicitly forbidden post-Pentecost. That the Old Testament dealt with the carnal and the New Testament the spiritual. This dichotomy is nothing more than Platonic Philosophy syncretized with Dispensationalism! Many ECF’s eventually started using this argument against IM. I admit it does sound romantic but is far from apocalyptic hermeneutics.

  52. Monty says:

    Even the implications of IM if thought out logically should teach us something., For example, if it’s sinful and will lead a true believer to hell to sing with an instrument accompaniment, then it must therefore be sinful and vile to listen to recorded or live worship(after all they’re sinning against God) where God is praised but the singing has instrumentation. No more Christmas Cantatas at the Baptist church, no more watching the Gaithers on Saturday evening. No more listening on the radio as you drive down the road to contemporary Christian music. We must avoid listening to such, like our souls depended on it. Something as vile and as damning as worship to God with instruments would be viewed as temptation. Let the kids here rock or country, but cover their ears if David Crowder or Mercy Me comes on.

    In the past I have heard people say they visited the Baptist Church(for say a funeral or Christmas play, or a grandchild dedication, but they say, “I didn’t sing.” The belief that it’s wrong to sing while an instrument is played puts us in some ridiculous corners sometimes. Of course the irony is that many who would condemn IM, listen to it regularly. And I thought rock was the devil’s music.

  53. Dwight says:

    Even in regards to the freedoms of the saint God was not vague.
    John 4:21-24 Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
    Then God tore the veil in the Temple in two at Jesus death. We are called the Temple and priest.
    God spoke very clear. Worship is decentralized from place to people.
    Paul commented: “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.” twice.
    It is usually us who enslave each other in laws that God never said, while ignoring the ones He did.

  54. R.J. says:

    Not just instrumental christian music Monty. But even acappella choirs, solos, or what else must be excised. Anything except congregational voices. No clapping, whistling, stumping, dancing, or beat-boxing. Only articulate words set to singing(tongue-in-cheek). Might as well stick with the Songs of the Church on cassette(but don’t tell anyone it’s sung by a choir).

  55. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    I’ve never belonged to a congregation that did worship with IM. Indeed, most have been adamantly opposed to it. My current congregation does not worship with an instrument, and I am fine with that.

    My personnel view is that there won’t be anyone in hell because of singing in worship with an accompanying instrument. Nevertheless, I am not advocating for change. My hangup with IM comes down to fellowship, or rather lack thereof. While I don’t have a problem with being acappella, I do have a problem with the refusal of fellowship and the associated condemnation of those that do sing with musical accompaniment.

    As RJ notes, I have actually heard some preachers / members state that tapping one’s foot while singing, any form of clapping, or humming during a song is sinful. How many of us have hummed our way through a portion of a song because we couldn’t remember the lyrics?

    Perhaps it’s my military mindset, but I think in terms of mission type orders. Tell me what to do…not how to do it. That’s what God frequently does. He tells us what to do, but he leaves the how to us. That hasn’t always been the case, obviously. But it is frequently the case in the NT. Think about it. God tells us to, “Go!” But he doesn’t tell us how to go. He tells us to sing, but he doesn’t tell us how to sing. He tells us to rejoice, but he doesn’t tell us how to rejoice. He tells us to praise Him, but he doesn’t dictate how we do so.

    I find the subject of rejoicing particularly interesting. A few examples are:
    Matt 5:12 “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

    Luke 10:20b “…but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

    Acts 8:39 “And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.”

    Phil 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”

    Rejoice is from the Greek word chair and means, well, rejoice. BDAG states: to be in a state of happiness and well-being, rejoice, be glad. Again, we are not confined in how we rejoice.
    One way to do so is found in Job 21:12 “They sing to the tambourine and the lyre and rejoice to the sound of the pipe.”

    Praising is also interesting. A few examples are:
    Rom 15:9 “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.”

    Rom 15:11 “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.”

    Jam 5:13b “Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.”

    So, we can praise in song, but clearly the text doesn’t imply praising through singing only. If it did, the only authorized way to praise would be through singing. Here are other ways:
    1 Chron 23:5b “…4,000 shall offer praises to the LORD with the instruments that I have made for praise.” Instruments.

    Ps 7:17 “I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.” Singing.

    Ps 42:4 “These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.” Shouting.

    Ps 43:4 “Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.” Lyre.

    Of course, someone will say, “That’s the old covenant.” Yes it is, but these are eternal principles, not the trappings of a specific covenant.

  56. Dwight says:

    Growing up in the conservative branch of the coC it has been deeply implied that worshipping as they worshipped in the OT would be sinful and yet this is what the early Jewish saints did. Most did the Passover on Saturday and the Lord’s Supper on Sunday without conflict.
    I too attend a assembly that doesn’t use instruments and I am good with this, but it is the condemnation of others based on this that bothers me and separates us from those we should be joining with.

  57. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Dwight,

    Ironically enough, the conservative Churches of Christ have bought — lock, stock & barrel — the 19th Century German liberalism’s approach to the OT — that the Jews were primitive and backwards and utterly lacked any heart for God at all. Hidden anti-Semitism is hardly a good place from which to begin your hermeneutics.

    Many quote Thomas Aquinas for declaring that we sing a cappella so as not “to Judaize,” not realizing that Aquinas was horribly bigoted against the Jews. Of course, on the very next page, we’ll argue that we should be a cappella because the synagogue was a cappella! I mean, we’ll buy any argument that gets the result we want.

  58. Dwight says:

    Jay, Yes it appears so. I heard a lesson by a young man that was a summer intern in his condemnation of IM. He argued that IM was used in the OT as commanded by God, then turned around and invoked Amos 6 to argue that God did not approve of IM and thus was a reason for punishing it and yet did not mention the eating of lambs and why this was not approved of either. We use what we want to where we want to get the results we want.

  59. R.J. says:

    Exactly Dwight,

    It’s like a modern satirist who says. “the fat-cats have filled their tommys with ardent milk on the backs of mice. But like Beethoven Silvestris, they strum-away at their keyboards and compose symphonic masterpieces”.

    Does this mean that piano’s are evil? Is Beethoven being censored here? Does this have anything to do with worship? Is innovation in and of itself sinful? No! All this Satire was trying to convey was these corrupt politicians were oppressing the working class poor with high taxes to facilitate their already lavish lifestyle. Despite all the grievances, they have no conscience. But live complacently in their rich hobbies. Even measuring themselves to the greatness of Beethoven!

    The same can be said of Amos against the fat-cats of Samaria. David was a household name. A cultural icon. To play the harp like David was an envy among the Israelites. So you can see the shock of Amos over their hypocrisy! How dare you fancy yourselves as Davidic musicians when your not half the man he was!

  60. Doug says:

    I thought that I would swing by to see what was the current topic of discussion and guess what? It appears that the topics haven’t changed much since the last time I looked in. If the Regulative Principle of Worship (CENI-S) was a Christian principle worthy of following, it would not have created so much turmoil and division within the CofC. There… I said it. Just because the CofC has no replacement principle for the Regulative Principle of Worship is no reason to keep following it. The CofC needs to reject this principle before it results in the CofC becoming irrelevant as a body.

  61. Dwight says:

    I’m not sure the regulative principle is the problem…we are. We pick and choose and add and delete where we want to in order to progress a certain thought that is ours. We as Christians should be regulated…by love, by mercy, by faith, by action, by obedience. We shouldn’t sin, we shouldn’t commit murder, commit adultery, etc. But these are personal goals for every person. We are to be regulated by our heart and conscience and love for God. Now we might be doing one of these bad things and need correction, but more often than not we abuse the concept of the regulative principle by bludgening those around in spite of our own sin. We want to regulate others and be the regulators. We however are fine all the way through.

  62. Doug says:

    I don’t see the problems related to CENI-S as a “we” problem. It is more a preacher problem as one preacher after another has thought of absurd ways to salute the Regulative POW flag. “We” might have bought into their persuasion but I bet a lot of these absurdities were conceived in order to gather attention. As a result, the CofC is a shrinking organization with few mega-churches. The CofC is missing opportunities to save people in order to save CENI-S. Shame on us!

  63. Alabama John says:

    We, in many cases see that in what we choose to emphasize as sin.

    One we skip and its easily seen is Gluttony. Look ho w many are too fat. Watch them eat!

    Point that out the next time someone is quoting you a command you might not be doing to their approval and watch them run.

  64. Dwight says:

    AJ, what is worse is when the preachers attack wine in Proverbs and then totally glaze over gluttony which should keep us from eating, as if wine makes you a drunkard and sinful, then eating should make us a glutton and sinful. This is where we stretch our Pharisaical muscles and condemn certain non-condemned things over others the Bible mentions.
    Doug, the preacher is really a part of the we problem in that we have allowed the preachers and their thoughts to flourish without any resistance and when things get tough will cave in to tradition. Many that have left coC have gone to smaller venues of worship and assemblies and this is better than the mega-churches.

  65. Doug says:

    Dwight, I wonder if you have spent sufficient time worshipping at a mega-church to make such a negative judgement about them? I am currently worshipping with a church that seems to be headed to mega status. It is a great church! Active in so manny ways in the community and full of good works. The number of people baptized in one year is greater than the congregational size of a majority of churches of Christ. I think if some of denominations churches aren’t mega or headed toward mega, that indicates something is wrong with the denomination. My CofC is stagnant and a lot of CofC’s are not only not growing… They are disappearing. There’s something wrong within the CofC that CofC pride will not correct. At least, that’s how I see it.

  66. Dwight says:

    Didn’t mean to argue that mega-churches are bad, but just that I think that the concept of house assembly is more scripturally aligned. But having said that Paul wrote to mega-churches if you would consider Corinth as a mega-church or the church in Corinth. All this really means is that Paul wrote to the saints in Corinth, not an institution or an organization. At least in the mega-church concept I would think people see each other as community. I think that the saints can exist largely and smally as the same church. We aren’t members of the local, but of the large universal, but we meet together in the small.

  67. Alabama John says:

    Dwight,

    That is why so many of the Churches of Christ around here have on their sign near the road out front of their building ” Church of Christ meets here”.

    Ones that don’t have that on their sign are known as the liberal brethren.

  68. Monty says:

    God gave us the enjoyment of food. Some would think that gluttony is just over-eating, as in I ate too much at the buffet. While maybe being irresponsible, I don’t think that is true gluttony. We typically associate gluttony with people overweight. And it’s easy to become a judge, if we see someone large eating a big plate of food. That could be gluttony, maybe not. I have a brother in-law who is very spiritual and eats like a horse but he goes to the gym daily and is in great shape. In the Ancient Eastern world, being fat was a good thing(especially during a famine) and a sign of blessing. Not many Twiggy’s back then. If you were thin like that they’d probably look at you like” you poor thing.” A thin person can be a glutton. If I’m not mistaken, the Romans and Greeks had facilities for purging your food after a big meal or at a banquet, in order to make more room and they could go and eat more. More like a binge where you just go on and on over a long period of time than just consuming more calories on a daily basis than we actually need and not getting any exercise. Most people who are overweight feel bad enough without piling the sin of gluttony on them.

  69. Dwight says:

    To be truly scriptural and logical we would say “the people of Christ meet here” if we truly mean that the church is the people, and yet this would not be met with approval by those who think that “the church of Christ” is the only scriptural name. Go figure.
    Gluttony is a continued practice of eating to fullness and beyond. God had ordained feast where the people were to eat all of the lamb and be full, but this was only a once in a while clebration, not to be done daily. The concept of gluttony was to be bound to the desire of the stomach. Many overwieght people are guilty of this. Moderation, limitation and self-control was taught and to be practiced as opposed to self-fufillment of our desires. But this is something that we all have problems with in some regards and it is not taught at all. It is not PC in the church. If we then understand drunkeness in the same way we understand gluttony, then getting drunk wasn’t condemned, but getting drunk as in to be a drunkard was condemned. Noah and Lot and others were not condemned for drinking and getting drunk, and it never argues they were drunkards.

  70. Doug says:

    Many mega-churches operate on a philosophy of “the bigger we become, the smaller we must be”. In other words, the 11am assembly may be huge but the interplay between Christians must be in small groups. Really, a church doesn’t have to be very large before the closeness between individuals is lost. The mega-churches recognize this and most give the individual Christians a way to have that closeness through small groups. The problem I have observed in CofC small groups is the small group members can’t let down their guard enough to develop closeness. Indeed, if one opens up to them they immediately shut down and close up like a clam. I think they are afraid they’ll be identified as suspect. Pity!

  71. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    I still follow a few conservative sites and blogs, and I saw the following article on Monday: http://start2finish.org/dont-use-instruments-study-instruments-worship/

    The author employs a familiar argument:
    1. The Bible teaches Where God specifies in one area he eliminates all others.
    2. Under the New Covenant, a cappella singing is the only music mentioned in worship.
    3. Therefore, God has specified a cappella singing as the only music authorized for New Testament worship, thus eliminating instrumental music from being used in worship.

    In the military, we operate based on Commander’s intent (CI), which is clear and unambiguous. My Lord operates in the same manner. Does anyone really envision God not providing clear guidance in matters of salvation, which ostensibly characterizes IM according to many advocates of the above argument? I mean, really? He is going to play “Let’s keep a secret” or some other game? Isn’t He clear and unambiguous in other areas? Like Matt 25: 41ff? Or, how about “Unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins”?

    Also, notice how the author attempts to phrase the argument. “God has specified a cappella singing as the only music authorized for New Testament worship.” So somehow by mentioning “sing,” God specified the type of music that he wanted, and non-compliance is a salvation issue? That’s just clear as mud.

  72. Dwight says:

    Yes. In regards to the regulative principle it is only applied to worship although in the OT God regulated the entire lives of the Jew. To apply this specifically like they do instrumental music, we can argue that God commanded in the NT that meats could be eaten and vegetables in bread form, but God did not mention vegetables in raw form, thus we cannot eat raw vegetables. If God specified bread and he did, then all other vegetables are summarily off limits. We really have no account of them eating vegetables in any for other than bread in the NT, so it is the NT form. All vegetables must be in bread form.
    We can do down the list of the things that God commanded in the OT that God said nothing about in the NT so as to argue that God changed His mind.
    To be specific it does say, “making melody in your heart”, which arguably must be the only way to derive melody and we must do it individually as well, each making his own melody and not following the melody of another. To follow a already formed melody of another is sinful. Hmmmm. So much for song books.
    The argument is against reasonable logic. If I say ride a bike, does that argue that you cannot whistle as you ride or does ride exclude all other things you can do. Since God commanded the Lord’s Supper, does this mean that you could not worship or observe God in any other way and if so then the Jewish saints and apostles sinned by going to the Temple and observing the feast not commanded in the NT. The regulative principle only really argues against changing the command and not doing other things alongside of it and in concert with it.

  73. Actually, Calvin’s RP is not that thoughtful. It can be better reduced to “If you didn’t see done in the Bible, you can’t do it at church.” It goes far beyond existing command and creates a new one. Just as the Pharisees used to do. Nothing new there.

  74. Monty says:

    From Wikipedia: on gluttony

    “Church leaders from the ascetic Middle Ages took a more expansive view of gluttony:

    Pope Gregory I, a doctor of the Church, described the following ways by which one can commit sin of gluttony, and corresponding biblical examples for each of them:[2]

    1. Eating before the time of meals in order to satisfy the palate.
    Biblical example: Jonathan eating a little honey, when his father Saul commanded no food to be taken before the evening.[1Sa 14:29] (Note that this text is only approximately illustrative, as in this account, Jonathan did not know he was eating too early.)
    2. Seeking delicacies and better quality of food to gratify the “vile sense of taste.”
    Biblical example: When Israelites escaping from Egypt complained, “Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers and the melons, and the leeks and the onions and the garlic,” God rained fowls for them to eat but punished them 500 years later.[Num 11:4]
    3. Seeking to stimulate the palate with sauces and seasonings.
    Biblical example: Two sons of Eli the high priest made the sacrificial meat to be cooked in one manner rather than another. They were met with death.[1Sa 4:11]
    4. Exceeding the necessary quantity of food.
    Biblical example: One of the sins of Sodom was “fullness of bread.”[Eze 16:49]
    5. Taking food with too much eagerness, even when eating the proper amount, and even if the food is not luxurious.
    Biblical example: Esau selling his birthright for ordinary food of bread and pottage of lentils. His punishment was that the “profane person . . . who, for a morsel of meat sold his birthright,” we learn that “he found no place for repentance, though he sought it carefully, with tears.” [Gen 25:30]The fifth way is worse than all others, said St. Gregory, because it shows attachment to pleasure most clearly. To recapitulate, St Gregory the Great said that one may succumb to the sin of gluttony by: 1. Time (when); 2. Quality; 3. Stimulants; 4. Quantity; 5. Eagerness
    In his Summa Theologica (Part 2-2, Question 148, Article 4), St. Thomas Aquinas reiterated the list of five ways to commit gluttony:
    Laute – eating food that is too luxurious, exotic, or costly
    Nimis – eating food that is excessive in quantity
    Studiose – eating food that is too daintily or elaborately prepared
    Praepropere – eating too soon, or at an inappropriate time
    Ardenter – eating too eagerly.

    Aquinas notes that the first three ways are related to the nature of the food itself, while the last two have to do with the time or manner in which it is consumed.

    St. Alphonsus Liguori wrote the following when explaining gluttony:

    “Pope Innocent XI has condemned the proposition which asserts that it is not a sin to eat or to drink from the sole motive of satisfying the palate. However, it is not a fault to feel pleasure in eating: for it is, generally speaking, impossible to eat without experiencing the delight which food naturally produces. But it is a defect to eat, like beasts, through the sole motive of sensual gratification, and without any reasonable object. Hence, the most delicious meats may be eaten without sin, if the motive be good and worthy of a rational creature; and, in taking the coarsest food through attachment to pleasure, there may be a fault.”[3]

    I think all of us have violated a couple, if not all, of the above list of 5. I often can’t wait to eat(as most of my brethren who are thinking about eating at 11:50 on Sunday morning and wandering if I will “get them out on time.’ I often seek delicacies, and the better quality restaurants. I often use sauces and seasonings when cooking to enhance the taste, And yes I often do eat more than I probably should (guilty there)after all if we are all just “eating to survive” then anything else is excess. Right? Oh yeh,, and I snack between traditional meal times. What a wretched man I am! Is there any hope for me?

    Gluttony is a serious sin. It’s just hard to qualify. Maybe you know it when you see it. But then again maybe you just think you see it. I just ate lunch with a brother last Sunday at a buffet and he placed about 4 tablespoons of food on his plate(seriously). I filled mine to capacity. He was through with his 4 tablespoon helpings in 5 minutes(literally) and onto his I cup of dessert. I’m sure he could have labeled me a glutton, after all, it’s always the folks who don’t do as well as you do, that we look down on..

  75. Dwight says:

    The Biblical expanse on gluttony has little to do with the type of foods, but rather the amount. The Jews had feast in which they had to eat all of the lamb before the next morning, they had feast where they could eat anything they wanted in celebration. The only restrictions on eating certain foods was certain unclean animals and leavened bread during the time of Passover. Gluttony is placed side by side with drunkenness, where excess was involved and this excess wasn’t just a one time thing.
    “And they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’,” which is hard to imagine if this was a one time occurance.

  76. Monty says:

    I went to high school with some boys who were very large. They loved to go to the all you can eat for a certain price restaurants, and do just that. They would come to school the next day boasting on how they got ran out of the place for just doing what the sign said they could do. Apparently management didn’t appreciate the 18-20 pieces of chicken each boy could put away. On the other hand who hasn’t gone to the all you can eat catfish restaurant and imbibed on 6-8 pieces? We all love good food. Some just take it to the extreme. Some can’t control their liquor and some just can’t control their food or have no desire to control it. However, it’s just too easy for the slender to pass judgment on every fat person they see. I don’t think that’s what we’re supposed to be about. ‘Hey!” “Your fat, you have a gluttony problem.” Every person who is 10,20, 30 pounds over the scientific weight for their height and bone structure isn’t a glutton. They certainly eat more than they physically need and don’t burn it up, perhaps it’s just the result of a sedentary lifestyle. With age in general comes the addition of weight.

    “This son of ours is a glutton” seems to be referring to a young man who may not even have a weight problem, but more about an attitude of over indulgence to the max. Generally associated with laziness, and sensuality( a person out of control). Wine(food), women and song. Solomon tried it.Known a lot of folks like that. Romans and Greeks held banquets where the goal was to eat as much as you could, get plastered, barf it up, and eat some more. Think, into the wee hours of the morning, when day light came they would sleep it off and wake up and then go again. There was intent to go way beyond the norm.

  77. Dwight says:

    Monty, I agree. I think the thought of the glutton and drunkard is one who have given themselves over to food and drink rather than God. It becomes thier passion and life…living it up day after day. It is not the food or drinks fault, but the person not showing lack of self control in regards to the food or drink. Living in excess…kind of like the 70’s. But even in today’s world excessive weight is usually a sign of excessive eating and lack of activity, not always, but usually. Still we never preach on it, while we excessively preach on other things that we generally don’t have problems with like getting drunk.

  78. Mark says:

    Nor was/is smoking preached on. That was because many in the church went outside between Sunday school and church to smoke. Also, when verse 3 was omitted from most songs the cause was a lack of air in the song leader’s lungs due to smoking.

  79. R.J. says:

    Kevin,

    Therein lies the crux of the matter. In James 5:15, James says…

    “Is anyone cheerful? Let him psallo”.

    According to Zodhiates(and others), this term originally signified the sound of plucking or twanging, then the music produced by stringed instruments in the Classical Era. By BC 300-300 AD(Koine Greek Era), Zodhiates writes that “it soon came to mean to make melody in any fashion” in his lexicon.

    But for the sake of argument, let’s say that God specifically laid down a law for the church to sing. What then? He didn’t say how to sing. All that command rules out is an instrumental solo. It does not exclude an accompanied song. The former case contradicts the instruction. The latter is just a peripheral.

  80. John says:

    There is considerable evidence that psallo had no instrumental connotation even in other common Greek literature of the New Testament period. This is seen in the work of a Greek scholar named E.A. Sophocles, a native Grecian, and a professor of Greek language at Harvard University for 38 years. Sophocles was the author of A Greek Lexicon of the Roman and Byzantine Periods (from B.C. 146 to A.D. 1100). He examined 594 Greek authors (255 secular, 339 ecclesiastical) in the development of his lexicon. After this extensive survey, he defined psallo as meaning “to chant, sing religious hymns.” He defined psalmos to simply mean “a psalm.” Hence, he found no association of these terms with musical instruments in the common Greek of the considered period. As indicated by the title, one purpose of the lexicon of Sophocles was to isolate the common Greek of the Roman and Byzantine period from the Greek of previous times.

  81. John says:

    It is not necessary to live to eat.

    It is necessary to eat to live.

    We should enjoy the necessary.

  82. Dwight says:

    John, not too many people question that psalm means a song, but what is in question is the context of the word. In Psalms, the psalms were sung with musical accompaniment. If this context follows through, as it should if the Jews knew this word, then they would have understood that psallo also meant songs with IM also.
    Thayer’s lexicon translates psalms in the NT as “a striking, twanging” spec. striking the chords of a musical instrument.
    Sophocles Lexicon was written in 1900. I just got done reading the lexicon on psalms. It is interesting that Sophocles makes no mention of musical instruments at all in relation to psalms even though psalms is really the same word used to refer to the Psalms in the OT where IM were used and argued for. This in itself should make one question his understanding of the word.
    If he defined psalms only in relation to the Greek time period in which IM were not represented in the synagogues, then he might derive the thought that IM was not represented in the psalms.
    The Septuagint uses the Greek word psalm to represent the Hebrew word psalm in Psalms where it does refer to IM.
    So at least in the Hebrew mind they understood that psalms meant songs played with IM, whether they were or not during the NT and yet the Jews understood what psalms meant.
    As you noted Sophocles “As indicated by the title, one purpose of the lexicon of Sophocles was to isolate the common Greek of the Roman and Byzantine period from the Greek of previous times.”
    It appears that he also isolated the word from the Biblical context and the word in the Hebrew association a noted in the Septuagint.

  83. Monty says:

    In the 60’s smoking was associated with manliness(remember the Marlborough Man?) and also associated with Women’s independence-remember the Virginia Slims commercial? “You’ve come a long way baby!” Lot’s of people didn’t understand the addiction aspect of nicotine during those days. Then the campaign started with the surgeon general and more and more testing that basically said smoking cigarettes is about the same as putting a gun to your head. I remember my kin calling them “nails in the coffin’ about early 70’s. By that time many people had been smoking for years. Those who didn’t ever acquire that habit wondered why people(especially loved ones) couldn’t just quit. Now we now know what a force nicotine is. The Crossroads movement came along and basically made you a sinner for smoking and being fat. Lots of shame and condemnation was given.

    Like the progressives argue against the conservative CofC’s about IM not being a sin, because the scripture nowhere says that. The same argument that non-conservatives use to say God is perfectly capable of saying what is a sin and what isn’t should apply to things like cigarettes and being overweight. Our bodies are the temple of God, and we can deduce(principals) things like we should eat right, watch our weight(no, let me rephrase that-everyone should be the “ideal” weight) , get 8 hours of sleep, never eat processed foods, take vitamin and food supplements, exercise every day, etc, etc, etc…based on our knowledge of our day. To them that knoweth to do good and doeth it not , it is sin. But IMO if you’re going to refer to a fat person as a sinner(glutton) based on a principal deduced, then IM is wrong too.

    Again, I think most on here wouldn’t say it’s a sin to be fat, but gluttony is the real issue. But the next logical step is then, you can’t get fat (usually) unless your eating is out of control. and IMO that is guilt by association. I don’t know how you preach if you are overweight you’re not a sinner, but if you are overweight then you ended up there because you did something bad or evil and not condemn every person that may be carrying around an extra 20-30 pounds over the established ideal weight. Do we start having weigh-ins at church? And if you gained a pound or two this week then you need to repent and get right with the Lord? What about the morbidly obese? Do preachers start saying from the pulpit, “love the sinner and hate the sin of obesity?”

    I think every church with any size(no pun intended) should have counseling and programs of encouragement, love, and not condemnation for those who would like to get more fit and eat better, lose weight and give up some nasty self destructive habits, like smoking. Maybe then, we could go to those with obvious weight and destructive habit issues who don’t participate and ask them why not?

  84. Alabama John says:

    Going to hear the Isaacs sing and play tonight near Gadsden Alabama.

    It will be in a Baptist church. Be fans from all beliefs there and it will surely have a good lesson of some kind that might get to someone there. Sure doesn’t hurt to try and I applaud their trying and outreach.

    Jesus did many things to draw a crowd, even fed them. Maybe we should try thinking of some ways to get a crowd together so we can teach them gracefully.

    Pray about it.

  85. laymond says:

    A J I believe Jesus was better represented by Robin Hood , and his band of merry men. Not a gospel band playing for money.

  86. R.J. says:

    John,

    Psallo never lost it’s association with instruments until the Modern Era(14th Century onwards) according to BAGD Lexicon. Besides, what do we do with contemporary authors such as Strabo and Josephus(among many others) who did not write in Atticism but in the literary koine Greek of the 1st century. Yet they defined psallo in such a broad way as to include the idea of instrumentation. I agree that the specific idea of plucking strings died away in the Classical Era. But producing a rhythm, melody, or tune(weather vocal or mechanical) was in full swing even when Paul and James wrote their respective letters.

  87. Dwight says:

    Sugar is highly addictive and coffee is too and they are stimulants. The point here is that often we condemn things on the basis of our condemnation and our perception of that thing. We condemn cigarettes, which are not healthy, but then don’t condemn eating a cheeseburger, which is extremely unhealthy. At least the 7th Day Adventist are consistent in condemning all drinks like coke, tea, coffee, wine, etc. Preaching gluttony should be done, but isn’t, as we might and will offend many. Preaching self-control is not preached either.

  88. R.J. says:

    Well before Amos’s censer, King Jehoshaphat(during Elijah’s career) had his child merry King Ahab’s descended to mend the rift between Judah and Israel caused by King Rehoboam(why a righteous king did this is beyond the scope of this post). So King David was no longer resented by the Israelites as an icon but became renown even among them for his musical talent.

  89. Dwight says:

    R.J. I agree. Josephus at least wrote in Greek, after all he was a Hellenized Jew, and he wrote about David describing the instruments David would have used in his Book of Psalms by his present day knowledge of what he knew as he was a Jew. This is context.

  90. John says:

    Danker and Gingrich editions are the Greek lexicons that borrowed and built on the work of the German lexicon of Bauer. These areas of linguistic discussion can before technical and tedious to many, but are nonetheless, sometimes regrettably necessary to detail. I would not grant that Arndt and Gingrich’s lexicon is the final authority on any word and free of any sectarian bias, but it is a very good resource. My edition of Shorter Lexicon of the Greek New Testament by Gingrich (1971) translates “psallw” as sing, sing praises. My copy of A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (1957) translates Bauer and translates “psallw” as “OT usage, sing (to the accompaniment of a harp), sing praise.

    Danker said…. (in a letter to Hugo McCord of which I have the copy from Hugo’s son Charles)
    It was so kind of you to take the time to make your inquiry regarding the word psallo. I see by comparison with Bauer’s first edition that the editors of A-G have incorporated the obvious Old Testament meaning into the metaphorical usage of the New Testament. Bauer did not make this mistake, and we will be sure to correct it in the revision. I doubt whether the archaeologists can establish the use of the harp in early Christian services.

    Dr. Danker consulted with the senior editor, Dr. Gingrich, and copy was sent to the University of Chicago Press omitting the phrase “to the accompaniment of a harp.” Dr. Danker wrote to Bruce Curd in 1964 that in a new printing the phrase had been omitted. When Bruce inquired of the University of Chicago Press why the phrase was still in the new printing, he received the following reply: “Professor Gingrich feels that the comment makes valuable contributory information and he prefers to leave this expression in.” So Professor Gingrich overruled Professor Danker.

    However, Dr. Danker did not give up. When Hugo McCord wrote to Dr. Danker again (May 23, 1964), apparently he did not want to have a public disagreement with Dr. Gingrich, and only briefly replied that I would “see the results” of his “research” in “the scholarly channels.” But finally Dr. Danker prevailed, and the phrase was omitted in the 1979 printing, with an added explanation that those who favor “‘play’ … may be relying too much on the earliest meaning of psallo.”

    So the psallo wars will likely continue . . . . perhaps never to reach a productive end. The lexicons and laguage stidy books are in the hands of the theologians, who biases sometimes come through (as Mantey on a “causal” use of eis). Sometimes so sad.

  91. John says:

    1 Tim 3 . .a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction between men. . .

    How careful we must be. . start at ver 1 and go past v5 (ouch :))

    Romans 14:17-19 So then let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. NASB

  92. Alabama John says:

    Laymond,There is no charge of any kind for their 21/2 hours of lessons and singing. Churches regular collection plates are passed once and anyone that wants to could put in it whatever they wanted which could be zero as no one would ever know.

    Different from our hiring preachers who charge a congregations bank account a negotiated agreed sum to be paid for preaching a meeting for us.

    Wonder how many of ours would come for only what was voluntarily put in the collection plate for them?

  93. Dwight says:

    John, I guess the point comes down to not what they did, but what they could do as a matter of freedom. The Christians observed the Lord’s Supper, as commanded, but the Jewish Christians, even the apostles, observed the Jewish feast, sacrifice, etc. to God (which was not commanded in the NT) without confounding the command for the Lord’s Supper. There is silence from God to do the Jewish practices as a command, which would have re-established the OT Law, but there are examples of what the Jewish Christians did towards God that wasn’t seen as a contradiction.

    And while psallo in the Greek does mean “sing”, the Hebrew word “mizmowr” or “zimrah” which is translated as psalms, also means “to sing” and yet the context is within the context of a possible musical instrument. Sometimes IM are part of the psalms and sometimes not in the Hebrew, so even in the OT it was optional, and yet present much of the time. Psalm was technically the words to be sung or sung to with or without IM. The word for sing “zamar” is seen next to “psalms” in Psalms 98:5.

    So this brings us back to the NT times…psalms is the words to be sung with the voice, and yet this isn’t exclusionary of IM. In the same way pray…is praying, which doesn’t exclude bowing or raising hands done in concert with it.

    The problem I have is that we do wrangle over the words, but don’t accept the possible context that is allowed as reflected in other things we do towards God in religious freedom.
    Which brings us back to: It is not what they did, but what they could do as a matter of freedom in worship.

    AJ, I wish we would leave the collection plate in the back and let people contribute as they leave or come in. Passing it with the Lord’s Supper kind of makes it equal with the Lord’s Supper in thought and motion of events.

  94. Monty says:

    Conservative interpretation of singing without musical accompaniment(although I prefer without in the assembly) leads to some strange rationalizations. Can I sing God Bless America with the military band on July 4th? Can I listen to the Gaithers on TV on Saturday evening while believing they’re headed for hell for using IM, all the while it edifies my soul, “hey, I’m not the one doing it they are? What about Christmas music that pertains to the worship of God? Do I really prefer my children listen to Contemporary Rock, Country, or alternative over contemporary Christian music because it is evil?

    I listen daily to a contemporary Christian station and they have recorded calls from listeners telling not only how the station has blessed their lives but even in some instances saved people from suicide because they found this station at just the right time. Powerful stuff.

    Who authorized David to play his harp and write songs praising God? No one. He took it upon himself. Where is the authorization to even pray to God. I don’t believe you will find it mentioned until late in Israel’s history, though surely men were doing it for centuries. God accepted worship that he hadn’t authorized. What he hates is worship(even if done properly) that is without the heart. I see a lot of that.

  95. John says:

    33.111 psallw
    : to sing songs of praise, with the possible implication of instrumental accompaniment (in the NT often related to the singing of OT psalms) – ‘to sing, to sing a psalm, to sing a song of praise, to sing praises.’
    ‘I will sing praises to your name’ or ‘I will sing praises to you’ Rom 15:9.
    Louw and Nida (from Greek-English Lexicon Based on Semantic Domain. Copyright © 1988 United Bible Societies, New York. Used by permission.)

    According to Paul, there is a when you come together time (1 Cor.) — when some things are inappropriate . . .
    . I do believe that we can appropriately restrain ourselves in worship as did Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:18-19 I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all; 19 however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind, that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.
    NASB

  96. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Monty,
    Now you know you should be listening to Hip-Hop, Rock, Pop, or Country…all of which glamorize sex outside of marriage, violence, drug abuse, degradation of women to one degree or another…rather than “I Can Only Imagine.”

  97. R.J. says:

    John,

    In 2000, Danker updated that lexicon in 2000 with this bolded: “With or without accompaniment”. Apparently he had a change of convictions. I highly doubt a metaphorical gun was stuck to his head lol.

    In the septuagint, psalmos was mostly used to translate the hebrew term zimire(as Dwight has shown). Mizmur originally signified pruning a vineyard or garden. Eventually, the term came to mean to improvise upon any type of musical instrument and/or the voice. To prune up a tune or melody.

  98. Dwight says:

    I am a recent convert to the fact that IM is not sinful. I would have a hard time singing with IM within our assembly, but I have been to assemblies where they do sing with IM and in the past I would stop singing. So I went against the direct command to sing by not singing due to an imaginary implied command based on silence. Now, when I am joyful I will sing, IM or not.

    John, I agree, but the bent was towards edification verses not edification in I Cor.14. Singing, with or without IM, edifies and when it stops doing that, then I will stop singing.

    What has been deftly pointed is the irony between not singing songs with IM and listening to very non-Christian secular music. I grew up in a conservative coC and we condemned IM, but we rarely had any religious singing of any type in our house, but we did have plenty of secular singing from the radio and much of it was radio which played very un-Christian songs. We were tuned into the wrong stuff for the wrong reasons.

  99. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the regulative principle, IM, and fellowship. I saw this quote from one of the far right periodicals (Defender) relative to the “NT Church”:

    “Every other answer is wrong, no matter how close one might be. While we all know the old adage that close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, close does not count when it comes to math or religion. A person must be right or else they are wrong.
    When it comes to the church, one must be right and not simply close (or closest). There is only one church. Paul revealed that there is only one body (Eph. 4:4) and that body is the church (1:22-23), thus there is only one church. One cannot be simply the closest to the one church and be right. They must be that one church or they are not the institution our Lord built (Mat. 16:18).”

    I am astounded at the complete absence of critical thought. If a church must be 100% doctrinally pure in order to be part of the body, someone apparently forgot to inform Paul when he wrote to the saints at Corinth. And Rome. And Galatia.

    Has anyone noticed that all the biblical examples put forth to bolster the regulative principle (Gopher wood, Nadab & Abihu, Levite priests, etc) actually have an unambiguous, declarative command from God? He wasn’t silent at all! Yet all the references to singing, songs, hymns, etc in the NT seem to be in passing. Many are just anecdotal. No direct commands from Jesus, or even the NT writers. Think about the OT. How often do we hear Moses or one of the prophets say, “Thus says the Lord…” We don’t see that in the NT wrt singing.

    Further, I am not so sure the NT is silent with regard to its intent for singing & the use of IM:
    Rom 15:9 quotes Ps 18:49
    Heb 2:12 quotes Ps 22:22
    The new song of Rev 14:2-3 refers to a number of passages, including Ps 149:1-3 and Ps 133:1-3

    So, a few thoughts:
    1. Some NT passages relative to singing quotes OT Psalms that were sung with the instrument
    2. Heb 2:12 quotes Ps 22:22 regarding our praise of God with song, but praising God in the Psalms often involved IM (i.e. Ps 147:7 and Ps 149:3).
    3. The imagery in Rev 14:2b-3 (harpists, harps, and a new song) harkens back to Ps 33:1-3 (harps, new song, and harpists playing skillfully on the strings)

    What am I missing?

  100. Alabama John says:

    Kevin,

    What you are missing is the great BIG EGO factor. I can’t stress it enough. Some preachers, especially those that wrote their teachings were looked on almost like Gods themselves. Whatever they said was truth without question and folks came many miles just to hear them speak. Churches were standing room only.

    Keep in mind many didn’t read back in those days, were poorly educated, King James only, and those that did didn’t understand without explanations from those preachers what they were reading.

    Very popular song that expressed this was “The Great Speckled Bird” by Roy Acuff. Listen to it and understand what I am saying. Its really about the open bible sitting on a fireplace mantel board and those in the home saw it as a speckled bird since they could not read but could see the writing and from the side looking at it from eye level looked like a bird with open wings.

    In our past, the man who was the most conservative and quoted many scriptures, (correctly or not) was looked on as an expert in what God wanted and what we must obey to get to go to heaven. EGO’s sure played on that!

    We had and still have our own schools you could tell by the preaching and selected scriptures which one that preacher graduated from as they sure didn’t agree with one another. Thinking you are right in everything is sure hard to keep up especially as more and more folks get educated. Then, the EGO cannot keep up and that type of thinking and preaching slowly dies off and attendance starts going down as those old timers die off.

  101. Monty says:

    Kevin,

    I grew up in the 70’s with an 8 track tape player in my beetle bug rocking away. Had all the popular rock of the day. I started listening to contemporary Christian radio back in the late 90’s. After listening to that for several months, I could no longer stomach trying to wade through the muck and mire of most rock stations. The DJ’s were crass, the song lyrics after having weaned myself off of them were something you couldn’t listen to with small kids for sure and I didn’t want to listen to them myself. It’s like I had a cleansing. Music touches the soul. Some for good and some for bad.

  102. Dwight says:

    AJ, This is still the issue today. Many preachers today are the Pharisees of yesterday. They might not be hypocrites, but they teach and refuse to be taught on the same level as those who are not preachers. They hold the upper echalon of knowledge. Now this is a generalization, but it fits to too many preachers I know. Preachers speak from the pulpit with authority and can’t seem to lower themselves from the pulpit once they step down from it. This is especially true in the conservative branches as they consider themselves to be the “holders and dispensers of the truth”. I have been confronted by too many preachers that came at me with the remark of “what right do you have to teach me” attitude, even being told that. It is pure EGO and Pride in themselves. Humbleness requires that we step back from our position and subject ourselves to our brothers and in particular the scripture. We are not the authority and truth…the scripture is.

  103. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    What does it mean to rejoice? We have several examples and statements in the NT pertaining to Christians rejoicing. The eunuch went on his way rejoicing. Paul writes in Philippians 4:1 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. How are we to rejoice? Can we clap? Can we sing? Can we shout? Can we play? The NT tells us to rejoice, but it doesn’t mandate the manner in which we are to do so. At least I cant find it.

  104. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Just thinking about this some more. We rejoice all the time, but seldom do we rejoice in silence. When our team scores a touchdown, we shout and clap and hug and cheer. When the Braves actually used to make it to the postseason and win a series, any series, we were jubilant in our rejoicing. Way back in the early 90’s when Sid Bream beat the throw home to send the Braves to the World Series, my wife and I woke the neighbors rejoicing. We even rejoice in song in the 7th inning stretch by singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame…and it has musical accompaniment. But all that is said over the intercom is “Let’s sing.” The IM is just understood.

  105. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Another thought. So, the prodigal son returns to his father from riotous living. The Father and the servants rejoice. How did they rejoice? With music and dancing. I am not making the connection between this celebration and the assembly, but it supports the idea that rejoicing often involves music. The Greek word for music here is symphōnia…symphony.

  106. Monty says:

    Kevin,

    Don’t you know rejoicing for CofC Christians is a cerebral thing? Everything must be done decently and in order. That kind of display of jubilation and excitement(like at weddings or at ball games) leads to the “appearance of evil.” Next thing you know, people will think us to be drunk on wine. Remember the group on Pentecost? Solemnity is the path to true enlightenment. Just be jubilant in your inner man my friend, and be calm, cool, and collected on the outside. That way, no one will accuse you of being charismatic.

  107. Dwight says:

    There has got to be something wrong when we come away from assembly or worshipping with others more subdued and lethargic than when we come out of a movie and that is all we can talk about. Now I have seen some assemblies that resemble a circus where entertainment and an emotional high rules and very little scripture is taught, but we also have to relax and relate scripture and relate to each other as well as if we aren’t going to a morbid funeral where all see is death and not life.

  108. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    You guys are exactly right. Anything can be taken to excess. I like the way Jay has framed the context: does it edify?
    I remember visiting a church in Panama City Beach about 12 years ago, and they were clapping while singing. Having never seen or experienced this, I didn’t know what to do. I remember uttering the dreaded question, “Is this authorized?” Fortunately, I came to the conclusion that it was okay. Most of those with whom I discussed this question did not come to the same conclusion. I remember one man stating that it was sinful, as was tapping one’s foot, humming, or any other practice that mimicked an instrument or drum. Of course, no one could satisfactorily answer just how, then, we are to rejoice given the example of the Eunuch or the statement of Paul in Phl 4:1. The answer was very similar to what Monty describes, who I think nails it.

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