[HistoryGuy’s extensive comment below requires more words for response than the comment engine will allow, and so I’m responding with a post. HistoryGuy’s comment argues his case extensively and, I believe, merits a comprehensive response.]
First, there is 0% evidence in the Biblical and historical records that the first 600 years of the church had any IM. Furthermore, the evidence for AC stemming from the time of the apostles is so overwhelming that the best scholars of church history and musicology give a strict AC practice 99.9%, and will go so far as to say IF IM ever occurred, it was abnormal and unorthodox.
O%? No evidence of any kind at all?
How do you erase the Odes of Solomon from church history?
I poured out praise to the Lord, because I am His own.
And I will recite His holy ode, because my heart is with Him.
For His harp is in my hand, and the odes of His rest shall not be silent.
I will call unto Him with all my heart, I will praise and exalt Him with all my members.
It’s not 0%.
Second, I have quoted countless ECFs that present an AC practice in the late 1st century as an apostolic tradition, and explain the AC practice as early as the mid the 2nd century. The ECFs noted cultural issues, but did not consider AC/IM to be a cultural issue. Rather, it was a God issue. I have quoted multiple ECFs, using a variety of hermeneutics, who give commentary on Scripture in support of their AC [a cappella] practice. I am happy to post the quotes again.
Even Everett Ferguson concedes that the instrumental music in worship was not taught by the early church fathers until nearly the Third Century. Earlier criticisms of instrumental music dealt with idolatrous pagan banquets and such like.
Some argue that their silence is due to the uniformity of a cappella music and hence the fathers had no need to argue the case — which may or may not be true. Silence is, you know, silence and hardly proves a claim to apostolic tradition.
Third Century and later claims to apostolic authority regarding instrumental music are unpersuasive because the church at that time credited all sorts of teachings to the apostles that are obviously not traceable to them at all. See part 1 and part 2 where I give extensive examples of this phenomenon.
Third, if you or I had lived in the first 600 years of the church, IM would not have even been an option.
Clearly true from about 200 AD to 600 AD. The first two centuries are less certain, and Paul is as far removed from Clement of Alexandria as the Civil War is removed from us. A lot can happen in 150 years.
While the ECFs claim a Scriptural OC/NC contrasts for AC, they are overlooked in favor of using IM, even though IM was introduced through Papal authority, not Scriptural authority or apostolic tradition. I continue to be shocked by those using a Reformation hermeneutic of Sola Scriptura, yet embracing an IM practice that was forced upon and divided the church through Papal authority.
Oh, please … You can’t seriously be arguing that Richland Hills only uses instrumental music because of a decree from the Pope 1,500 years ago. And there’s no evidence that the instrumental music divided the church — the church remained united for hundreds of years after the organ was introduced! And if the Pope is the only reason we use instrumental music today, why are many synagogues instrumental today?
“Sola scriptura” is the not the same thing as the law of silence. The Lutherans produced such great composers of instrumental Christian music as J. S. Bach.
As Martin Luther said, “The true rule is this: God’s Word shall establish articles of faith, and no one else, not even an angel can do so.” Amen. That hermeneutic makes the early church fathers ultimately utterly unpersuasive.
IM is not a salvation issue, but it is a truth issue dealing with nature of Christian worship.
The truth is IM is the result of several domineering Popes, who borrowed a few OT practices and divided the church 700-1500AD. At the Council of Trent (1500s), the banning of IM almost passed because of (1) its OT nature and (2) a 700yr history of causing division after its entrance into the church. The Orthodox never used IM because they (1) denied Papal authority (2) upheld the ECF claim that AC is apostolic.
Not familiar with that aspect of the Council of Trent, but not that interested, either. The Council of Trent concluded some false things and some true things. I’ll not be persuaded by pro- or anti-Catholic sentiments.
If I find the early church fathers interesting but ultimately without persuasive authority (a la Martin Luther), I’m sure not going to be persuaded by what did or didn’t happen in the Council of Trent or what a Medieval Pope did or didn’t do. It just doesn’t matter.
The reason Richland Hills and so many other churches want to add instrumental services is because that is what “music” and “singing” mean to most Americans — and God has gifted countless Christians to worship him instrumentally.
It’s a question, first, of freedom in Christ and, second, mission. And Richland Hills very much sees this as about being effective in their mission to a lost world. It has nothing to do with the Pope or the Council of Trent. Indeed, in that part of the world, the Church of Christ’s refusal to use instruments is strongly associated with legalism and sectarianism — a perception they find interferes with their ministry and mission. (And they’ve concluded that it’s entirely scriptural.)
Protestants who desire IM act as though the issue cannot be settled only because their Reformation hermeneutical framework prevents them from arriving at the conclusion they actually desire. Specifically, they want IM, but cannot figure out how to allow it while being true Reformation hermeneutics. As a note, arguments like getting IM from the OT, prophecy, psallo, and/or psalms are examples of IM debates [1780-1990], created by IM advocates, within a Reformation hermeneutic that demanded an appeal to some essence of Biblical authority. I hope by now you see the IRONY. ~ Those debates not only denied the original [Papal] authority for introducing IM, but they sought authority for IM using a hermeneutic that will never allow it (lol).
By “Reformation hermeneutics” I assume you mean the Regulative Principle, brought to us by the Reformed Church of John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli. And their arguments are simply not scriptural. We’ve considered them extensively here many times. The scriptural arguments for “the law of silence” do not stand up to inspection — but at least they’re arguments from scripture. And I’d far rather be talking about the scriptures.
No one is arguing that the question can’t be settled. Most believers find the issue completely settled. Only a small minority are still fighting over it — and I’m only interested in the question because how utterly divisive and counter-productive the “law of silence” is to our work as the body of Christ. The Regulative Principle or “law of silence” does great harm to the cause of the Kingdom and therefore has to be opposed — whether the topic is instrumental music or fellowship halls or basketball goals in the parking lot.
Sadly or smartly (?), people have wised up to this and started abandoning or greatly modifying the classic Reformation hermeneutics. The Reformation appeal to Sola Scriptura will never grant IM. An appeal to apostolic tradition will never grant IM. There are only two authoritative appeals for IM, which are self or Papal authority. The original Reformers were honest enough to remove IM because it was not an apostolic or Scriptural practice, nor did fit with the didactic nature of Biblical Christianity. At least the church 700-1500AD was honest enough to admit they used IM because the Pope authorized it. I wish more IM folks would be that honest today.
Where the Bible speaks, we speak; where the Bible is silent, we are silent. Thomas Campbell intended this to be a rule of freedom and unity, and it was corrupted into a rule of division and sectarianism. I’ve had all of that I can bear. I’ve seen the fruit of the Regulative Principle — and it is division and wrangling. Even now the Memphis Churches of Christ have been torn up over whether the re-affirmation of elders is scripturally permitted — and it’s become a fellowship issue in the minds of many. And that’s just wicked and obviously sinful. But the argument is that the scriptures are silent on re-affirmation and if we had to split over the instrument … (It never stops, does it?)
No, the “law of silence” is deeply mistaken, impossible to apply consistently, not found in scripture, and divides the body of Christ. Even when not considered a fellowship issue, it creates fights over “authority” when we should be talking about mission and God’s purposes. The sooner we rid it from our churches, the better. We took a seriously wrong turn when we decided to fight over what is and isn’t authorized rather than what is and isn’t consistent with God’s redemptive plan and purposes — the gospel.
The argument from scripture is simple enough. It’s not that “silence is permission” but that instrumental music fulfills the God-given purposes for assembly — if done right. The discussion begins and ends in scripture — and the hermeneutic is simple: figure out how the New Testament writers determined what is appropriate in the assembly and use their standard. Ignore all man-made standards. Think in gospel terms, not Reformation terms.