Instrumental Music: Everett Ferguson Responds to Danny Corbitt

MoreTHanMusicLast week, Danny Corbitt presented his work regarding instrumental music at the Abilene Christian lectures, called “The Summit,” based on his book Missing More Than Music. Today, I received the September 2010 issue of the Gospel Advocate, containing an article by Dr. Everett Ferguson attempting to refute Danny’s work: “Missing the Meaning: A Review of Missing More Than Music” (pp. 33 ff).

I’ll not attempt a comprehensive rebuttal, because one isn’t necessary. The question isn’t what Clement of Alexandria or Philo really meant. The question is whether it’s sin to worship God in the Christian assembly using an instrument. And Ferguson’s arguments fail because they are built on two seriously flawed premises.

But first, a little background. Dr. Ferguson, a professor at Abilene Christian University, is a widely recognized authority on New Testament backgrounds and the Early Church Fathers. He writes textbooks used in many seminaries. And he has long argued against instrumental music in the assembly, having written A cappella music in the public worship of the church, as well as a number of related books.

The first fatal flaw in Dr. Ferguson’s logic is shown by the following quotations:

The issue remains: Is there authority for instrumental music in church? … Opponents of instrumental music must have a text rejecting [sic] it; advocates of instrumental music do have to have a New Testament text commanding it or allowing it, and they still do not have one.

On page 37, Corbitt asserts that early Christian writers “never oppose accompaniment in praise.” However, no writer favors it either.

Contrary to what Corbitt argues on pages 80-92, the case is not that ado and ode require one to “sing only” but that they only say “sing” and never said anything else.

Plainly, Ferguson reasons from what is formally known as the Regulative Principle, the old Zwinglian/Puritan idea that scriptural silences are all prohibitions. Indeed, Ferguson writes,

An example is the insistence that no text says not to use instruments, which corresponds to our counterclaim that no text says to use them.

Ferguson imposes a legalistic interpretation on the scriptures, seeking to reach his conclusions by declaring silences either all permissive or all prohibitions, which is a classic false dichotomy. It’s just not necessarily true that either all silences are permissions or all silences are prohibitions. That is deeply flawed logic, because it’s entirely possible that some silences are prohibitions and some are permissions.

And as flawed as this logic is, even more mistaken is the idea of applying the Regulative Principle to the Patristics! In the second quote above, Ferguson actually insists on a prohibition inferred from the silences of the Early Church Fathers.

It’s not true that either all women are ugly or all women are pretty. Just so, it’s hardly necessary to conclude that either all silences are permissions or all silences are prohibitions. Rather than pulling our theology out of doctrines invented by Zwinglian and Puritan disputants over how to conduct the assembly, we should turn to the scriptures. The way to read the silences of the scriptures is in light of the narrative of the scriptures and God’s redemptive mission, culminating in Christ.

Can we seriously contend that God has been working across the centuries to honor his covenant with Abraham to the bless the nations — by demanding a cappella rather than instrumental worship? How on earth can we argue that God’s redemptive mission, fulfilled in Christ, rejects worship because it’s accompanied by a lute or a lyre? Is this truly the nature of a God who so loves the world that he sent his Son to die on a cross, revealing the self-emptying, loving, serving nature of God, Creator of the Universe?

No, Ferguson’s position fails, foremost, because it’s predicated on a legalistic God who makes up arbitrary rules, hidden amongst the silences and unrevealed hermeneutical suppositions. I reject that view of God and therefore that view of how to read silences.

Were Ferguson to address the Regulative Principle in the same manner as he addresses instrumental music, he’d ask whether the Early Church Fathers ever taught the Regulative Principle. And he asks no such thing, as he takes it as axiomatic — too obvious to require a defense — and yet it’s obviously not required logically.

And the Early Church Fathers never defend their opposition to instrumental music based on lack of authority or the Regulative Principle. And so Ferguson takes their conclusion and defends it on grounds foreign to their thinking — which is also seriously flawed analysis. If they are the experts, then we need to give heed to their stated reasoning, not to an interpretive principle that is only 500 years old.

And this leads to the second major, even more serious flaw in his argument. Ferguson writes on page 35 —

Brother Corbitt concludes his book with a strong call for unity. The reasonable historical and doctrinal ground for unity would be the practice of the church in the early centuries (continued until today in the various Orthodox and other Eastern churches), the practice of the Reformed and Anabaptist churches of the Reformation (continued today in such groups as the Reformed Presbyterian and Reformed Baptist churches and many Mennonites), and the practice of the churches of the Restoration Movement before division came (in part because of the introduction of instruments).

Under this logic, we should immediately merge with the Orthodox and other named churches. After all, they share with the a cappella Churches of Christ the essential ground of unity: a cappella singing on Sunday morning! But, of course, neither Ferguson nor the editors of the Gospel Advocate have any intention of urging merger with the Orthodox or a cappella Baptist, Presbyterian, or Mennonite churches. Rather, a cappella singing is just one of a very long list of required elements for unity.

A member of my congregation recently shared a meal with the preacher for another Church of Christ near here. The preacher assured him that the University Church of Christ (my congregation) was involved in many great works, doing much good for the cause of Jesus, but he — regrettably — couldn’t fellowship us. You see, in his eyes, we are only 95% right. We clap to the music during worship. And this 5% flaw makes us unacceptable. There are, of course, no New Testament passages authorizing clapping — by command, inference, or example — and therefore it is prohibited and therefore it destroys unity.

You see, I’ve seen the consequences of legalism, and it isn’t unity. Indeed, the scriptures speak plainly about unity, and not once is adherence to the Regulative Principle and the prohibitions inferred by so many — and yet so differently — made the basis for unity. Rather —

(John 17:20-21 ESV) 20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

Whom does Jesus want to be one? “Those who will believe in me through their word.” Unity is for all believers in Jesus — not just all believers in the Regulative Principle.

Now, I’ve explained my views on unity at length several times here and at Suffice to say that the Bible bases unity, not on a common understanding of how to conduct the assembly, but a common Savior.

(John 3:18 ESV) 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Christianity is about the Christ, because God’s redemptive mission — the story of the entire Bible — is fulfilled in Christ. And unity is found in Christ, by grace, through faith.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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210 Responses to Instrumental Music: Everett Ferguson Responds to Danny Corbitt

  1. abasnar says:

    Polemic interpretations of good reasons don't help a bit, Jay:

    Under this logic, we should immediately merge with the Orthodox and other named churches. After all, they share with the a cappella Churches of Christ the essential ground of unity: a cappella singing on Sunday morning!

    Why not just call them "witnesses"? They all testify to the ancient practice of a-cappella worship – but this does not mean we have to be united with them.

    It is a historic question. If you donb't like what Clement of Alexandria wrote, or if you can't follow his reasoning – your views don't change the historic practice.

    And it is NOT a question of to sin or not to sin (as some make us believe, and you are – I think – referring to them. I don't think you yourself would say it is about sin). But it is a question of the historic practice of the churches of Christ (I mean those congregations of the 2nd century and before).

    Maybe Fergusons arguments are insufficient. Maybe you just misrepresent his point. But on a historical level, the matter is settled: The churches of Christ worshipped a-cappella – whether you like it or not; whether you folow their reasonong or not. I find their arguments quite compelling. I don't need the Regulative Principle for that.

    But I really find it hypocritical when Corbitt pleads for unity when at the same time he introduces a topic that is divisive among the churches of Christ. If unity was his goal, he would submit to the tradition of the churches of Christ, since – as we all agree – it is not a matter of salvation.

    But first, a little background. Dr. Ferguson, a professor at Abilene Christian University, is a widely recognized authority on New Testament backgrounds and the Early Church Fathers.

    But all these qualifications obviously don't count, if his conclusions don't match our preferences …


  2. laymond says:

    I figure that if someone remains "knowingly" silent on a matter, they think it is not of great importance to either, you or them. ( that is why I remain silent on this matter)

  3. I've become convinced that, if all we do is follow the rules, we probably miss the point.

    Jesus' command to love one another as he loved us and gave his life for us (John 15), goes beyond what can be codified in any set of rules.

  4. Price says:

    Alexander…have you read Danny's book? You seem like a thoughtful fellow. Perhaps you should if you have not…
    Regarding your statement on Danny's hypocrisy…really? The only time division occurs is when people elevate their "traditions" into "rules" and qualifications for fellowship…That's elevating one's traditions to the level of inspired scripture and perhaps as Jay pointed out, to a point that supercedes inspired scripture…
    I'm sure Brother Ferguson is a fine man and has does many wonderful things to advance the Kingdom in his sphere of influence. That being said, his arguments based upon the ECF seem to be essentially contradictory to his application of silence to IM. Worship was required by God to include musical instruments…If the early church choose not to do so then where did they get their authorization to EXCLUDE them? Being told to sing is not the same as being told NOT to use musical instruments while singing. The Bible is silent on the exclusion so where was the authority to exclude? There wasn't…it was FREEDOM that allowed them to choose how to worship…Has that freedom been withdrawn ?

  5. Jay Guin says:


    Very well said. Why should we presume a law when freedom is an equally viable explanation?

  6. Tim Miller says:

    Does anyone know conclusively what the practice was in the synagogues in the 1st century? Did they sing? Did they play instruments? Did they chant (sing)?

    I can't recall having investigated this subject in relation to the synagogue (which I don't recall OT authority for either), but my suspicion is that christians did what the synagogue practiced (particularly while the early christians still met with other Jews as a growing sect. Eventually, christians began to practice their faith in Jesus in ways that distinguised them from "jews".

  7. Adam Legler says:


    It seems to me Jay is not taking the road of bashing Ferguson (as evidence that he was not afraid to list Ferguson's achievements) but only challenging his argument. I wish more of our brothers would only challenge arguments they don't agree with instead of trying to go after someone's reputation. I would hope we don't automatically agree with someone just because of their accomplishments.

    Corbitt only is divisive to those whose traditional beliefs are threatened by sound research. Not ironically, that number is getting smaller and smaller. Actually, the sound research has less to do with it than the fact that what is becoming the average Church of Christ member seeing how divisive we've become over stuff like this and identifying it as missing the point of what Jesus was all about.

    I don't think anyone argues the historical aspect of acapellas 1st century church. But, every Church of Christ I've been a part of as made it a sin issue. And that is what is truly divisive. Especially when, in many instances, the other "denonminations" who use instruments are doing it to the glory of God and using it in ways to bring people to Christ and see us as the wants who miss the point.


  8. guy says:


    i've heard more than twice but never chased down for myself that the synagogues were acappella. Every time i heard that, the same explanation was given: the leaders were afraid that if instruments were used, the players might be tempted to repair their instruments which would constitute work on the Sabbath.


  9. abasnar says:

    Alexander…have you read Danny’s book? You seem like a thoughtful fellow. Perhaps you should if you have not…

    Dear Price (Nice, to see your face now 😉 )

    I have not purchased this book yet, and I am not sure whether I will. The reason is quite simple – let's say it's threefold:

    a) The only place I join such discussions is here – we don't argue about that in our church. We say: "We won't have it. Period."
    b) I don't argue from the Regulative priciple, but rather by Scripture and "reliable witnesses" – this means I prefer the wrings of the 2nd century church of Christ to any modern commentator. And that's why I can follow the reasoning of Ferguson.
    c) I come from the exact opposite direction, having been a musician in a worship team, having had many discussions on CCM and having seen the harm such discussions do to a church.

    Regarding your statement on Danny’s hypocrisy…really? The only time division occurs is when people elevate their “traditions” into “rules” and qualifications for fellowship…That’s elevating one’s traditions to the level of inspired scripture and perhaps as Jay pointed out, to a point that supercedes inspired scripture…

    Of course that's a harsh word. But I noticed this – be it CCM or IM debates: Once a group of Christians in a church urges to change the worship style, we will experience a "clash of civilizations" or "a clash of generations". Normally it is the younger generation that says: "We want a worship style that reflects our culture." or "How can we reach out to our generation if we still sing hymns from the 1800s." – BTW even hymns from the 1970s are way too outdated for them.

    And pretty soon it is not about worship at all, but about taste, about hurt feelings, about one pushing his agenda and the rest having to comply with it.

    I saw people stand up during worship and leave because they could not bear the new worship (shallow lyrics and worldly style). And in the months before I eventually left to join the church of Christ, I was one of them – I left the assembly with tears and stood outside the building crying out to God.

    Many churches then make a compromise: They offer "youth events", "Sunday night worship with CCM", or alternating services (every other sunday traditional).

    In fact: This is already a split, as I pointed out in other posts this year. You divide the congregation according to their taste. And this makes worship a matter of taste and preferences – this is a reflection of our secular individualistic life style, but it does contradict the Spirit of Christ.

    Meditate on this one:

    Rom 15:5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus,
    Rom 15:6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Instead of living in harmony with each other, we divide the congregation.
    Instead of praising God with one voice, we divide the worshippers in two or more groups.

    Think it through, and ask yourself: How and who did it start? Don't point at men, it started with Satan. And some among us are becoming increasingly naive not to see the devil's agenda, by – on one hand – feeding our flesh (taste, preference, "freedom") while – on the other hand – causing enmity, ugly talk und some extreme reasoning, opposition, schism … (works of the flesh)

    I’m sure Brother Ferguson is a fine man and has does many wonderful things to advance the Kingdom in his sphere of influence. That being said, his arguments based upon the ECF seem to be essentially contradictory to his application of silence to IM. Worship was required by God to include musical instruments…If the early church choose not to do so then where did they get their authorization to EXCLUDE them? Being told to sing is not the same as being told NOT to use musical instruments while singing. The Bible is silent on the exclusion so where was the authority to exclude? There wasn’t…it was FREEDOM that allowed them to choose how to worship…Has that freedom been withdrawn ?

    In the Early Church it was not about freedom. And I am not going to repeat all the reasonings they put forth. They did not CHOOSE to worship a-cappella, they did so, because they had no other practice. Nowhere has this ever been debated in the ECF – all who wrote about it, agreed on a-cappella.

    These words "freedom" and "choose" are deluding, and they have the bitter aftertaste of this fancy fruit, Eve plucked from the forbidden tree (not that the question of IM and the original sin are on the same level). These words appeal to our flesh.

    I do see freedom in the scripture, but the NT-freedom is one that gives up one's privileges in order to become a slave. The debate on IM is not led by this kind of freedom, but rather by a freedom of self-willed people, who … willfully or not, intentionally or not, but IN FACT split churches.

    If you had NT-freedom, you would be free not to worship with instruments, ifthe church-leadership does not want to introduce them, even if – in your opinion – their arguments are poor and weak. You'd be free not to instist on your preference, unless you'd argue it is sinful NOT to use instruments.

    Of course such debates mainly make the conservatives look bad. If they are like many others, they simply complied to what has been handed down to them by their fathers, which is fine. They were and are poorly prepared for the battle – the regulative principle is not a bad method, but it is insufficient to discuss with innovators. But even then, if we come up with better researched arguments from church history, we are not heard. Why? That's not "Sola Scriptura" anymore. But those who bring up IM can use any interpretation, can mix the old and new covenant worship, can turn the regulative principle upside down and use it against the conservatives …

    Actually there is no way, we could win the debate. Either we simply say: "We don't do it this way" or we compromise by offering two kinds of worship. The latter results in a split within the congregation. But standing firm by exercising leadership authority might make people leave and start a new church – so this is an external split.

    So either way: You will get your instruments – but at what price, Price?


  10. Adam,

    To me the issue of instrumental music is a faith issue. If there is no Word of God on a subject there can be no faith, only opinion. To have faith you must first hear the word of God (Rom. 10:17). This is further proof we cannot be guided by what the Bible does not say, not if we are to walk by faith.

    A foundational principle of the Christian faith is that without faith it is impossible to please Him. (Heb. 11:6 NKJV) Faith is always dependent on evidence. When it comes to instrumental music the problem is that evidence is lacking. Even you admit to not argue against the history of the absence of IM from the early church.

    And you are correct about this. The fact is there is hardly any controversy regarding this historical matter. In their massive, twelve-volume Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature (1876), John McClintock and James Strong (denominational scholars) noted:

    "The Greeks as well as the Jews were wont to use instruments as accompaniments in their sacred songs. The converts to Christianity accordingly must have been familiar with this mode of singing; yet it is generally believed that the primitive Christians failed to adopt the use of instrumental music in their religious worship."

    These scholars further noted that: “The general introduction of instrumental music can certainly not be assigned to a date earlier than the 5th and 6th centuries [A.D.]” (VI.759).

    So here’s all this historical evidence AGAINST IM and points only to singing only. Add to this of course the fact that instruments are not found anywhere in the pages of the NT. They are not found in the 500 years before the NT. And they are not mentioned in the 600 years after the NT. In over a thousand years of history we do not have hardly a HINT of evidence that God’s people were using instruments. Nada –nothing.

    Someone may say, “Well history doesn’t prove anything.”

    But, my dear friends and those reading this blog, if you are trying to advocate the use instruments, you better hope it does, because you sure aren’t going to prove anything by the NT. Those who dismiss this evidence should ask themselves if they would feel differently if the evidence were the other way around. What if there were all kinds of references to the early Christians using instruments?

    Are you trying to tell me that advocates of instruments would just ignore that? Of course not. Well neither can we ignore the unanimous testimony of history that Christians did not use instruments for a period that is three times as long as the entire history of America.

    Again it is hard to have faith in a thing that is not even mentioned or hinted at.

    Add to this the fact that there is plenty of evidence in the pages of the Bible about changing worship to God. All the evidence points towards the idea that it is a very dangerous thing for man to change the worship of God.

    In Matt. 15:9 Jesus quotes Isaiah and applies it to those with whom he was speaking as follows: And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. (NKJV) I want you to look at some things. These people were worshipping God, not idols. Yet, it was all in vain. Why? They were teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.

    Again, if I use the instrument in worship I am not being guided by what the Bible says but by what the Bible does not say. The Bible does not say not to use them. I am being guided by what the Bible does not say. Is this the way we are to live?

    Robert Prater

  11. Adam Legler says:

    I recommend you read Jay's post on what Jesus talks about when he refers to faith and gospel. He does an interesting study in the book of John on how Jesus uses the word "truth". It's different than how the traditional C of C uses it.

    History also has a long history of saying we must be under a Pope.

    Romans 12 says we are living sacrifices and that our lives are the true worship to God. Corbit points this out in his book along with the Greek meaning of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs meaning with or without instruments. Jay has posts on that too.

    Do we have a God more concerned about worship practices that are not immoral but encourage others in their walk with God or more concerned with living lives that bring glory to him and show others the loving and grace filled nature of God and his son?

    By the way, are you related to Edmund Prater?


  12. How do we make the leap from "generally believed" to "unanimous testimony of history" on a matter about which history has only sparse testimony (certainly not unanimous or universal)?

  13. guy says:

    In the past when i've engaged in apologetic related conversations or taught classes on apologetic issues, one thing i'm fond of pointing out is that the NT documents were written at a time such that if the claims they made were so blatantly false or disputable or controversial, there were witnesses or parties close enough to the events in question who could've said something and cleared the matter up.

    In other words, when many of the NT documents were written, there were people still alive who could've said, "That's BS, i was there that day and it didn't happen." Or someone could've said, "i know all that is a lie because my mother grew up right next door to Joseph and Mary and they never even had a son named Jesus." Or some Roman official could've said, "i worked in Pilate's entourage during that time period, and Pilate never on any occasion during my employment questioned a man named Jesus or anyone matching Jesus' description." etc. etc.

    Suppose someone right now were to make a claim like "The truth is, no German ever fired a single bullet or dropped a single bomb on any of the allied forces during WWII." If someone were to propose such a claim about historical events, what could we expect? Well, there are people who were there who are still alive. There are people who weren't there, but were close enough to the relevant events in question who could settle that matter rather decidedly.

    It seems likely that the more controversial or blatantly false the claim or the more that's at stake, the greater the likelihood that people in the know would step up and say something and clear up the matter. But what do we find in regards to claims about Jesus existence, life, ministry, teaching, etc.? The external sources we have, even those which are critical of Christianity, don't dispute many of the historical claims, but rather confirm them.

    How should we interpret that fact? Well, i suppose we could cry "conspiracy!" and say that perhaps there were many sources that said it was all false, but the those records were suppressed and/or destroyed by people with the particular agenda being criticized.

    But it also seems fair to interpret it that these claims (Claims like "Jesus of Nazareth existed," "Jesus claimed to be the Messiah," "People claimed that Jesus performed miracles," "Jesus taught such and such.") were not in dispute–not even by critics. This seems to lend creedance to those claims.

    Now perhaps that's a bad argument. (It's certainly not deductive, but its level of cogency may be in question.) But it has made some sense to me.

    If you agree that it's a fine point to make in an apologetic discussion, then what is the significant difference between it and the point that Alexander is making about the ECF? 'Notice that the particular authors who do have anything to say about this basically have the same position on the matter. And if it was a matter of any dispute or there existed different practices among the early churches, why aren't there any other authors countering their claims?'


  14. John says:


    You said, "Again, if I use the instrument in worship I am not being guided by what the Bible says but by what the Bible does not say. The Bible does not say not to use them. I am being guided by what the Bible does not say. Is this the way we are to live?"

    I understand that line of reasoning. However, something that has bothered me for a long time regarding it is this: opponents of IM use this very argument to prove their case, but seem to ignore or explain away the many other things that have been introduced into our churches that are also not mentioned in the NT.

    How can we have it both ways?

  15. Guy,
    The most obvious objection to the line of reasoning you describe is that in the very early days, it's entirely possible that those who were first-hand witnesses might not have been aware of counter claims and thus might not have known of the need to object.

    Or, we might have lost the records of their objections.

    For example, we have a record of some 2d century writers that Christian assemblies worshipped with a cappella singing, but that does not represent a comprehensive report on the behavior of every Christian worship assembly.

    No one can claim to have know what every early Christian assembly did — they only know about the ones they witnessed or read about.

    That is the fundamental flaw of basing doctrine on historic behavior or historical reports.

  16. o says:


    Christians were commanded to assemble together (Heb. 10). Every single example of an NT assembly occurs in a house. The NT is totally silent on assemblies meeting anywhere other than houses. Historically, the early church met in houses for the first few centuries. (Their motives for doing so are are irrelevant. It doesn't matter if they met in houses for reasons that do not concern us anymore, just like it doesn't matter if the reasons the early church didn't use IM do not concern us anymore.)

    There is no Word of God on the subject of assembling anywhere other than homes. Therefore, having NT assemblies anywhere other than homes is an opinion, not from faith.

    Given this logic and the "overwhelming" Biblical and historical testimony, and the regulative principle, why is it okay to for assemblies to worship in buildings?

    God doesn't like it when we change worship. It's dangerous. Right?

  17. o
    We'd certainly probably be better off if we had continued to limit worship to homes.

    Oops, but that's the same rationale for opposing IM, I guess.

    Please forgive the sarcasm

  18. Brian B. says:


    In your 6:34 A.M. post, you said:

    "But I really find it hypocritical when Corbitt pleads for unity when at the same time he introduces a topic that is divisive among the churches of Christ. If unity was his goal, he would submit to the tradition of the churches of Christ, since – as we all agree – it is not a matter of salvation."

    According your logic, if unity was Paul's goal, he would have submitted to the tradition of the Jewish Christians, since – as we all agree – it (circumcision) is a not a matter of salvation.

    But we know that Paul did not submit to that tradition because there were those who did think that circumcision was a matter of salvation. And today, there are those who think that instrumental music is a matter of salvation.

    It sure is easy to say you should just submit to my understanding on the issue since it's not a matter of salvation.

  19. guy says:


    i mentioned the possibility of records being lost.

    it's certainly possible that people who would've offered counter claims were not aware of the claims they would've countered. But any historian could make some argument (provided there was any evidence) that supported a certain degree of circulation of the documents in question. Then it's a matter of likelihood.

    Notice, i granted these are not deductive arguments. "Acts 3-6 never mention any church engaging in congregational singing. Therefore, the church during that period never engaged in congregational singing." Of course that's invalid. i'm certainly not claiming otherwise (and i don't think Alexander is either, but i don't have the greatest track record when it comes to interpretting his position).

    It's a matter of what seems likely given what evidence we have. i grant you that the WWII example was an intuition pump–'doesn't it seem intuitively likely for X to happen?' But i don't think this matter of probabilities is entirely subjective.

    Regarding the gospels, do you think the fact that there are no contemporary sources which categorically deny the kind of claims i mention, but rather all the contemporary sources, even when critical, actually affirm them–do you think that gives *no* creedance to those claims?


    Do you think

  20. Guy,
    Frankly, I think the lack of counter claims to the authenticity of the gospels borders irrelevancy. But that's just me. I know it's significant to others.

    My view is that the use or non-use of instruments in early Christian worship was a reflection of the cultural patterns of that time and they have no bearing on what God wants of us in worship.

    The only thing God has told us he cares about in worship is "spirit" and "truth". Neither of those is inherently minimized or enhanced by the singing or by instruments. The impact of these practices happens at an individual level and varies widely — too widely to there to be a singular rule.

    I've experienced a cappella worship that was so horrible it distracted and disturbed me. I've experienced worship that was accompanied with instruments that was inspiring and uplifting. But the reverse is also equally true.

    God gave us freedom — and we seem to keep trying to take each others freedom away.

    How you express your freedom need not limit mine. How I express my freedom need not limit yours.

    The IM debate is circuitous, at the very least.

  21. J.D. says:

    I just want to pick out one particular point. Someone earlier in the comments stated that people who wanted instruments had, in fact, split the church numerous times.

    Could it not also be reasoned that the ones responsible for the split were the people who wouldn't accept it? After all, if they had been willing to bend on this subject, the split would not have occurred.

    It takes 2 parties to split, folks.

  22. Price says:

    Alexander…..I like the fact that we can disagree and most of the time not be disagreeable…Thank you…

    At what cost was your question…I find that to be an interesting question…Unless I misread your statement, it seems that the concern you have for instrumental music is primarily based upon the desires of some in the congregation to the exclusion of others, particularly young people. And, there seems to be little interest in what the outside world might be attracted to…That seems to me to be a misplaced priority…If we loose our young people, where is the future of the church? Should we not make some provision for their JOY in worship. You indicate there are some that you know that have up and walked out because of their distain for the services…What if our young people get up and walk out on church? Where do they go and who guides them if not us? Additionally, if the first century christians were only concerned about their personal convenience none of us would be having this conversation. There would be no church if tremendous sacrifice had not occured. How could anyone desire to meet together and worship God with the smell of rotting flesh in underground buriel chambers and be content? My guess is that if we began to think of others more highly than ourselves then we could worship at times a capella, at times with a solo, and times with IM and glorify God in our attempt to honor the wishes of all…

    Robert…My Bible suggests that faith is the substance of things hoped for the "evidence of things not seen." Not sure what you meant by faith being dependent on, by definition seems to be absent of certainty…
    Also, you said the we cannot be guided on what the Bible does not say…well, the Bible does require musical instruments and they even had a choir…Where does the Bible specifically exclude those elements of worship ? Is does not exclude them. If the Jews of the 1st century were worshipping in the Temple or Synagogue in accordance with the Law then there would have been musical instruments. The Synagogue actually was not something that God ordered but God allowed (freedom) so not sure if IM was in the synagogue…There is no instruction from God regarding a synagogue…So, without specific instruction for musical instruments to be excluded, where did the ECF's get their instruction to exclude them? None of them say that it was by command of God to exclude them…So, there had to be some reason they went against the command and tradition of worship for centuries…or they decided that given the constant threat of persecution and the "times" that they had the freedom to choose…One thing for sure we can't argue logically is that silence on the use of IM prohibits their use and yet silence on their exclusion allows them to be excluded. We know that God ordained it in worship. What we don't know is why they were eventually excluded without specific inspired instruction to do so.

    Lastly Robert, I believe that your statement that for you it is a matter of faith bleeds over into "if you don't agree with me you don't have faith like I have." That may be the furtherest thing from your intention but it reads like that and that has been the problem..Without specific instruction you believe that one isn't acting in faith. It seems that this reasoning would condemn the ECF's as having little faith as they had no specific command to move from the centuries of instruction and tradition to include IM in worship…Again, I don't wish to put words in your mouth but it appeared to me, and perhaps me alone, that your argument for faith by instruction would have to come to this conclusion that the ECF were in error if indeed there was no instruction to exclude IM…

  23. Adam,

    I appreacite your questions. First off, no relationship to Edmund Prater.

    Now to address your question. God wants the right kind of worship as well as living the right kind of lives.

    You see, we live in a time when most religious folks are absolutely convinced that anything we offer up to God as worship, He'll accept.

    But the faith presented in the Bible pleases God is when we approach Him the way He wants us to, not the way we want to. (cf. Hebrews 11:4 Abel vs. Cain's offering)

    Cain did not listen to what God told him to do in his approach to Him, but instead tried to approach God through his own works, the fruit of the ground. Cain was a farmer. God rejected this sacrifice of Cain. Why? Because Cain did not approach God in faith. Faith here meaning he did not approach God the way God instructed Cain to approach Him.

    When we approach God according to His instructions, we are walking in faith and we are exercising faith that pleases God

    Now, to my dear progressive friends, we're back to the old straw man argument about church buildings and instrumental music. Apples and organges if I ever saw them. Smoke screen.

    The fact is that nothing about church buildings or songbooks, baptisteries, pews and like examples proponents for IM could raise, nothing is done with them that is not within the scope of God's will concerning the specific worship He had commanded us to enact in. They do not set up actions in worship separate and apart from that which God has ordained, such as is involved in the use of instrumental music.

    God has commanded Christians to meet (Heb 10:25). He has not specified where to meet. They can meet under a tree, by a riverside, in a large building, in a private dwelling, in the daytime, at night, etc. No matter where they meet, when they meet to worship God according to the activities that He has designated (singing, praying, etc.), they are doing no more nor less than God's will. They have not added anything; the building just aids them as a convenient place to meet. They have added nothing to the Lord's command to meet.

    When one sings with a song book, or with four-part harmony or in unionize, or more traditional hymns or praise songs, he is not singing and doing something else or in addition to what God has commanded.

    An aid is something that helps you to do the thing that the Lord directed without adding an element to the thing commanded. An addition is adding a new element to the service.

    Only God can know what is pleasing and acceptable to Him. Therefore, we must consult His Word as to what pleases Him in the worship service, and we rejoice because He has given us His will in the matter in such plain language.

    Dear friends, having faith that God will accept what we do is not the faith of the Bible.

    The faith of the Bible believes that God will do what He has said and that His Word is the final and only authority. (Matt. 7:21-24; Rom. 10:17)

    To go beyond what is written and add such things into God’s worship is not having faith in God but in ourselves

    Robert Prater

  24. Price says:

    Robert, you said….Dear friends, having faith that God will accept what we do is not the faith of the Bible ….and you said….To go beyond what is written and add such things into God’s worship is not having faith in God but in ourselves….

    So how is it that when God Himself commands IM to be used in worship that we can exclude them without specific command and be considered faithful ?? That makes no sense my friend. And just for the record, I find that your ability to go along with the removal of IM without specific command from God who enjoined them originally is very progressive and liberal….just saying.

  25. John says:


    Another question for you. You said, "An aid is something that helps you to do the thing that the Lord directed without adding an element to the thing commanded. An addition is adding a new element to the service."

    How is it determined what is an aid and what is an addition?

  26. o says:


    So singing with the use of a songbook is an "aid," but singing with the use of an instrument is an "addition"? And where does the Bible lay out this all-important distinction between aids and additions?

    I see Paul in 1 Cor. 14 laying out rules for the assembly. If it is orderly, it builds up, edifies, teaches, and encourages, do it. If it doesn't do these things, be silent. Indeed, none of the worship acts he mentions in that chapter (tongues, prophecy, etc.) are inherently authorized or unauthorized. Rather, what authorizes them is whether it can satisfy the command to build up. Those are some painfully plain Biblical rules for what is authorized in the NT assembly.

    But I can't seem to find your painfully clear assembly rules on aids vs. additions in the Bible. Indeed, I find that in order to demonstrate your rules on what's authorized in the NT assembly, instead of going to 1 Cor. 14, where Paul actually addresses the issue, you have to go unnecessary inferences you made from the Cain & Abel story.

  27. If we concluded that instruments are forbidden because they are not specifically authorized, would we conclude that a single woman asking a man a question she wanted to ask regarding worship is forbidden? Or that women teaching children not their own is forbidden, since they are only authorized to teach younger women? Or that anniuncements in church are forbidden because they are not authorized? That kneeling in prayer is forbidden in the assembly because there is no command or example for it in that context? The guidelines for what is forbidden seem a little squishy when they are said to depend solely on direct authorization … or permissability based on whether the item is an "aid" or an "addition" – yet another doctrine you will not find spelled out in scripture.

    Let's just be honest. There's no way we can be certain that a handful of scattered early church writings can determine what was universal practice if any. The objections to accompanied praise vary from region to century. They only loosely refer to scripture. They also advocate practices like training candidates together for some time before they are baptized – sometimes naked. How do we determine which of these teachings we accept as authoritative, or even normative? Could it be that the council at Nicea had good reasons not known to us for excluding them from the canon of scripture?

  28. Adam Legler says:

    If we assume that the way God wants to be worshiped in a service is clearly laid out in the bible with strict rules, then why are we having love feasts and taking the Lord's Supper everyday like the 1st century church did?

    There are things Paul talks about that we do to express our praise and love to God both individually and as a group because of the relationship we have with God. But I don't really see Paul saying not to do too many things unless they are immoral things that are without a question are sin. Everywere else he seems to encourage believers to not be limited in their lives and worship if what they are doing is encouraging others and being a testimony to the lost.

    Like Paul mentions in Romans 14, if what someone is doing is to the Lord, then what right do we have to judge them?

    So, Robert, your statement:
    "we live in a time when most religious folks are absolutely convinced that anything we offer up to God as worship, He’ll accept. " is right on with what Paul says in Romans 14 if it's not immoral like the sexual pagan practices in the day of Paul. A far stretch from heated debates over instruments that God accepted in the OT.


  29. Keith Brenton says:

    (Yes, I'm aware of Acts 20 and 21.Surely they didn't meet to worship outside of a building on the BEACH and knelt there to pray!)

  30. I don’t have a lot of time right now to respond. Finishing my notes on Book of Esther I’m teaching tonight at church:)

    First off, Price said: "So how is it that when God Himself commands IM to be used in worship that we can exclude them without specific command and be considered faithful ??"

    Say what? Huh?? I am missing the command and specific passage that mentions or commands instrumental music in worship? Please let know Price which verse you have found:)

    To the other questioners, I will say, that it most be noted and accepted by all that there is Bible authority that is not specific, but it is general. When God says something is to be done, but does not specify the details, such is included in the general requirement so long as it does not violate some other scripture or principle.

    I think this is an important point in trying to understand each other and our hermetical approach to the Word of God.

    Any command, whether generic or specific, inherently authorizes whatever is necessary to obey the command.

    If we can’t see this point or agree on this, we’re probably wasting our time. The command to assemble (Heb. 10:25) necessitates a place, and could include whatever is conducive to the purpose for which we come together (building, seats, lights, water, restrooms, etc.).

    The command to baptize (Matt. 28:19-20). We must baptize (immerse), but where? Could include a pond, river, ocean, and baptistery. The action must be the same wherever it is done.

    Now, of course, we must always guard against demanding specific authority when God gave a general command and generalizing where God has specified.

    Generic authority only exists where there is specific authority. If there is no specific authority for an activity then it cannot be authorized on a generic level.

    And so as we go to the few New Testament passages mentioning music in worship (Matt. 26:30; Acts 16:25; Rom. 15:9; 1 Cor. 14:15; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Heb. 2:12; James 5:13) there is the noticeable absence of any reference to the use of musical instruments. Only vocal music. This is particularly noticeable when contrasted with worship in the Old Testament (e.g. Psalm 150:3-5).

    Let us not depart from the faith, but worship God as He has directed us. Let us be content to worship according to God’s will – and with a sincere and joyful heart, this will indeed be music in the ears of God. In doing so we can know that we are pleasing to the Lord and that's what really counts!

    Robert Prater

  31. Adam Legler says:

    Though we disagree, at the end of the day it is obvious we all have the intention and desire to please God and bring him glory. Look luck teaching Esther tonight.


  32. Price says:

    Robert….II Chron 29:25 And he set the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with psalteries, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, and of Gad the king's seer, and Nathan the prophet: for [so was] the commandment of the LORD by his prophets.

    Please show me your scripture that requires the removal of musical instruments from the worship of God in a congregational setting…or any setting for that matter…Since God mandated their use, the opinions of ECF's wouldn't compare in authority so I'm looking for BCV.

    It probably is worth noting that not only were musical instruments being played but the congregation and a choir was able to sing while they were being played.

  33. Price,

    I'm sorry, I was looking for a New Testament passage. I'm under the view that Christians today we are living under the New Testament rule rather than the Old Testament authority?

    What say you?

    Robert Prater

  34. o says:


    So this logic is sound to you:

    "The command to assemble (Heb. 10:25) necessitates a place, and could include whatever is conducive to the purpose for which we come together (building, seats, lights, water, restrooms, etc.)."

    But this logic:

    The command to sing necessitates voices, and could include whatever is conducive to singing (pitch-pipes, projectors, songbooks, a piano, etc.).

    …is "departing from the faith" to you?


  35. o says:


    Plus, I hope the Esther study goes well. I LOVE that book!

  36. Revelation 5:8, 14:2, 15:2. I've already read or heard all the ways to "explain away" those passage's accounts of God approving of instrumental praise in heaven: It's all symbolic; nobody is described as playing them while singing, just holding them; different dispensation (a wholly unbiblical word/concept) etc. None of them address why God would choose these symbols if He disapproved of them, or their close proximity to singing, etc. etc. The logic defending a cappella-only in this way seems to me to be: "Better that we accept the opinions of a few early church fathers who agree with us than scripture which doesn't seem to."

  37. Pingback: Interesting discussion at OneInJesus blog « Called To Freedom

  38. Price says:

    Robert….I would agree that we are living under a covenant of grace rather
    than a covenant of law. I would not agree that we just changed from one
    system of rules to another. However, God Himself put musical instruments
    into worship. It is God again that speaks of musical instruments in heaven
    in the N.T. book of Revelation. Although it might be symbolic, I haven't
    been there and back so I can't speak too boldly about it, it nonetheless is
    something that He favorably mentions in the worship of His Son…My belief
    is that God is the same today as He ever was and if musical instruments were
    commanded by Him to be a part of worship and if the new covenant didn't
    replace it with something else (as it did the animal sacrifices, the
    priesthood, etc.) then perhaps we shouldn't be so quick to remove them from
    our worship services without some explicit instruction to do so. There is no
    instruction under the new covenant to remove or replace musical instruments.
    Singing was already a part of worship so it was not an addition either. It
    seems that every time God gets involved with what's going on with worship,
    He includes musical instruments. I would be extremely hesitant to criticize
    anyone who agreed with Him on the subject.

  39. Guy, the difficulty I have with the line of reasoning behind "Why are there no writings in favor of instrumentally-accompanied worship?" or "Why doesn't some other writer refute the defense of a cappella-only worship?" is twofold:

    There may not be writings in favor of instrumentally-accompanied worship for the same reason that there are not writings in favor of a lectern (pulpit) or a scroll with song lyrics or a plate on which to place communion bread. People who use these items have no reason to write about them. People who oppose them, do.

    Access may well be the reason other writers do not refute a cappella-only worship. They didn't have internet, cell phones or television; swift transit or long lives. They may not have been aware of others' practices except when councils like Nicea were convened and matters discussed. Custom may well be the reason for not responding. If you read the early church fathers' writings on a cappella-only worship, they are phrased in essay form; they express opinion; they appeal to logical deduction and symbolism and metaphor and philosophy and even occasionally to scripture. But their reasons are not cited scripture.

    Augustine deplores that which smacks of pagan cults. Chrysostom appeals to harmony of mind and body. Aquinas, on the other hand, felt that it made the church "Judaize." Clement dislikes anything that resembles war or foreigners. Clement seems to be referring to Jesus and saying that He scorned lifeless instruments, but doesn't quote a source for that. Erasmus scorned anything that seemed to him like theatre. Eusebius not only required a cappella, but unison a cappella-only. And on and on and on. They all had their well thought-out reasons for dispensing with accompanied worship.

    And they're all different.

    Unless we're willing to canonize their opinions (and there's a whole lot more within them that we'd likely disagree with than these few stated morsels about music), then no argument from their authority can be made.

    (Somehow, I've gotten the impression that "authority" is what the defense of a cappella-only worship is based upon.)

  40. Dan H. says:

    As an advocate of a cappella only for over 40 years I must completely agree with the a cappella brethren who point out that there is nothing in the New Testament which could make one comfortable that the rules of the first century church authorize the use of instruments in the assembly.

    In the last last 3 or 4 years, however, I have come to believe that not only can God accept instrumental music but He can be very pleased with if it is offered in the right spirit. So what changed?

    Obviously, God's word did not change. But I came to understand that the New Testament is not a rule book for us to follow. It is not a plan on how to "do church". It is a testimony and witness to the history of God's interaction with humanity and a revealing of a little about the nature of God and His desires for us. We can take this evidence and apply it to our lives so that we may be like Him to the extent of our understanding and within the limits of the flesh.

    Paul said something that I have always had trouble understanding until I changed my "the NT is a rule book" attitude. He said in Philippians that where it concerns the defense and preaching of the gospel they are to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" and remembering to keep the mind of Christ; that is the mind of a servant. I wondered HOW am I to work out my own salvation? I thought if God said do something in His book, I would do it and that's that. —–so why does Paul say "work it out". Just what is there to work out? What have I got to figure out? It's all laid out there for me. Right? God says do it….. So, I'll do it and everything is OK. Well,……. uh,………. no—–.

    Because the New Testament is not a rule book that takes one to heaven. It is a book that teaches us about God. We have no rules about church, but principles. I can in turn learn to apply these principles to myself. Most of the principles are based on the nature of God and our relationship to Him. The only actual new command that Jesus gave is "that ye love one another as I have loved you"-Jn 13:34. … well,… what is the best and purist way for us to love one another? ….. now I begin to understand what Paul meant when he said work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (great humility). I can think of no place where Jesus condemned any sincere worshiper of God. His condemnations seemed to be reserved for the hypocrisies of the teachers and business men of the day. How can I best love my family, my coworkers, my Bible class, my neighbors, my fellow citizens, my clients, my employees. …….Yes…. there is definitely some working out my salvation there. Should I yell and shout? Should I accept poor performance? Should I beg and plead? Should I be matter of fact? Should I treat all the same? or show increased patience to those of little understanding?

    I have come to believe that we work out our own salvation, not by following rules, but by striving to understand and teach the gospel; applying it to our lives as we go along; trying to be like Christ. What an impossible task! Is this not why Paul spoke of the gospel as the law of grace and James spoke of it as the perfect law of liberty? There simply is no set of 600 odd rules laid out for us as in the Old Testament. We simply do our best to be like Christ and to love our neighbor like Christ loved us. —- Perhaps someone may say,"well, that could get pretty confusing." Yes, it could. But probably no more confusing than all the people who say they have the right understanding of scripture and all others are condemned.

    I enjoy the discussions I find here and appreciate being able to participate. I think as long as we seek to make the NT our rulebook these discussions will never resolve to any common agreement on any subject. If, on the other hand, we seek the mind of Christ on a subject we may reach several different conclusions yet still be "perfectly joined together".

  41. abasnar says:

    To Brian:

    According your logic, if unity was Paul’s goal, he would have submitted to the tradition of the Jewish Christians, since – as we all agree – it (circumcision) is a not a matter of salvation.
    But we know that Paul did not submit to that tradition because there were those who did think that circumcision was a matter of salvation. And today, there are those who think that instrumental music is a matter of salvation.

    What about Act 21 then?

    Act 21:23 Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow;
    Act 21:24 take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself also live in observance of the law.
    Act 21:25 But as for the Gentiles who have believed, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality."
    Act 21:26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself along with them and went into the temple, giving notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for each one of them.

    The Jerusalem Christians did follow the Law, since they were living in the shade of the temple such as Paul was willing to become a Jew for the Jews. And now we see Paul submitting to Christians who hold fast to Jewish practices. He did it, Brian!

    As to circumcision, this can be a salvation matter (as being proposed by some misled brethren in Act 15:1 – and there Paul vehemently opposed. But he did circumcise Timothy himself.

    As for IM – this is something a local congregation has to agree upon, and the last word has the leadership of this congregation (It is not about personal preferences, but about order and peace, when I urge submission – but it also is a question where there is a true and a false, whether we are able to know it or not. So the responsibility lies with the elders.).

    If I were in an instrumental church, I would submit there, too. (In the end I left the Evangelicals for several reasons, IM being not on my mind, but rather salvation issues such as the requirement of obedience for salvation and baptism). But I find it very problematic to stir up divisive debates within a church body (as the churches of Christ) or a denomination. This is not healthy.

    To Keith

    Let’s just be honest. There’s no way we can be certain that a handful of scattered early church writings can determine what was universal practice if any. The objections to accompanied praise vary from region to century. They only loosely refer to scripture. They also advocate practices like training candidates together for some time before they are baptized – sometimes naked. How do we determine which of these teachings we accept as authoritative, or even normative? Could it be that the council at Nicea had good reasons not known to us for excluding them from the canon of scripture?

    The council of Nicea did not define the books of the canon. Even in Eusebius’ church history the NT canon was not exactly the same as the one we have today. Also not in the Apostolic Constitutions (390 AD).

    As for the ECF, they are not just a few scattered writings. I have a 10 Volume set of writings from the Pre-Nicene church –more than 5.000 pages in total! Now it is interesting that they not always agree on everything, and you can notice changes in doctrine and practice over time.

    But I focus on those topics, where
    a) at least a significant number of different teachers agree on a subject (the number varies with the importance of an issue)
    b) these teachers are from different regions in the empire
    c) there is no counter claim
    d) going back to the scriptures it does make sense

    This way I became convinced of baptism for the remission of sins (not just a symbolic act), which grossly contradicted my evangelical convictions, but is unanimously taught in the ECF – and it does make sense when going back to the NT.

    That’s why I began reading them, and I consult them every time I come across a new idea or explanation for scripture. Thus I also hold to

    .) The Trintity (in the original sense: Three distinct persons, One deity)
    .) The Lords Supper as having communion with the flesh and blood of Christ (not just a memorial meal)
    .) Footwashing being practiced on a regular basis as a reminder (great experience, when you just do it)
    .) Helping the poor as a main service of the church
    .) Local, “homegrown” leadership by elders that have an age to be called “elder”
    .) Lifting up of hands in prayer
    .) Headcovering for women
    .) Meeting in houses
    .) Eating together
    .) Modest dress (applies to men, too, but we normally don’t focus on how we look …)
    .) Premillenialism (not as a dogmatic point of view)
    .) Nonresistance
    .) Separation from politics
    .) Non-swearing of oaths

    .) And a-cappella worship (I almost forgot 😉 ) (BTW they all agreed on the practice, even if their explanations or reasons differ – aside from Clement of Alexandria – Istructor, Book II, ch IV – I know of no scriptural reasons in the ECF. But his reasons are quite compelling, and he knew the practice and teachers of many other churches, too. So his views are backed up solidly by a universal practice.)

    Not that our church teaches or does all of these, but most of it – and we strive to grow in knowledge, wisdom, love and obedience to Christ. As – I think – all of us do.

    Anyway, calling the ECF irrelevant, just a few scattered writings clearly is not fitting. They are the best sources available to understand the ancient faith. If we dismiss them, we are left with our own wits and understanding – and a gap of nearly 2000 years (“Mind the Gap!”). The result is a church where each opinion claims equal rights, and the church of Christ is shattered into over 10.000 pieces.

    Let’s just be honest – we failed, didn’t we? So why should we not reconsider our approach? If we continue the way we did, it will become worse, not better. And the IM-debate (40 comments in 2 days – but nothing new has been said!) indicates, that we will never agree if we don’t change our hermeneutical method by accepting reliable witnesses from the ancient church of Christ. It will tear us apart again and again, if we just rely on I, MY Bible and MY Holy Spirit ALONE. The fruit of this tastes horrible …


  42. Price says:

    Dan…well said. Great example for each of us in regard to our opinions. I believe that is the essential spirit of unity you described.
    Ketih…I'm with you. While the ECF give us a snap shot of application and understanding in a certain era, and while there are some things that we would agree with them on, there are many statements from them that to me are way off base. It would be crazy to cherry pick some of their writings and elevate them to inspired writings and dismiss others as uninformed.

    It's clear that God, having commanded their use in OT worship and symbolising their use in heaven, has a personal preference FOR instruments in worship. However, bashing people who would rather not use them or bashing people who do, is so contrary to the heart of the God that it reminds me of his words in Amos 5:21-24 and Isaiah 1:13-18…."I hate your..(worship)….Wow! Let that never be said of any of our congregations. Let us do what we do from a compassionate heart and service attitude to our brothers and sisters and sincere heart of admiration, love and awe toward our God. Dan's words are worth rereading…That attitude could change the world.

  43. Alan S. says:

    It seems the demand for authority usually only applies to what we do not approve of. When we want it, the rule of necessary inference applies.

    For me it comes down to one simple fact – God has never authorized us to call something a sin that He has not called a sin.

    God bless,

  44. Keith Brenton says:

    Alexander, I don't believe I called early church writings irrelevant; they are in fact historically revealing. But they are not canon, and Nicea played a cricial role in that process. I am glad you find instruction in them, but I am not willing to let them dictate procedure in a current culural setting.

  45. abasnar says:

    I don’t believe I called early church writings irrelevant;

    Then I misunderstood it, I am sorry.

    While the ECF give us a snap shot of application and understanding in a certain era, and while there are some things that we would agree with them on, there are many statements from them that to me are way off base. It would be crazy to cherry pick some of their writings and elevate them to inspired writings and dismiss others as uninformed.

    I would not elevate them to the level of scripture. But you are right: We shall not pick and choose – so where does that leave us? We can either dismiss them entirely, or take them seriously in all major matters of faith. I chose the latter …

    But anyway, I think it is better to make a distinction between:
    .) Personal opinion
    .) Church discipline and order on a local level (congregation – church-"autonomy")
    .) Wise and loving communication and exchange of ideas in the .) leadership-level within a church-body/denomination

    Let us all strive for peace and unity in Him


  46. abasnar says:

    Another suggestion:

    We might step back from the claims of "authority" or "silence" a bit, but call it a decision, based on different thoughts, facts and insights – that – to our knowledge today – seem to be God's will on the matter; or at least it is necessary to make a decision in order to proceed as a church.

    I would also go as far as to call it a good tradition, that we should not so quickly abandon (although I believe there is more to the subject). What made me reconsider the question of traditions, was a text in Tertullian's De Corona Militis (Ch 3+4). He is writing quite to the extreme there, but I think it is worth to give his words some consideration:

    And how long shall we draw the saw to and fro through this line, when we have an ancient practice, which by anticipation has made for us the state, i.e., of the question? If no passage of Scripture has prescribed it, assuredly custom, which without doubt flowed from tradition, has confirmed it. For how can anything come into use, if it has not first been handed down?

    Even in pleading tradition, written authority, you say, must be demanded. Let us inquire, therefore, whether tradition, unless it be written, should not be admitted. Certainly we shall say that it ought not to be admitted, if no cases of other practices which, without any written instrument, we maintain on the ground of tradition alone, and the countenance thereafter of custom, affords us any precedent.

    To deal with this matter briefly, I shall begin with baptism. When we are going to enter the water, but a little before, in the presence of the congregation and under the hand of the president, we solemnly profess that we disown the devil, and his pomp, and his angels. Hereupon we are thrice immersed, making a somewhat ampler pledge than the Lord has appointed in the Gospel. Then when we are taken up (as new-born children), we taste first of all a mixture of milk and honey, and from that day we refrain from the daily bath for a whole week. We take also, in congregations before daybreak, and from the hand of none but the presidents, the sacrament of the Eucharist, which the Lord both commanded to be eaten at meal-times, and enjoined to be taken by all alike. As often as the anniversary comes round, we make offerings for the dead as birthday honours. We count fasting or kneeling in worship on the Lord’s day to be unlawful. We rejoice in the same privilege also from Easter to Whitsunday. We feel pained should any wine or bread, even though our own, be cast upon the ground. At every forward step and movement, at every going in and out, when we put on our clothes and shoes, when we bathe, when we sit at table, when we light the lamps, on couch, on seat, in all the ordinary actions of daily life, we trace upon the forehead the sign.

    If, for these and other such rules, you insist upon having positive Scripture injunction, you will find none. Tradition will be held forth to you as the originator of them, custom as their strengthener, and faith as their observer. That reason will support tradition, and custom, and faith, you will either yourself perceive, or learn from some one who has. Meanwhile you will believe that there is some reason to which submission is due.

    Quite interesting: He uses or refers to similar phrases used in our debatzes as well (authority, scripture injuctions or Necesary Inference …). And he admits that sometimes there are traditions in church, that are not found in scripture – which is the case with us, too, if we are honest. But what does he say about that? Before we just throw the traditions out, let us wait a little and see if there is not a good reason for it. And if we are not sure, it is better to keep them and to submit.

    I said, Tertullian is writing to the extreme. This is true, but I also think, there is some wisdom in these words …


  47. guy says:


    You said:
    "There may not be writings in favor of instrumentally-accompanied worship for the same reason that there are not writings in favor of a lectern (pulpit) or a scroll with song lyrics or a plate on which to place communion bread. People who use these items have no reason to write about them. People who oppose them, do."

    Both parties have reason to write about them if there is a controversy. One party has reason to write in opposition. One party has reason to write in defense of their practice. People using them have reason to write in their defense. Why? Because of other members of their community who are writing in opposition. (Same reason we have writings coming from both sides in our own day.)

    Again, i never said any of these arguments were deductive. If anything, they are all abductive. There are many possibilities that explain the evidence we have. What we seek is explanations with the greatest probability. One possibility is that the lack of debate among ECF's is because this issue was not controversial *within the church.* In other words, the church's practice was largely uniform. Is that the most likely possibility? Maybe. Maybe not. That is part of what is at issue. (But i don't want to conclude one way or the other out of any bias or intuition i have right now. If that's my basis and i just plain want acappella or i just plain want instruments, then why kid myself by looking at any evidence at all?)

    You said:
    "Access may well be the reason other writers do not refute a cappella-only worship. They didn’t have internet, cell phones or television; swift transit or long lives. They may not have been aware of others’ practices except when councils like Nicea were convened and matters discussed."

    That may be true. But the fact is many apologists (both for the veracity and authority of scripture) use similar arguments to provide rational defense of Christianity. If i claim the arguments in this case are weak or flawed, then i am either at pains to show there is some significant difference between the arguments in this case and the arguments made by the apologist, or i concede that these arguments are bad even for apologetics. If i choose the latter, i have to say i'm tossing out the work of a quite a number and quality of historical apologists many of whom are likely a lot more savvy regarding historical reconstruction than i am. Perhaps i am right and they're all wrong, but it's not a bullet i'm comfortable biting.


  48. Mike Ward says:


    In the "Church: 'We’re all congregationalists now' — Stanley Hauerwas" thread you said: "But overcoming the schism means: Give up your denoiminational ties, man-made creeds and traditions and become unified in a practical and visible sense"

    And, "NOT ONE of those even dreams of giving up ONE IOTA of there added man-made traditions in order to become more unified."

    Now you say, "And [Tertullian] admits that sometimes there are traditions in church, that are not found in scripture – which is the case with us, too, if we are honest. But what does he say about that? Before we just throw the traditions out, let us wait a little and see if there is not a good reason for it. And if we are not sure, it is better to keep them and to submit."

    You also said that you have reconsidered the question of traditions. Does that mean you've changed your position in the last few days or do you believe that your comments in the "We’re all congregationalists now'" thread are consistant with your last comment above in this thread?

  49. Anonymous says:

    If there were no Christians on the globe using IM while praising God, wonder why there were some people opposing IM? Kind of hard to oppose something when it's not taking place.

  50. guy says:


    "on the globe" is a far stronger claim that i was making.

    nevertheless, i'd have to go back and read all the accounts myself to be certain, but my understanding was that the ECF's were not opposing the practices of other *churches,* but they were opposing the practices of *the world.*


  51. Anonymous says:

    Jesus told parables teaching the nature of God. If God opposes people using IM being joyful in Him, Jesus should never have given an example of having joy in the Lord with music around, Luke 15:25-32 “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’”

    I would say out of all the great things the older son had done, his attitude refusing to fellowship with his family thinking of himself more highly must have been a great disappointment to his father.

  52. abasnar says:

    Dear Mike

    That's a good observation and a valid question. If I may answer boldly: Both – And – dependig on the subject.

    Tertullian's advice is for the context of a local congregation, my statement in the Hauerwas context was about denominations. And there it is more about the "biggies" – I would not make IM a test of fellowship on an intercongregational level, but I would follow Tertullian's advice to just comply with the tradition on a congregational level (concerning IM).

    Does that make sense to you?


  53. To all please know,

    I respect and appreciate all the dialogue and exchange concerning instrumental music. I have never considered myself an extremist in attitude or action in churches of Christ. I grow up in a moderately conservative, middle of the road congregation. I attended Harding University, have preached for two mainstream congregations for 11 years, and I'm finishing up my Master's degree at Oklahoma Christian Univesity. I am missioned minded and active both here and abroad and passionately seek to share the gospel of grace with a dying, hell bound world around me. I cling to the love and grace of God. Obedient people value the grace of God. Hearing and obeying the commandments is how we love God. (Jn. 14:15)

    There is much in the thinking and ideas of progressives in churches of Christ that are agree, respect and now believe which I once didn't.

    But on this point of IM, I remain the same. And I am thankful to enjoy the fellowship of many, many liked minded brethren and congregations.

    Yes I believe it is wrong to use IM in Christian worship. But I do not believe those who disagree with me on these issues have “denied the faith” or are hell bound.

    I believe such questions and issues are simply distractions and take us away from the real question and issue…of “Is it Biblical?” Which to me centers around the issue of faith.

    Jesus Christ will judge us according to His word. (John 12:48) That is a very serious and sober reality that should cause all of us to "worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire. (Heb. 12:28-29)

    Now, O (is that your name?)

    I do think we should distinguish song books from instruments of music in that song books are not heard, and instruments are. When you use a song book, projector, pitch pipe you are not doing anything other than what God specified. (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16) But if you play a piano, you are doing something other than singing. That's the difference.

    I see no problem with my logic here accepting song books, projectors but rejecting instrumental music.


    Let me comment on a few things you brought up.

    First, you asked if I am saying, “If you don’t agree with me you don’t have faith like I have.”

    Second you said, “My Bible suggests that faith is the substance of things hoped for the “evidence of things not seen. Not sure what you meant by faith being dependent on, by definition seems to be absent of certainty.”

    You are mistaken about the definition of faith. That “faith by definition seems to be absent of certainty.”

    Faith is NOT believing/accepting what cannot be proved. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

    Faith entails certainty and being sure. Faith cannot outrun one’s knowledge. Faith is dependent upon knowledge. (cf. Romans 10:17)

    My point is that Biblical faith acts upon the Word of God. Acceptable worship, for example, is done by faith , that is, by that which has been revealed by God’s word. (cf. Hebrews 11:4)

    No, I don’t have all the answers, but I know God commands us to sing, and instruments were specifically left out in the days of the Apostles, so faith demands us to act upon that.

    Now, it is true that God never says, "Thou shalt not use mechanical instruments of music in worship." However, to assume that such silence is permissive is presumptuous. To establish what God desires in our worship today, we must begin with what God has commanded, not what He has not forbidden.

    I believe at this point it might be helpful think about and compare the physical worship of the Old Testament to the spiritual worship of the New Testament.

    Dr. John Mark Hicks of Lipscomb University has commented on the reason behind the difference in Old-Testament worship, which admittedly had instrumental music, and New-Testament worship, which does not.

    “Why Don't You Have Music In Your Church?” (John Mack Hicks)

    He writes:

    "In contrast to temple sanctuaries, Christian worship is rooted in the indwelling Spirit through whom we have access to the Father by Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:18-22). We are the temple of God. We are living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2). We offer the sacrifice of praise with our lips (Hebrews 13:15)."

    He continues:

    “Anything which detracts from this central idea or diverts our attention violates the fundamental principal of Christian worship; we worship God by the Spirit of God who lives in our hearts. Our worship must arise out of our hearts and be offered with our lips as we offer God our bodies as a living sacrifice. Given this understanding of Christian worship and the typological character of temple music, instrumental music is fundamentally out of character with the nature of Christian worship, just like holy places (a temple), a priestly tribe, animal sacrifices, election by physical birth , and incense are out of place. Instrumental music has the kind of typological meaning that incense, holy places, and animal sacrifices have. Just as we no longer offer incense to help our prayers, and we no longer pray toward a special holy place (like Jerusalem), neither do we any longer worship with mechanical instruments."

    Friends the writings of the ECF make it plain that they believed instrumental music was a shadow that was done away in the passing of the Old Law. Instruments were readily available and were used by all of the pagan religions. If the Christians wanted to incorporate them into their worship, they could have done so very easily. Although the writings of the early Christians are not our final authority, they do illustrate the practice of the early church which was founded by the apostles under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

    Friends all the scriptures we read about in the New Testament refer to singing. Although the Old Testament gave certain teachings on the use of mechanical instruments in the worship, in the Old Testament, the use of instruments was not optional, it was a command of God, and more than that, the law even specified what instruments to use. (2 Chronicles 29:25)

    It is quite a contrast when the New Testament period began. In the period of Christianity, we have no instructions at all on the use of any instrumental music in worship. Since God was very careful to give details about the use of instruments under the Old Testament period, it is obviously significant that in the New Testament there is a complete absence of any such instructions. There are no commands to use instrumental music, no examples by the apostles, early church leaders or the church or any activity that necessarily infers the necessity of instrumental music.

    Everett Ferguson writes in, “The Instrumental Music Issue”

    “Where something was avaible and every assumption would seem to favor Christian adoption of the practice and yet there is complete evidence of the rejection of the practice in the post-apostolic period, there is every reason to look to a deliberate choice made in the apostolic age. A person must have a good explanation in order to think that instruments were authorized in the New Testament but were not used by Christians for many centuries after the New Testament.” (p 98-99)

    Friends if instruments had been used in the first century church, they would not have stopped suddenly in the second century. Just think about.

    Only God can know what is pleasing and acceptable to Him. Therefore, we must consult His Word as to what pleases Him in the worship service, and we rejoice because He has given us His will in this matter.

    God bless,
    Robert Prater

  54. Alan S. says:


    In May of 2009 Dr.John Mark HIcks wrote the folliwing about the article by him that you quoted:

    "About 12 years ago I wrote a lengthy piece that is available at the HUGSR website. It will give you my views as about 10 years ago. I have not written much on the top since but my views have adjusted. Nevertheless, that piece lays out the parameters. It was reviewed by Al Maxey at his website which is helpful as well.

    "In either case, the article and my present view is that the use of instrument music in the worship assembly is not a salvation issue and is not a matter of fellowship."

    With regard to the ECF, I think it is helpful to note that history bears out that the early church likely did not use instruments (except for Clement of Alexandria’s reference to singing praise with the harp as David did – "if you should wish to sing and play to the cithara and lyre, this is not blameworthy; you would imitate the just Hebrew king giving praise to God" – this is quoted both by Ferguson and Corbitt, but with different interpretations).

    But if we are to rely on the ECF for support our anti-instruments arguments, we should not fail to note that not one of the ECF ever called praise with instruments a sin, not one of the ECF ever used the psallo argument they way it is done today, and not one of the ECF ever quoted from Ephesians 5 or Colossians 3 to support their positions. The ECF always quoted scriptures when making a Biblical argument – Clement even quoted Psalm 33 in the above.

    God bless.

  55. What I'm trying to wrap my head around is why if we have examples of IM in the OT AND we see, at the very least, symbols of IM in Heaven through Revelation, why is it currently wrong? Why would God use a symbol of something that He didn't want used to worship Him in passages depicting worship of Him around the throne?

    As a side note (and I'm not trying to open up this debate, so let's keep it a side note), in the churches I grew up in the same lack of evidence in the NT arguments were made against congregations that had Sunday School and Bible Classes.

  56. Anonymous says:

    Instruments were readily available and were used by all of the pagan religions.

    That is true also when the Hebrew Scriptures were written, so does that mean God was a part of worldly practice? Not only did pagan religions use instruments, many pagan religions sang a cappella chanting in harmony worshiping their god, so how does that make you really any different than them worshiping?

  57. NBS says:

    I find the distinction between "aids" and "additions" to be a hermeneutical slight of hand.

    Songbooks are said to be ok because they simply aid in singing, while not "adding" any new action

    But instruments are condemned because they "add" playing to the command to sing.

    Laying aside the fact that you are still singing while you are playing and the fact that not everyone is playing, I have a different objection to this reasoning.

    Where in Eph 5 or Col 3 does it say to read and sing? How can we say that a songbook is simply an aid when it clearly introduces the addition of reading to the singing?

    I say all this, not to endorse the logic, or to denounce songbooks. To the contrary, i think critical reflection and objective criticism of ourselves will show that our historical hermeneutic is so pedantic that it makes it impossible to worship God, much less find unity.

  58. Bruce Morton says:

    Let me highlight (again) that Ephesians 5:18-21 represents a parallel with Ephesians 5:11b in the text. And what is Paul saying? The song he describes has a specific function: to expose darkness — the darkness in the case of Ephesus is nested in the Asian cults.

    Anyone have an issue with seeing the parallelism? It represents an important part of getting at all that the apostle is saying in Ephesians 5:18-21 — and then beginning the application to congregational worship in our day.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  59. abasnar says:

    But if we are to rely on the ECF for support our anti-instruments arguments, we should not fail to note that not one of the ECF ever called praise with instruments a sin,

    I think it would be very helpful to accept, that not one of those arguing for a-cappella calls instruments sinful. We have said that repeatedly, and actually I don't want to be (implicitly) accused of such a notion or my arguments mingled with the reasonings of extreme conservatives on the matter.

    It is a biblical and historical question, that leads to certain applications in church if we take the results of serious study seriously.

    So, please, don't bring in and counter arguments, that no one in this debate really shares.


  60. Mike Ward says:


    Jay's first posted included: "The question isn’t what Clement of Alexandria or Philo really meant. The question is whether it’s sin to worship God in the Christian assembly using an instrument."

    If Alan wants to comment on the topic of this thread in a post addressed to Robert, who are you to object?

  61. Bruce Morton says:

    Let me add that when we ask if instrumental music in Christian worship is a sin we run the risk of missing Paul's message in Ephesians 5:18-21. Yes, the question is certainly important, but it also can lead us to overlook some of Paul's teaching in the text.

    First, let me note that Paul's contrast of "debauchery" with song in the text teaches something foreign to most folks' thinking — at least in the US and Europe. Music has what we would call an ethical (religiously good or evil) quality to it. Music can be evil? Yes, that is the point of Paul's contrast. But Paul is also speaking of more than sound. Yes, sound is included, but it is not all of what he is saying.

    Paul is not unique in this. Aristophanes said the same thing in his play The Clouds. He called Dionysiac music composers "twisters of song" (The Clouds, 333). No compliment. He was chastising them for trying to come up with more and more sensational music as part of cult worship. Professional musicians (pechnitai) actually invented new sounds as part of Dionysiac worship "gigs."

    Further, Aristophanes provides the same contrast as Paul. He writes in his play The Frogs (1394) that Dionysiac choruses are destructive. They represent debauchery.

    Clement of Alexandria uses exactly the same word as Paul when he talks of Dionysus cult music. That is why the focus on Clement is appropriate. It appears that Clement was leaning on Paul's teaching as he critiqued cult worship in the second century.

    Enough for now.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  62. Alan S. says:

    Bruce and Mike,

    My thought is that at best, Clement is stating there are good uses of instrumental music and their are not so good uses.

    Dr. Ferguson and earlier Kurfees believed this referred to non-assembly praise with instruments (such as at home) which Clement thinks is "blameless." The problem today is that Clement's context does not, as far as I can tell, speak in any way of during a Christian assmebly or not. Both Dr. Ferguson and Danny Corbitt have interpreted this differently, and to Dr. Ferguson's credit, he acknowledges that it is a challenging passage that is up to interpretation.

    However, to my knowledge, the ECF's did not base their disapproval with IM with quotations from the scriptures, but on cultural grounds. Neither did they did not use necessary inference to base their disapproval on.

    So it is left up to us to interpret this ommission – was it only for the cultural reasons they stated; or was there some unwritten and unrecorded command from God, or some unwritten and unrecorded necessary inference they were following?

    God bless

  63. abasnar says:

    Jay’s first posted included: “The question isn’t what Clement of Alexandria or Philo really meant. The question is whether it’s sin to worship God in the Christian assembly using an instrument.”

    Jay proposed this question. That's correct, but it is this kind of question that hinders us to come to a balanced view or even unity. It is about dismissing evidence and focussing on an extreme point of view, … in order to just confirm that IM is OK. That's not a very helpful approach.

    My thought is that at best, Clement is stating there are good uses of instrumental music and their are not so good uses.

    Dr. Ferguson and earlier Kurfees believed this referred to non-assembly praise with instruments (such as at home) which Clement thinks is “blameless.”

    If you read his text in context, then this "singing like David" is not that highly encouraged, but it is blameless – and it is part of the banquet / love feast described in this and the surrounding chapters. But it is also a reference to the general practices of banquets where – among the Greeks / pagans – it was common that a gifted singer was presenting a solo.

    We can do this. We can have a time for "special music" performed for the edification of the church, and it might be fitting to accompany it in the style of David. We had this two years ago, and it was very nice (I accompanied two singers with the guitar). But that's not the same as congregational singing.

    You have to read the whole chapter 4 in the 2nd book of the Instructor in order to see that, though … we should not use the ECF for proof-texting (which is a bad way of "finding" – rather obscuring – the truth). And we have to keep in mind that Christian Worship was WAAAAAAYYYYY different back then … This means: whenever we grab any issue such as IM or the length of a sermon or the silence of women or eating as a church we most likely will miss the point if we try do debate these in the light of our style of worship. This is sometimes like discussing how to hold a whip (because that's ancient) and forgetting that we drive cars.


  64. Alexander,
    My struggle with your last comment is the drawing of some distinction between "congregation" singing and other settings.

    Jesus said he's there if two or three are gathered in his name … doesn't that eliminate our ability to draw a line between corporate worship and small group assemblies?

  65. John says:


    Thanks for bringing that up. I, too, have struggled with the notion that "corporate worship" is more sacred than "other worship." I don't understand how one is any different than the other.

  66. Alan,

    I appreciate your comments and thoughts and the spirit in which you write them.

    You said,

    “But if we are to rely on the ECF for support our anti-instruments arguments, we should not fail to note that not one of the ECF ever called praise with instruments a sin, not one of the ECF ever used the psallo argument they way it is done today, and not one of the ECF ever quoted from Ephesians 5 or Colossians 3 to support their positions. The ECF always quoted scriptures when making a Biblical argument – Clement even quoted Psalm 33 in the above."

    Alan, let me say that I find it very interesting in your argument regarding the silence of the ECF. That you have used the argument from silence. I thought we couldn’t rightly use the silence argument:)! Lol!!

    I know many progressives who seem to love to use the arugment that since the Bible is silent about IM, then we cannot use the “silence” argument to argue against their use in worship.

    Aren’t you silenced by your own logic regarding ECF??

    To attempt to answer your question I refer to James McKinnon, who was one of the leading scholars of the patristic fathers .

    McKinnon writes in The Meaning of the Patristic Polemic against Musical Instruments', Current Musicology

    “A careful reading of all patristic criticism of instruments will not reveal a single passage which condemns the use of instruments in church. The context of the condemnation may be the banquet, the theater, or the festivities accompanying a marriage, but it is never the liturgy.” (p. 71)

    He continues:

    "The implication concerning the early Christian music is obvious. Not only was it predominately vocal, but it was so exclusively vocal that the occasion to criticize the use of instruments in church never arose.” (p. 73)

    He concludes,

    “If it had ever occurred to Christian communities of the third and fourth centuries to add instruments to their singing, indignation over this would have resounded throughout patristic literature and ecclesiastical legislation. One can only imagine the outburst the situation would have evoked from, say, Jerome or Chrysostom.” (p. 77)

    The fact remains that the early church understood correctly that instruments were excluded implicitly from Christian worship by the teaching and example of the New Testament.

    Closest to the time of the apostles, we do this quote from Clement :

    "The one instrument of peace, the word alone by which we honor God is what we employ. We no longer employ the ancient psaltery, the cymbal, the flute…" (Clement of Alexandria, 190AD The instructor, Fathers of the church, p. 130)

    He seems to be making an argument from what Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:21 teaches. That true worship always starts in the heart ("singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord") That the heart is the instrument that God most earnestly desires to hear producing grateful melodies (as opposed to instruments used in OT worship)

    Ferguson writes in “A Cappella Music”:

    “Instrumental music, therefore, was an important feature of the temple worship, and it was closely associated with its sacrificial system. Here may be the most significant reason explaining the absence of instrumental music in early Christian worship. Early Christianity saw the sacrificial system and temple worship as superseded by the sacrifice of Christ and the worship of the church. When the Leviticus priesthood ands the sacrificial cultus were abolished, naturally its accompaniments were too.” (p. 31)

    I think as Ferguson observes, this concern for the distinctiveness of New Testament worship, and for spirituality as its central feature, worship in spirit and truth was typical of the early Church fathers.

    My dear progressive friends, you cannot escape this conclusion and evidence. The testimony of the history of the early church is clear and strong. They had only vocal music and did not use instrumental music in their worship assemblies.

    You stand on the wrong side of the New Testament and the history of the early church.

    In Christ,
    Robert Prater

  67. Alan S. says:


    I am not appealing to the silence of the ECF. I am saying that anti-IM do not make the same arguments against IM that the ECF's made. The ECF did not quote scriptures to support their positions. Many today do what the ECF's did not do. The evidence from the ECF's that they refused to quote scriptures in the discussion of IM indicates that it was not a scriptural argument. And they certainly never proposed an argument from silence.

    My concern is that my anti-IM friends cannot escape this conclusion and evidence: They seem to know better what the ECF's were thinkng than the ECF's wrote on what they were thinking, and they condemn as sin what God has never condemned as sin. That puts my anti-IM friends on the wrong side of who is God and who is not.

    I suggest we stick to letting God tell us what is a sin. If He has not called something a sin, we have no right or authority to do so either. To do so is to assume a role God has not given us.


  68. abasnar says:

    My struggle with your last comment is the drawing of some distinction between “congregation” singing and other settings.

    If that's your struggle, then go and read Clement again. Try to envision the scene, try to put it on stage – so to say. Imagine the room, the table, the pews (? – NO the couches!), the food and the smell … Try to see it's likenes to the Greek banquets and the clear differences. And see, if this does make sense to you or not …

    If not you may add some background reading from Tertullian and others to get a clearer picture.

    Unless we can paint a picture, describe the scene or even make a movie showing how it was like back then, WE ALL will misread and misrepresent their writings.


  69. Alexander
    The fact that Clement saw a difference is not material to Jesus' view.

    Jesus implies, if not outright states, that the size of the assembly is not germane. Yet, repeated, I read that IM is okay in one setting, but not in another.

    This seems to be another example of the phenomenon of how following rules just results in us missing the larger point — spirit & truth.

  70. abasnar says:

    My concern is that my anti-IM friends cannot escape this conclusion and evidence: They seem to know better what the ECF’s were thinkng than the ECF’s wrote on what they were thinking, and they condemn as sin what God has never condemned as sin. That puts my anti-IM friends on the wrong side of who is God and who is not.

    Could we – PLEEEAAASE – cut out the sin-issue here and just speak about some down to earth facts, as they were – very well indeed – presented by Robert?

    Seriously, this looks like an easy way out: "You accuse us of sin, so we are damned! You may not do that!" … And we don't do that. But we say, there is a truth about the question of IM, that can be found out by serious study of scripture and history. Don't escape these facts by changing the topic, please.


  71. abasnar says:

    The fact that Clement saw a difference is not material to Jesus’ view.

    Jesus implies, if not outright states, that the size of the assembly is not germane. Yet, repeated, I read that IM is okay in one setting, but not in another.

    This seems to be another example of the phenomenon of how following rules just results in us missing the larger point — spirit & truth

    You did not get my point, did you?

    Did our Lord ever say something about congregational singing? No.

    My point is we need to get a fuller understanding of how Early Christian / New Testament worship / assemblies did look and feel in order to be able to understand the IM question in the light of the ECF properly.

    Please, check out the scene. "Visit" – so to say – an Early Christian Assembly. Enjoy it, feel it! Recline on one of the couches and see what happens after some brother has washed your feet … and enjoy the meal, but don't get drunk! Does that water you mouth a bit (at least)?

    Seriously: We have to read the ECF with that attitude, not as a source of proof-texts. Once we have grasped the ethos of Early Christianity, we will understand their rejection of instruments in worship (with some allowance to an accompanied solo-performance once in a while). Their arguments make perfect sense once we hear them out.

    And then – just to correct a misinterpretation – I said that in this 4th chapter of the second book of instructor there is a possibility/allowance for presenting a song with a lyre (to imitate David). This is in the assembly and part of the assembly, but it is a solo-performance that has its parallel to a custom in Greek banquets Clement describes only a few lines later. And this is distinct from congregational singing! So it is all part of the assembly, and when all sing, it is a-cappella. I wshed you'd have gonbe gone to that source yourself (I quoted and commented on it two weeks or so here: /2010/09/colossians-further… This was quite a big junk of work to present it in this form. No one debated my conclusions so far …)


  72. Alabama John says:

    Wow, just a few tears ago, I would of been sure this was a debate between a Baptist and a Church of Christ member!

    WE can get a little silly with this, and another division in the making so I hope no one at the Church services twice on Sunday or Wednesday night has a hearing aid INSTRUMENT or pity that poor man with the hole in his throat that presses on that modern INSTRUMENT in his throat in order to talk within the confines of the building.

    How about those of us using the silent sign language of the deaf to SING? At churches where all are deaf, you can walk by and not hear a sound coming from inside while those of us in there are singing our hearts off.

    Rather than ADDING to singing is there such a thing as error for SUBTRACTING from what most of you would call singing ?

  73. Alan,

    Maybe one key reason why we make different arguments against IM than the ECF is the glaring obvious fact that it had not yet been brought into practice. As most know, historically, the practice began many years after the church began.

    Singing is a part of Christian worship. (cf. 1 Cor. 14:15, 26; Eph. 5:18-20; Col. 3:16) This clearly is what is confirmed by numerous ECF. They clearly considered instruments in worship a part of the old sacrificial and ceremonial system of the OT. Their non-mention of musical instruments should be enough for us to accept. There are positive statements that we should sing.

    Singing is a “spirutal sacrifice” that Christians, as a holy priesthood and a spiritual temple are to offer to God (1 Peter 2:4-5, 9; Heb. 13;15)

    Early Christian writers understood this.

    Justin Martyr, who probably lived during the lifetime of the Apostle John, wrote in the mid-second century (translation from McKinnon, Music in Early Christian Literature, 20):

    “We have been instructed that only the following worship is worthy of him, not the consumption by fire of those things created by him for our nourishment but the use of them by ourselves and by those in need, while in gratitude to him we offer solemn prayers and hymns for his creation and for all thing leading to good health.”

    Tertullian wrote some fifty years later, in a passage on spiritual sacrifice (translation from McKinnon, Music in Early Christian Literature, 44):

    “This prayer….we must bring amid psalms and hymns to the altar of God, and it will obtain from God all that we ask.”

    Clement of Alexandria (ca. 150-215) agrees:

    “But as for us, we make use of one instrument alone: only the Word of peace, by whom we pay homage to God, no longer with ancient harp or trumpet or drum or flute. . . .”

    Origin (ca. 185-ca. 254), a pupil of Clement of Alexandria, said:

    “He who makes melody with the mind makes melody well, speaking spiritual songs and singing in his heart to God.”

    The earliest description of a worship service among Christians outside of the New Testament is found in the writings of a non-Christian. Reporting to the Emperor Trajan around 110 A.D., Pliny the Younger wrote that Christians were in the habit of meeting on “a certain fixed day before it was light and singing hymns to Christ, as to a god.” (Pliny the Younger, Letter to Trajan, 10:96)

    Interestingly, Charles Hodge discusses this quote Pliny the Younger, states:

    “Whether the passage refers to the responsive method of singing or not, which is somewhat doubtful from the parallel passage in Colossians (where Paul speaks of their teaching one another), it at least proves that singing was from the beginning a part of Christian worship and that not only psalms but hymns also were employed,” (A Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians, 303)

    Ashby Camp writes (Music in Christian Worship)

    “Scritpure and church history tell us that IM was a diveinly prescribed part of the Jewish sacrifical system that was rendered obsolute by Christ. Is there anything in the NT to reject this point? That God does indeed desire or accept instrumental music in worship? There is no command and no Biblical record of any Christian doing so. In theological context, that silence is deafening.”

    Camp continues,

    “It is inconceivable that the church in the centuries after the apostles would uniformly and vehemently condemn musical instruments if those instruments had been used in worship in apostolic churches. If such a reversal of viewpoinjt had occurred, certainly some discussion of the issue would be preserved in the literature of the early church, but there is nothing. The only reasonable conclusion is that it was not necessary for later writes to explain the use of instruments in apostlic churches in light of their condemnation of them because instrumetns were never used in Christian worship.”

    I could hardly improve on Everett Ferguson’s conclusoin in A Cappella Music, 97:

    “There are good historical, theological, and musicological grounds to engage only in a cappella music in public worship. This is safe, ecumenical ground that all can agree is acceptable. Instrumental music cannot be confirmed as authorized in the text of the New Testament. It did not exist in Christian worship for centuries after the New Testament. Vocal music is more consisetn with the nature of Christian worship. Instrumetnal music in comparison to vocal music (as incense in comparison to prayer) is, as the church fathers said, a falling back to a lower level (Old Testament level) of religosu expression. It introduces into the human relationship to God an act lacking specific apostolic authorization.”

    William Woodson wrote,

    “It is crucially important to observe that although instrumental music of various types was readily available in contemporary society, no passage shows that the churches mentioned in the New Testament ever used instrumental music in worship. Did they not understand the true meaning of the Old Testament, particularly the Psalms? Did they not understand the meaning of various words, such as psallo, etc., so often discussed pro and con in contemporary debates? Did they not know the Jewish practices, both in the temple and in the synagogues? Did they not know the mind of God? Most certainly, on all these questions and much more. Yet, there is not even a hint of the use of instrumental music in worship of these churches. If present appeals to the Old Testament, the Greek term psallo, the temple or synagogue practice, and so on, legitimately warrant such use, why did the apostles and brethren in the first century not so understand and incorporate instrumental music into the worship of these churches? Such facts are not lightly to be dismissed or forgotten” (The Spiritual Sword, January 1993, pp. 17-18).

    Dear friends all the arguments that are being used today in the attempt to justify the instrument in worship were available to those who lived in the first century! These Christians knew that the Old Testament had endorsed the practice, they knew the background of the Greek word psallo, and that the Revelation letter mentions instruments in heaven, yet the instrument was still rejected.

    Let us obey God in worship, and sing to Him and one another agreeably to Scripture, from the heart, and with joy and thanksgiving.

    Robert Prater

  74. Bruce Morton says:

    I appreciate your post. Let me ask that folks soak a little on Paul's contrast of debauchery versus song — and the parallels we see in the society of the time. It is a crucial point to better understanding what Paul is teaching in the text.

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  75. Brent says:


    I have always respected the decision to follow the practice of the early church when it comes to instruments. I do not consider it a salvation issue, but I have believed it to be the better decision. I have never been convinced from the studies I have read that support instruments in the assembly. In fact, sometimes I find myself thinking that I would like to smack someone . . . I don't know…maybe someone like Jay . . for not listening to me when I know I am right on this issue. So I read Missing More Than Music. I learned some things. I'm still right . . . but I'm not as right as I thought. In fact . . . I may be wrong about the instruments in the assembly thing . . . but I am right on some other things just to set the record straight!

    I heard myself in the book. Some of the things Danny wrote were things I had thought . . . that I had believed. And then he turned them upside down. I'm still trying to figure which side is up.

    It is a good read and is written with the right attitude. It is well documented. It asks the right questions and does a good job answering them. It makes you think. It isn't perfect. I found some weaknesses. But I also found something else. I found some strengths in the arguments. Arguments not founded on emotion, but rooted in scripture. Some things worth pondering. Some things were considering.

    I'm also really proud that my Alma mater gave Danny the opportunity to speak about his work.

    I think you should read it.

  76. vannoy says:

    The most interesting series on IM I have found was delivered by Patrick Mead (Rochester, MI Church of Christ). He addresses this in a way that will allow us to define ourselves and not alienate our kids.

    Want to see their view of the future church? Join me at Make A Difference Tour.

  77. Anonymous says:

    Since man is imperfect man created religion as a set of guidelines to worship God, religion is imperfect. The love, grace and mercy of God is perfect!

    In some churches, these guidelines become laws that the congregation is expected to follow. Some churches demand strict adherence to these laws and establish bylaws that will be enforced by the leaders

    In the process of establishing and enforcing these man made rules the church leadership becomes no better than the Pharisees. And, eventually drive many people away from Christianity.

    IM is wrong in their eyes, people are stifled and not allowed to use their God given talents, but rather to adhere to only the church leaders opinion. Instead of using God’s Word, man-made rules venture to make opinion into law, they use human opinion that has no basis in Scripture.

    Isaiah 30:1-2 “Woe to the rebellious children,” says the LORD, Who take counsel, but not of Me, And who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, That they may add sin to sin; Who walk to go down to Egypt, And have not asked My advice, To strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, And to trust in the shadow of Egypt!”

    Isaiah 31:1 “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, And rely on horses, Who trust in chariots because they are many, And in horsemen because they are very strong, But who do not look to the Holy One of Israel, Nor seek the LORD!”

  78. Alabama John says:

    Once you deviate from scriptures about grace and instead insist on law being the guiding factor in your life and church, you're in trouble.
    There are as many different interpretations of those lscriptures usning law as there are congregations and elders.
    Even in one congregation there are differences of opinion as what is a law and what is allowed to pass.
    This will never stop, only get worse until we have a book like the Jews had and strict adherence to its impossible in order to be saved.
    Never forget works rech upward, while grace reaches downward.
    For too many years I like many of you disregarded grace and strickly adhired to the law of the day.
    It was impossible and never can be good enough to feel obedient.
    Grace understanding does make you closer to God and really love Him for His grace while law makes you afraid of God.
    I don't think my children would or could love me out of fear and I don't think anyone can truly love God out of fear.
    They may say so, but, only because they have never allowed themselves to know the love of Gods grace or loved out of that grace.
    Its so sad!

  79. Clearly, the view embrace by Alexander and Bruce and Robert – and others – is a matter of deep personal conviction. While I don't agree with it, I respect that.

    To me, the question of a capella or accompanied worship in song must fall under the aegis of Romans 14, simply because it is a matter of strong conviction and each point of view can hold its persuasion, practice it, and do so to God; in worship to Him.

    What I wish all parties could agree upon is that God is not praised when we raise our convictions to the level of His expressed insruction and will for us, and then become abusive, condemnatory and hateful toward each other over them.

    We need to continue to watch our level of passion for our cinvictions, whatever they are.

  80. Price says:

    Keith….that's not so simple…If the Elders decide that their congregation "prefers" a capella regardless of how a more modern approach to music might attract unbelievers in the community, that sounds selfish…If they "prefer" a cappella regardless of what their own youth in the congregation would enjoy, and/or disregard the minority opinion of the congregation who think modern worship music is..well, worshipful…again that sounds selfish…Because it is…When a handful of people INSIST on a method of worship that meets the needs of members at the expense of outreach to the community or the feelings of others in the congregation …just because…then there is definitely room for criticism….The reason this debate has lasted for decades is because in order not to be called out on their selfishness, they adopted an attitude that God commanded their style of worship so they can't alter it even though they might wish to do so…That brings praise for leadership in the face of popular opinion…so, the only way to avoid just criticism is to make up a rule that applies and hold people accountable….It doesn't matter how much one needs to stretch logic to get at the result…it doesn't matter how much one has to depend on non-inspired traditions…just do it…Better to call someone else a sinner and a denominationalist rather than open the doors to criticism of one's own self serving dogma.

    That sounds so strong but really, if we all adopted an approach that no where in scripture does it say that it's sinful; God likes it as much as anything else done from a sincere heart..and unity is more important than my personal preference….then why wouldn't you include it ?? Thus, the need for RULES…to hide behind. Those that hold to these rules will fight to the end. Sort of a Theological Masada. Those congregations that have adopted the philosophy that you suggested have adapted their worship services to be inclusive even though it means they get taken out of the list of churches of Christ for doing so…

  81. Royce Ogle says:

    Why in the interest of goodwill and common sense can't we just follow this simple rule in regard to IM. "I wont tell you that you can't if you wont tell me I must".

    I recommend that those who want to sing a acappella do as our church does. Just do it! If someone asks why tell them the truth, "It is a part of our heritage that we appreciate, it seems more primitave way to sing and we think voices only is beautiful. There is no scripture either commanding it or prohibiting instruments".

    It is foolish and sinful and exposes ignorance of God's plan of redemption to declare someone who disagrees with you damned.

    If you don't like the way your present church does things then work quietly, prayerfully, and lovingly to change it. Or, leave and attend one that more closely suits your tastes

    Jay alluded to this but it is worth mentioning again. What does it say about us that posts on IM vs. a cappella always get more comments than any other topic? Perhaps we have misplaced priorities. I did say "we", I'm guilty too.


  82. But, Price, that argument hangs of the assumption that accompanied song worship is necessary to attract young people. I don't accept that assumption. People of all ages will be attracted to a church where they can find Jesus Christ. If not, they're looking for the wrong thing in a church, and we don't need to bait and switch – bait people with the kind of worship they like (whatever kind it is) and then convince them that they aren't there to be served but to serve.

  83. Anonymous says:

    I don't believe Price's comment was about baiting people, but was about reaching out to people about Jesus. Our main service to others should be focused on reaching out to those who don't know Him.

  84. Alabama John says:



  85. Price says:

    But Keith, if they aren't there to be served then what's the deal about IM ?? And, how do you know? Has your church conducted any kind of a survey? I actually would agree that IM isn't "necessary" to attract people but given that the CoC is the ONLY church out there singing 4 part harmony I'd think it fairly safe to say that most non-church going people might think that strange and strange isn't exactly what people feel comfortable with. Especially, if the church members begin to explain that everybody else is going to hell for using a piano…not you of course but all the "other" members..

  86. Price says:

    Royce, I almost agree. However, if the leadership is using scripture to condemn IM I believe that needs to be confronted head on, not quietly. They are in error and they are teaching an error. That serves no one well.

    The other unfortunate result if people do as you suggest is that we begin to loose the heritage of the church of Christ. When people walk away, they generally find a lot more freedom…not perfection…every human organization has its own set of issues, but generally, there is more freedom outside of the CoC…Which means they seldom come back…The numbers I've seen over the past 15-20 years reflect that unfortunate reality. The choice seems to be that either the CoC develops a new way to allow freedom and unity to abound or the decline will continue until there's no longer anyone left to argue with…It just doesn't have to be like that. It's a choice.

  87. Price, I just don't believe that anything's gained by thrusting a pointing finger and saying, "No, you're wrong; you're teaching error!" only for the response to be a pointing finger thrusting back and the retort "No, you're wrong; you're teaching error!" Can't we at least try to find some consensus; some grounds upon which we can agree?

    Because I don't need a survey to tell me that no one outside of belief in Christ can see that kind of behavior and find it attractive – whether there's a cappella or accompanied worship music going on.

  88. abasnar says:

    If the Elders decide that their congregation “prefers” a capella regardless of how a more modern approach to music might attract unbelievers in the community, that sounds selfish

    If elders decide on a matter, it is not selfish it is leadership – that (hopefully) is being exercised in wisdom and love. And especially where there are different opinions and different levels of maturity in a congregation, we should listento those and follow those who are appointed by the Holy Spirit for guidance. And they will be held responsible by the Head of the church for he deciosions the make and the teachings they teach. This is no position anyone should desire lightheartedly (and that's why I am very critical about young seminary-trained ministers who have more to say in many churches than the local elders).

    Second: Worship is not to attract unbelievers, it is a service ofthe royal priesthood to the Lord of Hosts. Once I was very struck by the following verse:

    Eze 44:6 And say to the rebellious house, to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: O house of Israel, enough of all your abominations,
    Eze 44:7 in admitting foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, to be in my sanctuary, profaning my temple, when you offer to me my food, the fat and the blood. You have broken my covenant, in addition to all your abominations.
    Eze 44:8 And you have not kept charge of my holy things, but you have set others to keep my charge for you in my sanctuary.
    Eze 44:9 "Thus says the Lord GOD: No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, of all the foreigners who are among the people of Israel, shall enter my sanctuary.

    This my answetr to Willow-Creek, Saddle Back and all other "seeker-friendly" approaches. Think about it, and meditate on the results:

    a) God is very unhappy about it
    b) It is easy to "bait" them with what they know and like from the world, but it is very hard then to teach them to be separate from the world.
    c) It is nonsense to "include" them in worship, but then to "exclude" them from the Lord#s Supper 8when they are not baptized yet) – how do you communicvate that without offending them?
    d) In the end ecven Bill Hybels had to admit, that they have made large numbers of "concerts" but only a few disciples.

    So where does this approach lead to? I tend to take Ex 44:9 ver seriously, and unless someone is really interested and open to the Lord, I won't let him watch (!) what we are doing. But unless he is born again, he is not part of the priesthood and MUST not offer eat from the Altar.

    And thus, using IM in order to reach outto the lost, is a very weak argument.


  89. As stated, Alexander, your second point sounds terribly elitist. Surely you wouldn't exclude visitors who don't yet believe from worship?

    We learn by doing. 1 Corinthians 14 seems to instruct that gathered worship should edify both believers and unbelievers.

    That said, I agree that accompanied worship is not a requirement for attracting visitors. My a cappella-only home church has drawn in many who became converts and tell us that the singing was a strong factor in their decision. They heard God praised, Christ lifted up, and the Holy Spirit asked for in song. Is that forbidden by Ezekiel 44:9?

  90. Price says:

    Keith, I agree than consensus should be established. What other than scripture would you suggest the consensus be built around ? If it's a matter or "right" vs. "wrong" is there any other source ? If it's a matter of preference or tradition, then I'm all for freedom in Christ and you teach that…But, in any regard, whatever is done in worship at your church should have a solid scriptural foundation wouldn't you agree ??

    Alexander, I don't see the Lord's Supper as being an opportunity to segregate ourselves. I see it as an opportunity to share the Good News. Jesus allowed Judas to be there even though He knew what was about to happen.

    So now we attack Rick Warren? You're kidding right? He's spread the name of Jesus far and wide. Certainly as a jar of clay and human as us all but why on earth would anyone criticize a man for proclaiming Jesus…?? Or, are you now just condemning other churches in general ?? I spoke with the Leadership at both Willow Creek and Saddleback concerning their material on developing small groups. Unbelievable effectiveness in that area. What they have done for their communities with college aged kids, divorce care, etc., etc., is legendary…Come on Brother…Lighten up with the condemnation and get that big ole beam out of your own eye. It might just take a lifetime. There are millions of people doing their best to be like Jesus…why not applaud their efforts and encourage them…?? I just don't understand your approach at all… If you compare your faults with theirs…you both need Jesus…

  91. Royce Ogle says:

    "And I, if l be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me" (John 12:32)

    We are easily drawn away from the simplicity that is in Christ and His message. Music is secondary to the focus of our message and worship. The question is are we preaching Jesus? Are we making much of Him and His saving work for sinners? In far to many places He has been relegated to some place less than supreme.

    An honest look at sermon subjects on church websites shows a shocking lack of preaching Jesus, lifting Him up, and giving Him His rightful place. In my view there is an over emphasis on "worship" music, small groups, study material for Bible classes, etc. The best plans, programs, and human effort is only more religion unless the message of Jesus' death for sinners, his burial, and resurrection to set men right with God is at the center of all we do.

    Our message of the cross and our love for each other will get the attention of the lost, not our splendid worship, a cappella singing, beautiful instrumentals, grand buildings, and the best laid plans executed by men with degrees from "brotherhood" schools.

    BTW, when you attack one of God's children you are attacking Jesus. Be careful.


  92. Price, I agree that a church's practice should be firmly rooted in scripture – which, by its silence on the subject, neither commends nor condemns accompanied worship in the assembly. That's why I feel it is a matter of conviction, and should be regarded as such under the instruction of Romans 14.

    That rules out judging, condemning, and villifying others because their convictions do not square with one's own.

    Not every possible practice is intrinsically "right" or "wrong" and Romans 14 recognizes that. I think 1 Corinthians 7:25 does also.

  93. abasnar says:

    Alexander, I don’t see the Lord’s Supper as being an opportunity to segregate ourselves. I see it as an opportunity to share the Good News. Jesus allowed Judas to be there even though He knew what was about to happen.

    I think this is a question that has been debaterd for centuries. There are two answers to this:
    a) According to John, Jude left in the middle of the Passover Meal – and the bread was broken and the cup ofthe covenant was shared at the end of the meal. That's what I believe.
    b) As long as Jude has not actually betrayed Christ, he has not yet openly sinned – he could have changed his mind that evening (but he didn't).

    So either he left before the breaking of the bread, or he partook still being a disciple. It makes not an Iota of a difference concerning the fact, that one needs to be a disciple (in good standing) in order to be permitted to take part in the Lord's Supper.

    I knew, this would step on your (and probably many other) toes, Price. And I wondered how you would response to this. The problem I address is far more than IM or not IM, it is about understanding the church and worship from the types of the temple and its sacrifices. And I somehow guessed (and read between some lines here and there) that one of the reasons behind the IM-debate is the idea of seeker-friedly worship.

    So now we attack Rick Warren? You’re kidding right? He’s spread the name of Jesus far and wide. Certainly as a jar of clay and human as us all but why on earth would anyone criticize a man for proclaiming Jesus…?? Or, are you now just condemning other churches in general ??

    I am speaking of a completely wrong ecclesiology that is behind these church-models. It is not about the persons themselves (they just are one of the more prominent leaders among this movement), but about a complete misconception of church and worship.

    Maybe you could explain how Ezekiel 44:6-9 should be understood and practiced.

    To exclude people from taking the Lord's super – strange that this sounds strange to you. I thought the CoC have always been clear that you have to be baptized in order to be allowed to participate. Even Christians are excluded, if they are partaking of meat sacrificed to idols at the same time (1Co 10:21-22), and no one who still serves the tabernacle in OT terms has a right to eat from our altar (= Lord's Supper – see Heb 13:10). I think God is pretty clear.

    And I say, these visitor friendly churches are pretty unclear about it. Yes, I object to Rick Warren's methods, because I reject the whole idea of vistor/seeker-friendly churches as the exact opposite of what God wants in Ezekiel 44:6-9. Are His words not strong, not clear enough?

    I mean, spell them out:
    E N O U G H of all your A B O M I N A T I O N S.
    What abominations?
    admitting F O R E I G N E R S, U N C I R C U M C I S E D in heart and flesh, to be I N M Y S A N C T U A R Y.

    What is the will of God in these verses? And how does the seeker-friendly church-model apply this will? Can we call black white and white black?

    Remember the riot it caused because some believed Paul brought Trophimus into the temple (Acts 21:28-30)? There was a death sentece for trespassing, and two of the signs that marked the border have been excavated! But here it is about those also uncircumcised in their hearts.

    OK what is the spiritual meaning of this OT-Command?

    I think it is clear: We are the temple ogf the Lord, and no unbelievers can be invited in order to worship and eat the Lord's Supper with us.

    Or do you have a better interpretation of these verses?

    Furthermore: This passage is part of the description of a New Temple (Ezekiel chapters 40-47). So it it actually a New-Testament type he is describing.

    Have you ever heard a sermon on why certain people are excluded from worship? We rarely hear such sermons. I have never heard a sermon on Ezekiel 40:6-9 … But IO heard an awful lot about "Acceptance", or that we may "Come as you are" … I am afraid, that the way we understand church and God's Holyness is very different from what God wants to be known.

    And I think, unless we have a better understanding of this, we will not undstand IM; because this also is best understood in the context of applying OT worship in a spiritual sense such as the text in Ezekiel 44:6-9.

    They heard God praised, Christ lifted up, and the Holy Spirit asked for in song. Is that forbidden by Ezekiel 44:9?

    Let me put it this way: In 1Co 14:23 it is said, that it might happen than an outsider will be present in the assembly. Shall we now make the assemply seeker-oriented? If so, we could argue that then we should all speak in tongues, because that's a sign for the unbelievers (1Co 14:22). But NO, we should all prophecy which is for the believers (same verse)! See, we don't focus on the outsiders in the assembly – the whole concept of seeker-friendlyness is not scriptural.

    This does not mean, we should be unfriendly to seekers either. But the assembly of the church is not the place where they should be invited to be evangelized in the first place. they may come and see, if they are interested and ask for it. So, they heard you sing and praise the Lord, but they are not part of the church and the priesthood, until they have been born again. Thus they cannot be allowed to partakle of the Lord's Supper either.

    In OT terms: Unless one is circumcosed, he may not partake of the Passover Meal (Exo 12:48) – this is quite clear. Do you see any better way to understand it in the light of the New Covenant than to understand it as a type that only born again pesrons may partakte of the Lord's Supper? I don't – so the application is clear.

    If we then have to exclude unbelievers from the Lord's Supper, is it wise to actively invite them and include them in our worship? I think this does not make sense in the first place, but I doubt that God really is pleased with this, if I understand Him right in the passages quoted.

    your second point sounds terribly elitist.

    Maybe it is "elitist" – but not because Idrew the line, but because God calls us a chosen people, elect, taken out from this world, set apart, holy … And He says we must not be yoked together with unbelievers and we must not touch what is unclean (2Co 6:14-18).

    If I had a say in this, I would take these verses out of the Bible, because they are very disturbing – but actually this leads to idolatry, when I decide what God may say and what not. Christ came to bring a clear division between those who follow Him, and those who are outside. This is best illustrated when He was with with His disciples in a house, while His own family stood outside. And then He drew a clear line: "Those who hear and do the will of my father, are my family."

    So what? Is Christ "elitist"? If so, let's praise Him and follow Him. If not – then let's try to find a better description for this clear separation He taught – and let's follow Him.

    Honestly, if you have a better solution for these texts, I am very open to listen to you. So far, all attempts to justify seeker friendly worship seemed like wishful thinking to me. I just could not get the word "abomination" out of my head …


    P:S: Keith or Price: It all hinges on my reading of Ezekiel 44:6-9 – so, if you have a better interpretation of this text, let's start here.

  94. 1 Corinthians 14 shows believers and unbelievers together. But it also indicates that's not the place to convert them. Somewhere along the way we confused converting unbelievers and "Churching" them. When we gather together it is for the believers.

    That being said. If we speak where the Bible speaks, and we're silent where the Bible is silent, shouldn't we have NO opinion on silence in the scriptures instead of a negative one?

  95. Alexander, when you said "….unless someone is really interested and open to the Lord, I won’t let him watch (!) what we are doing. But unless he is born again, he is not part of the priesthood and MUST not offer eat from the Altar" I must admit I was dismayed. Do you really feel that God has appointed you to be the gatekeeper of your church family; to judge who is and is not somehow worthy to visit when you worship together?

    Do you really believe that God's instruction to Ezekiel regarding a temple with courts for different levels of access supercedes God's instruction to the church in 1 Corinthians, where the church likely met in a home (Acts 18:8)? Or is some how superior to the letter to the Hebrews where Christ is described as the high priest through whom all have access to God?

  96. Price says:

    Keith, your last post was my point exactly. Teach the truth. In MHO it gets down to freedom to choose. That is what I believe the scripture to teach. That's what I mean about being vocal about what the SCRIPTURE says and understanding how it applies. Now, given the freedom to choose, each congregation is allowed to worship God in whatever respectful way they choose but it was decided upon by scripture and not some early church father that was uninspired in his musings.

    Alexander…you take it back to rules again…If God opened the door to the Gentiles and did not require them to be circumsized to be a part of the Body of Christ, who am I to prohibit them from inviting them to HIS Table ?? Peter was told to eat unclean meat to symbolize the admission of the Gentiles. the Jerusalem Council compromised to promote unity…Where are we to now begin to EXCLUDE people who are just beginning to learn about Christ ? Did He not say that He loved the WORLD and sent His Son to die for us? Can we not celebrate this one fact together and ignore our imperfections long enough to appreciate that "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us"?? I just refuse to go back into the shackles of LAW. His Grace is sufficient and if not then I'm lost as a goose anyway. If I err, I err on the side of bringing all that I can to the foot of the cross. If they see everything as I do, then perhaps they should study harder.

    Thomas, I Cor 14:24 indicates that the clear evidence of God in worship would cause an unbeliever to fall to his knees and know that God was indeed there. Not sure what your comment was trying to reflect but it seems that a worship service is a great place for an unbeliever to witness the presence of God…or not.. It even seems that the use of tongues was regulated in such a way as to not offend the senses of an unbeliever…Here we have a spiritual gift being regulated for the benefit of a visitor…Again, in MHO, the call for segregation just doesn't seem to be supported by scripture except to remove oneself from the world. Not for the purpose of keeping the world from Jesus…And to say that everybody must be in lock step with each other before we can fellowship in the unity of the Spirit is beyond my ability to defend. If Christ died for me while I was a totally depraved person, how can I not invite others to the same table of Grace that I celebrate?

    Lastly….John said to him, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us." But Jesus said, "Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. for whoever is not against us is for us.
    Mark 9:38-40

    So, the Apostles wanted a man to stop doing a good work in Jesus name because he was not a part of "their group." And, the Son of God wouldn't allow the exclusion…Perhaps the message is that the "group" isn't as important as the name in which the group operates…the name of Jesus !!

  97. Price, I believe that I worded my point badly. Let me see if I can explain it better. The 22nd verse says that tongues are a sign for the unbelievers. However, in verse 24, as you said, the gift of tongues is regulated to help those unbelievers not to be confused. The way I've always understood this passage (and I've been wrong a lot of times in my life, so don't be scared to instruct me if I'm wrong again), was that the Christians with the gift of tongues that were using it to convert unbelievers used it outside of the "service," while inside it took a back seat because of all the confusion (confusion is really the core of 1 Cor. 14) it was causing. I was not saying that we should keep unbelievers out of church. But what I saw a lot growing up is that instead of teaching the Gospel, or speaking with unbelievers, people would just bring them to church and hope that would do the trick. Can it? Yes. Will you have a larger success rate if you study with someone instead of just bringing them to church? In my experiences, yes.

    Please let me know if this clears up your confusion on what I said. I should've stated myself more clearly. For that I apologize.

  98. Price says:

    Thomas, I don't see any "inside" or "outside" the congregational assembly from the passage but who I am to instruct anyone…The whole of chapter 14 seems to ME to be speaking about the worship services.. However, I agree with you that the "experience" of worship isn't all that is necessary to move one in the right direction….I am convinced that in the presence of the Almighty one cannot remained unchanged but moving from milk to meat is definitely a byproduct of study…the encouragement from God to "study" not only to show oneself approved to rightly apply the scripture but to be able to give a defense for the hope that is within us is surely indicative of a developmental process….I see it as a process that is best done in relationship and fellowship WITHIN the church rather than outside the church hoping to be accepted. Does that more or less put us in the same camp?

  99. abasnar says:

    So, let's cross out Ezekiel 44:6-9 – it has no relevance for the church – is it that what you mean, Price and Keith?

  100. Price,

    The short answer is yes, we're in the same camp.

  101. Price says:

    Well, since the Apostle Paul clearly indicated that circumcision is no longer required under the New Covenant, I guess it pretty much excludes it…

    I Corinthians 14 clearly indicates that unbelievers (uncircumcized in heart) were a part of the worship services…How else is one to hear and learn?

    I don't see how it applies under our covenant of grace but I'm not an expert in future prophecy.

    I know that Christ was much more critical of those that claimed to be religious and righteous and for more compassionate of those that were in the path of sin.

  102. I think the Ezekial passage is the rough equivalent of Paul's admonition to do everything decently and in order. If some are actively disruptive to a worship assembly, you'd probably ask them to leave.

    It seems, Alexander, that you're interpreting the passage as a reference to any unbeliever, but the context seems to be focusing on those who are causing some type of trouble — rebellious, disobedient, or something — given the various translations of the beginning of verse 6.

    Excluding unbelievers from worship does not seem consistent with Jesus command to "love one another as (he) loved us."

    That's a pretty high standard

  103. As instruction for the church – other than its historical significance in revealing the way God wanted his chosen people and place of worship separate from the Gentiles 500 years before Christ – I do not see Ezekiel 44 as having value in communicating what God desires currently under a new covenant. It has been superceded by canonical scripture, but more importantly through Christ Himself. It does not communicate God's desire to include Gentiles – a theme throughout the New Testament. Now either Christ was lifted up to draw all men unto Himself, or He wasn't.

    Corinth is a specific example in which grace repealed law. We don't have a specific example in New Testament scripture where grace repeals laws about accompanied song worship. We do have New Testament scripture which specifically and explicitly repeals animal sacrifice, Levitical priesthood, kosher dietary instructions and the Sabbath – for example. We also have New Testament scripture that affirms instruction about sexual immorality, pagan worship, greed, drunkenness, and inhospitality – again, for example. But nothing instructs us to turn away people from gathered worship or gives us authority to judge how worthy they are to be a part of it.

    I think your reasoning for rejecting 1 Corinthians 14's acceptance of visitors – an absence of tongues – is shaky at best and leads to a judgmental spirit toward visitors at worst, Alexander.

  104. abasnar says:

    Well, since the Apostle Paul clearly indicated that circumcision is no longer required under the New Covenant, I guess it pretty much excludes it…

    a) Didn't God speak of uncircumcized hearts in this passage as well?
    b) Does circumcision in the flesh not point to the NT circumcision of the heart?
    c) Does the temple not point to the church?

    So if all scripture is profitable (2Ti 3:16): What is the application of Ezekiel 44:6-9 (besides ignoring it, which in effect is what you answered)?

    Price, where does your answer lead to? To a complete disconnection of the two parts of our Bibel.

    If God opened the door to the Gentiles and did not require them to be circumsized to be a part of the Body of Christ, who am I to prohibit them from inviting them to HIS Table ??

    And I fear you don't really get it, because you mix apples and pears. Of course we reach out to the gentiles, but then there is a circumcision – not done by hands, but:

    Col 2:11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,
    Col 2:12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

    Don't tell me there is no distinction between baptized and unbaptized people. And are we not able to discern between these two gropups of people? Of course we are!

    And who may eat from the Passover? Only those who are circumcized Exo 12:48. Now, is these irrelevant today? No, because we also have a passover (1Co 5:7). And this means, we have to apply the spriritual principles of the Law to the NT-passover: The Lord's Supper. And that's precicesly what Paul does:

    1Co 5:7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
    1Co 5:8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
    1Co 5:9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people–
    1Co 5:10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.
    1Co 5:11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler–not even to eat with such a one.
    1Co 5:12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?
    1Co 5:13 God judges those outside. "Purge the evil person from among you."

    Now think carefully:

    We must not celebrate with the leven. What is this? This is sin.
    How do we apply it? By church discipline: By adminishuing and – if the brother is not repenting – by excommunicating. Out with leven!
    What about the immoral ones of the world – may they partake?
    No, they are OUTSIDE! Marke these words, Price: There is an inside and and outside.

    There is a circumcision in the New Covenant, a sign of the covenant (ouwardly by baptism, inwardly by the New birth), and this is a binding ordinance! And it is also binding, that we don't allow sinners among us to continue sinning.

    Where are we to now begin to EXCLUDE people who are just beginning to learn about Christ ?
    … How else is one to hear and learn?

    That's a good and practical question. We are so fixed on the idea that our "public worship" is "public", but it isn't. So we are to go out in our boats, leave our worship halls. We offer Bible Studies for seekers, but we don't encourage them to break the bread with us. We make it clear, that you have to believe and be baptized in order to be part of the "chosen ones". This is in no way difficult, Price. It is just consistent.

    Let me tell you this: We can play the same game as with IM here. ALL of the ECF were very strict about this question, too. And I tell you what will happen: Their testimony will be ignored in this matter as well, explained away or "interpreted".

    It is a simple procedure:
    1) The gospel is preached
    2) Those whoe believe are baptized
    3) And then they are added to the church and join the worship

    That's the pattern in Acts 2:38-42

    Do you really believe that God’s instruction to Ezekiel regarding a temple with courts for different levels of access supercedes God’s instruction to the church in 1 Corinthians, where the church likely met in a home (Acts 18:8)? Or is some how superior to the letter to the Hebrews where Christ is described as the high priest through whom all have access to God?

    Who is the "ALL", Keith? There are clear conditions in Heb 10:19-23, aren't there?

    a) WE = Brothers (and sisters)
    b) Through the blood of Christ
    c) washed body – another OT-reference applied to the NT
    d) hearts sprinkled – yet another OT-reference, applied to the NT
    e) firm faith

    Keith, unless we understand the OT worship, we will misunderstand the NT worship!

    And – coming back to IM: As soon as we understood the concept of type and antitype, we will understand that mechanical instruments are a type as incense is a type, which have spiritual meanings in NT worship.

    I think, when I consider this part of our discussion that this is all pretty new to you. You obviously (seemingly) never learned to read the Bible this way – and thus you probably also don't understand the mindset of the ECF, who believed the exact same things I presented here. And you actually aren't even in line with Paul or the letter to the Hebrews, who applied the OT-Laws of worship in a spiritual way to the NT worship.

    By this I begin to understand, how progressivism seems to work. It is a different hermeneutic that leads to a different ecclesiology that leads to a differernt understanding of worship.

    So, in the end, it is about the question: How do we read our Bibles? Unless we understand this underlying difference, we will never come to an agreement on worship, IM, the nature of the church, separation from the world, …

    Think about it


  105. Incense and musical instruments are a type of spiritual meaning – but inhospitality is not? Exclusion is still commanded?

    And you, Alexander, are appointed by whom or what to judge the worthiness of those who would share in your gathered worship?

    If another religious group had a person who judged which/whether people could visit its gatherings, would you not wonder if it were a cult?

  106. abasnar says:

    And you, Alexander, are appointed by whom or what to judge the worthiness of those who would share in your gathered worship?

    Say, Keith, do you really read what I write?
    Do you really try to understand and follow the thoughts?

    I answered this already, by pointing to the leven, by pointing to the washing and sprinkling, by pointing to the term "outsider" – this is not my idea, it comes right from Paul and hebrews; even from the Lord Himself (remember how he "excluded" his own family). It is about a very clear and applicable teaching that calls for obedience.

    If another religious group had a person who judged which/whether people could visit its gatherings, would you not wonder if it were a cult?

    What is so odd about this? Recently I went to a Mosque as an interested visitor. My Muslim friend introduced me to the Imam, who instructed me how to behave and where to sit. It was a privilege to be allowed to watch, but not in any sense as "stepping in and being a part if it". Isn't that normal? Isn't that what ought to be expected?

    If you take the Roman Catholic doctrines seriously, you are not allowed to take part in the Eucharist if you are not a member of the Roman Catholic Church (or divorced and remarried), that's why in ecumenic worship the Pope does not allow that the Eucharist will be served.

    The same is true for the Orthodox churches – they also have an excvlusive understanding of the Lord's Supper.

    And when I grew up in a Lutheran church, I was not allowed to take communion until I was confirmed.

    All conservative Anabaptist congregations think likewise, as do the Plymouth Brethren …

    Go back through church history: It has always been this way: Unless you are a member of the church, you are not allowed to partake of communion. This even forbade interdenominational communion amoing true Christians – a fact that gave rise to the Restoration Movement and their call to Unity!

    But what you propose is completely alien to the whole church of Christ in history, namely inviting people to the Lord's Supper regardless of their standing before Christ and the church.

    Who are we (who am I) to judge?

    Let me answer with Paul:

    1Co 5:12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?
    1Co 5:13 God judges those outside. "Purge the evil person from among you."

    We are to judge the "insiders": Those who don't repent of sin, are to be excluded. This is a command, Keith. And the others are outsiders – meaning: Not part of the church, not part of the assembly, not part of Christ – therefore: Not Partakers of the Lord's Supper because they are "uncircumcised".

    Say, what is so complicated about this? What is so annoying? What is so strange about that? Where do I misread the scriptures – honestly, I am open to be corrected. But prove wrong from these texts I quoted.


  107. Price says:

    “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.” But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. for whoever is not against us is for us.
    Mark 9:38-40

    Jesus refused to stop a man, or allow his diciples to stop a man from acting in His name although HE did not authorize his actions…Where did this man hear about doesn't say..Was he a jew or a gentile..doesn't say…was he a one cupper or multiple cups? doesn't say…All JESUS says about the man is that if he isn't against us…he is for us..and gives the guy carte blance to continue…

    Who am I to be more judgemental than Jesus?

    Now regarding church members, sure. If you've got somebody in your congregation that has heard the word, accepted the word, and then begins to act out in some immoral way, then yes you should hold that person accountable…but a non-believer? How do you ever get the person to listen if you don't invite him to be a part of your body of believers and learn about Jesus…

    I just don't accept all the judgement and segregation and denomination of ideas that one must loyally adhere to be able to fellowship with a particular group..good grief…open the doors and let 'em in.

    Paul said he became all things to all men so that he might win a few….who am I to ask them to become like me if Paul opted to be as they were to develop relationship and trust ?

    I may be wrong Alexander and I apologize in advance if I have misinterpreted you but I believe that you promote Christianity with a sense of fear (fear of breaking the rules and fear of punishment)…I promote it with a sense of love… God so loved the world that He gave Himself…Who am I to withhold my fellowship until someone believes exactly as I believe…

    I believe the major difference in the way we read our Bible is that you read it looking for all the applicable rules to follow…I read it looking for Grace, knowing that I cannot ever measure up. Those who have been forgiven much, forgive much…Those that have been accepted by Christ surely would have a problem rejecting others whom Christ wants to reach…I'm not gonna be the one who shuts a door that He wants to open…because I am saved by Grace through Faith, not of works.

  108. Price says:

    Alexander….apart from church "history" or let me put it another way..uninspired commentary…where is a BCV to exclude people from the Lord's Supper or church feast that weren't baptized followers of Christ ?? Historical example, as well intended as it might be isn't the same as God-breathed instruction…

  109. abasnar says:

    where is a BCV to exclude people from the Lord’s Supper or church feast that weren’t baptized followers of Christ ?

    This means, you are not satisfied with the parallels of Exo 12:48 to the NT-Passover, are you? And that unbelivers are called "outsiders" obviously does not impress you either.

    Well, let's try it this way:

    1Co 10:14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

    This is spoken to believers, but after telling the story of the Israelites who have left Egypt by foot (but their hearts were still there). So they left Egypt but not the idols of Egypt.

    We have a few things to consider here:

    a) The People Paul is speaking to also have left Egypt in a spiritual sense. They have crossed the waters of a spiritual Red Sea in baptism and the spiritual cloud is the Holy Spirit. (1Co 10:1-2)
    b) In the desert they received a spiritual food and drink which typifies the Lord's Supper (1Co 10:3-4)
    c) But God was not pleased with them, because they did not believe and obey God from their hearts – so they died in the wilderness.

    This is the background story, and the application starts here: Flee from idolatry, church of Corinth, church of Christ!

    This is entirely spoken to baptized Christians, who left Egypt (their former sinful life) in order to proceed to the promised inheritance.

    1Co 10:15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.

    And now think, Paul says. This is not a trivial matter, it needs some deeper thoughts:

    1Co 10:16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?

    What is it that we share in communion? Just bread and wine? Or is there more to it? Much more: It is fellowship, it is participation.

    Think, Price, who can participate or have fellowship with Christ's blood? Only those who have been cleansed by it. And who can participate in the body of Christ? The next verse gives the answer:

    1Co 10:17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

    Only those who are part of the body of Christ. And how do we become a part of Christ's body (the answer in in 1Co 12:13). So who can partake of the Lord's Supper? Only those who are part of the body of Christ.

    1Co 10:18 Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar?

    This analogy is important for two reasons:

    a) Paul reassures that it is important to understand OT-worship in order to understand NT-worship
    b) Who could partake of the food offered of God's Altar? Only those who were part of God's People and clean (!).

    This is one among a number of other texts that make this pretty clear. But it only makes sense, if you accept the way Paul uses the Law of OT-worship in his application for he NT-worship.

    I feel this is all very new and strange for you. But it really isn't that difficult – and once you grasped the concept, the OT makes sense again. Not the letter of the Law, but you discover the Spirit of the Law! Christ did not come to set an end to the Law, but to fulfill it, to make it complete, to "transform it to a spiritual level", so to say (as He does in the Sermon on the Mount for instance).

    But we have to learn to read the OT the way the Apostles read it. The way it is shown in Hebrews, for instance. Let me finish with a verse from Hebrews and comment on it a little:

    Heb 13:10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.

    This is an exclusive statement. Our altar from which we eat (see the parallel to 1Co 10:18) is the Lord's Supper. We eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ, offered on this altar (the cross) when eating the bread and the wine. Now, who may not eat from this altar? Those who still serve the shadows and types of the Old Covenant.

    During the whole letter the autor pleads with the Hebrews not to fall back into the Old System, because Christ brought its fulfillment!

    But again, this is an exclusive statement. They have no right to eat from eat. I may turn the question around from this: Can you show me BCV where God says, that unbelievers have a right to eat from the Lord's Supper?

    When even for believers it is sometimes restricted because of sin and uncleanness – may we give that which is holy to the dogs (Mat 7:6)? Before you cry out: Exactly this verse was used in the Didache as an argument not to give the Lord's Supper to unbaptized persons:

    Didache IX:5 But let no one eat or drink of your Thanksgiving (Eucharist), but they who have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord hath said, Give not that which is holy to the dogs.

    Considering that the Didache was viewed by many as part of the NT canon in the first four centuries, I thik this is quite a strong statement, worth some meditation.


  110. abasnar says:

    I just don’t accept all the judgement and segregation and denomination of ideas that one must loyally adhere to be able to fellowship with a particular group..good grief…open the doors and let ‘em in.

    If someone is a believer and baptized, then – regardless of his or her church-background – they are welcome at the Lord's Table. That's not the issue at all. But when people come a guests, we always ask them where they come from. And unbelievers are not invited to take the bread and the wine. These are two different things.

    But I strongly believe in separation from the world, and thus I am opposed to seeker-friendly worship-styles. Worship is worship, not evangelism.


  111. Royce Ogle says:

    abasnar is correct about all of those examples of "closed communion". What he wrote was accurate but in every case they were/are wrong. What man on earth has the prerogative to tell anyone that they can't do what Jesus said they should do? You might resist saying "He was talking to Christians!" He was talking to his disciples and we follow their example. To close communion only to those we approve is like saying to a lost neighbor I'm going to pray but you can't, this is only for Christians, Or telling them they shouldn't sing in a worship time.

    Since we look on the outward appearance and God sees the heart, perhaps it is a good idea to allow anyone who wants to remember the Lord by eating and drinking with others. By doing so we are not sanctioning women elders, or snake handling, just welcoming anyone to consider the Lord and his promises.

    I believe the only Bible warning is to not eat and drink while not considering the body of Christ. His body and blood represented by the elements we share might just begin someone thinking about the claims of the gospel.


  112. Royce Ogle says:


    Your reasoning is seriously flawed. You are making the assumption that every baptized believer, or everyone who says they have been baptized is truly saved. I think anyone with just a bit of experience knows that is not the case. The truth is you don't know who is and who is not saved so why would you pretend you do?

  113. Price says:

    Royce, I guess you are much better prepared than I to debate all this O.T. foreshadowing with Alexander. I have no idea whether his interpretation of these things is accurate or not. It all seems contingent on one's perception of what meant what when.

    Alexander, anybody you refuse to allow into your congregation…just send them to me. We'll take all the misfits, sinners, and those in drastic need of a Savior that you might send our way. We see our primary mission as reaching the lost and anything we can do to facilitate that we'll do. But, we're just a bunch of sinners saved by grace and we wouldn't place a personal preference above that mission for anything.
    Not sure where that lines up with all the foreshadowing but we do the best we can to be about our Father's business.

  114. Jay Guin says:

    Alexander et al.,

    I don't have time to work through all the passages Alexander has cited, but I've been pondering Eze 44's application to the Christian assembly, as it's so critical to Alexander's thought.

    I don't have much in the way of commentary help on Ezekiel, but I just can't see how this is about the Christian age. The end of the chapter recapitulates much of the Law's requirements for how to conduct the temple service.

    The passage condemns the abuses of the temple taking place shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar and looks forward to the restoration of the temple service as commanded in the Law (which happened under Ezra and Nehemiah). If you want to argue a Christian interpretation, then we have to take the many, many details of how to obey the Law as allegorical — the point being that God's law, whatever it is, will be obeyed.

    (Eze 44:15-31 ESV) 15 "But the Levitical priests, the sons of Zadok, who kept the charge of my sanctuary when the people of Israel went astray from me, shall come near to me to minister to me. And they shall stand before me to offer me the fat and the blood, declares the Lord GOD. 16 They shall enter my sanctuary, and they shall approach my table, to minister to me, and they shall keep my charge. 17 When they enter the gates of the inner court, they shall wear linen garments. They shall have nothing of wool on them, while they minister at the gates of the inner court, and within. 18 They shall have linen turbans on their heads, and linen undergarments around their waists. They shall not bind themselves with anything that causes sweat. 19 And when they go out into the outer court to the people, they shall put off the garments in which they have been ministering and lay them in the holy chambers. And they shall put on other garments, lest they transmit holiness to the people with their garments. 20 They shall not shave their heads or let their locks grow long; they shall surely trim the hair of their heads. 21 No priest shall drink wine when he enters the inner court. 22 They shall not marry a widow or a divorced woman, but only virgins of the offspring of the house of Israel, or a widow who is the widow of a priest. 23 They shall teach my people the difference between the holy and the common, and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean. 24 In a dispute, they shall act as judges, and they shall judge it according to my judgments. They shall keep my laws and my statutes in all my appointed feasts, and they shall keep my Sabbaths holy. 25 They shall not defile themselves by going near to a dead person. However, for father or mother, for son or daughter, for brother or unmarried sister they may defile themselves. 26 After he has become clean, they shall count seven days for him. 27 And on the day that he goes into the Holy Place, into the inner court, to minister in the Holy Place, he shall offer his sin offering, declares the Lord GOD.

    28 "This shall be their inheritance: I am their inheritance: and you shall give them no possession in Israel; I am their possession. 29 They shall eat the grain offering, the sin offering, and the guilt offering, and every devoted thing in Israel shall be theirs. 30 And the first of all the firstfruits of all kinds, and every offering of all kinds from all your offerings, shall belong to the priests. You shall also give to the priests the first of your dough, that a blessing may rest on your house. 31 The priests shall not eat of anything, whether bird or beast, that has died of itself or is torn by wild animals.

    It was, of course, part of the Law that the uncircumcised could not enter the temple proper, and Ezekiel simply repeats that command. Indeed, Origen interprets —

    And the rules about the passover, and the rules for the priests, are not only in Moses, but also at the end of Ezekiel.

    And so, I wouldn't impose this passage on the Christian assembly unless I could impose the whole thing. And I can't impose the whole thing without reverting to the Law of Moses entirely.

    Re Restoration Movement's historical position, it was Alexander Campbell who addressed the open communion question by declaring, "We neither invite nor debar." In other words, we announce the availability of the communion and do not judge individuals, leaving it to individual conscience. After all, the RM began when Campbell refused to take communion conditioned on such an examination – as he found examination as a condition of communion contrary to the gospel.

    Got to go …

  115. Alexander, I will agree that a different hermeneutic will lead to a different ecclesiology … and a boatload of other differences. Those of us who get labeled do not see New and Old Testament scripture as law replacing law, but as grace replacing law – grace expressed in Jesus Christ, divine teacher and perfect example and giver of His Holy Spirit. All these He left to replace a law which cannot possibly save us; only condemn us. He left precious few instructions.

    They were all we need.

    What I conclude from your point of view as expressed here is that law replaced law in scripture – and that wasn't enough; we should also regard the writings of the early church fathers as law, plus perhaps anything written since with which weight happen to agree.

    The acid test for practice among those of us labeled Progressive is whether, first, it conforms to New Testament scripture and, second – since we all interpret scripture – whether it expresses the nature and character of Jesus Christ.

    I cannot, under any circumstance, imagine your interpretation of the scriptures you've cited – judging worthiness and turning away the unbeliever – as consistent with the nature and character of Jesus Christ.

  116. Keith Brenton says:

    My apologies: "Those of us who get labeled 'Progressive' …" and "anything written since withwhich we might agree."

    Sorry. I'm pecking these responses out with carpal tunnel wrist bands on and using an iPhone that thinks it knows what I'm going to say snd tries to edit on the fly.

  117. abasnar says:

    Royce, what do you mean with this:

    abasnar is correct about all of those examples of “closed communion”. What he wrote was accurate but in every case they were/are wrong.

    What do you mean with I am correct about these examples, …
    But they were/are wrong?


  118. abasnar says:

    …but as grace replacing law – grace expressed in Jesus Christ, divine teacher and perfect example and giver of His Holy Spirit. All these He left to replace a law which cannot possibly save us; only condemn us. He left precious few instructions.

    That is indeed the key issue in this. Has Grace replaced Law or has Grace transformed the Law? My conviction is, that God is not at odds with Himself, but that the Law of Old was a shadow that has its fulfillment in the New Covenant.

    The controversy is not: Grace replacing Law – But the Spirit replacing the Letter of the Law. The letter being the outward form of God's Will, has been done away with; but the Law as an expression of God's Will does not cease to exist. And that's a huge difference.

    This means that everything in the Law has a spiritual meaning. In this I follow the hermeneutics of our Lord in the Sermoin on the Mount – who said explicitly, not one command will be abolished (Mat 5:19); but in His "I say unto you" he shows the Spirit, the intent of the Law and thus He is demanding much more from us.

    I even go so far as calling this Grace: Not only grace that we reciove in the forgiveness of sins, but grace of being impowered to be abele to live by a far higher standard.

    And How does Paul apply the OT-Law? You did not answer this question, Keith. Did he or did he not make spirutual applications of OT-commands (such as casting out the old leven at passover)? And how about Hebrews: how does he apply the Laws of cleansing – washing the body, sprinkling with blood – to the NT worship?

    Don't you see that the Law is still important in this new and spiritual sense? This is a very important hermeneutical difference, and rally it leads to a number of differences … IM being the least of it.

    Just to round this off:

    2Ti 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
    2Ti 3:17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

    Paul is mainly speaking of the OT here, because the NT was in the process of being written and not complete nor compiled yet. Now, Ezekiel 44:6-+9 (just to stick with this one) is a scripture

    a) breathed by God
    b) profitable for teaching, for reproof and for correction …
    Is that you approach to this text, when you – basically- say: "This text is irrelevant"?
    So, please: What is the teaching contained in this text?
    Where does it reproof or correct us?
    I showed, wher I believe it is correcting our ecclesiology. You brushed it aside.

    Is this how we apply 2Ti 3:16 correctly in our hermeneutics? I don't think so.


  119. abasnar says:

    I don’t have much in the way of commentary help on Ezekiel, but I just can’t see how this is about the Christian age. The end of the chapter recapitulates much of the Law’s requirements for how to conduct the temple service.

    That's not the point, Jay. Even when the New covenant or the rebuilding of Jerusalem is annopunced by the Prophets, it is clothes in OT-language and imagery.

    But the point is, what is the spiritual understanding of these in NT-terms? My impression of the discussion is this:

    "Oh, this is the Old Law – this has nothing to with us" – and they brush this text aside as irrelevant – which is irreverent. I showed some examples of how Paul or Hebrews interpreted the Law, and thus concluded, that the spiritual application of the OT-Laws for worship calls for closed communion. I see no other way of understanding these text – other than brushing them aside completely; but this contradicts 2Ti 3:16.

    The reason for this is, that one reason for IM is embedded in the idea of seeker friendly worship (and open communion). If my observations are correct, then this is an upside-down ecclesiology; a theology of discontinuity between the covenants. But I see that the Apostles taught a continuity between the covenants. And this makes a huge difference in our approach to God's Word.

    Please don't get me wrong: I don't look down on anyone of you, and I don't pick on persons at all – it is about the method. And this is of vital importance. Closed communion is just one aspect, but if it is true tat God is still very unhappy when we don't make a difference between clean and unclean anymore, between circumcised and uncircumcised, then I think you have to deal with Him (or He will deal with you). So you don't have to defend your arguments before me, but you should check very carefully, if your undertanding of the relationship between the two covenants is the same as God's. I think it is not, that's why I brought it up and illustrated it with a few examples.

    Does the way Paul interprets the OT set an example we should follow? I think it does – and (going back to the main theme of this thread) the way we interpret the intruments of OT-worship as types that today have a spiritual meaning, follows the same logic and pattern of interpretation.


  120. Royce Ogle says:


    Royce, what do you mean with this:

    abasnar is correct about all of those examples of “closed communion”. What he wrote was accurate but in every case they were/are wrong.

    What do you mean with I am correct about these examples, …
    But they were/are wrong?

    What I mean is this. Closed communion is wrong, period. No person can know if someone who visits your church, or is a member of your church, is truly a Christian. You are pretending that you (or someone else) can control things so that only Christians (according to your criteria by the way) take communion.

    The only prohibition I am aware of was given by Paul. "For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself". (1 Cor 11:29)

    Do you really think the Corinthians were practicing closed communion? Being rude, getting drunk, eating too much..?

    There is no command or Bible example of closed communion. It is just wrong to exclude others. Of course a brief explanation of what is about to happen should especially in large gatherings where there might be many visitors but after that anyone who wants should be allowed to participate. God will sort them out.


  121. Nancy says:

    Wasn't Judas eating with the Lord the evening of the first supper?

  122. Alabama John says:

    WE should maybe have some mark on those who are proper christians. Can you imagine what it was like to have to show you are curcumcised at the door. Wonder how that was done at the rush to get in at the last minute? Sure makes usuring have a new meaning!

    If we had a mark, I hope it would not be one where you had to drop your drawers to see it like they had to. Need one for the women too.

    The sad part is most of us do not have so many visitors that we don't know their church rankings. Maybe we should concentrate on correcting that first and excluding folks way down the priority line.

  123. abasnar says:

    Closed communion is wrong. Period.

    OK, Royce, if you say so – and I pointed that out already to someone else – then you not only dismiss the typological hermeneutics practiced by the Lord and His Apostles; you also dismiss the entire unanimous (!) testimony of the ECF ("Oh no, not again these unispired irrelevent writers of bygone days") – so this is at least a consistent approach of discontinuity between OT and NT.

    I cannot follow this approach, Royce – it is copmpletely a-historical.

    But never mind … I thought this debate would lead to exactly this statement. And you did not even have to bother with the texts I quoted or my understanding of them. asked for a better interpretation – more than once. But you (and others) already had the answer without having to deal with the texts I showed to you. Is it really that simple, Royce?

    This is probably at the root of the differences between conservatives and progressives throughout all denominations. It might be helpful – in a different thread or medium – to discuss this basic difference between continuity or discontinuity of OT and NT. The way it seems now is that we are really in two very different churches …


  124. Royce Ogle says:


    Oh, I value the OT just as much as the NT. But, there is that thing called context. The truth is there is no regulations about Christians communion in the OT.

    Many people make the mistake of thinking the OT temple is the same as the NT church. In the OT days God met the people at that specific place, the priests made offerings in that place, and the people brought their gifts to that place.

    In the NT the equivalent of the OT temple is the people of God, not a building. We (all faith followers of Jesus) are the temple, God is in us, we ourselves are a kingdom of priests, and our giving is to be to the poor primarily. We need not have any ritual or rite to gain God's favor, we are accepted only in his beloved Son and wholly upon his merit.

    Jesus for some reason described one who is born again as like the wind. It is difficult to box the wind in with man made rules isn't it?


  125. Dan H. says:

    Alexander said: "This is probably at the root of the differences between conservatives and progressives throughout all denominations. It might be helpful – in a different thread or medium – to discuss this basic difference between continuity or discontinuity of OT and NT. The way it seems now is that we are really in two very different churches …"

    Alexander, I think you are right in saying that there is a difference between the two points of view that is very difficult to merge or reconcile. I think that any history from the church fathers or secular history can be very valuable in helping us to understand the times. But (for me) the root of the difference seems to be the idea that one view believes there are no "religious rules" only moral and spiritual principles from scripture which we strive to apply in a Christ-like manner as opposed to the view that things should be done in a certain way (like withholding communion from non-Christians or avoiding musical instruments in worship). I think I might disagree with you when you say that we are in two different churches. That implies that one group is not really the body of Christ and is therefore lost. I might say that we are in two different church cultures. One of which is more liberal; one more conservative ( and please don't read anything either negative or positive into those terms liberal or conservative—- it is just a way of labeling.).

    As far as Ezk. 44 and the foreigners, I'm sure you have a better grasp on the history here than I do. But in thinking about the temple service and practices in general it is my understanding that the temple held the GLORY of God and therefore any approach to it must be in the exact way God said. Today, it is not the temple that holds God's Glory or even the church but the individual Christian whose body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. The church as a collection of those individuals is the body of Christ and each of us as individuals is a part of that body (hand, foot, teacher, servant, etc, (I Cor. 12). Today we approach God not through the rule keeping of the OT but through faith in Christ. And just as in the OT where every rule had to be applied, today the rule of faith must be applied. There absolutely is no other way to God except through faith in Christ Jesus.
    So of what use to us are the temple rules today? I think they point out the great gulf between God and man. As Paul said, if there was a law that could have saved man the Old Law should have been able to; BUT there simply was no law that could do it. Man was unable to keep the law (As God already knew before hand). But It needed to be made perfectly clear that law keeping was not the way for us to be saved. For if it could, it would be no more of grace. The law could not save us because it was weak through the flesh Paul said (Rom. 8:3). I understand that to mean that the law was weak through the flesh because of Our flesh. We (humanity, but namely the Jews) were unable to keep the law because of the weakness of the flesh. Therefore under the NT grace accessed through faith in Jesus is our access to God.
    In the OT the foreigners had to be kept out of the temple. But under the law of grace it is impossible for an foreigner to even enter the temple because the only gate is Christ Himself.
    I apologize if I seem to didactic, it is just my way of thinking. I know i haven't pointed out anything you don't already know, but maybe pointed to a slightly different angle. God bless.

  126. Dan H. says:

    P.S. —–Jay, why is my avatar always the star sticking out his tongue?…………. I think it is a plot……..

  127. abasnar says:

    I might say that we are in two different church cultures.

    That's way better, thank you.


  128. abasnar says:

    Today, it is not the temple that holds God’s Glory or even the church but the individual Christian whose body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

    That's only half true. Yes, our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, but the church also is called a temple:

    Eph 2:18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
    Eph 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
    Eph 2:20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,
    Eph 2:21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.

    This text is also interesting, because it speaks of strangers and aliens, which we have been, but in Christ we have become citizens of the Kingdom. Which means, the church represents the Kingdom of God, and those who have been born again in Christ are citizens. But here the church is also called a holy temple.

    And there is still a distinction between "outsiders" and "insiders", those who come through Christ (by faith) and those who are still unregenerated, "uncircumcised". There is a clear understanding in the Scriptures of those who are "outside" (1Th 4:12; 1Co 5:12-13; Col 4:5; 1Ti 3:7). And being "ouitside" also means being outside of the covenant, and thus outside the temple. I don't think anybody noted the significance of this clearly excluding verse in Heb 13:10 – anyway, no one responded to this.

    If we miss this (namely that the church is God's temple), we make the temple and Christianity highly individualistic.

    We might also take into consideration, that the temple in the OT was set up according to adivine pattern – it reflected heavenly realities in a "language" fitting for sinners. When we understand this (Exo 25:40), we might turn to Hebrews:

    Heb 8:5 They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, "See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain."

    (and then look, where we assemble:)

    Heb 12:22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,
    Heb 12:23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,
    Heb 12:24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

    Now, if our worship deals with the Heavenly realities of which the OT worship was a type and shadow, what do these types and shadows teach us about the place we enter by the Spirit? See, the only way to understand what we are doing is to undestand how the "model" explains the reality which we cannot see with our physical senses.

    And to be sure, that Grace does not quench the holy fire of God, this passage ends:

    Heb 12:28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,
    Heb 12:29 for our God is a consuming fire.

    I think you understand what I mean, Dan …


  129. Doug says:

    I think you are taking this scripture to a place that it doesn't necessarily go, Alexander. The kingdom is a place where the King resides (or lives). I think the ancients understood that very well and probably much better than we do today. If an individual has God within them, that's where the Kingdom of God can be found. If a collected group or Body of persons has God within them, then that's the Kingdom of God can be found too. You seem to be trying to make something mystical out of the Church when it's just a group of ordinary Christians worshipping and living out their collective lives together. It's the body of Christ regardless of whether their are one or one trillion Christians included in the body.

  130. Larry Short says:

    Wow, from IM to communion exclusion, its odd how those thoughts are connected.
    I'm a little late to the discussion but let me add a few thoughts. First, I saw the statement that IM in the OT was law. No, Chronicles is not Law. IM in the OT was a David influenced addition just as the temple was. Both were accepted by God verified by two prophets. The Law of Moses had a tabernacle, and no regulation on music (much like the NT). When God is silent on a topic, He is consistant.
    About additions, just get a prophet or two to verify that God accepts, and you are OK! (Kidding because…) The synagogue is not in the law. God, the Son, accepted it. No other prophet needed. Bog dofferemce betweem OT IM and the synagogue: IM was requested of God, and approved before implementation, the synagogue was approved hundreds of years after started.
    To balance this addition theme out, Corban, or the trust fund to avoid lawful obigations, was disaproved by Jesus. So, on additions, they maybe God accepted or denied, without clear word of God.
    Personally, the song service is the only thing that we do in active unison in worship. While we have communion together, we do not do it in unison (I not sure Jesus & apostles did either). Anyway, the band, the chorus, etc. detract from the unity of singing.
    Personally second, there are constant commerical and other Christian concerts in my town, where the audience listens, claps, and occasionally joins in. I'd rather our worship be non-commerical singing together. To you that say many will attend the concerts but not Sunday service, I'll guess that the pagan temples were more popular in their time. We need to teach, what we are trying to accomplish by what we do. We are praising God together, rather than highest entertainment value. Do not teach we are meticulously obeying NT Christian law!

  131. abasnar says:

    The tree of life, Doug, stands in the middle of a Garden. What do I mean with this?

    There are two aspects of of life in Christ: One is the Spirit of Life, given by God at adams Creation – which is a shadow of our New Birth. Then Adam is placed into the Garden and got access to the Tree of Life from which he had to eat regurlarly in order to "keep his life alive". The tree of Life is Christ, and Eating from the Tree of Life has its parallel in eating His flesh and drinking his blood.

    All of this has a deep spiritual meaning and is interwoven with the Lord's Supper.

    So there are two kinds of presence of the King:

    a) One is the indwelling of the Spirit, who was sent by Christ as His representative, as comforter and as divine power.
    b) The other kind of presence is, when (at least) two or three are gathered in His name, then He will be in their midst – just as the Tree of Life stands in the middle of the Garden.

    We have to remain in Christ, by "eating from this Tree of Life", which means being part of the church of Christ, fellowshipping with the two aspects of the body of Christ(1Co 10:16): Christ's body, offered on the "altar" from which we eat (1Co 10:18) and Christ's body as the church (1Co 10:17).

    You cannot be a solo-Christ therefore and stay spiritually alive. Because in order to eat and drink you must be in the fellowship of the church – in other words, you must be inside the garden. In this the often misunderstood/misrepresented saying of Cyprian is actually true (although it can be stretched too far): "There is no salvation outside the church", because the tree of life is not outside the garden. You need to have access to it.

    The Tree of Life is also mentioned in Revelation, and we see that even there it is about "closed communion", so to say:

    Rev 22:2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

    Note: Even in eternity, we have to eat from the tree of life regularly, because the life is not in and from us, but in and from Christ, so we will only stay alive in the fellowship with Christ – which is eating (and drinking) from him.

    Now, who will have access to this Tree of Life? All nations? All may come? No exclusion? If you read just this verse you could make a case for that, but there are two other texts that drastically limit the access:

    Rev 2:7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.'

    Not all who are in the church now, will be there. Only those, who overcome.

    Rev 22:14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.
    Rev 22:15 Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

    See, what a strong "inside-outside" boundary is presented here! Not all may enter the city gates.

    The church on Earth is a reflection of this heavenly city. We must strive to be a pure and holy church, and one aspect of thin is limiting the access to the Lord's Supper to those, who
    a) are baptized believers – we cannot judge the heart, but the baptism
    b) to faithful believers – again we cannot judge the heart, but we are called to exercise church discipline

    If we don't do that, we are not a city on the hill any more, we dim the light that should shine forthn from us, and we defile God's sanctuary.

    I don't think I take the scriptuerse too far, Doug. I see a consistent line of thought from Genesis to Revelation (The Tree of Life, The Temple, Mount Zion, The peculiar People, the Priesthood, Clean and Unclean, Holy and Unholy, …) that in the end all call for closed communion. THa besic assumption is: Continuity, not discontinuity between the OT and the NT. And I believe, the Bible makes a whole lot more sense that way.

    In other words:

    Grace is highlighting the Law not tip-exing it.

    (By pointing to to the spiritual content of the letter).


  132. Larry Short says:

    Alexander, please write a book on your last thoughts, the garden and communion. The world would benefit from it. I would teach it.

  133. Price says:

    Larry…Gotta disagree with you a little..You said that Chronicles is not Law.

    "And he stationed the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, with stringed instruments, and with harps, according to the commandment (1)of David, (2)of Gad the king's seer, and (3)of Nathan the prophet;

    for thus was the commandment of the LORD by his prophets.

    The Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets. Then Hezekiah commanded them to offer the burnt offering on the altar. And when the burnt offering began, the song of the LORD also began, with the trumpets and with the instruments of David king of Israel. So all the assembly worshiped, the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded; all this continued until the burnt offering was finished." (2 Chronicles 29:25-28)

    Does your Bible read differently ? CLEARLY, God commanded the use of the instruments in worship. That by definition is Law isn't it ? It was not just a Davinic influence that God approved as you suggested.

    I get a kick out of the various ways people attempt to categorize worship…You use the term "commercial"…Why ? You also spoke about the congregation singing in unison…the example in I Corithians of worship allowed for an individual to sing a solo. Unison isn't required…it's tradition…The above passage suggests that the "assembly sang" and the "singers" sang, and they played trumpets and all sorts of things going on…in worship..pleasing to God.

    Lastly, given all of the time that David does speak of using musical instruments and the variety of them, one can only guess that they were not distracting from worship for the people that used them in worship…Perhaps its just a generational and cultural thing ?? Apparently, they even went beyond an hour's service if they waited for all those animal sacrifices to burn up…

    Lastly, I totally agree with you regarding the Synagogue. God, did NOT instruct the Jews regarding its structure, content, or use as far as I can tell….Which means, in MHO, that God recognized their need to worship Him with in a sincere way and that while in Babylonian captivity they did the best with what they could do…And, as you said, Jesus did not condemn it nor did any of the Apostles. That's Freedom…And, it's really another stake in the heart of the argument from Silence. God didn't say a word about building a substitute for the Temple that he did provide detailed instructions on but He allowed it and did not speak against it because it was done with a sincere heart for worship…

  134. Larry Short says:

    Price, thanks for your words. I'm a much better teacher than preacher, that is, people need to ask questions because I tend to not elaborate. Commerical is paid to attend concerts, which major Christian artists or groups book at major areanas.
    The phrase the Law to Jews is Moses, not those other books. Is OT IM divinely endorsed? Yes. So its law, not the Law.
    Distracting? To me, IM is not distracting, its just that some are singing, some playing, we are not all doing the same together. Ofcourse 4 part harmony is us singing differently……. I can accept us making music in praise to God together even if some sing, some play.
    The synagogue was not just accepted by Jesus. He regularly attended and participated. If God came to Israel where would He go? Jerusalem and temple some, synagogue a lot.
    By the way, while the synagogue arose in captivity, it was not to replace the temple. The Jews, worred that their kids would forget Hebrew and not be able to read the OT. In effect it was Sunday school. That's why it continued back in Israel. A devout Jew attended the major ceremonies in Jerusalem and synagogue the rest. Did he consider both as a worship service? Probably Sabbath at the Synagogue was adult Bible school, and the Temple was worship assembly. I'm sure some of private life, and synagogue was worship.
    Thanks for noting the 'additions' vs. law of silence (definately not the Law). Are parking lots, big buildings, recreational areas, banquet halls, etc. OK with God? We could use Nathan the prophet today, but I suspect God will judge by what we do with them. The synagogue was a school to preserve the Word of God, the corban was a technigue to avoid a commanded obligation. What are our church facilities for?

  135. Larry,

    Exactly. I'd like to thank you for your synagogue example… a lot of things that I've been studying clicked for me when I read that.

  136. Price says:

    Larry, excellent post. One observation….you indicated that OT IM was "endorsed." Is that correct? It seems to me, splitting hairs here probably, that endorsement is different from commandment….would you agree ?? Not sure of the difference between law and Law..if God spoke it was expected to be complied with…

    I totally agree with your conclusion that God will most likely look at what we do with what with the technology and advancements of our culture. That's my perspective entirely…

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  138. Larry Short says:

    Price, small things. To the Jew: Law & law are different, I guess like constitution and healthcare act. Even today, many Jews carry the 5 books of Moses, and not the rest of the OT. By the way, that is not Jesus' take. He often says, "have you not read"… followed by a story from Kings or a Psalm or one of the prophets.
    Only reason I say endorsed is that by reading, its not God or the prophets who come to David with a mew music plan. Instead its David outlining plans for the temple that his son will build, asking God's blessing. This enhances our position today, let's use our best reasoning, knowledge of God will, and pray for His blessing. Basically we can do what David did: plan, pray, and act.
    One thing to ponder, if Jesus said "GO into all the world" is that tthe same as building an elaborate civic center, and inviting the world to come? Maybe true evangelism is humbling ourselves to enter another culture, and live like Samaritian neighbors influencing the locals by our love of God and people. Not preaching, just asking.
    Same thinking on IM, is it to add entertaiment value? Is congregation singing a good way to promote all of us together praising God or does adding IM praise God better? Just asking.

  139. Price says:


    And he stationed the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, harps, and lyres, according to the commandment of David and of Gad the king's seer and of Nathan the prophet, for the commandment was from the LORD through his prophets.

    That last sentence…for (because) the commandment was FROM THE LORD…I'm reading that different from you…the way I read it is that God Himself commanded that the musical instruments be included. Do you have a passage that would support your conclusion that it was David's idea that God endorsed ? Not arguing, just curious how you drew your conclusion…

    Also, this passage is about the restoration under King Hezekiah. The worship during the restoration was ordered by King Hezekiah to be like that during David's reign. This also was done with God's apparent approval. I just don't see IM as an addition…I would agree to it being sort of a revival of what was once done but not something newly added. IM has been around for a long, long time. In fact, its remarkable that the early church EXCLUDED it without scriptural authorization…

    Go was the only way at one point…with the technology we have today we can reach millions all over the world. They can download Bibles, sermons, teachings and trainings of all kind.. Skype, You Tube, etc., etc… I would imagine that by now that there are hardly any people groups that have not been reached. The seed has been planted. I believe we are in the "and teach them" phase..and the technology we have to today allows us to do that in an incredibly efficient and effective way… If the "church" in the much larger sense could learn how to play together better, it could be coordinated and even more effective…

    I saw men from 4 very different churches ralley together and combine their talents and resources to assist folks along the Mississippi Gulf Coast a few years back. The lives that were changed the most were the men who worked together and realized that their differences paled in comparison to the One who had put them all together to be Hope and Love in a very desperate situation…All the junk about IM, communion cups, male and female roles…didn't really even come up. They were there to "wash the feet" of those that needed help…Maybe the lesson to be learned is that when we are busy DOING the Lord's work, we have less time to argue over what ought to be done ??

  140. Larry Short says:

    Wow! White flag. IM was God's idea, ordered not endorsed. Considering David's professional musicial credentials, he played at Royal request, it seemed natural to be David's idea.
    Personally, I don't hold to any additions argument. The synagogue was a major addition to the Jewish religious life, endorsed by Jesus. We can make good additions. See Maxley about additons to the Passover Feast.
    Jesus taught a lot about picky stuff. Curing a person on the Sabbath was as important as rescuing an animal. As Jesus said, "how do you read?" I'm very much in favor of examing what we do and why, and acting by the best that's revealed. Actually we tend to get picky when we are idle. If storm victums are in front of you, get busy. Busy people often have little time to nitpick. The only extreme is to bluder though life, making regular mistakes, because we don't look at where we are going, and if we are getting there. (Bad crusade) Jesus was busy, interrupted, and very involved but still took time for solitude and prayer. We need it more than He.

  141. abasnar says:

    And he stationed the Levites in the house of the LORD with cymbals, harps, and lyres, according to the commandment of David and of Gad the king’s seer and of Nathan the prophet, for the commandment was from the LORD through his prophets.

    I agree, it was commanded by God. And even in the tabernacle service they already had instruments, but not as many:

    Num 10:1 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
    Num 10:2 "Make two silver trumpets. Of hammered work you shall make them, and you shall use them for summoning the congregation and for breaking camp.
    Num 10:3 And when both are blown, all the congregation shall gather themselves to you at the entrance of the tent of meeting.
    Num 10:4 But if they blow only one, then the chiefs, the heads of the tribes of Israel, shall gather themselves to you.
    Num 10:5 When you blow an alarm, the camps that are on the east side shall set out.
    Num 10:6 And when you blow an alarm the second time, the camps that are on the south side shall set out. An alarm is to be blown whenever they are to set out.
    Num 10:7 But when the assembly is to be gathered together, you shall blow a long blast, but you shall not sound an alarm.
    Num 10:8 And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow the trumpets. The trumpets shall be to you for a perpetual statute throughout your generations.
    Num 10:9 And when you go to war in your land against the adversary who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, that you may be remembered before the LORD your God, and you shall be saved from your enemies.
    Num 10:10 On the day of your gladness also, and at your appointed feasts and at the beginnings of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings. They shall be a reminder of you before your God: I am the LORD your God."

    In fact, David's instruments basically were added to the instructions of verse 10 (They did not go to war with the lyre, I think …). Anyway, these trumpets reflect the first trumpet sounds on mount Sinai:

    Exo 19:13 No hand shall touch him, but he shall be stoned or shot; whether beast or man, he shall not live.' When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain."
    Exo 19:14 So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people; and they washed their garments.
    Exo 19:15 And he said to the people, "Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman."
    Exo 19:16 On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled.
    Exo 19:17 Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain.
    Exo 19:18 Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the LORD had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly.
    Exo 19:19 And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder.
    Exo 19:20 The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.
    Exo 19:21 And the LORD said to Moses, "Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the LORD to look and many of them perish.
    Exo 19:22 Also let the priests who come near to the LORD consecrate themselves, lest the LORD break out against them."
    Exo 19:23 And Moses said to the LORD, "The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for you yourself warned us, saying, 'Set limits around the mountain and consecrate it.'"

    Do you see the similarities between the two texts? The trumpet-sound was to gather the people of Israel. The mount Sinai becomes a first impression of the tabernacle, also unto the tabernacle a pillar of clud descended; and the tabernacle also is a tremedously holy place that you could not enter that simply. There is a fence and a gate around the tabernacle, and there are boundary markers around the mountain.

    Both the mountain and the tabernacle are a place of special revelation of God. And the tabernacle was building accorduing to the "original temple in Heaven" (Heb 8:5).

    Well, these questions might be interesting to ask: Why did God command the trumpets, and shall we still use trumpets?

    The answer is tha same as will all the material things of the temple: They reflect a heavenly reality, they are a shadow ofthe real thing. Do we still have an altar for burnt offerings? No. So shall we still have trumpets or musical instruments in order to accompany these offerings (Num 10:10)? This would not make sense to me.

    We know, what the altar and the burnt offerings stand for: This is Christ! His sacrificial death has been foreshadowed in the altar.

    We also know – from Revelation – that the incense offered in the tabernacle stands forthe prayer of the saints we offer in the name of Christ.

    So, what about the trumpets? The trumpets are used to call the people of Israel together, and in this way they are shown in the NT, too:

    1Th 4:16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
    1Th 4:17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

    Do you see the parallels to the above texts? The Lord will descend, there will be a loud voice and trumpets, and the people of God will be gathered unto Him. So there is a deep spiritual meaning connected with the trumpets.

    These trumpets also accompanied the sacrifices, because these sacrifices are the way through which we can come near to God; these festivals and holy days were special occasions where we may draw near to God. We enter through the blood of Christ, through His flesh as through the veil in the tabernacle.

    So the instruments, David introduced (and even invented Amo 6:5), were actually added to the trumpets.

    2Ch 5:12 and all the Levitical singers, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, their sons and kinsmen, arrayed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps, and lyres, stood east of the altar with 120 priests who were trumpeters;
    2Ch 5:13 and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the LORD), and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the LORD, "For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever," the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud,
    2Ch 5:14 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.

    In Ezekiel's description of the temple, we also read:

    Eze 40:42 And there were four tables of hewn stone for the burnt offering, a cubit and a half long, and a cubit and a half broad, and one cubit high, on which the instruments were to be laid with which the burnt offerings and the sacrifices were slaughtered.

    Without going into more detail about this, I think it is fair to say, that the instruments are as tied to the sacrificial system as the trumpets. Yes, both are copmmanded by the Lord, but both have a spiritual meaning. So what is the Spiritual meaning of all the other instruments?

    I think the last Psalm gives the answer:

    Psa 150:1 Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens!
    Psa 150:2 Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!
    Psa 150:3 Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp!
    Psa 150:4 Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!
    Psa 150:5 Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
    Psa 150:6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!

    BTW, which instrument is mentioned first? The trumpet.
    OK, and what do the instruments stand for? For all that has breath! They reüpresent the worshippers – mechanical instruments are lifeless.

    Think about it, Price. There is a cinsistency in all these types and shadows, that most don't see (the ECF did see this clearly), and even Danny Corbitt fails to understand this. It is not enough to claim that something was commanded by the Lord in the OT, because the Law was a shadow of the things to come in Christ.

    That's why a-cappella worship is the better and more consistent application of these principles.


  142. Price says:

    Alexander, I am amazed by your ability to twist and tie your thoughts together regarding IM based on some sort of foreshadowing of events. You are indeed a very creative person and I sense one that is dedicated to the Lord. However, I just totally disagree with your assumptions on IM. I see God ordering musical instruments because he liked the sound and it gave more people a way to exercise the gifts He'd given them in praise and worship. Not only was David ordered to provide them but during the restoration of Kings Hezekiah and Josiah, the IM was restored was well…It was maintained with the absolute approval of God. The scripture is silent on the removal of IM from worship. The ECF were respectable men but they held no capacity to write inspired scripture and none of them offered any scriptural reason for their decisions to do without IM…With their inclusion, according to Revelation, in heaven in worship of the Son, I find it difficult that your OT passages foreshadow things to come for a season then don't apply to another season in Heaven. That they apply to the first coming and not the second coming…I find that all very difficult to even follow much less apply…but I'm sure opinions differ.

    There is also a lot of mention in the OT of choirs and "singers" made up of men and women. Jeremiah writes "laments" for King Josiah with instructions for the singers to sing…congregational, 4 part harmony singing in unison would have been welcome but not exclusive to the OT worship. Apparently, it was welcome and not exclusive to NT worship as the church in Corinth allowed people to sing a solo of a new song…apparently many did that…

    I for one am exhausted with this discussion. There is quite enough evidence, fact and scripture for me to rest comfortably with my notion that God totally enjoys IM included in worship in church as well as in our private lives when done with a sincere heart toward worship. You see things differently…You style requires you to exclude those who see things differently…My style welcomes them. It's just a choice but it does have consequences in the natural and spiritual realm, perhaps even unintended…


  143. Price says:

    Larry, by your response I surmized that I unintentionally came across as being far more intense and perhaps argumentative than I intended..No need for white flags and all that…Just was wanting to see what you saw that I had missed. Wished I had done a better job of saying that…my apologies.

  144. abasnar says:

    Alexander, I am amazed by your ability to twist and tie your thoughts together regarding IM based on some sort of foreshadowing of events.

    I actually am thrilled by all these interwoven strings of thought – typological undstanding of the scriptures was Christ's way, too. So why not apply it to the whole scriptures the way He and His apostles exemplified it?

    I still hold to my conclusion: You cannot understand NT-worship without having understood OT-worship. And in order to undertand it, you have to know how shadows and bodies relate to each other.

    The ECF were respectable men but they held no capacity to write inspired scripture and none of them offered any scriptural reason for their decisions to do without IM

    You are not inspired either, and neither am I. Does that diminish their value in any way? Our yours our mine? Do you only adhere and listen to inspired interpreters? Is Danny Corbitt inspired? Of course not. So what is left is your personal conviction and opinion – also uninspired. Where does such an argument lead?

    Do you know how that sounds to me? They were "respectable" men … indeed … yes, but we are not that bad either … we are at least on eye level with them if not more … and actually, we don't need them anyway … I – Me – My Holy Spirit – My Bible are enough …

    I hope you don't mean it that way, but I can't even read and pronounce what you have written to make it at least sound polite, Price.

    In fact They led much better lives than we and laid down their lives as martyrs for our Lord. They sat at the feet of the Apostles or their companions – boy, what a privilge! No, this does not make them infallible, Price. They are not infallible, BUT they are in a far better position to judge what is true apostolic practice and what is not than we are.

    They are witnesses. No judge would dismiss such ancient testimonies in order to find out the truth of any matter. I don't worship them, and I am not uncritical about their writings either, but I see they make sense when I hear them out, willing to be taught rather by them than by a contemporary scholar from whatever persuasion.

    With their inclusion, according to Revelation, in heaven in worship of the Son, I find it difficult that your OT passages foreshadow things to come for a season then don’t apply to another season in Heaven. That they apply to the first coming and not the second coming

    The reason is that Revelation – in describing Heaven – goes back to the OT-types in order to find words. I mentioned it more than once, but no one really gave a good answer to this: If we argue for IM from Revelation, then we must burn incense as well. And we should have an ark of the covenent also somewhere …

    But the beauty of all of this is hidden from your eyes, as long as you don't understand the concept of shadows and bodies …

    I for one am exhausted with this discussion. There is quite enough evidence, fact and scripture for me to rest comfortably with my notion that God totally enjoys IM included in worship in church as well as in our private lives when done with a sincere heart toward worship.

    Me too, in fact. This was a long discussion, and for quite a long time I enjoyed it, and in the course of it, I saw some new things in the scriptures, that really thrilled me. But I also notice, that it is not my job to convice you …

    Act according to your faith and be blessed, brother!


  145. Price says:

    Alexander…not trying to be impolite, just disagreeable. LOL. I do not pretend to be an expert but I just don't find the arguments you suggest from opinions offered by ECF or foreshadowing from OT passages very convincing….However, that is not meant to be disparaging toward you personally as I think I can tell clearly that you love the Lord…Blessings.

  146. "This was a long discussion, and for quite a long time I enjoyed it, and in the course of it, I saw some new things in the scriptures, that really thrilled me."

    I know that I haven't contributed much to this discussion. But I have been following it pretty closely, and I'll have to echo Alexanders comment. I think despite what side of the debate everyone is on, we all learned some new things and had some good studies.

  147. Larry Short says:

    Price, actually I owe you an apology. You know how they say most accidents happen close to home? Its true for two factors. First you drive the most miles by home. Second, you are very assuming, rather than alert & careful. There is a fork in the road near my home, and no one ever goes or comes from that way, so I routinely barely look. Same with scriptures, your verses were familiar so I scanned but really did not read. The last time you showed them, it caught me "commanded by God". Thanks for making me actualy read the scripture.
    Thomas, thanks for your comment. I too read much more than I comment. The few times I write, its good to know that our thoughts are appreciated.
    Alexander, I like your weave of verses to look for the meaning behind these symbols. To me, the trumpets in old days were always a signal, rather than music. Values and keys on trumpets are a modern invention, so normally you get one note, not exactly play a tune like a modern instrument.
    Its very interesting (and thanks to Price noticed it first time) that the trumpet was sounded during the sacrifice. God wants important events noted. When Jesus died, the Holy of Holies curtain split, the earthquake happened, the skies darkened, and dead arose! Even the Roman soldier at the cross noted this as a significant event. I beleive the past burnt offering were eventful more as a foreshadowing of Jesus' death, than on their own merit. The trumpet signaled the real cost to come.

  148. Alexander,

    When you quote:

    Eze 40:42 And there were four tables of hewn stone for the burnt offering, a cubit and a half long, and a cubit and a half broad, and one cubit high, on which the instruments were to be laid with which the burnt offerings and the sacrifices were slaughtered.

    … surely you're not equating the instruments with which burnt offerings and sacrifices were slaughtered (knives, short swords, scimitars, whatever – utensils, in other words) are somehow equivalent to musical instruments? In purpose? In actuality?

    Are candlesticks and lamps also equivalent to them? Should we worship in dark quarters only?

    Lavers and wash basins? Should we baptize only outdoors; eschew all baptistries? Remove all sinks and toilets from restrooms where the church family meets? Water fountains?

    Incense? If a Bible class teacher burns some to teach by first-hand experience what that might have been/smelled like during Israel's kingdom days, should we remove fellowship?

    I can't seem to make the connection.

  149. Anonymous says:

    surely you’re not equating the instruments with which burnt offerings and sacrifices were slaughtered (knives, short swords, scimitars, whatever – utensils, in other words) are somehow equivalent to musical instruments? In purpose? In actuality?Are candlesticks and lamps also equivalent to them? Should we worship in dark quarters only? Lavers and wash basins? Should we baptize only outdoors; eschew all baptistries? Remove all sinks and toilets from restrooms where the church family meets? Water fountains? Incense?

    Thought the same thing Keith. If he is equating instrumental music used during praise of God to that of the animal sacrifices that were shadows of the sacrifice of the Messiah, then surely they wouldn’t have candles…that would be too much like the Menora. Indoor baptisteries… possibly their rule making is a little lax when it’s cold weather.

  150. abasnar says:

    I think in this quote apples and pears are mixed together, Anonymous.

    I tried to explain (in a rather lengthy way) the concept of types and antitypes. I had the impression that this has been a very new idea for many – esp. when being applied to all aspects of temple/tabernacle worship. Thus many – including Keith – seemed not to have understood it. But understanding the concept is necessary to understand why IM as a part of the OT system has been replaced by its true spiritual meaning.

    I won't repeat it now, you can try to make sense of what I have written above … but I don't want to force my views on you or anybody else. It is just, that this was the way the ECF read it (Clement of Alexandria interprets the Instruments in the same spiritual sense), and I used this to counter the argument: The ECF never used scripture when arguing against IM. This is simply not true – but they used the hermeneutical concept of types and antitypes.


    There is a difference in using candles or oil lamps than using a menorah. But let's try to take this example, and see whether the logic is sound:

    If as in the Roman Church we'd use candles as part of the worship in a ritual sense, I'd oppose them. If we use them in a non-liturgical way, simply to lighten the room, it is a completely differernt (natural) thing.

    If we'd even go as far as claiming, we have to have a Menorah as stood in the Temple – after all, the Lord commanded it, thus He is very fond of this lamp – I think we gravely misunderstand the intention of this command in the OT.

    Most of us would – rightfully! – argue: But there are no Menorahs in the NT, it is never commanded by the apostles and there are no examples (regulative principle).

    But I can imagine that some would argue, that the there is a hint to the menorah in Reveleation 1:12-13), since these even lamps are not disconnected from another, but Christ is the "centerpiece" of them, so to say. So, with Christ in the middle we can see the menorah here.

    They could also argue from Mat 5:16a: "Let your light shine", saying: See, the lights had a religious significance in the assemblies.

    Before you shake your head: Those who argue for incense in worship do basically the same with Revelation 8:3-5! Although it is clearly a metaphoraical language that's being used, they take it literally as a "command" even to burn incense in their worship services.

    The could also point to verses such as 2Co 2:15-16 saying: See, this is speaking of a good smell for life; this means they burnt incense.

    OK, I believe none of you (Keith or Anonymous) would agree with this kind of logic, would you?

    And what is the difference when arguing for IM based on the commands of the Lord for OT/temple/tabernacle worship? (OT command – mentioned again in Revelation, but not in the rest of the NT – pointing to one or two verses that contain the word "psallo")

    You tell me …

    For me it is a matter of consistency to understand IM in the same way as types as I understand incense and the menorah as types of spiritual aspects of our worship.


  151. Doug says:

    I once went to a "seekers' class in the Episcopal Church. Someone asked the Priest about the meaning of the candles that were lit with great care before each Mass. His response was simply that the Priest needed light to read the scripture and liturgy and in those early days, if you wanted light you used candles. Over time, it was just included in the order of service. So, let's not make too much out of candles. But, I always felt like something was rising up to God when the candles were extinguished at the end of the Mass and the smoke from them rose upward. It was just a nice moment.

  152. Jay Guin says:


    Just a note at the 150-comment mark to express my thanks for a thoughtful, often-enlightening conversation. Good stuff all around — even the stuff I disagree with.

    This has been one of the most-commented on posts ever (although I think one actually topped 200 comments), and that's true even though I was busy elsewhere and couldn't participate.

    In addition to being really busy and traveling and all, I've been working on the New Wineskins issue I'm editing, and it'll be about instrumental music. Oddly enough, that's handicapped me quite a bit, because I have material in my hands that no virtually no one else has ever seen.

    I just SO wanted to jump in and say "This article so-and-so wrote for me answers that very question!" — but I can't release the material yet, and it wouldn't be fair to debate from unpublished materials.

    So later this year, expect an entire issue of Wineskins dedicated to IM, providing fresh arguments and materials that you've seen nowhere before. (How's that for a teaser?)

  153. Price says:

    That sounds so intriguing that even Steve Spurrier might want to read it …:)

  154. Anonymous says:

    Some churches have Menorahs in their sanctuaries. Menorahs are in both Jewish & Christian homes. This should not be such a surprise bearing in mind the role of the Hebrew Scriptures in the life of Christians,

    Romans 15:4 “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

    2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

    Ultimately, the purpose of the Menorah was not to illuminate the temple but to spread its light throughout the world. It is a symbol of the nation of Israel and a reminder of the commandment in Isaiah 42:6 to be a light to the nations. This commandment given originally to the people of Israel was given to Christians to spread the faith and the gospel. Revelation 1:20 tells us that the symbol of the seven lamp stands are the seven churches, the Menorah has just as much significance for Christians as it does for Jews.

    The church I attend, I and many others have a Mezuzah on our doorframe. A great reminder each day for us as we leave and enter our homes. It is not something we have to do, each person has the freedom to have one or not. The church I attend, there are Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians that have Tallits (Prayer Shawls) they wear when praying and reading/studying the Bible. It is not something we have to do, each person has the freedom to have one or not.

    We have freedom in Christ, we can pray to God whether we wear a Tallit or not, we can speak and do God’s Word with or without a Mezuzah on our doorframe, we can be a light to the world when lighting the candles of a Menorah or when not. We can sing praises to God with instrumental music or not.

    Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”

  155. Alan S. says:

    "So later this year, expect an entire issue of Wineskins dedicated to IM, providing fresh arguments and materials that you’ve seen nowhere before. (How’s that for a teaser?)"

    Jay – even movies give us a trailer. 😉

  156. Price says:

    Yeah Jay….What Alan said…!! I might want to run an ad for the Trump Network in that edition…it may be your most popular one yet !!

  157. Royce Ogle says:

    Jay had a vision of Jesus playing a bluegrass fiddle!

  158. guy says:


    i wish you'd say more about your view of how biblical authority functions. More and more i've come to doubt certain tenets of the traditional protestant rendering of sola scriptura, and you certainly seem to reject it. And it seems clear that the details of your understanding of this subject underpins a lot of how you talk about less pivotal matters. i'd just be quite interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter.


  159. abasnar says:

    Dear Guy

    This is a very good and important question. The reason I doubt “Sola Scriptura” as a good approach to Scripture is at least twofold:

    a) It was an overreaction to the traditions in the Roman Church by the Reformers – before Luther or Zwingli the call “Sola Scriptura” was not heard very often.
    b) The Bible itself does not really teach “sola scriptura”.

    Now, this second claim sounds unbelievable to any protestant ear. Because we have been taught otherwise. Before I go into a little more detail about it I want to stress and confess, that the whole OT and NT are inspired by God and inerrant – I have no doubt about this at all. And we have to submit to whatever God’s Word commands by clear words or approved precedents (I like these words from the Declaration and Address).

    But, if we agree on this, we must take very seriously those text that exhort us to take heed to the verbal (oral) teachings of the Apostles. And this I’ll show to you next:

    (1Co 11:2) Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.

    This is a praise for obeying or doing what has been taught orally before. There was no written command yet for the headcovering or the Lord’s Supper. It is even possible, that the Corinthian church has not yet received a written copy of any one of the gospels. So all they knew about the Christian faith, life and doctrine was passed on to them (delivered) orally. And the OT were the only scriptures they had at hand.

    Had the Corinthian Church been a good and faithful one, this letter had not been written or at least with completely different topics; but because there were some troubles and questions, Paul had to address them. Now, what he then wrote about the headcovering and the Lord’s Supper did not become binding at the time when he penned and mailed the letter, but at the time when he arrived in Corinth and brought these teachings with him. In fact they have been binding even before he came to Corinth, yea, even before Paul met the Lord before Damascus! Why? Because what He delivered unto the Corinthians, he had received from the Lord (1Co 11:23) or the other apostles (Gal 2:2-10) and thus these things had been observed in all other churches as well (1Co 11:16). In fact, no other letter refers to an established Christian practice in all churches as often as this one: 1Co 7:17, 1Co 14:33-34, 1Co 16:1. This is meant to rebuke them, because the word has not come to them alone, nor has it originated from them (1Co 14:36). And this rebuke applies to us, too, if we dare to do anything different than what the Apostles taught (intentionally, of course).

    The Corinthian letter is the only letter that deals with the Lord’s Supper, with the question of the unmarried people, the order in the assembly, the headcovering and the collecting of money every 1st day of the week. If it had not been for the infirmities of this special church in Corinth, these things probably never would have been written down (or the Lord would have provided the necessary revelation elsewhere, but let’s just assume for the sake of the argument, it had not be written down). Would these things not have been binding then?

    So the oral teaching preceded the letter, and the oral instructions were binding in all churches for many years before the church in Corinth even was founded. But there is even more to this:

    (1Co 11:34) if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home–so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.

    This verse ends the chapter and a long discourse about two important apostolic traditions/teachings. Are all things said (or written) that needed to be said? Obviously not, but Paul did not intend to give an exhaustive instruction on paper. He wanted to visit them soon and pass on the rest of the teachings orally.

    “Hey, Paul”, we might shout, “you can’t do that! I still have some questions!” And there are some open questions, we all struggle with: What does it mean to eat and drink in an unworthy manner is one of the questions; or: Does the headcovering apply to all women or only the married ones? Or is he just talking about long hair? Volumes and volumes have been written on these questions! Have they been answered? Yes, they have! When Paul arrived in Corinth to go into more detail. Orally.

    To make this even more “mean”:

    (2Th 2:15) So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.

    This is a clear NT command, part of our inspired scriptures. What are we to hold fast? The traditions (see 1Co 11:2 – doing this is very praiseworthy!), whether they were handed down orally or in written form (we see both in 1Co 11:2-34).

    Face it: How can we obey this command? Is “Sola Scriptura” really the answer?

    Let’s move on a bit:

    (2Ti 2:2) and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

    Paul (again!) is referring to his oral teachings (what you have heard). He urges Timothy not to make many written copies of his letters, but to pass on his oral (!) teachings orally (!). As a safeguard he points to the witnesses. Paul taught the same in every church (1Co 7:17), so he repeated quite often what was important – and thus there are many witnesses of the apostolic teaching around, when he wrote these lines to Timothy. The Gnostics – on the other hand – pretended to have some secret knowledge from the apostles. The many witnesses of Paul’s teachings could prove them wrong.

    So we have the teachers and leaders in the church, handpicked and faithful men. Appointed by the Holy Spirit (Acts 20:28), under fasting and prayer (Acts 14:23), according to the highest spiritual and moral standards (1Ti 3:1-7).

    Note how far this instruction reaches: Paul – Timothy – faithful men – others. Four generations! Timothy died as a Martyr around 80. Onesimus, the former slave, was a respected Bishop in the time of Ignatius’ death around 110. The fourth generation would have lived at least to 150/160. If we follow the line from the Apostle John, we get John – Polycarp – Irenaeus – Hipollytus and end in the early 3rd century. Just to give you an impression of how far 2Ti 2:2 reaches!

    To make this a little easier to understand, let me give you an illustration:

    I am writing this answer to you. These are a lot of words, but how much sense will they make to you? It is a very concise presentation of my thoughts on the matter; I have written some other aspects here and there in this Blog. If you read them all, you might find some contradictions here and there, but I have the missing links that make them fit in my brain. I said them to some friends in private, I have written articles in German … so you only have a small part of what I believe on this matter at hand. On the other hand, if we had time together to discuss this face to face, I think I could explain it far better to you, and after maybe one week, you’d know what I mean.

    Another limitation is that you don’t know my voice. If I read this text to you aloud, you’d get a better understanding because of where I put audible emphasis. If you could see me, my facial expressions or body language, it would be even better. If you’d know me well enough, you’d “see” and “hear” all of this also, when you just get this written answer.

    And last but not least: You don’t see how I apply all this “wisdom” in my life. And that’s a very serious limitation; maybe not in this matter, but in general.

    Back to Paul:

    (1Co 11:1) Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

    How can we follow this command (!)? We can’t. Period. There are some biographical notes in Acts and the letters, but we haven’t seen him, we haven’t heard him, we haven’t experienced him. The same is true about our Lord Jesus. We do have the Holy Spirit and Christ’s presence within us, but quite often we disagree about how Jesus would deal with a given situation. Whether we know it or not, our culture, our personality, our church traditions shape the way we think Christ is and would act. The reason is, we only have the book – “Sola Scriptura”.

    So we are in a very disadvantageous situation.

    Others have been in a better position. There is for instance a man, Clement (Php 4:3), who wrote a letter to a church we all seem to know well, the Corinthians. His letter is a fine example of how the Early Church leaders read and applied the scriptures; it gives us a glimpse on apostolic church life and problems, and how they dealt with these problems in a Christian way.

    Please consider:

    a) The churches, that practiced all the Apostles taught (which he praised them for 1Co 11:2 or Col 2:5 or Php 2:12), did not suddenly disappear, when the last apostle died.
    b) The holy spirit did not leave the church when John’s soul departed from his body.
    c) The faithful men, appointed by the Holy Spirit and the Apostles did not suddenly turn apostates at they year 100.

    So the churches and the apostolic church life was still there, the oral teaching was still remembered and practiced well into the second century.

    Back to your question, Guy:

    If Sola Scriptura is not a Biblical command (rather the opposite), then what would you do now? Would you still say – as many do – “these ECF are uninspired and thus I don’t care for them?” Or would it not be far better to take their testimony seriously, especially when they are unanimous on a matter? They are not infallible, to be sure; and – yes – you can see a decline over the time, too. But what I realized is, that they were very conservative Christians, who viewed change as heresy. So the changes crept in rather slowly. And it was a unified church until about 200. And it was them, who decided on the NT canon!

    Interestingly: If you really go by the Bible alone – that means: If you take each and every verse on any given subject and give all of them their full (most often literal) meaning, you will end up with what the Early Christians believe. That’s why the Anabaptists came remarkably close to the faith, ethos and life-style of the Early Christians without having studied Partristics; and that’s why also the Early Restoration Movement came to very similar convictions.

    Funny enough – we could go by Sola Scriptura. But we have to put off some glasses first: The glasses of our modern, western culture, the glasses of Reformation theology, the glasses of our church traditions, the glasses of our own tastes and preferences … Reading the Early Christian writings is a great help to take off these glasses. And then – suddenly or gradually (when our Lord healed the blind, it happened both ways) – we will see clear again, and the scriptures become alive; we might even see Paul move around, while preaching, or hear the tone in Jesus’ voice; because we got a much fuller and living picture through the testimonies of the Early Church.

    By this I don’t mean, that I understand everything (by no means), but that I have made a paradigm shift that proved to be extremely helpful and enlightening.

    God bless you

  160. Anonymous says:

    For the Christian, the absolute authority is God Himself.

    1 Peter 1:19-21 “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

    John 5:45-47 “Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

    The strongest evidence for the Sola Scripture is the fact that Jesus used Scripture as the final court of appeal in every matter under dispute. When disputing the Pharisees, He proclaimed, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.”(John 5:39). When Jesus was tested by the Sadducees, He retorted, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.”(Matt. 22:29). When confronted with the devil's temptations, He responded three times with the phrase, "It is written" (Matt. 4:4,7,10). Jesus used Scripture as the supreme authority. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, speaking specifically to the traditions of the religious authorities who used their long held man-made traditions to misinterpret the Scriptures, “He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?” (Matthew 15:3). "It is written," is repeated some 90 times in the New Testament, and as followers of Christ, our view should not be contrary to God’s.

    To claim that the rejection of infallible tradition leads to division, this wrongly implies that all denominations are scandalous. Not so, as long as the denominations do not deny the essentials of the church and true spiritual unity with other believers rather than mere organizational uniformity. Nor can one argue successfully that unbelievers are unable to see spiritual unity. For Jesus declared: "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”(John13:35).

    The fact that Scripture was not readily available, the early church should have made producing copies of the Scriptures a very high priority. While it was unrealistic for every Christian to possess a complete copy of the Bible, it was possible that every church could have some, most, or all of the Scriptures available to it’s congregation. Early church leaders should have made available the studying the Scriptures their highest priority for all church congregations. Even if the Scriptures could not be made available to each individual, at least the congregations could have been feeding on the Word of God with those whom had it, instead of building traditions upon traditions and passing them on from generation to generation, the church should have made the Scriptures availability of the utmost importance among congregations.

    We now have the Scriptures readily available to us. Through the careful study of God’s Word, it is clear that many of the early church traditions are in fact contradictory to the Word of God, "And consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.(2 Peter 3:15-16). This is why Sola Scripture is the only authority. Sola Scripture points to what God has revealed to us in His Word. Sola Scripture ultimately points us to the God who always speaks the truth, never contradicts Himself, and always proves Himself to be dependable.

    “These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”(Acts 17:11).

    “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”(2 Timothy 2:15).

    Since the Scriptures are able to make the man of God thoroughly equipped for every good work, then what else do we need apart from the God breathed revelation Word of God? “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”(2 Timothy 3:14-16). The Holy Scriptures spoke of, that they had known, were the Hebrew Scriptures.

  161. Anonymous says:

    Jay will you please correct my typo at the beginning of my comment, my apologies?

    2 Peter 1:19-21 “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

  162. abasnar says:

    The question was, how I understand Sola Scriptura; I gave Guy the reasons, why I don't believe this is the scriptural approach. The texts and conclusions I drew still stand, even in the light ofthe texts yopu present, because they don't have the word "alone" connected with the scriptures.

    Even our Lord Jesus – what He said obviously referred to the OT only – did not write a single word (except those words written in the sand), but still His commands were binding (Mat 28:20).

    Then he sent out the Apostles, and the first church was founded on Pentecost, and they hold fast to the teachings of the Apostels (Acts 2:42) – this teaching of the apostes, Anonymous, were passed on orally at first. The only scriptures they had and relied upon were the scriptures of the OT. And there is even more to that: They used the Septuagint (LXX), not the Masoretic text! The Masoretic text was acepted by Christians not before Jerome in the 4th century! But that's just a side-remark.

    Then the Gospels were written. Did the Gospels include all that Jesus taught and did? Expressly no (John 20:30-31). Even the Gospel of John contains conversations and signs, not recorded in the other Gospels, and it was written last. So for decades, the Christian church had these words of Christ only through personal testimonies and oral teachings.
    In Acts 20:35 a saying of our Lord is reported that is not included in any of the Gospels. And still it was binding, even before Luke recorded this oral teaching in the book of Acts some years later.
    Another example: Both Paul, Peter and James speak of the new birth in their letters – but this expression is not found in the first three gospels, only in John we find it which was written after most (or all) of these letters!

    So, when you quote all these texts which – in your opinion – prove that the Bible teaches Sola Scriotura, you have to keep in mind, that they were said at the time, when most of the New Testament was unwritten and only taught by verbal instructions.

    What are the cobnsequences? ALL NT-teachings were first taught orally and practiced by the whole church. The writings merely summed up the teachings:

    a) The Gospels being the core of the Apostolic teachings, but they also are not exhaustive as we have seen.

    b) The book of Acts was written from the perspective of the Jerusalem church and Paul (and Luke) – they are in no way an exhaustive report of the history of mission of the Early church. We don't read about Andrew, Thomas, Bartholomew and many others who were also faithful to the great commission.

    c) The letters were written out of need, out of specific situations, and most Apostles did not leave any wrintings at all – all though they witnessed to the life and teachings of the Lord faithfully by word and living example (1Co 11:1).

    BUT: The church is founded on the apostles and prophets (Eph 2:20) and Christ is the cornerstone. Is it founded only on those apostles who wrote a book of the NT? No, the new Jerusalem is founded on all 12 Apostles (Rev 21:14 – and we can debate whether Paul or Matthias is to be considered the 12th).

    So, tell me Anonymous, how does that work? How can the foundation of the church of Christ (in our day and age) be Thomas or Andrew?

    The answer is simple: God's revelation is not only the book. The practice and life of the apostolic churches is a very important source to get a fuller picture of the message.

    When we go by Sola Scriptura it is like reading a short summary of of blockbuster-movie in the Newspaper. Would you say, after having read this half-page or so that you know the movie? Of course not. You'd go to the cinema and watch it.

    But after you have seen the movie, you can go back to this written summary, and all the impressive pictures and unwritten dialogues will come to your mind again.

    The NT-writings were mainly written as a reminder (or as a correction, addition, encouragement) of teachings the church has heard orally and practiced already. When these churches read them, it meant much more to them than to us. We cannot deny that.

    The consequence? We should be diligent to understand how the Early church lived and worshipped and died for Christ and to the world. We do have a wealth of writings from the Pre-Nicene Church that really give us a good impression; at least until 200 these sources are very good – not infallible – not in any way on the level of Scripture, BUT necessary in that these writings clarify ambiguities.

    Hence I got my convictions concerning IM. But also the question of whether headcoverings are for married women only or if Paul actually meant long hair, is answered there with 100% certainty. All women – Tertullian sent an inquiry to the church in Corinth to clarify this ambiguity they struggled with in Carthage – and a cloth (all writers agree on that, and frescoes in the catacombs show how that looked like). So, whenever I hear these modern interpretations, I can say: WRONG, based onthe historic evidence – if we'd all take a serious approach to this, many quarrels would cease. A few new ones may arise, maybe (single immersion or triple immersion is sometimes debated).

    I stop here: You don't have to agree with me, Anonymous. I only would like to know, if you could follow this line of thought. If you were able to sum it up accurately. The reason I ask you this is, that in my experience in debates we often don't really listen to what the other one says, but we only seek for a word or an ambiguity or even a minor error, in order to refute the whole discourse and make ours appear more shiny. This is not good. Unless we understood how and why the other one comes to his conclusions (or are able to sum it up accurately), we should not debate him. Because this normally leads to endless quarrels.


  163. abasnar says:

    To illustrate my last point of not reading well enough:

    You say:

    To claim that the rejection of infallible tradition leads to division, this wrongly implies that all denominations are scandalous.

    I said:

    They are not infallible, to be sure; and – yes – you can see a decline over the time, too.

    This prejudice that as soon as someone points to extra-biblical sources he puts them on the same level as scripture comes from the debates between the reformers and the Catholic church. The latter indeed view tradition as inspired in the same way as scripture. I disagree with this as much as you do.

    But this reaction shows quite well, that you did not really follow my line of thoughts, but you filtered what you read through a prejudice.

    But back to your quote:

    To claim that the rejection of infallible tradition leads to division, this wrongly implies that all denominations are scandalous.

    Let's delete "infallible" here. Does the rejection of tradition lead to division?
    This depends: There are traditions of men and apostolic traditions. You cannot make a black-and-white statement therefore. On one hand scripture strongly condems human traditions, while they also strongly enforce apostolic tradition, being written or handed down orally (2Th 2:15 – a very important text to consider).

    OK, when we dismiss apostolic traditions, then we cause divisions – do you agree?

    And when we introduce human tradtions, we cause divisions, too – is that correct?

    OK, then was the introduction of musical instruments in the 6th or 7th century an introduction of human tradions or a restoration of apostolic traditions?

    Or was the rejection of the headcoverings by the churches of Christ in the 1960s a rejection of Apostolic tradition or a liberation from human traditions?

    Regardless what the correct answer to these questions is, in any case all these innovators and rebels are schismatics. They are scandalous, no matter which denomination they belong to.

    So those who introduce or those who reject IM – both may be wrong – but how can you decide? By philological interpretations of the Greek word psallo? We never were ably to agree upon these. But no one denies the historic fact, that the Early church worshipped a-capella. We can deal with this evidence or we can ignore it. We can agree with their reasoning or feel superior to their insights. Which way would lead to a better undestanding?

    Those who came up with new interpretation of 1Co 11:2-16 must be able to explain, how this knowledge could have been lost immediately without any trace in the whole church throughout the whole Roman Empire only one or two generations after the apostles died. Without any trace of debates, or of different opinions! It is unbelievable, that by ignoring the ancient sources, based on pure exegetical speculations we can come to a more accurate understanding today than in the 2nd century. This is at least ridiculous!

    OK, how shall I answer your quote?

    Yes, it is scandalous, when we ignore historic evidence in order to justify our innovations as "the ancient order of things". And denominations have never been approved by the NT.


  164. Price says:

    Alexander, I believe that you make a sound argument for the significance of ECF behavior and thier particular understanding of what they believed to be sound doctrine. I'm sure that it would do most people good to read what we have available from that era to appreciate the struggle to live a Christ-like example during those times.

    However, there are a few things that make me stop short of considering their actions/inaction on par with scripture at least to the extent that I allow it to direct ME as an individual….

    One is that what we read from these lofted men of faith is THEIR opinion and conclusions. Do I value those men's opinions ? Yes, Were they as lnformed as we are today ? I don't know. We have the "entire collection" at our disposal, commentary from centuries of study by learned men of faith and yet even here on this one blog we disagree as to what Christ or Paul intended..I value their judgement but only to the point that I might disagree with their argument or logic. One doesn't have to read to far within the pages of ECF writings to come across some statement of doctrinal position that seems to most of us these days as a departure from what we understand to be true. As many of us differ on even that…Right ? So, in my opinion, when we observe their traditions and examples we are getting a snapshot of THEM and THEIR understanding based on THEIR education in the faith….But, your point is well taken that they are certainly an example of what men believed to be true and they were indeed very close to the time of the teaching…I'm just not sure if I would subject my understanding of a salvific doctrine in the hands of these men and not my own understanding of what the scripture says.

    In regard to IM, what is most noticeable to me is that these men, to my knowledge, never quoted from the scripture that DID EXIST

  165. Price says:

    Oops. sorry….as I was indicating….The ECF didn't quote from the scripture that they KNEW to exist to explain their DEPARTURE from using IM in worship. Remember, IM was present in worship as a command of God long before the ECF…so IM isn't an addition…What they did was exclude it….on what basis? It wasn't any scripture or tradition handed down from the Apostles….except perhaps this….that nothing should be done to bring shame and condemnation upon the church of Christ…If they felt that IM was an abomination in their times then they apparently felt compelled by teaching and tradition to exclude it from the church. Paul's exhortation to the Corinthian women comes to my mind as an example of instruction for the church based on cultural influences that absolutely do not apply today except for the underlying concern for proper modesty.

    If the ECF felt the freedom to REMOVE IM from worship even though it was originally commanded by God Himself because the culture of the day had made it into some kind of reprehensible act, then that really does teach us something about THEIR beliefs concerning the freedom and responsibility to act within THEIR own culture using the PRINCIPLES of sound doctrine rather than just a set of Rules.

    That's exactly where I and some Brothers dedicated to the reformation movement disagree…I think that the scripture is applicable in some ways that will NEVER change…One must believe that Jesus is THE way, truth and the life, etc. They are matters of salvation…I believe there are a few salvation items but only a few…most things written are instructional on matters of principal and their individual application varies as in the example listed above regarding women's dress, hair styles.
    When we go looking at the traditions and examples of ECF to formulate a set of RULES that all must abide by, rather than seeing in those traditions the Principles guiding their decisions, I think we miss the mark.
    IMHO, the ECF give us a classic example of the freedom in Christ to use the principles and instructions that God has given us to live Christian lives and be the proper witnesses IN OUR ERA…While I would not dispute that IM in their era may have been considered inappropriate and perhaps even immoral I would disagree with anyone that would suggest that it is the same today. Can it be used that way, sure but its obvious to anyone that attends church in any worship service outside the CoC, or listens to Christian Radio that God is honored and lifted up, praised and adored by sincere men and women of faith that include IM in that process…

    I see an example in the ECF as you do..but I see principles of freedom and choice using sound judgement and understanding of doctrine…Others see a bunch of rules…I think those positions are polar opposites.

  166. While I don't share Alexander's view of the ECF, nor all of his conclusions, I do agree with the flaws in a Solo Scriptura view.

    First we have to recognize that the "word of God" as used in the NT Text is not a reference to scriptures.

    Second, even the NT Text itself seems to minimize the value of written text. Hebrews 10:16 emphasizes that God will write his covenant with us in our hearts — in contrast with the old covenant which was written in stone.

    Third, the NT Text cannot possible be comprehensive in it's presentation of or about God, the Son and the Spirit. No human text could possibly contain everything there is to know about the subject. You might argue the NT Text contains everything we NEED to know — which is a credible position — but not everything THERE IS to know.

    Fourth, the NT Text itself says that a legal or command oriented approach to righteousness is not what the new covenant with God is about. However, what does a reliance on the Text result in? A perpetual argument about what the Text means — which cannot be what God desired. And in fact, it seems to perpetuate a Pharisaical approach to our relationship to God, which is repeatedly condemned in the NT Text, especially in the reports in Mark about Jesus.

    The only time Jesus is quoted as describing his own words as commands occur in John 13 and John 15. Both times, his command is to love one another as he loved us.

    For me, everything flows from that. If it doesn't, then it's not from God.

    This is the reason, for me, the debate over IM is so misguided.

    Because for anyone to condemn or even chastise me for using IM — whether a little or a lot — requires you to judge my heart. And no one knows my heart, except God. Some times I don't even know my own heart.

    So, back to the initial focus of this post … a Solo Scriptura approach to understanding God is limiting. I won't say I have a better source than the NT Text. I don't.

    But I also know that God is not constrained by or limited to what is written in the NT Text.

  167. Anonymous says:

    It is all right to have differences of opinion on non-essentials. Yet far too many churches use these non-essential differences as justification for division and sometimes even insight anger. When this occurs, the love of God in our hearts is given over to our pride. When we can’t humble ourselves to others and see that God made us all different with different likes and preferences, we are not going to be giving God glory.

    Romans 14:1-13 “Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written:“ As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way."

    Why then, do we elevate non-essentials to the place of essentials? I believe it is because of immaturity and pride in various Christians. It is the devil, who wants us to fall into the abuse of division and bickering, who seeks out the weak to devour. The devil wants us to fight each other so that he can be freed up to deceive the world. If we are fighting each other then we are falling prey to His tactics.

    We need to look at one another and decide that we will stand together in the faith and that we will be united against the enemy. Those of us who are united by the blood of Christ are not enemies with one another. When there are differences on non-essentials and we can still accept one another and have unity, then we have put on love, which is the bond of perfection, “But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection."(Colossians 3:14)

  168. guy says:

    i think there's a difference between saying that God intends for the Bible as it exists to be the sole source of authority for faith and practice, and saying that the documents contained in the Bible happen to be the only authority for faith and practice we've got. It's the former that i'm skeptical about.

    Further, i don't understand "sola scriptura" to be merely stating that the Bible is the sole source of authority for faith and practice. There is at least the further matter of *how* or *in what manner* the Bible is authoritative. It seems to me that many claim to defend "sola scriptura" when what they're defending is a particular *manner* in which the authority of the Bible could function.

    Then there's all the issues involved with the formation of the Bible. –for instance, criteria by which documents were judged to be canonical. It seems to me that, hypothetically, if tomorrow we were to discover some letter from Paul in addition to what we've got (presuming we've got good evidence to consider it authentic or whatever), then it would be as "authoritative" as anything we've already got. Yet it wouldn't pass the classical test for canonical status.

    (i think certain renderings, especially person-in-the-pew mcversions, of "sola scriptura" lead to a lot of bad hermeneutical practices–none the least of which is that anytime a NT writer says "you," he means literally me. That is–whatever current individual Christian is currently reading the text. And then when you point out to someone that Paul didn't actually write any letters to *me* or *you,* you get some line about "living document" vs. "dead letter" or some such mystical idea.)


  169. Ken Sublett says:

    Danny is wrong on every point. It is a fact that most if not all of the church fathers knew that the ekklesia like the synagogue was a school (only) of the Word (only) and the Holy Convocation outlawed vocal or instrumental rejoicing.

    The "pattern" for the assembly is defined over and over in the epistles most often after Paul or Peter has defined the prevailing paganism in terms of rhetoric and music which, as planned, made the lambs dumb before the slaughter. It was prophesied and fulfilled on Jesus.

    The church fathers were well versed in the Old Testament and especially the prophets by the Spirit of Christ. He defines the Civil-Military-Clergy complex as robbers and parasites (the title of sacrificial-exorcism musicians). He also connects all of the falls from Grace to instrumental music. He also defined the Scribes and Pharisees as hypocrites by naming (Ezek 33) rhetoricians, singers and instrument players.

    The church fathers connect the second fall from grace right off the ark. Reading Babylonian Tablets would help.

    I submit that neither wing of the bird has read enough OT to separate the CIVIL from the SPIRITUAL thread or know of the fall from grace at Mount Sinai because of musical idolatry.

    Rehashing the old false papers derived from Lexicon look-ups without knowing or caring about the story line, should make people with still-bleeding sheep skins turn them back in.

    The Bible and most historical scholars and founders of denominations defend the CENI as the LAW which prevents imposing anything not conducive to being according to Jesus, Paul and the Campbells "A School of Christ."

  170. abasnar says:

    Thanks for providing the link to the details under your name. We might add (maybe I overlooked it) that the first instruments were introduced in the line of Cain. You can make a quite impressive list of similarities between the genealogy of Cain and the description of Babylon in Revelation.

    BTW I just watched a lenghty documentary (in German) on occult and masonic symbilsm in virtually all music-videos of pop-uperstars (Aguilera, Mariah Carry, Lady Gaga, …) – such as the umbrella, butterflies, baphomet, black-white and red-blue (masonic colors) symbolic, and many many more. This was quite scary, because one wonders what they are really up to in the music business, when they so openly worship Lucifer.

    Having seen this I am am all the more opposed to CCM that tries to imitate these big "stars", which means they bring the style and atmosphere of Paganism into the church.

    Thank you for this quote in your essay, Ken:

    Clement of Alexandria:

    Commanded: After having paid reverence to the discourse about God,
    Outlawed: they leave within [at church] what they have heard. And outside they foolishly amuse themselves with impious playing, and amatory quavering (feminine vibrato), occupied with flute-playing, and dancing, and intoxication, and all kinds of trash.

    I fear that those "who want their MTV" in church will not bother to dig and work through all the evidence you have collectes; and if, they will pickk on a handful of errors that are to be found in it (since it is a human work, it will contain errors), in order not top draw the necessary consequences.

    I see one strong sommand in the Bible, that is virtually silenced by CCM: "Be separte and go out from among them!"

    Having seen this above mentioned documentary, I am all the more committed to not allow IM in our church, because it opens a door that will lead to CCM.


  171. Todd Collier says:

    On the other hand we had a great praise on Sunday with a mix of old and modern songs. Some we sang accapella, some with piano, some with drums. Two of the songs generated a lot of discussion from the people, not about the propriety of IM, but about what God wanted us to be doing in the world and how we could get busy doing it.

    I assure you Satan was not amused.

  172. Bruce Morton says:

    I am well aware that in our day and within congregations associated with the restoration movement, the IM discussion has galvanized folks to such a degree that people broadly conclude there is nothing left to say. So, all of this must be a matter of opinion.

    I question that conclusion, and want to raise again the parallelisms in Ephesians 4:17-5:21. It is more than a matter of opinion to take a close look at Paul's parallels. They help us better see what the apostle is saying about his focus on song. His teaching in Ephesians 5:18-21 parallels his "expose darkness" counsel in Ephesians 5:11. And he is focusing on song in a region filled with IM in religious settings. His use of LXX Psalms points to such.

    Finally, believe it is important to remember that Paul is dealing with a raging spiritual war and the need to sing Scripture (Psalms) to one another in the middle of such. That is why he parallels "expose darkness" with 5:18-21. The apostle is guiding people — then and now — to focus on "It is written," similar to the example of Jesus in a desert war (Mt. 4).

    Delbanco got it right when he argued in his The Death of Satan that the U.S. has broadly moved far beyond such thought. I am wondering more and more if that mindset (spiritual war is mere "Bible language") is affecting religious groups broadly — and even the IM question. Does an overarching urgent need to lean on Scripture and speak/sing Scripture to one another just seem less important in the early twenty-first century? If that is our practical conclusion as we meet, then we are genuinely following the rest of the Nation, versus acting as light for people in darkness (Ephesians 5:8)….

    In Christ,
    Bruce Morton
    Katy, Texas

  173. abasnar says:

    I assure you Satan was not amused.

    Are you sure, he would admit it, if you ask him?

  174. Todd Collier says:

    Sorry, but we're not that close. On the other hand I am very sure that God was pleased, He is pouring out abundant blessings on our little band of believers. That is amply good enough for me.

  175. Ken Sublett says:

    Bruce Morton: "I question that conclusion, and want to raise again the parallelisms in Ephesians 4:17-5:21. It is more than a matter of opinion to take a close look at Paul’s parallels. They help us better see what the apostle is saying about his focus on song. His teaching in Ephesians 5:18-21 parallels his “expose darkness” counsel in Ephesians 5:11."

    That's a fact: What happened in the marketplace where the three sects were identified by "diet" are well documented as practicing religion of "doubtful disputations" which were not allowed in what Paul defines as synagogue in Romans 15 where 'that which is written for our learning" must be presented with one mind and one mouth.

    Paul always defines the DARK side of paganism before he defines the Christian replacement. If you back up in Ephesians 4 and define words and see how they are used in the literature you will discover that Paul "always" radically outlaws all of the performing arts (self pleasure in Romans15).

    I have collected some links which connect to the Greek and Latin literature where the same words are used and the same destructive effects produced. Christ in the wilderness, in practice, using the "ekklesia" word, Paul's commands and practices lead me to agree with the Campbells that: Church is A School of Christ and Worship is reading and musing the Word.

    Peter also puts out some loaded words which are so powerful that you might want to call the bomb squad. Words like play and sport do not point to ping pong.

  176. Ken Sublett says:

    I have begun a systematic search of the word "play." A large number of them speak of playing an instrument. The word "psallo" is not listed because it never means to "play an instrument." The word means "only" to pull or pluck with your fingers and never with a plectrum: that is because it is a plucking the bow string which made Apollo (Abaddon, Apollyon) the father of musical harmony along with some other not nice things.

    If you PLUCK a harp string with your fingers (no guitar picks, flutes or percussion instruments) you make a twang sound but not music: you have to define a melody which then meant "a series of single notes" not musical in our sense. "Melody as tunefulness belongs to the 19th century"

    The Holy Spirit had a dozen or more words meaning to "play an instrument." If you tell someone to psallo or pluck you can never tell what they will do. Paul and the rest had lots of words but there is not a single word in the whole Bible meaning to "play an instrument."

    Each instrument has its own compound word.

    katapsall? ,
    A. play stringed instruments to, [“sumposion kataulein kai k.” in Pass., have music played to one, enjoy music, ib.785e; of places, resound with music, Id.Ant.56.
    2. Pass., to be buried to the sound of music, Procop.Pers.2.23.
    3. metaph., katapsalletai . . ho d?miourgos is drummed out, Porph.Chr.34

    kat-aule? , A. charm by flute-playing, drinking wine to the strains of the flute. make a place sound with flute-playing. to be piped down, ridiculed,

    I have added several more on the above response to Danny and Matt Dabbs.

  177. Justin Schwartz says:

    I'm not sure if this was said….I'm not going to read every single post. BUT if it is not in scripture…and the early church fathers didn't do it…and if the argument is that if these two fall into line…then you shouldn't use instruments in worship.

    It is true that there is no positive affirmation to use instruments in the NT. It is also true that the Fathers spoken of in the discussion did not use instruments (the instruments were associated with the gods and pagan rituals). So then WHY do you use hymnals, powerpoint, pews, meet in a church building, have communion in little cups…etc? The list goes on. They didn't have or use those things either in the NT or in the Fathers. So then why do you do them today if you don't use instruments? Are we supposed to worship exactly like the NT church did? None of us do.

    Also, it sounds like the argument for patternism is implied. It is taken for granted in much of the discussion that Scripture argues we must follow "the pattern" of the early church and do everything they did to the "t".

    A different Church of Christ I have attended does not have any "elders" in the congregation (which is not "Biblical," is it?) but they will argue and argue that you should not use instruments because they are not in the NT. Does this seem odd to any one else? I attended Bible studies at this particular church for several years and the people knew more about why you should not use an instrument than facts concerning Jesus Christ. That disturbs me more than anything.

    Some Churches of Christ I have attended used a tuning whistle to begin the song. Where does the aid/use of an instrument begin and end? Is it okay to use an instrument as long as people are not singing at that exact moment?

    Here is a good book on Christian worship in Antiquity by Quasten. Those familiar with Patristics will recognize his name for writing a fantastic Patrology.

  178. guy says:


    i'm not aware of any patternists who believe we are obligated to worship precisely like the first century church or the ECF–that is, that we are obligated to recreate every factor of their worship experiences *identically.*

    i am aware that many patternists see a difference in something like, say, instruments and the items you mention. There is a considerable body of literature devoted to making that distinction. Now you may find those arguments and explanations unsatisfying. Plenty of us do. But it's not as though those very questions haven't been confronted by patternists. And stating that they're unsatsifying is not the same as giving an argument why those attempts at distinctions fail.

    But moreso what struck me about your comment was the connection between the use of the ECF by some in these threads and patternism. How is it the case that the ECF-use in this thread by some necessarily assumes patternism?


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  180. I have not read all of the preceding comments, so it is possible that this will be redundant. If you have read to this point, I suggest you are hunting a perspective you are unlikely to find.

    The ‘get real’ moment for me comes down to application. I know what I believe, but do I live what I believe?

    I grew up in non-instrumental, a capella singing only, middle of the road chuches of Christ. At home my Dad played guitar and sang rock-a-billy and country music. We were encouraged to sing and even learn to play an instrument from earliest childhood. We ALL played the radio and the stereo; we all sang, with varying skill; and we all observed a strict separation of church and all other music. Dad listened to country music, Mom listened to pop, my older brother listened to Rock, my sister listened to Motown and Soul, and I listened to Soft Rock and Folk. Then I went to my first concert, The Imperials. John Denver and Dan Fogelberg and Cat Stevens and the Mamas and the Papas had been my muses on the radio. Summer camp had introduced me to what we called devotional songs, but Contemporary Christian Music by Steve Green, Michael Card, Carman, and the Imperials had revolutionaized my knowledge of where those ‘devotional songs’ had come from. So I began to research the history of why the churches I grew up attending were so adamantly opposed to IM, but only in relation to religious music.

    Along the way, I learned all of the so-called scriptural arguments from some of the best teachers I could find, hoping to find a way to settle the issue. I heard professors from York College,Harding University, and Sunset School of Preaching, as well as reading arguments from Warren, Boles, Deever, and many others inside and outside the cofC. I’ve also used the internet to research, and resources like the top-of-the-line Logos software, but the most direct info I have ever encountered came from a contact on an online discussion forum a few years back.

    I found the answers I looked for, and many I never hoped to find. And I began to see how inconsistent we have been in pursuit of lives pleasing to God. We say that we believe our entire lives belong to God, but we also try to justify separating what we do in assembly from the way we live every day. Is there something wrong with using instruments to accompany singing God’s praises? Consistency demands we give up instrumental music in any and every part of our lives IF our lives are devoted to a God who does not want us to express ourselves in instrumental music to Him. Shall we give everything but music to God? How do we justify God being Lord of only a majority of our lives? Where does Jesus say we should take Him as our mostly Lord?

    It isn’t a perfect answer. It IS consistent, though. Unless we’re wrong about the prohibition on IM from any praises to or of God.


  181. mark says:

    The amount of time and effort that has gone into fighting over IM is staggering. If 90% of that effort had gone into pastoral care, answering the questions of the younger generation, and having a genuine concern for fellow Christians (which was commanded) then the cofC would be in a much better position.

  182. Larry Cheek says:

    Sure seems to me that the turmoil that has been created involving the subject of IM or not IM is not from our Lord, but of the deceiver.

  183. John Fewkes says:

    Following the threads can be tiresome, and likely cause some to just give up. The psallw war may never be over. One comment if I may about apostolic authority in view of a passage NOT usually referenced:

    Ac 1:2-3. . . He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. 3 To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. NASU

    We don’t have the syllabus of that post resurrection instruction, but we do know that these men spent the rest of their lives implementing Christ’s instruction “concerning the kingdom.” We ignore their work at our peril. This is why “apostolic tradition” should be normative, informative, and instructional.
    1 Th 4:2 For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

    2 Th 2:15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.

    Are some “invested” too historically, socially, relationally or emotionally to yield to the teaching of the word and the leading of the Spirit?

    I have no desire to be among those who fan the flames of division that keep people apart. I do not write these words to “keep us apart.” Peter wrote that some of Paul’s words are “hard to understand.” His teachings on music are not among those words that are hard to understand. They may be hard to accept for those whose hearts are leading their heads. I do not have the musical giftedness that to some seems to call for public religious expression, either in voice or in instrumentation. I therefore, cannot judge the expressive desire in this area. 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 I will continue to sing “five words with my mind, that I might instruct others (in tune or not), rather than ten thousand” sounds that have no heart

  184. Jay Guin says:


    You seem to assume the existence of an oral tradition that commands a cappella worship, outside the inspired scriptures. I addressed this assumption at /2010/11/new-wineskins-a-thought-experiment-on-sola-scriptura/
    In these posts, I look for evidence of an oral apostolic tradition in the Early Church Fathers, and there are certainly writings that claim to be exactly that. But those writings clearly are not attributable to the apostles. When we actually read the documents that claim to record what the apostles said beyond what is in the New Testament, we find the instructions very far removed from our understanding of the New Testament.

  185. Jay Guin says:


    I’m delighted to have you as a commenter here, but I must remind you that the Site Rules /site-rules/ prohibit ad hominem arguments. When you ask “Are some “invested” too historically, socially, relationally or emotionally to yield to the teaching of the word and the leading of the Spirit?” you are challenging the motivations of people you’ve likely never met. You have no real basis for such questioning, and the motivation for their arguments is irrelevant to the merit of their arguments. (And the discussions here are much more pleasant when we don’t make personal judgments, limiting ourselves to the merits of the arguments made.)

  186. Jay Guin says:


    When you say,

    I have no desire to be among those who fan the flames of division that keep people apart. I do not write these words to “keep us apart.”

    There is nothing inherent in the a cappella/instrumental music controversy that would divide the church unless one camp were to damn the other camp. I have yet to understand why anyone sees this as a salvation issue, since we obviously can disagree about other things and not damn each other.

    So to avoid division over this controversy, all that’s required is to understand that how we interpret the silences of the scriptures (or interpret the alleged oral instructions of the apostles) should not be salvation issues.

  187. Nobody who uses IM separates himself from another believer because that believer does NOT use IM. We are free to pick up that banjo or not; but we are not free to decide whether or not to receive a brother on this basis– or to rule on his spiritual identity on that basis.

    Being excluded by a denomination because I use IM is like being hit by a truck with a Peterbilt logo on the grille. It’s not the label that does the damage, it’s being clobbered by the truck that’s behind it. A truck by any other name hits as hard. We have several exclusionary doctrines we display as distinctive nameplates, but it’s always the same truck. When you say, “You are not one of us” to a fellow believer, he really doesn’t care so much why you don’t love him as a brother, but THAT you don’t.

  188. Dwight says:

    The command is to sing. IF we meet the command are we in violation if we do something else while doing that command, if it doesn’t change the fact we are singinf? This is a question that is in my mind. If we were to be singing and moving our head in rythym is this sinful, because moving your head while singing is not mentioned and is silent? We must at least meet the command by our actions, but is doing something in parallel enough to change the command as long as the command remains intact? Not singing would be against the command. And yet many people do not sing, but mouth the words silently. This seems almost more sinful than the adding of the instrument since they are going agains the direct command to sing. I would rather not have IM, because it can quickly overshadow, drown out and replace the singing of the people, but is silence enough to damn it? Comments please.

  189. Who told us “Sing!” is a command? Sounds like an encouragement to me.

  190. Dwight says:

    One of the problems is seeing worship to God as being regulated outside of what God tells us…iwth an unwritten code. This has us bowing down to a historical narrative, which is sometimes helpful, but in reality means little as compared to scripture. If we were to go by history, then we would not sanction multiple communion cups or the invitation as they were introduced many hundreds of years after musical instruments were introduced. All that matters is what God told us to do and what He told us not to do. Silence is silence and is not God’s will, otherwise we would be limited by what we don’t know. James 5 tells us to sing and pray, but only why, but not when and where. Again Christians were told to “lift thier hands in prayer everywhere”, but this doesn’t limit us to a place, but everyplace. God sought to open up our worship and not limit it beyond what He told us.

  191. Dwight says:

    the worship of man to God (uncommnaded) to the worship commanded by God. This is something I think we miss, in that God allowed worship without Him dictating every move as long as it was from us to Him only. God did not condemn Esther for commanding of a feast along side of the feast commanded of by God, He accepted it as praise. God commanded two trumpets in Num.10 and then many generations later David commanded many instruments and they were used and sometimes used together in worship. David wrote the psalms that were sung to instruments with many of them mentioning instruments in the praise. The point is that if God had a problem with instruments He would and could have said so, but instead He commanded and encouraged thier use. It was praise. In general God commanded the Temple worship and certain things, but he also allowed “free will” worship as long as they didn’t subtract or change God’s commanded worship. This should be true of the NT as well, unless God change His mind and didn’t tell us.
    I grew up in the church system of non-instruments, but after preaching a sermon on commands I am changing my mind.
    God is not vague concerning His will.
    Making commands and imposing them within the silence of God is what the Rabbis and Pharisees did. They could have just as easily made it a sin to NOT wash hands after eating due to lack of command.

  192. Jay Guin says:


    Thanks. Al Maxey has made the point that the synagogue was clearly approved by Jesus (he taught there), but was a man-made addition to Mosaic law. Moreover, the cups of wine used by Jesus during the Passover meal to establish communion (at least two cups, per Luke) were not commanded in the Law either.

  193. Dwight says:

    This territory is new to me as I worship with those that, mainly the preacher, that teaches instrumental music is sinful and against God’s will, even though there is no will expressed. I have actually come around to the fact that God allowed free will worship along side of the commanded worship. As long as man did not change what God said, there was liberty.

  194. Danny Andre' Dixon says:

    I, also, have often wondered what was the “authority” for the inclusion of at least two cups (or any for that matter!) of wine in The Passover Meal. Are not the only “authorized elements” roasted lamb, bitter herbs, and unleavened bread? (See Exodus 12 and compare with Luke 22:17, 20). Surely adding wine to a celebration as distinctive as the Jewish Passover would be a profane act that completely changed the meaning of it and flew in the face of what God commanded and authorized. Or perhaps not! Why would instruments added to singing in an assembly be much different from adding two to four cups of win to the Passover meal? Maybe it isn’t, and maybe there is no problem with either.

  195. Tim Linick says:

    Taking a stand that the New Testament Church should only utilize practices which are either explicitly commanded or implicitly endorsed would mean that every church sanctuary needs to pull the plug on their air-conditioning. According to Acts 20:9, the NT Church worshipped with open windows, or else Eutychus would not have fallen out of the window when Paul was bit long-winded. The NT never commands us to use air-conditioning and seems to endorse open-air meetings since Eutychus was resurrected after falling out of the window proving the power of God. I realize this seems silly and absurd, but sometimes you have to illustrate the ridiculous with the ridiculous. God obviously could not care less if you worship with only vocal music, instrumental music, humming, chanting, whistling, or even silence! Making a divisive issue over music is quite ridiculous. Let’s just lift up the Precious Name of Jesus!

    Following is a biblical philosophy of Church music I wrote a few years ago.

    Music speaks to the hearts of mankind and glorifies God. It transcends language and culture barriers drawing people into the presence of God. Since music has always been a part of worship, we look to the Bible, God’s Holy Word, as the final authority on music in the Church. Although each of us has his/her own preferences and favorite genres of music, we aim to present a more objective biblical perspective on music in the Church.

    Scripture refers to various forms of musical expression including:
    ~ vocal praise
    ~ instrumental praise
    ~ merriment
    ~ bereavement
    ~ battle communication
    ~ royalty announcements
    ~ victory
    ~ celebration
    ~ personal solitude
    ~ corporate worship
    ~ entertainment
    ~ comfort or solace

    Scripture also refers to many types of musical instruments including:
    ~ stringed instruments
    ~ wind instruments
    ~ percussion instruments
    ~ vocalization/incantation

    Scripture indicates we are to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord” and “come before His presence with singing (Psa. 100:1-2). Paul advocated “speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19). The Apostle reiterates this biblical principle in Colossians 3:16 telling us to be “admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. These three classifications are speaking of three distinct music formats and are not just bothersome redundancies. We need all three formats in the Church today.

    This biblical blend of music establishes a Trinitarian Model touching our Body, Mind, & Soul! We cannot improve on the biblical approach. However, we do need to further classify and clarify these three formats:

    PSALMS — usually sung from Scripture — refers to artistic, musical expressions such as those a choir or ensemble might present. These objective songs point to the majesty and greatness of God. This would include biblical poetry and songs like…
    ~ Thy Loving Kindness Is Better Than Life
    ~ How Great Is Our God
    ~ Our God Is An Awesome God
    ~ The Lord Is My Shepherd
    ~ As the Deer
    There are many other examples of psalms we sing in worship.

    HYMNS — usually sung about God—implies something similar to what we classify today as traditional congregational music. It is usually testimonial and speaks to truths and experiences—
    “vertical” (God-centered) and “horizontal” (relationship-based). Some current examples of hymns would include songs like…
    ~ How Firm a Foundation
    ~ How Great Thou Art
    ~ Amazing Grace
    ~ It Is Well
    ~ Jesus Saves
    ~ Satisfied
    ~ A Glorious Church
    ~ Draw Me Nearer
    This is just a sampling of literally thousands of hymns we sing.

    SPIRITUAL SONGS — usually sung to God—seems to indicate a more personal, fresh expression, and in most cases would be a fairly recent compositions including those sung by soloists or groups. This praise and worship music would include songs like…
    ~ God Is So Good
    ~ The Family of God
    ~ He Is Lord
    ~ Holy Is the Lord
    ~ Step By Step
    ~ Let Your Love Flow Through Me
    ~ Yes, Lord, Yes
    ~ More of You
    There are hundreds of other examples, but these would also include recent adaptations of traditional hymns such as…
    ~ Amazing Grace / My Chains are Gone (medley)
    ~ One Day / O Glorious Day
    ~ The Solid Rock / Cornerstone
    …as well as recent compositions of new hymns (many others) like…
    ~ In Christ Alone
    ~ Abide With Me
    ~ Behold the Lamb
    ~ The Power of the Cross
    ~ Beautiful Savior

    We have a heritage of holiness hymn writers who with spiritual anointing penned the words of many hymns of the faith. We praise God for Charles Wesley, Fanny Crosby, John Newton, Isaac Watts, Ira Sankey, and many others who have so profoundly articulated these traditional hymns that have become a standard of excellence and been used mightily of the Lord!

    However, hymn writing did not begin in the 1700’s. Hymns were a part of worship in both the O.T. and N.T. Unlike Scripture, music is not static—it keeps on being written. Christians desire to express faith, struggles, and hopes by penning the words of songs and setting those words to music to praise the Lord and encourage others! Music has a way of sometimes penetrating the hardened heart when preaching is seemingly ineffective. We all have seen anointed music move dozens of rebellious sinners from their pews to cry out to God at an altar of prayer.

    Although music can certainly be very inspiring to our hearts, it is not inspired (God-breathed) in the biblical sense of the term. In other words, there is certainly nothing in the Word of God that restricts or prohibits the continued composing and expression of new music in the Church—both new lyrics and new melodies. In fact, there are dozens of verses that indicate that we are to keep growing in maturity and grace by developing relevant praise and worship songs unto the Lord that the world may know of His greatness, holiness, and true salvation.

    The struggle with music is not new. Consider this quotation from Charles Finney regarding the issue of “church choirs” back in 1835 —

    “…another innovation was brought in. It was thought best to have a select choir of singers sit by themselves, so as to give an opportunity to improve the music. But this was bitterly opposed. How many congregations were torn and rent in sunder by the desire of the ministers and some leading individuals, to bring about an improvement in the cultivation of music, by forming choirs!
    People talked about ‘innovation,’ and ‘new measures,’ and thought great evils
    were coming to the Churches, because the singers were seated by themselves,
    and cultivated music, and learned new tunes that the old people could not sing.

    … And there are many churches now who would not tolerate an organ. They
    would not be half so much excited to be told that sinners are going to hell, as to
    be told that there is going to be an organ in the meeting house…”
    —Keith Drury’s The Wonder of Worship

    Innovations in music can push us out of our comfort zone, but if we
    approach these enhancements with an open heart seeking God’s best, the
    Holy Spirit will faithfully reveal another opportunity for us to grow in
    our dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ.

    In the New Testament Church, by blending all three formats of music (psalms, hymns, spiritual songs) in our worship, we are declaring that we will not allow the enemy (Satan) to divide us into various subgroups. Uniting on the basis of Scripture to be more mature and spiritually
    rounded Christians, we declare once again, “United We Stand!”

    One of our fundamental goals identified through strategic planning is to promote and foster a stronger connection among the church family and better cultivate an atmosphere of inspiring, relevant, corporate worship. We will be intentional and deliberate about developing a biblical blend and well-balanced repertoire expressed in congregational worship music, individual or group music selections, and other musical presentations.

    The following aspects of music will help implement this in the Church…
    ~ melody — common tune
    ~ harmony — corresponding notes
    ~ rhythm — timing
    ~ tempo — speed
    in many different genres including (but not limited to) the following…
    ~ A capella Arrangements
    ~ Duets/Trios/Quartets
    ~ Ensemble Presentations
    ~ Inspirational Medleys
    ~ Instrumental Numbers
    ~ Integrated Medleys
    ~ Messianic/Hebrew Songs
    ~ Orchestra Groups
    ~ Prayer Choruses
    ~ Praise Team/Band
    ~ Sacred/Classical Music
    ~ Singing Rounds
    ~ Southern Gospel Music
    ~ Worship Anthems

    By utilizing more vocal and instrumental talent, we will be able to greatly influence members and visitors to develop a stronger connection with God through the worship experience by cultivating an atmosphere that is conducive to the moving of God’s Holy Spirit in our gatherings.

    Let us prayerfully seek God’s anointing on all those who lead and participate in the music ministry of Wesleyan Bible Church. May hearts continue to be transformed and renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    — Pastor Tim Linick | Glasgow Wesleyan Church—Glasgow KY |

  196. Larry Cheek says:

    Is this the method that God has designed for Christians to experience a moving of The Holy Spirit?
    “By utilizing more vocal and instrumental talent, we will be able to greatly influence members and visitors to develop a stronger connection with God through the worship experience by cultivating an atmosphere that is conducive to the moving of God’s Holy Spirit in our gatherings.”
    Do we really have to cultivate an atmosphere for the Holy Spirit to function? Where are the examples of the early Christians meeting to have the Spirit function in an astonishing way? In fact I have not found an example of the early Christians experiencing worship. Their worship was their lives 24/7, they only assembled to be edified by the Word which was being received in small portions.
    Their singing was also a daily as life goes on event. Christians sang to cheer themselves and to praise God, even when there was no audience. You cannot identify a organized singing group or body of assembled believers in NT. There is also no message in NT that identifies that someone was moved to obedience through a song service, or music of any kind. If we attempt to place that power in the singing of songs, we remove part of the power of The Word. We can sing words and phrases from scriptures, but the power is in the words of God’s message not the song.

  197. Tim Linick says:

    No, that is not what was said. Read it again. Please also read 2 Timothy 3:16-17 again.

  198. Monty says:

    So Larry,

    You’ve never been in a congregation where the “initiation song” was sung and people were moved to respond, either in repentance, or renewing their commitment, or obeying the gospel? In the congregations where I have worshiped it would literally be unscriptural for there not to be an invitation song. I bet you sing one too where you worship. Now perhaps their mind was already made up before the song was sung. But I know of many cases(myself included) where it was through the song(as much as the preacher’s preaching) that the Holy Spirit moved them (and me) to respond accordingly. Is that not setting the stage? Think about what you’re saying. Prayer and scripture reading along with the exhortation of the word and music that speaks to the soul are all avenues the Holy Spirit can use to navigate.

  199. Alabama John says:

    Too bad folks wait on the invitation song to come forward. What I was taught is if they died for any reason before coming out of the water they would burn in hell forever in eternal fire.
    Instrumental music or not didn’t matter.

  200. Monty says:


    I didn’t wait for the song or for church, I called an elder at midnite and he came and baptized me. Of course if it doesn’t matter, the next day would have been fine. So many extremes. Lost if they don’t break the water or we can save them up till we get a good size group.

  201. Larry Cheek says:

    I see you understand my point. How much time would you think elapsed before the first century church saw a concept of an invitation song? What this era of church thinks is worship was foreign to the NT Christians. They did not “go to worship” they were worship. They assembled to edify and build up each other.

  202. Monty says:

    God loves him some IM in the OT but when you get to the NT God hates it and will send(according to many) believers to hell over it. That’s sort of Jekl-Hydish to me. Then once we get to Revelation and John’s vision, harps in heave are back in vogue. Now either some of you worship a mixed signal sending God or perhaps you got your wires crossed. There isn’t one jot or tittle damning IM in the NT. IT’s not there. Did God forget how to warn believers against damning practices. No! (I mean there’s a gazillion warnings and prohibitions in the OT against different stuff)? Did God leave the IM prohibition out(if it is) on purpose? Is he a trickster type God? Did he just forget when the writers wrote to include the prohibition? Some guy in an ivory tower thought of a way to interpret scripture that made silences prohibitive and everyone else swallowed it hook, line and sinker.

  203. Dwight says:

    Larry, I totally agree. We should always be in worship mode to God as we are a temple, a priest and a living sacrifice 24-7. Unfortunately assembly, which was supposed to be for the edification of each other by the saints or an extension of a saint, is turned into creating THE environment for a saint to be a saint and THE full expression of the saint. This is based on the liturgy concept.
    The invitation and invitation song are attempts to make something happen within the assembly for the assembly to see. The saint is converted in the church. The church or assembly is not the place for conversions, but is the place of the converted.

  204. Dwight says:

    Monty, you hit upon what I believe to be a main truth, “God is not vague regarding His desire for or against something”. If God had wanted to condemn IM, he would have verbally in the OT and in the NT without us having to induce its condemnation. God verbally and upfront condemned many things and commanded many things, but somehow couldn’t be bothered with this or making it clearer.

  205. laymond says:

    God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

    Each, and every human spirit has to determine what the truth is.

  206. Dwight says:

    I believe the truth in question doesn’t mean what is true in the scriptures, but is rather conviction of the person. Of course we must determine truth, but truth is determined in the scriptures, we just have to apply it, which man has always had a problem with.
    But then again we are told what is truth….Jesus is grace and truth. The Word of God is true. So there is less to determine than what we might think.

  207. Monty says:

    Truth is not some vague ethereal thing floating around that has to be run through the Regulative Principal in order to be deduced. How about “love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, and soul – and then love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” And it was staring him in the face.

  208. Dwight says:

    Let me clarify my earlier statement, I believe that the statement of “worship in Spirit and Truth” is personal and regards man’s spirit in relation to God’s Spirit and the truth is sincerity or conviction of that person towards God. Thus when we get to the scriptures we see man worshipping God not from a list and rules, but from the heart.
    Now does God want prayers, singing, praise, etc., yes, but I don’t know of any other way to verbally worship God, but then again if we live a life to God, we are worshippers of God. As we go about our life God should be in our hearts and on our tongue and seen in our action.

    In regards to God’s word, His words are true. And they are not vague. We shouldn’t have to pick apart the scriptures or read between the lines to get to God’s will and truth.
    We often argue over what is true religion, but James says, “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
    Simple and straight forward.
    And yet somehow we think going to assembly is a pure religious experience.

    Monty, I think you are correct in your assessment of Jesus as the truth, which Pilate missed.
    In fact we almost all miss it as we talk about wrong doctrine and teachings.
    The first and greatest command is to “Love God”, then secondly to “love our neighbor”, just as Jesus did.

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