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1. Historical Background

  1. L.L. Pinkerton introduced the first instrument into the worship of the "restoration" churches at Midway, Kentucky in 1858 or 1859.

  2. Pinkerton wrote articles to defend its use in the "American Christian Review." The Civil War caused the problem to smolder for a few years.

  3. In Thorpe Springs, TX the preacher was insistent on bringing the instrument into the worship. One Sunday the preacher asked his father to lead a prayer. Following the prayer, his father presented a petition opposing the instrument. His son, the preacher looked at the organist and said, "Play on, Miss Bertha."

  4. J. W. McGarvey, "It is manifest that we cannot adopt the practice without abandoning the obvious and only ground on which a restoration of Primitive Christianity can be accomplished, or on which the plea for it can be maintained."

  5. Early arguments included - expediency, an aid to singing, added dignity and meaning to the worship.

  6. The actual division was long and slow in coming. By 1906, the division was complete.


2. Agruments Against the Instrument

  1. Silence Argument

Tertullian, "But 'the thing which is not forbidden is freely permitted.' I should rather say that which is not freely allowed is forbidden." Motto of Campbell - "Where the Bible speaks, we will speak; where the Bible is silent, we will be silent."

Does silence permit or forbid?

[a] Generic command - silence includes.

[b] Specific command - silence excludes.

An instrumentalist said, "Many of us find it difficult to see how our non-instrumental brethren determine in which instances the silence of the Scripture becomes a prohibition."

The non-instrumentalist says, "Many of us find it difficult to see how our instrumental brethren determine in which instances the silence of the Scripture becomes permission."

NOTE: There are two types of silence.

    1. Silence of permission. The silence is total on the subject. In such cases we are at liberty. (Kind of car, how to travel, where to live) This is the silence of liberty.

    2. Silence of prohibition. This is the silence of a specific. God commanded one thing, he did not command nor condemn anything else. He was silent. (Ark of gopher wood, fruit of the vine, baptism in water) This is the silence of prohibition. (Study the principle of exclusion.)

B. "Psallo" Argument

This is the only serious attempt to justify instruments of music by New Testament authority.

  1. If psallo means sing with instrumental accompaniment in Ephesians 5:19, then instrumental music is commanded; there is no choice in the matter; worship could not be acceptable without it. I know of no one who demands that all play an instrument in worship.

  2. Psallo does not mean sing. (common misunderstanding)

  3. Psallo does mean to "pluck, pull, twang."

      1. The instrument does not inhere in the verb.

      2. Baptism does not mean "water."

  1. The instrument is the the heart.

  2. McClintock and Strong's Cyclopedia, "The Greek word psallo is applied among the Greeks of modern times exclusively to sacred music, which in the Eastern Church has never been any other than vocal, instrumental music being unknown in that church, as it was in the primitive church."

C. Purpose argument The purpose argument proves that God had a purpose in mind and that we must fulfill that purpose as we "psallo."


Bible Command us to: Voice Instrument
Ephesians 5:19 Speak Can Cannot
Colossians 3:16 Admonish Can Cannot
Colossians 3:16 Teach Can Cannot
1 Corinthians 14:15 With spirit Can Cannot
1 Corinthians 14:15 Understanding Can Cannot
Hebrews 2:12 Praise God Can Cannot
Ephesians 5:19 In the heart Can Cannot


D. Principle of Exclusion

When a specific command is given, all other specifics are excluded. Sending a child to the store for "a loaf of bread" does not require one to name all the things that are not wanted.

Exclusion means that a practice authorized by God excludes all other practices that fit into the same rank or order.

Scripture Command

Exodus 25:40 Make according to the pattern

Numbers 22:18 Not go beyond the word of Jehovah

1 Chronicles 15:15 Carry ark by staves on their shoulders

Genesis 6:14 Make an ark of gopher wood.

Hebrews 7:12-14 Priests are to come from tribe of Levi

Leviticus 10:1-2 Which the Lord had not commanded


E. My Observation

Every argument in favor of instrumental music in worship can also be used to change the Lord's Supper to Coke and Big Macs.

A man in the Christian Church told me of a Sunday service with stale Hot Dog buns and Coke in the communion. He was very upset. I said that when he objected, he would rule out the instrument.

3. Invalid Arguments to Support

A. Aid vs. Addition

Can the instrument be authorized in the same way songbooks, PA systems, baptistries, and pews are authorized?

What is an "aid"? An aid is that which assists in doing the thing commanded.

B. Used in Old Testament

Psalm 149 and 150

David played the harp. 1 Chronicles 23:5

What about Amos 6:5? 1 Chronicles 23:5?

2 Chronicles 29:25 - Commanded by the Lord.

C. Used in our homes, play in band, etc.

Many things are morally right and religiously wrong.

Pianos, organs, drums are not wrong - of themselves.

Hamburgers are not wrong. At Lord's Table - wrong

D. They are in Heaven

They had harps in heaven. Revelation 15:2

NOTE: Horses are in heaven. Horse riding is not part of our worship.


E. Bible does not say "Don't"

A letter from a radio listener, "Why couldn't we have music with our singing? My Bible doesn't say don't!"

See the study of the silence of the Scriptures.

See the section on the principle of exclusion.

F. I like it. I enjoy it. It makes me feel good

A letter from a radio listener, "Maybe some people don't like music with their singing, but then, not all of us like peanut butter or jelly on our bread, but that doesn't mean it would be wrong for us to eat it with our bread."

What should be the direction of our worship?

Who establishes the rules for worship?

Who is the object of our worship?

Is worship determined by what I like or what God likes?


4. What the Scholars have said

  1. Presbyterian founder, John Calvin, "It is no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting of tapers, or the revival of the other shadows of the law. The Catholics foolishly borrowed it from the Jews."

  2. Lutheran founder, Martin Luther, "The organ in the worship is the ensign of Baal."

  3. Methodist founder, John Wesley, "I have no objection to the organ in our chapels provided it is neither seen nor heard."

  4. Baptist preacher, Charles Surgeon, "I had just as soon pray to God with machinery as to sing to God with machinery."

  5. Methodist commentator, Adam Clarke, "Music as a science I esteem and admire, but instrumental music in the house of God I abominate and abhor. This is the abuse of music, and I here register my protest against all such corruption of the worship of the author of Christianity."

  6. Presbyterian, Lyman Coleman, "The tendency of this (instrumental music) was to secularize the music of the church."

  7. Restoration preacher, Benjamin Franklin, "If one had told us forty years ago, that we would live to see the day when those professing to be Christians; who claim the Holy Scriptures as their only rule of faith and practice; would bring instruments of music into the worshipping assembly and us it there in worship, we should have repelled the idea as an idle dream.... turn the very worship of God itself into an attraction for people of the world, an entertainment, or amusement."

5. The New Testament Passages

    1. 1 Corinthians 14:15 Sing with spirit and understanding

    2. Ephesians 5:19 Making melody in your heart

    3. Colossians 3:16 Sing with grace in your heart

    4. James 5:13 Is any merry? Let him sing psalms

    5. Acts 16:25 Sang praises to God in jail

    6. Matthew 26:30 Sang an hymn and went out

    7. Hebrews 2:12 In the midst of church I will sing praise

    8. Hebrews 13:15 Fruit of our lips, sacrifice of praise

6. Issues facing the church today

  1. Hand clapping, praise teams, musical presentations

  2. Instruments in building for wedding, funeral?

  3. Many do not see instrumental music in worship as a matter of sin.

  4. Choirs, solos, quartets in worship?

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