Steve Morrison's First Affirmative

Permitting Mechanical Musical Instruments in Worship

A person can be mistaken about the use of mechanical musical instruments, henceforth just called musical instruments, in the church and still be a genuine Christian. But here are eight points about mechanical musical instruments. Which ones do you disagree with?

1. Some Old Testament worship practices are

Obsolete: animal sacrifices, grain sacrifices, having to follow Jewish feast days.

Continued today: prayer, singing, standing in worship, and clapping.

2. Outside of worship, musical instruments could be for

Good: David soothing Saul (1 Sam 16:16,23), or blowing a horn for calling soldiers in 1 Corinthians 14:7-9.

Bad: Drinking feasts (Isaiah 5:11-12)

Music (singing or instrumental) can itself be an idol.

3. In worship prior to Christ, musical instruments could be

Bad: hypocritical worship (Amos 5:21-23) to idols (Daniel 3:5,10,15). Even singing could be bad in Exodus 32:18. Even in worship of God, music (instrumental or not) could distract or detract from the message.

Good and pleasing to God: drum, rhythm, string, wind, unknown (1 Chr 15:20,28; Hab 3:1)

Brass and woodwinds: trumpets in Ps 150:3a; 1 Chr 16:6,42a; flutes Ps 150:4f; 1 Sam 10:5

Percussion: timbrel and cymbals Ps 150:4,5; 1 Chr 16:5,42a; Nehemiah 12:27b. tambourine in Exodus 15:20; 1 Sam 10:5

Stringed instruments: 1 Sam 10:5; 18:10; Psalms 4-6; 33:2; 43:4; 49:4; 57:8; 71:22; 81:2; 92:3; 98:5; 108:12; 147:7; 149:3; 150:3b,4b; 1 Chr 16:5;24:3; Neh 12:27b; Hab 3:19

Some Levites were skillful musicians in 2 Chr 34:13.

Preludes to Psalms 4, 5, 6, 54, 55, 61, 67, and 76 very likely refer to musical instruments.

4. In heavenly worship musical instruments please God.

Believers will have harps in heaven in Revelation 5:8; 14:1-2; 15:2-3. What David and other prophets did to please God in Old Testament times, what the four living creatures and God's people will do in heavenly worship, is not displeasing to God now. God Himself gives His people harps to praise Him in Revelation 15:2. If you have genuine faith, you will be hearing musical instruments in eternity.

5. Not a single scripture says musical instruments in worship today are bad. Who gives us additional restrictions that musical instrument in worship cannot please God today? - only some traditions of men, in particular Amish, Mennonite, and Church of Christ.

6. Musical instruments in worship OK today because:

6a. No argument from silence would be sufficient. It also would exclude clapping, pulpits (Nehemiah 8:4 but no N.T.), shaking hands, carpet, air-conditioning, and central heating in church. Let us hope that no misguided Christian parent ever says, "you can listen to whatever secular music you want, even with questionable lyrics, but I better not catch you listening to music that glorifies God!"

6b. Implicit continuity with what pleased God in the Old Testament and will please God in heaven. Nobody can say from scripture that it does not yet please God, though it used to please God, but not anymore. It is misleading if someone states "Christ never spoke a word in favor of music", because Christ Himself showed John he was in favor of it when He personally revealed the Book of Revelation in Rev 5:8; 14:1-2; 15:2-3.

6c. Explicit continuity with Psalms in the Old Testament. Colossians 3:16 says "with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Many Psalms in the Old Testament were sung with musical instruments. Ps 4:1, 5:1, 6:1, 8:1, 9:1, 12:1 are a few examples. So this verse is not forbidding either form of worship, but rather encouraging us. If Church of Christ members really believed this, perhaps they could sing (a capella) "...I will sing and make music with all my soul. Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn." (Psalm 108:1-2 NIV).

7. We are not to be legalistic. If a worship service does not have musical instruments, or if it does, either is OK. The important that is that God be glorified, not the presence or absence of musical instruments. Today we serve in the way of the spirit, not the old way of the written code (Romans 7:6b).

8. Enhancing the worship of God should be the basis for choosing both the music as well as the instruments. The best style of music to choose for one group of believers might not necessarily be the best style for other believers, and that is OK.

Conclusion: Since God never gave a prohibition of musical instruments which pleased him, since there is continuity with believers in the Old Testament and in heaven, and since we are not to be legalists, do not forbid musical instruments in church. But things should be done for the edifying of the body of Christ.

Let us join with the saints of old, and the host of heaven, in praising God in every way that pleases Him.

For more info please contact Christian Debater™ P.O. Box 144441 Austin, TX 78714

by Steven M. Morrison, PhD.