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The personal blog of Nate Tinner.

Fact or Fiction: No Instruments in Worship (plus tangents!)

Firstly, you must understand I attend Pepperdine University, where Church of Christ is the official affiliation, and therein instruments are outlawed during worship in their official doctrinal beliefs (among other heretical things).
It's in the eye of the beholder whether or not they are truly a "church of Christ" or just another blasphemous sect, but that's not the point. This is merely for perspective, mostly on the issue of how a Christian could justify (and in the past and present, have justified) a no-instrument doctrine in their church (or more tellingly, their denomination).

I've had all kinds of responses on the matter of no-instruments from CoC-adherent students here on campus, ranging from "Yes, that's what the Bible teaches" (a sola scriptura farce), to "Whatever the Bible is silent on, we are silent on" (a non-Biblical, Old Testament-ignorant tradition/upbringing-based doctrinal fallacy), to "It's just what I prefer." (a cover-up), to one girl who actually denounced such doctrine altogether (along with most CoC heresy), admitting she desired for change in her church rather than satisfaction elsewhere.

Her testimony alone gave me hope, based on the fact that even in the most heretical doctrinal scenario, the Truth will find its way into someone's heart by way of the Holy Spirit. The Devil just can't do anything about those people.

Personally, I'm a non-denominational, Bible-Fundamentalist "charismatic", who is currently was 18 years deep into churches where worship could get a little.... boring. Since I've been across the country at school, I've visited multiple churches where everything was more my style, with worship that was danceable, preaching that was fiery (and expository), and an atmosphere that is more about who you are rather than how someone expects you to behave and operate in a church setting.

Therein, my kind of church doesn't expect you to be static, and they certainly don't encourage it. Moreover, that's how I imagine the early church was, with the whole "in spirit and in truth" bit (John 4:23). Despite its eternality, this Scripture has obviously been forsaken in many churches, traded in for the lie of whatever their tradition is, masquerading as obedience to the Word of God.

I want no part in historical regulations or man-made guidelines; just whatever is appropriate before God, in a manner based on God's expectations and not man's. And from what we can gather from the whole of Scripture, God desires exuberant, yet genuine praise. Not necessarily a dig on the stuff I consider "boring" (as I know that legitimately "does it" for some people's spirits), but I believe in the reality of a constantly adaptive church; one that accommodates without compromising (on Scripture).

I stumbled upon a passage from my good friend Wikipedia (who I may propose to soon) on a group that is quite interesting, in that I share many of their major anti-heresy doctrines (which I hadn't found in any one group before), but also questionable in that they didn't exactly abandon power-hungry heresy for God's Word, but instead claimed such, while letting their opinions bleed in; whether or not this type of religious dilemma can ever be avoided is still up for debate.  Give it up for the Puritans, everybody. They themselves adopted the "Regulative principle of worship", while eventually adding their own flavor to the secret recipe:

Those who oppose instruments in worship, such as John Murray and G. I. Williamson, argue first that there is no example of the use of musical instruments for worship in the New Testament and second that the Old Testament uses of instruments in worship were specifically tied to the ceremonial laws of the Temple in Jerusalem, which they take to be abrogated for the church.
Let's address that point by point:

1. No examples, eh? I admit, I can't refute that. But are there any examples of a cappella in the NT either? Not so much. I'm no philosopher, but I'm sure such a line of thought as "Not mentioned, not permitted" is faulty at best.

This, along with the fact that defining Christianity as solely governed by the New Testament is a slap in the face of God and the all the divine works and wisdom he sent down from Heaven on an eternal timeline before the time of Jesus. Let's not try to put God or his preferences in any one time period, eh?

Besides, it would appear the CoC and those like it only made such a provision so as to justify one of their many false doctrines, as most of their other traditions (just like any other modern Christian church) have their true roots in the teaching of not only the New Testament, but the Old as well. And if they don't, then we can add that to their list of heresies as well.

2. The Old Law had many commands that are not conducive to salvation under the New Law of Jesus Christ, but the beauty of it is: they never were (Galatians 2:16, 3:11). God commanded many things in the Old Law, but when they were obeyed with a heart of obligation (and usually marked disobedience, concerning their lives outside of obedience to the sacrificial requirements) rather than inward sincerity, God was not pleased (Psalm 51:16, and throughout the Books of the Prophets).

For this reason, I remain wary of any Christians I come across who wish to impose some "new law" for Christians to follow, as if there salvation in any one thing other than the blood of Jesus Christ; it doesn't help when their law is in discord with the Word of God, a sure sign of a law of man and not of God Himself. While life in the Spirit (following repentance) will certainly cause dissension from the wickedness of the world and its sinfulness, that is not a direct result of any one written Law, except the one written in our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33-34): the New Covenant of Christ Jesus our Lord.

God's Word is clear that the New Law of Jesus fulfills the Old Law, not abolishing it, but accomplishing it's purpose, which was to show us our sins. Jesus took care of the issue of sin, giving us a means (His death/resurrection, culminating in the Holy Spirit) to overcome sin and live a life of holiness. That said, the Scriptures (Old Law) are still useful (2 Timothy 3:16), but are not now and never have been the source of salvation as much as the evidence of it (our faith). So where does that leave room to for denominations who claim they are doing anything "the correct way", when they are working in direct contradiction with the Scriptures (Old and New Testament)?

How the CoC manages to squeeze instrumental praise into this small space of what Jesus made no more (our sin) is astounding; it's probably the same crack in the rock where they fit the doctrine that you absolutely must be physically baptized in order to be saved (getting cult-ier by the minute, isn't it?). And yet people eat it up, mostly because they were "raised that way" (an excuse which won't save Muslims, Atheists, or anyone else who rejects the full Gospel of Christ, on Judgement Day).


As soon as worship becomes about anything other than whether or not we're edifying Him in the manner he intended, we've missed the whole point! God wasn't telling His people to use instruments as part of some elaborate, rote rulebook for praise that was going to change for no particular reason in a couple hundred years; He wanted (and today, wants) His chosen to break out in song, instruments, and dance, among other things (Psalm 150), in sincere appreciation for all that He has done, is doing, and will do in the future.

Again, using instruments will not grant you salvation, but eliminating them from the church won't get you any closer to Heaven either. Especially not when you just have the vocalists make instrumental sounds with their voices anyway; that's like God saying, "I don't want instruments used in worship anymore. But by all means, you can make it sound like they're still there!". Someone has turned God into a fool, and that just simply will not do.

When it comes right down to it, no aspects of the fear of God (Christianity) were/are truly Law-based (including praise and worship), as those who were/are justified by their faith (Romans 4, 5, etc) obeyed God because they were so led, not because they had to, and certainly not because they thought the works themselves would get them into Heaven.

I guarantee you God's children of faith weren't obeying the Law because they thought their way was the right way to worship, somehow superior to the way other Godly people were doing it during the same time period. For the Church of Christ denomination (and others) to try and Biblically justify such a doctrine, one that the vast majority (somewhere near 100%) of Christianity would perceive as foolish (and could easily prove unscriptural), is a sign of only one thing I can think of: apostasy.

It's one thing to prefer a certain style of worship. It's a whole other thing to elevate it to the status of exclusive correctness, along with other doctrines that just so happen to be contrary to Scripture. That crosses the line into heresy, and when a church (or denomination) is bold in its heresy, it's time to start questioning whose Gospel they're backing it with.

Sure, some people prefer a cappella music/worship, fine. But when your denomination decrees it, don't try to still claim it's just a "preference". Maybe it was just the Sanhedrin's preference that Jesus was not the Messiah, and should be brutally murdered. Maybe it was just the Jewish people's preference throughout history to kill their prophets. Or maybe someone is just wrong.

Personally, I prefer bass, piano, anointed vocalists, and some worship I can worship to. God seems to have preferred such things as well when He had David write the Psalms, and as far as I know, I serve and unchanging God, so....

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