Instrumental Music: The Patristic Evidence and the Regulative Principle, Part 2

Angel with harpHow, then, do we explain the absence of instruments in the early church? And it is highly likely that the early church did not use instruments.

My own view is that the early church took its form of worship from the synagogue. They often met in synagogues. The earliest Christians were Jews, and Jewish influence remained strong for centuries. And the synagogues were a cappella.

The use of musical instruments in the synagogue service was prohibited (except for the sound of the SHOFAR), leaving music a strictly vocal art. PSALMODY, melodic reading of Bible texts, and prayer chants were made to fulfill a function in collective Jewish worship.

The Jews refused to use instruments because (a) the temple used instruments and they wanted to avoid any hint that the synagogues replaced the temple and (b) it’s probable that the Jews were concerned that instrumental music involved work in violation of Sabbath regulations. The reasoning would be that an implicit exception was recognized for the temple service, but the synagogue is not of divine origin and so there’s no exception.

The early Christians surely found the use of a cappella music an attractive practice. After all, during times of persecution, the use of an instrument could be dangerous. And the instruments were highly associated with many dissolute pagan practices. Doing without the instrument surely helped teach new members to distinguish Christian practice from pagan. And for a religion that met in groups of 20 and 30 in private homes, it would have been difficult to have a capable instrumentalist at each gathering. Continue reading


GraceConversation: Mac Deaver’s Second Post and Jay’s Summation

grace7Mac has posted a second post “Salvation Submissiveness is Obedience.”

Jay has responded with a post attempting to summarize the conservative position, “Where Things Stand.”

Instrumental Music: The Patristic Evidence and the Regulative Principle, Part 1

Angel with harpIn contemporary Church of Christ thought, worshipping God with instrumental music is sinful because (a) it violates the Regulative Principle, that is, because it lacks authority in the scriptures, and (b) the history of the Christian church shows a uniform rejection of the instrument for its first 1,000 years.

I thought it would be interesting to investigate the reasons given by the early church for rejecting instrumental music. Do they agree with the Regulative Principle?

AQUINAS “Our church does not use musical instruments, as harps and psalteries, to praise God withal, that she may not seem to Judaize.” (Thomas Aquinas, Bingham’s Antiquities, Vol. 3, page 137)

The Jewish synagogues were also a cappella, and had been from before the time of Jesus. Aquinas’ knowledge of Judaism was limited to his reading to the Old Testament, which describes the temple service as including instruments. Aquinas does not treat the choice of instrumental music as from God but as a choice made to draw a contrast between Christianity and Judaism — when in fact both the Christians and Jews worshipped a cappella! Continue reading

CENI: So In Conclusion … , Part 3

church_split11Asking the right questions

I’ve come to the conclusion that the hardest thing to do as a Bible student is to ask the right question. You see, God not only tells us the answers, he tells us the questions. But we’ve all been so influenced by 2,000 years of bickering over various alleged heresies that we struggle to see beyond today’s fight to what the text actually says.

When we read about the Flood, we see the inerrancy dispute of the last 150 years rather than God’s struggle to redeem mankind. When we read the story of Deborah, we see weak men rather than strong women — and we completely miss God’s protection of his elect people.  Continue reading

CENI: So In Conclusion … , Part 2

church_split11Campbell and the Order of Worship

Campbell began a series of lessons on the order of worship, “A Restoration of the Ancient Order of Things No. V,” by arguing that, logically, there must be a required order of worship from two premises —

The first is, either there is divinely authorized order of Christian worship in Christian assemblies, or there is not. …

On the supposition that there is not, then the following absurdities are inevitable: There can be no disorder in the Christian assembly; there can be no error in the acts of social worship; there can be no innovation in the department of observances; there can be no transgression of the laws of the King. …

But, to make this matter evident to children as well as men, we will carry it a little farther. One society of disciples meets on the first day morning and they all dance till evening, under the pretext that this is the happiest way of expressing their joy, and when they have danced themselves down they go home. … Another society meets for worship, and they sing all day; another shouts all day; another runs as in a race all day; another lies prostrate on the ground all day; another reads all day; another hears one man speak all day; another sits silent all day; another waves palm branches all day; another cries in the forenoon and listens to the organ in the afternoon … .

Logical? Actually, no, it’s not. Read more closely. Why do we consider the absurd examples that Campbell gives absurd? What’s the problem with a church running in a race all day? Think about it. Continue reading

So Very, Very Close …

This is just ALL over the internet. We’d may as well laugh along with everyone else.

CENI: So In Conclusion … , Part 1

church_split11Readers here and in other forums where this series has been discussed have asked how I could be so Post-modern as to reject the notion of obeying commands … which means I’ve not adequately explained my thinking.

First point: I’m not a Post-modern thinker. If you ever understand anything I’ve written as questioning the possibility of objective truth or submission to authority, you’ve misunderstood. It may be entirely my fault, but my view of truth is not remotely Post-modern. Continue reading