Bob Prichard

Topic(s): Denominationalism, Worship

No. The dictionary defines music as the art or science of harmonic sounds; harmony or melody. Churches of Christ recognize music as an important part of their worship. 

The key question is, What kind of music has God commanded and authorized for the church? The music that is found in churches of Christ is a cappella singing. A cappella music is singing without accompaniment by a mechanical or artificial instrument of music. The term a cappella literally means like the church, because it is like singing of the early church. Singing a cappella does not mean that the church is without music.

Many churches have used instrumental music for years (though not as many years as most would think). Most people readily accept it, and find it strange that anyone would exclude the instrument from worship. Those who use instruments in worship are quick to ask where the Scriptures forbid them. The burden of proof, however, lies with those who demand the instrument in worship, because every Scripture in the New Testament dealing with the music of the church speaks only of singing.

Do the Scriptures authorize the use of mechanical instruments of music in worship? Some say, Surely instrumental music in worship is approved, because God approved of the instruments of David. David did use instruments of music in worship, with God’s authorization. But does this mean that they are authorized in worship today? Paul tells us that by His death, Christ was blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross (Colossians 2:14). Christ fulfilled the old law and took it out of the way. If we can go back to the old law to find authority for the use of mechanical instruments in worship, then every other part of the old covenant worship would also be authorized, including animal sacrifices, and burning incense. If animal sacrifices and burning incense are not included in the doctrine of Christ, then neither is instrumental music.

Some say instrumental music is authorized because there will be musical instruments in heaven. We read in Revelation 15:2, I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. Those having the victory over the beast have the harps of God. But are these literal harps? Revelation is a book filled with symbols and figurative language. Is there a literal sea of glass mingled with fire? If the harps must be literal, then the sea of glass mingled with fire must be literal also. 

Harps in heaven really have nothing to do with the worship which God has specified for the church today, though. Jesus said, in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven (Matthew 22:30). Does no marriage in heaven mean that there should be no marriage today? We cannot go back to the old covenant, nor to the future in heaven to authorize instrumental music.

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