November 06, 2008

Q and A 2.0 Revisited: #7: Church of Christ and Music


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Why does the Church of Christ not use music in their worship services, yet we do?

In college I played in a Christian rock band, and we were once booked by a Church of Christ. Immediately after I hung up the phone with the guy who booked us, I started thinking about the fact that they were a Church of Christ. I called back and said, “you know we’re not an a cappella group, right?” He laughed out loud, then told me that they were pretty progressive compared to most other Churches of Christ.

Churches of Christ actually do allow music in their worship services, but many of them only allow a cappella music, which is music with no instruments. Some of the more progressive churches do allow instruments, but many still hold to only using voices to create music. There is no official church rule about instruments, but their congregations divide themselves by "instrumental" and "non-instrumental".

So what reasons do the "non-instrumental" congregations use for their choice to leave out instruments? They base this off some of the following verses:

Ephesians 5:19—“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.” There is singing, but no instruments mentioned.

Colossians 3:16—“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” Once again, singing, but no instruments mentioned.

They argue that since there is no mention of instruments in the New Testament, then instruments should not be used. Even though instruments are used in the Old Testament, such as David using a harp to play worship music, these instruments do not appear explicity in the age of the church.

That’s a dangerous logic to use, when you get down to it. The New Testament doesn’t mention folks driving cars either…but Church of Christ members drive cars. Even if you only want to make the case that these things are only pertaining to worship, the logic falls apart. The Bible never gives an order of worship that churches should use in services, but Churches of Christ uses orders of worship. There is no mention of pews in the sanctuaries, but they sit in pews. This list could go on. It’s sort of a picking and choosing of what they will use and what they won't use.

It’s much better for them to say, “I prefer a cappella music to music with instruments”. That’s not wrong at all. There is nothing wrong with prefering one style over the other, or even using it in worship.

What’s wrong is to say, “this is the only way” or “this is Scriptural” when it comes to the style of music used in worship. Remember that there is no such a thing as "Christian music". There are only Christian lyrics. Anyone who tries to make a claim that certain musical beats or instruments are not "Christian" goes well outside the boundaries of Scripture, and are in danger of making heretical claims.

Scripture has nothing to say about the style, beat, timing, or types of instruments that can be used in worship. From organs to electric guitars, what matters is the hearts that are behind the worship, and whether we are approaching God's presence in humility and willing to be changed by our time in that presence. Turning our minds attention and our hearts affection towards God is true worship, regardless of the music that is used.

Next, we'll tackle one of the more fun questions involving the navels of Adam and Eve. Check out all of the Q and A series here.

1 comment:

Robby Hall said...

This was great, I think it would be cool if you did a series on the different denominations and what make them different from each other.