Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 14, 1966
NUMBER 10, PAGE 1-2a

The Instrumental Music Question

Luther Blackmon

In previous articles we have been trying to help those who are interested in finding the New Testament church. We have pointed out that you identify the church just like you identify anything else. The pattern of the New Testament church is the New Testament itself. The word "church" is not found in the Old Testament at all. In the New Testament you find everything God wants you to know about the New Testament church. If the church you are in follows what the New Testament says about the church, - then you are in the New Testament church. Otherwise you are in a human affair; and no matter how many good people are in that church, it is still human and unscriptural.

The New Testament church engaged in five items of worship when they came together on the Lord's Day: (1) Prayer, (2) Teaching or preaching, (3) Contributing of their means, (4) the Lord's Supper, and (5) Singing. Some say it is all right to use instrumental music along with our singing. We want to notice this now.

There is only one way to settle this question: Did the New Testament church use instrumental music? If they did, we may. If they did not, we may not. It is as simple as that. I do not propose to study or discuss the matter from any other standpoint. This is a matter of authority. I have repeatedly advised my brethren not to argue the Bible with a Mormon (or Latter Day Saint, as they prefer to be called). Not because they present such profound arguments from the Bible. They don't. Generally speaking, they know very little about the Bible except for a few select passages. But you should not argue the Bible with a Latter Day Saint, for the simple reason that he does not believe the Bible to be the word of God except where it agrees with Mormon doctrine. One of their articles of faith reads like this: "We believe the Bible to be the word of God where correctly translated. We also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God." Notice that he believes the Bible conditionally. But he accepts the Book of Mormon without reservation.

Orson Pratt, one of the twelve apostles (they have living apostles you know)says this: "Verses and even whole chapters have been added by unknown persons, and even we do not know the authors of some whole books. And we are not certain that all those we do know were written by inspiration. And all this imperfection and to the uncertainty of the translation, and who, in his right mind, could for one moment suppose the Bible in its present form to be a perfect guide? Who knows that even one verse of the whole Bible has escaped pollution so as to convey the same sense now it did in the original?" (Orson Pratt's Works, page 218.)

Don't waste time arguing the Bible with a Mormon. Make him defend his prophet, Joseph Smith. That is the most difficult (and impossible) task. But you will never accomplish anything discussing the Bible with a Mormon. For example, the Mormons make elders of young unmarried boys. The Bible says an elder must be the husband of one wife. But that means nothing to a Mormon because he does not accept what the Bible says about it. Now, if you can ever shake his confidence in Joseph. Smith, and can get him to accept the Bible as his rule of faith, you will have common ground on which you can profitably discuss things. But you can see how silly it would be for two men to try to agree on the length of a board when one would measure it with a ruler having 12 inches to the foot and the other would measure with a ruler having 16 inches to the foot.

Instrumental Music

But what does this have to do with instrumental music? This is what it all means; Until people are willing to accept the New Testament as the authority on what the church is, and what it is to do, there will never be any unity on this or any other question. I have been asked countless times why churches of Christ do not have instrumental music in worship. When I answer that there is no scriptural authority for it, I almost always hear: "Well, the Bible doesn't say you can't have it." It would help immeasurably if people would learn that this is not the basis on which authority is established. When a doctor gives you a prescription, he writes on that paper just what he wants the druggist to put into it. He doesn't need to write down all the other medicines in the store and say, "don't put in any of these!" We can understand that in medicine. Why not in religion?

The Lord Jesus Christ, our great physician, gave us the prescription in regard to worship. He authorized us to sing in worship. (Acts 16:25; Romans 15:9; I Cor.14:15; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Heb.13: 15; James 5:13; and Matt.26:30,) There is not one passage in all the New Testament that authorizes playing an instrument of music in worship. Those who do so, do it without scriptural authority. But very often, when you have shown a fellow that the New Testament does not authorize it, he will turn right around and say, "Well, I don't see how it could possibly be wrong." He is putting his "I don't see" up against the authority of the New Testament, and yet he claims to have great respect for the word of God. Some people think that the only ones who ever opposed instrumental music in worship are those who make up the church of Christ. Not so. This article will not permit me to quote them here, but I can give quotations from Martin Luther, the founder of the Lutheran churches, from John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, and John Calvin, the founder of the Presbyterian churches, and from Charles Spurgeon, the greatest Baptist preacher of all time, and many others, all of which opposed instrumental music in worship.

God killed Nadab and Abihu for offering fire that he had not authorized. (Lev. 10) He caused the earth to swallow up Korah and his crowd for daring to make priests of the common people (Num.16). God has always been especially severe against those who added to his worship. I do not envy these people who do so now.

If your church plays instrumental music in its worship, it is NOT a New Testament church.

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