Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 23, 1957

Instrumental Music In Worship: Its Origin

Gordon Wilson, Henderson, Nevada

There are two ways by which a tree may be recognized: By its fruit, and by its seed. We can see an apple and immediately know that the tree which produced it is an apple tree. Or, we may see an apple seed and know beyond doubt that the tree which will grow from it will be an apple tree.

The fruit, or results, of instrumental music are known to be evil, therefore the practice itself is evil, producing such fruits as division, loss of spirituality in worship, etc. In this article we wish to discuss the seed or origin of instrumental music in worship.

In the Old Testament when the Lord set up the tabernacle worship there was no mention of the use of instruments of music. Trumpets were used in connection with the tabernacle, but only to call the people to assembly, never in the worship itself.

At that period in Jewish history Israel was ruled by an order of judges, according to the commandment of God. For a long time this system of government worked excellently until the people grew dissatisfied and began to desire to be like the other nations.

"Give us a king," they shouted. The Lord told Samuel to let them have a king, "For they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them." (I Sam. 8:7). Later he said, "I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath." (Hos. 13:11). In demanding a king Israel rejected God, thus apostatized in the area of government. It was early in this apostasy that the use of instruments of music in worship originated.

David, the second king of Israel, introduced the instruments into divine worship without authority from God. There is not a passage of scripture which even slightly suggests that the Lord authorized the instruments or ever approved their use, though He tolerated them just as He tolerated the king which He did not approve.

When the time came that God ordered the original pattern of worship restored He gave commandment that abominable instruments be put away. (Amos 5:23, 6:5). So we see that mechanical instruments of music in worship originated in apostasy and were nurtured in corruption.

After the church of Christ was established in about A. D. 33, the church was taught to sing, with no mention of instrumental music. The apostles constituted the judges over the people of God in New Testament days. (Matt. 19:28; John 20:23). As long as the church was satisfied with the authority of Jesus as exercised by the apostles, there were no musical instruments employed in their worship.

All of us are familiar with the development of the great apostasy, which resulted in the crowning of the Roman bishop as Universal Pope. Just as in the Old Testament the apostasy took place in the area of government, so it was in the great apostasy of the church. And once again, it was during the early period of the apostasy that instrumental music was introduced into the worship.

It was Pope Vitalian who, in about 667 A. D., brought the organ into the services of the Catholic Church over the protests of many of her most distinguished men. Instrumental music in church worship originated in apostasy.

At long last the light began once more to shine and the dark ages were dispelled. Men began to look back to the New Testament as their guide, and the apostolic judges were again recognized. The men who went about the business of restoring the church of Christ to original purity found no place for instrumental music in the worship of the church. During the first sixty or seventy years of the Restoration movement on this continent the instruments were not used by churches of Christ.

Once more apostasy set in. Societies of men, designed to do the work of the church, octopus-like, reached out in every direction to grip the church in their deadly tentacles. Congregations surrendered their organizational independence, then their autonomy. The apostasy, of course, was in the area of government. Soon the instruments of music began to appear, introduced by those who had departed from the truth.

Brethren, it is obvious that in every case instrumental music has been brought into worship in the midst of an apostasy, a turning away from God.

There is but one thing left to be said, and it is this: If the church does drift into another general apostasy, those who go out from us will have their instruments of music. Already, in many of the soft, institution-controlled congregations, the instrument occupies a place in the "social hall," for use at weddings, church parties, etc. It is but a matter of a few years till the piano will be moved into the auditorium. Such is the natural result of casting aside the authority of the word of God.