Yesterday, 1/27/2016, while building this blog, I visited “One in Jesus” Jay Guin’s site to help me gather a list for my Blogroll. As I was reading through the names, one jumped out at me. The name: ‘Kevin Pendergrass’. My first thought was: this must be a different Kevin. Last I recall he was totally opposed to the progressive church of Christ. In fact, he had been in my area on Johnny’s Robertson’s show. Just a few months back I even watched his 2012 debate “against” music in worship. I quickly jumped to Kevin’s site to see if it was the same Kevin and to my surprise it was. I encourage others to visit his site. Below is an article from Kevin, on music. Enjoy.
Not too long ago, I posted a study explaining why I no longer believe that Christians should bind a frequency when it comes to taking the Lord’s Supper. This study can be viewed by clicking here. Similar to my change on that topic, I no longer believe that Christians should bind vocal music in worship as being the only kind of music acceptable to God in worship. In 2012, I had a public debate on the subject of music in Christian worship. In the debate, I affirmed that vocal music was the only type of music authorized in New Testament worship. I have since changed my position. I believe that it is only fair for me to explain why I changed my position. I have changed because of my study in the Word of God and I am thankful to be able to share those studies with you.
OBJECTIVE STUDY AND THE PROBLEM WITH RHETORIC
In order to enter this study, I ask that you leave rhetoric and proxy thinking at the door. Rhetoric is language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect on its audience, but often regarded as lacking in meaningful content. For example, I have heard preachers say comments like, “every argument that has ever been presented in favor of instrumental music in worship has already been defeated and nothing new has been brought to the table for 150 years.” That may sound really impressive, but what does it prove? Sadly, I have used statements similar. I even used one similar in my own debate. And, lo and behold, I later realized that I had missed some things along the way! The problem with rhetoric is that either side can use it…and at the end of the day, it proves nothing. For example, someone else could just as easily say, “every argument that has ever been presented against instrumental music in worship has already been defeated and nothing new has been brought to the table for 150 years.” This type of reasoning does nothing to advance the cause of truth. Therefore, please be careful of this style of argumentation because it proves nothing.
I have read dozens of books, articles and debates on the topic of instruments in worship. I even had a debate on this topic myself when I opposed instruments. Some were actually converted to the belief of “vocal music only” because of my debate! However, I have now changed my view because of my own study on this topic. I realized I didn’t know as much as I thought I did and I was very biased in my previous way of studying. Please do not allow anyone to do your thinking, including myself (Phil. 2:12). I do not want you to accept what I am saying just because I am saying it. I also do not want you to reject what I am saying just because I am saying it. I ask that you please do your own thinking. The idea of “proxy thinking” is when you allow someone to do your thinking for you. The Church of Christ is often times accused of this and sadly, I have been guilty of this as well. However, I realized that if I was going to study objectively, I must allow the Bible to dictate truth…no matter where it leads. I ask that you do the same.
A PLEA FOR UNITY
One central point that I emphasize in my study on the frequency of the Lord’s Supper is that I do not believe it should be made an issue of fellowship either way. In other words (regardless if you agree with my conclusion or not), this shouldn’t affect our fellowship with one another (Rom. 14:10-13). I believe that we can disagree on this issue without causing division or strife. Vocal music is biblical and one can go to heaven without ever using an instrument. I also believe that one can go to heaven if they do use a mechanical instrument in worship as I will demonstrate in this study. While striving to be sensitive to the conscience of other Christians, we must also strive to remain honest to the text. We cannot allow emotions or the traditions of men to reign supreme. At the end of the day, the Bible must be our standard in ascertaining truth (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3).
INCONSISTENCIES REGARDING WORSHIP MUSIC
There are some in the Churches of Christ who have no problem using instruments in worship songs as long as they are not used in “corporate worship.” Some will condemn their neighbor on Sunday morning for using mechanical instruments in worship, yet they themselves have no problem listening to worship songs with instruments on Sunday afternoon. There are some brethren who condemn worship choirs only to turn around and have a choir sing worship songs at a funeral or have a Church of Christ college choir sing at their church. I think that this belief stems from a lack of proper understanding of the context of Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. These passages are by no means limited to the assembly or even in direct reference to the assembly (although I do believe they can have application to the assembly). God did not give different regulations and restrictions for worship songs when sung inside the assembly versus outside the assembly (see: Acts 16:25; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; 1 Cor. 14:15; Ja. 5:13; etc.). I say all of that to say that perhaps we have been blinded by our own plank (Mt. 7:1-5; Rom. 2:1-5).
While I believe that pointing out the inconsistencies above is important, I want to make it clear that I am not making this an argument to justify instruments in New Testament worship. This study is not about how inconsistent the Churches of Christ are and have been on the issue of music in worship. The attention and focus in this study will be on one crucial question, “Does the Bible sanction the use of mechanical instruments in New Testament worship?”
WHAT LAW IS BEING VIOLATED?
In order to know if God sanctions a practice, we need to first see if there is a law against it. Paul writes in Romans 4:15, “Where there is no law, there is no sin.” Paul is stating a universal principle. 1 John 3:4 specifically teaches that sin is violation of the law. Sin was brought into this world through a violation of law (Gen. 3:1-7). The Bible repeatedly teaches that there has to be a law violated in order for sin to occur. Since the Bible teaches that authority or approval for a practice is intrinsically granted in the absence of a law, those who believe that it is a sin to use instruments in worship are obligated to provide the New Testament law that they feel is being violated.
Since Jesus has all authority (Mt. 28:18), this means that neither I nor you have the authority to make laws that God never made. We need to be careful that we do not bind our own beliefs and make laws where God “gave no such commandment” (Acts 15:24). If mechanical instruments in worship are sinful, it is because either God directly gave a law against their use or because God gave a specific law which would exclude their use. I will explain why I believe there is no law (thus no sin) regarding the use of instruments in New Testament worship.
REGULATION OF INSTRUMENTS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
John Price wrote a book entitled, Old Light on New Worship. Price argues that God has always regulated the type of music He wants in worship. Price writes about music in the Tabernacle and the Temple. His basic conclusion is that God did regulate instruments under the Old Testament to be used in worship and that only the Levites were authorized to play instruments. He reasons that if God wanted instruments in New Testament worship, then He would have said so, just as He did in the Old Testament.
While it is certainly not in the scope of this short study to address everything Price wrote, I do believe his fundamental conclusion has no basis. First, Christians live under and are amenable to the New Covenant (Heb. 7-10; Eph. 2:14-18; etc.). Regardless if instruments were condoned, commanded or condemned in the Old Testament, I must turn to the New Testament to find my instruction as a Christian. The Old Testament is not our authority, the New Testament is. Second, David is recorded all throughout the Psalms as praising and worshipping God with an instrument multiple times. David was not a Levite. He was from Judah (2 Sam. 2:4). To argue that only Levites worshipped God with instruments is inaccurate. Third, the example of Miriam shows us that instruments were an acceptable way to praise God before Tabernacle or Temple worship (Ex. 15:20). Instrumental praise pre-dated the Law of Moses and was acceptable to the Lord. Miriam was not in sin for worshiping with instruments because God had given Miriam no law on the matter.
I do however agree with Price that God accepted instruments of worship in the Old Testament. Before the Law of Moses, instrumental praise was used and accepted by God. During the Law of Moses, instrumental praise was used and accepted by God. But as I stated before, we are concerned (or at least should be concerned) with what our instructions are as Christians. Did God ever give regulations and restrictions to singing and instruments in the New Testament? Or, similar to the example of Miriam, has He given no law?
GOD HAS GIVEN NO DIRECT LAW AGAINST THE USE OF INSTRUMENTS IN NEW TESTAMENT WORSHIP
One can read their New Testament as many times as they would like and they will never find any type of proclamation against instruments in worship. In fact, there is not even a hint of any kind of negative connotation to instruments in worship. John’s vision symbolically presents instrumental worship to God in a positive light (Rev. 5:8; 14:2; 15:2). Realizing that this is symbolic, I do not want to overstate the point. However, I do find it interesting that the times that instrumental praise is seen in the New Testament, it is only spoken of positively and never negatively.
It is agreed upon by all Bible students that God never gave a direct law against the use of instruments in New Testament worship. Even the most conservative members of the Churches of Christ will concede this point. However, God does not have to directly condemn something in order for there to be a law against it. Certainly that is one way to show that a practice is wrong, but there is also another way. When God is specific about what He wants, He doesn’t have to give an exhaustive list of what He doesn’t want. Sometimes this is called the law of specificity or the law of exclusion.
To demonstrate this point, I always used an example that I called the, “Subway example.” If I went to Subway for lunch and ordered a sandwich and specified the kind of meat, cheese and vegetables I wanted, I wouldn’t have to tell the worker every kind of meat, cheese and vegetable that I didn’t want. We would call this common sense. It would be foolish to expect God to state explicitly everything He didn’t want. The Bible would be an endless book if God operated this way. When God specifies what we need to do, we need to do it without adding to or taking away. I have always agreed with this principle and still agree with it. So, why have I changed my mind about binding vocal music? As I will demonstrate below, I have changed because I do not believe that God ever specified vocal music to the exclusion of instrumental music as I once did.
SING VS. SING ONLY
How many sermons have you heard that teach we are saved by faith, but not faith only? This makes a very valid point. Faith doesn’t mean faith only. But, have we added to the word of God by teaching that “sing” means “sing only?” There is no language where the word “sing” intrinsically means “sing only” to the exclusion of instruments. If the word “sing” automatically excludes instruments, then why must it always be qualified with the word “only?” The reason is because “sing” doesn’t intrinsically exclude instruments. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that the Greek words used for sing in the New Testament (“psallo,” “ado” and “humneo”) ever excluded instruments. None of the words used in the New Testament for “sing” ever meant “sing only” or “sing to the exclusion of instruments.” These are not specific words that exclude instruments. Those believing that these words exclude instruments would be obligated to provide the evidence.
In fact, the Greek word “psallo” used in the New Testament is a word that permits instruments. There are five occurrences of the Greek word “psallo” in the New Testament (Eph, 5:19; 1 Cor. 14:15 twice; Ja. 5:13; Rom. 15:9). In the Greek Old Testament, the word “psallo” is a word which can include instruments (1 Sam. 16:16; 1 Sam. 16:17; 1 Sam. 16:18; 1 Sam. 16:23; 1 Sam. 18:10; 1 Sam. 19:9; 2 Kings 3:15; Psa. 33:3; etc.). It is important to note that while the word “psallo” can include instruments, it doesn’t necessitate them. This can be seen by the way it is translated in the Greek Old Testament (Judges 5:3; 1 Sam. 16:16; 1 Sam. 16:17; 1 Sam. 16:18; 1 Sam. 16:23; 1 Sam. 18:10; 1 Sam. 19:9; 2 Sam. 22:50; 2 Kings 3:15; Psa. 7:17; Psa. 9:2; Psa. 9:11; Psa. 18:49; Psa. 21:13; Psa. 27:6; Psa. 30:4; Psa. 30:12; Psa. 33:2; Psa. 33:3; Psa. 47:6; Psa. 47:6; Psa. 47:7; Psa. 57:7; Psa. 57:9; Psa. 59:17; Psa. 61:8; Psa. 66:2; Psa. 66:4; Psa. 68:25; Psa. 68:32; Psa. 69:12; Psa. 71:22; Psa. 71:23; Psa. 75:9; Psa. 92:1; Psa. 98:4; Psa. 98:5; Psa. 104:33; Psa. 105:2; Psa. 108:1; Psa. 108:3; Psa. 135:3; Psa. 138:1; Psa. 144:9; Psa. 146:2; Psa. 147:7; Psa. 149:3).
I studied every occurrence of the word “psallo” in the Greek Old Testament and above you will find an exhaustive list of every time the word “psallo” occurs. It is important to note that the word “psallo” itself never excluded instruments. Furthermore, examples of those living close to the time of Jesus such as Josephus and other Hellenistic Jews can be cited to show that they used the word “psallo” in such a way as to be able to include instruments (Corbitt, Danny. Missing More Than Music, p. 28).
If Paul wanted to exclude and forbid instruments from worship, why would He have used a word that was inclusive to instruments? Neither the Greeks nor the Hellenistic Jews would have understood the word “psallo” to exclude instruments. The Greek word “psallo” didn’t exclude instruments in the Greek Old Testament and the Greek word “psallo” didn’t exclude instruments in the first century. Therefore, there is absolutely no basis for anyone to objectively argue that the word “psallo” (which never excluded instruments) somehow excludes instruments the five times it is used in the New Testament. God certainly knows how to make something clear when He is being specific and exclusive. Since none of the words used for “sing” in the New Testament means “sing only,” God could have still excluded instruments with these words by adding the word “only” to “sing” if He wanted to. The word translated “only” is used some 47 times in the New Testament (http://biblehub.com/greek/3441.htm). If God wanted to make “sing” mean “sing only,” He certainly could have. Yet, He never did.
Interestingly enough, this poses an important question. Who is actually adding to the Word of God? Is it those who believe instruments are authorized or is it those who believe that we are only authorized to “sing only?” If God never gave a law condemning instruments in worship and if God never excluded their use in the New Testament, then, who has “gone beyond that which is written, teaching as doctrine the commandments of men” (1 Cor. 4:6; Mk. 7:7-9)?
DOES THIS MEAN THAT ALL CHRISTIANS MUST PLAY A MECHANICAL INSTRUMENT?
Since Christians are supposed to “psallo” and the word “psallo” never excluded instruments, does that mean that Christians are commanded to play a mechanical instrument? I used to use this argument when I believed that instruments were unauthorized in worship. In other words, I used to argue that if the word “psallo” didn’t exclude instruments, then that means that all Christians have to use instruments. However, this argument assumes that the word “psallo” is a word that demands a mechanical instrument and that is just not the case as can be seen by multiple passages (Psa. 7:17; Psa. 9:2; Psa. 9:11; Psa. 47:6; Psa. 47:6; Psa. 47:6; Psa. 47:6; Psa. 47:7; Psa. 57:7; Psa. 57:9; Psa. 59:17; Psa. 61:8; Psa. 66:2; Psa. 66:4; Psa. 66:4; Psa. 68:4; etc.). According to the Bible, you can “psallo” acceptably with or without a mechanical instrument. If God would have commanded Christians to play, we would expect to see words that necessitate playing (such as “kitharizo,” “auleo” or “kreko”). However, that is not what we find. Instead, we find that the word “psallo” is a word that authorizes instruments but doesn’t necessitate them.
Furthermore, the Greek word combination that Paul uses in Ephesians 5:19 is “ado” and “psallo.” These two words are paired together multiple times in the Greek Old Testament and they never exclude instruments nor do they necessitate instruments. The paring of “ado” and “psallo” can be praise without an instrument (Judges 5:3; Psa. 27:6; Psa. 68:4; etc.) or it can be praise with an instrument (Psa. 33:2-3; etc.). Therefore, one could acceptably “ado” and “psallo” to God with or without a mechanical instrument.
WHAT ABOUT MUSIC IN YOUR HEART?
In Ephesians 5:19, the Bible says that Christians are to sing and make melody in their heart (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). Some argue that if the melody is to be made in the heart, then that would somehow exclude melody being made on a piano, a guitar or any other instrument. Some claim that the instrument that we are to pluck is the instrument of our heart strings, thus, excluding any mechanical instruments. This alleged argument holds no weight and should be dismissed for the following reasons.
The phrase “in your heart” in Ephesians 5:19 is an adverbial prepositional phrase which describes the manner of the action, not the method (Gen. 17:17; Josh. 14:7; Psa. 15:2; Prov. 3:5; Psa. 119:2; Lk. 2:19; Mt. 5:28; etc.). “Things done from the heart i.e. cordially or sincerely, truly” (Thayer, Joseph. Greek-English Lexicon, p. 325). Paul is teaching Christians that they need to worship and praise God sincerely. What makes any action “dead” or “in vain” (whether it be an instrument or vocal music) is the heart from which it proceeds (Mk. 7:7-9). “Whether with instrument or with voice or with both it is all for naught if the adoration is not in the heart” (Robertson, A.T. Word Pictures in the New Testament, vol. 4, p. 405). The idea is that the praise needs to come from the heart in order to be acceptable (Mk. 12:30; Mt. 22:37-38).
The heart was an essential component with singing under the Old Law (Psa. 9:1; 57:7), which obviously didn’t exclude mechanical instruments (Psa. 57:7; Psa. 138:1; etc.). If they could use an instrument while singing in their heart, then that means that singing in your heart doesn’t exclude an instrument. Singing in the heart has never excluded mechanical instruments. The Bible teaches that it is possible to sing in your heart with the accompaniment of a mechanical instrument. Singing “in your heart” does not nor has it ever excluded a mechanical instrument.
It needs to also be noted that Ephesians 5:19 says that both the singing and the melody are to be done in the heart (see also: Colossians 3:16). If the phrase “in your heart” means inward and silent, then one is forced to conclude that the singing must also be inward and silent since it is to be done “in the heart.” Whatever “in the heart” means with one action in Ephesians 5:19, it must also mean with the other. Therefore, if this reasoning were to be taken to its logical conclusion, it would exclude vocal praise since the singing is to be done “in the heart.” Therefore, according to this type of reasoning, the only authorized kind of singing would be “mental singing.”
Furthermore, I believe we have to be careful to make sure we are consistent with any argument that we claim is an argument of “exclusion.” For example, James 5:13 says, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.” Is this a law of exclusion? Is God being specific? Does this mean that if I am suffering, I can’t pray and go to the doctor? Does this mean that I can only sing a psalm when I am cheerful? What if I am not cheerful? What if I am sad? Am I authorized to sing a psalm then? These questions could be endless. We need to be careful that we do not overstate a point when speaking about “statements of exclusion.”
THE HISTORICAL ARGUMENT: MISREPRESENTING HISTORY
In my years of growing up in the Churches of Christ, it has been proclaimed that the early church didn’t use mechanical instruments because they were unauthorized. Claims have been made that instruments were not brought into Christian worship until the 5th or 6th century. This is a heavy, heavy claim that is absolutely false. Now, before we start, let me remind you that early church history is not our authority. But since it has been one of the leading arguments among members of the Churches of Christ as to the rejection of instruments in worship, I want to address the fact that many Churches of Christ have (unintentionally) misrepresented early church history on this matter.
I want to begin with one of the most famous quotes that some Churches of Christ have used. It is allegedly claimed by some that the following quote comes from Justin Martyr:
“The use of [instrumental] music was not received in the Christian churches, as it was among the Jews, in their infant state, but only the use of plain song. . . . Simply singing is not agreeable to children [the aforementioned Jews], but singing with lifeless instruments and with dancing and clapping is. On this account the use of this kind of instruments and of others agreeable to children is removed from the songs of the churches, and there is left remaining simply singing” (Justin Martyr? c.a. 139).
You will notice that there is no reference for this quote. The reason for this is because this quote is found nowhere in Justin’s writings. It has been long accepted by scholars and textual critics that this was not a quote from Justin Martyr. This was a “pseudo-Justinian” quote that came hundreds of years after Justin (McKinnon, James. Music in Early Christian Literature, p. 107; Ferguson, Everett. The Instrumental Music Issue, p. 95).
So, if this quote was not from Justin, then what did Justin Martyr have to say about music in Christian worship?
“As the Spirit urges those from all the earth who recognize this salutary mystery – i.e., the sufferings of Christ, through which he saved them – to sing (adontes) and play the harp (psallontes) continually” (Justin Martyr, c.a. 139. Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew, 74. translated – Dr. Walter L. Straub: Wilbur Fields, The Glorious Church A Study of Ephesians, College Press: 1960, p. 211).
Other writings of Justin Martyr show that he understood that the Greek word “psallo” did not exclude playing because the phrase “David sung (εψαλλεν) them” in his Dialogue is the identical Greek phrase from the Septuagint in 1 Samuel 16:23 and 19:9 where David played an instrument before the Lord. (Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew, 29; 1 Samuel 16:23; 19:9). Therefore, Justin Martyr (c.a. 139) didn’t condemn instruments in worship, he spoke positively about them!
Now let us move on to Clement of Alexandria (c.a. 190). He was also an early church writer. What did he have to say about instruments in the church?
“For the apostle adds again, ‘Teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your heart to God.’ And again, ‘Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and His Father.’ This is our thankful revelry. And even if you wish to sing and play to the harp or lyre, there is no blame.” (Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 2, p. 249)
Clearly Clement saw no problem with using instruments in worship to God. Another individual used in the Churches of Christ whose information is often misapplied is Tertullian (c.a. 200). Tertullian writes:
“That immodesty of gesture and attire which so specially and peculiarly characterizes the stage are consecrated to them—the one deity wanton by her sex, the other by his drapery ; while its services of voice, and song, and lute, and pipe, belong to Apollos, and Muses, and Minervas, and Mercuries. You will hate, O Christian, the things whose authors must be the objects of your utter detestation” (Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 3, p. 84).
This quote is sometimes used to allegedly prove that Tertullian was against instruments in worship. However, this is not the context of Tertullian’s statement. Tertullian is not speaking about worship to God; he is talking about the theatre or the “Show.” He was speaking against going to shows that he believed were ungodly. Also, the lute and pipe was not the only thing that Tertullian mentioned. He also mentioned the voice and song. This quote has nothing do to with worship, much less instruments being sinful in worship. In fact, we have writings of Tertullian where he associates and includes instruments in “psalms and hymns” (Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 3, p. 468). Tertullian never condemned the use of instrumental music. He only condemned the abuse of such of those “who drank wine with drums and psalteries.” Tertullian believed that instruments could be included with singing to the Lord.
Ephraim Syrus (c.a. 306-373) said, “Let us praise that Voice whose glory is hymned with our lute, and His virtue with our harp. The Gentiles have assembled and have come to hear His strains” (Post Nicene Fathers, vol. 13, p. 227).
Jerome speaks of a “sister” who praises God with instruments (c.a. 347- 420):
“Oh! that you could see your sister and that it might be yours to hear the eloquence of her holy lips and to behold the mighty spirit which animates her diminutive frame. You might hear the whole contents of the old and new testaments come bubbling up out of her heart. Fasting is her sport, and prayer she makes her pastime. Like Miriam after the drowning Pharaoh she takes up her timbrel and sings to the virgin choir, ‘Let us sing to the Lord for He hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.’ She teaches her companions to be music girls but music girls for Christ, to be luteplayers but luteplayers for the Saviour” (Schaff & Wace, Nicene & Post Nicene Fathers, 1893, vol. 6, p. 107).
To my knowledge, there is absolutely no evidence of anyone, from the time of the early church through the first few centuries, that actually condemned instruments in worship. But, what about all of the quotes your preacher has used to show how the early church opposed mechanical instruments? Well, as we have noted, some of those “quotes” are not accurate or accurately applied (see also: http://theweatherlyreport.blogspot.com/2012_05_01_archive.html) . Even early quotes that are sometimes used to discourage instruments in worship do not prove that the early church condemned them. Furthermore, the quotes of writers who do actually condemn instruments in worship are much later quotes and do not begin until almost the 5th century and they also condemn even David’s use of instruments (Corbitt, Danny. Missing More than Music, p. 26).
Unfortunately, I was never given this information in the congregations I attended, the Bible classes I went to or the preaching school I graduated from. On the contrary, I was led to believe the exact opposite! Biased study seldom produces unbiased conclusions. That is why it is so important to be honest with the evidence. Please do not misunderstand me. I certainly believe that vocal singing (chanting to be exact) was the music of the time culturally of the early church, even though early Christians never condemned instruments in worship (and based upon the writings, some actually used and encouraged them). The reason for vocal chanting wasn’t an authority issue, but a cultural one. Danny Corbitt in his book Missing More Than Music explains this in-depth, citing multiple historical and cultural reasons and explanations for the churches music choice, and it has nothing to do with authority or sin (pp. 24-41).
A FEW THOUGHTS ON “COMMAND, EXAMPLE AND NECESSARY INFERENCE”
If you are a member of the Churches of Christ then you have probably heard the phrase, “command, example and necessary inference” or something very similar to it. Let me be the first to admit that I believed this for many years and even taught others to believe it. However, there are blatant and obvious problems with this idea. The problem is that this position assumes itself. In logic and debate, this is called begging the question. Begging the question is a logical fallacy that is committed when a proposition, which requires proof, is assumed without proof. I don’t believe that I should assume a fixed way on how to read and study the Bible before I even read and study it. I should conform my thinking to the Bible, not the Bible to my thinking. I should allow the context to dictate the meaning of the text.
The Bible never states that the exclusive way to study the Bible is by command, example and necessary inference. This method presupposes itself. Consider this for a moment: There is no command, example or necessary inference in the Bible for this method of studying the Bible; therefore, by its own admission, this method would be “unauthorized.” Some Churches of Christ are guilty of creating a doctrine outside of the Bible that they claim must be accepted in order to understand what is inside the Bible.
Furthermore, this method quickly becomes a subjective way to study the Bible. For example, which examples do we bind? Which examples must we follow and which examples may we follow? And, what is the objective way to gauge the difference? I have already covered this fallacy in my study on the frequency of the Lord’s Supper. Also, when it comes to “necessary inferences,” I must honestly ask the question, “Necessary to whom or what?” Once again, this becomes subjective, proving that this way of studying the Bible cannot be accurate. In reality, this type of Bible study could be called, “Command, Subjective Examples, and Necessary (when you want them to be) Inferences.” I do not say this to be rude, but to be realistic. When I was honest with myself, I could no longer accept a position that I realized was created by men and not God.
This has by no means been an exhaustive study of this issue, but should serve as sufficient information to get you started on the issue. There are many more arguments that could be produced. However, from Miriam and her tambourine, to David’s instrumental worship, to Paul’s use of “psallo” and psalms and to John’s heavenly vision (Rev. 5:8; 15:2); instrumental praise to God in and of itself has never been intrinsically sinful or unauthorized.
I pray that we can learn to live with each other’s differences, respect each other’s decisions and have unity and cease division on beliefs that God never makes issue out of. “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: As I love, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me and every tongue shall confess to God. So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way” (Rom. 14:10-13).
– Kevin Pendergrass