Paul J. Casebolt
Paden City, West Virginia
Some people introduce or practice a thing in religion just because they want to, and do not claim to have any authority for it. Others practice the same thing, and then try to authorize it by labeling their activity an "aid" or an "expedient."
In order for a thing to be expedient, it must first be lawful. (1 Cor. 6:12) In order for a thing to be an "aid" it most aid or help in doing the thing authorized. These two facts will eliminate a vast majority of those things which are loosely designated as "aids and expedients."
Singing is authorized (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). Not just any kind of singing, but the singing of "psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs." If we had not been told what kind of songs to sing, then it would make no difference if they were spiritual, patriotic, or hillbilly. And, if we had been told to "play" music, or to "sing and play," then any kind of a mechanical instrument could be used. But, had we been told to play a piano, no other instrument could be used, and this would no longer be in the realm of an "aid"; it would be the thing commanded. By no right use of the Scriptures can we justify mechanical instruments of music in Worship, for they constitute another kind of music, and they do not accomplish what God wants accomplished by singing--teaching, speaking, admonishing, praising God with the fruit of our lips, and making melody in our hearts (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Heb. 13:15)
Likewise, mechanical instruments of music in worship can be condemned because they do not aid the worshippers, as claimed by their advocates. Even those who rely on the piano and similar instruments will admit that the use of such discourages the average person from singing, and encourages the use of choirs, solos (instrumental and vocal), and professional musicians. Conversely, any child of God, without tune or a trained voice, could sing acceptable praises unto God. Mechanical instruments of music in worship were opposed by Luther, Calvin, Wesley, Spurgeon, Clark, and Campbell. Yet, those who claim to follow and respect these men are inconsistent in their claim.
Some brethren try to get their kitchens and recreation halls under the heading of "aids and expediencies." We have been commanded--to assemble for the purpose of edifying, worshipping, etc. Anything necessary to the carrying out of these requirements could be called an aid or an expedient, being authorized by the thing commanded. For example, the command to assemble necessarily infers a place of assembly, and anything else that would aid the ones assembling to do what God has required.
Now, in order for us to build a kitchen or a recreation room with the Lord's money, we must first find authorization for the church to assemble for such purposes as eating a common meal and being entertained. Until the church can find authority for providing recreation, entertainment, and the like, it has no authority for such "aids" as kitchens, "fellowship" halls, hobby shops, schools, hospitals, and things of kindred nature. Remember, in order for a thing to be an aid or an expedient, it must first be lawful, and aid in doing the thing which God commanded. If there is no authority for doing a thing, then there can be no authority for those things which are employed to help do a thing which was never authorized in the first place.
I am convinced that those who first introduced mechanical instruments of music into the worship of the church never intended or expected that some would go the extent that they have in this respect. Yet, the at-tirade toward the Scriptures that allowed the one allowed the others also. I doubt if the founders of the Missionary Society had in mind the complicated and costly array of men's and women s organizations and societies, clubs, and benevolent organizations that are prevalent today. Some are "fed up" and expressing alarm about such things as youth activities, observance of religious holidays, unscriptural titles and offices, commercialization, blending with denominationalism, and the general decline or complete absence of spirituality.
It is high time that we became alarmed--in fact, it is past time in many instances. It is too late to stop the digressive movement which resulted in the "Christian Church." It is not too late to come out of such digression and cast our influence with those who are still trying to follow a "thus saith the Lord." It will be too late after death or the judgment. When ground is lost, it is time to re-group our forces and make our stand at the most effective place. The enemy is now behind us in many places, and has succeeded in penetrating the ranks of the faithful. Some have already cast their lot with digression, some are unwittingly aiding it, some are wavering, some are trying to lose themselves in neutrality, and some are fighting. Where would we find Paul? (2 Tim. 4:7) Where will Christ find us?
TRUTH MAGAZINE XIV: 6, pp. 12-13
December 11, 1969