Bible Basics: Instrumental Music Voted In By Elders

By Earl Robertson

The word of God authorizes music as worship to God; however, we hasten to say that music is vocal – singing (Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19). The Bible is silent concerning instrumental music in worship to God in the church today. Whether churches use mechanical instruments in worship or not is not a matter of opinion or indifference, but a matter of scripturalness or unscripturalness. The use of it is either right or wrong. Every conceivable means for justifying its use in worship has been written. Some of these efforts are subtle and deceiving while some are bold and stupid. One wrote, “It is a difference of opinion as to the means necessary to obey the precept to sing” (Memoirs of Isaac Errett, Vol. 2, p. 39). Preaching that it is a matter of “opinion” then, “no man has a right to make it, on either side, a test of fellowship, or an occasion of stumbling.” This allows churches to ignore and disobey the word of God. Or, can man act when God has not spoken?

Evidently, some effort was made early in the 19th century to introduce instrumental music into the worship, though it was the middle of the century before such became a practice. John Rogers of Carlisle, Kentucky, wrote Alexander Campbell on June 9, 181 concerning the issue, saying, “O, say! has the object of this warfare, for more than a quarter of a century, been to introduce instrumental music into our meeting-houses . . .” (Millennia/ Harbinger, 1851, p. 468). Aylette Raines of Millersburg, Kentucky said on April 27, 1851: “Brother S(aunders) wishes to introduce the melodeon into the church” (The Disciples in Kentucky, By A.W. Fortune, p. 373). Raines opposed it and it was not introduced. However, Dr. L.L. Pinkerton of Midway, Kentucky did introduce it into the worship in the Midway church in 1849. The attitude of those who introduced it into the churches toward the authority of the scriptures and its use in the worship occasioned much sorrow and division within the churches. The loose attitude toward the word of God is what caused this apostasy. One departure from the word of the Lord leads only to another! Brethren seemingly cannot learn this lesson. We learned recently the Belmont church of Christ in Nashville, Tennessee has introduced instrumental music into its worship. That church has eleven elders and eight of them voted the instrument in. But, one only has to check the past actions of that church to see why her elders acted as they did. The pattern they followed in evangelistic efforts, being the pooling of congregational monies of many churches, a practice unknown on the pages of the New Testament, is exactly what leads to this departure in worship. The liberals have laughed at our opposition to their departures from the word of God in evangelism and benevolence, while not seeing that their attitude toward the scriptures in these things would also, ultimately, lead to the use of the organ in worship – apostasy in worship.

Truth Magazine XXIV: 18, p. 298
May 1, 1980