By Mike Willis
One of the jobs which fell my upon my shoulders in 1979 was the preparation of a catalog for Truth Magazine Bookstore (and; several other bookstores -which shared in’ our cooperative catalog efforts). When I reorganized the material by subject matter, I found that there was very little material available to brethren on the subject of instrumental music. Despite the fact that brethren have had a multitude of debates on the subject, there is only one debate presently in print on the usage of mechanical instruments of music in worship (The Shelly-Dunning Debate). Too, there are only a few books available on the subject:
The March 1980 issue of Restoration Review, which is edited by Leroy Garrett, told about the introduction of mechanical instruments of music in the Belmont Church in Nashville in 1979. In what I was told was an 8 to 3 vote among the elders, the Belmont Church decided that instruments of music would be used in the worship with the songs.
This event reminds us of the necessity of teaching constantly on the subject of mechanical instruments of music in worship. A new generation has grown up which did not go through the fight on instrumental music. By and large, the fight has been put so far behind us that very little preaching is being done on the subject. When I was a lad, one of standard sermons which a person could expect to hear in a gospel meeting was “Why Churches of Christ Do Not Use Mechanical Instruments of Music In Worship.” Just how long has it been since you read an article or tract on that subject? How long has it been since you read an article or tract on that subject?
Peter wrote, “Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance . . .” (2 Pet. 1:11-12). Similarly, I felt the need to remind brethren of why instrumental music is not to be used in our worship. We do not need to go through another division on this subject! The only safeguard which we have is a membership which is taught on the subject.
Those who fought the battle against the introduction of instrumental music in worship are gone. Do the elders in the church of which you are a member know why instrumental music in worship is sinful? Will the next generation of elders know? With the desire that this material will be helpful in instructing brethren on this subject, we present these special issues on this subject. We hope that you will. help us to give it a good circulation.
Truth Magazine XXIV: 19, p. 306
May 8, 1980