Thank you for your good questions. I apologize for the delay, but I pray you will still find this answer helpful, in spite of the late hour. :)
Although you had multiple questions, I believe they can generally be answered by understanding one key concept: the distinction between general and specific authority. We have an article on this topic here:
In short, every command has both general and specific elements. For example, Noah was commanded to build the ark out of gopher wood (Genesis 6:14-16
). God specified the wood to be used, dimensions, and several other details, but He did not
specify the tools to use, plank length, and several other aspects, where multiple options were present. Unless we are willing to accept that God is capricious, then we must assume that Noah was free to choose the most expedient course within the general authority God had provided. In other words, Noah was at liberty to choose the tools, plank length, plank width, etc.
Please consider, was Noah free to use some other type of wood, beside gopher wood? God had specified it, but He did not say to not
use some other kind of wood. He just said to use gopher wood. Do you think God would have blessed Noah, if Noah second guessed God and used some other kind of wood? What if Noah thought cherry wood was prettier? What if he thought oak would float better? Imagine Noah had said, "God, I know you said to use gopher wood. But, you did not say not to use oak, and I think oak is better, so I am going to use oak." What kind of attitude would such a statement manifest? Would that not be presumptuous? We have more on this line of thought in the following article:
Now, I'd like to answer your questions individually:
In your article, you taught that instrumental music is forbidden because it is not expressly commanded by God in the New Testament. I am interested in this line of thinking. Would singing harmony also be forbidden? After all, the Lord said for us to sing and make melody in our heart to the Lord.
My apologies, but I have not properly conveyed the argument. I am not arguing that instrumental music is forbidden because it is not expressly commanded
. Rather, I am arguing that instrumental music is unauthorized, because God specifically commanded acapella music. Just as Noah's gopher wood excluded oak, so does NT acapella music exclude instrumental music. God specified vocal music ("singing and making melody in your heart"
). If you find any references to NT worship with mechanical instruments, then I'll retract that argument with sincerest apologies.
Now, about singing in parts or in harmony, please show where God specified some other type. ... All we have is a general command to sing. Whether we sing in 4-part, 2-part, or 1-part harmony, we are still singing regardless. We are in no way adding to or taking away from God's command to sing. Now, if you can find a command to sing in a more specific way, in unison for example, then I will repent of singing in harmony. The key here is to recognize that harmony is but one way to execute the general command to make music by singing.
Should women participate in congregational singing at all? They are commanded to keep silence in the assembly and only speak with their husbands at home about spiritual matters. Since Colossians 3:16 expressly commands us to teach and admonish one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, wouldn't a lady violate the teaching in Timothy not to teach or usurp authority over a man if she participates in congregational singing?
We could simply say that congregational singing, making the good confession, and other similar vocalizations are obvious exceptions to the rule on a woman's silence, since God commanded these also. However, for consistency's sake, I think it is more important to notice that they are not in conflict. First, let us look at Timothy's letter:
... in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control. (I Timothy 2:9-15)
The Greek word for silence or quietness, hesuchia
, can have a relative meaning of comparative quietness. It does not necessarily mean complete and utter silence. Please consider these NT usages of the same word:
And when they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they kept all the more silent. Then he said ... (Acts 22:2)
If "silence" (Gr., hesuchia
) always means absolute silence, then how does one keep more
silent? Obviously, comparative degrees are permissible within the connotation of this word.
For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread. (II Thessalonians 3:11-12)
Obviously, Paul was not commanding people to never speak again while conducting their daily work; however, in comparison to a lifestyle of meddling, manipulating, and lazy scheming, they were to lead a life of peace, contentment, and relative quietness.
So, if "silence" does not mean absolute silence, uttering not a word nor a sound, then what does it mean in I Timothy 2:11-12
? The key is to recognize it's relative nature and look for its basis of comparison in the text. In other words, women are to be quiet relative to whom and to what extent? Paul said women are not "to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence"
. Based on this context, I understand that a woman could not preach or teach a class with male participants. Otherwise, in such a class, men would sit in comparative silence, generally listen to a woman choose, order, and homilize Scripture. The order of submission, established at creation, is clearly backward in such a case. However, when a woman blends her voice to sing songs chosen, ordered, and orchestrated by a male leader, then how is she "teaching or having authority over a man"
? She is participating in an indistinguishable manner with the entire congregation. Unless she is leading the singing, how is she usurping the man's authority? Therefore, consistency is preserved. A woman can meet the command to sing and maintain her submissive position, providing she does not assume the leadership position.
Now, the curious thing to me is that if congregational singing is accompanied by mechanical instruments, this test of Scriptural unity is in no way relaxed. The only way it can be relaxed by such an addition is if one has already accepted that God's Word can contradict itself! In trying to show my inconsistency, you have revealed that you have already swallowed a much greater "camel". Were you content in accepting that Ephesians 5:19
and Colossians 3:16
contradicted I Timothy 2:11-12
? I do not know your view of God, His Word, and its inspiration, but I am concerned about the possible liberal attitude, which seems to be manifested in the foundation of your challenge. If you knew these verses were not in conflict, regardless of our positions, then why did you present it to me as a challenge? I am worried that you have accepted a loose hermeneutic to accommodate what you perceived as a contradiction.
The Lord said we are to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (with the understanding). Just what is a psalm? If it is referring to the book of psalms, do we need to omit the ones that command us to praise the Lord with instruments (like Psalm 150)? What is a hymn? I know that Jesus sung a hymn with His infant church just after the first Lord's Supper. But what hymn was it? According to some Greek Lexicons, the Greek word translated hymn referred to singing Psalms 113-118 & 136. So should we be singing those specific psalms? What is a spiritual song? According to Strong, it is a chant. The following quotation from the Online Bible program's Greek English Lexicon concerning all three of these terms is quite interesting.
The mechanical instrument is not inherent in any of these words. By the time of the writing of the NT, context dictated whether an mechanical instrument accompanied these songs. In fact, the only instrument inherent in these words, especially psallo
, is the human voice. You can read more on this point here:
http://www.insearchoftruth.org/articles ... tml#psallo
So, after reading that please tell me, from the context of Ephesians 5:19
and Colossians 3:16
, what instrument is approved? Who are we to "add to"
We can generally sing almost any of the Psalms. The only qualifications provided are that whatever doctrine a song "teaches and admonishes"
is both spiritual and consistent with Scripture (i.e., not false doctrine). Elsewhere, we learn that all worship must be "decently and in order"
(I Corinthians 14:40
). I cannot think of any other specific limitations at the moment.
I am wondering just how closely we should follow the letter of thelaw when it comes to these teachings? Do you really believe the Lord was trying to establish the fact that we should not have any type of instrumental music in our lives by not mentioning it at all in the New Testament (unless one accepts that psalmos and psal'-lo could refer to some sort of instrumental music)? Should we decide other matters that are not specifically addressed by name in the same manner?
Again, the key argument is not the absence of any approval of instrumental music in NT Scripture. Rather, that fact combined with the specific command to make music through singing excludes other forms of music. How can we introduce the mechanical instrument without "adding to"
God's command to make music through singing?
I pray you find these thoughts helpful. I look forward to your prayerful, Biblical response.
May God help us to have a sincere love of truth,