Instrumental Music - Detecting Inconsistency?

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Instrumental Music - Detecting Inconsistency?

Post by email » Mon Sep 17, 2012 10:40 pm

Inquiry in Reference To: [url= ... ments.html] ... ments.html[/url]
To the author:

I found the article on instruments in worship to be thought provoking on some points but utterly extreme and hermeneutically inconsistent on others. So some of my knee-jerk reactions were...

1. Are we really to perceive the use of instruments in OT worship as just an allowance by God to satisfy the weakness of men, such as in the case of divorce?

2. If you are an advocate of psalm singing, would it not be a contradiction to sing about the "sound" of an instrument praising God and then turn around and also argue for no instruments in worship? I suppose you could give a very lengthy explanation periodically for a congregation, but it would seem so strange to sing about it, especially since many of the verses are in the form of a command, but reject instruments in worship?

3. Why must we always interpret commands to praise God with instruments figuratively, but interpret commands to praise God with singing literally? I could just as well sing to God from my heart as well as "pluck" my heart strings.

4. When I have heard teaching on the regulative principle of worship (which I am presumptuously assuming you advocate since you mentioned your disagreement with Luther's basis for choirs and instruments), much of it is defended from the OT? However, if I am understanding your argument correctly, we are not to justify our worship practices from the OT because its relevance was abolished with the work of Christ.

Thank yiu for taking time to consider my inquiries.

In Christ
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Instrumental music

Post by m273p15c » Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:07 am

Thanks for the good questions and your concern for inconsistency. Please consider the following answers to your questions:
  1. Perception? Our perception is irrelevant. Is the mechanical instrument authorized in the NT or is it not? That is the only question that matters. A lot of questions flow into this web-site from people with various backgrounds. Please make a list of every question that elaborates upon this first question, and then ask yourself if it could not be similarly raised by a modern proponent of polygamy or any-exception divorce. (Please let me assure you that they have a multitude of emotional arguments for NT acceptance based on their perception.) Can you be consistent in rejecting these positions, if you accept the instrument based on avoidance of a distasteful perception?

    Here is another example: In the beginning, almost anyone could offer animal sacrifices (Cain, Abel, Job, Abraham, etc. - may have been limited to just patriarchs, but Cain and Abel seem anomalous). However, under the law of Moses, only priests from Levi could offer sacrifices (Numbers 1:50-51; 3:6-10; 18:1-7; 16:1-17:13). Yet, in the NT all Christians are priests (I Peter 2:4-5, 9), but they are only to offer their lives and "fruit of their lips" as sacrifices - not animal sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2; Hebrews 13:15-16). How are we to perceive the OT animal sacrifices? Does their absence in the NT minimize their significance in our perception? You see, God's change between covenants may not always reflect His expectations for further maturity or His demeaning of past practices. It may reflect a change in spiritual function or some other purpose unrevealed to us.

    The point of the original comparison is to merely show that the Lord has clearly done this (i.e., restrict in the NT what was permitted in the OT) on other points that we already acknowledge and accept. Although I may speculate as to why God did this, disciples of faith are not required to understand why before they obey, are they?
  2. Public Confusion? Yes, it would be very confusing to sing OT psalms that command mechanical instruments without using them. Paul was very clear on avoiding such circumstances ("an uncertain sound") in the NT (I Corinthians 14:6-9, 19-20, 33, 40). Therefore, I would not advocate singing any OT psalm that would be easily misunderstood or promote confusion. Does that seem strange or even wrong to you? If so, please let me ask: Are Christians required to sing all OT psalms? If so, do you sing this psalm at worship services and execute all of the commands it demands?
    1 Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

    2 Let Israel now say, "His mercy endures forever."

    3 Let the house of Aaron now say, "His mercy endures forever."

    4 Let those who fear the LORD now say, "His mercy endures forever."

    5 I called on the LORD in distress; The LORD answered me and set me in a broad place.


    10 All nations surrounded me, But in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.

    11 They surrounded me, Yes, they surrounded me; But in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.

    12 They surrounded me like bees; They were quenched like a fire of thorns; For in the name of the LORD I will destroy them.

    13 You pushed me violently, that I might fall, But the LORD helped me.


    25 Save now, I pray, O LORD; O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity.

    26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.

    27 God is the LORD, And He has given us light; Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.

    28 You are my God, and I will praise You; You are my God, I will exalt You.

    29 Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. (Psalm 118:1-29 NKJV)
    Would it not take a long time to explain why you don't immediately proclaim war on all idolatrous, pagan, or unbelieving nations? Or, did you immediately seek to "destroy them in the name of the Lord"? Did you proceed to "the house of the Lord" and there "bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar"?

    How about this Psalm?
    1 By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down, yea, we wept When we remembered Zion.

    2 We hung our harps Upon the willows in the midst of it.

    3 For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song, And those who plundered us requested mirth, Saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"

    4 How shall we sing the LORD'S song In a foreign land?

    5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, Let my right hand forget its skill!

    6 If I do not remember you, Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth -- If I do not exalt Jerusalem Above my chief joy.

    7 Remember, O LORD, against the sons of Edom The day of Jerusalem, Who said, "Raze it, raze it, To its very foundation!"

    8 O daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed, Happy the one who repays you as you have served us!

    9 Happy the one who takes and dashes Your little ones against the rock!
    (Psalm 137:1-9 NKJV)
    Do you encourage your church to "dash the little ones against the rock", who belong to opposing nations? How do you sing this psalm in your worship? How long does it take you to explain why you don't sing it?

    We could proceed multiplying examples of psalms that should no longer be observed. Hopefully, these will suffice to make the point: The Old Testament psalms contain a multitude of references and commands that pertained to carnal Israel in their carnal worship of earthly sacrifice and their carnal mission to secure the land of Canaan. Just as those commands no longer authorize genocide and animal sacrifice, they no longer authorize instrumental music. If one insists that they do authorize - even demand instrumental music, then why do they not also demand genocide and animal sacrifice? Whatever approves one approves the other.
  3. Figurative Interpretation? - I can only think of one group of passages that I interpret figuratively, which mention instrumental music in the New Testament - Revelation! I interpret those figuratively, because we are told they are figurative (Revelation 1:1-3). The only inconsistent thing would be to literally interpret passages in Revelation contrary to the Lord's indication. You can read more here: ... revelation
  4. Authority for Authority? Yes, many OT passages are frequently used to establish the significance of following the Bible pattern and not using God's silence to permit. And, it is also argued that the OT does not authorize, so is this a contradiction? I do not believe so. The key is to understand that the OT still teaches, instructs, rebukes, and edifies (II Timothy 3:16-17; I Corinthians 10:6, 11-12; Romans 15:4). It teaches us about the covenant transcending nature of God, the weakness of men, etc. However, we cannot use it as a law for us; otherwise, we would be required to offer animal sacrifices, etc. You can read more on this point here: ... _testament ... ents2.html


    Respect for God's pattern and refusal to accept His silence as permission (i.e., the regulative principle, as you call it) is rooted in respect for God's omniscience and omnipotence. In other words, do we have the right to presume upon God and His Word? This applies to God's nature, which transcends all covenants. Not surprisingly some of the examples used to make this point are pulled from the NT (I Corinthians 11:20-26, 33-34) as well as the period of the patriarchs before the Law of Moses (Matthew 19:3-8; Galatians 3:15-17)! So, it is not just an OT principle! You can read more about these points here: ... ption.html ... tures.html

    Therefore, it applies to us living under the NT also.
Again, thank you for the good questions. I look forward to hearing from you, because I hope we can grow closer to Him - and thereby, each other - through a better knowledge of His Word (II Peter 3:15-18; John 17:17-23).

May God help us to have a sincere love of truth (II Thessalonians 2:9-12; Isaiah 66:4),

May God help us to love truth sincerely and supremely (II Thessalonians 2:11-12)

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