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Readers respond to coverage of instrumental service

Editor’s note: Churches of Christ have long been committed to a cappella worship music, and our recent story on one church’s decision to add a Saturday night instrumental service including the Lord’s Supper has stirred deep concerns among a significant number of readers. The letters section this month is expanded to bring a representative sample of opinions. As a general rule, we only publish letters in the issue immediately following the story.
Nobody seems to understand the real issue. It’s not about the instruments. It’s about our attitude toward the public assembly. Paul soundly criticized the Corinthians for being selfish in their public assembly. They were selfish in regards to communion and regards to speaking in tongues when no one else could understand them.
Public worship is not about us personally. It’s about each other. In my opinion it’s selfishness and pride that make folks bring instruments into the public assembly.
If the apostle Paul could ask Timothy to become circumcised for the sake of the gospel, I wish that our brothers and sisters in Christ would grant one another the freedom to use contemporary music as a way to draw in the “unchurched” to the message of the gospel.
In an age where kids have to travel with their music loaded into their iPods, we are not going to reach some because of our stance on doing church music only in one manner. We have to be willing to become all things to all people in order that some might be saved. The good news is about Jesus, not a cappella music.
Thank you for your efforts at objective coverage of issues affecting our fellowship. Why do people think that incorporating instruments is the cure-all for stagnation? Anyone who believes that instrumental worship is a “silver bullet” for evangelism is in for serious disappointment. No alteration in style is a substitute for investing in people’s lives and ministering to the least of these.
Our fellowship is in trouble because we are not fulfilling the Great Commission; not because we sing a cappella.
The silence of God speaks thunderously loud. Hebrews 7:14: “For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests.” Moses did not list tribes unauthorized to serve as priests because he specified the approved tribe — a principle the Hebrews author expected his readers to know.
Other inspired writers did not list unauthorized food and beverages to be served at the Lord’s Table because they specified which items were approved — a principle these inspired writers expected their readers to know. To go beyond God’s specified word and add something not specified is to leave the biblical pattern (Hebrews 8:5) and invoke his displeasure (2 John 9).
The strategy currently used by those who wish to introduce instrumental music into our worship is now evident: 1. Make those who oppose the innovation appear to be the bad guys who are causing division. 2. Insist that those who oppose the instrument should not voice their objections to others. 3. No negative comment should be expressed regarding those who are promoting, justifying or using instruments. 4. Those who wish to do so must be allowed that liberty. 5. When contemplating unity only ask, “Do they believe in Jesus? Have they been immersed?” 6. Depict those who object to the change agenda as unlearned, narrow and legalistic folks who are to be pitied and ignored.
Thank you for reporting on this story in an unbiased way. As a student of music history, I know of only one other church music debate that caused as much dissention as the instrumental debate, and that was the addition of harmony.
I have been in the Churches of Christ since birth, and I don’t plan on leaving. Even so, I know that we’re probably not right about everything, and that we must seek constant renewal: We must continue to live and grow, or else we will whither and die.
Why is the music thing even an issue? Have we not read the Old Testament, particularly sections dealing with the temple, and all through the Psalms?
Why is this a hangup? Read what David used music for, even before he was king. Some of the most positively influential people in my life have been involved in worship to God with music. Some of the biggest answers to prayer in my life have been when I was involved with music. Please listen.
God did not merely say “music.” He commanded a specific kind of music — singing, vocal, the fruit of our lips giving praise to him (Hebrews 13:15) The church that Christ built did not use instruments in praise.
I think you were pretty thorough with the article concerning Richland Hills. I have been a member of the church for many years and used to think of it in the “old” way. We are all not perfect, so I believe the Holy Spirit directs us to change at times on our opinions. I respect all the elders at Richland Hills and love our minister, Rick. I really believe they have heard from God on this matter. Since the early ’90s I have been praying for positive change in the Churches of Christ.
If one thinks we are just going to sing a cappella in heaven, I believe that is not what it is all going to be.
I can find nowhere in New Testament Scripture where instruments were used or authorized in the worship, and early church history bears me out. Perhaps a larger concern is the observance of the Lord’s Supper on Saturday night! Our days do not begin at nightfall, as the Jewish day does. And the Lord was not resurrected on Saturday!
When the New Testament tells me that the church met together “on the first day of the week for the breaking of bread, fellowship and prayers, and every church historian of any repute says that the meaning was primarily to observe the Lord’s Supper, I must question the scripturality of the practice of offering the Lord’s Supper on Saturday night.
It would seem to me that before anything takes place in regard to instrumental music, we need more study and prayer on the issue of traditions and the issue of remaining united in the church. Romans 14 addresses this second issue quite clearly. And it addresses it to both sides — defenders and challengers. Paul says to not put a stumbling block in your brother’s way. For defenders of tradition, their stumbling block is the introduction of musical instruments. For challengers of tradition, the tradition itself is the stumbling block.
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