Thursday, August 6, 2015

Could A Capella music send you to hell?

I am thankful for how my faith & thinking have been shaped within a cappella churches. My faith journey began in a mainline church of Christ and though I'm not in one now, I still hold tightly to our Restoration Movement principles.  Many people who practice non-instrumental worship think using an instrument in the worship service is a sin that leads to damnation. What if it is actually the other way around?

The argument against instruments goes basically like this: Instruments were Old Testament, and we are New Testament Believers; the Bible, particularly the New Testament, is silent on the use of instruments, therefore instruments are unauthorized.  

It is interesting or ironic that the early church as recorded in the book of Acts and throughout the rest of the Bible, the early believers, didn't differentiate between what we call the Old Testament, and the New. The Bible which Jesus, Peter, Paul, and everyone else recorded in the New Testament preached out of was actually what we call the Old Testament.... So if we want to say the first churches were making a Biblical stance for non-instrumental worship, one would be hard pressed to back that up.

People who make a case for a capella music often say the change from using instruments to non happens at the Cross, even though the Bible never makes this statement.  What changed from the Cross to the resurrection in the practice of our worship to God?

* Sacrifice practices clear: Heb 7:18-19, 9:23-28

* Temple/location clear JN 4:21-24

* Priesthood clear I Pet 2:4-5

Considering the Nature of God we need to ask: If God changed His mind about the use or acceptability of instruments, and now instruments are forbidden, wouldn't He dedicate one simple verse saying in the Bible communicating, "Instruments will condemn you..."?

Scripture warns against adding to and taking away from the Bible, Deut 4:2, Deut 12:32 and Rev 22:18.  If God's word gives instructions and promotes instruments and never has a single passage forbidding the use of instruments, then we must be careful we aren't adding to, or taking away from the inspired word.

But what about how instruments aren't authorized in the New Testament?  Number one, it's hard to argue from silence... Number two, the New Testament refers to the Old and says "all Scripture is profitable..."  II Tim 3:16-17.

Many people who argue from silence and say instruments are no longer appropriate will interpret/apply Scripture through a methodology/hermeneutic that looks for Commands, Examples, or Inferences.  There are plenty of passages in the Old Testament to support the use of instrument, but what about the New?  

Since  Jesus, the Apostles, and everyone else recorded using a Bible in the New Testament would've been using the "Old" Testament, it's fair to say they would have noticed what the Bible communicates about instruments -- so further instructions as in commands might not be necessary.  

But what about examples or inferences?  Are there actual examples or inferences of New Testament-Christian-Believers using instruments, recorded in the Bible?  Yes.

Where are the examples or inferences? Acts 3:1 Peter and John were going to the Temple at the hour of prayer.  What took place in the Temple?  The use of instruments.  

Also, Acts 5:42 mentions that daily the early believers were in the Temple, again a place where instruments were used in worship.  

Paul is in the Temple fulfilling some Jewish vows in Acts 21:26 ff. when he's assaulted.  Paul is fulfilling the vows to prove that as a Christian he strictly observes the Mosaic Law, see Acts 21:20-24.  
I'm not interested in arguing for or against the use of instruments.  I really don't mind either form of worship.  I do mind when believers argue and give off the wrong impression to non-believers.  When we are argumentative and judgmental towards other believers, we give the whole church a bad reputation and it negatively impacts our ability to reach the lost. 

No, I don't think a cappella is going to send anyone to hell -- but the wrong attitude could jeopardize one's salvation.  I am worried about believers who take a stance that people who use instruments are going to hell.  Jesus says, "Judge not lest you be judge... your standard of measure will measured against you." In other words, Matt 7:1-2 clearly communicates if you expect perfection from others, God will require that from you.  How you judge others, God will judge you. 
I think it would be shame to forfeit one's salvation based on condemning others to hell over a matter of opinion, a grey area, a subject God Himself didn't use one single verse to condemn.

No comments: