The absence of mechanical instruments in worship is one of the main distinguishing factors between many Churches of Christ and other denominations, although several Churches of Christ are beginning to incorporate instrumental music into the worship assembly. Growing up in the Churches of Christ, I was taught that using mechanical instruments of music in worship was sinful because God had not authorized their use. I was instructed in this same belief at my Alma Mater, Southeast Institute of Biblical Studies.
For many years following, I sincerely believed that instrumental music in worship was sinful. I preached sermons where I affirmed this belief. I taught Bible classes where I affirmed this belief. I wrote articles where I affirmed this belief. In 2012, I even had a formal, public debate affirming that instrumental music in worship was sinful.
It was after that debate when I began questioning my belief on instrumental music in worship. During the course of the debate, certain points were brought to my attention that I wanted to examine in closer detail. After two more years of studying the issue from different perspectives, my mind was changed. I no longer believed instrumental music in worship was sinful.
Since I was so adamant against the use of instrumental music in worship in my past, I believe that it is only fair for me to explain why I changed my position. I have changed because of my study in the Word of God and I am thankful to be able to share those studies with you throughout the course of many articles.
I want to make it clear from the beginning that I do not believe this should be made an issue of salvation. The Bible never places worship music on par with salvation. Therefore, regardless if you agree with my conclusion, this shouldn’t affect our fellowship with one another (Rom. 14:10-13).
I believe vocal music without the use of instruments is biblical, and one can go to heaven without ever using an instrument. This is similar to the sentiment I had towards my brother in Christ, Johnny Elmore, when we formally debated the issue of how many cups could be used during the partaking of the Lord’s Supper.
He and his congregation believed that only one physical container was authorized and that everyone had to drink from the same container. I told brother Elmore that one container is biblical, and one can go to heaven without ever using multiple containers. However, just as I believe one may use multiple containers for the Lord’s Supper, I also believe one may use instrumental music to worship God.
In this study, it is not my aim to present reasons why churches must or should use instrumental music in their worship. I will simply be giving reasons as to why churches may use instrumental music in worship to God.
While striving to be sensitive to the conscience of other Christians, we must also do our best to remain honest to the Bible and not bind where God hasn’t bound. We cannot allow emotions or the traditions of men to reign supreme. At the end of the day, the Bible must be our standard in ascertaining truth (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3).
– Kevin Pendergrass
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