You may not realize that the early churches, at least the ones in the 3rd century and later, did not allow musical instruments.
The denomination that calls itself Church of Christ and claims not to be a denomination also claims that the Bible disallows musical instruments because you can’t do anything the New Testament doesn’t expressly say you can do.
Of course, I have trouble understanding, then, why they have church buildings, parking lots, pulpits, bathrooms in their church building, hymnals, etc., etc., etc.
Anyway, here’s my reasons for believing that we should not follow that early church tradition. (Rose Creek Village’s reasons would be different. As a village, we’ve never thought about it because nothing in the Bible would remotely hint that you should forbid musical instruments … and the Spirit of God likes them.)
The Early Christian Writings and Musical Instruments
This one really throws me.
The NT says nothing of musical instruments. The 2nd century writers say nothing about musical instruments. Come the 3rd century, Origen says the reason the churches don’t use musical instruments is because they are used to lead armies into war.
The OT, however, is effuse with praise for musical instruments, and the Book of Revelation says there will be instruments in heaven.
My thought is that there were no musical instruments in the Gentile churches because they were persecuted. Their meetings were secret, and playing music would only arouse attention.
After a few decades or a century of such stealth, I’m guessing, it became tradition not to use musical instruments.
I’m not very confident of that guess, but I have several reasons for promoting the use of musical instruments.
- They help us sing collectively with our hearts focused on God (versus nervous singing by people who are not confident, drawing everyone’s eyes to the awkwardness in the room).
- The OT recommends them highly.
- God seems to like having musical instruments around his throne.
- The NT references to musical instruments seem positive enough, even though they’re references to people making mirth rather than songs of worship.
- There are no references to musical instruments not being used by the church until the 3rd century, when the churches were already getting larger and liturgical.
- I see no spiritual benefit or additional spiritual life in those who forbid musical instruments compared to those who allow it. In fact, I see the opposite. Spiritually strong people tend to allow musical instruments. Pharisees and nervous, fearful Christians tend to disallow them.