WILL YOU EVER hear our Baptist, Presbyterian or any of our denominational friends say, “The most influential men in our history were opposed to the use of instrumental music in Christian assemblies.”? No, you will never hear a Baptist say, “Charles Spurgeon, one of our greatest Baptist preachers, opposed instrumental music.” And you will never hear a Presbyterian admit: “John Calvin, one of the most famous theologians in history, rejected instrumental music in the sacred assembly.” Why? Because most are completely unaware of several facts about church history and may never hear them as their assemblies become more like concerts than a worship.
In the first century, Christians merely sang in their assemblies (Woodson). Hundreds of years passed before instrumental music was ever introduced into the apostate church. In fact, instrumental music was rejected by leading Protestants; and even when introduced into the mainline denominations, there was resistance.
Men who influenced the Protestant landscape were themselves opposed to instrumental music. For example, in his commentary on Psalm 33:2-“Give thanks unto Jehovah with the harp: Sing praises unto him with the psaltery of ten strings”-John Calvin wrote:
“For even now, if believers choose to cheer themselves with musical instruments, they should, I think, make it their object not to dissever their cheerfulness from the praises of God. But when they frequent their sacred assemblies, musical instruments in celebrating the praises of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting up of lamps, and the restoration of the other shadows of the law. The Papists, therefore, have foolishly borrowed this, as well as many other things, from the Jews. Men who are fond of outward pomp may delight in that noise; but the simplicity which God recommends to us by the apostle is far more pleasing to him.”
The Methodist scholar Adam Clarke wrote with reference to 2 Chronicles 29:25.
“But were it even evident, which it is not, either from this or any other place in the sacred writings, that instruments of music were prescribed by Divine authority under the law, could this be adduced with any semblance of reason, that they ought to be used in Christian worship? No: the whole spirit, soul, and genius of the Christian religion are against this: and those who know the Church of God best, and what constitutes its genuine spiritual state, know that these things have been introduced as a substitute for the life and power of religion; and that where they prevail most, there is least of the power of Christianity. Away with such portentous baubles from the worship of that infinite Spirit who requires his followers to worship him in spirit and in truth, for to no such worship are those instruments friendly.”
In connection with Psalms 42:4, Charles Spurgeon wrote:
“Here are the facts. The instrument was not taken out of worship; rather, the instrument was an innovation brought into assemblies. On Christ’s authority, congregational singing of spiritual songs is what belongs in the church.”
John L. Girardeau’s strong opposition among the Presbyterians to the instrument included this statement:
“It is almost inconceivable that the majority of the officers and members of the Presbyterian Church can have abandoned the consecrated principle that a divine warrant is needed for every element which enters into the worship of God’s house (197). What a degradation to supplant the intelligent song of the whole congregation by … the blowing off of wind from inanimate bellows and pipes! We might as well pray by machinery as praise by it (272).”
Church history is very clear, the instrument was not taken out of worship; rather, the instrument was BROUGHT IN and it was TAUGHT IN by MEN. Jesus said – and I believe it – that such worship is VAIN. On Christ’s authority, congregational singing of spiritual songs is what belongs in the church.
1Corinthians 14:15; Ephesians 5:18, 19; Colossians 3:16