This is taken from a church’s statement of faith concerning music:

“When Christians come together to worship God they are commanded to sing (Eph.5:19;Col. 3:16).We are opposed to mechanical instruments of music in Worship to God. The reason for this is because they are not authorized. No where within the pages of the New Testament will one find where the early Christians used the mechanical instrument of music in their worship to God. In every reference that is made in regards to the kind of music which God desires of His people it is always vocal music (singing), (Matt.26:30; Mark 14:26; Acts 16:25; Rom.15 :9;1 Cor.14:15; Eph.5:19; Col.3:16; Jam.5:13). Paul said, “So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Rom.10:17). He also stated, “…for whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom.14:23b). God has not given us the evidence (revealed it in His word) for the use of the instrument, therefore, to use such instruments is without authority and sinful.

The church of our Lord must not add to nor take away from that which God has revealed (Rev.22:18-19).Thus we will not use mechanical instruments of music in our worship to God.”

What are your thoughts?

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    84 replies to "Open Discussion: No Music Allowed"

    • HS Shin

      My church in Princeton went through a bit of this many years ago because of some wormy leaders that somehow crept into our congregation. They would forbid the use of drums b/c of its use in shamanism, etc etc. Regardless of its theological legitimacy, its end result was a ton of pain in church.

    • Cadis


      I mean by non-essential, that it is not essential to salvation or to the core of Christian belief. I mean by non-essential the same that is conveyed in this evangelical motto

      “In Essentials, Unity. In Non-Essentials, Liberty. In All Things, Charity; Truth In Love.”

      If the assembly, that was used in Michael’s example, chose not to have musical instruments in thier worship and even if they believe it is essential to worship that is fine. But they have placed it within and essential to thier core beliefs.
      I don’t think it belongs in a doctrinal statement, which usually deals with essentials. A churches by-laws, that would be fine because that is a guideline to how that particular body of believer’s has determined to operate i.e. elders deacons, alcohol, marriage, divorce, etc…that would be the place for a designation about musical instruments.

      So what I’m saying is wether you play a piano or you don’t play a piano when you sing, or if an assembly did not sing at all (though I and you would disagree) It is not essential to salvation and or core doctrines. Though it maybe essential to worship, I do not believe evangelicalism gets involved in worship infractions.

    • Lee Patmore

      Your readers might find some of this interesting. The Church of Christ is certainly not alone on its a cappella stance in worship.

      None of the following quotes are from those affiliated with the Church of Christ:

      “Let us pause a moment to notice… that the Christian church did not employ instrumental music in its public worship for 1200 years after Christ. It proves, what has been already shown from the New Testament Scriptures, that the apostolic church did not use it in its public services … It deserves serious consideration that… the Roman Catholic Church did not adopt this corrupt practice until about the middle of the thirteenth century. This is the testimony of Aquinas, who has always been esteemed by that church as a theologian of the very first eminence, and who, of course, was perfectly acquainted with its usages. When the organ was introduced into its worship it encountered strong opposition, and made its way but slowly to general acceptance. These assuredly are facts that should profoundly impress Protestant churches.”
      Instrumental Music in the Worship of the Church by John L. Girardeau

      “… 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…” John Calvin

      “Music, as a science, I esteem and admire: but instruments of music in the house of God I abominate and abhor. This is the abuse of music; and here I register my protest against all such corruptions in the worship of the Author of Christianity. The late venerable and most eminent divine, the Rev. John Wesley, who was a lover of music…” Adam Clark on Amos 6:5

      “David appears to have had a peculiarly tender remembrance of the singing of the pilgrims, and assuredly it is the most delightful part of worship and that which comes nearest to the adoration of heaven. What a degradation to supplant the intelligent song of the whole congregation by the theatrical prettinesses of a quartette, the refined niceties of a choir, or the blowing off of wind from inanimate bellows and pipes! We might as well pray by machinery as praise by it” (Commentary on Psalm 42:4).
      The Crossway Classic Commentaries Psalms Volume 1 Charles H. Spurgeon page 175

      Another very well written (Non C of C) book written opposing instrumental music is: Old Light on New Worship: Musical Instruments and the Worship of God, a Theological, Historical and Psychological Study
      by John Price

    • TimPSh

      I see! Thank you for the clarification. My mistake was in placing the term “non-essential” in the context of corporate worship, rather than to salvation.


    • EricW

      I do not believe evangelicalism gets involved in worship infractions.

      Maybe the question should be: Should Evangelicalism get involved in determining/saying what is “right (and wrong) worship”?

      If the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, and the activity of heaven seems to be the unending glorifying of God via eternal worship of Him, then I think one could argue for Evangelicalism fighting against worship infractions just as strongly as it fights against infractions of doctrinal essentials.

      Not that I’m doing that, just suggesting it as food for thought.

    • mbaker

      “Maybe the question should be: Should Evangelicalism get involved in determining/saying what is “right (and wrong) worship”?”

      I wonder exactly the same thing. I don’t know about the rest of you guys but I’ve sure listened to all kinds of music in all kinds of churches over the years. So many churches are making it more about entertainment and showmanship, ( i.e. appealing to younger and younger people) than reverencing God. That’s where we should draw the line – not cutting out all music but being more selective and honoring God first in our choices.

      I love music of all kinds, but there’s a time and place for certain things, and with a lot of the hard Christian rock and rap stuff one can’t even make out the words. And sometimes it’s so loud it becomes a turn-off instead. I believe a lot more oversight is necessary by the pastors themselves. To simply allow someone to randomly choose the music and perform it, without first making sure the way it’s presented both reverences God, and ties in with the sermon is not good leadership.

      In my former church the pastor let anything go, and it was more like attending a jam session. Worship music not only should be mostly about God, it should lead to preparing hearts and minds to receive the sermon as well, rather than being an end in itself.

    • TimPSh

      You know, there ARE biblical precepts that govern the way music in worship should sound. It’s not an entirely subjective matter.


    • Juan Vincent Garza

      Just a thought,
      In essence, they consider the usage of mechanical instruments a sin because it is not authorized and because it is not used in the New Testament. We all agree that mechanical instruments WERE used in the Old Testament. I would note that the “statement of faith”, of whatever kind of church this is, is also presupposing that mechanical instruments were condemned, forbidden, called sin, by the apostles themselves under the unction of the Holy Spirit and thus God himself calling this sin. Also, does that church mean to communicate that somehow, by whatever means, this was somehow fulfilled in Jesus Christ and that this is no longer permitted because it would be tenamount to trampling on the blood of Christ? I think this is where the discussion needs to be. If this church is saying that God forbids it in the New Testament church then that church is also making a presupposition that something happened between the the Old Testament and Jesus Christ (death, burial, resurrection, pentecost) that somehow now prohibits it and calls it sin. If so, we (the people in this blog) need to know what that is. Seems to me that that church is adding something to scripture that is not there. I will end in this way: The church of our Lord must not add to nor take away from that which God has revealed (Rev.22:18-19). Grace and peace.
      Juan Vincent Garza

    • matthew

      Hi I tried to post before but I think I put too many characters in. I wanted to point out that this was the general position in non-Lutheran reformation churches for many centuries. Various reformed churches still hold to this on the same basis as Calvin which is that instruments are a part of the OT ceremonial worship and as obsolete in the NT as sacrifices. They are not commanded in the NT. You need to understand the regulative principle of worship which is based on the sufficiency of scripture.

      I will post some more reading in additional post

    • matthew

      Hi there is a point to be made here which is that it is not no music. We do have tunes! It’s not no instruments. The voice is an instrument! My church doesn’t use mechanical instruments in worship. You ought to be aware that it was the historic practice of presbyterianism everywhere until the very late 19th century. Here are some more links for reading:^Schwertley&keyworddesc=Brian+Schwertley&currsection=sermonsspeaker&AudioOnly=false&SpeakerOnly=true&keywordwithin=Musical+Instruments&x=16&y=13

    • david gibbs

      In a sense it is really sad and pitiful the types of bondages which some well meaning and sincere christians impose upon themselves and others, based on such poor logic and hermenutics. Rather than use the oportunity of a skillfully made instrument in the hands of a skillful and talented musician as another avenue and opportunity for worshipping our great God, we are looking for restrictions and burdens to impose. Let’s have the mindset of using all of God’s gifts and talents to His honour.
      The argument that instruments are not mentioned in the new testament has a shallow form of righteousness , but is really a weak argument. Firstly there is nothing in the NT stating that instruments were forbiden or frowned upon. Secondly there many things that are not mentioned in the NT. The NT does not mention church choirs. It is always quite dangerous trying to reason from silence (from what is NOT stated)

    • EricW

      The church of our Lord must not add to nor take away from that which God has revealed (Rev.22:18-19).Thus we will not use mechanical instruments of music in our worship to God.”

      I am always suspect of persons or groups that use or apply Revelation 22:18-19 in this or similar way(s).

    • Brian Z.

      I would question if they are truly evangelical since they have moved from being sola scriptura to being solo scriptura. They stopped putting scripture first as the primary infallible source and have moved it to the ONLY source. What about the traditions of the church? Do we just throw them out if they are not mentioned in scripture? I’ll bet they are inconsistent in their practice and that we could find things they do that are not in scripture.

      No…not evangelical.


    • EricW
    • mbaker

      I do not think it is the instruments that fail to glorify God, but the people. Like anything else inanimate, physical things, in and of of themselves. have nothing to do with it. It is how they are used, for good or for evil. We have only to look at the internet, estimated to be 75-80 % porn to see that. Yet we are all still here.

    • j

      GLAD dropped their instruments (in the late 80s I think) and it sure benefitted them. This kind of move could give a church a second wind. Just don’t get caught lip-syncing to a track while you’re going a cappella.


    • Juan Vincent Garza

      Here is John Piper on this subject.

      Grace and peace!

    • matthew

      Brian are you really saying that Calvin and the Reformers weren’t evangelical? Jonathan Edwards and John Wesley weren’t evangelical? Here is a good treatment of the regulative principle and sola scriptura.
      The regulative principle has to applied carefully. There is a distinction between the elements of worship (what must be of biblical warrant) and the circumstances of worship (what must happen in order for the elements to happen e.g. time and place of service which are according to Christian prudence and the general rules of scripture.

      David, is your argument not an argument from silence because you are saying that instruments are not forbidden? Seven sacraments (extreme unction etc.) are not forbidden in the New Testament. Incense and candles in worship are not forbidden in the New Testament. Dressing up like the High Priest of the Old Testament is not forbidden in the NT. The NT doesn’t forbid pictures or statues of the Virgin Mary in worship. The regulative principle of worship was at the heart of the Reformation, read War against the Idols by Carlos. M Eire.

    • Michael S

      Last month on Michael Spencer’s imonk blog, the “Liturgical Gangsters” took on the question “Would you use projection technology in worship? ”

      I would recommend taking a look at Father Ernesto Obregon’s response.

      Here are 3 quotes he uses in his response, I think they fit well into the discussion here:

      AQUINAS “Our church does not use musical instruments, as harps and psalteries, to praise God withal, that she may not seem to Judaize.” (Thomas Aquinas, Bingham’s Antiquities, Vol. 3, page 137)

      AUGUSTINE “musical instruments were not used. The pipe, tabret, and harp here associate so intimately with the sensual heathen cults, as well as with the wild revelries and shameless performances of the degenerate theater and circus, it is easy to understand the prejudices against their use in the worship.” (Augustine 354 A.D., describing the singing at Alexandria under Athanasius, yes THAT Athanasius.)

      ERASMUS “We have brought into our churches certain operatic and theatrical music; such a confused, disorderly chattering of some words as I hardly think was ever in any of the Grecian or Roman theatres. The church rings with the noise of trumpets, pipes, and dulcimers; and human voices strive to bear their part with them. Men run to church as to a theatre, to have their ears tickled. And for this end organ makers are hired with great salaries, and a company of boys, who waste all their time learning these whining tones.” (Erasmus, Commentary on 1 Corinthians 14:19)

      The Introduction Of The Organ Among The Baptist. This instrument, which from time immemorial has been associated with cathedral pomp and prelatical power, and has always been the peculiar favorite of great national churches, at length found its way into Baptist sanctuaries, and the first one ever employed by the denomination in this country, and probably in any other, might have been standing in the singing gallery of the Old Baptist meeting house in Pawtucket, about forty years ago, where I then officiated as pastor (1840) … Staunch old Baptists in former times would as soon tolerated the Pope of Rome in their pulpits as an organ in their galleries, and yet the instrument has gradually found its way among them…. How far this modern organ fever will extend among our people, and whether it will on the whole work a RE- formation or DE- formation in their singing service, time will more fully develop.” (Benedict, Baptist historian, Fifty Years Among Baptist, page 204-207).

    • Michael S

      Also from Fr. Ernesto:

      Clement of Rome stated that God much preferred the “strings” of the tongue to the strings of the lyre. That is, the Orthodox attitude has not changed from the Fathers of the East and the West, nor from the opinion of the Calvinist Covenanters, nor from the opinion of the early American Baptists. We see instruments as detracting from the much better sound of human voices raised in praise, even if those voices do not do musically as well as instruments. Instruments all too often detract from worship and discourage the congregation from praising God.

    • EricW

      Clement of Rome stated that God much preferred the “strings” of the tongue to the strings of the lyre.

      I guess he never read Revelation 5:8 and 15:2. 🙂

    • Michael S

      I would doubt that Clement ever read Revelations in that he was martyred at about the same time as the writing of Revelations. He was the leader of the local church in Rome from the time of Peter until circa 96 and his letters were read in the early church alongside what we now consider the NT Canon, I think we can say that Clement is very, very reliable.

      As far as what you quoted from Rev 5:8 and 15:2, it depict s bodiless powers holding harps and bowls. I would hold that this is symbolic language. Ask yourself what is the angel holding? In one had is a bowl with the prayers of the saints, in the other the “harp of the Lord,” which is the praise of the saints. The angel is not making his own music and praise in these passages, he is bringing our praise and prayer before God. There is no evidence for the support for instrumental worship in Scripture or the paradosis/tradition of the Church. In fact Clement’s statement is one of the only hints we get for how the early Church regarded instruments in their worship. “Those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart.”

    • EricW

      I forgot to include Revelation 14:2. 🙂

      I beg to demur. The creatures and people in Revelation (there is no “s” at the end) use their voices in the book, so there is no need for the harps to “represent” their praises; rather, they accompany their praises. While the incense is given a symbolic interpretation there, nowhere in Revelation are the harps said to be “the praise of the saints,” IIRC. (Can you cite me the verse(s) where the harps are said to be or represent the praises of the saints?) Methinks if God/Jesus/the angel(s) didn’t want John to think there were musical instruments in heaven, or just wanted him to think the ones he saw were symbolic, He/they wouldn’t have shown them to him, or He/they would have told him they were symbolic, like He/they did re: much else of what John saw.

      As for Clement, he read Revelation, but he just didn’t agree with it. He thought it was too fantastical. He chose rather to write about more believable things like phoenixes than in the mythical idea that there were harps for making music in heaven. 😛

    • cdclayton

      Sorry for getting into the discussion so late but I have always found it interesting that the church fought a great deal about many Jewish practices throughout the years but you never hear anything about instrumental music. This is all the more interesting because, as a number of posters have mentioned, the Old Testament does associate Worship of God with instrumental music. So however we understand those passages in Eph. & Col., the early church seems to disagree with us.

      On a related note, it should give us pause that most all the early reformers did not agree with instrumental music in worship. I do understand that appealing to church history / tradition is not always looked upon the same way by various groups of Christians but at the very least, we should give a second thought to their arguments and not discount them because some Christians, whose theology we might disagree with, believes it to be true.

    • JayPC

      I would like to point out that the history of Christendom shows that only recently has instrumental music become the norm. From the earliest church fathers to Charles Spurgeon and most in-between have rejected instruments in worship.

      EUSEBIUS “Of old at the time those of the circumcision were worshipping with symbols and types it was not inappropriate to send up hymns to God with the psalterion and cithara and to do this on Sabbath days… We render our hymn with a living psalterion and a living cithara with spiritual songs. The unison voices of Christians would be more acceptable to God than any musical instrument. Accordingly in all the churches of God, united in soul and attitude, with one mind and in agreement of faith and piety we send up a unison melody in the words of the Psalms.”
      (commentary on Psalms 91:2-3)

      CALVIN “Musical instruments in celebrating the praises of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting 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 apostles is far more pleasing to him. Paul allows us to bless God in the public assembly of the saints, only in a known tongue (I Cor. 14:16) What shall we then say of chanting, which fills the ears with nothing but an empty sound?”
      (John Calvin, Commentary on Psalms 33)

      (Spurgeon preached to 20,000 people every Sunday for 20 years in the Metropolitan Baptist Tabernacle and never were mechanical instruments of music used in his services. When asked why, he quoted 1st Corinthians 14:15. “I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the understanding also; I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.” He then declared: “I would as soon pray to God with machinery as to sing to God with machinery.”
      (Charles H. Spurgeon, Baptist)

      Even today there are some other than churches of Christ who reject instruments in worship. The Reformed Presbyterian church of North America

      “In keeping with the New Testament Church’s directive for heart worship, we sing without the aid of musical instruments.”.

      “Old Light on New Worship” is a book that was put out recently from a reformed Baptist minister (John Price) showing how instruments are inappropriate in worship and he gives a very large section dealing with historical quotes as well as biblical information.

    • EricW

      (Spurgeon preached to 20,000 people every Sunday for 20 years in the Metropolitan Baptist Tabernacle and never were mechanical instruments of music used in his services. When asked why, he quoted 1st Corinthians 14:15. “I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the understanding also; I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.” He then declared: “I would as soon pray to God with machinery as to sing to God with machinery.”
      (Charles H. Spurgeon, Baptist)

      So, Charles Spurgeon prayed and sang in tongues, eh? I did not know that. 🙂

    • mbaker

      Certainly anyone who attends church nowadays can see problems with some of the music, like overdone stage productions, which call more attention to the music (and in some cases the musicians) than the sermon.

      However, if we eliminated musical instruments from the mix, we would not have the entire book of Psalms, which were originally written to be played and sung with the harp and the lyre, even though we only see the printed words themselves nowadays.

    • Jim W.

      The Regulative Principle has been presented here as the reason for supporting the no instruments policy. It should be pointed out that there is a spectrum of opinion regarding the application of the Regulative Principle. There are many who adhere to it but do not apply it to the extreme that this church has (i.e., John Frame). There is a response to the extreme position at:

      In the end, if you believe that the principle “If it isn’t commanded, it is forbidden” applies to public worship, then you are going to have to assume a lot that isn’t explicitly stated in the Scriptures. I find it odd that the apostles would not have elaborated on this principle more in their epistles if it was true, given that the epistles were either written to local churches or pastors of those churches.

    • Grady Patterson

      In the New Testament, every mention of the door of a church has it locked, or does not mention the “state of lockedness” – therefore, it would appear to be a sin to meet as Christians without locking the door behind us.

      Again, in every case where the floor of a building where Christians are meeting, the second floor – the upper room – is specified: therefore it again would appear to be a sin to meet on the first floor if an upper room is available.

      To call such things “sin” is a blatant violation of Col 2:20 – 23, and out of line with 1 Cor 10:23 – 25. To paraphrase v25 – “Whatsoever is played in the churches, [that] use in worship, asking no question for conscience sake … ”

      Regarding JayPC’s quote from Spurgeon, does a Christian with a gift for mechanical engineering not pray to – and worship – God as he designs the machinery that God has gifted him to do?

    • Mark

      I don’t subscribe to this belief myself, but I have some good friends who do, and the churches of Christ have respected scholars at Emory, Harvard, Princeton and other institutions of higher learning. There are also Reformed Presbyterian and other churches who do not allow the use of instruments. Some of the scholars in these churches would say that for them it is a matter of preference and conscience–but not a point of doctrine–in other words, they don’t judge others.

      But I think it comes back to a question of what worship is–and I think there are a lot of traditions and theologies that would share some underlying assumptions. It seems to be an idea that worship is a means that God provides for us to make contact with him–and that we have to use his appointed means. For example, many protestants would be opposed to using candles or incense as a way of worshiping God. And the last I heard, there were still “worship wars” going on. Many people who would defend the use of organs or pianos in church would be offended if the actual instruments named in the OT were brought into the church: tamborines, cymbols, drums, all manner of stringed instruments–not to mention dancing in a loin cloth.

      My dad and my uncle used to have good-natured arguments on this topic. Uncle Don would say, “Makes the church sound like a honkey-tonk,” and my dad would say, “you wouldn’t know what one sounds like if you hadn’t spent some time there.”

    • jlaney

      I just now ran across this blog. This may be a dead subject by now, but I will throw this in. I am ex-Church of Christ after 40 years of membership. You are wasting your time arguing with 99.99% of them. They are excellent examples of denial. Try to engage them in rational discussion, and most will try to change the subject, or find some reason to excuse themselves. On one occasion I was actually ignored—not even acknowledgement I had said anything. They literally turned there back on me. That was the point at which I decided to look elsewhere. jlaney

    • JayPC


      I’ll talk with you about this subject. Look at the above info and you will see it’s not just Churches of Christ but others who don’t use instruments.

      email me and we can talk (If you really want to discuss this).

      [email protected]

    • Jonathan

      I’m surprised that no one defended the view. It’s actually quite logical if one understands the Regulative Principle of Worship adopted by the Reformed Tradition.

      CMP, you’re a calvinist. Calvinists of the 20th century were the ones who introduced the Regulative principle of worship. (I jest. I am a 5 point calvinist but not a full “Calvinist”. I do not believe in paedobaptism and Covenant Theology though I am in favour of burning heretics)

      i google, i find:

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