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Instrumental Music
in Worship
Under the NT
Part 3
The Testimony
of Scholars
Whenever objections are lodged against instrumental music in worship under the New
Testament, the accusation of being "just a bunch of oddballs" is leveled.  Yet, throughout the
ages there have been many scholars who have rejected instrumental music in worship under
the New Testament.  Listen to their words.

Thomas Aquinas: "Our church does not use musical instruments, as harps and psalteries, to
praise God withal, that she may not seem to Judaize."

Erasmus (Desiderus) [a contemporary of Martin Luther, and themost renowned classical
scholar of his age, spoken of as "the most gifted and industrious pioneer of modern
scholarship"]: "We have brought into our churches a certain operose and theatrical music; such
a confused, disorderly chattering of some words as I think was ever heard in any of the Grecian
or Roman theatres.  The church rings with the noise of trumpets, pipes, and dulcimers; and
human voices strive to be bear their part with them.  Men run to church as to the theatre, to have
their ears tickled.  And for this end organ makers are hired with great salaries, and company of
boys, who waste all their time in learning these whining tones."
[Commentary on 1 Cor. xiv.19]

John Calvin
[founder of the Presbyterian denomination]: "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 them 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 (1
Cor. xiv.16)...What shall we then say of chanting, which fills the aeers with nothing but an empty
sound?"
[Com. on Psa. xxxiii]

Justin Martyr:
"Simply singing is not agreeable to children, but singing with lifeless
instruments and with dancing and clapping; on which account the use of this kind of
instruments and of others agreeable to children is removed from the songs in the churches,
and there is simply left singing."
[Justin's Questions and Answers to the Orthodox, Ques.
107, p. 462
]

Charles Spurgeon
[considered the foremost Baptist preacher]: "Some few yet stand firm
against what is now called, in a painfully significant phrase the 'downgrade' tendencies of this
age.  Prominent among them is that eminent servant of Christ -- a star in His right hand -- the
Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon, who not only proclaims with power the pure doctrine of God's word,
but retains and upholds an apostolic simplicity of worship.  The great congregation which is
blessed with the privilege of listening to his instructions has no organ 'to assist' them in singing
their praises to their God and Savior.  They find their vocal organs sufficient.  Their tongues and
voices express the gratitude of their heart."
[Instrumental Music in the Church by Prof.
Girardeau, p. 176
]

Theodore Beza
[a great Genevan scholar and translator, a friend and coadjutor of Calvin]:  "If
the apostle justly prohibits the use of unknown tongues in the church, much less would he have
tolerated these artificial musical performances, which are addressed to the ear alone, and
seldom strike the understanding even of the performers themselves."
[Girardeau's Ins. Music,
p. 166
]

The English Convocation
[an ecclesiastical body in the Church of England, composed of
bishops and clergy, with Upper and Lower Houses]:  "In the beginning of the year 1562, a
meeting of the Convocation was held, in which the subject of further reformation was vigorously
discussed on both sides. (Here is one alteration that was proposed.)  That the use of organs
be laid aside.  When the vote came to be taken, on the propositions, forty-three voted for them
and thirty-five against; but, when the proxies were counted, the balance was turned, the final
state of the vote being fifty-eight for and fifty-nine against.  Thus, it was determined by a single
vote, and that the proxy of an absent person who did not hear the reasoning that the
Prayer-Book should remain unimproved, that there should be no relief granted to those
consciences felt aggreived by the admixture of human inventions in the worship of God."
[Heatherington's His. Westmin. Assem. of Divines, p. 30]

Adam Clarke
[Methodist commentator]:  "But were it even evident, which it is not, either from this
or any other place in te 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
Chrisitian worship?  No; the whole spirit, soul, and genius of the Christian religion
are gainst 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 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."
[Commentary, Vol. II; pp. 690,691; note on 2 Chron. 29:25]

"...I farther believe that the use of such instruments of music, in the Christian Church, is without
the sanction and against the will of God;
that they are subversive of the spirit of true devotion,
and that they are sinful.  If there was a woe to them who invented instruments of music, as did
David under the law, is there no woe, no curse to them who invent them, and introduce them
into the worship of God in the Christian Church?  I am an old man, and an old minister; and I
here declare that I never knew them productive of any good in the worship of God; and have had
reason to believe that they were productive of much evil.  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 and venerable and most eminent divine, the Rev.
 John Wesley,
who was
a lover of music, and  an eloquent poet, when asked his opinion of instruments of
music being introduced into the chapels of the Methodists, said in his terse and powerful
manner, 'I have no objection to instruments of music in our chapels, provided they are neither
HEARD nor SEEN.'  I say the same, though I think the expense of purchase had better be
spared."
[Commentary, Vol. IV; p. 686]

Alexander Campbell:  
"That all persons who have no spiritual meditations, consolations and
sympathies of renewed hearts, should call for such an aid is but natural.  Pure water from the
flinty rock has no attraction for the mere topper or winebibber.  A little alcohol, or genuine
Cognac brandy, or good old Madeira is essential tot he beverage to make it truly refreshing.  So
to those who have no real devotion or spirituality in them, and whose animal nature flags under
the oppression of church service, I think that instrumental music would be not only a
desideratum, but an essential pre-requisite to fire up their souls to even animal devotion.  But I
presume to all spiritually minded Christians, such aids would be as a cow-bell in a concert."  
[Mill. Har., Series iv, Vol I; p. 581; in Mem. of A. Campbell,p. 366]

Foy E. Wallace, Jr:
"Friends, instrumental music in the church is a relic of the Roman Catholic
Church, it was borrowed from Rome.  When a thing is borrowed it ought to be returned.  Why
not send the organ back -- back to the pope and to the Catholic Church.  When Martin Luther
came out of the Catholic Church, he left instrumental music where he found it, and called it an
'ensign of Baal.'  John Knox called it 'a chest of whistles.'  John Calvin said it was 'no more
suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting of candles, or the restoration of other shadows
of the law.'  The Lutherans opposed it, the Presbyterians opposed it, the Baptists opposed it,
and the Methodists opposed it.  John Wesley said he would have no objection to the organ in
their chapels, 'provided it is neither heard nor seen.'  Calvin said, 'the Catholics foolishly
borrowed it from the Jews.'  That is true; and I will add a codicil to it.  The Catholics borrowed it
from the Jews, the Protestants borrowed it from the Catholics, the Christian Church borrowed it
from the Protestants -- and the New Testament church did not use it.  You can choose where
you will classify in that category, I stand with the New Testament church, and for New
Testament practices."
[Bulwarks of the Faith; Ft. Worth, Texas: Foy E. Wallace, Jr, Pub.; 1975;
p. 484
]


Go to Instrumental Music in Worship Under the New Testament 1
Go to Instrumental Music in Worship Under the New Testament 2
Go to Instrumental Music in Worship Under the New Testament 4
"...I farther believe that the use of such instruments of music,
in the Christian Church, is without the sanction and against the will
of God; that they are subversive of the spirit of true devotion,
and that they are sinful."
Adam Clarke, Methodist Commentator