Are Mechanical Instruments of Music An Aid or An Addition?
One of the longest held arguments that advocates who are in favor of justifying the practice of worshipping with mechanical instruments of music in the worship of the New Testament church is known as the "expedient (or aid) argument ". The "expedient argument " states that mechanical instruments of music in church worship are an aid to the congregational singing in the same way that songbooks, pitchforks, projectors, projector screens, and many other items are considered an aid.
The honest question is asked: "Are mechanical instruments of music an aid to the congregational singing or an addition to the congregational singing?" It is very important that this question be answered scripturally and logically.
The advocate who is in favor of the mechanical instrument would lay out a categorical syllogism that would look similar to this argument:
Major Premise: All aids (or expedients) are items which help the congregational singing of the worship of the church are expedients which are authorized.
Minor Premise: Mechanical instruments of music are items which help the congregational singing of the worship of the church.
Conclusion: Therefore, mechanical instruments of music are expedients which are authorized.
This argument contains a logical fallacy. It commits the fallacy of begging the question (assuming that which the argument is trying to prove). In order for an item to be argued logically and proven to be an expedient, it first must be proven to be implicitly or explicitly authorized by God (Colossians 3:17).
There are several examples that could be mentioned that would help to clarify this argument. The apostles were given the Great Commission by the Lord Jesus Christ to "go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15, 16). Notice the generic command - "Go". They were authorized by God to go. How were they to go? It was to be in a manner that would be advantageous in carrying out the command of the Lord: (a) Paul used a ship that went to Rome (Acts 27) and (b) Paul walked in the marketplace of Athens (Acts 17). There were several ways to fulfill this command.
The categorical syllogism would look like this:
Major Premise: All commandments (which are authorized by God - Colossians 3:17) are commandments of God which have subordinate expedients which are labeled as authorized by God.
Minor Premise: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (which is authorized by God - Colossians 3:17; Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15,16; Luke 24:46-49; Acts 1:5-8) are commandments of God.
Conclusion: Therefore, "go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" has subordinate expedients [walking, riding in a chariot, horse, boat] which are labeled as authorized by God.
With regards to the worship of God, the categorical syllogism would look like this:
Major Premise: All commandments (which are authorized by God - Colossians 3:17) are commandments which have subordinate expedients which are labeled as authorized by God.
Minor Premise: "Singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord" (which is authorized by God - Colossians 3:17; Ephesians 5:19) is a commandment.
Conclusion: Therefore, "singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord" has subordinate expedients [songbooks, projectors, projector screens, pitchforks, male song leaders, microphone] which are labeled as authorized by God.
"Singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord" is a commandment (Ephesians 5:19). Since it is authorized by God, then it would be advantageous for true worshippers to desire to expedite the commandment. For example, a songbook would serve as a subordinate expedient that would aid the worshippers to sing together ("to one another" - Ephesians 5:19) in a harmonious, orderly, and descent manner (1 Corinthians 14:40). A pitchfork would serve as a subordinate expedient to aid the song leader to pitch the psalm, hymn, or spiritual song in the right tune. A projector and a projector screen would serve as a subordinate expedient in aiding the worshippers to worship together in a harmonious manner. A male song leader ( compare 1 Timothy 2:8-15; 1 Corinthians 11:2-16; 14:34, 35 - which would specifically qualify the expedient based on the authority of God with regards to the spiritual function of the role of men and women) would serve as a subordinate expedient in aiding the congregation in beginning the song since one must start the song. A microphone would serve as a subordinate expedient that would help the male song leader to start and project the song so the congregation can follow. Each of these subordinate expedients are those which would help aid the congregational singing and do not add any unauthorized or foreign element to the worship of God.
Advocates of the mechanical instruments of music would still insist and argue that the mechanical instrument of music would be labeled as an expedient along with songbooks, microphones, etc. There are two honest questions that need to be asked: (1) Is it possible for congregational singing to be performed, in and of itself, without the accompaniment of mechanical instruments of music? Yes. (2) Is it possible to fulfill the commandment of congregational singing (Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19) if only the mechanical instruments of music were played? No.
Should it not be seen then that mechanical instruments of music would be regarded as an addition, rather than an aid? Yes. Is it possible to sing without songbooks, projectors, or pitchforks? Absolutely. Introducing mechanical instruments of music into the worship of God is "strange music" (addition - compare Leviticus 10:1, 2) that is unauthorized by God under the new covenant.
Simply put, there are two types of music: vocal (sing) and instrumental (play). What New Testament passage authorizes (Matthew 28:18; John 12:48; Colossians 3:17) the New Testament church to play an instrument as worship to God? Answer: None. What New Testament passage authorizes the New Testament church to sing praises to God? Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; etc.
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