I visited a site called bible.ca. There a section which talks about
instrumental music in worship as being wrong and they quote some things
from early Christians. I know that in the OT instruments were allowed and
from what I understand the NT Christians didn’t use instruments because it
was associated with pagan worship (so it is optional). My questions are
1) Am I correct in my thinking regarding instrumental music 2) Are they
saved? 3) If they are saved how can I come across to help with some of
their views if I am correct) 4) Is it possible to unite two “different
churches” 4) How can I help to unite the brotherhood of believers in my

I believe you have a pretty good take on this issue already.
There are some groups of believers who are of the opinion that it is not
acceptable for Christians to use instruments in their worship of God. I
am guessing that you have come across a main line Church of Christ, as
this is the group most famous for this doctrine. The reasoning on the
issue sounds good at first. In fact, I would have to admit that I was
convinced of this idea at one time. It is true, as you say, that the use
of instruments was not only allowed under the Old Covenant, it was
commanded. It is also apparently true that the very early church did not
use instruments, at least as far as we know from the writings of the early
church fathers. A good question is why did the early disciples choose not
to worship God with instrumental music? I have thought of a couple
possible reasons, but cannot prove any of them from any of the early
church writings I have read. Perhaps the Holy Spirit lead the apostles to
not use instruments in worship for reasons that were not passed down to us
(but that God made sure that this teaching did not make it into scripture,
as it was a temporary measure). Perhaps there were practical reasons
(such as safety) the early church did not use instruments, and this
tradition simply was maintained for several generations. Perhaps it was
the early church deciding on their own to break with the normal religious
patterns of their pagan neighbors.

What can be said for sure is that there is no passage in the
New Testament outlawing the use of musical instruments in worship of God.
Some would argue (including the web site you found, I would imagine) that
if the Bible does not authorize it, it is not allowed. However, this
approach to interpreting the New Testament is impossible to maintain in a
consistent way. The New Testament does not authorize driving to church.
It does not authorize having church buildings. The list could go on
indefinitely. Bottom line, the argument that instrumental worship is
sinful based on the fact that it is not specifically authorized in the New
Testament is a very weak argument. Personally, I reject this argument.

You ask whether people who teach this document are saved. Why
not? What possible reason could someone not be saved because they do not
use instruments in worship? There are a few issues of doctrine which are
“salvation issues.” There is a far longer list of issues which are not
salvation issues. We can disagree, even on biblical doctrines and still
be saved. I would claim that there is not a person alive who can rightly
claim to have “all truth”–to have a personal understanding of doctrine
which is completely without error. I am very confident that I now hold to
beliefs about scripture which are not correct. The idea of tying
salvation to instrumental music seems ludicrous to me, to be honest.

Can you be unified with a non-instrumentalist? Of course you
can. You can and you definitely should treat such a person as a brother
or sister, assuming that they have made Jesus Lord, repented and been
baptized into Christ. You do not have to be part of such a person’s
fellowship to be united with them. In order to meet together with such a
group, it would be necessary to not use instruments in worship, despite
your knowledge that this is okay, as it would offend the other group.
Paul wrote about such issues in general in Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8.
The gist of the teaching is that if a weaker brother has a conscience
which does not allow him to do something, even if it is not outlawed by
scripture, the stronger brother should give up his freedom in order to not
offend the conscience of the weaker brother. It is possible that you will
not be able to actually join together two different congregations of
followers of Jesus if your group uses instruments and theirs does not, but
you can treat members of such a group with respect. You can choose to not
make an issue over this, and rejoice in a common faith in Jesus. It is
not necessarily your job to solve all the differences between churches,
but you can be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. In
addition, you should let this issue help you to be humble rather than
prideful, knowing that you probably also hold some things to be doctrine
which are in fact only tradition.

John Oakes

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