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Mechanical Instrumental Music

by Stephen Wiggins

When John Wesley, founder of the Methodist church, was asked concerning instruments of music in worship he said: "I have no objection to instruments of music in our chapels, provided they are neither HEARD OR SEEN." Concerning the same subject the great Methodist commentator Adam Clarke stated: "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...instruments of music in the house of God I abominate and abhor" (Clarke Commentarv., 4:684). John Calvin, founder of the Presbyterian denomination, said in his commentary on the thirty-third Psalm: "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 (Catholics), therefore, have foolishly borrowed this, as well as many other things, from the Jews."

The most influential Baptist preacher to have ever lived was Charles Spurgeon who preached weekly to 10,000 people in his Metropolitan Baptist Tabernacle in London, England. Spurgeon never used instrumental music in worship. He said, "I would as soon pray with machinery as to sing with machinery" (Treasury of David, his commentary of the forty-second Psalm.)

The average denominational person today is unaware that their founders and most prominent leaders refused to use mechanical instruments of music in worship to God. They rejected such practice because they knew the Scriptures did not authorize the playing of mechanical instruments as worship. Churches of Christ still occupy the original ground of a cappella music in worship to God. In these modern times some may consider it strange that we do not have a piano to accompany our singing. But, like denominational leaders of the past, we respect the fact that God directs us to "sing and make melody with the heart". Music is to be made, not with the instrument of the mechanical kind, but with the instrument of "the heart". It is a matter of respecting the divine will.


1. Instruments are not commanded in the New Testament.

2. Singing is commanded. (Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16, Jas. 5:13)

3. While there are examples in the New Testament of worshipers singing (see Matt. 26:30, Acts 16:25), there are no instruments being played.

4. From history, we know that instruments of music were not used in the church for, at least, the first couple hundred years of its existence.

5. While there is no passage that explicitly says that the use of instruments in worship will condemn a soul to hell, is it worth the risk when one can be certain that singing without instruments is clearly allowed by God?

"...upon this rock I will build My church..." Matt.16:18

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