Yesterday I wrote a post about Everett Ferguson’s advocacy of acapella praise in Christian worship. Ferguson gave positive reasons why the early church sang without instrumental accompaniment and why we should do so today as well.
What many people don’t realize is that some of the most notable Reformers and preachers of the Reformation were as opposed to instrumental music in Christian worship as we in the churches of Christ continue to be. As a matter of fact, the Reformation preachers used strong language to denounce instrumental music because they thought it resembled Roman Catholicism.
Look at what some of them had to say:
The instrument in worship is an ensign of Baal. (Martin Luther)
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 other shadows of 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 apostle is far more pleasing to him. (John Calvin commenting on Psalm 33.2)
I am an old man, and an old minister; and I here declare that I never knew them [instruments] productive of any good in the worship of God; and have reason to believe 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. (Adam Clarke commenting on Amos 6.5)
I have no objection to instruments of music in our chapels, provided they are neither HEARD nor SEEN. (John Wesley as quoted by Adam Clarke on Amos 6.5)
I would just as soon pray with machinery as to sing with machinery. (Charles Spurgeon commenting on Psalm 42)
Staunch old Baptists in former times would have 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 and their successors in church management, with nothing like the jars and difficulties which arose of old concerning the bass viol and smaller instrument of music. (David Benedict in his “Fifty Years Among the Baptists”)
More important than explicit opposition to instruments is the simple fact that they are not used in the patristic period [A.D. 100-450] . (James W. McKinnon [Catholic] wrote this in his dissertation “The Church Fathers and Musical Instruments”)
Represented are Lutherans, Presbyterians, Wesleyans (Methodists and Church of Nazarene), Baptists, and Catholics — all of whom did not esteem instruments in Christian worship.
Instrumentation in Christian worship was introduced by Catholicism, but the Reformers abandoned the practice. Now, though, many Reformers would likely be surprised and appalled at how those denominations who followed their Reformation make a use of the practice. Nevertheless, it goes to show how things change.