The pleasant harp with the psaltery

Then again, maybe not:

A local Church of Christ’s decision to add musical instruments to its worship service has struck a wrong note with other church members.

“I do not believe that God is anti-instruments. The arguments that attempt to prove that He is are not persuasive to me,” minister Mark Henderson said Wednesday.

Other ministers and members of Churches of Christ have denounced the recent addition of instrumental music to the worship service at Henderson’s Quail Springs Church of Christ.

“There is no New Testament precedent for using instruments,” Glover Shipp, author and retired Oklahoma Christian University professor, said Wednesday.

And so there isn’t. There is also no New Testament precedent for air conditioning, but not a lot of churches pass it up.

Still, this is a conservative denomination, and were I a member, I might look askance at any break in tradition, however seemingly minor. However, I don’t think I’d buy a page in the local newspaper to advertise my displeasure, and I definitely wouldn’t be claiming something special about my own particular pulpit:

[T]he Churches of Christ, as a whole, do not recognize modern day apostolic authority because we find no authorization for such authority outside of the local congregation. Each congregation is autonomous. No congregation has authority over another. That includes authority to “mark” others with whom we disagree.

Does this portend an Anglicanesque schism? I don’t think so. But it does remind me of how much authority I have in spiritual matters, which is none.

Disclosure: I was once married to a Freed-Hardeman girl, so I’m more familiar with this than you might think.


  1. Brian J. »

    8 February 2008 · 8:28 am

    I went to church with Mrs. Noggle this past weekend. She’s pretty traditional Missouri Synod Lutheran, and her early service has a choir, some brass, and an organ or piano.

    We attended a baptism class to recertify and be up on the latest baptism technology, and as we finished that up, the later service was starting. With guitars. It didn’t seem right, I tell you.

  2. John Owen Butler »

    8 February 2008 · 11:44 am

    There are some Presbyterians who are agin’ instrumental accompaniment in worship services. I once flirted with such views, but upon review of the arguments, I remained unconvinced that they are ruled-out. My druthers are for a cappella singing, but I can’t really find a “thou shalt/thou shalt not” for it. This makes for interesting discussions with my wife, who has a bachelors in music ed and a masters in sacred music, and is an organist by training.

    These certain Presbies also do the churches of Christ one better: only Psalms may be sung in worship services. Again, the case is a “not proven,” at least to me, but my thinking is that one certainly can’t go wrong singing the Psalms.

    The restorationist churches which are anti-instrumental sometimes have odd situations where at weddings or funerals, someone wants instrumental music. I’ve heard of situations where a piano or a quartet played in the foyer, with the doors open to the sanctuary, to skirt the prohibition.

  3. McGehee »

    8 February 2008 · 1:52 pm

    I remember being scandalized on a visit to my Catholic (like my family at the time) aunt and uncle in Utah when we attended Mass at their parish church — and there was <gasp!> an electric guitar! (I was eight.)

    These days I’d shrug at anything less than gangsta rap.

  4. Deborah »

    8 February 2008 · 6:04 pm

    I was about ten when my adored cousin got married in the Church of Christ. The wedding music was a record player and a LP from the Abilene Christian College choral singing—a capella—assorted wedding songs. She was so beautiful and the record player/LP was such a disaster. I was horrified and decided on the spot that when I got married, it wouldn’t be in the C of C (and I didn’t).

  5. Rene's Apple »

    9 February 2008 · 10:09 pm

    The peris of being Protestant

    Chaz replies: “And so there isn’t. There is also no New Testament precedent for air conditioning, but not a lot of churches pass it up.” There is also no New Testament precedent for the Baptist system of church government, for meeting on Sundays, or f…

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