Music has always been a part of my life as far back as I can recall. Whether it’s singing, playing guitar, the keyboard, or even a bit of clarinet – it’s something I’ve always known. So when I read a comment from a Christian explaining that it’s not Biblical for a believer to worship God by playing a guitar, my heart sank.
Perhaps they were born and raised in that part of Christianity where legalism flows through it’s veins like toxins do after a snakebite from a venomous serpent. Somebody could have sat them down when they were little and said: “If the Bible doesn’t outline it as acceptable, then it must be prohibited.” That’s the short version of the Regulative Principle of Worship. It’s the rule that this person used to explain why worship – acceptable worship – is singing a Capella because that’s what the Bible says is okay.
They even acknowledged that there were some instrumentalists in the Old Testament, but when Jesus’ Resurrection fulfilled the requirements as the last sacrifice, all of the temple expressions of worship became invalid. They said that worship with instruments was something begun by King David. It was the work of men and an attempt of men to do things their way but not God’s. So that’s why we ought not use instruments of any kind while singing praises to God.
I’ve seen how music is something of a prayer language – a personal space between them and God to lift up praises and honor him – not just with words, but with the emotions and creativity that he has bestowed upon us. The Old Testament God called for music not just for his sake, but for those of the musicians. But the churches that forbid instruments are cutting people off from God.
Over a year ago I saw a quote: ‘There’s a right way and a wrong way of worshiping God.” What scared me about that message is that somebody somewhere gets to decide which is which – anyone who disagrees with them worships God the ‘wrong’ way. The ‘right’ way gets lifted up as the idol that must be bowed down to, the regulative principle that must be obeyed, the prescription for all time, and from which no deviation can be tolerated. So when people say that playing instruments of any kind is the ‘wrong’ way – that means organists from hymn-singing churches, keyboardists from contemporary churches, and banjo-players from blue-grass style churches are all praising God ‘wrong’. That’s odd. I thought they’re all doing it ‘right’.