What have been my reasons for being a member of The Church of Christ so far?
1. The Restoration Principle
2. Baptism as the immersion of a penitent person in water for the forgiveness of sins
3. Observance of the Lord's Supper every Sunday
There is one last major reason i'll supply, though there might be other reasons which aren't as terribly significant to me. Or else, they are only half reasons. Maybe i'll do a part 5 and explain what i mean by that. But let me state my final major reason for remaining a member of The Church of Christ, and on this blog i do want to give a few justifications for that reason.
4. i am still a member of The Church of Christ because of their general rejection of the use of instrumental music in worship.
i know for some readers i probably just became the ugly, conservative traditionalist they were already afraid i was. But i assure you, i honestly think my own personal conviction on this matter is of a different nature than your average red-faced, i'll-write-a-nasty-article-about-you-in-my-publication, right-winged CoCer. This is why i want to state my reasons for this conviction. If you asked such a CoCer what's wrong with instrumental music, the pat, ready-made answer is (you guessed it): silence! (and on the back of that donkey, tack on a tail of the principle of authority). Despite my slightly jovial tone, i honestly don't altogether reject that reasoning (though i think it's in dire need of revision). But i honestly do not see it as the primary reason not to use instrumental music--not by a long shot. Here, instead, are the roots of my personal conviction on this matter:
(1) Using instrumental music in worship would be a case of Judaizing. The Hebrews writer tells us that Judaism was full of mere shadows of things to come. The real, solid objects casting those shadows are the elements and blessings we (the church) have in Christ. All of the ceremonial implements and rituals of the Old Covenant were dim veils covering a beautiful face that the church is now blessed to look directly in the eye. i am saying we shouldn't use instruments because we're not Jews--yes. But i'm not merely pointing out that Christianity is a different religion from Judaism (that's only half my point here), rather, i'm pointing out that the particular relationship shared by Judaism and Christianity ought to show that things such as instrumental music are inappropriate in Christianity. Using instruments in worship is really a "step down" or a "step backwards" from the spiritual realities and blessings given to us in Christ. Instrumental music would be spiritually immature in the same sense as burning incense, observing the Passover, burnt sacrifices, and a golden ark. i'm not at all saying that those who argue for the use of instrumental music are immature in their motives or arguments. Neither am i saying that God forced immature practices on the Jews--i think an individual Jew could be as spiritually mature as someone now. What i am saying is that in comparing the covenants, there's a sense (an important sense!) in which the ceremonial implements of Judaism are inferior to the spiritual realities of Christianity. It is inferior along the same comparitive vein as Israel being concerned about a literal plot of land and a civil law over against Christianity's trans-territorial and trans-temporal nature. Judaism had mere symbols and ceremonial metaphors for what we in Christ are blessed to have a literal grasp of. i believe instrumental music is letting loose that new grasp in Christ to return to inferior shadows and symbols as in Judaism.
(2) This is strongly related to the last point, and in fact i am very tempted to call it "(1b)" instead of a second distinct reason. Here it is nonetheless: There is an incredible textual contrast between the Old and New Covenants regarding these ceremonial implements and regarding instrumental music in particular. The Old Testament is permeated with references to the use of instrumental music in Jewish worship. Instruments feature quite prominently throughout the literature. (So i definitely disagree with those CoCer's who try ardently to make the case that instrumental music was equally as bad in the Old Testament as in the New but God just let it slide.) It is amazing to me how often and how explicit God was in the Old Testament regarding the use of instruments and yet in the New Testament not even one word is breathed about their use in Christian worship. It's true--i am making a sort of argument from silence, but it's not the traditional argument from silence. i'm pointing out the glaring contrastive silence of the New Testament to the Old on this issue. If all of these ceremonial implements of worship (including instrumental music) are appropriate to Christianity, then why this blindlingly obvious difference between the two texts? How do you account for the New Testament being completely bereft of any mention of such things? What i think it suggests is that the use of instrumental music (as well as any other ceremonial implement) was entirely appropriate to Judaism because of the nature of the Jewish covenant, but it is entirely inappropriate to Christianity because of the nature of the new covenant.
(3) i believe the restoration principle strongly suggests rejecting instrumental music in worship. Let's forget the traditional principle of authority and argument from silence for just a moment. Let's even suppose that instrumental music is no big deal and the early church could have used it had they wanted to and God would've been fine with. So what if they could? Did they use it? And if they didn't, should we? Remember, the restoration principle suggests a precedent of imitation--we ought to imitate the early church. And by all historical accounts, an incredible argument can be made that the early church did not use instrumental music, and that no one used them until the seventh century. But notice, it was introduced in the seventh century. It was not the norm. It was not the custom. It was not the practice of the ancients. The New Testament has no mention or sanction of it, and there is second and third century Christian literature which explicity rejects the use of instrumental music among Christians. The Restoration Principle calls us to imitate the early church. Non-imitation is only justified where the particular case of non-imitation is justified because imitation would be trans-temporally or trans-culturally inappropriate. i certainly can't see why imitating the early church by not using instruments would be trans-temporally or trans-culturally inappropriate.
(4) Only after the above three reasons were exhausted (and i believe they're plenty sufficient without this fourth one) would i then turn to the notion of authority and silence akin to the traditional CoC arguments. But like i said, i think these lines of reasoning are in need of some revision which is far beyond the scope of this post. i just list this to say that i think there is validity to be had in qualified and altered versions of the traditional silence/authority arguments against instrumental music.
So, again, the CoC's rejection of instrumental music in worship is another reason why i am still a member of The Church Of Christ.