35 Centuries of Praise: Part 5
Q&A on the Hermeneutics of Authority
Q (condensed): If the Bible only “authorizes” singing (and not instrumental music), then where do you get the “authority” to use hymnals, pitch pipes, pews, and indoor baptistries in worship services? If the answer is that they are “aids to worship,” where does the Bible allow for that? Where is your required authorization? If a pitch pipe can be an “aid to worship” for the song service, then why can’t a piano be an “aid to worship” to someone who may need more help in singing?
A: You are asking a good question because it seeks to define what principles of interpretation we should employ when studying the Scriptures. Permit me to explore it with you without trying to provide an exhaustive answer.
If your doctor wrote out a prescription for you to take one Oxycillin pill three times a day, how would you interpret that? Would you say, “He didn’t say not to take Tylenol or Motrin or Dayquil, so I think I will take all four”?
No, his prescription to take one thing excludes alternative medicines – things that are in the same class. But it does NOT exclude water, which you use to wash it down. Water is not an alternative to the Oxycillin, but a means to swallowing it.
Likewise in the case of music, “Sing and make melody in your heart” (Eph. 5:19 and Col. 3:16) and offering to God as a “sacrifice of praise… the fruit of our lips” (Heb. 13:15) seems to exclude alternative ways of making music but not the means to do the singing (determining which song, what pitch, what tempo, etc.).
A pitchpipe or tuning fork are not alternatives to singing. Neither is a song book. Does this make sense?
NOTE: I have dear friends who disagree with me about all this. I encourage everyone to develop their own convictions and accept brothers or sisters who disagree with yours. We are only fellow servants. “Before their own Master they stand or fall.”