What About Musical Instruments in Worship?

Greetings and blessings to you. How amazing it is to realize that a month from now we will be in the middle of our Golden Jubilee Celebration. We are looking forward with great excitement to welcoming all of you to our campus as we thank God for carrying us through the last fifty years. Please do come and join us. To learn more about it, you can click here and read in detail about everything and how you can register. On a different note, one of the activities we have here is Sunday evening services that start at 18:00hrs until about 19:30hrs. We discuss real life issues on under the topic, “What Does the Bible Say About,” and we put whatever subject depending on the schedule. A person delivers a twenty-minute presentation, followed by a Q&A session for another twenty-minutes or so. Last Sunday we were tackling what the Bible says about Drums & Instruments in Worship.

Our brother Calvin Mavuso, a second year Organisational Leadership Major student, took us through this topic with a presentation that provoked a vibrant and healthy discussion. As one would expect, most of his references were from the Old Testament, for example Psalm 150;

“Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals”

He reasoned with us that based on evidence from the Bible that God accepted musical instruments from the Israelites, and since we do not have a clear prohibition from the New Testament against them, we can adopt the same tradition.

Attentive listening during the presentation

However, he also acknowledged that the NT does not have an example of a church using such in their worship; musical instruments were only adopted by Christians in later centuries and have been in use ever since by most churches. Contextualizing it to an African setup, he cautioned that since in drums were in various times previously used to invoke ancestral spirits, churches should use them with care. On his conclusion, he mentioned that he does not find any problem with instruments in worship, although they should not take the place of fervent and sincere praise to God.

First of all I am sharing this because such an opportunity to make a presentation and be questioned is a great one as we prepare our students for service. They need to know how to use the Bible when discussing with people as a way of standing for the truth. Secondly, Bible interpretation depends on a lot of factors, but what matters is that we do not influence it to agree with our perceptions and let it speak for itself. Thirdly and more importantly, the Bible should be read in community, especially on matters that are cultural. This means that different communities choose to adopt certain things based on changing circumstances and attitudes. I should say that this does not mean twisting biblical truths, but it means understanding that certain things in the Bible are cultural and also should be interpreted in the context of our own cultures as well. Indeed, at the end of the discussion, there was a general consensus that there is no problem with Christians using or not using instruments in worship. Quite interesting was that for some it was a noticeable change from what they believed a few years back, and that showed that culture is ever changing.

On a final note, it is delighting to see the how powerful knowledge is. From different countries people come to ACC to learn what they never knew and add on what they knew. When they leave, they leave different people altogether and ready to go wherever God calls them to. ACC is such a special place where one can see the working of God, not only through intellectual equipment but also spiritually. It is such work that we will be celebrating in the next month.

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