Monday, May 21, 2012

My Childhood Church's Extra-Biblical Rule

Recently, I posted about the importance of being cautious when speaking on a topic that God chose to be silent on. If He didn't give us a rule in the scriptures, let's not declare with biblical authority that we know the universal rule.

Here's a classic example:

The first church I remember being a member at was an independent, fundamental Baptist church (I was there from age 5 to age 10). My mother taught at their Christian school and was required to attend the church. Great Bible teaching program, especially for kids. But, let's just say they didn't have the same view point on being cautious where the Bible is silent.

For example, while I was there, we sang only hymns...and we knew we were more holy because of it. I literally heard teaching on how drums were an instrument of the devil--how they stirred up sin in your soul and opened the door for demons in your life.

Music in church history:

There's always been music. But at first, it was an open "jam session" where anyone could bring something and the whole room would sing along as they could.  Around 300 AD, as Christianity became the official religion of the Roman empire, choirs were established (choral introductions were a standard part of Roman ceremonies). Things changed fast at this point, as Roman ceremony protocols began to invade the church service. By 367 AD congregational singing was banned (only the choirs were deemed skilled enough to be worthy of singing to God). Sit quiet and don't interfere, members were told. Oh, and the choir only sang during the Communion portion of the service.

It wasn't until the Great Reformation in the 1500's that they began to allow "regular members" to sing along with the choir. Then they got crazy and wrote Christian lyrics to bar tunes, since they were the only songs the members knew (we now calls these hymns). And the Reformers also moved to emphasize the sermon more than Communion, so they shifted to 3-4 songs to the beginning as sermon intro music. The choir was still around, so they had them lead the singing.

Hear me clearly, I'm not saying choirs are wrong. I'm just saying that the early church didn't have 3-4 songs chosen in advance that a "music team" prepared. For about 300 years, there was no music team. The music didn't even happen at the beginning of the gathering. We made all that up.

I'm not saying 3 songs in the beginning is wrong. We did it in our member-driven church this past Sunday. I'm just saying that it makes fights over musical style seem kind of silly. This is one of those areas of church we made up.

The Bible doesn't even require we sing every time we get together--it is fun, though, so we usually end up doing it a lot.

What extra-biblical rules have you seen Christians fight over?

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