Monday, October 10, 2011

Absolute Truth

In elementary school, my list of absolute truths was long.  One of them, one of the things I knew for sure, was that singing church songs with instrumental music was wrong.  Dead wrong.  No doubt about it.

I’m not sure how I knew this.  I don’t remember Bible class lessons or sermons about it.  But I’m pretty sure there were conversations with parents and teachers and friends.  When it came to Christian music, no pianos were allowed.  No guitars.  Just voices—singing and making melody in our hearts.

Imagine my surprise, then, when my class at Harding Elementary (a Church of Christ school) was practicing a church song for an upcoming program … and my teacher stepped behind the piano.  She played along as we sang the song.  In 12 years, I had never witnessed such a thing.

And what do you think I did?  Well, I did what any good Christian would do.  I refused to sing.  And so did some others in my class, mostly the boys I think.  (We were mature beyond our years.)

Our teacher, appearing slightly perturbed, looked out at us and stopped playing the piano.  She sized up the situation and said, “Listen; there’s nothing wrong with practicing this song with a piano.  In a few years, you will be doing the exact same thing in the high school chorus.”

She raised her eyebrows and paused for effect.  I got the message.  It was time to start singing again … with the piano.

I felt a tiny tremor in my faith that day.  I’m not kidding.


  1. I like this one Mike. Personally I have always struggled with this one. If there a sermon or lesson I listen to more open minded than the use of instruments in worship I do not know what it might be.

  2. Here's one for ya, Slam.
    I'd had this argument for several years with a guy you know well. Picture someone I grew up with and followed to Harding...
    Anyway, we'd been having this big disagreement about instrumental music in worship. THEN, I dragged him along to hear a sermon on that exact topic. Might have been at a lectureship, I can't remember.
    The speaker? Yes, you guessed it.
    I can't exactly say that my views haven't changed somewhat over time (relaxed a bit, you might say) but I would have trembled at the sight of a recorder after listening to that sermon!

  3. Ha, Rick! That's excellent! I remember one sermon about instrumental music ... by you know who. :)

  4. Isn't it funny how the realization that instrumental music isn't such a bad thing so often leads eventually to the collapse of the whole house of cards?