Alexander Campbell on Instrumental Music

Instrumental music was added by a few churches while the majority of those called Disciples opposed them. As people rose to defend instruments those churches became "sectarian" to what became the Church of Christ. Therefore, the organ party separated itself from the mainstream congregation-by-congregation from the first organ down to the  total abandonment by the Disciples of Christ of inspiration, the virgin birth, rejection of baptism, open membership and other beliefs and practices which removed itself from the mainstream.

The instrumentalists and their fellow travelers have made an industry out of turning the history of the church and the Restoration movement upside down to defend their position: if you reject inspiration and accept post modernism then lying and stealing is not wrong under the doctrine of imminent domain domain which says "your church is now my church." They love to lie about Alexander Campbell by claiming that the argument for pagan music by Mr. G was REALLY AC defending instruments. While the problem arose in 1851 and he declared open warfare and died in 1854, it is a fact that there was NO UNION between the Church of Christ and those defecting instrumentalists.

Alexander Campbell on instrumental music. INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC From: MILLENNIAL HARBINGER, September 1851, 581-2 quotes a letter from a mister G, who saw music as desirable because it would be the change agent and control agent by restoring ancient, pagan, charismatic worship. This article is presented on a restoration movement site which gives the wrong impression of Alexander Campbel's statement.

Evolution of Defense for Instrumental Music, Truth Magazine XXIV: 22, pp. 354-359May 29, 1980 Ron Halbrook Xenia, Ohio: Early in 1851, J. Henshall was asked by a man who said "we are far in the rear of Protestants" whether "instrumental music in our churches" would consummate "the great object of Psalmody." He replied that the worldly minded might seek such "helps to their devotion," but true spiritual worship had no place for an entertaining display, a choir, and "a wooden devotion quickener." This opened discussion in the Ecclesiastic Reformer for a short time. John Rogers, in astonishment that any preacher would defend the instrument, 

wrote to Alexander Campbell, who called upon all preachers to "cry aloud and spare not" in opposing the practice.
Campbell shortly added that "the argument drawn from the Psalms in favor of instrumental music" befits Catholic and Protestant churches which seek "the Jewish pattern of things" to stir their carnal hearts.(8) The 1850s saw precious little advance in the instrument cause; almost no one favored it. "It is scarcely necessary for us to say to our readers that we regard the organ and violin worship, and even the fashionable choir singing of our country, as mockery of all that is sacred," said Tolbert Fanning in the 1856 Gospel Advocate.( 9) The next flare-up revealed that fifty years after Thomas Campbell's Declaration and Address (1809), Dr. L. L. Pinkerton had placed a melodeon in the church at Midway, Kentucky. Answering a question in January 1860, Benjamin Franklin mused that a church without the Spirit of Christ might need an instrument for amusement and entertainment in place of religion and worship. This stung Pinkerton because he was the only church known to be using one. Offering the aid argument, he said the singing had been so bad as to "scare even the rats from worship." Practice sessions with its use had been followed by use in regular worship.(10)


8. Henshall, "Instrumental Music In Churches," Ecclesiastic Reformer, Vol. 4 (15 March 1851):171; Rogers, "Dancing"; Campbell, "Dancing" and "Instrumental Music," Millennial Harbinger (September and October, 1851):503-507 and 581-582.

9. On p. 199, quoted in John T. Lewis, The Voice of the Pioneers on Instrumental Music and Societies (Nashville: Tennessee: Gospel Advocate Co., 1932), p. 120.

10. Franklin and Pinkerton articles entitled "Instrumental Music in Churches," American Christian Review, Vol. 3 (31 January and 28 February -1860):19, 34. See Earl West, The Search For The Ancient Order, 3 Volumes (Nashville: Tennessee: Gospel Advocate Co., 1949; Indainapolis, Indiana: Religious Book Service, 1950, 1979), 1: 310-312. 


The instrumentalists must subscribe to the views of those who sowed discord. What follows is not the views of Alexander Campbell on instrumental music. It is a letter supporting instrumental music based upon ancient, pagan practices. Mr. G recognizes that music is a device of mind control Which we discuss in other articles Click Here. Not Alexander Campbell on Instrumental music but Mr. G states that:

"INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC is entirely in harmony with the most grateful, solemn and happy feelings of which the human heart is susceptible. Indeed, sacred music upon an instrument, tends, in a very considerable degree, to excite solemn and holy emotions; and we cannot forbear to say, that could the music of our churches be improved--could it be accompanied with an instrument,

it would soothe and calm the feelings of the auditors; it would improve the order of the house; it would call into lively action the latent religious emotions of the heart, and add very much to the enjoyment on such occasions.

"Music exerts a mysterious charm upon man--it takes captive the citadel of life--carries him out of himself, and leads him where it will. The shrill fife and the rattling drum, inspire the soldier just about to enter into battle, with a zeal and daring which no hardship can overcome, and no danger intimidate, and causes him to rush headlong into the thickest of the combat, regardless of consequences.

If martial music thus inspires the worshipers of Mars, will sacred music do less for the humble followers of the meek and lowly Jesus--the worshipers of the true and living God? No!

"It will not. It will inspire them, too, with zeal and courage, and impel them on to resist--not flesh and blood with instruments of death, but principalities and powers--spiritual wickedness in high places, with the armor of God and the sword of the Spirit.

Mars was Nimrod at the Towers of Babel and introduced music and women's bands of singers.

See how Mars did it.

Mr. G, subconsciously no doubt, defined the purpose for vocal and instrumental music in the worship of Mars or any of the tens of thousands of gods. The goal of musical worship was to take you out of yourself. This was enthe o mania which means that you were insane. This was ecstasy, Paul called it insanity, to permit you to have a personal relationship with a god.

"The priests of the pagan temples had been paid from the purse of the Empire, but now Caesar was a Christian and the priests of Mars and Venus hastened to their baptisms. For the first time in the history of the church, salaries were paid to Christians workers. Tradition has it that Constantine's mother was the first to give the money for the erection of a church building... All this (meetings in homes) was over now. The rags of persecution gave way to softer garments, and the church began to enjoy the feel of silk upon its flesh. Thus the Pergamos stage of church history came into being, the church was married to the world." (Barnhouse, D.G., Revelation, Zondervan, p. 52).


In answer, Alexander Campbell, who subscribed to the Presbyterian notions about music, wrote that a wineskin gospel is for those who have lost the love for the Word:

"The argument drawn from the Psalms in favor of instrumental music, is exceedingly apposite to the Roman Catholic, English Protestant, and Scotch Presbyterian churches, and even to the Methodist communities. Their churches having all the world in them--that is, all the fleshly progeny of all the communicants, and being founded on the Jewish pattern of things--baptism being given to all born into the world of these politico-ecclesiastic communities--I wonder not, then, that an organ, a fiddle, or a Jews-harp, should be requisite to stir up their carnal hearts, and work into ecstasy their animal souls, else "hosannahs languish on their tongues, and their devotions die." And that all persons who have no spiritual discernment, taste, or relish for their spiritual meditations, consolations and sympathies of renewed hears, should call for such aid, is but natural. Pure water from the flinty rock has no attractions for the mere toper or wine-bibber. A little alcohol, or genuine Cognac brandy, or good old Madeira, is essential to the beverage to make it truly refreshing. So to those who have no real devotion or spirituality in them, and whose animal nature flags under the oppression of church service, I think with Mr. G., that instrumental music would be not only a desideratum, but an essential prerequisite to fire up their souls to even animal devotion. But I presume, to all spiritually-minded Christians, such aids would be as a cow bell in a concert.

Alexander Campbell knew what Paul knew when he said he would not use carnal weapons or instrumental music. Rather, he used the Word of God. The Restoration Movement did not have to contend with music in the beginning because it was rare in most denominations.

Haven't you noticed that the choirs get more and more excited as they are carried outside themselves and the music rises, as up the seven levels (notes) of the Tower of Babel. At the top or the crescendo they meet the "god face to face." And the "spirit" passes our person as the cold chill runs up our back. Yep! You have just been injected with a morphine-like drug.

Plato understood that excited speaking or music usually gets away from the one using it. Pretty soon it is obvious that the otherwisd-calm person has left his body behind. He sours above the mountains or has "cast anchor." Just call it momentary insanity, Paul would say. The following description probably describes what Paul condemned in the church and which would be cured by anyone but the inspired just sitting down and shutting up:

Plato Ion

"[534a] just as the Corybantian worshipers do not dance when in their senses, so the lyric poets do not indite those fine songs in their senses, but when they have started on the melody and rhythm they begin to be frantic, and it is under possession--as the bacchants are possessed, and not in their senses, when they draw honey and milk from the rivers--that the soul of the lyric poets does the same thing, by their own report. For the poets tell us, I believe, that the songs they bring us are the sweets they cull from honey-dropping founts

Note: The Corybantes were priests of Cybele or Rhea, mother of Zeus and other Olympian gods, and she was worshipped with wild music and frenzied dancing which, like the bacchic revels or orgies of women in honor of Dionysus, carried away the participants despite and beyond themselves. Cf. Eurip. Bacchae.

New Testament "singing" was virtually without a tune. Perhaps they used a few notes and sang in unison. There was no "bumpty bump" beat of the Jungle. You couldn't sell it for a penny. However, when harmony and the beat were adapted for the church the Dominion Leader knew that he had a tool, a weapon.

Strabo on Instrumental Music and the Frenzy of the Soothsayer

Strabo Geography 10.3.9

"The religious frenzy seems to afford a kind of divine inspiration and to be very like that of the Soothsayer.. "For although it has been well said that human beings then act most like the gods when they are doing good to others, yet one might better say, when they are happy; and such happiness consists of rejoicing, celebrating festivals, pursuing philosophy, and engaging in music; for, if music is perverted when musicians turn their art to sensual delights at symposiums and in orchestric and scenic performances and the like, we should not lay the blame upon music itself, but should rather examine the nature of our system of education, since this is based on music.

In this site it is Mr. G. and not the views of Alexander Campbell on Instrumental music who had a lust for pagan arousal music. The restoration movement in its original stream never added music.


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